Trick or Treat

The Wicked Witch of the West meets The Omen

"The idea of dying and coming back is what makes the Halloween films work.""The idea of dying and coming back is what makes the Halloween films work."
--Donald Pleasence


What can I say?

I must be a grade school stand up at heart. Here are some seasonal riddles for your mild amusement. (More mild amusements, please, these days, thank you.)

(Find your answers at the bottom of this post.)

1. Why did the skeleton stay home from the dance?
2. Why did the ghost go into the bar?
3. What do you call a witch's garage?
4. What type of dog does every vampire have?


is a self-paced, independent course on drawing and watercolor pencil.
Includes all the basics of drawing and watercolor (specifically with watercolor pencils) plus an extensive set of exercises with detailed instructions plus videos to practice your basics using watercolor pencils for copying a rare Matisse painting.
It's fun and challenging! If you just want to dip your toes in the water or you're thinking of working with me for personal drawing, watercolor and/or art history courses online or live, this is the perfect place to start! 

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Regular price $47. With discount $37


1. He had no body to go with.2. For the Boos.
3. A broom closet.
4, Bloodhound!
Yuk. Yuk. Yuk.
You're welcome!

Can you dig it?

"If you're concerned about what's going on today, read history and figure out what to do because it's all right there."—Tom Hanks

Unearth what matters most to you.

If you're an artist (or a "shadow artist"), and overwhelmed with life at large right now, I encourage you to think about doing something creative, hands on, mind engaged, right now. Join me online in January. Just put your name on the wait listNo obligato. Space is limited.

As I compose the three new courses I am teaching and developing this year, I'm up to my neck in the history of painting, the lives of individual painters, their particular social and economic situations, patrons, culture, religion and serendipitous changes of fortunes; their contributions, output and influence.

I've spent other years of my life doing much the same thing but rather focused on histories of music, song form and themes, architecture, cities, people, legends, and places and things I've forgotten for the moment.

Looking at ourselves as a species, or even just a civilization, through the lens of being creators, is far more enlightening than our political and military histories. Although, that being said, it is exceptionally instructive how creators have interacted with politics and power down through the ages.

As an artist, I resonate, of course, with the painters and poets and composers of music who have come and worked before me. And now that I'm old (though it doesn't really feel like it!), it's interesting to look back to see what I've done.

Which brings me to my personal funny pages this morning. I was going to take this post in an entirely different direction when my dear, dear, long time, steadfast friend, Carole, forwarded me a blog post featuring napkin art I made in 1982 at the Seagull Bar in Mendocino when that particular block of, I guess it was Kasten Street, had been taken over by the production team for the filming of Stephen King's Cujo.

Anyway, the Volunteer Fire Station (thank you) on Kasten Street was re-dressed for the film (I have photos in storage), and, at the time, I happened to sit down at the bar with a napkin and pen. I remember, distinctly, making this drawing and what fun it was. But I have not seen it in 35 years.

If I had not been reminded with the image, I would have forgotten altogether the expression of this experience. The amazing surprise is that it's survived all these years and has featured as headline image in the original Seagull owner's current blog. What a great delight!

My friend, Carole, recognized the "e" of (the first name only) of my signature and forwarded the image and blog post to me. This is the stuff of history. Personal history. The history of drawing and painting. This history of personal memories.

Looking through the long lens or the personal scrapbook, we learn something ephemeral but vital.

We are who we are. We learn by self examination.

And, of course...
The unexamined life is not worth living.—Socrates

Plan for the Future

Suzanne McDermott 
after Gentileschi, watercolor detail

​"History is for human self-knowledge ... the only clue to what man can do is what man has done."
— R. G. Collingwood
 Last Novemberthe 9th, to be exact, I made a vow to myself.

I'll read deep history and make magic (something out of nothing).

Turns out, I made more of that vow than I could have imagined and have been working away at it ever since. I mean, every, single day.

I've created a three-part series of courses on the history of painting and will be offering it online starting in January. I'll write more about it in the coming months and you can read preliminary info on it here but wanted to mention it now so that, if you think you might be interested, you can add your name to the waiting list and be notified of more details as they arise. Small groups, as usual, and limited space.

I've been (mostly) down with a debilitating infection for the past six days so I'm going back to bed now with my new cozy murder mystery (author's description, not mine), Graham Norton's HoldingIt's good company.