Art is craft, not inspiration.

Stephen Sondheim, composer and lyricist

First I have tried to achieve the highest quality of technical facility possible so that I have at my fingertips the availability to create anything I want. Then I paint.

Audrey Flack, artist

Knowledge + Craft = Freedom

Sean Scully, artist


My approach to teaching is in line with the tradition of my instructors at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where I studied painting for four years. My goal as an instructor is to share knowledge and skills as a jumping off place for students’ future painting classes, studio practice, creative endeavors, and art appreciation. Students in my classes range from teenagers through senior citizens, from people with no prior experience to professional artists. 

I taught drawing and painting for eight years at the Blue Heron Art Center on Vashon Island, and I was a guest artist for painting classes at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. I now offer one-on-one instruction and coaching. I am also available for small groups who want to organize their own classes or workshops. 

In my classes I provide: 

     Handouts and visual aids for explaining a wide range of painting concepts and vocabularies.

     Painting demonstrations, including how to lay out palettes as gradations of colors and values.

     Comments tailored to each student’s individual level of experience and ability.

     Encouragement of free exploration without fear of making mistakes.

     A nurturing environment for students to learn from each other.


In my view, the most important step in making an oil painting is how the painting is begun: how the surface upon which to paint is prepared, how colors are chosen and arranged on the palette, and how paint is applied in the first layers. I teach two ways of painting that are appropriate for both beginners and experienced painters.

The two oil painting methods I teach: 

Primary Prismatic

A pointillist technique, inspired by the work of 19th century post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat, in two layers:

1) An opaque monochromatic underpainting to establish values from dark to light

2) Completing the painting with a full palette mixed with the three primary colors

Day 1 Primary Prismatic Palette

Day 2 Primary Prismatic Palette

Classical Realist

A classical approach using three layers: 

1) Transparent monochromatic underpainting to establish values from dark to light

2) Opaque limited palette using earth colors to begin to develop warm/cool color relationships and chroma

3) Full palette with some glazing, using the paint transparently, translucently, opaquely, and with impasto with a full palette of prismatic and earth colors

Day 1 Classical Realist

Day 2 Classical Realist

Day 3 Classical Realist

Practicing these two ways of painting can help students discover which methods appeal to them the most and are the most natural for them. The idea in my classes is not necessarily to make finished paintings, but instead to practice and explore different methods so that students will eventually be able to work independently and develop their own individualized ways of painting.


Drawing is a way of learning to see. Draw anything and you will know it better than before, even if the drawing is not up to much. You also begin to realize that your eyes are giving you varying information all the time. What you see after three minutes’ drawing will be quite different from your immediate impression, and from your understanding half an hour later, when your eyes have traveled over, through, and around your subject many times....Drawing is like the unraveling of a mystery, a search for the true nature of the experience. 

John Busby, Drawing Birds. Portland: Timber Press, 2004.

I teach drawing in various mediums (charcoal, ink, pencil). The focus is on using a full range of values from the lightest lights to the darkest darks. 

Rebecca Dvorin Strong

Two-hour drawing on-site at the Seattle Asian Art Museum

Jain Dancing Girl, ca. 11th Century, Indian, Rajasthan


white pencil on black paper

10 1/2 x 7 5/8 inches


You must discover the artwork that you like and realize the response that you make to it. You must especially know the response that you make to your own work. It is in this way that you discover your direction and the truth about yourself.

Agnes Martin, artist

I mentor individuals in developing their own unique vision through a guided discovery process:

     Critiques of paintings and drawings.

     Formulating a plan for transforming vision into reality through the skillful use of materials.

     Observing connections between the student's work and art historical and contemporary art.

     Offering support, encouragement, and ideas for what to try next.