Tech for teaching

Jo Myers-Walker leading a watercolor workshop with video camera displaying what she paints

Painting on camera
(photo courtesy of Beth at the Octagon)

I’ve tried different setups over the years to give my students a better view during demonstrations, and I brought my favorite system yet to the Octagon watercolor workshop earlier this month.

Without some kind of apparatus for viewing, there may not be room for everyone to watch by gathering around the table, and it’s difficult for some people to stand for that length of time. Here the video camera on the tripod (at left in the photo) is focused on my work area and shows the progress on the Octagon’s display behind me while I paint.

The students can sit at their own work tables, look at the screen and follow along with me and ask questions. Then I pause and give them time to catch up. This way they can paint and watch the lesson too. I can also record my lessons if I’m unable to be present, and send to my students. I am learning new technology and it’s gratifying to see it benefit my classes.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Cards to help fight ALS

Michaela poses with watercolor card set arranged on piano table

Friend and poet Michaela
wrote the sayings for the cards
and helped me fold them

Jo Myers-Walker at table holding photo of friend who passed away from ALS

At Principal Park with a
photo of dear friend Judy
whose memory inspired me

When the weather forecast turned blustery, this year’s Walk to Defeat ALS® turned into an Open House, inside on the concourse at Principal Park in Des Moines. I used the occasion to introduce a new set of notecards — “Family and Friends:  Cards to support The ALS Association Iowa Chapter” — to raise money for the Association’s services and research programs. The cards and the pouch they’re bundled in have images from my watercolor paintings showing scenes from the daily lives of people using wheelchairs. The Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque covered the costs of producing the cards so that all proceeds go to support the cause.

The notecards are sold as a set of six, one of each design, with envelopes in a pouch depicting Walk to Defeat ALS® participants. The price is $25.00 per set (with proceeds going to The ALS Association Iowa Chapter), plus any shipping costs. Contact me (email if you’d like to buy some!

It was inspiring to be at the Walk — sometimes it looked like a reunion, with families taking pictures with their loved ones and including photos of those no longer with us. I learned more about ALS and how it affects people even in their 20s. The ALS Association Iowa Chapter works “[t]o discover treatments and a cure for ALS, and to serve, advocate for, and empower people affected by ALS to live their lives to the fullest.”

Watercolor painting by Jo Myers-Walker showing woman on porch looking over scenic backyard with deer

“Porch,” one of the card designs, shows a
peaceful scene of communing with nature

Thumbnail of page showing card designs of Family and Friends notecard collection by Jo Myers-Walker

Family and Friends
card designs and messages
(click image to view larger;
PDF, approx. 1.1 MB, rev. 17 Oct 2019)

Posted in Studio Snapshots


Logo of the Iowa Watercolor Society

IWS logo
(click image to visit their website)

The Iowa Watercolor Society’s (IWS’s) Annual Meeting, Luncheon, Demonstration and Awards Ceremony is held at the end of each summer’s IWS Annual Exhibition. It’s a great way to meet fellow Iowa artists, and learn from each other and from the nationally-recognized teacher invited as juror. This year’s juror was watercolorist Alexis Lavine, who also did a painting demonstration after the luncheon and taught an in-depth workshop in the days that followed.

My painting “Emma” received Honorable Mention in this year’s exhibition and will join other artists’ work selected to travel to art centers around the state in the IWS 2019‑2020 Traveling Show. Besides the recognition, I received a set of Dr. Ph. Martin’s fine art watercolors and a Blick gift card, which are much appreciated — I use their products and they helped me win the award!

Two of my students submitted paintings for this year’s summer exhibition, and both got in. It’s wonderful as an artist to feel that validation; then you have to do the work of getting things framed and ready for the show! Shows like the IWS’s offer the experience of submitting a work of art and maybe starting it on a journey.

Emma, watercolor portrait by Jo Myers-Walker, and a photo of Jo posed next to the painting at IWS 2019 exhibition

“Emma” and me after the IWS luncheon at La Poste in Perry

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Art in Omaha

Patience, watercolor portrait of a woman in profile by artist Jo Myers-Walker

“Patience” traveled to Omaha
from the IWS exhibition

I had 17 talented students in my watercolor class last week sponsored by Barb Bishop and Omaha Artists, Inc.  My painting “Patience” made the trip to be an example for the class, and students worked from a photo of “Emma” as I demonstrated mixing flesh tones, layering, and lifting.

We began with painting chickens and ducks, allowing three colors to mix with each other on the paper. Then to loosen up we painted wet-in-wet using “two warms and a cool” (like burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, and cerulean). We went on to paint a flower, showing how to paint gradation, much like we would do in painting the cheek in a portrait.

It was a beautiful drive across Iowa into Nebraska, rolling hills and the colors changing as I created watercolors in my mind. I was excited to get home and paint!

Pages from class materials for a watercolor class by artist Jo Myers-Walker

From the class materials:
At left, color mixing and gradation; at right, value study example with “Emma”

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Plein air in Amana

Jo Myers-Walker sketching in Amana, Iowa during the 2019 Catiri's Fresh Paint event

Starting with a sketch
to plan the painting

Watercolor scene of Amana, Iowa painted by Jo Myers-Walker during 2019 Catiri's Fresh Paint event

My painting with the Amana
water tower in the distance

Catiri’s Fresh Paint is an annual plein air painting competition hosted by Catiri’s Art Oasis in Amana, Iowa. They stamp your paper then you paint like crazy, and bring it in at the end to be juried. This year’s event was Friday through Sunday of Labor Day weekend and had 45 artists from 5 states. Everywhere I sat, I could spot artists with their easels!

Painting on location is different than in the studio. It’s meditative — you can get lost in your painting day, trying to find the essence of the scene. We had beautiful weather and I could hear the birds and bugs and feel at one with nature. The last day they had a nice dinner where we could meet each other and “talk art.” I plan to go back next year.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

West Des Moines workshop

Painters work at tables in a watercolor workshop at Artisan Gallery 218 in West Des Moines, Iowa

Watercolorists at work

Various students' work from a watercolor workshop

Starting from outlines to practice fabric shading

My watercolor workshop at Artisan Gallery 218 focused on the figures that bring a painting to life. We painted flowers as a warmup, plenty of little chickens to practice with colors, and animated figures the rest of the time.

The workshop had some beginners and some more experienced painters. I brought the good paper — 140 lb. Arches — so people were very successful. Often beginners think their work is not worthy of the good paper, then get frustrated when they can’t get the results they want. You won’t get the same effect of the techniques I’m demonstrating unless you use the paper I’m using. The 100% cotton paper is soft and absorbs color, and strong enough to lift off or scrub off parts you want to change. You can even work on the back.

I’ve been putting together a 3- or 4-page workbook specific to each workshop, copied at the printers and sewn together on my sewing machine. Each participant can see the supplies we’ll be using and what we’ll be doing in a step-by-step process. They can take the workbook home and continue learning. It’s all about practice! Every time you paint, you learn more.

Pages from a workbook prepared for a watercolor workshop by Jo Myers-Walker

Pages from the workbooks are tailored to the workshop’s content

Posted in Art Tips, Studio Snapshots

Paintings at La Poste

Jo Myers-Walker in front of archway with renovated woodwork at La Poste in Perry, Iowa

La Poste’s building itself is a work of art. Built in 1914 as a post office, it has been painstakingly restored.

Update:  This year’s IWS Annual Exhibition in Perry has now ended. See the post “Well-traveled” for a followup!

I’m honored to have two of my paintings in this year’s Iowa Watercolor Society (IWS) Annual Exhibition. Here I’m dropping them off at La Poste in Perry to join the work of artists from across Iowa, in a wide range of styles. A smaller set of these paintings will be chosen for the IWS’s 2019‑2020 Traveling Show which travels to art centers around the state.

IWS members are signing up to paint at La Poste on Thursdays (4 p.m. –8 p.m.) and make the exhibit available for viewing — you can see who’s scheduled on the Painting at La Poste page. Plus, there will be live music and food to complement the visual show — see La Poste’s Facebook page for each week’s musical artist and menu. (The building is open for scheduled events or by appointment.)

Jo Myers-Walker poses with paintings to add to the IWS 2019  Annual Exhibition at La Poste in Perry, Iowa

Adding my artwork to the mix

Jo Myers-Walker with two of her paintings, watercolor portraits of women, accepted into the IWS 2019 Annual Exhibition

A closer view of my paintings.
I’ve been getting more into portraits.

Posted in Studio Snapshots, Travelogue, Upcoming Events

South Amana swap meet

Jo Myers-Walker and fellow artist Jeanette at South Amana Swap Meet

Enjoying summer in peaceful South Amana

Jeanette and I have been to The Great South Amana Swap Meet & Farmer’s Market on a couple of Fridays this summer, selling Creating for a Cause cards and enjoying the atmosphere. There are musicians playing, people selling all kinds of things, food to eat there and produce to take home.

As a city dweller it’s grounding for me to get out and see the fields and animals along the way. The lovely barns are well taken care of and make me want to paint the colors in the old wood. We can sit in the shade, listen to bluegrass, and talk to interesting people from all over the country. I come back home at sunset feeling like I’ve truly experienced summer.

Update:  The 2019 season of The Great South Amana Swap Meet & Farmer’s Market has ended. Keep an eye on the Iowa Theatre Artists Company to see what they’re up to next!

Posted in Uncategorized

Amana workshop 2019

Group photo of educators participating in Artistic Journal Making workshop led by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Our creative group of educators

A workshop participant selects colorful paper shapes to add to a three-dimensional artwork

Assembling pieces for a 3-D scene

It’s always a pleasure to return to beautiful Amana, this time to lead a four-day Artistic Journal Making workshop at Amana Arts Guild. The workshop was part of the Art Iowa Workshops offered every year in cooperation with Grant Wood AEA to provide continuing education for educators. We explored how the components of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) can bring together “left brain” and “right brain” approaches and provide a new perspective for problem solving.

The class used a variety of artistic techniques and reflective exercises to create colorful three-dimensional popup art journals. The teachers really had to work the “left brain,” measuring and planning for the precision needed to make the popups work. One idea led to another and they truly enjoyed it. We employed Science using the cotton paper, Engineering and Architecture to make things stand up, and Art for the creative messages.

Two views of a three-dimensional paper scene

Tunnel popup by Maggie, two views to show its construction

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Remembering Charles Reid

Artist Charles Reid paints a cowboy figure at an easel during a 2015 workshop

Learning from watching Charles Reid’s painting technique (2015 workshop)

I was saddened to learn of the death of artist Charles Reid, whose painting style I admire and whose teaching has been an inspiration.

My sketchbooks tell the stories of his workshops I was fortunate to attend (one in 2010 and one in 2015), with plenty of notes alongside the artwork where I tried to write down everything he said. He quietly encouraged me and I learned so much from him.

See also (earlier blog posts):
Pages from Jo Myers-Walker's sketchbook with floral watercolor paintings and notes

Floral sketchbook pages
from the 2010 workshop

Sketchbook pages with watercolor of seated man painted from life by Jo Myers-Walker plus small instructional sketch by Charles Reid

My painting on the left; Charles sketched the
little figure at right to demonstrate proportion.

Posted in Uncategorized