ART BY TECHNIQUE: drawing Feed


Extravagance,  beyond your means, excess,

Think of your budget as a map. Extravagance is going outside the boundaries of your budget. This will vary from person to person, family to family. The first step to staying within your means is to make a budget. Then stick to it. 

For some, going to the movies will be extravagant. For others, a trip to Europe will be an extravagance. There are ways to budget for things, but ignorance, intentional or not, will take you outside the limits. Remember that every penny counts, and the little things add up. 

Are you going into debt for the necessities because you have spent too much on the extravagances?  It helps to know the difference between want and need, and to plan for the "wants" without going into debt for the "needs."

In other words, set limits. Boundaries are a good thing. 

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Ethan murrow. pinto brothers, drawing 54x36 for sale
Ethan Murrow, 2006, large scale drawing from Pinto Brothers Series, for sale

This beautiful, large -scale drawing by Ethan Murrow is now for sale. 

I bought this piece in 2006, when Murrow had a show at Burlington City Arts. Ethan was raised in Vermont, and has many friends and admirers here. I hadn't know Ethan when he lived here, but I had been somewhat friendly with his father when we were kids because his father (Ethan's grandfather, Edward R. Murrow) was very good friends with my father, Lou Cowan. The small-world effect of the Cowan family has ceased to surprise me. 

But that's not why I bought this piece. I bought it because it's that good. THAT good. I bought it to sell, because at the time, I was running Pine Street Art Works. I had it framed by my favorite framer, Jennifer Koch of Frames For You And Mona Lisa Too, and it hung at PSAW for several years. Finally, when we closed, I had no place to hang the work, so I loaned it to the University Of Vermont, where it has been on view at the Davis Center, much to the delight of the thousands of students, faculty and visitors for the past 5 years. 

Now it is for sale. If you are interested, or know someone who might be...just click this link to my online store, Small Equals. 

The piece is avaiable framed, but I'm also willing to have Jennifer Koch take it out of the frame, for much much easier shipping and delivery. 

Ethan Murrow website.

Guardian cat-woman goddesses, art therapy and dream time


Liza Cowan, two cat woman by river with houses
Two cat woman guardians Drawing in cray pas. Liza Cowan 1990

 Way back in 1989/90 I studied Art Therapy with Dr. Erika Steinberg at The New School For Social Research in New York City. Dr. Steinberg had us all keep extensive journals of drawing exercises, dream and meditaion notes, and the process of drawing. It was an amazing class, with some extraordinary students, including a gifted and now- famous psychic/intuitive practitioner who subsequently became a best selling author, but during that year was just beginning her career, and, for those two semesters, was a good buddy of mine. Her insights amplified our work in many ways.  The class met twice a week for two semesters, and it was the environment in which I rediscovered how much I liked drawing and the process of making art. 

I chose not to become an art therapist, but the techniques of dream work and art therapy clung. I was reminded of this last night as I was listening to a radio broadcast that, almost in passing, mentioned feline guardian beings and goddesses. Of course, cats were goddesses in ancient Egypt and around the world, but I don't think I was thinking about them as I began this small series. Not consciously at any rate. The images came from dreams and meditation.

In our art journals, Dr. Stienberg had us keep notes, short ones, on three things: Environment, Process and Product. That is, what we were feeling and the physical space we were in while we were drawing, how we made the drawing, and a description of the work itself.  


Guardian cat woman and boulders. ©Liza Cowan 1990
Cat woman guardian. Drawing in colored pencil. Liza Cowan 1990

 Product: Cat/woman #1. February 19th, 1990

She is facing the world, staring right into its eyes. I love drawing mouths as circles. Like she's talking and kind of surprised, too. The boulders are from a dream I had two weeks ago, just after we got our dream-box assignment. In the dream I saw huge dark boulders and received instructions that my job was to decipher the rocks. Like, that's one of my lifetime jobs. The water is fluid and reflective. Her feet are not quite in it, or maybe her toes are just touching that unconscious substance.

Guardian cat woman #2 and note ©Liza Cowan 1990
Cat woman, drawing in colored pencil. Liza Cowan 1990

Product, Cat/woman #2 Feb. 19th,1990

 She is still a bit stormy, but a lot more peaceful. I love this drawing. She is a solid presence. Heat or emotions rising from her, intense but rhythmical. 

( I don't know what the "stormy" is in reference to.)


Guardian mama lion and cub, liza cowan and notes
Mama lion and cub. Drawing over photocopy Liza Cowan 1990

 Lion/woman. April 1, 1990. Woodstock

Environment: Hanging out at home in Woodstock

Process: I was looking through some magazines and came across this photo of a lioness and her cub, or a cub and her mother. I was moved by how they looked both peaceful and ferocious at the same time. I made a photo copy of the picture and drew over it with cray pas. I gave the mother lion my hair. I know that it is the male lions who have the mane, not the females, but in this case she, like me, has the tresses. 

Product: Sometimes I describe myself as a mother lion when I am protecting people or things I care about. I can be ferocious in my guardianship, alert and calm. I love how the cub stands enfolded in her mothers arms and head. 

The following drawing is from a week before the first cat drawings. I believe that the animals in this dream either were, or became, the cat figures in the subsequent images. 


Liza cowan dream drawing man and marsupials
Dream of man and marsupials. Liza Cowan Feb 11, 1990

 Product: This is a dream I had last night - from notes I took when I awoke from the dream at 5:30 am:

"I am at a Woodstock gathering, I have my video camera and am ready to tape, but nothing appeals to me. 

Suddenly a small man is doing a "show" with strange looking animals, maybe marsupials, who are delivering ecology messages. They keep changing shapes and exit by disappearing into the ground. I get the whole thing on tape. I have no idea how this strange little man feels about my recording him. He comes over and smiles and hugs me warmly. Very lovely. He's glad I recorded it. I am going to give him my business card but suddenly everyone leaves the gathering in a big crowd and I wake up."

This drawing does not convey the eeriness of the dream. It was almost frightening, the animals were so strange and so was the man. But he was so nice that it ended up not being scarey at all.

I don't have a vivid image of the animals, so I just drew anything, figuring it was still accurate. The big eyes and stripes feel right.

Before I fell asleep I was reaing a Jungian magazine and I think it influenced ths dream.

The creatures are intense, especially their eyes, as they were in the dream. Their message was profound, but I forget it."


Figures from life: Walter Foster and Robert Duflos

Walter Foster ran his How To Draw empire from his home in California in the 1950's. I came across a stash of his older books at a yard sale several years ago and was impressed not only by the clarity of the instructions but also by the beauty of the illustrations.  This book is Figures From Life, with art by Robert Duflos.

 Figures from life, walter foster, robert duflos, cover 

Figures From Life, Robert Duflos and Walter Foster

Duflos was an early to mid 20th Century French decorative painter, whose pastel nudes command modest prices at auction these days. He is probably most famous for his work with the Walter Foster Series.

It's not high art, but that's what always intrigues me - work that straddles the barriers of high and low. As always, it's the distance of time that allows us to view things that were once quotidian, low art, populist art, in a new light. That's why I -and I'm not alone - have been obsessed with Paint By Number paintings.

 Figures From LIfe walter foster, Robert Duflos, page 4 

Figures From Life, p.4 Walter Foster, Robert Denos

I mean, Foster just breaks it down for you. Draw this kind of line, use this kind of brush. The thing is, the illustrations with the instructions are far more interesting and, to me, visually pleasing, than the plain originals.

 Figures From LIfe, walter foster, robert duflos, p 6
Figures From Life, Walter Foster, Robert Denos p. 6

Text on this page: "The more you know about drawing the easier these step sketches will be for ou, as well as the finished picture. You can do it in Oils, Water Colors or Pastels, whichever you have on hand or just sketch in with pencil for practice. The side view like this is good to start on. You can make the figure more slender or lengthen the legs if you want. The original to most of Mr. Duflos' paintings which are in Oils are twice the size you see them here. Study carefully and take your time."

With four illustrations breaking it down for you,  this page has visual punch.

 Figures From Life, Robert Duflos, Walter Foster p 7
Robert Denos painting from Figures From Life. Page 7

Whereas this painting is a bit, well, dull. I mean, this guy was living in France at the same time as Picasso and Matisse. There's nothing at all exciting about the color, the composition, the point of view. This was not a problem at all for publisher Walter Foster, in fact it probably helped. How you gonna break down a Matisse? I've tried and it's a lot harder that it looks. That's what's so wonderful about Matisse. Looks simple but the experience, vision and practice that went into that beautiful line is something hard to do.  Here's what Foster said  in his introduction:

"No one starts out in art much ahead of the next fellow and you will get ahead much faster if you do not try to rest on the fact that your folks thing you are a Michelangelo of the 20th Century. Just be yourself and get pleasure out of your drawing and painting. Join an art class, evening or day, or start one. The meeting of kindred souls is very good, yes, a wonderful tonic"

I love that. A tonic. Indeed.

"As you can see by by Robert Duflos' painting, not all Frenchmen in Paris have gone so-called Modern. I wanted Robert to do this entire book and to have the directions in French and English, but the language barrier seemed to have stopped that idea, even between the two of us, so another beautiful dream became a cropper so you will find many of my drawings also in this book."

Figures From Life, Robert Duflos and Walter Foster p.26

This is my favorite picture in the book. It's so unclear if the brushes are part of the picture: is an invisible hand painting the actual model, since they are represented in the same medium...or are we supposed to pull ourselves out of that imaginary plane and recognize that we, the viewer or student, is the one holding the brush against a drawing of the model. It's a drawing of a drawing with drawings of the studio equipment drawn onto it. Divine.

You can find vintage Walter Foster books on eBay or Ruby Lane at reasonable prices. Or, if you are lucky, you might run across some at a yard sale.

Your comments are always welcome.




I was showing a customer the two  Rea Irvin magazine covers that I have in the shop and it dawned on me that you might be interested in seeing them too. Irvin was an American artist and art director, best know as the first art director of The New Yorker. He also worked as an illustrator at the original Life magazine (not the later version).

Small rhea irvin small

Rea Irvin, Life, August 10, 1922. The Japanese American Number


Rhea irvin new yorker metrosexual cowan ephemera collections small

Rea Irvin, The New Yorker, Oct 15, 1938.

The cover is too big for my scanner so a bit got cut off. Hope you enjoyed these.

Update: Thanks to  Pollux for sending a link to Emily Gordon's article about Rea Irvin.   Emdashes,- The New Yorker Between The Lines is Emily's blog where Pollux is a writer  and cartoonist. The blog is a great read and a must for all things New Yorker.


Here are some more Ginny Joyner images for your viewing pleasure. These prints are available here at Pine Street Works, and are soon to be seen on Flashbag handmade handbags and accessories, made in Vermont.

Ginny joyner le chapeau de femme small
Copyright Ginny Joyner, Chapeau De Femme. Used by permission.

Ginny joyner LUNA small
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Luna Moth. Used by permission.

Ginny Joyner Spode 2 pavilions plate small
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Spode Two Plate. Used by permission.

Ginny Joyner WATCH small
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Better Late Than Never. Used by permission

Ginny Joyner Eyeglasses small
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Eyeglasss. Used by permission.


Today we welcome a new artist to the walls of Pine Street Art Works - Ginny Joyner. Ginny is a Vermont artist, well known and loved, both here and farther afield. She graduated from the Rhode Island School Of Design in 1986 with a degree in illustration, and her work has appeared in many publications and for clients as varied as Harper Collins, The Baltimore Sun, and Eating Well Magazine.

I've loved Ginny's work for years, but while I was focusing on bringing my customers one -of- a- kind art I couldn't figure out how to incorporate her into the fold. But now that I've decided to bring artist made limited editions to my collections, Ginny fits in perfectly. I'm telling you, it's not easy to find such gorgeous work locally, and I'm so glad that Ginny agreed to let me carry her work. I'm sure you will love her paintings of pastry, teacups, garden vegetables, ruby slippers, porcelain figures, butterflies, cows, ladies shoes, fruits and teapots as much as I do.

This is just a small sample of her work, which is prodigious and varied, and always exquisite. I will post more images as she sends them to me.

Joyner -GARDENboots  
Ginny Joyner, Garden Boots. Used by permission.

Joyner -Pastry croissant
Ginny Joyner - Pastry/croissant. Used by permission.

Jouner Pastry572
Ginny Joyner - Pastry. Used by permission

Joyner Radis
Ginny Joyner, Radis. Used by permission.

Ginny Joyner, Chelsea Rabbit. Used by permission

Ginny Joyner, Ruby Slippers. Used by permission.

Ginny does her own printing so she can keep the quality high and the prices low. These prints cost $40 for 8 1/2 x 11 or $70 for 13 x 18. That isn't always the size of the actual image, but the paper it's printed on. Cellophane wrapped and ready for giving, these make a great holiday or housewarming gift.

As always, I can ship anywhere. Just email me. liza (at) You can pay over the phone with a credit card, easy as pie- or tart au cerise.


I've been featuring art about Obama for a while, but here's a twist. A drawing by Obama. Or as I'd call him, Obama Picasso.

Drawing by Barack Obama
Drawing by Barack Obama.

Portraits of Senator Chuck Shumer, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Dianne Feinstein and Edward Kennedy. The drawing is owned by Wayne Berzon, who bought it at a charity auction last May to benefit Neurofibramatosis Inc. He paid $2, 075.

Maybe if the administration needs to raise some more funds, Obama Picasso could be talked into doing some more sketches.With the market so hot right now for Obama Art and Obamabelia, he could make quite a pretty penny.

Full story here