Art of the Week: Jeweled Koi

Diane L. Lawrence
Topeka, Kansas Branch


Diane’s focus as an artist has always been color. She tries to achieve colors so intense that the viewer is drawn to the artwork like a moth to a flame. Nature is her inspiration because of so many surprises in color and pattern. The purpose of her paintings is to make us more aware of the beauty of our surroundings.


Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Diane graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute with a B.F.A. in Painting and Printmaking. After the Art Institute she went on to earn a teaching certification from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Her teaching experience began in the public school system of Independence, Missouri. After moving to Kansas in 1975 Diane continued teaching in her studio as well as other venues. She has taught workshops and given demonstrations in Kansas and Missouri in Silk Painting and Watercolor. Because of her experience, Diane was selected as an instructor for Silk Painters International Conferences in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.


Art of the Week: Insomnia

Rachael Ikins
Central New York Branch (Art and Letters)
Torn Tissue Collage

Most often, Rachael Ikins is inspired by nature and the faces and eyes of animals. This piece, however, was a self-portrait. Drawing is usually Ikins go-to medium for enjoyment, but tearing up tissue paper proved to be extremely therapeutic, fun, and speaking to her need to be impressionistic.


Insomnia was juried into the 2017 New York State Fair Fine Arts competition. After that exhibit, it hung on Ikins studio wall looking at her. “One day as I walked past, I realized the title is ‘Insomnia’. It juried into another show some months ago and a judge mentioned how well the title fit, appreciating the humor. I guess most of us have been there, staring in the dark unable to escape the conscious mind.”


Art of the Week: Fancy Nancy

Jen Walls
Fort Lauderdale Branch
Fancy Nancy
Mixed Media on Aquaboard


Mixed-media artist and mark-maker, Jen Walls, is often inspired by mythology, folklore and stories of indigenous peoples. Self-taught, her art is the result of disciplined studio time, a regimen of exploratory and experimental projects and a good dose of magic. Her whimsical characters invite the viewer to explore the transformative nature of fairytales…entering the woods at night, conquering our fears and emerging on the other side as stronger, more compassionate versions of ourselves.


Jen considers storytelling to be the primary finishing medium in art. Her workshops explore personal storytelling and archetypes, along with a bit of quirky whimsy.


Unconventional materials are part of Jen’s standard repertoire, including wood reclaimed from scrap heaps and dumpsters as supports. Her preferred tools are paper towels, old credit cards and fingers, though she will occasionally use an actual paint brush. Her works consist of many layers of watercolor, acrylic, ink and paper. Hand- printed papers are part of the “clothing” of her whimsical characters.


Her first collaborative book, Blue Wild, was published in 2016, and features paintings “illustrated” by the haiku poetry of kindred spirit and writer Mary W. Cox. She was a featured artist in the 2017 book 100 Love Notes by author Hyong Yi.


Jen writes an introspective (and sometimes humorous) blog piece to accompany each new work of art, allowing a peek into the thought process and methods of every creation. An advocate for doodling in the classroom, the waiting room and the board room, she lives in Florida with her husband, son and assorted mischievous wildlife.


Art of the Week: Reflection

Diana Kaye Obe
Pensacola FL Branch
Charcoal on tan paper

Reflection is a tribute to the original peoples who populated our land for many generations.  These ancestors greeted Europeans stepping down from huge sailing ships into the “New World” centuries prior.  A wide variety of native cultures still continue to contribute dance, song, art, and culture throughout the great land of America.

Lost in her reflections, this Crow woman seems demure, serious, and thought-filled in her poise.  A hint of sadness upon her face captivated me and I wanted to record her on her wooden seat, by drawing with a piece of the earth, a charcoal medium, to convey and capture, at the very least, a depth of nature in which the native peoples of this country lived closely for centuries.  I strive to honor her customs and beauty.

Diana Kaye Obe


Art of the Week: The Glory of Aaron

Vivian Bergenthal
Connecticut Branch
The Glory of Aaron

Enamored of the landscape as subject matter, my reactions can be likened to a dance. The formula for each dance lies in the following symbiosis:  the give and take of rhythms, the sense of contrasts in color, shape and texture, and the compositions seen through the naked eye in combination with that of a camera lens. The ability to work successfully with mixed media has enabled me to achieve a kind of immediacy in my work. That I have been able to translate my initial responses to whatever images inspired me, to my handling of a variety of appropriate techniques has brought me great satisfaction.


Oftentimes, I find the world with all its uncertainties encroaching insistently upon the peaceful aura of a special moment in time that I am enjoying. Responding with my innermost being, an overwhelming desire to avenge injustice takes precedence over the concept of “beauty for beauty’s sake.”


Being involved in the arts is a blessing, for within the very process of creating art, transformation on various levels for both the artist and onlooker must occur. To be an open conduit for inspiration has always been my primary goal. The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson continue to resonate within me: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared with what lies within us.”


Art of the Week: Angels in the Garden

Polly Curran
Sarasota, Florida Branch

Angels In the Garden
Photography, 16 x 20

Polly Curran is an award-winning nature photographer. “The natural beauty of each individual leaf or flower becomes a work of art through the camera”. Their natural beauty gives a strong sense of intimacy in even the smallest things.

Curran photographs flowers, trees, butterflies and other garden friends. Her approach is founded on the cultural art of Ikebana and Haiku poetry; having studied these for many years while living in Japan. By using simple stroke lines and off-centered presentation, she creates work that captivates the eye.

“I try to bring out the best feature of a flower, leaf or tree to capture the soul of the image. For ‘Angels in the Garden,’ when I saw this image in the camera it was an emotional experience. Here was the beautiful orchid in the middle of unfurling it’s petals. Afterward, I created a Haiku poem to go along with it.

Angels in the Garden
Wings unfold in Nature’s beauty.
A flower blooms

This is my new focus – Haiku Photography. As I view deeply into a unique flower searching for the light, the space, the angle which elevates the image, I feel a sense of excitement when I find the ‘look’ I know is there.”


Art of the Week: The Violin-Cello Players

Susanne Schuenke
North East Florida Branch
The Violin-Cello Players, 1994
oil on canvas; (also available as a 48-colored serigraph)

… to play their score, to master the instrument, to perform life …
Seven different approaches on how to play music are depicted by this view of part of the orchestra, a detail of the bigger picture – the symphony. The vivid wood colors of the instruments dominate over the subdued black dresses and they are embedded in the swirls and movements of sheer music. The players’ portraits are very individualistic and characteristic of ways of mastering the task. The black haired lady in the center is totally involved and dedicated to performing her best. Her colleague in the front row, more experienced, disciplines her cello in a controlled but independent way. The young girl to the left struggles with difficulties, while the man 
in front of her represents a more individualistic style.
 The couple at the far right are quite the opposite; both using the same style, even the same position. Playing the same from their youth until their retirement age seems boring.
 And the one with the walnut brown instrument? Why he does not play? Is he pausing, unsure of the score, unwilling to obey the conductor, criticizing the choice? Or is it simply not his turn yet?

Click the link to enjoy a short 30 second video of Susanne’s work:
or go to her website to view more of her work or make a purchase:


Art of the Week: Hawaiian Fishes All The Way Down

Lucy Arnold
Golden Gate Marin Branch

“Hawaiian Fishes All the way Down


Hawaiian Fish ID chart

Skin diving makes me feel like I’m flying slowly over an unbelievably beautiful, alien world. Tropical fish are simply amazing in their variety of gorgeous colors, so they are irresistible as painting subjects. I chose to represent only Hawaiian fishes in this watercolor, since I’ve only been diving in Hawaiian waters. Many are long-time favorites of mine, while others are found at depths below my reach. The trick was making a composition of only fish, with no background water showing. Thus, these Hawaiian Fishes do go all the way down!

You may be interested in seeing more of Lucy Arnold’s work by visiting:

and the branch website:


Art of the Week: Summer Dunes II

Mary Lou Griffin
Diamond State Branch

Summer Dunes II

Pastel, 12” X 16”

Mary Lou Griffin is inspired by the nature she sees around herself in the beautiful back roads of the Delaware Valley and along the shoreline of the rivers, reservoirs and bays along the East Coast. Most of her work tends to be landscapes. High chroma color, as well as the drama created by high contrast, are important aspects of Griffin’s work. Pastel is her medium of choice although she also works in oils and acrylic.

Of her process, Griffin says,

“I tend to paint quickly so I can pick up a color and use it with no mixing required. I spend a long time thinking about the painting, about what and how I want to say with it before I start. When I have a clearer picture of what I want to do, I dive in and become absorbed with it. I cannot paint a bit and walk away. I tend to work in long stretches until I am happy with what is there. It is at that time I will let it rest and come back to it a day or so later with fresh eyes. There will always be some minor adjustments before I am happy with the result. “

You may see more of her work at


Art of the Week: Ray Walls Dune Shack

Kathryn Kleekamp
Cape Cod Branch

Ray Walls Dune Shack.
Oil on Canvas


Members of our Cape Cod Branch of NLAPW enjoyed a fall trip to the beautiful Provincelands at the outer tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Kathryn Kleekamp was inspired to create this painting as a result of what she calls “that magical afternoon”. Of her work, Kleekamp says:

“This is a painting of Ray Walls Dune Shack, one of seventeen ‘shacks.’ These primitive and defiant structures, battered by ocean winds and the elements, have long provided a refuge for artists and writers who seek to be surrounded by the natural world. The shacks are maintained by their original owners or their families, but two shacks are available via lottery to lucky artists or writers who apply for one week residencies.”

You will find more examples of Kathryn Kleekamp’s work at