Painting on Panel for Benefit Exhibit


Karen Kappe Nugent, Shades of Peach, Pear, and Purple, 10 x 10 x 2″ acrylic on cradled wood panel.

It’s fall and I’ve been back inside at the easel. The painting above explores a new process for me, and the evolution of my technique. This is part of my finding joy series that I started exploring last June along with many other artists worldwide. The painting is currently on view in Bridgette Mayer Gallery’s Hope & Possibility Benefit Exhibition in Philadelphia.

This show includes a wide array of artwork by artists from across the United States. At the opening reception, I had the pleasure to meet several of them in person including Ivette Vallejo an abstract artist from California, and Katie Collins, a portraitist who traveled from Florida. It was also good to see many colleagues from the Philadelphia region in person. You’re invited to view (and purchase) works online for the duration of the exhibit at this link:

If you are in Philadelphia stop in for the closing reception on Friday, November 19, 5:30–8pm. Or you can check out the dynamic space in person at 990 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA, through November 19.

November 20 post-show update – I’m so glad I went to the closing reception and met two artists from our region whose work I’d like to learn more about, Donna Conklin King and Chad Cortez Everett. They are both teaching artists. I also was able to catch up with Dan Oliva and learn more about the concept in his painting in the exhibit, which was couched in a playground setting to explore choices and meaning. It was also fascinating to learn more about Betsy Miraglia‘s handmade paper technique. If you missed the show, I invite you to visit the artists’ websites to see their work. And, I invite you to see more of my work at

NOTAN — an exciting way to add more sophistication to your compositions

Getting to know and understand NOTAN, a Japanese term that translates to light/dark harmony in the work, will help you add another dimension to your compositions.

One of my favorite painters, Jeremy Lipking uses Notan to reinforce the effect of this painting:

Jeremy Lipking Palette

Jeremy Lipking Palette

Images and palette information via

In this example above, Notan (contrast of light and dark) works subtly to help draw our eye to the focal point and then dances us around the space by the way of the light trim on the girls dress.

Jeremy Lipking’s oil color palette:

  • Mixture: Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White, Alizarin Crimson (med value, cool blue for cooling colors)
  • Titanium White
  • Cadmium Lemon
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Cadmium Red
  • Alizarin Crimson Permanent
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cobalt
  • Golden Green
  • Viridian
  • Ivory Black
Source: Clifton Phachanla

Interested in purchasing these oil colors? Visit Blick Art Materials.

Art shows and jurors

gnalinvite-1How jurying a show works for me

After talking with others on their jury process, I’ve come up with my own that works pretty well.

I base my selections for an organization’s survey show of members work (it would be different for a curated show) on these three qualities in each piece: mastery of composition, technique, and foremost, the expressive quality of the artist’s idea or concept. These qualities are what I return to when I analyze a piece. Other things affect my decisions as well, including presentation.

Recently, I was the juror for prizes for the 75th Anniversary Show of work by members of the Greater Norristown Art League in Pennsylvania being hosted by Montgomery County Community College. There were 125 works entered with eight prizes to be awarded, including “Best of Show.”

There were many high-quality traditional pieces in a variety of mediums entered in this show with some work having exciting non-traditional mounting methods and unique viewpoints in both 2D and 3D.

IF YOU GO: The show’s opening reception is Wednesday, Sept 15th, 5–7pm. Next week there will be a gallery talk on September 18, 1–3pm. The show will be up until Friday, September 30th at Montgomery County Community College, Fine Arts Gallery, Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422 (USA).

Photography & Design

As a designer, working in the studio with photographic lighting these past few months has been a fantastic experience. I recommend a basic understanding of photography and lighting for all creatives (including illustrators and painters). Having skills in this area will reap benefits for you as a graphic designer or illustrator (working with/directing photographers or setting up reference shots to paint or draw from for your fine art or illustration).

Assign 4 Portrait_cropped_43_72ppiThis portrait was taken with a Nikon D700 in a studio setting using flash. Thanks to Mr. Jeff for donning the gear and being super gracious throughout the shoot (you’ll have to take my word for it, he really was having a good time:)

A Strategy to Master Inner Communication: Living in the Present

Each week brings new challenges and tasks, whether it’s time with family, or projects in graphic design and publishing. Once in awhile, doubt creeps into my psyche around being on the “right” path. When that happens, this quote from the Dalai Lama helps me release doubt from my inner banter and concern myself with the things that matter today. “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Is there a quote or memory you have that helps relieve your worry and enjoy the present? Please take a minute to share it with me in the comments below.

Artist Authoring Tool

Artist-Author template-inprogress

Solving theblank page” or “TMI” Writing Dilemma
I am in the midst of developing an interactive authoring tool for artists to help them write about their art technique. The template will help artists organize material for professional publication or teaching an online or face-to-face class or workshop. Artists will also be able to document their working methods so others may reference it in the future. Here’s a sneak glimpse at the first page of the prototype. If you are interested to know when this becomes available for use, or you think you have an art technique book in you, please send me a message in the comments below or an email to karen (dot) kappe (at) I look forward to hearing from you!

Bot Roda on “Making it as an illustrator”…

I spoke with illustrator Bot Roda about how he got his start in illustration, how he keeps his name out there and the best way for a designer to work with an illustrator.

Bot Roda’s love of drawing and illustration comes through in his work, and work has been coming through for him for 30 years.  He built his confidence in Lancaster, PA at a local agency, and then following advice from his father, he realized “they’re not going to find me here [in Lancaster County, PA]…I’ll have to go there [New York].”  Standing on a New York city street he called the Art Director at Field & Stream who told Roda to come up, he had 10 minutes for him. From there Roda began doing spot illustrations and then got the cover for Field & Stream.

Bot then made the move to artist reps in New York and PA.  This led to new relationships and new clients, some of whom have worked with him for years. Bot continues to market himself regularly.  For his latest marketing effort, he researched ad agencies, ad clubs and agency websites and culled 100 email addresses of key contacts or general mailboxes of his target market.  He sent a 10 page pdf of his illustration samples and plans to follow-up.

Graphic designers and Art Directors call illustrators because the decision has been made that the visual solution should be an illustration. After the initial contact is made they agree to terms and a budget. Bot usually works with a graphic designer or art director who directs the illustration – the illustration might be a map, product illustration, or storyboard. They might also supply reference or “scrap” to work from for the illustration.

Bot credits his success to flexibility and his love of drawing and his work looks effortless, that is part of its appeal! It can be difficult to make it in the illustration field, but you can take these tips from Bot: Love what you do, build your confidence and market yourself.

Leave a comment about how you built your illustration career or ask a question.