Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Portrait Study

I want to do a bunch of portraits for practice so I decided to try this one in watercolor.  I was trying to get the correct look of the sitter, but I at some point, I just wanted to get a decent painting, so it isn't very 'exact' but it is close.  Sometimes I just can't figure out what it is I need to do to make it right.  Other times, just a tiny change makes all the difference.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Hop Shop

5"x7" watercolor NFS

I painted this and then decided to go back in with ink which I have been playing with lately.  The top photo is a little more exposed then the bottom one, so the colors are more true.  I love the look of the dancing lines of ink over the watercolor, but I think maybe I did more than I needed.  It is always an exploration...a journey, an experiment.  It can be quite thrilling sometimes!
This is "The Hop Shop" in Kent, England.  It is at the Castle Farm where they grow lavender and hops.  My daughter took me there 9 years ago to buy the decorations for her wedding reception; it was a  treat  as I have a passion for lavender.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Deep Thought

9"x10" Watercolor  $50
9"x11" watercolor NFS
I love this one of the little boy.  The second image is Monarch #9 which I also forgot to post.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


 9"x11" watercolor
Monarch #12   11"x14" watercolor

I really like the concept with the first image, but am not completely happy with all my choices.  I may have to try another one and see how I can change it.  The second one I forgot to post, so here it is!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Monarch #14

9"x11" watercolor NFS
Still figuring out the best technique for me in using watercolors.  I eventually want to allow myself to paint in a looser style, but for this project, I need to stay a little tighter.  I really enjoy layering the colors which is interesting because I have to let them dry between layers to get the affect I want, and I am not a very patient painter which is why I like little alla prima (done all at once) oil painting.  I don't think watercolors are harder than oils; watercolor just takes a different approach.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Monarch #13

9"x10" watercolor
What a special moment my friend and photographer, Lowell Klock, captured when this Monarch and Swallowtail decided to nectar up on the same flower.  There are a lot of decisions to make when interpreting a photo into paint.  I chose to add ink lines in the end to tie the darks together.  I like how it gives it a very illustrative effect.  The brownish/purplish background was achieved with many layers of colors which dried in between applications.  I really like this approach to watercolor and hope I can master how to use it effectively.

Monday, September 21, 2015

An Important Woman

11"x14" watercolor
$50 Buy with PayPal

 I wasn't able to bring my oil painting set up for the demo so I stepped out on a limb and decided to do it in watercolor. It turned out OK, but I don't suggest using an unfamiliar medium to demo a painting.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mouse and Crabapples

10"x9" watercolor NFS
I am not getting around very well but I was able to get outside with my watercolors and sit and paint this.  I grabbed the little mouse figurine as I was walking out and cut the crabapple from the tree drooping down to the porch.  It has more crabapples this year than ever before.  It felt so good to be outside and it almost always feels good to be painting.  I like the transparency of this one and I really like painting simple subjects.
Below shows the other painting project I did.  I painted my crutches lavender.  It's like doing the glass half full thing.  I am going to add some beads and ribbons next.  It looks like I am going to using them for another long stretch of time, so they might as well act as an accessory. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Not Just a Pretty Painting

9"x10" Watermedia NFS
Today I have much to say.  Something changed for me.  I am sure it started a long time ago, but the realization just struck me today.  I have been going through a really tough year, physically, with a lot of pain, disappointments and incapacitation.  Although it may have been the biggest physical challenge of my life, and I am still in an unresolved condition, I have been able to stay afloat mentally and even been jolly a lot of the time.  I have attributed this to a number of things including:  having a generally bouyant personality, having inherited my mom's optimism in dealing with life, having a spiritual foundation, having a good family, lots of friends and many reasons to be happy.  None of these things really can be attributed to anything I "do."  It is dumb luck for the most part.  But today, I saw a pattern that has been growing in my life and it has everything to do with daily painting.  For the last 5 years I have attempted to have a daily painting habit.  There have been stretches of time when I didn't do that for very legitimate reasons, but mostly I have developed this habit.  All kinds of things can be said about that, but what I realized today, is that the most important part is that every day I look for things that excite my eye or create a feeling of joy and love in my heart/mind.  I have, through the daily painting process, developed the desire to find beauty no matter what else is going on.  So for me, it isn't really about my art career, or the product I produce, but it is about how I live my life, what I see and feel moment to moment despite the circumstances.  This is what has saved me this year.  This is what is inside me and what I have to say through my art.  It isn't going to be "dark" or probably "deep," but it will reflect what joy I am finding in my daily life.

This painting was a huge struggle for me and I think it was a metaphor for what I have been experiencing. It was a conflict alternating between beating it to death and trying to breathe life into it.  I worked it, reworked it, tried again, and then did some more.  So, at least for me, it's "Not Just a Pretty Painting," but a map of a battle and in it are a lot of lessons for me.  It probably won't ever get framed and hang on someone's wall to bring them a reminder of beauty and joy, but I will keep it to remind myself of this amazing and cathartic day in the life of this daily painter.
This is as profound as I get.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Monarch #10

4"x8" watercolor NFS
This is my favorite of this series, so far. I am 1/3 of the way through my goal of 30 watercolor paintings of monarchs in Sept. I have learned from experience that this is a very arbitrary goal, and it can actually be counter productive. The idea is to be a little better each day and to do that requires working hard to do your best. Therefore, setting a number of paintings as a goal only serves to get an artist to the studio to work. That is worthwhile, of course, but it isn't worth sacrificing quality for quantity. But I really like this one!
This is Monarch #9 out of 30 I plan to do. If you have a great Monarch photo you would like to see in paint, please send it to me. I do not have 30 of my own! These paintings are for a project I am working on and are NFS, but I hope you are enjoying my little foray into watercolor.
This second image is Monarch #7 revised.  After studying it for a couple of days I decided to add some fun and darker value to the background.  Although this doesn't really "read" as sky, like it previously did, I think it is much more interesting and artistic, which is after all what I am attempting to do.  I heard a good quote today from some TV production about being an artist is about facing a new mystery every day and having the opportunity to learn a new lesson.  It is a long job description, but that is how I feel about what I do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Monarch #8

8"x11" watercolor NFS
Monarch#8 This one was really fun to paint. I loved going dramatic with the purple and it worked so well with the pink buds/flowers and the green leaves. I liked the composition as well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


8"x11" watercolor NFS
This monarch is freshly emerging from its chrysalis.  I am not sure what I would do differently if I repainted this one, so I might ask my art group what they think.  It clearly tells the story, but it is a tad bit boring I think.  I may go back in and darken the sky behind it and see if that makes a difference.  Watercolor is so different than oil and I am hungry to learn its secrets!

Monday, September 7, 2015


I may have to have something in fabric printed up with this design.  I am still figuring out how watercolor works, what I can do with it, and when it is appropriate to use techniques like sponges or sprayers to get affects.  Peter Huntoon is a watercolor artist that uses all kinds of splishes and splashes in his work to great affect without it looking trite at all.  I am not there yet.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


8"x11" watercolor NFS
I like looking at paintings with lots of patterns, but unlike my friend Heather Shay, I do not like painting them.  I think the repetition gets to me and I am a little impatient.  That being said, I got myself in deep with this one.  I wanted it to have an abstract feel, but have some realistic elements as well, and I think I am pretty happy with the results.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Monarch#4 Cocoon

I really played around with this one and thought since the cocoon was such a simple subject, I would abstract the background.  I dripped and sprayed and layered and flicked and taped and rubbed and just had a good old time.  Not sure it is a great painting, but it sure was fun to do!

Friday, September 4, 2015


8"x11" watercolor
I like putting on layers with watercolor but don't always know what to expect.  I am trying out different approaches so that I can learn some things.  The colors of the painting are so much more vibrant in real life.  I am not sure how to rectify this.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


8"x11 watercolor NFS
This one came a little easier.  It is painted from an image by photographer Steven Niewoehner.  The problem with painting from such an amazing photograph is that it is already a piece of artwork so you have to approach it with different intentions.  I had a hard time photographing this because the colors just don't pop the way they do in person, especially the thistle.  I have figured out a few things about watercolor like: 1) the brushes make all the difference  2) the paper makes all the difference too (this is on 400lb. cold pressed Arches) 3) figuring out the quantity of a mixed color and the ratio of water to paint are both important 4) if you don't have a process you are up the creek without a paddle

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


8"x11" watercolor
I have a project this month and I chose to do watercolor.  WHAT WAS I THINKING????  I am not a watercolorist, I am an oil painter.  I can't tell you the amount of terror I experienced doing this.  So, what did I learn?  1) Maybe by the end of this project I will know how to paint monarchs 2) Do not get Phalo Blue paint (even watercolor) under your fingernails  3) They say watercolor is a challenging medium for good reason! 4)  If you don't challenge yourself you won't grow (at least I think that is true)
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