Thursday, July 24, 2014


Does the idea of painting a portrait of someone you know scare you?  It does me.  That's why I take so long to do one!  I don't want to mess up.  And I know my drawing skills are not at the level to free-hand draw the portrait on the paper so...I usually fiddle with my photo program, blow up the photo, and print it out and then trace the features.  And I still get off balance with the color and shapes when I'm painting!

John Singer Sargent hated painting portraits and dealing with the vagaries of human nature later in his life.  He is quoted as saying, "Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend."  And "A portrait is just a painting with something wrong with the mouth."  Sounds like he had a lot of complaints about his work - no wonder he went back outside and painted in watercolor, free and easy.  A tree will never say, "You didn't get that branch right at all!"

When you don't know the person - or are just painting a generic female or male or child, it's a lot easier.  You can paint eyes, a mouth, a nose and ears that are human-like enough to pass.  When you are painting someone people know that will be hung on the wall for family to see, then you want to get it right so it looks like the person.  

So...I'm working on updated portraits of all three grands and it's taking some time.  

Plus, I haven't done my lesson for this week in the Val Webb online class!  Oh, dear!! 

Of course, all this doesn't mean I'm sitting here watching soaps and eating bon-bons, so stay tuned for something soon.

Monday, July 21, 2014


I am loving the Val Webb online course, Painting Birds in Watercolor and Beyond.  Val has created a technique I've never seen, using white gouache as a resist with black ink.  I will not give away her secrets but have gotten Val's permission to share the 2 paintings I did for the class this past week.  I think the final results look like lino prints with added watercolor.  I highly recommend Val and her online courses and want to thank Laura Starrett for recommending her to me.    

(Both of these were from photos Sweetie took in our last trip to Florida - you know we love our birds and always enjoy seeing the sea- and shore-birds when we visit Florida.)

So - if you really like this "look" and are intrigued, check out Val's webpage and the list of her online courses - and sign up (the classes are very easy on the pocketbook, and Val gives you so much extra information and reference material!).  She offers watercolor and colored pencil and drawing courses online and you move at your own speed within the weekly lessons offered.

Right now, Val has a painting done with this technique on her blog post, with a link to more information in an older post.  

Wouldn't these make a nice set hanging side-by-side, facing each other, on a wall in a beach cottage? I really like the ragged black edging created by the black India ink.  The pelican is done on Arches watercolor board (8 x 10 inches) and the egret is done on Arches 300# cold press watercolor paper.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Sweetie was right - that little bird needed to be against a darker and more intense background and it wasn't hard to add color to the All Media Artboard.

Here is the original - too pale and wishy-washy!

I wish I could show you some work I've done for the Val Webb online course, Painting Birds in Watercolor and Beyond, but will need to get her permission first (don't want to get in trouble like I did with one online class I took a year or so back from someone who will remain nameless).  I can tell you that Val has a neat technique on her webpage (see my sidebar for her link) using gouache and ink and that's what I've worked on this week.  She also shows in an older post just how to do this.  I don't know if she came up with the technique or not but it's using white gouache as a resist and then inking over the whole painting and washing it all off when it dries - kind of like watercolor batik using wax but you paint in the watercolor after all the gouache with ink is washed off, you don't wax based on values.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Here in Northern Kentucky we are experiencing cooler weather.  Seems some Canadian air has drifted down as far as Florida!  And I'm not complaining because it is soooo nice.  No humidity, just 70F+ temperatures for highs, cool nights.  Open windows.  Which was why I heard "CAW CAW CAW" several times this morning, grabbed Sweetie's camera and shot out the bedroom window to catch this guy being watched by a couple of bluejays.  Both crows and bluejays are in the Corvid family, but the jays didn't look like they were going to invite this crow to their family reunion!

Can you see the bluejays in the photo?  See how much bigger the crow is than the jay (which is not a small bird)?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Cheap Joe's carries something called All Media Art Board.  It is thin and hard.  Watercolor beads up on it, creating neat textures but you have to "push" the color to get it to stay and not bleed so much when working on it wet.  I would think it would work well with any drawing media I reiterated shapes with watercolor pencil to refine the lines) and acrylic or gouache, too.  I had a little piece = 7.5 x 11 inches.  

So painted a little male goldfinch on a green wire from a photo taken on my deck last spring/summer.  

The only downside to this All Media ArtBoard is that is will crack if you aren't careful in storing it (I learned that from experience).  I haven't tried to wash off the paint but imagine it wouldn't hurt to spray seal it with some acrylic spray when you've got your final image.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


My Over the Edge painting was matted and framed at Bowman's Framing last week - looks great.  These are the same frames I use for my hydrangea paintings and they have a tint of blue or green or even red (on a couple) and are wood but look metal.  I think they no longer make metal frames but make wooden frames that are painted to look metal.  These even have a shine - sorry for the glare (taken out in the sunroom so couldn't get a decent photo without a bit of glare somewhere).

And here's a little House Finch, waiting his turn at the finch feeder.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, July 11, 2014


Here he is.  
Handsome as can be, 
as bright as s the sun, 
and catching the eyes of all 
the female goldfinches in town :)

I think we'll have to call him
Gorgeous George!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Taking Val Webb's online course Birds in Watercolor and Beyond, has taken me back to my own enjoyment of our backyard birds.  The weather has cooled a bit so I can sit out in the sunroom in the early morning after replenishing the feeders and watch all my feathered friends come for breakfast :)

This one, in my sketchbook, is a male juvenile goldfinch.  He was pretty ratty looking and his feathers all ruffled, so I think he was a juvenile - wasn't as smooth and bright as the adult males.  We have one who is so handsome, I can't stop taking his photo.  He loves the new finch feeder and keeps a close eye on 4 ladies (!!) who come for breakfast and dinner each day.  He's a real gentleman, though, letting them all have their fill of the seeds first (there are only 4 posts at the finch feeder) and then he eats.  I'll download some photos from this week and share later.  

I also saw a recent video of Cathy Johnson showing you how to draw and paint birds - in the field but using photos for her demo.  I'll find that and post a link, too.  I haven't watched it all, as I just found it this morning, but it looks good.  Cathy is a well-known and very talented artist who has many online courses and books on drawing and painting natural subjects.  

Monday, July 7, 2014


A Lane of Yellow Led the Eye
   Emily Dickinson

A lane of Yellow led the eye
Unto a Purple Wood
Whose soft inhabitants to be
Surpasses solitude
If Bird the silence contradict
Or flower presume to show
In that low summer of the West
Impossible to know--