Thursday, October 19, 2017


Since I put the 2 oranges on the right in after I painted that area pale blue, I need to lighten then a bit to give them more shape.

Then, it will be done.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Added some soft color to the pink background by prewetting it and scraping watercolor pencil onto the background.  Then put in the little pencil bag (Color Me Happy).

Almost done?

Sunday, October 15, 2017


As I drew on the Arches 300# coldpress paper, I changed things because of the placement and the size of the paper (half sheet = 15 x 22 inches).

Some more things to add and more do to on this one.

I ordered 10 sheets of Arches 140# cold press paper from Dick Blick on September 25th; according to my notices, it was not shipped until October 3rd, and was not delivered until October 9th.  I called and emailed Dick Blick and let them know I was NOT happy at the delay and reminded them there are other art suppliers out there.  BUT this is the first time I've had a problem with shipping taking so long from them.  I think they sent it out to the wrong place (I got an early notice that it was sent to FedEx in Wisconsin which means it went from IL to WI which is a rather odd route to get to Kentucky).  

Friday, October 13, 2017


Some items I have on hand to make a painting.  I began this one with the drawing, making a cruciform shape and then fitting things into that shape - I think that will make a stronger painting in the end.

What I don't have, I'll gather from photos cut from magazines (for color choices or shapes).

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Putting the pattern behind this was a good idea.  The color is a bit much, but I like the way it falls back in some areas and comes forward in others.  

What do you think?

Monday, October 9, 2017


This one has no patterns behind anything, just white paper.  But I'm liking the texture created by the watercolor on the 300# coldpress paper.  Nothing wrong with light colors and it's coming along well so far.

Saturday, October 7, 2017


After some input from some blogger buddies, I thought I'd work on this a bit more.  Added some oil pastels here and there to bump up the color in places and push back the "cut in half" dark blue vs. aqua blue.

Hmmm...still not sure about it.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


This painting was fighting me every step of the way from the first total fail to this. 

Even pulled out some oil pastels and a bit of white gouache.  Not worried about it not being pure watercolor, as these are still learning pieces.

It is done.  
That is about all I can say about it.  
Some you win, some you do not.  

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Here's the 2nd one I started over after the previous fail.  Half sheet (15 x 22") Arches 300# coldpress paper.

This is more like the colored sketch I did.  

But...I am not getting a good pattern or enough visual interest in my recent paintings - plus I am cutting them in half almost all the time (need to break that habit).  So...time to take a break and rethink how I want to go on with this...

Sunday, October 1, 2017


This is on a half sheet (15 x 22 inches) Arches 300# coldpress paper.  I did predraw (after the previous fail, I needed more direction and help with spacing elements).  Then I began painting.  

I don't often (never) paint on 300# paper but I have a few sheets of it so I intended to use it at some time.  The paper really soaks up the pigment and water but creates nice texture just by the fact that the 300# does soak up the pigment and water.  Unfortunately, it then causes everything to be so pale.  Which is not what I want.

So...I'll have to go back in with everything except the chair (I'm liking the color and value made from Daniel Smith Shadow Violet with just a touch of Genuine Rhodonite = pretty!).

So, stay tuned (if you aren't tired of all this experimenting of mine) and see what happens.  

This is not what was planned at all, except for the chair and tulips so who knows...I will also go back to the original plan and do another.  Using half sheets limits me - it feels like I'm unsure about the size of things and placement more on a smaller sheet, as if I have more freedom on a full sheet.  And I am not leaving enough white or getting good patterns in my paintings yet.  Maybe it's time to take a break from trying to paint in this style and just paint.  

We'll see where this experimentation leads in a few weeks or months (everything you learn and study goes into your own style and color choices and changes it a bit - for the better, I hope!)

Friday, September 29, 2017


Well, this painting just was not flowing...and I knew it as soon as I got to the bottom tulips.  

I liked the chair and the cherries but working on a bunch of tulips based on a drawing and a photo just was giving me fits.  Plus I was overworking them to death on the 140# coldpress paper.  And yet, I just kept going and going and going!!

Not even going to show that part.  

Unfortunately, I kept painting - tulips in the bottom right, then a "table" and jar with a striped tablecloth that also was not working.  But I just kept going.

Whew!  I hope I got that mess out of my system because now it's time to start fresh.  So, with a white sheet of 300# paper (not sure if it's Arches or Fabriano), I began drawing in the elements I wanted and trying to be slow and careful (not how I usually work at all, hence the overworked aspects).  

So...wish me luck.  I have begun again.  And, hopefully, I won't be so heavy-handed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Planning something new.  More planning = a better painting.  So I need to make myself slow down, take time, look, take a break, go back and look again.  It's odd but true that we see things later that we did not see at all at first!  

This is in my 11 x 14 inches sketchbook using watercolor crayons.  This sketchbook is not made for water media but it works okay as long as you don't soak the paper a lot.

I think, for this one, I may buy some tulips.  I want real flowers to paint.  

(Well, I looked and could not find tulips locally - is it worth buying them and having them shipped or just use a couple of reference photos?)  

Monday, September 25, 2017


I meant to photograph the next step after Step 1 but I seemed to be on a roll.  

So...I think it's done.

Mermaid Vase and Pears

Saturday, September 23, 2017


On a large sheet (cut from a roll) of Arches 140# coldpress paper, I wet it down and pinned it to my Gatorboard on my table to dry and get rid of the intense curve (from being rolled up for so long).

Then, using my magazine cutouts and my colored sketch, I began by putting down Winsor Newton texture medium in the upper right corner.  

Not waiting for that to dry, I drew the pattern in with a thick water soluble graphite pencil and then smeared it.  

Then I started on the bowl and pears.  Spent a lot of time on that part before moving up to the pattern again and, using a rough bristle brush to push the texture medium around, I added some pinkish-brown color there and then painted the yellow stripe beside it down to the bowl.  

At this point, I knew I wanted that blue-green vase in the painting so added it.  

No drawing done except the thick water soluble grapite pencil to help me shape the roundness of the bowl before painting in color.  

Time to take a break!

Thursday, September 21, 2017


On the bulletin board:

the colored sketch, some magazine pages for pears and colors...getting ready for a new painting.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Finished after just a few tweaks.  

Coffee Time

13 x 16.5 inches 
on 140# coldpress Arches watercolor paper

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Coffee Time 
painting continues.  

Still some things to do to make me like it more.

Friday, September 15, 2017


I began painting in the upper left side, slowly getting those geraniumns done, bringing the leaves and stems down to the plate of fruit.  Then the coffee grinder and blue jar and that orange around it (could not get the loose look of the sketch - the sketch paper just made that orange blotchy and interesting in ways the 140# paper did not although I kept adding water and a bit more paint as it was drying).

So far, so good!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


First:  Pull out some things from your home; things that mean something to you; things that "go together" for a future painting.  Think about shapes, shapes, shapes (and value).

Second:  Set up some things and pull out some photos for additional elements = flowers or jugs or dishes.  Make some changes.

By sliding the coffee grinder over to the side of the table, it came up against the orange painted blocks of my library shelves.  So...making me rethink my idea of painting this in pale greens and hot pink = how about that orange in there to put next to the blues and tans?

Third:  Sketch a loose drawing with color - think about what color you are going to make the painting, overall.  At this point, the blues are too pretty and will be cobalt and I will paint the geraniums in the left side with more oranges than pinks and maybe bring that orange down and around the grinder and blue jar.  

So many changes as you go along and try to decide what's best.  I need something to bring the eye into the painting in the lower left, too - will pull some little thing out to put there later.

Magazine pieces cut out for the elements and colors.

This is a better drawing of the grinder, cup and jar.  I wasn't happy with the quirky way I'd put the grinder in there - it should be solid with lots of texture on the wood and the handle.

In the painting, there will be no blue scarf but I'll put in a pot of geraniums there instead - the leaves will pour down over and around the blue clock and the plate of apples (did you see the plate of apples?).  This is so much fun to just try things and play with elements and colors.  And cutting out magazine elements works - keep a book full of things and just pull out and use whatever works best with your initial setup :)

And this looks more like I want the painting to look (sketch done over in Caran d'Ache watersoluble crayons with water added and some watercolor if the color needed a bit more).

No silver coffee pot, no little white creamer.  Letting the green and pink fruit move the eye around a bit.

That little white jug may show up again in the lower left but mostly unpainted (?) maybe.

I loved the orange and messy look here in the sketch of the grinder and jar and cup - will definitely try to do this in the painting!

This is where your creativity and your energy flow through you and you cannot WAIT to get started...
BUT that is the time to go sit down a while before starting so you don't rush (this is me talking to myself because I am not patient and tend to rush, overpaint and lose some freshness).

So - orange, pink and pale green around the elements of flowers, fruit and coffee stuff.

Ok, here we go!

Going to start with the upper left geraniums and the cobalt blue clock.

Monday, September 11, 2017


The top right of this one was just wrong - also the table didn't look like a table at all.  So "destroyed" that part with a rough bristle brush, some white gouache, a bit more color on the tall parts of the flowers.  Then just cropped off some of the top.

For this one, I just cropped a bit off the edges and bottom, bringing the view in closer.

Now, on to something new!

Saturday, September 9, 2017


A couple of cards - Strathmore Watercolor Card sets.  

I love painting some of these every now and then just to have some on hand for birthdays, etc.  

These both were "inspired" by the last Shirley Trevena book I worked through - with some additional colors and shapes as I painted.

On my palette.  
Not sure what colors running together made this watery/swampy object, but I like it :)

Thursday, September 7, 2017


This one has gone through some changes.  Mostly, the struggle is with the background that I want to be something but not too much something (as if that made any sense at all).

I darkened some shapes and brought in some more darks here and there to get the eyes to move around the painting.  

Not sure about this one yet.  I think that velvet chair needs to be pushed back in some way.  Shirley would just "destroy" it by taking a rough wet brush to it and smooshing it.  Or maybe the "table" needs to read more as a table and not as a stained glass window...

What do you think?  Be honest, now!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Started the painting, after the initial planning stages, with the flowers, then the vase.

(I know that looks like a big hat in the upper right but it will be a velvet chair behind a table when I'm done.)

So far, trying to stay focussed on
Value and

A lot of think about all at one time - whew!

Shadow Violet very very wet (over granulating medium brushed over the paper behind the flowers and "on" the table surface) so it separates into the three colors but is, mainly, violet. 

The other side a window shape cut out of a magazine - lots of water and secondary color dropped into the primary color.  The "black" line down the paper cut around the coffee pot and cup and right through the far left green apple.  

Hope you're enjoying this new venture for me!  I seem to be a bit obsessed right now :)

Sunday, September 3, 2017


Before putting paint onto paper, I am going to work out the shapes and colors on sketch paper with crayons and graphite.  This will help me plan a bit more than just start on paper and go from there (that intrepid style of painting probably takes years!).

I have been cutting out elements from magazines and pulling together some things that mean something to me, personally.  I'll use a little of this, a little of that, and come up with something good (I hope).  

Painting this way takes a lot of thinking about:
values and

I liked the colored sketch above, but decided to go for more personal things around the house.

I started with a light graphite pencil sketch, then put some magazine cut-out elements on the sketch to make changes.

At this stage, I pulled out some real elements (to look at as I paint) = the aluminum coffee pot and a small cup (both belonged to my Momah, who made a cup of coffee that was so strong, it would walk out of the kitchen right to you :)

Another magazine element = the velvety peach/orange chair.

Planning this way lets you see what works and what doesn't work before getting to the real painting.  

And then you can just go for it!

My goal for the whole painting is to make things less flat = more dimensional, using whatever works to make the shapes and colors pop.

Friday, September 1, 2017


I worked up a colorful sketch on plain paper, using water soluble crayons.  I will look at it a while before beginning to paint.  

I already know I don't like the black lines going right through the pears and will move the lines.  I also think the tulips need to come down farther into the lower left part of the painting.  

This seems easy but, truly, there are SO MANY choices to make it's like going to the grocery and seeing 20 types of chicken noodle soup and being stuck for a choice! ha ha

And I might just put this one aside and begin something else.  Afterall, I want these setups to be more personal to me.

I just found out I am running out of 140# paper except in blocks so need to think about an art supply order :)  

😊 Happy September! 😊

Thursday, August 31, 2017


I finished the S. Trevena-esq painting based on her demo in the book.  I did change some colors, shapes, etc. - just a bit (we all have our own mark-making style and color choices).  But this is pretty close.  

Now, time to play with this concept myself.  It's interesting.  Working this way actually frees you up a bit more because you are not tied to painting exactly what you see and how you see it - choose your colors, make good shapes, and have good values and you should have a good painting.  We'll see how it turns out for me.

And I am working on a commission, painting and showing the painting as it goes, trying to make sure the client is very happy with the final version.  It's a "tight" painting of a flower (from her photo) - and that's how she wants it so she's happy so far.  This is the "first draft" that was too dark in the background and the flower didn't pop as much as she wanted - so I reworked it, lightening the background and putting more intense color on the flower (using watercolor ink with white gouache for the white areas).  

Then I decided I didn't like the 2 open petals (showing sideways) = too symmetrical.  So redid this (you always learn something when working and then starting over) putting in just one petal on the left side.  The final version will be on 300# paper (11 x 15 inches) and will be pure watercolor (no gouache to bring back the white).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


More painting.  For texture and interest, using a water soluble graphite pencil (thick one), watercolor pencils scraped off onto the paper when it's wet, mark-making with a small stick, and lifting up color with a dry paper towel.  

Still quite a lot to do to finish this and I may change some things from the book demo that she does - I would like to leave more white around the flowers at the top and right side...we'll see.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


To work in stages this way, you have to have patience.  I am not full of patience in any aspect of my life.  So...this could be a struggle to make myself stop and walk away, letting the paint dry completely before going back to add things, including glazing over colors to increase or change them.  

Working as Shirley Trevena does - I think - in stages.  No wonder it takes her 2 weeks for a painting from start to finish.) 

This is just the top half of the paper with the tulips and one lily (there will be more lilies as I work along with Shirley from her book, Taking Risks with Watercolor (her first book).

At some point, she taped the left hand side of the flowers with masking tape but I missed that part so...will just play it as it lays and try to fit those pale lilies in on the left side without having a hard line there.  

I have a commission I'm working on so I can work on that while this dries and I move on to the next stage.  (No drawing done, just put the flowers and foliage in at the top of the painting.)

Friday, August 25, 2017


Well, you know I had to try the Shirley Trevena style painting.  I did a drawing/sketch before painting and, when painting, did not drawing but just figured out where everything went (from the sketch guidelines).  Um...not quite (ha ha).  But I assume this takes a lot of practice to just paint and fit things in and around as she does.

I looked through my art library and discovered I have three of her books, so am slowing looking and reading through them.  

This first attempt was from bits and pieces she put together (not in this way but various photos) and I drew them together and around and made up a still life from the various photos in the book.

She was using the tulips with lilies (I didn't draw out any lilies) and the pears in a tilted bowl (I did not tilt my bowl).  Then she works through the flowers and the pears and how she paints them.  I just went in, full blast, and did the painting in 3 hours steady work, no stops.  So I was very into the painting - but, as you can see, it's not very successful and everything looks flat.  I put the blue and dark purple colors behind things after I had the painting elements finished.  I like the purple wine bottle in the right the best - and the use of the white candle wax as a resist.  I wonder what it would look like if I cut it in half and just had the pears, the purple bottle and some of the vase and flowers?

When Shirley paints, she spends a lot of time on one section, then walks away and lets it dry completely before returning to see what else is needed (and where it should be).  She says it takes her a week or more to complete a painting, working this way - so a lot of the time, she's not painting but thinking about painting (and composition = it's all about the bold colors and the shapes for her).

So...I'm going to try a step-by-step next time like she would do, getting out the watercolor pencils, the sandpaper, the water soluble graphite and sticks - and try to do it the way she'd do it.  I think there is something freeing about this and you just have to take each section as if it was a complete painting in itself.  

Stay tuned for the next attempt.

Monday, August 21, 2017


In this next section of the DVD, My World of Watercolor, Shirley Trevena takes an unfinished painting (about at the middle stage) and shows how she looks at her work to finish it.  She intends to leave a lot of white on this but knows it's not finished yet.

What would you do at this stage?  Would you add more or just crop it off and say it's done?

First, she brought down the tulips drooping down to the bottom, adding some lines (which she says indicates the table top, although that's only a table top in Shirley Trevena's world :)

And looking around the house, she comes upon this little jar that will fit perfectly in the lower left edge.  She just holds it and paints it in the corner, not caring that she's overlapping it to the blue willow vase that's already there.  Edges don't matter too much in a lot of her work - but she does play up hard edges in places.

You can see at the upper left edge, she's taken that drawing behind her left hand and redrawn it - somewhat - in that corner and just softened it with water after sketching it out with a water soluble graphite pencil.  Not but a trace of color there, she wants it to read as a graphite drawing on the wall behind the flowers.  Do you see the pencils she's added to the deep blue vase?  Those pencils (she ends up with four of them in various colors) point towards the graphite drawing on the wall = clever!

Still a bit too much white in the upper right corner of the painting so she just adds more irises and leaves there, bringing them up to the top of the paper.  She reiterates some of the colors, making them more colorful and bold (she does not like weak color).

And, at this stage, which she says would have taken her 4 or more hours in her studio, she says the painting is finished.  

It's often hard to finish a painting if a lot of planning doesn't happen before paint goes on the paper.  So, if you find yourself in this spot, just ask, "What would Shirley do?" and go looking for things to add!  

I know - it sounds soooo easy.  But it's not!  Give it a try, though, and see what happens :)

Now, time to go out and see the eclipse (safely, by looking on the ground through leaves or a paper with a hole punched in it, since we don't have safety glasses).  I hope, wherever you are in the US today, you are safe and enjoy this event.