Saturday, November 29, 2008

Odds and Ends

Finishing up some things that have been sitting for a while, undone.

Here is Through the Bridge, using a photo Jerry took in Brown County, OH of a covered bridge, for reference. Not great - but done. And I can use it for the Skies project at WatercolorWorkshop.

And I need to finish up the peppers painting I started - from a photo I took at the Qualicum Beach Farmer's Market. Still need to remove the misket and finish it today.

I haven't worked on Downward Glance yet today and might not - but I did get a crisper/sharper photo of the stage it's in right now.

And there's the painting of the Australian Gum Nuts/Tree that isn't finished in watercolor, too.

I hate it when I have 2-3 paintings lying around unfinished. I can't just toss them in the bin - seems like I need to finish them even if it's a half-hearted attempt at times.

Do you have paintings lying around, unfinished? Do you feel like you have to finish them - or do you just lose your enthusiasm for them and let them go by the wayside? How many do you have waiting for you?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Marks, Stage 3 + Downward Glance

I'm almost finished, I think, with MARKS. Will let it sit a day or so and look at it again later.

I have a lot more to do on DOWNWARD GLANCE, especially in drybrush. I got carried away and blended too much with some water and although I like it, now it's not pure drybrush so wondering if I should continue with that or ?

The photo looks a bit blurry to me - I'll get another sharper one after I do some more work on it.

In order to work slowly in drybrush there are 3 things that have to happen:

1. Do NOT have too much caffeine in the morning and afternoon.
2. Take things slowly and look carefully and
3. Do NOT have too much caffeine :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I wish you all the best.
I wish you happiness.

I wish you surprises that make you smile,
and jokes that make you laugh out loud.

And I want all my readers and commenters to know
that you are all a special part of that
which I am continuously thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

All photos copyright Jerry Carpenter.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two Paintings, Two Ways

Well, since this painting changed on me as I was working on it, I just went with the flow. It is now called Marks and I like it so far.

The other one remained true to the original "idea" of a Downward Glance and I'm still slowly working in drybrush. It takes a while but for some reason I'm actually enjoying it and not rushing too much - although I think I'm getting too dark too fast so this may be a learning painting for drybrush. I'm unsure about colors to use to get the final fleshtones and shadows but I'll just use what I have and try to see those colors.

I probably should have gone to class Tuesday and let Sandy help me out but I really wanted to clean the house (that feeling happens so infrequently, I have to take advantage of it when it does!); then I got a migraine and then I just had to take it easy for a while - the migraine went away and I did get some cleaning done that was really needed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Forgot What I Was Doing!

Yesterday, I watched a bit of my Janet Rogers DVD - Painting Expressive Portraits. Got energized and went down to my little art room and began laying on paint. Completely forgot I was going to try this in a drybrush technique!

So I'll start over...and do one each way and see which one I like best (or which one turns out the best). Starting the drybrush painting, I slow down and look more. I see things clearer and don't rush. And when I begin to rush, I stop and walk away. Maybe I can do this. (I think the wet-in-wet painting to the right looks like a Native American male, not a female - hey, maybe I'll go with that!).

Wish me luck - and patience!!!

(In between painting, I'm cleaning the house - it needed it soooo badly!!! Did you know that cat hairs, left alone for weeks - yep, weeks :( - at a time turn into mini tumbleweeds on a hardwood floor and ramble around whenever there is the slightest breeze? No, you probably didn't know that because you probably clean your house more frequently than once a month. Sorry, I just think there is always something more interesting to do than dusting and sweeping and mopping, and cooking, and raking leaves, get the point! ha ha)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Drowning in Possibility - Stage 3 and Final

I think this is the final. I'm not sure what else I want to do with this and I think it says what I want to say. If I do anything else, it will be to work on centering the mouth a bit more - seems like I let it move to her left side more than in the sketch and initial painting.

This is on Arches 300# coldpress and it's 1/2 sheet (15" x 22").

I've begun another - not sure of the title on this one but it will come to me so for now I'm calling it Downward Glance. This one will be 1/4 sheet - also Arches 300# coldpress.

Here's the preliminaries: the sketch, the transfer of the sketch onto the watercolor paper, and I'll start the painting tomorrow. I'm thinking I'd like to try this in a drybrush technique (maybe all that reading about Andrew Wyeth influenced me - but I know I don't have the patience so maybe a wash and then some drybrush...)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

She Sells Seashells - Photo by Jerry

Jerry's photo of 3 seashells won first place last night in the TriState Photography Society competition. I love how he made it look warm like a sunset was shining on it.

He got a "step-down" on the crystal. That means, it would have been a winner if the seashell hadn't been a winner.

Jerry spends hours composing a photo, creating something from the required "themes" for that night's contest. He tries different lighting, different arrangements, different elements - until he gets what he thinks is the best one.
It sometimes feels, to me, like a visit to the eye doctor as he asks: "Is this one better? Or this one?" So I help pick what I think is the best - but that doesn't mean it will win. Sometimes I've been wrong about which one will win and which one won't place (he puts in 2 photos each competition) and sometimes I don't feel strongly about a photo and it gets first place - what do I know?! ha ha

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Drowning in Possibility - Stage 2

Darkening, shaping, trying to get the look of floating in water.
Comments and critiques very welcome.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Drowning in Possiblity - Stage 1

I started this in class from the workups/studies I'd done and taken in with me, along with my notebook. I intend to keep that notebook handy when thinking about paintings and working out paintings. Deb Ward (see her blog on my sidebar) suggested I do this and I used to do this but stopped - so glad she reminded me of this very good tool to have when working out composition/color/value/intent.

This is on 1/2 sheet Arches 300# cold press paper. Now I need to determine where I want the darks - and how many darks I want in this. And also I need to determine if/where I want a few hard edges to move your eye around (or do I just want them on the face/body?)

Comments/critiques welcome!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To Class Today...

I took these things to class today:

The work-up on yupo of the painting I'll do, the sketch on tracing paper, and what I traced of the sketch onto a half sheet of Arches 300# coldpress paper. I don't normally work on 300# paper but it's all I have left except for hotpress in this size (which I don't want to use).

Sorry, the sketch isn't very dark - and the photo is even lighter than in real life...
Basically, I went in thinking about this (I have a notebook where I wrote out ideas, thoughts on where I wanted to go, what colors to use, etc.) and having an idea of what I wanted to do.
When I showed everything to the class, they either laughed, were very silent, or said it was disturbing. Good! I no longer want to paint just pretty pictures - I want to put some emotion into a piece that someone might feel - whether that is a "positive" emotion or a "negative" emotion, I want them to think about the painting - what it might mean, say - how much of it is autobiographical, etc.
So...stay tuned tomorrow for what I did today - it's not finished but I'm heading in the right direction, I think.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Sayings

Painters often seem to be involved in a great struggle with those things they have the greatest difficulty mastering... It is as though the artist is always working a little bit beyond his area of competence, stubbornly doing what is to some degree impossible.
----- Alan Feltus
In order to make truly personal work, one has to struggle with intent and content as well as with techniques. And technique is the easiest thing to learn in art.
----- Gabriella Morrison

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Drowning in Possibility

Yesterday, I pulled out all the loose paintings I had in a portfolio and sorted them. The yupos and tyvek paintings here - the ones on paper there. Then I went with a gut reaction to all of them and tore up about a dozen. They were bad. Really beginning stuff even though I might have done them just a year ago or less. Then I took the bad yupos and put them in the bathtub under water and scrubbed the color off (sometimes I had spray sealed them and it left a bit of that texture - interesting stuff I can still play with).

I pulled one piece of yupo aside that had textured places in varied shades of blue and beige/grey colors. I thought about what I could make of this.
Blues = water, right?
And since I want to focus on portraits and figures now, I decided to put a woman in the painting - in the water.

The title came to me: Drowning in Possibility.

This is just a precursor/study for a a painting I'll do on watercolor paper but I wanted to use the scraps of yupo right now to help me loosen up and think more (when I know I can wipe it off and start over, it frees me from getting so tense and tight and anxious about putting down paint).

I would appreciate any comments on this one.

And thanks to Sandy Maudlin and several members at WatercolorWorkshop, I made some teeny changes to Summer Girl. I think it's better now. I think it has more her look to it than it did (amazing how small little changes to shapes, shadows, etc. can make a person look like that person or just a little off).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blue Tailed Skink

Started playing with this for a challenge on using textures. I like the volume and dimension I got in the tail but not the black/white/grey body.

(From a photo by Maureen (Reni) Jensen)

I think this will be my last challenge painting for a group for a while. I need to focus on other things right now. Nothing against any of the groups I belong to (maybe I belong to too many?) but focus is lacking in my work right now and I feel in order to grow, I have to start painting only what I feel the need to paint.

To Be or Not To Be

It is important from time to time to slow down, to go away by yourself, and simply Be. Eileen Caddy

However, if you don't want to be alone this evening, and you want to view some artwork, get on over to the Baker-Hunt show (located on Greenup Street in Covington, KY) tonight. Opening reception is from 6:00 - 8:30 pm. See some beautiful art. Eat some food. Maybe pick up an early holiday present for that "hard to fit" person on your list. I might see you there.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bella Donna in the Museum

Modern Art Museum by

She looks better in black and white - and like she's outside in the rain. I couldn't resist going to and trying out the museum gallery, too. There is something very impressive about doing this and seeing what your painting might look like really big - with people staring at it like it's worth staring at!

Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life

Still enjoying the book by Richard Merryman that Sandy loaned me. Although I'm finding that I probably would not like Andrew Wyeth if I ever was around him - not a very nice man and such a strange mix of egocentricity and insecurity it was almost pathological. Wyeth himself said he should be judged solely on his paintings because, personally, he was not a very nice person.

Why is it the "great ones" are so obsessed with their own inner vision and their own rightness that they can't truly let another person into their lives in a selfless way? And do you think it's more likely that men can maintain this attitude while women have to be more socially acceptable? Do women do things at times just so they will not be disliked - like joining that group, volunteering for that project, smiling and being friendly when you really are not feeling friendly or happy? And how does this affect our art?

Ah, well, something to think about on this dreary, damp November day. Or you could just go into your studio and paint something bright and happy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy 2 Year Anniversary To Me

I've been blogging for 2 years!
Can you believe it?
I can't.

Time sure flies.

I'll be expecting presents - lot of presents! ha ha

I'm off to the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society meeting today to watch a demo and hear a talk by Nancy Nordloh Neville, and take minutes and photos etc etc...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Summer Girl - Painting

After much stress and tension, we did another portrait in class today! Boy, you can cut the tension and nervousness with a knife when several people are painting people they know and trying to get it right.

Here's my Summer Girl:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Portrait Week 2 - Summer Girl

My granddaughter, Jocelyn, is going to be my 2nd week portrait. So had to have this drawn on the wc paper and ready to go for Tuesday morning class. Sandy worked the contrasts on the color photo I sent her so you can see the sunlight better and told me to work with the black and white - not let the color distract me (gee, you think that would happen? ha ha).

I've painted Jocelyn and Alaina and new baby brother, Devlin, once each. This is the second for Jocelyn and if I could get Alaina to sit still for 2 seconds, we could get a good photo of her, too, but she's a ball of furious activity and funny faces, especially when she's outside.

This had to be a photo taken outside with sunlight on the subject so I cropped it down from a photo of all 3 of them. Look at that white-blonde hair! She's a doll-baby, that's for sure.

This should be challenging. But, again, less is more - especially with children (the more you work the face, the older they look). Leaving LOTS of white for this one and painting very pale (like Ted Nuttall) should do the trick - if I can pull that trick off.

We start Tuesday morning in class with this second portrait. I may even finish in class. I just have to:

paint loosely
leave lots of whites
paint slowly
step back, look hard
think where you want the paint
put paint to paper.

Yeah, I KNOW this - but do I DO it??

So what! How many portraits did Andrew Wyeth do before he was good - before he got to the essence of the portrait? Dozens? Hundreds? I bet hundreds. We all have to learn, experiment, fail and react to that failure with the next step = try again until you get success :) (I know, I don't and won't ever paint like Andrew Wyeth but I'm reading a biography of his life and I am learning about how he struggled to get to the point where he was making the art he wanted to make. Maybe all artists go through the struggle. Afterall, who likes a smart-ass who gets it right the first time every time? ha ha)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Another Portrait - Ruined Due to Rushing Rhonda Syndrome

I'm not sure why I can't slow down. I'm not sure why, when I pick up a brush, my brain shuts down and my hand takes over. I really want to get past this problem. Really.

Rushing Rhonda Syndrome makes for messy, muddy, frustrating paintings!!

So all I can say about this one is I overworked it - I washed it off and let it dry and started over and still overworked it and muddied it. And didn't get those great drips and splatters, either - just painted the usual way. THINK, woman!!! THINK!

Fabriano Artistico cold press paper takes a lot of abuse but even it can't take Rushing Rhonda Syndrome...

I have a lot of hotpress Arches (don't know why I bought it because I never use hotpress) but I think I'll try it for some portraits - I'm going to try to use it like Yupo - loose and wet and with splatters. What the heck - it's only paper and paint, right?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bella Donna - Finished?

Tweaked a bit more but any more and I'll ruin it. Every time you do one thing, you have to do another to work on the values throughout. So less is more - always!

Bella Donna, 1/4 sheet Fabriano Artistico cold press 140# watercolor paper.

My thanks to Joan, Dawn, Myrna, Teresa, Deb, Susan, Nava and Ann for your comments on this one as it took shape.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bella Donna - Stage 2 Portrait

The next step of the portrait was to go into the hair and dark shape around it and put that in. I wanted to do this like the Bev Jozwiak technique of thirds - top darkest, middle medium, bottom pale with pencil marks showing and lots of drizzles and drips and splatters.

As it sits right now, I need to go in and refine the nose shape and deepen the mouth. Anything else you see? What do you think of the drizzles, splatters, etc? Too contrived? Or does it work?

I'm going to do another one - maybe there's a looseness that comes from doing portraits this way. I'd like to find out.


In an online group we have a challenge to paint using lots of texture - and getting that texture in lots of ways. Put the textured paint down, fiddle, play, create - then see what it says it wants to be. Well, that's the hard part.

What do you see here?

And what about in this one?

I think my problem is not creating texture - I can do that. It's seeing what should be there after the texture is made.

So knowing that, I went ahead and will paint using texture on the blue-tailed skink I started. Here he is so far. I used China Markers in white to put down a resist for the grates, then painted with a mixture of colors for the black. Then covered the skink with masking fluid so I could go in and be loose with the textured background. That, I started by putting down texture medium (even more good stuff) and then playing with color, putting it down, splattering with water and with more paint to get more texture). Fun. Next I'll paint in the skink.

Oh, and I haven't given up on BellaDonna - she's in the drying stage and I'll share her (good or bad) with you later.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Portrait Weeks

Sandy (my watercolor teacher) is having the class do portraits each week in November. The first one had to be from Sandy's photo (taken in Italy) and working as Sandy worked. She would paint a while, then stop, and we'd go TRY to do the same thing :) Some of us had done portraits before so there wasn't the tension that others had - a lot of tension!! Whew!

Now, this is just the 2-hour start and I have plenty to do to finish. And I have to finish this one. Can't just let it sit around undone for days or weeks.

I had to leave class early because Jerry and I took my sister and BIL out to celebrate (very late) his birthday. We had a good lunch at Applebee's (his favorite) and he got a musical card and the new John Lennon bio that just came out. I think it was a good day for him - plus we had all voted and were excited about the outcome.

And now we know the outcome and I'm hopeful that my country is finally on the road to a stronger, more compassionate and intelligent direction. May blessings pour down upon us all...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Starts but no Finishes

Starting things and then losing interest - or a feeling of being able to finish?

This one is on a block of Arches 140# rough paper my friend, Jane W., gave me.

And this one is on my last 1/4 sheet of Arches 140# cold press paper. I have to order more paper soon.

From a photo Jerry took from inside a covered bridge, looking out at the Ohio farmlands.
And, of course, there's still the blue-tailed skink which hasn't seen paint yet.
Hey, I guess I'll have plenty to do in December if I have all these unfinished paintings then.

Don't Give Up

Never give up. No matter what is going on.
Never give up. Develop the heart.
Too much energy in your country is spent
developing the mind instead of the heart.

Be compassionate,
not just to your friends but to everyone.
Be compassionate.
Work for peace in your heart and in the world.
Work for peace and I say again,
Never give up, no matter what is happening,
no matter what is going on around you, never give up.

--- His Holiness the Dalai Lama


Monday, November 3, 2008

Leapin Lizard

For a group challenge we were to take a white, black and grey sheet of paper and create a value study of a painting we were going to do. I chose this photo of a blue-tailed skink (or lizard) taken by Maureen (Reni) Jensen.

And this is my value study.

Now I just have to get motivated to paint it...when will that happen?

Saturday, November 1, 2008


My sweetie and I went to a showing of "Walking with Dinosaurs" at the new Bank of Kentucky Center on NKU's campus. It was pretty cool and we had good seats - not close enough for the dinosaurs to reach out and get in our faces but close enough to see everything well. Lots of kids there, of course, and all so well-behaved and mesmerized by the "real" dinosaurs they saw.

Take a look at the site for a video.

And I got my homework done last night - putting the Italian woman on watercolor paper. I just traced the photo Sandy gave us on tracing paper and then transferred that to watercolor paper. But I did is twice, with 2 different ideas in mind for how to paint her.

I got a great idea (and a style I love) from reading the latest Watercolor Artist magazine which had an article and samples of work from Bev Jozwiak, an artist in Washington state.
Check out her gorgeous figures here:
I love that style of drizzles and drips in a watercolor painting. It resonates with me for some reason and I think I should do it more often in my paintings.
Other than that, I am trying to get together some still life setups and take photos. So far nothing really grabs me when I see the photo of it - using blue glassware I have plus some pomegranates and some jewelry - but composing a still life is harder than it looks and you need lots of props to make it work (plus a good background).