Tuesday, August 31, 2010


While letting the portrait of Jen and Chris sit and simmer (as opposed to rushing in and ruining it), I'm doing 2 other things.  Here is one...

Yep, it's a sewer grate.  The photo was taken at the Cincinnati Zoo.  I thought it would make an interesting painting.  Odd, I know, but I'm not the only one who thinks such things would make interesting paintings.  We artists are a strange bunch and find beauty in things most people wouldn't even notice, right?  And they may be disappearing...police recently captured 2 men who were stealing sewer grates and selling them for scrap.  I guess there is copper in them and nothing made of copper is safe.  Of course, the business that bought the grates (25 in all!!!!) weren't punished.

I began it by just splattering and throwing masking fluid/miskit around and then doing the same with the first bits of color (after drawing in the grate, of course.

Slowly building up color and shape and trying to get the little sections to read more depressed into the sidewalk (no, it wasn't blue and violet but I used my artistic license to change the coloring - you can do that, you know.)

The splattering of masking fluid and paint helped to loosen me up when I was getting tight with the portraits (yes, I'm still working on the Lucky Numbers portraits...slowly but surely.  I've found I really have to be in a positive mood to do a portrait.)

Calling this one:  Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This. 
(Wonder if that's what the sewer grate thieves are saying now that they are behind bars?  Hope the bars aren't made of copper!)


The Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society is having Nita Leland visit us tomorrow during our 10 am - 1 pm meeting.  She'll be giving a painting demo and will talk about her art.  It should be colorful and fun.  Come on by if you're in the area.  If not, check out Nita's website - all about color and tons of information there.

Nita is also the judge for the upcoming Cincinnati Art Club Viewpoint show - due date for entries is over, I'm afraid.  I put 3 entries in with the hope that 1 will make it in the show but as Forrest's mama said, "Life is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you're gonna get." 

Ummm...chocolates...no wonder I'm gaining weight instead of losing the few pounds I want to shed!

Monday, August 30, 2010


Go to this post. 
and on his right sidebar read the posting titled You Suck...

Read it.  Laugh.  Soooo true!

Now, doesn't that make you feel more free when it comes to wondering what others think about your work? ha ha  When I give someone a critique (either asked for or totally unsolicited), I'm always worried that they will only hear the "bad" stuff and not focus on the good.  I shouldn't worry, right?  And when someone tells me they don't like what I've painted without giving me a constructive reason, I should ignore it, right?  So should you!

I love Danny Gregory's art and humor.  I had him on my blogroll at one time, but being the fickle thing I am, he disappeared in a housecleaning frenzy one day.  He's back.

I've been doing some sorting, rearranging and adding to the sidebar - lots more there.  Of course, being the fickle thing I am, if I find myself not taking the time to visit often, I'll make changes.  It's just the way I roll...

But enough about me!!!  How many of you have that Bobby McFerrin song in your head right now?

"Don't worry.  Be happy."

Sunday, August 29, 2010


From a photo taken at River Downs racetrack on Jerry's birthday, I singled out Jenny and Chris for this one.  I did the light sketch on tracing paper and then went over the tracing outlines with black marker so it would easy to trace onto the watercolor paper.

Traced it, trying to fix Chris' mouth that got too wonky in the first sketch, and make any minor adjustments while looking at the photo again.

I'm calling it Lucky Numbers (you can see all the numbers of the seats behind the two of them in a field of black - which should work well in the painting).  I like Jenny's cool shades, too.  Chris had on a black and grey shirt and Jenny had a tee-shirt on with Curious George on it.  Think I'll change that and give her a color that pops a bit more...we'll see.

Again, the test is to keep it light - don't lose all the lights - let the brush dance over the features, not smoosh them into oblivion.  If it works, this will be Portrait 5?  (This is on 1/2 sheet Arches 140# cold press watercolor paper.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010


To read or not to read them...do they help or hinder?  Do they give me inspiration or make me feel like giving up because I've gotten such a late start and feel that I don't have enough time?

What's your take on them?  Which ones are your favorites that you couldn't do without?

Whatever it is, my friend Nick Simmons clued me in on a British artist, David Poxon, who just happens to have a nice feature spread in the latest  (October 2010) Watercolor Artist magazine.  (The magazine has a lot of good stuff, including an article I really enjoyed about Aussie artist Charles Sluga).

Mr. Poxon paints old wooden doors, rusty hinges and railroad ties, old pots and pieces of metal that have been weathered for years.  He is making a statement about the industrial aspects of life and how they are fading, rusting away.  Looking at his paintings, you'd think, "Great color, beautifully rendered textured pieces."  He wants you to connect with the souls of the things he paints...those things that are fading away (so isn't it good that he's saving them for us in his paintings). 

Mr. Poxon is a late bloomer, too.  Although he wanted to be an artist for decades, he spent his years doing something else for someone else and didn't go full force into painting until his retirement.  (So many artists have taken this well-worn path after raising a family, retiring from a career, etc.)  David is now getting the recognition he deserves and switches from painting larger paintings (27" x 36") to doing smaller ones of 12" x 12" (for the break they give him after completing a large one). 

I was disappointed that the writer of the article didn't list David's URL so we can go and see more but I'll give it to you here...

Go visit and enjoy, unless you're of the belief that you shouldn't view others' work all the time because it influences your own too much :)  I waffle back and forth between thinking both ways, and cannot make up my mind if it's a good thing or a bad thing to surround myself with artwork from others (in paintings I have on my walls, in magazines and on blogs I visit).

Friday, August 27, 2010


Returning to another fluid acrylic painting that was started and fizzled out without going anywhere.  This poor thing hung on my basement/garage wall for a long time - well, a long time for me!

After looking at it each time I walked by it, without much inspiration, I finally took it off the wall and into my little art room (just enough room on my table for it since it is a full sheet watercolor paper - hotpress), and fiddled around, hoping to feed off the inspiration from the heart lock/locked heart painting.

Although I had no real direction, I knew I wanted to add some blues and greens to the shape (is it a shell? don't know, although it's shell-like).

I played up the color on the main shape, then ran masking fluid over the background (brushstrokes of miskit, and splatters).  Then I  really played with the color in the background. 

The masking fluid is still on and it's drying.  We'll see what happens when I remove the dried masking fluid!  I'm thinking the words are a mistake...maybe need to be covered over partially...we'll see. 

This one was a bit of fun and pure experimentation. 

I saw the movie, Local Color, today.  From 2006, it's about a young artist searching for a mentor and finding it - in a cranky, alcoholic, opinionated, mean, disappointed, old  Russian painter.  Supposedly a semi-autobiography of the writer/director who is also an artist, George Gallo.  It's worth watching.  An artist would enjoy it for the "pearls of wisdom" the old painter bestows on the young man - while making him paint his porch, wallpaper his bedroom, etc...  Of course, eventually the young man wears him down and they become friends and the old Russian does teach him directly.   The scene where the Russian shows the art gallery/critic work of a new "modern" artist is fantastic - we've all thought it! 

Thursday, August 26, 2010


This was done in fluid acrylics at one of Deb Ward's weekend workshops months ago.  I got so far and then didn't think it was finished but didn't know what to do. 

The other day, after chatting via email to an artist friend who has ideas about art I'd never have in my midwest traditional thought processes, I went down to my art room and took this one back out and knew what to do.  I covered the lock completely with masking fluid and then pinned it to my corkboard and had fun wetting and drizzling and spraying the colors to make the wooden boards in back of the lock.  It needs some minor touch-up now but I feel it's more finished.  And pushing that wood back with more muted colors and layers made it pop even more.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I had this photo from WetCanvas on the computer for ages and even began this portrait once but never finished it.  This time I went in and tried to have a light hand (lately my brush has been too heavy to get good portraits).  You may have seen this portrait in other places since it's a copyright free photo from WetCanvas (by Crias) and several people have used it.  

There are a lot of portraits in the WetCanvas IRL (Image Reference Library) to use, but I'd rather use ones I might be able to do something with if it turns into a good one.  So...I'll use family and friends mostly.  The problem, of course, is that most photos of people are taken inside with a flash :(So...if you want me to give your portrait a try and you have a good photo in the sun - with some good lights and darks - send it to me and I'll try.  I can't promise anything (remember, this is still very much a learning phase so I have good ones and then horrible ones!!)  And the eyes - need to work on those eyes because if they aren't set right, they look wonky!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Here she is, the pretty lady of the sea, Minerva's Daughter. 

Now on to more portraits - I still am not getting Alaina's the way I want it - so more practice is needed...or more manipulation...or maybe a different photo that shows some shadows and sunlight.

Monday, August 23, 2010


We had our red-eyed tree frog, George for over 4 years and he was probably about 6 year's old.  A pretty good age for a RETF in captivity.  He was a great model and a beautiful pet (although not the kind you could hold in your lap and pet often). 

George had been suffering from a skin condition for a few months and it wasn't getting better, no matter what Jerry did for him.  In the last few days, he stopped eating and seemed very swollen. 

We found him on his cage floor yesterday evening.

Goodbye, George.  You sure were a beautiful little guy. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I took the portrait that wasn't working and washed it down with a heavy spray of clean water.  Then, while it was still wet, went in with Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons (I have a set of 10).  I wanted to color the background like Alaina might color it - blocks of color in primary, bright colors. 

Then as the paper was drying, I touched in some areas in the hair and lips and eyes. 

Portrait Three.
Alaina: Colorblock Girl

I was hoping to have Jocelyn's and Alaina's portraits done, matted and framed for their birthday party tomorrow but that isn't going to happen.  Maybe I'll photocopy these for birthday cards and hold the real paintings for another time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I redrew this onto the hotpress watercolor paper and then lightly added some color after I went over the graphite lines with pigma ink.  It's more of a pen and ink with watercolor portrait.  I'm still working on the traditional watercolor portrait of her but I like the cleanness of this one.  What do you think?  She may like it because it's so different from Jocelyn's portrait and while she likes to be able to do everything her older sister does, she also likes to be different...you know girls...

Here's the start of the traditional watercolor portrait (second try at this one)...

(Blogger has made another change to how you post photos and the top bar is different - I have to say I LIKE IT!  The photos go right where you have your cursor and you can resize and position it after you put it in the post!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Alaina has very interesting features. She doesn't look like the 8-year-old she is but already has hints of the beautiful woman she will become. Those older-than-eight features are a bit more difficult to capture than her sister's age appropriate, 10-year-old features. So...I started and made a mess so am starting again, focusing on the drawing a bit more (and bigger so her face fills the 1/2 sheet on which I'll be painting).

For my portrait challenge, you'll be getting the bad along with the good. Here's the first feeble efforts...

Went too pink too quickly - looking a bit like a little clown-girl in this one. So I tried to tone down the colors...and went too muddy. Plus I kept carving away the face so it's so tiny!!

The do-over is sketched out on tracing paper (so I can trace it onto the watercolor paper). Tried to get the face a bit larger, wide mouth more smiling. I think this one has a better chance of succeeding when I pick up the paint brush.

Each stroke of the brush, when doing portraits, is a learning experience. You learn: yes, do that, it works well. Or: Ugh! Stop now! That doesn't work. You think about colors, temperature, values, and also have to get the shapes right - the shapes of the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the distances between them...so much to think about and try to get just right. It can be tiring. But when it does come together and you think you've got it, it gives you a real rush that your hard work paid off.
For a child, a light touch is necessary. But Alaina has a very forceful personality and I want that to come out in this painting. I hope I can do that without overworking it and making her look too old.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Every time I paint a portrait, I know I need more experience in painting portraits. But I just go off and do something else. Well, how do you get better at something: you do it more often. Just ask any musician, dancer or artist.

So I'm creating my own personal challenge to myself to paint more portraits. Now, I'm NOT going to say I'll do a portrait a day because I know that's not reasonable for me. So maybe

One Week = One Portrait.

And, knowing me, it won't be the only thing I paint in a week but it won't pressure me so much I'll give up early. I want this challenge to last for a month or two...or three.

We'll see...wish me luck with a good helping of determination.

And I'm using this one as Portrait One:
(Hope you still like it, Teresa!)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Drove over to Deb Ward's again Thursday and spent the day painting, talking, eating, painting, talking, etc. I got to see some work Sharon had done and we told her the ones we'd put in the Viewpoint Show. Some really wonderful work that shouldn't have a problem getting in at all.

While there, I worked more on the mermaid. I'm calling her Minerva's Daughter...she's almost done.

I also took out an older start of a portrait of my friend, Teresa, and spent some more time on it. I'll work more on it to finish it soon.

Jerry took some photographs of the paintings I'm going to enter into Viewpoint. I hope one gets in (you can enter 3 but only 1 will get in). I'll get the cd done and ready to mail out Monday. No reason to wait for the deadline of August 31.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The only way to stay cool these days is to stay in the water. This mermaid knows all about that and she's staying very comfortable under the water.

You may remember the sketch from a year or so ago...I did this by first doing a drawing from a life drawing session, then coming home and playing with lines and shapes on it.

Then I did a colored version on Yupo.

And now I've begun another - this time on Twinrocker watercolor paper. I'm still trying to get lots of texture in the painting by using granulating colors and mixing them to granulate even more.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Hot as blue blazes!!
99F is too hot!
I should be cranking the air up and painting. But I'm not. I'm still tired.

Did you know that low levels of Vitamin D can cause fatigue and achiness and other problems? I just found out I have very low Vitamin D - we are all at risk for this now because:

1. We don't stay out in the sun a lot
2. If we are in the sun, we have on 50 SPF sunscreen

So, for years they tell us stay out of the sun and now we're all becoming Vitamin D deficient. It's the latest concern in the medical journals.

I'm going to have to take mega-doses of supplements and see if I begin to feel better. Also, I'm back on my LOW FAT diet since my cholesterol is up higher than it's ever been. It's a good thing there are so many low fat things to eat these days - and if that's true, why are we still a nation of obese people? Did you know that American girls are starting puberty now as early as age 8?? Why? They think it has something to do with obesity and our high fat diets.

(Your Vitamin D level should be between 30-80 with a nice level being around 50. Mine is 24 - oops - time to go sunbathing on the deck in my polka-dot bikini and my RayBans!).

That's my medical news for the day.

Now I really should GO PAINT...

Monday, August 9, 2010


How can you be so tired when you haven't done anything all weekend? Other than about an hour of yardwork and grocery shopping, I did nothing the whole weekend. And yet I'm tired today. Must have been all those insane and very complicated dreams I was having this morning - I was doing so much in my dreams, I woke up tired! ha ha

Deb Ward and I are meeting the bad boy of watercolor, Nicholas Simmons, for dinner tonight after he'd done with his 4-day workshop at the Greentree Studio in Lawrenceburg, IN (Sandy Maudlin's studio). Just to catch up with what he's been doing. Nick and I have been blog buddies for a few years now - I "met" him when he first came upon the scene at WetCanvas and caused such a stir with his fluid acrylics. I told Sandy about him and she's had him come over to IN and give 2 workshops so far.

(I may have to take a nap before going out! ha ha)

Saturday, August 7, 2010


This was something I did over a year (or more) ago. Gessoed watercolor paper and then watercolor on that. Deb loaned me her Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons to use. I put down a piece of all media plastic you can draw or paint on (and wipe right off) to see where the lights should be lifted and the darks should go and what colors to add. Then I decided I'd just use the crayons on the painting. This added even more texture to the piece and it's still watercolor.

Title: A Whirlwind Romance
Now I've decided I need a large box of 30 Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons like Deb had - to be able to use all those beautiful colors!

Friday, August 6, 2010


I got a lot out of painting with Deb and Sharon yesterday, and it didn't even storm (like it was predicted to do). They both have good eyes - critiqued some work I'd done and told me little things that would make it more finished. Both Sharon and I are trying to choose what we might try to get into the Viewpoint Show (deadline August 31) and extra eyes help - especially when those extra eyes are artist's eyes.

Here are a couple of the crow paintings I was doing. I think the changes made brought them to a better finish - thanks for the ideas, Sharon and Deb :)

And the deck chairs - this is the one I cropped and still hated the waves that didn't work so Sharon suggested I just use a gouache on the water and push it all back. I used white gouache mixed with a Verditer Blue and it seemed to calm that a lot. It looks flat so it definitely won't be one I'll try to get into the show. But I consider more resolved now.

These aren't the ones I'll try to get into the show - you'll have to check back to see those.

Deb worked on her casein painting of her grandmother's teapot and some roses.

I didn't get a photo of Sharon's work - she had a drawing she was doing and then using frisket film over it but didn't get any painting done while I was there. Next week she'll bring some things for us to critique and say which ones should be entries for Viewpoint.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I plan to drive out to Deb Ward's place in the Indiana countryside to paint with her and Sharon today. We'll critique each other, give each other extra eyes and help along the way and probably laugh a lot.

Here are some photos I took during the watercolor society demo and talk Deb gave yesterday on painting with casein. Casein is a milk based paint and I found it had a very strong ammonia-like smell to it (or maybe it was like turps). The paint doesn't move and flow like watercolor or fluid acrylics - it pretty much sits where you put it even when you prewet the illustration board before putting the paint on. It is an ancient painting substance, having been found on the walls of the Egyptian pyramids. So when it's dry, it lasts! You can layer over it to get the look you want but you don't want to paint thickly with it or it will crack as it dries. Deb varnishes her paintings when she is done so she doesn't have to use glass when she frames them.

Four of us stayed after the program (I think the terrible heat kept a lot of members at home today because it was a smaller crowd than usual, even with our annual art supply sale going on).

Deb gave us dabs of the casein and paper plates to use as palettes, and an 8x 10 piece of illustration board to paint on. We copied a drawing she'd done of pears on lace.

Everyone (but me) wanted to try the lace. Deb does lace like you've never seen - you feel as if you can reach out and pick it off the canvas/board - but lace is not my thing so I decided to play it safe.

<--- Jo
Jane --->

had some colorful pears and a good start on their lace cloth.

Sally wowed us all with her light touch and beautiful modeling of the pears...

And Deb's were beautiful, of course, as she built up the colors and shape, bit by bit...

While yours truly rushed through like a monkey on a ten-speed bike, going too dark, too intense, too much, too whatever.

I did not get pretty colors like Sally, Jo, Jane, and Deb did. I also didn't even try the lace since I know I'm not a lacy girl and wouldn't benefit from learning how to do this (which Deb says is just painting "what isn't lace").
I'm going to finish mine up with acrylics. I used to have, somewhere in my art room, some traditional acrylic paints. I can't find them. Don't know if I gave them away or took them somewhere and lost them...or where they disappeared. Maybe they'll turn up someday. I had quite a few although I never used them.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Wherein lies the weak link when the painting inside your head doesn't match the painting you create on your paper or canvas?

There was a missing link here. This was something to piddle with while waiting for inspiration (or lack of fear) to kick in on the deck chairs no. 3 painting. I think I had no clear idea how to do the water...so did it last. (So I guess I've answered my own question about where the disconnect lies - in the planning of the WHOLE painting before beginning to touch that paint.) The water should be darker, more watery, and have more movement against the static pads and stems and shadows.
Oh, sometimes I think I just paint and shut off my brain as soon as I pick up the brush. I think I'll try this one again, with much darker water and much lighter stems and pads.
Perhaps there's something percolating inside that wants to come out but isn't quite making the connection...
Oh, well, today I'll go see Deb Ward at the watercolor society meeting where she'll demo and talk about how she works with casein. I think I'll stay and paint along with her and some others after the meeting, just to see how it works. I've never used it but she does wonderful, glowing paintings with them, using a glazing technique.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Monday was my Sweetie's birthday so I spent the day with him. Took him to lunch at his favorite seafood place. Ran some errands. Just spent time together. It was a fun day for both of us. Made this little on-the-monitor birthday card for him, using one of his photos of a sea turtle taken at the Newport Aquarium...

Here's a wonderful photo he took. He has back-stage access, being a volunteer for the aquarium for so many years.

I wonder if the fact that he was born in San Jose, California, has anything to do with this love of the sea and all the critters in the sea?

Oh, and I did sneak an hour or so to paint to I'm sticking to my rules of GO PAINT :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Added a few finishing touches to When You Return to that Place of Loss. It's done. I hope you like it and I left enough of the painting to speak for itself...

This is fluid acrylic and collage on 1/2 sheet Arches. (Click to enlarge and see the collage bits better.)

And as you know, I have tossed the deck chairs over the railing in frustration at myself for cutting into the whites too much, trying to make the shadows too dark, losing that gorgeous color mingling I had. So...version number 3 is on the board and started but I think I'll wait to share until I see that this one might make it! Thanks for staying through the changes in this one. It might become a good painting someday.