Friday, December 31, 2010


What better way to start the New Year than by taking an art class - or a workshop?

Art Class

by James Galvin

Let us begin with a simple line,
Drawn as a child would draw it,
To indicate the horizon,

More real than the real horizon,
Which is less than line,
Which is visible abstraction, a ratio.

The line ravishes the page with implications
Of white earth, white sky!

The horizon moves as we move,
Making us feel central.
But the horizon is an empty shell—

Strange radius whose center is peripheral.
As the horizon draws us on, withdrawing,
The line draws us in,

Requiring further lines,
Engendering curves, verticals, diagonals,
Urging shades, shapes, figures…

What should we place, in all good faith,
On the horizon? A stone?
An empty chair? A submarine?

Take your time. Take it easy.
The horizon will not stop abstracting us.


Since I rushed the drawing just to have something to do, I created something that just wasn't working in format.  So I tossed that out and started over with a more horizontal format.  Put the lines on first, then put the ravens down, placing them how I thought they might look best (I drew them on tracing paper individually, and then traced them where I wanted them on the watercolor paper). 

Then I put miskit (Pebeo's Drawing Gum) over the lines that will remain white and while that dried a bit, I went back to the River Rocks painting and twiddled with that a while.  (This painting on Cresent Board, bows when wet and you have to let it sit and dry completely before it shapes up again so it's a time consuming process but I'll just fiddle with it in between other things so I don't overdo it.)

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Took this photo out the window of our car when we were in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on our fall trip to Yellowstone.  It's not a great photo - just a quick point and shoot - but it's giving me ideas for a painting. 

The ravens were sitting in the area for parked cars early in the morning.  I cropped off the top part which showed a couple of cars and the street beside the parking area.  I like the way the lines arc in and that touch of pink that was painted on the edge of the parking/sidewalk area.

First thing I did was wet the paper and pin it down to a piece of Gatorboard to stretch it and let it dry.  Then, with a blue watercolor pencil, I drew in the lines I wanted. 

I spritzed the paper again, stretching it a bit more and left it to dry.  (I don't usually prewet and stretch my paper - in fact, I almost never do it - so I think this was just a delaying tactic because I'm not sure about where to place the ravens and I have to gather my crow/raven photos together and draw them on tracing paper so I can then place them on the watercolor paper without mistakes/erasures).

So this is where I'm at and I'll be drawing some birds today.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I planned to paint something today.  But I got a migraine instead.

So here are a couple of little sketches (5.5" x 6.5") just to do something creative. 

They may become portrait paintings later.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Santa brought me lots of goodies.  One I especially was anxious to view was the DVD by Mary Whyte:  Mastering Watercolor Portraiture with Mary Whyte.  Mary's paintings are top notch.  She not only gets a likeness (which some watercolor portrait artists do not do), she imbues a character to each of her models.  She paints the African-American women and girls of Johns Island, South Carolina, and I know you've seen her work in major magazines.  So, I watched the DVD Sunday afternoon, taking a few notes of things that rang true (or might have been new to me). 

Mary's paintings are often more finished than the watercolor portrait sketch she shares with us in the DVD.  I like the looseness of the sketch a lot and it has just enough detail. 

Some things she says are important to her way of painting:

Planning - which means doing thumbnail value sketches prior to painting

Seeing where the light is on the face and figure.  Whether it's a landscape, a still life, or a portrait, the artist is painting light and how light reacts on that form. 

Not waiting until you have your portrait or figure painted before thinking about how to incorporate the background.  Either paint the background first or early on, even if the background is nothing more than a quick wash of color behind the figure.

She uses 300# Arches cold press paper taped down to foam core and upright on an easel.  I am always amazed at how many watercolor artists paint on an easel.  She says painting this way, there is only one way the water can run = down; and that this gives her more control.  She doesn't paint with a lot of juicy paint and water in her brush so she controls the amount of water all the time.  This seems to be the key for her style of painting.  She paints wet on dry paper and each time she rinses out her brush, she then blots that brush onto a paper towel so she doesn't have loads of water in the mix. 

She used a very limited palette of colors in the DVD and says she doesn't use many colors in her paintings; just Permanent Rose/Quinacridone Rose
Raw Sienna + Burnt Sienna
Hookers Green (I don't think I've ever used Hookers Green)
Ultramarine Blue + Cerulean Blue

Skintones for the model were done with a mix or Permanent Rose and Raw Sienna in the light side of the face, then she went to the clothing around his face.  Only then did she move to the shadow side of the face, first putting in the shadow shape from top to bottom of that side in a pretty bold brush full of Ultramarine Blue.  While that was still wet, she went in with the PR + RS mix and overlaid that here and there, allowing it to blend on the paper without fussing with it.  She rarely went back into an area once she put a color down unless she wanted to mix another color in.  She got the look of the beard and moustache by doing it drybrush and leaving lots of lights.

I think I'll try some of Mary's tips on my next portrait, although I won't paint with my paper upright.  She controls the amount of water so she doesn't get messy, and yet the finished portrait still looks fresh and loose - perhaps because she doesn't go over areas again and again. 

Mary creates the character of her model by placing them in a specific place or positioning their bodies in a certain way or by what she adds around them (how much detail and other objects are seen).  I would have loved for the DVD to be longer as it seemed to be over too soon - and I would have liked to see her do an additional portrait sketch, maybe a darker-skinned model.  Oh, well, I guess a taste is what leaves you wanting more and I may have to see if I can take a workshop from her in 2011 or 2012.  She has been one of my favorites for years and I have her books (which I highly recommend).

I think I'd like to be somewhere in between her style and the looser style of Ted Nuttall :)  If I keep practicing, I may get there someday!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


It's Sunday.  I haven't been painting - just wrapping, unwrapping, visiting, leaving, eating and more eating!

So it's time to share a few new followers I've gained.

Vicki Greene is an outstanding artist with a heart as big as her largest paintbrush (and then some).  She has created her blog called Garden of Weeden and she does give-aways and shares WIPs and is a member of WatercolorWorkshop (where I became friends with her).  You will find some lovely work over at Vicki's blog and you may sign up and win one of her monthly give-aways.  But even if you aren't lucky enough to be a winner there, you will win when you see her work.  She is dedicated, careful and must have the patience of a saint!!  Lots of layering and slowly building up colors in watercolor to make them shine.  I am the proud owner of a few of her pieces and they are amazing - and she works behind the scenes at WatercolorWorkshop, helping the large group run without a hitch.

Another brand new follower is from Paris, France - can you say ooo la la!  Her paintings are outstanding and I'm glad to learn about her.  So stop on over to visit
Dominique Gion at and see her work.  I couldn't get Microsoft to translate the French into English for me but maybe you'll have better luck - or maybe you speak French so you can spend time reading as well as looking!

Although I didn't find a blog for her, I also want to say hello to my friend, Sue Drennan.  Sue has grown in the years I've known her through WatercolorWorkshop and her work never ceases to give me a smile and feeling of pleasure that I have watched her watercolor journey and I've seen how far she's come.  She is creating wonderful work that should be promoted more - but I guess you'll just have to hop over to WatercolorWorkshop (a Yahoo group created by Susie Short) and join in the fun to see Sue's work.  Sue is not only a fine artist, she is one of the moderators behind the scenes at WatercolorWorkshop who helps the large group run smoothly. 

I hope you'll take a moment or two to visit the blogs listed and see some new art!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Or there'll be no figgy pudding for you!

May Santa be looking only when you're being very very good :)

Friday, December 24, 2010


Working on the River Rocks painting on Crescent Board - here's where I am right now. 

It's slowly coming along, shaping the rocks, choosing colors.  A lot of little fiddly things to do to make this one work so I'll probably start something else at the same time.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Sorry, couldn't resist...

She's finished.  I want to keep her light and delicate so no more.  Used a bit of scrap paper from the free stuff (think it's Canson paper - okay if you keep your washes very very light and don't go back in often) for this one.  Smaller than 8" x 10" but didn't measure it.

I'm working on the river rocks now and I've had too much caffeine which means I need to stop and walk away and do something else - a lot!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Finished up with a silvery green bow using Jade Irridescent pigment (from Daniel Smith).  It has a nice shine you may not be able to see in the photo.

And figured it was time to do another portrait so just picked through some photos I've had lying around and chose this one.  Started it using just the 2 colors I used for pouring the River Rocks painting = Cerulean Blue + Rhodonite Genuine. 

(In the photo I used as reference, the girl is looking down so she's got a huge forehead and tiny chin so I shifted it a bit to straighten it - we do this naturally when we draw, seeing things more head-on than tilted).

Now I'll have to add in some warms.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I spritzed the crescent board with water and then took a container of mixed pigment and water (very thin and watery and lots of it) in 2 colors and poured that over the board.  I used Cerulean Blue and Rhodonite Genuine so I got some nice violets.

The rest of the way, I'll paint directly - no more pouring.  The problem with getting the Crescent Board so wet is that it bows :( and then you have to put a ton of books on it to flatten it out again (hopefully).  So now it sits under books, trying to get it to be less bowed before I move on.

While this dried, I started another wrapped present.  Using just Perylene Green (from Daniel Smith, a lovely granulating dark piney green).  I am looking to make a shiny irridescent silvery green ribbon.  The choices are endless with these!

Today is the First Day of Winter, the Winter Solstice. 

This morning on the eastern side of the US, we had a total lunar eclipse beginning at 1:41 am.  Unfortunately, the sky was too cloudy for me to even get a peek at the moon.  And this morning we have another inch or so of snow on the ground, the soft, wet, beautiful kind that drapes everything around us.

I'm hoping the lovely Winter's Full Moon tonight won't be shy. 

Enjoy the beauty of the world around you.

I hate to tell you this, but there are only 4 days before Christmas!  Only 3 1/2 days before my family puts the FUN in Dysfunctional (not really, but you might as well laugh as cry, my grandmother used to say).


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

(And photos I took this morning from my windows/doors)...

Monday, December 20, 2010


The miskited moon shape came off easily from the watercolor canvas, no problem. 

And I've begun another painting using the River Rocks stencil (by Mary Beth Shaw) and Wood Icing.  I started with the stencil and palette knife and smoothed in the icing/paste and then using a different stencil, I did some more rocks here and there around the original stencil shape.  I did flick some miskit at the board, too, before putting in the river rocks. 

This is on 15" x 20" Crescent Board - hotpress watercolor paper glued to a hard pressed board surface.  

I took Deb Ward's tip for using the watercolor board and ran miskit around the edges so it doesn't tear (if you tape it and then remove the tape, it sometimes tears the edges - especially if you get a lot of water on it).

I may do some watercolor pours to start this one off and then go from there...

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I've decided that the weekend is a good time to send you to other blogs to check out some art you may not otherwise see.  And I've been getting some new followers recently - which is thrilling!!  I'm up past 80 now and I secretly had that as my goal for the end of the year so yay!!!

Anyway, enough about me....ha ha

As I click on the followers link, I see some new faces - which means new blogs!!

Now how could I resist checking out The Art of the Dance is Like Chocolate, Myra Anderson's blog???  Her work with ballerinas can be found here:
From what I've read, she got a set of watercolor paints and hasn't opened them yet!!!  So you'll see graphite sketches, crayon drawings, a bit of mixed media with markers, etc.  Some of her best work I've seen as I looked at the first few offerings are the ones with super bold color and a beautiful rhythm to the paint - she has an artistic eye, definitely!  I do hope she opens those watercolors and gives them a try, though :)

And how about stopping over to see the work of Carrie Waller at
If the painting on her first post doesn't knock your socks off, I don't know of anything that will.  Carrie paints like an "old master" and her watercolors look as rich and deep as oil paintings.  She knows her stuff and the subjects in her paintings seem so dimensional and real, you feel you can pick them off the page! 

Again, two very different artists but both work checking out and enjoying over a nice warm cup this morning!

And again, thank you to everyone who visits my blog, to takes a moment to comment on something I've posted, and who returns to see what I'm up to next time!  I appreciate all my regular and loyal friends and artists who I count on to tell me the good and the bad - and I enjoy seeing new viewers coming around, too!

And can you believe it - only 6 more days until Christmas???

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Using only my watercolors, I worked on this 9" x 12" watercolor canvas with the trees on there from Mary Beth Shaw's tree stencil and Wood Icing. 

Here's where I am. 

I'm not sure that miskit will come off the canvas to show the full moon - but it was worth a shot.  Once it dries, I'll see if I can remove the miskit without creating a mess. 

Next time I use the wood icing and stencils, I think I'll use a harder support (media board or wood or something like that - the canvas was a bit wobbly in places and I didn't like painting on it much since it really soaks up the watercolor).

So a good experiment but I'll keep playing and see what works best.  The watercolor canvas may work best with fluid acrylics - or regular body acrylics.  I think I'm overdue for a portrait...will have to come up with a nice face to try.

Have a good weekend!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Another present all wrapped and too pretty to open :)  Using light layers of Cobalt Blue for the ribbon and Naples Yellow for the box.

A bit of Pyrrol Red and Bismuth Yellow for the ornament.  All done wet-in-wet to keep things flowing.  I'm happy with it as it is. 

Again, 8" x 10" on Fabriano 140# hot press watercolor paper.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Well, even though I felt punky today (woke up with a migraine at 5 AM and had to take some meds), I just couldn't wait to get downstairs and try out Mary Beth's wood icing (once the pain subsided).

I found a nice 9" x 12" Fredrix watercolor canvas and got out my very bendy palette knife and started with the tree stencil Mary Beth created.  Love those trees! 

I have no idea where this will go - crows in trees, a winter scene with trees - who knows?  The main thing is to try the new toys out and see how they work using watercolor. 

Here's a closer view of the watercolor canvas and the wood icing drying (it dries quickly so no worries for an impatient person like me).

It's a good day to stay in the art room and play.  We've received another generous 5 inches of snow on the ground and we're socked in - most of the schools in the area closed.  Sweetie is shoveling as we speak and I don't envy that job.  We usually don't have to worry about shoveling and digging out until January or February but everyone's had a big dose of winter early this year.

Now, when this dries, time to get out the watercolors and think about what I should do next :)  Stay tuned!


Well, I continued to work on this one.  I continued, even though I wasn't liking where it was going and knowing that the bright red "underpainting" wasn't working and I was getting streaks of color and...

well, sometimes you just have to fight it out!! ha ha

At this stage, the painting won.  It was truly hideous.

So...what to do?  Take my handy spray bottle and spray the heck out of it, taking off as much paint as I could.

And then let it start to dry from the soaking.

So then what?  Well, there was no way to work in watercolors with it.  It was just too sad.... :(

So I got out a few bottles of Da Vinci fluid acrylics and my acrylic palette and brushes and tried again, going slowly and being careful to SEE the shapes.

It's still not a pretty box with a pretty bow.  But it's not as hideous as it was, so I guess that's something, yes?  No? 

Another 8" x 10" on Fabriano 140# hot press watercolor paper.

And on to the next one (which is turning out nicely, I'm happy to say).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I heard the doorbell ring and Jerry answered it because I was painting and couldn't stop.

When I came upstairs later, there was a box addressed to me on the sofa.  From Mary Beth Shaw!!!  It was my stencils and Wood Icing!!!

This is just too generous, Mary Beth.  Not just 1 or 2 stencils, but 6, yes, 6 of the large stencils and a big tub of Wood Icing (which is a texture paste). 

I know what I'm going to be doing for a while = playing with my new toys!

Thanks so much, Mary Beth!!!  I'm declaring today Mary Beth Shaw Day :)

Take a look at the video Mary Beth created
( to show us how to use the Wood Icing.  She's gone crazy for the stuff and is making all kinds of great textured pieces using the Wood Icing and her very own designed stencils.


Changed some colors on this one and I think it doesn't quite make it - yet.  We'll see how it turns out.

I'd like the green to be a deep, rich, velvety green instead of the sap green it is now.  Will have to work on that.  And decide on how far up I want the background to go.  (The red right now is the underpainting for the shadow shapes and won't be so bright when I go over it with another color.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I started another wrapped box and will give this one a black background.  I think it needs a bit more ooph to the painting.

Again, using a lot of oranges and reds and yellows in the combination of colors.

After adding the background in with Lamp Black (and getting a bit messy at the edges of the box), I played with getting more dimension to the ribbon but it's not as good as the first one.

Another 8" x 10" on Fabriano 140# hotpress watercolor paper.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Many artists have painted boxes wrapped in ribbon, pretty boxes in various color combinations.  This time of year is a good time to do this.  It's fairly simple, so you're guaranteed a bit of success, and you can choose your colors in any combination that pleases. 

Here's one I've worked on for a few days, just a bit here and there with other things in between taking me away from it.  I began with a pale wash of raw sienna and naples yellow and then did a yellow underpainting (Hansa yellow medium or New Gamboge) in areas on the ribbon and then carried on from there. 

I was happy with the outcome, especially the dimension of the ribbon.

The finished piece is 8" x 10" on Fabriano 140# cold press watercolor paper.

I was going to have a black background, but I'll just clean up a bit of the color on the upper left edge and leave it white. 

Wonder what's inside??

I WON!!!

I won the grand prize over at Mary Beth Shaw's giveaway on her blog!!!

I got up sick this morning (sinuses again) and looked out and we're socked in with snow.  I don't have to go anywhere...don't tell the cat that as it's getting low on kitty food around here...and felt yucky all morning and then this!!!  I'm sooo pleased.  And I didn't just win, I won the grand prize!!  Can't wait to try out that wood icing and see what I can do with it - plus large stencils??? Wooo-hooo!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Since I have nothing painterly to share (I ruined the portrait and it's too horrid to even show the thing, and I'm working on a couple of things that aren't ready to be seen yet), I thought I'd highlight a couple of new viewers to my blog.  I think you'll enjoy visiting both of them!

Cynthia Schelzig (a.k.a. Cynnie) has a delightful blog with lots of beautiful cards and collage pieces.  She says her blog, Galerie 46, reflects her interests in Watercolor, Acrylics, Collage, Drawing, Mixed-Media, Bookbinding, Photography, Stamping, Architecture and Design as well as highlighting some of my favorite art books or an accomplished artist - so plenty to keep you busy there!!  Stop over at Cynnie's blog
( and be delighted! 

For some pure watercolor beauty from a young man who seems to already be a master of the medium, take a look at the watercolor artwork of Rajeev Mohan at  Rajeev paints watercolors in a very loose, impressionistic style that I love.  I think you'll enjoy seeing his work, too.  It really is special and reminds me of another wonderful artist named Mohan that I used to know.

Until I have something to share - which I'm working on - it's fun to highlight some of the wonderful artists/bloggers who have signed up to watch my little blog.  I so appreciate all my viewers and hope I can give you enough interesting things here to cause you to return once in a while to see what I've been doing.  

Friday, December 10, 2010


Please visit Elizabeth's blog and read about the book she has created.  $12 of each order goes to her friend, Cheri Stannard.  Cheri was left paralyzed from the shoulders down from a wreck in the fall.  She is in a rehab center in Atlanta (far from her Florida home) with her brother and sister learning how to take care of her when she goes home to her sister's house.  Read more about her and how the book would help the family.

Take a look at the book - scroll through the pages.  All artwork was donated.  I am buying a copy.  I hope you will, too. 

I didn't paint yesterday.  I got out of bed and the room was spinning so badly, I could  hardly walk.  I tried to stay upright because lying down was worse.  It was awful!!!  And yes, the nausea and sickness came with the dizziness.  But today I'm better.  No dizziness, no sickness - but now I have to do all I didn't get done yesterday.  Such is life.  But I can do all those things because I'm well.  Relatively healthy and strong.  It only takes a moment for that to change. 

As you're travelling here and there on your holiday trips for parties, shopping, etc., be careful out there.  Drive safely and be aware of other drivers.  And wash your hands often to keep yourself well.  Take your vitamins and meds on time.  Don't get sick.  Get to your destination and back home without incident. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Working with a very small brush, just touched here and there to make minor changes.  I don't think I've ruined it and IT IS DONE :)

A bit more to go on the portrait before it's done but it's coming along.  I lost her nose but that can be found again.

I'm also working on something else but that will have to wait...if it turns out, it will be a surprise.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Worked a bit more on this one...

I don't think I'll do anything with the background - I like it white and it's helping me keep the skintones pale.  The face is finished and so is the hair.  It might just be done.  But I might have to touch a bit on the nose to bring it more up on the end (her nose is very distinctive). 

I may darken the shadows a bit closer in to the body and then...


have a painting of Alaina??

And it only took 6-7 tries!

Now back to the portrait for this week.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I've gotten the lazies.  Sitting on the sofa, reading.  Trying to stay warm and not notice the snow falling and falling and falling outside.  Wet, perfect-for-making-snowmen snow.  But I'm staying inside.  I don't like cold.  This type of weather makes me want to hibernate and take long afternoon naps. 

So since I'm not doing anything painterly this weekend, thought I'd share some work from some people who signed up to watch my blog - two new viewers:

Jan Yates' work made me smile this morning.  It is so high energy, the brushstrokes so beautiful, and I love the subject.  I'm definitely putting her on my blogroll so I can keep up with her work in the future.  It's oil painting but I won't hold that against her :)  Check out her beautiful artwork at

And another new viewer, Albert Gallego, is painting some wonderful watercolor paintings of Spain, some beautiful still lifes...I always enjoy seeing sites from other countries and see the way people from other countries use watercolor and his work is bright, fun and visually very appealing.  Take a look at

I appreciate all my Viewers - it is always a little boost to see another new person signed up to watch my blog!

I hope that keeps you busy and happy until later today or tomorrow - whenever I get my energy back and can get back to my portrait and A Dancer painting...

Friday, December 3, 2010


Working on another portrait while working on the painting of A Dancer so I won't overwork it.  This is the start of this one.  She's standing in front of a tree outside and I hope to get the shadows right.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Those who have watched this blog for a while know I've never been able to paint a good portrait of our youngest granddaughter.  Just couldn't do it for some reason.  Not for lack of trying.  I think I've tried about 5-6 times in portrait and all of them are either tossed in the trash or kept but not quite right. 

Well, I never give up.  Too stubborn or too stupid, I guess!  And I'm trying one more time...with a different photo.

I changed the dance outfit from solid black to a pretty Prussian Blue so it wasn't so stark against her skintones.  And I'm trying trying trying not to get too many clown colors in her face and keep it light (for some reason, I see so many colors in her face and I get too much color in her little girl face).

We'll see what happens...

Just to keep myself from overworking and doing too much on this one, I'll start another portrait while letting this one rest.  (This is the second version of this one, the first worked to death and torn up and in the trash yesterday - I'd made her look like a big, black toad with an overlong nose and a strange mouth.  Sometimes you have to paint a lot of dogs before you get one worth keeping.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


When/where I grew up, the young men in the area would drive down the road, leaning way over to the middle of the seat (bench seats, not bucket seats).  We'd say they were "makin' the scene with a gangster lean."  It looked really silly but was cool at the time.  You know how such things go.

So this model was leaning...maybe he was makin' the scene?