Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Well, how could you call this April 2012 issue of Watercolor Artist anything but their OMG Issue?  Why?  Well, look who is sharing information and paintings inside:

Maggie Latham, with an 8-page spread;
Thomas Schaller, with a 10-page spread and the cover;
but that's not all!

There's also
Myrna Wacknov, sharing her ideas and a challege for the Creativity Workshop feature;
Nita Leland sharing her insight on watercolor collage
Shirley Trevena, with a 6-page spread!

So what would you call this issue but the OMG Issue? 
How much talent, beauty and knowledge could they have packed into this magazine?
Well, there's more.  You'll just have to go out and buy it if you don't subscribe.  You do not want to miss this issue!!

I got my issue in the mail yesterday and I intend to settle down in the sunroom with no distractions, sip a nice cup of coffee and enjoy every single word and painting in this one.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Sweetie and I had a nice weekend get-away, taking a 3 1/2 hour drive down to Pineville, KY to stay at the Pine Mountain State Resort Lodge.  They have a winter photo weekend every January and this was the first year Sweetie competed. 

The weekend is put together well with a guest photographer/speaker on Friday and Saturday nights.  This year's speaker was nature and travel photographer, Richard Bernabe.  His programs were wonderful even for a non-photographer like me, filled with gorgeous photos and information about how to use light and composition to get the best photos.  He was one of the 3 judges, too. 

You were allowed to start shooting Friday at noon and could shoot up to Sunday morning at 6 AM - the only requirement is that everything had to be shot within the 3 counties surrounding Pine Mountain State Park.  They normally have at least a dusting of snow on Saturday morning but nothing this year - so the Winter Landscape category of the competition was a bit tricky and called for some more inventiveness than usual, but the 200+ images (from about 53 photographers registered for the event) were amazing, fun, and creative.

Each photographer registered was allowed to enter 4 photos spread out however they wanted them over the 4 categories of Winter Landscapes, Small World (macro shots), Lines & Patterns, and Odd & Old. 

Sweetie entered one photo in each category and got First Place in the Small World Category in Accomplished Photographer class (there was an Amateur Photographer class, too).  His photo, of 3 buds from a shrubby tree outside the lodge building, was a striking image and I'm glad he got a plaque (no money, but a nice plaque to take home for all winners  in each category and class).

Here is his Small World photo
that took First Place.

Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

And here are some photos I took during a Saturday trail hike while Sweetie and his photo buddy, Bob, drove over to Cumberland Gap to shoot there.  Nothing spectacular with my point-and-shoot, but you get the idea of the weather and some nice areas in the trails.

While Sweetie was out, leaving early, I got ready and walked a short trail.  I had a buddy with me, too - a little white dog that came up to me and started following me around.  I asked inside the lodge to see if it was someone's dog who had gotten out (he had no collar or tags), but they said it had come up the hill from the Bible College at the bottom and was just wandering. 

So, he wandered with me.  He'd walk ahead, looking back over his shoulder as if to say, Come on, slowpoke, let's go!  He was fun to be with but disappeared again when I went inside my room to get him a drink of water, so guess he figured I was done and went on back down the hill.  I hope whoever was missing him found him again.

I should have taken a photo of him, but I didn't think of it until he was long gone and I was wondering about him and how he was doing.  I sure appreciate him keeping me company that morning.

Even though we were gone only Fri-Sun, I have lots of catching up to do and errands to run today.  So probably no painting until tomorrow...

Hope your week is starting well!  (Can you believe January is almost over - and it's supposed to be 61F tomorrow for us in northern KY!)

Saturday, January 28, 2012


From the Shirley Trevena book, another still life set-up where she led you through the steps.  It doesn't matter.  The only way it would be a Shirley Trevena painting is, if she took my hand and moved the brush :)  So this is a still life set up a la Trevena. 

Now on to something entirely different (and original)!

Friday, January 27, 2012


Well, this birthday came and went.  And it was better than the one I had when I was 21.  We had a blizzard in northern KY that day and everything was shut down for days.  So no party, no get-together with family, no cake, no ice cream, no nothing on that day.  And at 21 I really felt like the day should be celebrated ON THE DAY - or it was ruined.  Oh, yes, even at 21 I was a pessimist.

And today, I'm thinking about numbers.  Just a number, this birthday, marking the number of years I have been earthbound.  What do I have to show for these years?  What do I need to show?  What kind of mark will I make on the lives who come into contact with me?  Will they remember?  Will something I said make them smile - or make them frown and walk away? 

Was I kind to you when I came into your life, or was I unkind?  If each day is an opportunity for growth and exploration, then is that exploration the whole purpose - is the journey the thing, not the destination?

Numbers.  Just numbers. 
I lost a blogger a few months ago who was also a teacher at one time.  Because of that my stat numbers have gone down.  I don't know why she dropped me, but it has affected the numbers on my blog.  Interesting how one person can affect you that way, good or bad. 

Numbers.  Are you a better person because 50 people come to your birthday party instead of 5?  What chemical reactions in my brain today are causing me to ponder these things?  Perhaps my serotonin and dopamine levels are low and I need to stop thinking and just get into the art room and raise them by creating something almost beautiful (remember, yesterday's lesson was wabi sabi).

We're all just interconnected numbers;
some are pluses in your life and some are minuses. 
I hope the pluses outnumber the minuses, whether the numbers are large or small.

Now, for me, I'm going to go take a long walk in the woods...

Have a good weekend, my artsy blogging friends.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


According to Richard R. Powell, in his book, Wabi Sabi Simple, Wabi sabi "nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

To me, this is saying, "Embrace your imperfections, your slightly ugly parts, and move on."  That's what I'm going to do in my life and in my art. 

What about you? 
Can you embrace the imperfections, the blossoms that show up where you did not intend them to go, the drizzles that went the "wrong" way, the 5 pounds you can't seem to shed because you refuse to give up all things that taste good?  Can I? 
Let's do it together...

Happy Birthday to me.

Happy Wabi Sabi to us all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


My friend, Susan, who lives on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia, is having a birthday today. 

Happy Birthday, Susan!!!

Since I can't be there in person, you'll have to accept this virtual present.  The good thing about it is that it can be filled with whatever your heart desires!

Monday, January 23, 2012


I finished the Shirley Trevena-inspired painting using a set-up from her book.  Now, this doesn't look anything like a Shirley Trevena painting, but maybe I need to paint for another 10 years or so...

Maybe I need to settle in and think about how I want to paint - what techniques I like, what things really get my juices flowing when seeing really good watercolors (if you haven't lately, go over to David Lobenberg's blog and see the portraits he's been doing - totally kicking it up 10 notches and doing something I haven't seen in watercolor portraits before!).

Here's just a little wonky bowl of pears (also from a small bit of a set-up from the Trevena book.  I may actually do the demo she does with tulips and pears and see if I get anywhere interesting with it.

Since these are just studies and practice things, I am painting on the back of really bad paintings, tearing the 1/2 sheets in two and using them. 

As usual, at the first of the year, I went through my paintings and tore up a lot of really bad paintings.  Now, I know you all are going to say, "NO!  You should save them for cards, notes, bookmarks, ACEOS" but honestly, these are SO bad, they aren't even worth saving.  But I did take a look at a lot of 1/2 sheets and think, use the backs for practice - don't waste so much good paper.  So that's what I did.  But I would bet $1,000 that I will never paint a really good painting on the back of a bad painting - there seems to be some bad mojo that comes through the bad side and affects the newer painting (or maybe it's just in my head?).

Have a good week.  Stay safe, warm and happy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I've gotten a couple of new followers and would like to feature them today...

1.  The Painting Struggle is just one of the blogs owned by the wonderful artist, Mick Carney, from Sunderland, UK.  You will do yourself a disservice if you don't go over and view the work Mick is producing, on his own and as a challenge with another UK artist (in watercolor and in oil).  Also, scroll down and read about his recent workshop with Charles Reid.  I like his work so much, I've added him to the sidebar to keep tabs on him :)

2.  Carolyn McDade does small format art.  Hence the name of her blog:  Original Small Format Art!  It's small, but mighty, in strong, bold, beautiful colors.  Go over and take a look at her paintings of birds, mammals, and even snowmen :)  You might even want to visit her Etsy store and pick up a print or two.

Have a good weekend, and stay safe and warm, wherever you are.  We are spending Day 2 iced in after a winter storm Friday evening left us with about 1/4 inch of ice covering everything and the temperatures yesterday below freezing so it's all still out there this morning.  If the sun would come out, it would be beautiful.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Well, after a routine medical procedure that involved "twilight sleep" and the drug concoction that causes that, I'm having some issues with thinking.  I seem to know what I need to do but can't seem to finish up anything with anything more than a minimal of effort.  So better to take a few days off until my head clears and my blood pressure is higher than 100/59 (which is where it's been running so no wonder I don't feel "all there"). 

Unfortunately, 2012 has seen the migraines return, too.  I've had 4 this month so far :(

So I'm going to be taking a few days off, just resting, reading, watching the Australian Open tennis matches and trying to get myself back in fighting shape again.

Have a good weekend. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I found my Shirley Trevena book and thumbed through it, reading it again and looking at her paintings.  She has some pretty set-ups inside and I thought I'd try one.

Here is the photo inside the book.

Here is my painting started of some of the things in the set-up.

As she says, you just put objects in your paintings however you want - you coordinate them by colors you like, shapes you like, etc; and don't just think of still lifes as flowers in a vase :)  Her photo shows that off well - objects put together for a future painting for herself with notes and even value studies or small thumbnail sketches.  I took the main subjects of the round bowl and the tulips and her little wooden container and then created the other things from the rest of the things she had in the photo.

Since this is a copy of her set-up, I wouldn't do anything with this painting but use it for a study - no selling it, no putting it in a show (of course, it isn't turning out well enough for that, anyway).  Know when you are doing a study that a study is all it is, a way to work out something for yourself and learn - not an opportunity for a finished and saleable painting. 

Here is the next stage.

I don't like those boxes floating like that so need to make them seem like they are holes in the fabric - somehow they will need to be pushed back and made heavier.

And I intend to put a very dark blue-black or purple where the white is now, cutting around the shapes.  We'll see how it goes.

For me, wanting to paint looser, this doesn't cut it; but I'll try again something looser, trying to incorporate both looser and tighter within one painting, knowing when to use either technique and style.  That's my goal, anyway. 


For some reason, the last few days, there are certain blogs I cannot bounce over to, no matter how I try.  Now maybe it's this older computer - it is, after all, 4 years old, a dinosaur, obsolete, and still running Windows XP, for goodness sake!!  But it doesn't happen to all blogs, only some - I try to click on the title of the post that day and my computer screen tries...but it just doesn't go anywhere.  Then I go back and try to click on the title of the blog itself, and my computer screen goes there, after some whining and pouting; but then when I try to leave a comment, no dice.  Won't do it.  Won't do anything.  So I return to my blog saying some not kind things about blogger and this computer and try again another time.  Same problem. 

So if you haven't seen a post from me in a few days, that's why.  Blame it on Blogger or an older desktop or whatever. 

I guess I'll have to start using only my laptop for blogs - I already have to do that with gmail. 

I am so glad
humans aren't made obsolete
or redundant after only 4 years!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Monday, January 16, 2012


The Last of My Glory Days
Half sheet Arches 140# cold press watercolor paper, using watercolor, graphite, Mary Beth Shaw's Wood Icing (that creates a raised texture) for the enso's all over it, and lots of spraying and letting the paint run.

Why the title?  Well, I've got a birthday coming up later this month and this looks like the aftermath of a party/good time - and who's going to clean up all that mess?  Not the birthday girl!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I usually wait until I have 3 new followers but today I'm sharing with just 2 new ones; and they are...

1.  Tina Marohn works in watercolor, acrylics, and oils, sharing her work on her blog simply called Paintings by Tina Marohn.  She is from the northwest coast of Washington and has a great variety of paintings to share - plus she does pet commissions.  Stop on over and view her work, from paintings inspired by her trips in Japan to very personable pet portraits.  

Tina first commented on my blog about Smudge, and seeing her cat portraits I see she and her husband are both cat parents.  And check out that gorgeous stained glass window she shows off in her house - wouldn't that be something to inspire you every day of the year?

2.  Kevin Neal, of Kevin Neal Paintings, is another artist who delves in drawing and painting in watercolors.  He has been a chef and an illustrator, and is now finding more personal time for his art.  He creates some beautiful impressionist watercolors from mental images, or just letting the pigment and water tell him where it wants to go - but adding his own well-developed sense of composition to the end result. 

Kevin is from Oregon - is there something in the water and air out there that creates so many wonderful artists?  His blog is very well organized so you can just click on boxes at the top to take you where you want to go if you don't have time for a leisurely scroll down the blog posts. 

Kevin said he found my blog from Gary Everest's blog - and since they are both in Portland, I think they should find time to paint together or at least get together for a cup of something hot or a glass of something cold one day!  And check out Kevin's photo on his blog - with that smile :)

That's it for today.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


You may have noticed I haven't been posting/commenting as often as I usually do just this week.  Tuesday, I had to take our 16 1/2 year old cat, Smudge, to the vet to be...what's a kind word?  Euthanized?  Put down?  Put to sleep? 
He was old, getting so skinny and hurt so much (you could tell by the way he walked and didn't like to be picked up or petted much anymore), plus he was doing his business on the carpet instead of in the litter pan (he had 2 of them).  He ate voraciously and drank almost continuously and the only time he was quiet was when he was asleep or eating.  Although he ate all the time, he had lost 10 pounds in the last year, a sign of thyroid tumors. 
I think he was telling us it was time...
I felt it was my duty to see him off; I am grateful that the vet and vet tech were very caring and gentle. 

 I didn't realize how much I'd miss him.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Well, at this stage I've gotten the shapes of things and the color...
but it's a rather bland and boring painting, isn't it?

So I rewet the background and foreground entirely and then drizzled some color and dropped in some darks her and there and think it is less boring now.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


This is from a photo I took at a workshop - I never painted it.  I've gotten burned out (or reached my saturation point) doing the exercises from the Ewa Karpinska book.  I think, perhaps, towards the end I've gotten frightened that my last few attempts haven't turned out and now she's getting into things that seem even harder for me to comprehend.  Maybe it's just my mind right now.

Anyway, I wanted to do this wet-in-wet and use my own photo or set-up so here it begins, with a nice wet and juicy wash in the back, dropping in colors that wil be in the bananas and the pepper.

Not bad - but not really wet-in-wet except for the background.

I watched all of the Shirley Trevena DVD Breaking the Rules in Watercolour.  I really enjoyed how she does her still lifes, not setting them up but picking up items she likes and using them from any angle that suits her.  She doesn't bother with perspective but says, I'll put that one in at an angle and that one straight on and I like the dots of this so will show that.  It takes a lot of pressure off and it makes an interesting composition because she's composing the thing as she goes, choosing colors and shapes to lead the eye around the painting.  I think I'll try that, gathering up some thing that I like and making something of that.  She's a real expert and I love her abstracted still lifes and her love of bold color.  So more of that study to come...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Monday, January 9, 2012


More study and exploring the lessons/exercises in the Ewa Karpinska book, Wet-on-Wet Watercolour Techniques.  Love the book and love the paintings inside.  I'm trying to relax into the loose style and let things happen and blur and then add detail or interest after the paper is almost dry again.

It definitely is a learning process - but I think this is a year's goal.  By the end of this year, I may be more comfortable and able to articulate what I want to see in my own paintings in the wet-in-wet and loose style.  For now, I'll just keep trying and practicing and perhaps gaining muscle memory that will allow me to do my own paintings this way.

It helps to work on at least 1/4 sheet and no smaller - better yet to work on a 1/2 sheet watercolor paper - and the Saunders Waterford is a good paper for this loose and wet way of painting.

In looking at this again, after I posted it, it was obvious that I had hard edges and deeper color in the berries and pods but didn't do the same with the greenery coming out of the purple jug so it doesn't look right.  I'll recheck Ewa's version and see how she accomplished the look of the fronds coming out of the water in the jug and then being more distinct when they are outside the jug.  (Sometimes you can see those things for yourself in your own painting - sometimes you need extra eyes.)

Full Moon Tonight!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I finally got 3 new followers and every time I gain another 3 new ones, I share their blogs here on my blog.  I've discovered some wonderful blogs this way and perhaps you do this, too; checking the sidebar and the followers opens up new avenues of art all over - what fun!

So today's featured artist/bloggers/followers are:

1.  Irene Georgopoulou - I think she's either Greek or Turkish but that doesn't matter (well, it does to her, of course, but not to me because it's all about the art, right?).  And her art is Gorgeous!!! Pastel that just sings on the page, realistic but more than that and she has an eye for choosing beauty in the simple things and making them more beautiful with her talent and skill.  Don't miss out if you just want to see some beautiful artwork in pastel - wow!!

2.  Jude Decker of Blue Art Pup blog - and I don't even know if Jude is a Miss or a Mister; and, again, it doesn't matter.  Check out Jude's drawings of Milo and Gus, two little mice, and follow along as they get into simple adventures (well, big adventures for little mice like these).  I loved the Christmas tree hung with...well, you go over and see for yourself!  Jude is also part of the Urban Sketcher group so does a lot of sketching and drawing and doodling. 

3.  Vicki Holdwick of Faint Heart Art has been on my sidebar for a while but never was a follower before so I get to feature her now, too!  Vicki makes art and fights against her inner critic so she can free herself to create more personal art.  She makes books and mixed media work and she's set herself a challenge to do one 30-second figure drawing from the PoseManiacs site - all in a beautiful journal that she'll keep for a year.  Now, won't that be fun and so cool to look back on in a few months so see the progress and change?  Go over and tell her you're supporting her challenge to herself - but don't offer to help her clean up her art room (any woman who can do 1 hour jogging on the treadmill doesn't need our help! ha ha).

4.  The latest follower to join is Juan Manuel Remesal, an artist from Seville (if I'm reading the blog correctly).  Beautiful photos of buildings and galleries where he shows his artwork are included in the blog.  Take some time and scroll down and enjoy!

And just because I discovered this today and spent some time enjoying the photos, take a look at this photography site which hosts challenges to recreate famous artworks.  I loved the self-portrait ones!

(Yes, all those "o's" are a pain in the butt - I think there are 7 of them.  Check out the Frida Kahlo recreations and the Van Gogh and...well, just check it out!)

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


My new Shirley Trevena DVD (Breaking the Rules of Watercolour) talks about mark-making and just making marks on a good sheet of paper and playing with your rhythm and style.  So that's what I did on this small (1/4 sheet) piece of Arches.  Used graphite, watercolor, oil pastel, candle (for a resist, which Shirley uses a lot), a combing tool and even a squeegee to clean windows (that was cut down to half size so not too big to work on a small sheet).  I can't remember everything I used; I just picked up everything handy.  There's a certain freedom doing this type of thing and using whatever is handy. 

I didn't plan the 2 people in there - they just showed up.  That's the fun thing about no plan, just playing; you never know who will show up :)  There may even be a crow or two in there - if I look for them :)

I also brought out my new sumi-e ink set and brushes and started making marks on newsprint (the book suggests you start with newsprint because you won't make anything elegant for a while - and they were right about that!).

The brushes in this kit are very small (about 5 inches in length) so it's a bit hard to get used to that - perhaps I'd have more freedom with a larger brush but I'll work with these for a while longer until I can at least get a nice, delicate leaf (which is much harder to get right than you'd think).

I've begun another exercise/lesson in the Ewa Karpinska book, too.  So I guess I told my muse that she could stay away but I was still going to work :)  Sometimes that's what you have to do and also, try not to get too attached to anything (one of my goals for this year) - it's just paper and pigment and water.

Friday, January 6, 2012


What is is about January that causes an artistic slump in me?  Happens most years - and I can't complain or blame the weather - it's 50F here today!!! 

So...is it the after-effects of the holidays and the let-down that comes from all the busy-ness?  Is it that I didn't get enough art supplies or things to inspire me(no, I always get great art gifts and books and DVDs). 

I don't know what causes it but it's here again...days go by without drawing or painting or even looking at an art magazine or book.  I haven't even gone through my two new art DVDs.

I hate slumps!  I know it will pass - but each day makes me think it might last a week - or a month or...!!!

The watercolor society had their first meeting of 2012
and our guest artist/speaker was Barbara Smucker. 
Barbara is a local artist who has a studio in the Pendleton
in Cincinnati and in the Essex Studios in Cincinnati and teaches
in Wyoming, OH.  She talks about art as a spiritual practice, a gift,
a blossoming inside.  She talks about finding your particular voice
from what inspires and moves you.  She works in mixed media,
but does watercolor; however, not watercolor like you think. 
Her finished pieces look like rich glowing pastels because she
works the watercolor almost dry and smushes it into 300# watercolor
paper.  The outcome is gorgeous.  She loves places glowing hot oranges
against mild violet greys in her landscapes. 
And I think I'll try that...but not today.

I will become the Program Chair for the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society beginning in March but won't have to start scheduling artists until July (the previous PC went ahead and scheduled after her tenure in case no one stepped up to take over the job).  So...

If you are an artist and/or an art teacher with a focus in watercolor or water media in the tri-state (OH, KY, IN) area and are interested in giving our group a short (1.5 hours) demo and talk some Wednesday (always the 1st Wednesday of the month), then let me know - it would be fun to have one of my blogger artist friends come by in person!  Email me for more information about dates, times, payment, etc., if you're interested.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Apparently, my postcard sent to India is lost - or is taking a very slow boat to get there.  That doesn't surprise me.  The fact that my postcard sent to Washington is also lost = What the...?!?

So, 2 more postcards sent to replace those;
and new postcards sent (2) for the January mail out. 

Let's see if any of these get there...

Yesterday, my friend, Teresa, had a birthday!  And the card I made her got to her on her day - now that was great timing!!  Happy Birthday to you!!!

And my friend, China, had a birthday on the same day!  Happy Birthday to you!!!

Happy birthday, dear friends, happy birthday to you......!!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


How do you go from this lovely, fresh, light-filled start...

to this monster of a watercolor, all muddled and muddy and strange?

Practice, darlings, lots of practice! ha ha

Oh, well, I guess even though I get a couple of them looking right, I'm still learning and there's a lot of error in the trials!

On to the next thing, then...I'm itching to start on the next revised Caw Girls painting but I don't think I'm ready yet because I want to do it more wet-in-wet; so more work to do before I start that one...

Back to the Ewa Karpinska book to see if I can change my working habits and impatience.

Monday, January 2, 2012


What is this? 
Well, a photograph was printing out
and it printed incorrectly, merging 2 photos together, creating something visually interesting.  So I kept it
and then tried to paint some of the
things I saw in the messed-up photo. 
It needs some well-placed darks,
but I did have fun with the texture bits and the stamping (the butterflies). 
It's all watercolor on 1/4 sheet Arches 140# coldpress paper.

I hope your New Year is already turning into something amazing. 
Sweetie made me go out for New Year's Eve to a house party. 
We were the only 2 unknowns, the rest being neighbors who attend
every year.  It could have been awkward for me (I don't do well in a room
full of strangers) but the host was so gracious; he kept me talking
while admiring his new IPhone apps and telling stories (in fact, at one point
I was afraid we were hogging his time); the food was wonderful with lovely sparkly decorations throughout the house, and I had a really good time. 
I didn't drink much - although I took along a bottle of Buffalo Trace
Bourbon Cream to sip (yummy!!) and I did have a sip or two of that. 
At midnight everyone had wine or champagne with poppers and confetti cannons to shoot around the room while Happy New Year's were shouted.  The livingroom looked like it would take a week to clean and it may be a month before tiny bits of confetti or sparkles are no longer found inside the sofa or stuck under the coffee table!

I hope you had a lovely time,
whether you were on your own and quiet.
or with a crowd and rowdy. 

Now, let's all get back to work!