Wednesday, October 31, 2012



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


We gave Chris a challenge for the final day's painting/demo - a snow scene.  Not that he couldn't do it and had several beautiful snow scenes to show us.  But he challenged himself even more by painting it on Arches 140# hotpress paper and using a photograph that had no lights in it!

Once again, Chris began with the warms, putting in the beautiful main tree with a variety of browns using ONLY:
Cobalt Blue
Hansa Yellow Light
Quinacridone Red with a touch of Quinacridone Rose mixed in

And yes, he made some great browns and ochres using just those colors with a touch of Ultramarine Blue in later so he could get more darks (Cobalt Blue won't go really dark when mixed with the other colors).

Leaving the snow for last, Chris put in the middle ground trees, the background indication of trees and foliage (pushing it back with some blues and violets and warm pinks), and the dark stream.  If you click on the painting, you will see the gorgeous way watercolor blends and flows in the hands of someone who truly knows what he's doing!!

Chris works with his board at a slight slant so the water and pigment can flow and run and he prefers working on Arches 300# rough because the 140# rough now doesn't have the texture he likes for landscapes and that sparkle of white as the brush skips over the paper, leaving whites. 

He never uses masking fluid, hating the hard lines it creates, and he doesn't use many earth tone colors, preferring to mix his own from a wide variety of primary colors in warm and cool temperatures.

Again, I highly recommend taking a workshop or studio lessons from Christopher Leeper - you will learn a lot about landscapes and color and value and how to make a beautiful painting without using 15 colors from the tube :)
Get on his mailing list and he'll send you his newsletter, once a month, full of great paintings and tips and instruction!

Sorry I didn't get this posted yesterday - the day got away with me and had to do errands with Mom (doctor appointment, pick up meds and some groceries), and then clean the house for today's beginner class.  I'll have a few more photos and things from the Leeper Workshop to finish up.  I really wish the workshop could be 2 weekends with a bit of a rest in between = 3 days with time to incorporate and play with the ideas during the weekdays and then another 3 days to continue!   But maybe I'm just being greedy?!? ha ha

Sunday, October 28, 2012


My 3-day workshop with Christopher Leeper has ended.  I am tired, but happy.  I feel I learned a lot and what I learned I can incorporate into things I paint plus I can expand into more landscapes with the knowledge.  At least, I hope that is what happens!  If I don't do it, it won't be the fault of Chris, who shared so much good information with us all.  And while we were learning, we were having fun with lots of stories and laughs shared throughout the workshop days.  I gained 4 pounds - how did that happen?? - so now it's back to the regular routine to get those pounds back off.  Hey, when you have donuts and pastries each morning with your coffee and pizza for lunch, what are you gonna do? ha ha

Chris did this demo for us the 2nd day, creating a beautiful glowing autumn forest scene.

Again, he began by laying down lots of warm yellows and golds before putting other colors in. 

One thing I learned about painting all the foliage and trees = if your trees are going to be darker than the foliage around them, just go ahead and run the first colors over the tree trunks - no need to cut around them and it ties the painting together better than cutting around things.  Chris said, "Don't think in words.  Words like Tree, Rock, Stream, Building.  Think in shapes and values and tie those shapes and values together cohesively to have a better painting."  Excellent advice and it ties in with the loose way you put the paint down when you begin your painting.

After the warms are in, then put in your cooler colors over them.  Remember - blue and yellow make green so use lots of blues, not just one or two.

Chris likes to start with "bold, obnoxious phthalo blues and greens" and then knock them back by adding other colors to them - he never uses a color straight out of the tube without adding another color to it. 

Creating the glow in the woods is about color, yes, but it's mostly about value.  Chris described himself as a value painter, not a colorist.

When painting a landscape, try for asymmetry and establish your big planes/shapes right away.  Make as many connections as you can that aren't necessarily related by subject = if you see shadow shapes moving across tree trunks, grasses, etc., then paint them that way without thinking, tree trunk, grass, etc.

Chris puts in his "sun colors" early on but not with a complete wash over the whole paper.

Here are some more 1/8 sheet exercises done - with no drawing, just using the brush to draw the shapes.  I'm not going to criticise these - they are what they are!

More to come tomorrow to finish up.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Day One of the Christopher Leeper workshop  went well and there was a lot of really good information for us.  We listened to Chris give us some "rules" about working with watercolor and he gave us a nice handout (in case we weren't taking notes or wouldn't remember later).  Then we got to watch him demo. 

The most amazing thing I found was that Chris starts with warm colors - lots of yellows and oranges or pinks before he puts any greens or tree trunks or anything else down.  He wants to play on the transparency of watercolor to let the glow show through.  Now, he doesn't just wash a yellow wash over the whole paper, but looks at his reference and tries to find where the glow of warm colors will help the painting glow overall. 

Unfortunately, I thought of everything but my camera the first day.  But I did take a photo today of the painting Chris completed yesterday.  Look closely and see where he lets the warm colors shine through.  He said you start with warm colors because, if you want to cool something later, you can go over the warms - if you start with cool colors, you can't warm them up well without getting muddy colors.

I really want to learn how to do this and start paintings with warms, then add in the cooler colors.  This painting is just stunning and the variety of colors throughout is a treat to someone who loves color.  Chris is not a purist - he uses more opaque pigments here and there to give some dance to the spattered light of a forest floor or to just add in some jewel tones here and there in more opaque colors.  It works when you don't have a heavy hand with them.

The first assignment for us was to take an 1/8 sheet of watercolor paper and, using a photo reference or sketch, paint without drawing on the paper.  Just paint - using a brush a little larger than we felt comfortable with - putting in the warms and seeing the whites, middle values and darks.  It was NOT easy!!  But I felt like it was teaching me to see and get those big shapes in with color and value before trying to fiddle with the smaller shapes and details. 

Painting without drawing makes for a very loose way of painting (which I liked - but which did stress me a bit).  I am showing my efforts - but understand, they are just efforts to learn and incorporate what Chris was talking about and teaching.  None of these are going to be pretty paintings! ha ha

If you want to see pretty paintings - and beautiful landscapes, you'll have to view a few more paintings from Chris (see below for the painting Chris did the first day + 2 beautiful snow scenes).

Oh, and in case you can't tell - I highly recommend Christopher Leeper.  If you can take a workshop with him, do it!!!  You will learn a lot and you will have fun and laugh and enjoy it and the time will go by so quickly - two days gone and only one more to go and I feel like I could spend a week, at least, getting the hang of this.

I'll post more tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


The Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society (GCWS) is hosting the Christopher Leeper watercolor workshop this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I'll be learning from Chris, along with 19 other members, each day.  He's a wonderful landscape artist and I hope to learn some good things to help me with watercolor landscapes.  Since it's not my area at all, I hope to soak up as much as I can.

As the Program Chair for the GCWS, I contacted Chris and then made all the arrangements for the workshop (a big job for a first time workshop organizer).  I'm hoping it's a great learning experience for the 20 members who are in the workshop this weekend.  The workshop is filled but Chris has agreed to return in April for an encore workshop.  GCWS members get first choice to be in that one, but then we'll open it to the public (if there is room).

I'll take photos each day and should have some to share.  I have a lot more to do to get ready, including buying the coffee, filters, cups, etc. and stopping to buy pastries each morning.  I hope the group appreciates the work done to make this happen. 

This is the first workshop the GCWS has hosted in its 10-year history. 

Painting = Bridge Shadows by Christopher Leeper

Wednesday, October 24, 2012



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Monday, October 22nd, Russell Means passed from this earth. 

One of the creators of the American Indian Movement and one of many (along with Dennis Banks and Leonard Crow Dog) who hunkered down at the siege of Wounded Knee (in Pine Ridge, South Dakota) in February, 1973.  If you want to read some real history, you may want to read his story. 

I never met the man but I did meet Dennis Banks, on a flight from Cincinnati to San Francisco back in 1994.  Back then, Northern Kentucky University hosted an annual New Year's powwow and he was helping organize it.  I was on my way from Cincinnati to San Francisco and then on to Sydney, Australia for 10 days of touring the eastern countryside.  Mr. Banks walked down the aisle of the plane in a full length, dark brown duster, skimming the floor over his worn boots.  His hair in black braids and hanging over his coat front, he was an impressive thing to see.  I stopped him in the aisle and said, "Are you Dennis Banks?"  He said, in a quiet voice, "Yes, I am."  I reached out my hand and said, "It's an honor to meet you."  He found me when we landed in San Francisco and invited me to the powwow, but I was unable to go.

Russell Means and Dennis Banks were synonymous with the American Indian Movement in the 1970's and the 71-day siege of Wounded Knee.  Mary Crow Dog's son was born during those 71 days where American Indian Movement members stood against the injustices they saw all around them with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the federal government's broken treaties with all American Indian tribes dating back to the original Wounded Knee massacre of 1890.  Means and Banks survived the Wounded Knee takeover of 1973; neither did any jail time after so much malfeasance and wrongdoing that the government had to throw out the FBI's case against them.  Mr. Banks continued to protest, speak and educate wherever he went after Wounded Knee 1973 made him and the American Indian Movement famous/infamous.

The father says so -- E'yayo!
The father says so -- E'yayo!
You shall see your grandfather!
You shall see your kindred -- E'yayo!
The father says so.
A'te he'ye lo.

O'mitak'yi a'sin. 
Walk on, cousin.

Monday, October 22, 2012


What a great weekend! 
Saturday with our grandboy,
who is 4 and a ball of energy;
and Sunday out to the Camp Springs (a local town) Herbst Tour.  Herbst = autumn in German. 

The sun was shining, the pumpkins and corn stalk decorations were out at the farms; the kids were petting the animals and riding horses; and the trees were blazing with color along country lanes.  Couldn't ask for a better day for it this year.  Sweetie and I toured the places from 1 - 4 pm (the tour actually was on from noon - 6 pm on Sunday).

This photo was taken at the top of the lane to a photographer friend's house.  He had his gallery open to sell his photos Sunday. 

There was everything from working farms (horses and miniature herefords), craft items, food, tons of pumpkins and gourds at the huge Neltner farm where they had live bluegrass music.  There were even 2 local wineries open for taste testing and 2 other vineyards for touring. 

I had to bring home some local goods = honey, a mini pumpkin pie (in the witchy bag), and a huge chocolate covered marshmallow.  YUM!

Lots of tasty things for the mouth and the eyes.

We even toured our local animal shelter.  They weren't accepting adoptions Sunday so I was safe and told Jerry that before we went - just in case there was a little black dog there wanting to come home with me! 
There were a few big dogs and one cat who seemed perfectly calm and unconcerned about all the people coming and going and the dogs barking.  That made me feel okay = not a lot of animals waiting for homes right now.

This is a quick shot of poke berries.  I liked the sunlit greens and purples.

I hope you had a great weekend, too.  (And I did see a really cute little Boston Terrier at one of the horse farms but she belonged to the owner so I could only pet her for a while and then come home.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012


While reading the latest Robert Genn newsletter discussing perfectionism in art, I came across this post from a reader who reminded me of the book, Art and Fear:

Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

"The perfect is the enemy of the good… To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you can do perfectly. You cling more tightly to what you already know you can do—away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate since to not work is to not make mistakes. Believing that artwork should be perfect, you gradually become convinced that you cannot make such work. (You are correct.) Sooner or later, since you cannot do what you are trying to do, you quit. And in one of those perverse little ironies of life, only the pattern itself achieves perfection—a perfect death spiral: you misdirect your work; you stall; you quit."

Yep, been there, done that!  Haven't we all??  So maybe take a lesson from John Cage (mentioned earlier in the comments section of the same newsletter) and set our work on fire and then run it through the press again! ha ha

In other words, let's not take ourselves so seriously.  I mean, seriously!!! 
Today, spending the day with our 4-year-old grandboy, who is a bundle of energy - whoosh and whoosh here and there.  And me, well I began the day with a migraine - not a very auspicious start.  Trying to get some caffeine in me so stopped at my local Starbucks and asked them to make me a Grande Half-Caf Carmel Latte.  Yum, yes?  Well, they used my gold card (which no longer gets me free syrups in my drinks - thanks, Starbucks for catering to a gold card member's needs) that had my name on it.  When the drink came up, it said, LINDA.  My name is not Linda but it was marked as my drink so I took it.  Took 1 sip in the car, no taste of caramel.  Perhaps it's me...took another sip, no caramel - not even a hint of caramel in that caramel latte.  And my name is not Linda.  Not a good beginning - but it will be a good day, a productive day, a fun day and the grandboy will have a good visit.  In other words, I can't take myself or my name or my preferred drink seriously today.  And I may just rethink my place for coffee - I mean, $4.29 for a drink that wasn't even what I ordered?

If you're looking for perfectionism, you won't find it 75% of the time anymore, so set it on fire and move on...

Friday, October 19, 2012


Tuesday's class was all about still working on the pepper paintings we'd begun the previous meeting.  Here are the 3 girls working on their peppers (one was missing due to some travel plans).

Yesterday, Deb and Sharon drove over from Indiana.  We met, had lunch at SmashBurger and then I drove to NKU so we all could tour the Paul Sawyier watercolor exhibition at the library.  They were amazed and thrilled to see such mastery - and so many paintings.  They, too, had never heard of Paul Sawyier.  I guess he wasn't a good publicity hound for himself during his lifetime, preferring to just paint and sell as he could. 

Anyway, it was another gorgeous fall day after a windy and stormy night.  Sun through the golden and red leaves is just dazzling right now!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Yesterday was just too beautiful to stay inside and feel queasy (which is what I've been feeling lately - probably all the new meds from the allergist).  So after Sweetie and I did some errands, we stopped in at Notre Dame Academy to see the Barry Andersen exhibit.  Mr. Andersen received the 2012 Spirit of Light Award last night in honor of his dedication to photography both as a photographer and an instructor of photography.

This photo of the sheep around the dolman in Ireland was one of my favorites so I took another, better photo of it in the room.  I can't recall how many photos were on display but it seems like at least 40.  All large sizes and interesting choices, considering this was to commemorate Mr. Andersen's landscape photographs for 30 years.

I enjoyed these two aerial views as well as the more traditional color landscapes taken in Italy, France, Ireland, China and around the U.S.

It's well worth the trip on a fine fall day.  The Gallery is inside the school so just check in at the front desk and they'll tell you where to see the photos.

Apparently, you can view the work from 9 am - 9 pm, if the online information is correct.  Just avoid the time between 2:30 - 3:30 because that's when school is out and you don't want to get in the rush of girls leaving school :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I'm teaching my beginner class two ways to paint:  glazing layers, with each layer drying completely before going back to do another layer - and wet-in-wet and juicy.  The same photo is done both ways, working on both at the same time (well, putting the glazing one aside and working on the wet-in-wet while the glazing dries; you know what I mean!). 

(First painting started wet-in-wet = wet the shape, then drop in the watercolor pigments, letting them blend and merge within the shape).

I started in class with the others but couldn't do anything more with them because I want them to see how I do it so they know the technique (afterall, all we really teach others is techniques we've learned). 

Second painting (sorry for the yellow cast to the paper; it was all that yellow the camera was seeing in the peppers) = glazing wet over dry paper, allowing each layer to dry before doing another layer the same way.

So Thursday when I took a drive (gorgeous fall colors and the fog hung over the Ohio River like a fuzzy grey-white blanket) over to Deb's to paint with Deb and Sharon, I started a new pepper painting.  Wet-in-wet and juicy.  I'm liking it so far.  Sharon was painting realistic fish on a cutting board and another version in wild colors a la Carol Carter (as I remembered Carol's colors she uses); Deb was painting another Asian pattern-inspired painting, building up color and contrast slowly but surely.

I hope you had some time to paint this week! 
Now Sweetie and I are going over to Rising Sun, Indiana to the Navy Bean Fall Festival and Art Show - one last day of great fall weather before storms come through here tomorrow.  Get out and enjoy each fall day you can while the sun shines, the leaves glow and your allergies will allow it :)

Friday, October 12, 2012


In one of the recent Robert Genn newsletters
which focuses on the lowering of standards in the art world, a comment was made by artist, Rick Rotante.  It hit home with me and my insecurity about my art and where I stand when compared to others. 

Mr. Rotante says,
"Being self-delusional to an extent is necessary for a successful career. But you also have to back it up with quality work and inventory. You also have to dedicate yourself to a life of strife and turmoil and understand that even when you produce a "work of art," you may still go unnoticed. When do you throw in the towel and surrender? Today we are told to follow our dreams, keep at it and we will get there. Not so! It helps if you have talent, but talent alone will not keep your boat afloat. Too many waste their lives thinking they can do anything they put their mind to; again, it will probably not happen. Self help books help only one person - the author. Will we ever stop believing we are the greatest? Probably not!"

I know there are many people painting out there who really think they are great, but I find many more who are humble about their talent and skill, fearful of calling themselves artists.  I look at the time spent by the artists who are successful, active and pro-active about their artwork and I haven't spent a tenth of that time at my work. 

And I tend to post everything I do here - good, bad or truly ugly.  That's not for my ego but to get feedback on the bad stuff so I can try to make it better the next time.  Perhaps I should be able to work it out myself if I can learn to step back and see what's wrong with something and do something about it. 

I think I know good art when I see it.  There is a lot of it around.  There is also a lot of the other stuff - not so good but done enthusiastically (and often said to be done intuitively - which means they've had to formal training but just feel what they are doing - or that they are self-taught, as if they've never had a class or a workshop or watched a DVD or looked at a book by another artist).

Where do you stand? 
Do we need more formal training grounds for our artists? 
Do we all need Lower Expectations so we can be happy about our work and the work of others?

I could sit down and name 100 living, working artists right now who are great.  I don't have to wait until they die to know their work is worth a lot.  But I think the newsletter is stating that there are 100 x 100 more "artists" who haven't done the work to claim the title "artist".  I wonder - am I one of those 10,000?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I'm slowly working up the heirloom tomatoes.  I don't want them to get dull but, truthfully, those type of tomatoes aren't bright red but a dull red with dull green stripes so I guess I'm getting there.

This is a full sheet (22" x 30").  It will come together more when I put in the area around the tomatoes.

And this may be the last of the Pear Series!  I'm calling it Stained Glass Pears.

I'm moving on to peppers now, having my beginner class do two paintings from the same photo:  one will be done wet-in-wet and one will be done by glazing layers of colors.  I think that will teach them 2 very different techniques and they can choose which style they like.  Myself, I prefer the spontaneity and looseness of wet-in-wet.  Nothing like seeing the pigments blend and bleed and mix on wet paper!

The photo of peppers I'm using was taken from the Image Reference Library at - totally copyright free photos there to use, if you're a member (and membership is free).  I picked 3 different photos and had the students choose their favorite to paint. 

I hope you are having a good week so far.  As for me, I've been struggling since I caught a cold the first week of September.  Can't shake the sinus and cough problems and am seeing my allergist today.  I think this fall there is so much pollen in the air, even people who never had allergy problems before are suffering and I'm miserable.  Time to do something about it!

Monday, October 8, 2012


Friday, Sweetie and I went over to Northern Kentucky University to see the Photo Show there.  Called Reporting Back: A Survey of Documentary Photography, it was contained in 2 galleries in the Fine Arts Center.  Fourteen photographers had their work shown, with subjects from a woman's co-op in India to the fading cowboy life in the southwest.  Well worth taking a look if you're in the area, the show runs to October 26th.  The hardest photos to look at were the bedrooms of soldiers killed in Iraq.   The items in the bedrooms showed how young the soldiers were when they left home for the last time.

Sunday, we went back to NKU to the library to see the watercolor show, Kentucky Impressions: Paul Sawyier Original Works.  WOW!  This man knew his stuff and I was thrilled to see so many beautifully painted watercolors.  The show is on 2 floors - the Eva Farris Reading Room and the Schlachter University Archives (which is only open after 1 pm).  My sister was sitting the show (she works in the library at NKU), and she appreciated the visit since she only had 4 people come by to see the show during her 4-hour stay! 

Paul Sawyier (1865-1917) was born in Ohio but his family moved to Frankfort, Kentucky when he was five year's old.  His family had money and he had an art tutor come to the house to teach Paul and his sister; Paul continued with his art, studying at the Cincinnat Art Academy and then the Art Student's League in NYC.

He mainly painted landscapes after viewing the 1893 Chiago World's Fair (where some of his paintings were in the State of KY display) and seeing the French Impressionists style of painting.  After seeing the Impressionists, he stopped painting portraits and he focused on Frankfort area waterscapes and landscapes in an impressionistic style. 

Of course, Paul had to work to earn a living as his artwork was not selling for high prices.  He never married and spent most of his life taking care of his ailing parents.  When they died, he spent the next 5 years of his life on a houseboat and painting scenes of the Kentucky River. 

Check out the date of his death - he was only 52.  He painted over 3,000 originals in his life, mainly watercolor (from 1887-1917).  His portraits (done early in his life) were in pastel or oil and he painted about 200 oils while living in New York. 

If you love watercolor and want to see a true master of the medium, visit the show, which runs to December 7th!

One thing Sweetie and I both noticed - the elegant and beautiful matting and framing done on each watercolor. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Yesterday's watercolor society met at the Evergreen Retirement Center, the place where our current fall show is hanging.  I came in early to meet the guest artist and spent some time setting up the chairs for the meeting.  We had our meeting in the large auditorium at Evergreen and the guest wanted a more intimate setting so everyone could see her smaller works as she demoed her technique and style.  We had about 40 members present, I think, and Evergreen supplied sandwiches and cookies for lunch after the meeting.

Our guest artist and speaker, Helen Habenstroh, specializes in architectural drawings and does commissions of houses as well as working toward a looser style in her watercolor journal.  She was a vivacious 82-year-old with plenty of stories to have us laughing as she demonstrated a small painting of Krohn Conservatory for us.  She displayed many works, including a book she had published, some field sketches, and detailed pen and ink drawings (which is her specialty).  A very talented and entertaining lady!

And what does the title of this post mean? 

Well, here are some photos from the room - which was decorated for Halloween and just happened to be a theme of crows and skeletons and bats!

Not great photos, but you can bet I'll be using them for future crow painting references!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012



Photo by R.H. Carpenter

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Friday, Sweetie and I drove up to Bethesda North Hospital and dropped off his 2 photos and my 2 paintings for the annual juried show at the Mary Jo Cropper Breast Health Center.  There were over 100 art works accepted, but the artist reception isn't until spring (no date yet so I assume we'll be notified when they choose a date). 

On the way back home, we stopped in at The Carnegie to see their exhibit which is a contribution to the tri-state wide FotoFocus exhibits going on this month.  I found quite a few beautiful things to enjoy, walking around the galleries in The Carnegie.  My favorites were works by Trinidad Mac-Auliffe and Paula Kraus.  If you have the time and are in the area, stop by and check out the exhibit.  There are exhibits at Northern Kentucky University and Notre Dame Academy and many of the art galleries in the Cincinnati area, too. 

For more information about the show at The Carnegie, see this link:

Monday, October 1, 2012


Just a page in my sketchbook - it's a Strathmore Visual Journal (90# watercolor paper) 9" x 12".  It's heavy enough paper for some collaging and gessoing and other fun stuff I might try.  For now, just a sketch I did that needed some color.  Watercolor added.

I think I should have left it at stage 2, but got carried away with the color!

Now for some more housecleaning and getting my lessons ready for tomorrow's class...

Today is my brother-in-law's birthday.  We are the same age.  Happy Birthday, Mac!!!