Saturday, March 30, 2013


Here in Kentucky, when the weather is warm and the sun is shining on a bright Sunday, we tend to turn our mind to spring.  And spring in Kentucky means the Kentucky Derby and the "run for the roses" that happens the first Saturday in May :)  We've already had the "Jim Beam Stakes" at Turfway Park - a big too-do and lead-up to the Kentucky Derby.  My BIL, Mac, played the VIP Pavilion and has seen the likes of William Shatner, Ashley Judd, and other stars who love horses and dressing up for the big event.  

I have started following an artist who happens to have the art work for the labels on Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon bottles for the Kentucky Derby this year.  What a cool gig this would be for an artist.  He's not a Kentucky artist, but I like his take on the big race.  

Here's a photo of the bottle.  Woodford Reserve is what they use to make the high-priced mint juleps.  The common folks drink their mint juleps with Early Times.

And here's an article about the bottle, about Woodford Reserve, and about the artist, Eric Bowman.  (I hope he posts something about this on his blog so we learn more about how he was chosen, what he had to do to create the label, etc.  I asked a question in a comment but he's yet to reply.)

For those wondering what's in a mint julep:
A mix of mint, bourbon, sugar, and water (sometimes with a splash of club soda), the mint julep is a simple Derby-Day favorite.  Of course, there are many new variations being created, but this is the original ingredients.  A sprig of mint adds the final touch.  A few of these and you won't mind losing money on the horse you picked!

Friday, March 29, 2013


A bit overworked, I wanted to keep it fresh.  My best bet for accomplishing that is no drawing ahead of time - letting the brush do the drawing.  Oh, time.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Mr. Forbes and I need to sit down and figure out why I cannot get his face correct in the portrait I'm doing on gessoed paper.  

Perhaps I did not start with a good, exactly proportioned drawing on the paper - always a problem when it comes to the painting stage.  I'm still working on it - putting paint on, taking it off - I'm beginning to sound like an oil painter!  

 I just downloaded the Mary Whyte e-book from NorthLight Books - her work makes me swoon even though it's tighter than I would want to paint.  Perhaps I need to print it out and read through it before trying to make any more changes to Mr. Forbes.  When I wiped back the left side of the background, I saw that I had stamped sea turtles into the gesso in the background - so I touched them with some green - very hard to see them here but there's one diving down just over HIS left shoulder and another to the right of HIS hat.  Can you see them?  I guess I put them there since he's an island man, surrounded by things from the sea.  

Dear Mr. Forbes, why are you giving me such fits?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


The 120th Annual Juried Exhibition of the Woman's Art Club of Cincinnati begins next month. 

Artists were allowed to enter 2 paintings on cd with only 1 getting in.  I got one in! 

Which one?

This one!

Now I have to have it matted and framed for delivery on April 1 or 2. 

The show goes on at The Barn 
6980 Cambridge Avenue
Mariemont, OH
from April 5 to April 21 (1-4 each day except Mondays the Barn is closed)
Artist reception/opening 
on April 7 from 1-4.

I can't be at the reception - I'll be at the Christopher Leeper watercolor landscape workshop in Mt. Adams - so I will wander over there on the 10th to see the show.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Saturday, I received a special thank you from Jeanette Jobson in response to my small donation to her Indiegogo plan to raise money for the purchase of a mall printing press.  Jeanette is still making these wonderful hand-pulled gyoku fish prints and I received this "red fish" - although it's not red, I realize red fish is it's name :)  He has a lovely underbite (which I find very sexy!).

In addition, she sent this wonderful thank you card, which is another print!

To find out more about Jeanette's plan, click on this link and see what it's all about.

Remember, we're all in this together!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


A few more bloggers and artists have begun to follow my blog, so that means its time to start visiting for Sunday Sharing time!  Don't forget to take your calling cards, in case they are not home when you arrive.

1.  Artist Shelley R. Ozbirn says Indulge Your Art Craving in her blog.  She creates beautiful little watercolor pieces and great jewelry from those pieces - take a look and find something you might just fall in love with! 

2.  Rosa Muller takes us to her home of Brazil and shows us the oil landscapes she has been painting.  It took a while to translate the pages but then I could read some of the things she's been doing and the shows she's been entering.  

3.  Eriko Kawamura is a Japanese artist living in Paris and creating some lovely, bright, watercolor sketches of her surroundings and her trips to Japan.  Watercolors and watercolor sketches are her forte and you'll definitely find something lovely to look at if you visit her blog.  I really liked her figure studies - the bold lines of color were something!

4.  The SimplySketch blog of artist, Cecile Samson, contains wonderful sketches and paintings- her creative life; and her second blog holds a life's account of living in Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada with great photos.  Like a tour without leaving your easy chair!

I hope you take a few minutes out of your Sunday to visit these fellow bloggers.  You may just find something you love! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013


I put some color on the petals of the sunflower painting.  I think this may be as far as I am going with this one. It is just a class demo and experiment for the students and won't be anything more.  So many people paint sunflowers - nothing new here and just a copy of part of a watercolor book painting.

The picture looks a bit fuzzy - I must have moved when I snapped the pic.  The students will be working on their version of this Tuesday morning.

A local Ohio attorney is filing an indictment against Puxatawney (?) Phil, the groundhog, for intentionally committing fraud by saying spring would be early.  It sure isn't around here - cold, windy, snow flurries, brrr....

Friday, March 22, 2013


I didn't do much more on the sunflowers painting except darken and change some greens here and there.  Not really in a spring/sunny mood - it's still cold here and windy :(   And, basically, did this to get myself away from the frustration of the Mr. Forbes painting.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


John Singer Sargent is quoted as saying, "Whenever I paint a portrait, I lose a friend."  I think I know what he means.  Of course, he painted most of his portraits in oils and could rework and change and make things right, over time.  The only way we can do this in watercolor is gesso the watercolor paper first, then you can wipe back to white (or close to white).

So I took a painting of Mr. Forbes I had done a few years ago and wiped it back to white (apparently, I had spray sealed it with acrylic spray so had to use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to wipe it back but it worked just fine).  Then began again, trying to work slowly and carefully, taking breaks and looking at the features.  

What I see wrong - the white moustache and beard don't look right and I need to figure out how to do this without putting Chinese White on it.  Perhaps a tiny brush to lift off anything that's white, leaving the color around it.  What else I see wrong - I've made his face longer and thinner at the top than it is, plus I've taken years (decades?) off his age.  

So, back to the drawing board for this one.  I need to give it some time to rest and try again with little changes as I go.  And get rid of that Chinese White moustache and beard!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

First Day of Spring, Spring Equinox, March 20

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I just added the greenery in the second stage of this.  I've decided I will finish it before the next class.  That way, I'll have more time to help the students as they work on their versions of this painting.

The way I see it right now, I think the bottom stem and some of the greenery areas need to be darker in value before I start on the petals.

I just finished the latest book by Jodi Picoult, titled The Storyteller.  I admit, she has been one of my favorite authors for years.  But even so, this book is one of her very best!  I highly recommend it, but warn you to give yourself a long weekend because you won't want to put it down after you start it. 

Monday, March 18, 2013


The students showed up and finished the little bit they had to do on their little black cows.  Then didn't have anything else to start so I got out the watercolor books I own and came up with some sunflowers we could try.  

I printed out photos we could trace, reminding them that this is a copy of someone's work so we can't do anything but use this as a study.  Then I made mine vertical and carried the stems down with more sky area to change it from the photo.  

We are going for a dramatic and varied background to just some pretty sunflowers in the foreground.  I took a tip from Shirley Travena and got out my watercolor pencils and scraped some of the points off on sandpaper, letting the "dirt" fall on the paper while it was still damp.  This adds some interesting and varied textures.

I'll do the greenery next but probably save the sunflowers for last to do along with the class so I can help them with their flower petals.  I hope the rest works out as well as the background, which worked out pretty well.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Instead of using the black India ink, I used Daniel Smith's Walnut ink.  It's not as waterproof but it worked out for this one.  Chose some different pictographs from postcards of the southwest rock art.  Had to add the bird - which I think it an owl?  Maybe.  The character on the bottom right seems to be a snake charmer - that's a snake above his head - but maybe he's just dreaming about a snake...

This will be the last one of these I do.  I may still do a few small landscape studies as I still need to learn how to manipulate the India ink (without it manipulating me!).

Have a great weekend.  It's going to be warm and rainy here.

Friday, March 15, 2013


I took a couple of the ink and watercolor works and revised them by 
first, using sandpaper to get off some of the dark marks in ink (black) and china marker(red).

In both instances, the marks "bled" into the watercolor around, creating haloed effects I didn't like.

So I got out my white gesso, watered it down a lot and poured it over a pre-spritzed painting, 
letting it roll around and settle a bit.  

I like the more muted look of both of these now.

If you don't have white gesso, you can use white gouache over these to push some of the color and intensity back.  I used white gesso because Alex Powers uses white gesso (80 to 20 ratio gesso to water) over his work to push things back and make lighter passages and I'd tried that before so I knew it worked.  Plus, it's no longer a pure watercolor painting as soon as you put the markings on so adding an acrylic medium doesn't matter at this point.

I have one more watercolor and walnut ink painting drying and I'll share it tomorrow.  Then maybe I'll go back to landscapes and other things of interest.  More crows?  Why not?!?  ha ha

Wednesday, March 13, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

(St. Patrick's Day is not far away. 
No, he's not Irish, but he's definitely
wearing the green!)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


One more ink and watercolor pictograph.  But first I drew in the pictures using red china marker (which is a very waxy pencil in white, black and red).  Then I put in the watercolor and some ink to push it back a bit.

This one tells the story of a good rain and a good crop yield :)

Definition of PICTOGRAPH

1.  an ancient or prehistoric drawing or painting on a rock wall
2. one of the symbols belonging to a pictorial graphic system
3. a diagram representing statistical data by pictorial forms 

And a little watercolor flower on a scrap of paper - good for a bookmark.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Having seen the pictographs and petroglyphs in the southwest of the US, I had a few photos and postcards to use as reference for these watercolor and ink trials.  It was fun to put down the watercolor background, using some granulating colors; then put the ink down to "carve" into the background rocks :)  These won't last as long as the originals out in the southwest, but they were fun to do.

I think the ink on this one is too intense and clean - perhaps I will go over it with a bit of sandpaper, to scrape away some of the black and make it look more aged.

A background with a touch of blue added.

I didn't see any hands on the southwestern rock paintings - but I did see some of the Australian aborigines when I visited there.  Of course, they either painted their hands with the color and pressed them on, or placed their hands on the rock face and then blew the paint around the hand, outlining it.  

More to come tomorrow.  And my thanks again to Maggie Latham, who got this whole ink and watercolor thing started!  If you're interested in using ink with your watercolors, go over to Maggie's blog (see my sidebar for her blog) and try out some techniques.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Well, I had to try the ink and watercolor technique Maggie Latham shared on her blog in a crow painting - because she said I just had to try a crow this way!

This one is looking for something good to eat on a summer's day.

  And this one is mad, standing out in the wind while a storm is brewing! ha ha

I did both by putting down the India Ink first, using the ink like watercolor (with a small brush and wetting areas to lighten them); then I put in the light watercolor washes as background.

Friday, March 8, 2013


I was going to enter this in the monthly portrait challenge at PaintMyPhoto.  But there are already so many postings, it's just too overwhelming. 

I chose this one because I know the photographer, Li Newton, and the subject, Mr. Forbes.  Li is currently living on San Salvador in the Bahamas with her husband, who is the maintenance manager at the Gerace Research Station (where Sweetie and I stay when he goes to the Bahamas to do research).

I have met Mr. Forbes several times at the Gerace Research Station.  He was always moving, always working, always out and about.  I don't know how old he is - I could guess and be off by 20 years.  He always looks the same and he always struck me as a gentle man with a shy smile; a man who is not afraid of hard work and would cut open a coconut for the students at the research center whenever asked - there is a real knack to doing that with a large machete!

Thanks, Li, for sharing the photo at PaintMyPhoto.  And thanks for your help with Sweetie's research!  Maybe I'll see you this summer.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Maggie Latham has some interesting posts right now on her blog - she's sharing how she uses inks with watercolor:  not in the traditional way of using the ink as a drawing tool and then coloring in with watercolors, but using the inks as watercolor. 

Get out your India Ink and brushes and try it.  I actually accomplished a couple paintings this way that I like!  They are both small studies (7.5" x 11").  I put down the ink first on damp paper in No. 1 and then washes of Azo Yellow + Prussian Blue.  In No. 2, I put down the ink after the watercolor washes.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

(Yes, it's a real frog!)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Tomorrow's program for the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society is supposed to feature artist and teacher, Barbara Hart Sailor.  She will be coming from north of Dayton, OH.  I have been looking forward to her visit, but the weather may not cooperate.  Her area of OH is supposed to get 6-8 inches of snow by Wednesday morning, and we are supposed to get 2-3 inches here in NKY. 

Barb and I have been on-line buddies for years - since we both were in WatercolorWorkshop, the Yahoo group, and during my years of being List-Mom of the Yahoo group SWAP.  Barb always participated in the SWAPs and it was a treat to receive one of her paintings in the mail.  Barb has several blogs going, so you can visit and see some of her work, from watercolor to acrylic inks, traditional acrylic on canvas, and oils - there seems to be no medium she cannot conquer but I especially like her watercolors.

I'm hoping Barb and I can reschedule her program for later this year and that she will get to drive down and we'll meet in person.  Sometimes Mother Nature does what she wants and our plans don't mean much.

I hope you all are safe and warm, wherever you are and whether you got hit with another snowstorm or not.  Perhaps you are in Australia, swimming in the ocean - if so, send some of that warm, sunny weather our way!

Monday, March 4, 2013


I have a t-shirt that says, Raven Lunatic on it with a picture of a black raven in the middle.  I have fake stuffed crows around the house (4 of them).  I like ravens and love crows.  They mean something to me.  The crows calling as they fly over my house at 7:30 in the morning makes me smile.  Makes me want to see where they are going.  

When I saw some great photos of ravens Gary Jones posted on his blog, I wanted to paint one.  Gary is a member of PaintMyPhoto and posted one of the photos there for all to use.  His Sweetie, Sharon Whitley, told me about it - so I joined.  I still haven't quite figured the site out - need to spend more time roaming around, finding stuff and getting to know people - but I did paint the raven from Gary's photo and uploaded it.

Gary's blog is full of fantastic photographs from his walks in the wild in Wales.  Go there and see his stuff - you will be glad you did!  Sharon has a great blog, too - full of watercolors of the wildlife Gary photographs and which they see on their regular "walks" (which I call massive hikes up mountains).

Thanks, Gary and Sharon!

Sunday, March 3, 2013


This one arrived in my email yesterday from  
 I couldn't resist it:  such wonderful descriptions of what we adults fight and argue about = snow!

This is just an excerpt of the whole poem.  
Do you remember sledding down the hills when you were a child?  
Do you remember bouncing up and down like Tigger the Tiger, 
unable to wait to be put in your snowsuit, your boots, your scarf - 
then outside with a wild whoosh (and the scarf and hat came off, 
to be stuffed in your pocket), out you went! 
On to a cold, snowy adventure!


by Naomi Shihab Nye
Once with my scarf knotted over my mouth
I lumbered into a storm of snow up the long hill
and did not know where I was going except to the top of it.
In those days we went out like that.
Even children went out like that.
Someone was crying hard at home again, 
raging blizzard of sobs.

I dragged the sled by its rope, 
which we normally did not do
when snow was coming down so hard,
pulling my brother whom I called by our secret name
as if we could be other people under the skin.
The snow bit into my face, prickling the rim
of the head where the hair starts coming out.
And it was a big one. It would come down and down
for days. People would dig their cars out like potatoes.

How are you doing back there? I shouted,
and he said Fine, I’m doing fine, 
in the sunniest voice he could muster 
and I think I should love him more today
for having used it.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I was surprised to see this beautiful bird at our suet feeder 2 days in a row.  I do hope she (for I think it's a she) is going to stay around and find a mate and raise a few little flickers.  We've never had one in our area so it was amazing to see her.  Such beautiful colors with a black bib and black dots on her face, speckled chest, a touch of red at the back of her head; and that beautiful creamy toffee color!  I love it when we attract a new bird to our feeders. 

(Not a great photo - I got my point-n-shoot and took it before she flew away.)

Don't forget to check out our artist and blogger friend, Jeanette Jobson, and her Fishy Bits project goal!  I've included the link - so visit and read what it's about.  You might be able to help her meet her $ goal for a home printing press.

Although her deadline is in April, don't wait until April to donate, if you are so inclined.  Remember, we're all in this together!

Friday, March 1, 2013


Just a bit more of the tomatoes.  Slow going.  Perhaps it just doesn't thrill me?

Perhaps I should do something odd/unusual with that center tomato?

Are you a member of PaintmyPhoto?  I joined in order to get permission to paint Gary Jone's photo of a raven he took recently, but am apparently too stupid to figure out how to get around the site and post anything!  

Happy March 1st!