Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Sunrise over the Atlantic.  Pretty nice - still windy and high tide.

The neighbor's were having a seawall erected around their property - this was two houses down from where we stayed.  It wasn't as noisy as I thought it would be because the sound of the waves and wind was loud enough to drown most of the worker's sounds out.  They had it done while we were there and there will be one around the place we stayed soon.

It was cool, standing out on the deck and watching the ospreys fishing - they would climb high high high up and then dive down to check out a fish, splashing into the water to catch it, coming up with a large fish in their talons (or not, in the case of one juvenile who didn't seem to get the hang of it yet and was just getting a good dunking most of the time).  

He finally decided that if he was going to get a dunking, he might as well come into shore and get a good bath!  Looked so ratty.  (Sweetie said he was a juvenile osprey and was probably just learning to fish.)

Sweetie tried for a long time to get a close shot of these guys hunting.  Whenever he was out on the deck with his camera, they would fly further out over the water.  

So, finally, I walked out and onto the beach.  Not 5 seconds later, this one flew over top of me, and landed within 5 feet of me at the water's edge.  I laughed and pointed for Sweetie to get his camera out with the long lens.  

This one flapped around in the water for a while, enjoying himself.  Then, up and away back home to dry off.

The ospreys shake off the water after a dive like a dog shaking water from its back.  

Monday, April 29, 2013


St. Augustine, Florida, is hosting a Picasso exhibit, direct from Spain.  It's at the Visitor's Center and they revamped the building just to house the exhibit.  It was one of the things on my list for our annual northeastern Florida trip.  Sweetie and I were in Florida last week so we drove up to St. Augustine on Monday (April 22).  It was a wet and windy day - enough so that the streets were fairly deserted and all the tourists were under cover of the trolleys, riding around the city instead of walking in the rain in a hoodie with the string tied tightly round my face to keep it from blowing off.  

We were not allowed to take photos of the exhibit so the lady taking tickets shot this photo of us in front of the first sign.

The exhibit focuses on Picasso's obsession with bullfighting.  It includes drawings, lithographs, prints, and even ceramics dealing with bulls, matadors and naked women (of course!).  There were several school groups coming in as we left (good timing).

The exhibit runs through May, if you're in the area.

One of the highlights of visiting St. Augustine is entering the Kilwin's shop.  Full of caramel apples, chocolate covered delights of all kinds, and ice cream.  I had to bring back some salted caramels for my mother (for Mother's Day) and myself; and Sweetie and I shared one of their new delights:  

An apple pie caramel apple!  
It is a regular caramel apple (with a nice, tart apple under all the rich caramel), then it is dipped in a apple pie dough crunchy covering (tastes like a rich apple pie when you eat it and the apple pie dough keeps the caramel from being so sticky).  YUM!!!

This interesting fountain was just outside the Visitor's Center so I had to take a photo.

Here's some information about the fountain.

And then Sweetie had to take a photo of me.  I'm calling this one:
One of these things is not the same. :)

You can see it was not weather to have shorts and tees on - jeans, tee shirt and a hoodie for the day.  Windy enough for three days (we arrived on Saturday evening), that the wind surfers were having a blast but everyone else was avoiding the beach and blowing mist.

Grey sky, grey water, the only color was in the wind surfers' sails.  One very fit guy was doing jumps, spins and trying to turn upside down.  He was documenting his efforts because he had on a hard helmet with a video camera on top.

The Sunshine State? Not the first few days!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


We are home again after a week in Crescent Beach, Florida (the northeastern side, just south of St. Augustine).  I'll have new photos coming soon so stay tuned to see and read about the Picasso exhibit, the rookery at the Alligator Farm, the sea and sand :)

Have a wonderful Sunday.  
We returned to a wet and very green landscape here at home - beautiful! 

Friday, April 26, 2013


This is painted on a Strathmore blank watercolor card.  Small, but not too bad.  Perhaps painting small when working out landscapes may take some of the pressure off and then I can go bigger later.  I wish I had made the moon (which you can hardly see) larger in the evening sky.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Monday, April 22, 2013


In order to practice landscapes, one has to have good references - either in reality (outside looking at the scene)  or in photographs.  Here are a few snaps I took out the bedroom window of the little forest behind our neighbors' houses last week.
(That neighbor's house you see is not the house that keeps the security light on all night - that house is just up the hill a bit, meaning it shines in my windows all night long.  I feel like I'm in the Big House and the searchlight is on, looking for Cool Hand Luke!)

I like shadows - I am attracted to strong shadows in anything.  The early morning light was making some nice shadows in the first two photos.

Our yard ends at the fenceline.  Pretty soon the trees will be even more bloomed out there.  

All are possible references for practice paintings.  There certainly is enough green to keep me occupied!

And I could just set up outside and try some plein air painting in the comfort of my own back yard?  Maybe...if the temperature would go back up to 75F.

This shows a wetter version - after a rainy day.

 You don't have to travel far to find potential landscape paintings.  Of course, you want to omit a lot of things - like the fence line - or move a few things around to suit yourself.  That's the fun of being an artist.

Have a great week!  I'll be in my little art room practicing and hope to have something good to show you sooner rather than later.  I am returning to my Caw Girl series for a painting that, if it turns out well, I may enter in the upcoming Cincinnati Art Club Viewpoint Show - we'll see.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


What a day yesterday was - so cold and windy I needed my winter coat!  It switches daily from 80F to 50F but windy enough that it feels like 40F!  

The morning began with the internet not connecting - had to call Cincinnati Bell which has their "help" all in the Philippines.  After speaking to a woman who talked so quietly I had a hard time hearing her, I was told I needed to get a new modem.  Cincinnati Bell is updating their network - whenever any service is updating anything, the customers have problems.  The local Cincinnati Bell store was hopping - and many people were hopping mad! 

 Anyway, drove to the local store, changed out the old modem for a shiny new one, made sure all the cables were in the box before leaving (this is not my first rodeo!), drove home and Jerry and I drove to meet Jenny (Jerry's oldest daughter) - it was her birthday!!! so we took a present and a card and shared those over lunch.  After an hour, we drove home.

And I spent some time figuring out how to get all the new stuff hooked up.  It looked so simple, even had a slide show with plenty of information - words and pictures for those of us noncomputer folks who need all the help we can get.  Got through the first steps - piece of cake!  Then, wait, that light is supposed to be solid green - but it's not.  It's solid RED.  Not good.  Called the store.  They said call the service people (apparently all the store does is sell you phones and exchange broken things for new ones).  

So another call to Cincinnati Bell - which is really calling the Philippines.

Another call, another service person, this time a man who talked loudly and seemed to get my jokes (the woman this morning did not).  He had to do several things on his end and finally got me up and running.  YAY!!!  Only took about 15 extra minutes.  He did ask me if I was aware that Cincinnati Bell is doing updates and maintenance in my area.  I said, "Yes, I know.  That's why the service was out yesterday." 

So...I have had so many things going on this week that I haven't had painting time, but I did get my new Homee/Alvin palette from Cheap Joe's.  It's the 24-well version, blue (of course), and seals well for travel - same as my old one which recently gave up the ghost (meaning one of the latches broke off).  I just popped the old, filled wells into the new palette and will use the new wells and mixing area for extra.  Cool!  Love the palette - just the right size to fit into my travel bag and it doesn't leak.  And Cheap Joe was having a special where shipping was only $2.95 compared to the usual $8.95.

So life has some bumps along the way, but is, for the most part, pretty darned good.  Now, if I could figure out how to shoot out my neighbor's security light they keep on all night long, every night, I'd be a happy camper!  But that's another story...

Hope you have a great weekend.  Stay safe, wherever you are.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Here are several small paintings I tried in the Christopher Leeper workshop.  I was much too timid with the darks, not mixing enough variety in my greens, not seeing the colors as well as I should.  (The top two are all mine - of course, you can probably tell that!)

I really struggled and did enough whining that Chris came over and, after asking my permission (the sign of a good teacher!), took my brush and palette and turned my mess into an evening scene with the shadows stretching out.  He even put a night glowing sun behind the trees on the left.

 Explaining, as he did so, that every single change affected every other thing in the painting.  So much thinking.  And I do know this for everything but when it comes to landscapes, well, I am landscape challenged!  But I will continue to struggle and practice and someday I will be able to do a decent one - I hope.

And here is my final effort, done at home a few days after the workshop was over and I had recuperated and got some energy and brain power back.  Not as horrible as the 1st two versions, but still a bit too timid and tight?

Not going to beat myself up about this.  Just something else I need to learn and study and practice before getting comfortable and getting the ideas ingrained in my little head.  And every little change effects everything else - not used to painting outside, plein air painting can feel strange and it may take a while to know what to take and what to leave behind.  Not painting landscapes, it seems strange to paint them and make my mind work around - I know about composition, value, colors, and shapes but cannot (yet) move that thinking and learning to landscapes for some reason.  But I will!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Monday, April 15, 2013


The Woman's Art Club of Cincinnati 120th Annual Juried Exhibition - April 7 - 21, 2013.  If you want to see some beautiful art in watercolor, pastel, oil, acrylic, sculpture, mixed media and even fabric art, get over to "The Barn" in Mariemont (6980 Cambridge Avenue) and see the show.  It is really good.  And I'm not just saying that because I got in.  And I'm not just saying that because I won an award (although I did!).  There were 66 pieces in the show and 17 award-winners. 
 My painting, Gourds n'Shadows won the F + W Media Watercolor Artist Subscription award (which means I get a year's free Watercolor Artist magazines - and that pretty cool ribbon with a bronze medal thingy on the end).

This show proves that bigger is not always better.  Some of the award winners were smaller paintings.  This gorgeous pastel (top in the blues and whites) was small and it was wonderful!  It made me want to stand in front of it for a long time, taking it all in, feeling the cold of that mountain - and those blues!  Oh, be still my heart!  It won one of the top 5 awards and was called Denali (by Hannah Beck).
The really nice watercolor underneath Hannah's pastel is by Carolyn Ross Hibbard, and she won the SunEden Artists Gear award.

   And the little one in the black frame on the top row was the top award winner (the Joan Cord Award of Excellence) - an oil of flowers called In The Pink by Monica Anne Achberger.  Another small and gorgeous painting!

I was pleased to learn that there were 20 watercolors in the show!  I love it when we hold our own in show that has oils, pastels, acrylics and mixed media.

Here is how my little painting looked, hanging on the wall.  I think it was up a bit too high to see it well, but I didn't voluneer to hang the show so I can't realy complain, can I?

I took my mother over to see the show last Friday.  She didn't like mine, saying, "It's a bit odd...." and,  "I thought it was going to be a painting of a pumpkin."

If you are in the area any time, do stop by and see the show.  It runs until Sunday, April 21st. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


For those of you who have enjoyed reading my little summaries of the Christopher Leeper workshop I coordinated and attended last weekend, just click here to go to Chris' site and see more of his work, learn about his studio teaching and his workshops available.  One might be coming to an area close to you!  If you are interested in learning more about landscapes in various medias (he does watercolor, acrylics and oils), you might want to check out his workshops.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Remember that song by Bob Seger, the Detroit singer/song-writer. 

On the third day of the Christopher Leeper workshop, he really challenged us because we told him we wanted to try a night scene.  Chris said he painted a lot of night paintings that were never seen until he figured out how to paint a night scene and get it right.  Well, he had us all watching with interest, not talking or getting up to get coffee or anything.

He began with his signature way of painting, putting the warms down first.

Then, the way he started in the sky area, I felt myself cringing inside, seeing the intensity of the colors and the colors he chose for the sky!  I was sure there was no coming back from that color!  Dark reds and greens and blues all in the sky?  Really?  What was he thinking?

And I was wrong!  Look at that color already separating and showing the dark blues and reds and even greens of a night sky!!  How did that happen?  Well, first, Chris was painting on 300# watercolor paper (probably Arches although he likes to try all kinds of paper) - and he prewet the whole sky area.  So as that pigment and water was drying, it separated and made a beautiful, lighter mix of the colors he put in the sky.  That was the best part of this painting to me - seeing that and knowing that, once again, fear of darks can harm your paintings - especially in a night scene.

Chris has taken a thousand photos of evening and night scenes after a rain - getting that shine on the roadways and buildings is what he is after.  The glow that comes in the sky and on the surfaces after a rain.  He loves photography as much as he loves painting, I think.  He and Sweetie proved it when we went out to dinner Saturday night and then went right down to the Ohio River (the Covington side) to shoot photos of the evening and night and reflections.  They are both just as obsessed with photography as I am with painting! ha ha

See that bold, beautiful color in the sky and foreground?  WOW!

This painting was from a photo Chris had taken in his area of Ohio (cannot remember the name of the place but there is a bar on the right side of the painting which he says is familiar to locals who see it).

And from a start that had me wondering "What was he thinking?", came this beautiful, evocative night scene.  Can't you just smell the rain in the air and know a storm has just passed?

 Watercolor, in the hands of a master, does not get any better.  I am most appreciative of the 3 intense days Chris shared with us at the watercolor society and I hope to continue and learn more as I practice practice practice!

Using a photo Sweetie took on Saturday night of the Ohio River facing Cincinnati from the Covington, KY side, I tried my own version of a night scene.  What did I do wrong?  Well, I didn't use anything but blues in the sky with a touch of pink at the horizon - no bold, dark mixes of reds and blues and greens.  And I used misket (masking fluid) on the lights which made hard edged shapes when I pulled the misket off.  Chris says he never or rarely rarely using any masking fluid, preferring to paint around his whites if he can.  I did not make it as dark as the photo - I intentionally wanted to lighten it a bit so I could get better colors.  But I think I will try again going very very dark on 300# paper and prewet areas before painting them.  Again, it's all about the practice and this is the best I did that weekend - which isn't good but it does show I was learning and trying! ha ha

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 12, 2013


Starting with a good reference photo of a stream with sunlight in places, Chris began again by putting in his warm underlaying colors and darks to get a feel of how the painting is going.  He mixes lots of good greens and has variety in colors and shapes in his background foliage.

 It's starting to take shape now.

Like most artists, Chris love art books and brought a few to show us.  He recommends the Jeanne Dobie book, Making Color Sing, if you are having trouble mixing your greens.  You could also do swatches of color, mixing all your blues and yellows and other touches of color to get a good variety of greens if you're going to do landscapes.

Chris wanted to keep the highlights on the rocky area of the stream and the light on the water.

What a gorgeous painting!  And he makes it look so easy.

I have to keep telling myself he has years and years of experience in painting landscapes.  And I have to practice, practice, practice to get good at seeing the shapes and the variety of colors in all that green :)

The finished painting.  WOW!

And that was Day Two!  Chris says his palette contains more blues than anything because "every blue does something different."  He called Cobalt Blue a "shy color" - I loved that description of it.

Chris stressed that, in landscapes (and in everything else), it's important for us to "find connections, not labels", meaning find the large dark shapes or the small light shapes and tie them together, don't think, "I'm painting a tree, then I'll paint the rocks, then I'll paint the water" without tying them together visually.

And on Day Three he really pushed us into unknown territory, letting us try a Night Scene!  

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I feel like that old joke:
"I just flew in from Pittsburgh and boy are my arms tired!"
I am tired.  
I think I am too old to do as much as I've been doing in the past 5 days. 

OK, enough whining!

On to the Leeper Workshop which was in beautiful Mt. Adams on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 5-7. And what a gorgeous weekend it was, too!

I took the landscape workshop back in October and this one was even better, if that's possible.  Perhaps I was less stressed (although landscapes and all the green always stress me out).  Chris is a wonderful artist and a great instructor (those 2 things don't always go together), and he is easily bored so what he taught (the paintings he did, the exercises we had) were different from what he shared in October - so new and fun stuff and even a night scene!

Chris showed us how to use muted/greyed colors in a painted value study (beats all those charcoal and pencil and marker black and white studies we're always told to do) - using our colors but keeping them muted and getting the values right before starting our larger painting.  If nothing else, I will use this technique and try to get better at seeing the values and colors in a landscape scene.

Chris began painting with the sky, using a photo as his guide/reference.  (Remember that - use your photo as a guide/reference, not as the Holy Grail to follow to a tee.)  Of course, he does a lot of plein air painting, but during a workshop you have to work from photo references.

He always says to put down your warm colors first - as a sort of underpainting.  He reminded us that he does that because he can cool down a warm and not make mud - but it's harder to warm up a cool without getting muddy color.

So even though you see cools in your photo and you want them in your painting, put down some warms first.  Then, when you lay cools over the warms, you can leave some warms peeking out - and you truly get a different look to the painting by doing it this way (those warms under the cools will show and give you a nice feeling of warmth to the painting.)

After you have your warms down where you want them, then you begin thinking about your values and put in some darks.  Chris does this in order to get a feel for how his mid-tones are going to work and doesn't wait until the latter stages to put in some darks.  He is not afraid of darks, either, mixing up large puddles of it to put on his painting.  

He introduced me to Daniel Smith Permanent Brown last time and this time his new favorite was Rose of Ultramarine.  He said, "How can you NOT buy a color called Rose of Ultramarine?" ha ha

See how he put in that dark foreground and building?  That's to see how those darks are going to work in the painting.  He reminded us that, once you adjust one value, you have to adjust the other values!

Greens are scary to a lot of us - and Chris isn't afraid of greens.  He rarely uses tube greens but mixes his own and loves mixing Phthalo Blue with yellows and reds to get what he wants.  The Phthalo Blue mixed with Permanent Brown (which has red in it) was a great mix to get a good, strong dark color which you could lean towards the warm or cool side.

Another thing that escapes me - trees.  Why?  Because that little voice inside says, "You can't paint trees" and I believe it and don't practice or go outside and sketch trees.  To paint a tree, you have to see it and know it, I think.  

The beautiful finished painting!

After Chris did his first demo of the day, he then let us loose on our own things.  We used our own references and some painted large, some small.  Some did studies, some had things predrawn on the paper. 

Mine turned into a mess but I tried very hard and tried not to whine too much!  In all honesty, it could be a good starting painting but I didn't know where to go with it and was timid with going darker in places (that is just going to have to come with time and practice).  So you see, even sitting and watching and taking notes and trying to assimilate all the information, it's hard to break through my fear of landscapes and green.  Just like in the Bill Murray/Richard Dryfuss movie, What About Bob?, it's going to be baby steps for me!

More to come tomorrow!  Spring has burst out all over since Saturday and Sunday were so warm and sunny - what a beautiful time of year.