Thursday, November 28, 2013


As a child in school, did you ever use your handprint to make turkeys - and then hang them around the classroom or take them home, proudly displaying your own personalized artwork?  I can remember doing that.  That's how this little turkey began...I just painted up my hand and then printed it on the watercolor paper and went from there.  

I think he's quite handsome and, of course, he is a wild turkey and has escaped Thanksgiving dinner here in the US!

Hope you all have arrived safely at your destinations, and will enjoy your time with family and friends for this Thanksgiving holiday.  Have a safe and happy weekend, too.  (I do have a painting started - not of a turkey but another kind of bird - that will be shared soon.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Sung to the tune of the old Jimmy Rogers song, "T for Texas":

Ice in Texas
Snow in Tennessee.
Ice in Texas
Snow in Tennesee.
Rain in Georgia
Sleet in Kentucky.

Looks like it might be some tricky travelling for those going "home" for the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.  Stay safe, my friends!

Monday, November 25, 2013


Sweetie recently received his latest National Geographic magazine and I was thumbing through, haphazardly, in a medicated fog.  I came across a 2-page spread about the Great Backyard Bird Count.  The illustrations were so beautifully done and so watercolor-y that I had to find out the artist's name and info.  Here it is:

Under Gallery, check out the video, courtesy of Cricket Fine Art Gallery in London.

Love to watch this guy paint!

One thing Natasha (our drawing teacher) said to us in class is:  Don't keep taking a lot of workshops from lots of people.  Find one artist who inspires you and who you want to draw or paint like, and then study with them.  I think I am at that stage - no more workshops unless the artist really speaks to me in some way and I want to learn from them.  I think I could go to Sweden and study with this guy.  But there are American artists right here who inspire me and who could teach me a lot.  So I'll stay here :)

If you could study, one-on-one, with any living artist today (and money or distance was no obstacle) who would you choose? I'd love to hear your answers.

Friday, November 22, 2013


How long does a cold last?
A week to 10 days, whether you treat it, or not.  Of course, if you don't treat it, you may end up with the flu or pneumonia - so do treat it.  

I recommend lots of nice green tea in various flavors, adding a large dollop of sweet honey - and a shot of bourbon doesn't hurt at all!

I felt bad going to drawing class Wednesday because I didn't want to pass on my cold to everyone.  I was careful to cough into my tissues and wash my hands a lot and have a hot drink with me so I wasn't coughing much.  I didn't share paper or pencil or anything - except when Natasha graciously agreed to let me watch her drawing a subject from my sitting point so I could figure out what she was doing.  I hope she doesn't get my cold.

Now - time for a hot toddy and off to bed...See you when I'm better...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Engine Engine Number 9
Coming down that railroad line
How much farther back did she get off?
Old brown suitcase that she carried
I've looked for it everywhere
It's just not here among the rest 
And I'm a little upset, yes...

Roger Miller

Don't know why this one turned out so yellow!

Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside
Little boxes all the same...

Malvina Reynolds

I've got a cold - it came on Sunday evening.  I'm tired and fuzzy-headed, but will go to class today and try to learn - and try to keep this cold to myself and not give it to others.  Glad I went - we were introduced to some new concepts and the first lessons on drawing portraits and how to measure by putting the head "in a box" and working from there.  It will be interesting to try this - maybe when my head is clearer.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Our homework for Natasha's drawing class was to draw 3 street scenes using perspective rules only - not drawing from life.  Each building had to have at least 2 windows.  This is very simplified, following a one point perspective with a centered vanishing point.  My eye level would be slightly above the buildings since I can see a bit of the tops.  

I have to do 2 more - one with my eyesight low and one with my eyesight in the middle of the scene.  Plus find a photo of the street scene and then trace it (to see how photos distort perspective lines).

Monday, November 18, 2013


I recently purchased a new DVD from one of my favorite living artists, Mary Whyte.  The DVD is called Watercolor Portraits of the South.  It is one of the best DVD's I've watched - ever.  Mary goes from planning a plein aire modelling session to drawing and sketching out thumbnails to watercolor sketches in the field - with plenty of photos for reference.  She does all this as a planning stage for her larger paintings done in the studio.  I can't praise this DVD enough.  A lot of times, you want to learn more about portrait painting and you get bits and pieces on a DVD that leaves you with questions.  I haven't even finished this DVD (which runs for 129 minutes) but it has already inspired me to get back to a painting I had left unfinished - that, to me, is a good DVD!

Mary is an exceptional artist and you get to watch her paint loose, big shapes (paint the big shapes first, she says) and then focus on the smaller, more detailed elements like eyes, nose and mouth.  She takes her time but it's magic watching her paint and you say, "I get it!"  She obviously knows how to draw and she works on her compositions until she gets what she wants (hence all the sketches and photos).  

In the DVD, we get to meet her model and Mary's husband (who is her framer) and learn about his way of looking at Mary's artwork and how his handmade frames enhance her paintings.  He says, "She didn't marry me for my money," and Mary replies, "I married him for his frames!"  

This is not a DVD I'll watch once and then put away and never look at again.  I can see myself taking this one out and watching again and again - not only because I love her work but because it's a real learning experience.  If you can't take a workshop from Mary Whyte, this is the next best thing.

My only disappointment is that she has no southern accent!  I knew she wasn't born and raised in South Carolina, but thought that, after all these years, she would have picked up the accent a little bit.  I know I would!

The Christmas season is almost here, if the store shelves are to be an indication - so put this on your wish list or buy it for yourself.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013


When I posted on my blog yesterday, I said there was not much painting going on.  That made me ask, "Why not?"  It's up to me whether or not there is painting being done!  So I pulled out some things I'd begun on Tyvek paper and finished them.  Red Haired Molly was done after I watched most of a new DVD I just got around to watching:  Watercolor Portraits of the South with Mary Whyte (more about that later).

So - here is the finished lighthouse which was begun for the class to show them how watercolor looks on Tyvek paper.  I pushed up the reds with a red china marker and lightened the yellow sunstreak behind the lighthouse with a white china marker.  I also darkened the sky and some of the rocky areas.  Once the china marker is down on the paper, there is no changing it except to make the shape bigger.

And here is Red Haired Molly on Tyvek.

I may even finish the painting begun in the Fran Mangino workshop of dark haired Molly on regular watercolor paper.  

Now...about that Mary Whyte DVD... (see next post!)

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Not much painting going on around here except for class lesson set-ups.  It's all about drawing right now.  I'm going through a lot of Newsprint and graphite!

We graduated from boxes...

to cylinders

after a good instructive talk about how to create other shapes from creating a box.  

So seems like I'll have to master that box shape, afterall!

More cylinders.  We have the objects in front of us and we draw them.  Natasha says don't draw what we see because our eyes will fool us - draw what we know about perspective and shapes.  

I ordered 2 books on perspective from Amazon.  Hope they help me with more foundational stuff and help me get the principles...

because homework is to draw a street scene with houses, a sidewalk and street, placing ourselves in a low horizon position, in a middle horizon position and in a high horizon position.  I've done one and have 2 more to go.

Still doing Pilates - had 3 sessions last week.

Sweetie and I went to our first indoor soccer match (Alaina's team played and won!) last night.  So glad they are inside and not outside (like some of the older kids are).  The poor kids outside and their poor parents, standing on the sidelines with umbrellas (yep, it was raining consistently) and cold - ugh!  Jocelyn tries out today for a team - one of only 5 girls asked to be on the team - quite an honor!  If she tries out and gets on, she gets a full scholarship for the team = uniform and equipment, etc. for free for the season.  Both of the girls are good and aggressive when dealing with girls twice their size (they are both short enough to often be the smallest ones on the team).

The days are rushing by - can you believe it's almost Thanksgiving here in the US?  Which means - Christmas lists and shopping and decorating and...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Just a few more photos - these were all taken by Sweetie (a.k.a. Jerry H. Carpenter) - from our recent trip and hike in Glen Helen Nature Preserve in Yellow Springs, OH.  

Does anyone know what this pink-leaved tree is called?  

A plaque in the woods, called Helen's Stone.  Helen Birch Bartlett was the daughter of Hugh Taylor Birch who purchased the Glen and donated it to Antioch College in memory of her).

Click to enlarge and read.

A beautiful tree full of yellow-gold leaves.

A very handsome fellow in one of the wooden cages at the Raptor Center within the Glen.  Sleeping, he opened one eye a bit to give us a look when we peeked in.

See you later!

Monday, November 11, 2013


On Tuesday, I'm going to pass out some Tyvek paper and let the students try it just to see what interesting texture it creates for you by just painting on it.  I wasn't sure what to have them try but I saw an old lighthouse painting with rocks that I did in a class many years ago (this is on gessoed paper but the rocks got me thinking).  I looked up some lighthouse photos from WetCanvas and found one I liked.  I printed it out and enlarged it (so it's a good size for tracing) for everyone to use.

When tracing onto Tyvek, I don't want harsh graphite lines showing so I took a watercolor pencil, colored the back of the photograph and then traced the photograph, which left faint blue watercolor pencil lines on the Tyvek paper - which usually can be washed away when you start painting.  Then I painted the sky, the water, the lighthouse and the rocks.  I put in that shape behind the lighthouse and was going to leave it white but painted it with cerulean blue - just to add more variety.  The crease in the painting is due to my keeping the Tyvek shoved behind my watercolor paper in a Cheap Joe's container and some of the sheets got a little bent.  Not sure it will come out but it's just a class demo so no big deal.  I could still go in and really go to town on the rocks - more like the top painting - but I kind of like the softer look of the bottom rocks.  Anyway, I'm ready for the class.

Today is Veterans Day.  
For all those who serve or have served, thank you.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


My busy time began last week and it seems I haven't caught up yet.  Wednesday, we had our regular watercolor meeting.  I always arrive early to help the program person set up.  It was a great program with Taft Museum of Art curator, Tamera Lenz Muente, giving the talk and PowerPoint show on Winslow Homer's Adirondack watercolors.  Everyone was very complimentary about her program.  

Homer painted hundreds of watercolors, many of them from his years spent in the Adirondack area.  The paintings are of hunters, fishermen, and nature around the area before it became a place for tourists (which meant more roads and buildings and more people).  

 If you are interested in seeing some of the paintings Tammy showed us, just go to where you will see the complete works of this fabulous artist who painted in oils and watercolor.  He had a real respect for watercolor, considering his watercolors to be finished works, not just studies or preparations for oils.  While I do like the Adirondack watercolors and realize he is painting a way of life, my favorites are the ones he painted in Bermuda and the Bahamas - I think because of the light in those.

After the program, we had a Leadership Team meeting.  Deb and I only had about 1/2 hour or less to attend that to share in the discussion about the new team members coming in March 2014 and what we are going to do without a Program Chair (since no one wants to take it on for 2 years).  

Then we had to jump in our cars and drive to Mariemont for our first drawing class in the Russian tradition - from Natasha Kinnari from Stalingrad.  

Oh, my!  One would think it would be easy to draw boxes.  But it was not!!  We were all sent home with homework - although some students got "stars" in class for their in-class work, I did not.  I sure hope I'm not going to be the slow kid in class - or have to wear a dunce cap (and if I do, I hope it's a colorful one in cobalt blue with crows on it!).

I am seriously spatially challenged.  When Natasha would come to my easel and stand and look at what I was drawing - and then make changes to the angles of the lines I'd drawn, I couldn't see that the changes were correct and I was wrong.  What's up with that?  I never could put those bits together to form shapes in school tests, either.  I just don't "see" it.

So...I was up at 5 am Friday morning, rummaging around for boxes around the house.  I got my drawing materials together, set up my box on a table, and tried my hand at drawing a box.  A simple box.  Sweetie even tried to help me when he got up much later - which he did, to an extent but he wants me to use a ruler and a compass and a protractor and Natasha says that is "technical drawing" which is not what she wants us doing.  Oh, dear.  I have to "train my eyes to see" correctly.  So far, I'm going to need a lot of training!

What else has kept me busy?  
Getting a lesson ready for my students coming Tuesday.  (I was so busy last week, I had to cancel last week's class because I didn't have a lesson plan ready or materials for the students.  Turns out 2 students couldn't attend anyway, so that wasn't too bad.)  I am ready for this week and am going to let them try out Tyvek paper.

Oh, and I've begun taking Pilates.  Yep, I finally decided I am not going to get in shape by wishing I was in shape.  This studio makes you take 4 introductory sessions with an instructor - one on one - before going into classes.  And I've had 4 one-hour sessions on the Reformer (that Pilates machine that is the foundation of studio Pilates classes) already and signed up for 5 more + 5 classes.  I like the attention to detail I get with the instructor (Kelli, who is great!) so I'm doing the exercises on the Pilates Reformer correctly and getting in tune with my core - making my center stronger should help my back and shoulder issues - plus it just makes me feel better; like I'm doing something besides sitting around gaining weight in all the wrong places.

So that was my week.   I have my first Pilates in a class situation this morning.  I'm not sure early morning is the time my body wants to work out, but there are only 5 spaces available when using the Reformers, and you have to take the time that has openings. So Sunday morning, it is.  

And I will try drawing boxes again today (hopefully, with less hair pulling and gnashing of teeth this time).   I have to figure out how to measure, how to get the angles right, and how to lessen the tension I feel whenever I pick up a pencil in a drawing class - and get over myself and just do it!  (That's after I clean the house to get ready for Tuesday's class.)

This may not seem like a lot to most of you, but for me, it's a lot of things keeping me busy - and trying to keep track of when I can schedule things and when I cannot.  Whew!!!  I think I may need to get a day planner! ha ha

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Sunday, Sweetie and I drove up to Yellow Springs, Ohio.  It's a funky, quirky, fun little town just east of Dayton.  It is the home of Antioch College, a liberal liberal arts college that closed down in 2008 due to board members malfeasance with the funds - then opened again in fall 2012, I think.  Small group of students (35 started back when the college reopened - all on full scholarship) and few faculty (I think less than 25).  But what a pretty place!  Great ginko trees in the campus lawn and old buildings - plus just across the street is the Glen Helen Nature Park/Preserve, a 1,000 acre wooded site that belongs to Antioch Collage.  Sweetie and I walked the trails and saw some lovely sights - plus got a lot of exercise going up and down the many stone steps, carefully using the stone stepping stones over the creek, hiking all around (we took a wrong turn and was glad another hiker pointed us in the right direction because my feet were getting sore).

Here's what we saw:

Pompey's Pillar, a large rock column which has broken away from the cliffs and is slowing creeping down the slope of the hill.  Can you see Sweetie at the base, adjusting his camera for photos?

Travertine Grotto, the small waterfall coming off the top of the travertine mound forms the grotto; and the reddish travertine is the calcium carbonate stained by iron.  The Yellow Springs (for which the town is named) is farther up up up...

The Yellow Spring.  The famous spring carries 60 gallons of iron-rich water to the surface every minute.  Prior to 1948, the spring flowed into a large pool. Visitors once bathed in its "healing" waters.

I love the colors of this, with the dark green growth mixed in with the reddish rock.

Much farther on the trail we came to the bottom of the Cascades on Birch Creek.  We sat on a wooden bench at the bottom and had a breakfast bar for a snack before climing up more stone steps and crossing a bridge, heading to the Raptor Center to see their hawks and owls (and one bald eagle).  All but the bald eagle were in wooden-slatted cages enforced with wire, making it difficult to see the birds and even more difficult to take photos.  

It was a great hike, a nice trip (the view of the trees in full autumn glory along the roadsides was beautiful!!), and I think we'll return some time in the future, perhaps even staying the night in the Grinnell Mill (built in 1821 and renovated in 2005-2006) B & B for a long weekend trip.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Our November meeting will be one you may not want to miss if you're in the area.  
Taft Museum of Art Curator, Tamera Muente, will give a talk and a PowerPoint show of paintings from Winslow Homer's Andirondack watercolors.  Tammy gave an excellent talk and show of John Singer Sargent's watercolors last year and received such a great response to that program that I was asked to bring her back to talk about another favorite watercolor artist.  

The meeting is Wednesday, November 6th from 10 - 12 at The Cincinnati Art Club building on Parkside Place in Mt. Adams.  Come join us and learn more about Winslow Homer and his Andirondack inspiration for some of his amazing watercolors.  This will be the closest thing to viewing Homer's work in a museum.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


by William Cullen Bryant
Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun! 
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air, 
Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds run, 
Or snows are sifted o'er the meadows bare. 
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees, 
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast, 
And the blue gentian flower, that, in the breeze, 
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last. 
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee 
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way, 
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea, 
And man delight to linger in thy ray. 
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear 
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013


If you want to get better at your drawing - especially portrait drawing - then I recommend you check out Michael Britton's Art Academy site.  Here is a link to the October offerings on the eyes and the nose.  All of his monthly offerings are well worth studying and trying.  If you sign up for his newsletter, you get tons of free information you can print out and take into the studio with you.  Not tackling the whole portrait, but getting familiar with the parts, is a good way to do it without getting tense and discouraged.  Remember your negative talk inside your head can cause tension, too.  When you say, "I can't do this!"  you are probably going to be right.

I've ordered a few of Michael's downloads, too, and he is very thorough.  It's not his fault that I get to the middle and quit doing the daily work!  Seems like it's time to try again.  Every piece of information adds to the knowledge you have.  One day at a time.  
When learning anything new, it helps to be gentle with yourself.  Don't berate yourself because you're not great right away.  It will take time and effort.  I need to be kinder to myself when trying something that is new and difficult for me instead of becoming a weenie and walking away because it's "too hard".

And, with that in mind, I have just learned about a great offering in drawing in "the Russian style" locally.  The teacher, Natasha Kinnari, is a local artist who has won many of the Woman's Art Club juried shows, taking top prizes each time.  She knows her stuff.

Rather than make excuses, I am just going to sign up and do it!

Friday, November 1, 2013


For this painting, I wanted to use the photo but make some changes.  A greenish background and red hair were the changes I wanted from the dark red background and dark hair of the photo.

I began this one on Tyvek, something Myrna Wacknov paints on all the time.  I drew it while looking at the sketch (not the photo) I did in the recent portrait workshop, using a red watercolor pencil to draw on the Tyvek.  This stage is just the first layers of paint.  I'll do the mouth and darken some features before I do the eyes.  Right now I think I'll remove some of that ear, blending more hair around it, and widen the hair mass on her right side (it looks a bit thin right now).

I like the texture of the Tyvek.  It is all through the paper so you just work with it and accept it in the skin.  

I am going to let my students have Tyvek paper and try it out next week during our regular class.