Monday, September 29, 2014


In the latest Daniel Smith newsletter, I learned that Monday, September 29th is National Coffee Day.  As many people as there are, all over the world, who drink coffee, shouldn't that be International Coffee Day?  Anyway, to treat myself, I ordered the new Mermaid Mug from Starbucks.  So pretty!!!  It's a bit more greenish blue than this is showing (it's on a blue top so that's influencing the color a bit.  I've read that it comes in a variety of colors from greenish to bluish.  The handle is a bit hard to handle (that pun was not intended!) because it's hard on the finger as you place it inside - perhaps needed to be a bit more rounded?  I'm sure it's a different feel for everyone who tries this, depending on the size of their hands, etc.

Not sure if the Mermaid Cup will become my new favorite cup, because this one has been my favorite for years (purchased at an art store in Rising Sun, Indiana and handmade by an artist named Karen Branch in 2002).  I love the look and feel of it. 

I am such an organic girl.  I love anything natural, from acorns and leaves to birds and water...not much for hard, manmade items.  Guess that shows in my artwork, too.  Rounded, organic shapes seem to be the focus.  

What is your favorite cup or favorite coffee drink (I did buy some caramel syrup from Starbucks, too - that time of year for sweet, caramel drinks in the cool of the morning.  

I hope you are having a wonderful Autumn so far.  I think I will have to draw and paint both of these cups, to help celebrate National Coffee Day.  (I'm sure there's a National Tea Day, too; and maybe a National Milk Day and...who knows?) 

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Our autumn weather and temperatures are just too nice to ignore.  I feel the need to get outside, even if it's only in the  neighborhood.  Take some photos of leaves changing.  Until I return...

Here is a neat thing from Daniel Smith (love their watercolors!) to help you celebrate National Coffee Day (September 29th):

check out their Coffee Shop colors and tips on sketching.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I showed you the start of this full sheet painting before going off to Savannah (I'm already wanting to return in spite of getting lost every time we went outside the city).  

Anyway, here is where it was before we left.  (It's lying on the table so you're getting a warped perspective.)

And here it is to date, more greyed down.  I used Holbein Neutral Tint over some areas to tone down the blue and I guess that's cheating because it has 3 colors in it, not a pure blue.  Now I am thinking about putting orange in the middle stamen area, either in the tendril parts or the bulbous top parts of the stamens.

Just thinking, at this stage.  I am going to do use watercolor pencils to get the thin lines and parts in the middle and take my time.  

I swear, I didn't touch the background, but every time I change color somewhere, it changes the background color, too.  My camera has the hardest time distinguishing blues and violets but I get as close to what my eye sees as I can.  Funny how toning down the flower areas in the shadow parts has visually toned down the background, too.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014


In the Jean Haines book, she uses cling wrap + salt in the door to add texture (what she calls her Venetian textures technique).   I didn't do that.  I just painted it, then lifted out and/or scraped the lines in while the paint was still wet.  I don't like using salt, and just didn't want to go back upstairs to get the Saran Wrap for this.  I added some flowers to the left side.  

I think the window looks farther away than the door because it's too pale.  

None of these little studies/exercises (eighth sheet size) are turning out anything like her's in the book! ha ha  Oh, well, that's what practice is for - and for me, it's about loosening up, not copying her work.

One of the things I agree with from the book, and which is a very good tip, is to put your subject down and then bring out your tubes of paint to see what colors you want to use on the subject.  Put the colors next to the subject to see how well they match.  I did that with these little salad tomatoes and probably used colors I would not have normally chosen (I would have used a warm yellow and then gone from there with reds, darkening as I went.)

Of course, this is if you want to paint the subject realistically with the colors you see when you look at it (and you don't always have to do that!).

I cheated on the tube colors and painted them just a deep quinacridone gold and two reds, a warm and a cool, and the reds were not exactly the colors I matched in the photo, but I mixed them a bit with an orange and gold.

I did not draw anything prior to painting.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Every time I go away for a few days, I pack up my art supplies:  watercolor sketchbook and drawing sketchbook (with a bit of tooth), small travel watercolor kit Sweetie bought me years ago, a variety of pencils.  And do I sketch or paint?  Almost never!  Why do I think I will become this wonderfully loose plein aire painter when I travel when I never do it here? ha ha

Like Jack in the Story of Jack and the Beanstalk, I loved looking down to find the magnolia seeds glowing like rubies on the sidewalks of Savannah.  I brought home several in my pockets.  And although I always bring home a bit of Spanish Moss when I go south, I was told it holds chiggers and I shouldn't do it.  So far, I've never brought home chiggers on it, but was safe and put it in a plastic baggie with a seal this time - just in case. 

The magnolia at the end of our street was dropping pods and I brought one in to draw.  The pods are really fuzzy but I didn't get that look to this one.


So just two sketches drawn, painted when I came home.

Do you take your sketching and painting supplies with you when you travel?  Do you use them?  

Time to print out some photos of the trip and maybe do some paintings of 
Savannah :)  After a chilly week back, it's turning a bit warmer here with sunshine.  

Friday, September 19, 2014


In the Jean Haines book, she says she uses Saunders Waterford 300# rough paper a lot - I don't have that and wanted to get right into playing and trying out the exercises in the book so...

I had a problem with the paper not wetting enough or staying wet long enough because its Arches 300# hot press paper (eighth sheets). 

Oh, well.  Will try it again on 140# or 300# rough when I get some.  Just ordered a few sheets of 300# cold press from Plaza Art Supply in Cincinnati.  (If you are in the local Cincinnati area, they are having a sale = 60-70% off a lot of things until October 6, I think.

Haines paints very lightly, too, and I'm putting down a lot of pigment on my paper - perhaps need a bit less in the first go-round.  All of these are done without drawing (as she does all her work, I think).  However, I'd like to go in once and leave it, so I don't really mind that my starts are much darker and richer than her starts.

These are just studies/practice pieces so I'm using both sides of the paper and won't do anything more with these.  (Don't copy artists work from their books or from a workshop and then sell it as your own!!)

So far, I am liking the book, but find fault with a couple of things.  
Anytime anyone tells me to NEVER do something, I think, "Why?  Just because that's your opinion?"  So she tells us never to use black or brown in watercolor painting.  I know artists who use both - and quite well - so that's just her opinion.  
She also claims she "discovered" the technique using cling wrap + salt together.  Hmmm....since I've seen the cling wrap thing going around for years and the salting your painting while wet going around for years, too, I kind of doubt that she discovered that.  But then, discovered for herself after it had been around a few decades = I guess that could be what she means.

I don't think the book is for absolute beginners - they may be lost and not understand the way she lays down her colors on the paper and how wet she gets her pigments so they run and merge together on the paper.  But if you've been painting a while, you'll like this (especially if you want to try to loosen up a bit).  She has an older book out and a DVD - might get the DVD sometime.

If you like wet-in-wet (although Haines paints wet on dry paper), and juicy loose styles, you'll like Ewa Karpinski's book, too (she just has the one book out although I can't remember the name right now.)   I have it and it's lovely with lots of exercises and fun things and information.  I really love wet-in-wet watercolor painting and want to keep trying to get closer to that than where I am right now.  (We all want to change, don't we?  Less weight, more money, looser watercolors, better clothes, healthier bodies, etc.!  I guess it's human to want something more...)

Thursday, September 18, 2014


I know I'm late in buying this book because Ms. Haines has a new book out (or coming out soon).  But I am looking forward to going through it and seeing what it teaches me - and how it insires me to paint looser and more watercolor-y.  

So...September and October may be months to go back to "school" to study and learn a bit more about watercolor.  

If you don't follow Jean's blog, you should - she shares some amazingly beautiful watercolors with her viewers.  Just go here and see!

My only nitpick with her blog is that she never seems to reply to posts from others, which a lot of busy artist do (or do not).  Makes me wonder why she has a blog, which I consider more interactive, than just a webpage listing her paintings.  Perhaps it's just easier creating a blog than a webpage of paintings and upcoming workshops.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Oatland Island Wildlife Center was a stop we made on our way from Tybee Island.  Well worth the trip, with plenty of critters to see.

The large brick structure was built by the Order of Railway Conductors for a railroad workers retirement home in 1927, then at one point it was the very first building for the Center for Disease Control (before they moved to Atlanta).  Now it belongs to the Savannah Board of Education and they have 175 acres of forest, salt marsh and freshwater wetlands.  The animals you can see there include a wolf pack, bobcat, cougars, eagles, owls and alligators.  

American Alligator nest with eggs (unsure whether they were real or not).

This is how big a bald eagle's nest is!!  Mock-up lets you sit inside, but I know those eggs were not real.  The center had two beautiful bald eagles and a lot of raptors, including owls and hawks.  

Male cougar.  As soon as he saw us, he ran up to the glassed area and began walking back and forth.  When the water hose came on, he ran there, pushed himself up to the fenceline and let the water spray him down.  Guess he was hot and humid in the Georgia weather.

American Beautyberry, which was abundant along the paths.  The Native Americans used this for numerous ailments.  Plus it's just beautiful to look at!

And speaking of things which are beautiful to look at:  We got to drive over to Spring Island, South Carolina to meet a blogger/artist friend I'd met online, Pam Johnson Brickell.  Pam is a naturalist in every way and loves going out and doing plein aire painting in the woods, along the streams, at the golf courses (where wood storks nest in the trees along the sides of the greens).  It was such a treat to meet her and she graciously took us around the area to show off some wonderful sights in the Spring Island Trust area.  All the homeowners in the area have their homes built back from the roads, tucked away and unseen, keeping the place as natural as possible.  

Pam works for the Spring Island Trust, doing signage for some areas, along with leading workshops in watercolor journalling in the Art Barn.  She does more than that, but I really don't know how she works at all with so much beauty all around her, including egrets, owner's horses, ponds and marshlands, old growth forests, tabby ruins, etc.  (Tabby is a mix of limestone, sand and oyster shells and was used to build many of the early buildings on the plantations.)

Thanks, Pam, for taking the time to show us around and for having a lovely dinner with us and your hubby!!!  

And I'll end with a trip to where many have ended:  The Bonaventure Cemetery just outside of Savannah.  

Couldn't resist taking this one.

Bench where one sits and sips martinis.  The grave of Conrad Potter Aiken, author, is under the bench.  I love that is says, "Cosmos Mariner  Destination Unknown" on the bench.  He supposedly saw the ship, The Cosmos Mariner, once when he was visiting the graves of his mother and father (in the same family plot).  He came home and looked up the information in the shipping news and it said, "Destination unknown."  His father and mother's dates of death are the same - his father shot his mother and then turned the gun on himself, making Conrad an orphan at age 11.  He spent the first 11 years of his life in Savannah, and his last 11 years of his life in Savannah (in the house right next door to his boyhood home).

The songwriter, Johnny Mercer.

The most photographed grave in the cemetery, that of little Gracie Watson who died at age 6.  Her gravesite is completed surrounded (and locked) by a metal fence.  There is a plaque telling her story inside the fencing.  What gave me a little chill was the toy animals someone is leaving on the fence for Gracie.

Another pretty statue.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Well, now, where do ya'll want to go today?  Let's put on our good walking shoes and head out again to see more of this beautiful old city...

Head on over past Troupe Square towards Lafayette Square and you will find the childhood home of writer, Flannery O'Connor.  Born in Savannah in 1925, Miss O'Connor lived in this house until 1938.  

A prolific short-story writer, she said, "Whenever I'm asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one."  Miss O'Connor was a devout Catholic and I imagine the sight of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, right across the square, gave her much pleasure.

Let's go on west towards Madison Square, then head south on Bull Street.  Now this, of all the houses in Savannah, was my favorite.  Why?  Well, if there was ever a house that was really haunted in Savannah, it would be this one, housing Alex Raskin Antiques, it was full of interesting and old things (barely enough room to walk around) and just look at the all the interesting and spooky details of the house and surroundings...

The house looked a little worse for wear, not updated and fixed up to be so pretty.  I liked that about it, and the iron details of the balcony on the second floor with the iron fence and the rusty-colored surrounds of the windows just made me want to poke around and look at more things.  

Is that a woman in the window?  Or is it something else?

Well, enough of this.  Let's go back to the car and drive down to the river and see what there is to see...

Not exactly easy to find a spot to park even with all the meters that take quarters or credit cards...driving around and around and over and under, finally found River Street and walked up and across to the Cotton Exchange building, which looked interesting.  Now the home of Solomon's Masonic Lodge Number One, it was built in 1887 (Savannah and Liverpool, England were the only two places in the world where the price of cotton was quoted.)  On the other side and down to River Street (the building incorporates "air rights" as it is constructed over the Drayton Street ramp that descends to the river), you can see the dock where cotton was loaded onto barges on the Savannah River.

Sorry, but I didn't take a photo of Emmett Park or the Celtic Cross in the park.  I think I may have been getting tired and hot, and ready for a rest.

And time to head outside of Savannah to more natural surroundings.  One afternoon we drove out to Tybee Island to meet with Dr. Joe Richardson who leads a beach walk and exploration each day.  Dr. Richardson has done work and study on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas and has taken students and teachers there for research (this is the same place Sweetie goes to each year at least once to do research on his cave critters).  We met right across from the Tybee Lighthouse and walked down a boardwalk to the beach to begin our exploration (along with one other family of four).

The beach where we wandered, digging up various interesting and small critters, including a mole crab (cutest little thing with a pale blue underbelly); and I found a really big horseshoe crab in the black rocks at the jetty, which Dr. Joe said was a great find at this time of year.  

The top photo of the lighthouse was taken from the beach side through the seagrass.  

The second photo of the lighthouse was taken right across the street from it in the parking lot outside.  I like the red roofs of the buildings playing off the white and black colors everywhere else.

Since it was a cloudy day (in fact, we thought we'd get rained out), I didn't put on a bit of sunscreen and came home with a red neck!

Monday, September 15, 2014


Just returned from a beautiful week in Savannah, Georgia.  Gorgeous homes everywhere, history in every brick and cobblestone, 24 squares/parks all around the city, and live oaks draped with Spanish moss!  Hot and humid every single day = close to or above 90F each day as we walked and walked and walked.  So many photographs, I won't bore you with them all but will share a few.

We stayed in a lovely rowhouse (called the Bluebelle) in the historic district on East Jones Street (named the most beautiful street in Savannah in some of the books).  Yes, I wanted the blue one! 
Although the houses here are side by side with no room in between, we didn't hear neighbors at all except on the last day when we heard people in the beige house next to us (or was that a ghost walking around the running water over there - Savannahians do love their ghosts and ghost stories!). 

East Jones is a beautiful cobblestone street with brick sidewalks (you had to be careful and watch your step in case you walked on a crooked brick and twisted an ankle).  We rented the place for a week and it made for a nice home-away-from-home as we toured the city.  

Of course, we had to tour Forsyth Park (famous as the centerpiece of Savannah, although it is on the southern tip of the historic district, it has a beautiful fountain which seems refreshing on a hot and humid day).  

Magnolias were heavy throughout the park, and I had to pick up a pod with leaves and limb still attached to get a photo.  The pods seem to go from golden to reddish-orange on the trees and then fade to black as they lay on the ground, bright red seeds popping out for the next season.  Magnolias, live oaks, crepe myrtle, and other trees were  all draped in Spanish moss from every branch.

Forsyth is definitely family friendly - the day we were there, they were having some kind of Mommie+Me races and obstacle course runs with about 50 moms and their kids in strollers!

The fountain (not on the morning we went but on later as we were leaving).

You could walk in the park and around the park for hours, looking at the beautiful old houses which have been lovingly restored.  
Savannah was in disrepute after World War II but in the late 1950's the people of Savannah who had the money and the influence began to push for restoration rather than tear down of the buildings.  Now just about every other house has been restored in the Historic Area with plaques on the sides stating when it was built and by whom.  

Houses outside Forsythe Square - an architects dream city with so many styles.

The Mercer Williams House on Bull Street (across from Monterey Square), built by the great-great grandfather of Academy Award-winning lyricist, Johnny Mercer (Moon River, Autumn Leaves, etc.) and restored by Jim Williams in the mid-1950's.

If you have read the 1994 John Berendt book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (or seen the movie), you will get an idea of some of the area and its residents - although he chose the quirkiest residents to be found at that time to put in the book).  I bought a copy of the book in the Mercer-Williams house gift shop (behind the house in the old carriage house) because I wanted to read it again after reading it years ago.

This is where Jim Williams had his famous black-tie Christmas party every year (and his infamous "gentlemen only" parties the night after the Christmas party).  This is also where Williams shot and killed young Danny Hansford.  Williams had four trials.  One man in the house told me, "He had four trials because he couldn't get a fair trial in Savannah.  Everyone had made up their minds.  He was finally aquitted, but was not found not guilty."  

In the same house, an older, distinguished gentleman replied in a soft Georgia drawl when I asked about the heat, "Well, yesss, it is warm.  But we only have winter two days in January." 

Well, I think that's enough for today.  Time to stop in to Clary's Restaurant for a sweet tea and something delicious to eat :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Air Play
Half sheet (15 x 22 inches) 
Fabriano Artistico 140# cold press paper

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Did a bit more on the dried flowers of the Autumn Crow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Playing with simple colors (Holbein's Mineral Violet + Daniel Smith Permanent Alizarin Crimson), with some drips and drizzles.  

Conflict Crows
on fourth sheet (11 x 15 inches) Fabriano Artistico 140# cold press paper

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Before I began playing and studying the Jean Haines book and way of painting, I had this drawn on a full sheet of 300# cold press paper,  I wet the background area and put in dark blue, creating the swirls by letting it dry a bit and then swirling into it with a damp brush.

I then started choosing the blue pigments I'll use in this one (nothing but blues, even if they are greyed blues).  The main thing is to MAINTAIN THE WHITES!!!

More to come later as I work on this a little at a time (or a lot at a time, since it's a full sheet (22 x 30 inches).