Thursday, August 31, 2017


I finished the S. Trevena-esq painting based on her demo in the book.  I did change some colors, shapes, etc. - just a bit (we all have our own mark-making style and color choices).  But this is pretty close.  

Now, time to play with this concept myself.  It's interesting.  Working this way actually frees you up a bit more because you are not tied to painting exactly what you see and how you see it - choose your colors, make good shapes, and have good values and you should have a good painting.  We'll see how it turns out for me.

And I am working on a commission, painting and showing the painting as it goes, trying to make sure the client is very happy with the final version.  It's a "tight" painting of a flower (from her photo) - and that's how she wants it so she's happy so far.  This is the "first draft" that was too dark in the background and the flower didn't pop as much as she wanted - so I reworked it, lightening the background and putting more intense color on the flower (using watercolor ink with white gouache for the white areas).  

Then I decided I didn't like the 2 open petals (showing sideways) = too symmetrical.  So redid this (you always learn something when working and then starting over) putting in just one petal on the left side.  The final version will be on 300# paper (11 x 15 inches) and will be pure watercolor (no gouache to bring back the white).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


More painting.  For texture and interest, using a water soluble graphite pencil (thick one), watercolor pencils scraped off onto the paper when it's wet, mark-making with a small stick, and lifting up color with a dry paper towel.  

Still quite a lot to do to finish this and I may change some things from the book demo that she does - I would like to leave more white around the flowers at the top and right side...we'll see.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


To work in stages this way, you have to have patience.  I am not full of patience in any aspect of my life.  So...this could be a struggle to make myself stop and walk away, letting the paint dry completely before going back to add things, including glazing over colors to increase or change them.  

Working as Shirley Trevena does - I think - in stages.  No wonder it takes her 2 weeks for a painting from start to finish.) 

This is just the top half of the paper with the tulips and one lily (there will be more lilies as I work along with Shirley from her book, Taking Risks with Watercolor (her first book).

At some point, she taped the left hand side of the flowers with masking tape but I missed that part so...will just play it as it lays and try to fit those pale lilies in on the left side without having a hard line there.  

I have a commission I'm working on so I can work on that while this dries and I move on to the next stage.  (No drawing done, just put the flowers and foliage in at the top of the painting.)

Friday, August 25, 2017


Well, you know I had to try the Shirley Trevena style painting.  I did a drawing/sketch before painting and, when painting, did not drawing but just figured out where everything went (from the sketch guidelines).  Um...not quite (ha ha).  But I assume this takes a lot of practice to just paint and fit things in and around as she does.

I looked through my art library and discovered I have three of her books, so am slowing looking and reading through them.  

This first attempt was from bits and pieces she put together (not in this way but various photos) and I drew them together and around and made up a still life from the various photos in the book.

She was using the tulips with lilies (I didn't draw out any lilies) and the pears in a tilted bowl (I did not tilt my bowl).  Then she works through the flowers and the pears and how she paints them.  I just went in, full blast, and did the painting in 3 hours steady work, no stops.  So I was very into the painting - but, as you can see, it's not very successful and everything looks flat.  I put the blue and dark purple colors behind things after I had the painting elements finished.  I like the purple wine bottle in the right the best - and the use of the white candle wax as a resist.  I wonder what it would look like if I cut it in half and just had the pears, the purple bottle and some of the vase and flowers?

When Shirley paints, she spends a lot of time on one section, then walks away and lets it dry completely before returning to see what else is needed (and where it should be).  She says it takes her a week or more to complete a painting, working this way - so a lot of the time, she's not painting but thinking about painting (and composition = it's all about the bold colors and the shapes for her).

So...I'm going to try a step-by-step next time like she would do, getting out the watercolor pencils, the sandpaper, the water soluble graphite and sticks - and try to do it the way she'd do it.  I think there is something freeing about this and you just have to take each section as if it was a complete painting in itself.  

Stay tuned for the next attempt.

Monday, August 21, 2017


In this next section of the DVD, My World of Watercolor, Shirley Trevena takes an unfinished painting (about at the middle stage) and shows how she looks at her work to finish it.  She intends to leave a lot of white on this but knows it's not finished yet.

What would you do at this stage?  Would you add more or just crop it off and say it's done?

First, she brought down the tulips drooping down to the bottom, adding some lines (which she says indicates the table top, although that's only a table top in Shirley Trevena's world :)

And looking around the house, she comes upon this little jar that will fit perfectly in the lower left edge.  She just holds it and paints it in the corner, not caring that she's overlapping it to the blue willow vase that's already there.  Edges don't matter too much in a lot of her work - but she does play up hard edges in places.

You can see at the upper left edge, she's taken that drawing behind her left hand and redrawn it - somewhat - in that corner and just softened it with water after sketching it out with a water soluble graphite pencil.  Not but a trace of color there, she wants it to read as a graphite drawing on the wall behind the flowers.  Do you see the pencils she's added to the deep blue vase?  Those pencils (she ends up with four of them in various colors) point towards the graphite drawing on the wall = clever!

Still a bit too much white in the upper right corner of the painting so she just adds more irises and leaves there, bringing them up to the top of the paper.  She reiterates some of the colors, making them more colorful and bold (she does not like weak color).

And, at this stage, which she says would have taken her 4 or more hours in her studio, she says the painting is finished.  

It's often hard to finish a painting if a lot of planning doesn't happen before paint goes on the paper.  So, if you find yourself in this spot, just ask, "What would Shirley do?" and go looking for things to add!  

I know - it sounds soooo easy.  But it's not!  Give it a try, though, and see what happens :)

Now, time to go out and see the eclipse (safely, by looking on the ground through leaves or a paper with a hole punched in it, since we don't have safety glasses).  I hope, wherever you are in the US today, you are safe and enjoy this event.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


I haven't watched all of this DVD yet, but I can already tell that this is the DVD to buy to introduce yourself to her work and learn from a beginner's standpoint.  

She begins by showing how her watercolor techniques (a white candle used as a resist, a bit of credit card and comb to make marks and a garden stick) work on 4 different paper surfaces:  
Saunders Waterford 140# hot press, SW 140# not/coldpress, SW 140# hot press, and SW 300# not/coldpress paper.  She prefers the not/coldpress paper in 140# and in 300# now that SW is making a pure white (not cream) paper.  

She goes on from the paper introduction to sharing how she starts a painting with a still life setup.  

So for beginners and as a refresher (or just as someone who likes watching Shirley paint), it's a great DVD = 2 full hours and bonus stuff.

Now, Shirley doesn't do much (if any) drawing on her watercolor paper before she dives right in with painting.  But in this DVD she shows lots of prep work prior to painting, including setting up the still life, sketching it the way she wants to paint it (taking into account positive and negative shapes created by the composition she sets up), and she even test drives her colors she wants to use.  So many hours working on the painting before she ever starts painting on her chosen paper (in this instance 140# not/coldpress paper from Saunders Watercolor).  

She reminds us that we are not to forget about the background of our painting and work on that in our still life even if all we do is put a cloth behind it or around it, using colors that are pleasing and that work with the objects.

Only after all the prep work does she begin, starting with cold, rich colors in the center top of the paper, and working her way around and down the paper, creating texture by laying down pigment very juicy then wetting it with dabs of clean water and then dabbing that off with a rough paper towel (she likes texture and patterns).  She creates patterns with a chiseled stick from her garden dipped in pigment and draws around the painting as she goes, she dabs and wets and adds water here and there - she calls this destroying the color she's put down but it really does create a textured look you probably cannot get any other way.

You'll notice that she turns things on their sides as if they were tilted towards us and the apples are falling off the sideways compote in her painting (although the still life was not set up that way).  This is one of her signature looks in her paintings - playing with gravity and the laws of physics :)  Some of the cups you can see into, some you cannot, some you just see the edge of things.  She doesn't care that it "isn't right" but is the way she wants to paint it.  

At this point, she said she would have taken 2 or more hours to get this far in the painting if she were in her studio alone painting because she likes to paint a bit, walk away, think about things, go back and add more.

She showed the finished painting but did not work on every aspect of it in the DVD.  Instead, she moved to other paintings, showing us how she began them and then what she did to finish them.  She says a lot of times you can add more to a painting and that, often, she looks at watercolor paintings and says, "It's not finished."  She likes leaving whites, likes hard edges playing against soft edges and blurred edges, and she like still life setups and florals.  

I'll add a bit more after I've watched more the DVD (I'm about 1/2 way through).

Thursday, August 17, 2017


This hour-long DVD, by Creative Catalyst Productions, shows us a leisurely painting session with Shirley Trevena.  Shirley has a signature style and a way of painting which is different from any other watercolor artist.  She rarely, if ever, draws anything on her paper before painting but looks closely at still lifes she sets up (sometimes taking an hour to set up a still life but this one is not so intense).  While looking, she chooses her colors, laying each one out individually on a white plate (she doesn't use a palette).  

Putting down the first colors (of the deep red amaryllis flowers, she begins at the top right of the paper and works her way down.

If you are a beginner, you won't want to get this DVD as I think it would be frustrating to you.  But if you've got a few years under your belt, you'll enjoy watching it and learning how she looks and sees (always about the shapes), and then paints her interpretation of the set-up.  She rarely names colors, but works in Winsor Newton pigments, so you might be able to guess which colors she's using at any given time.  But she started with 2 reds and I believe a black added to darken the red (she leaves the white the paper for white but doesn't shy away from adding black to a color).

This is just the top half of the painting (it looks like she's working on a half sheet of watercolor paper).  She does prewet and stretches the paper by just wetting it, wetting some tape and then putting the tape around the edges of the paper.

The colors and shapes begin to happen and spread over the paper as she works on the flowers and then the leaves and stalks.  (The full painting is on the cover of the DVD but she is doing this one again and it will be slightly different each time.)

  She creates background color after she has the flowers and leaves and pods down on the paper by making sure the first layers are bone dry and then glazing over and around areas - choosing her colors, not for what is in front of her in the vase of flowers, but for what colors she likes - and she likes adding texture to her painting by lifting with a dry paper towel or splattering paint on with a toothbrush.  

She got this far in the painting and then, choosing another piece of watercolor paper, she started at the bottom of the paper and showed how she created the white lilies.  She did some drawing of the white lilies using a thick water soluble graphite pencil.  She very lightly drew in the lines she wanted, then painted green at the tops of the lilies, letting the color bleed a little down.  By painting over the water soluble graphite, she got  a little of the black graphite in the mix of the color, making a textured look.   

She finished the lilies and stems, plus put in some background color here and there, then returned to the top (the first paper and painting) to the amaryllis flowers and leaves.

You can see where she used a "stick from the garden" to draw out lines from the pigment to the edges of the paper in places and draw in lines of the pods and leaves, too.  

You can see what the finished piece looks like on the DVD cover.  

I enjoyed watching this and watching her work.  She talks a lot about not fiddling with bits, not drawing a lot (because it makes you want to fill in the lines like a coloring book), and looking at shapes, not things.  She also talks about color choices and using your imagination rather than duplicating exactly what you see in front of you.  She's been painting for decades and it shows - she knows her stuff.

Now, to see the second DVD!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I admit, I did not get anything ready to put in the recent Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society show, even though I am still a member (a member who never attends meetings, but pays her dues anyway to support the group).  I just could not get anything together for any of the shows this summer.  Family stuff, I guess, kept my mind elsewhere.

However, I do want to get over to see the show and Deb Ward has posted a little bit about it, along with the winning paintings this year.  Here is the link to pop over and take a look.  If you are in the area, take a drive over to Mariemont and The Barn (the Women's Art Club gallery spot), and see what you think.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


When we returned from our trip to Chicago, I had 2 Shirley Trevena tapes waiting for me.  I have one of her DVDs (Breaking the Rules of Watercolor), and liked it so much and her style (and that crazy hair!) that I thought a jumpstart would get me painting and enjoying painting again after a bit of a drying out spell.  

So I have 2 DVDs to watch now and then who knows where that will lead.  She is entertaining and informative and has a very personal style which I've seen no one try to imitate (she doesn't preplan and draw but puts out still life items and then paints directly on the paper in the composition she wants - which grows and changes as she paints).  If you have never seen her painting, it's well worth the DVD price - I got the two DVDs on sale from Creative Catalyst and the sale may still be going on.

So I have 3 hours of inspiration to watch this week before diving in and working on new things, as well as trying to finish the gold gessoed painting and the regular painting of the mosses.

After I watch these, I'll give you a little peek and let you know what I think about the DVDs.  

What has inspired you recently?  Are you too busy with summer and the last days before school starts, or are you lazily coasting through summer, waiting for the fall days to begin (I admit, fall and spring both inspire me but summer and winter, not so much!).

Sunday, August 13, 2017


When Sweetie's sister. Mary, visited from Utah in June, we drove up to see his brother, Fred, who had been moved into nursing care in Aurora, IL (outside of Chicago).  Fred was 92 and we knew he wasn't going to be around much longer as he had been suffering from Parkinson's for years.  I am so glad we did visit because Fred passed away July 30th.    

Sweetie and I drove up to the Chicago area (a 6 hour drive) on Thursday of this past week.  We checked into the Plainfield Inn in Plainfield, IL (just outside of Naperville, where the visitation and funeral would be held), changed clothes and went right to the visitation for family (3 - 4 pm and then open visitation 4 - 8 pm).  It made for a very tiring day, but we got to see all of Fred and Shirley's boys (8) and girl (1, Junie) and their children and their grandchildren.  Much visiting and catching up was done with all of Sweetie's nieces and nephews from his 2 oldest siblings (Fred - 92, and Peggy - 90).  

The following day, visitation again from 12 - 1 pm and then the funeral service from 1 - 2 pm (2 of the boys talked about their Dad and it was wonderful to hear, then the minister gave his talk).  Then the drive to the cemetery, where Fred was laid to rest.  The most heartwrenching part was when his grandson, Nathan, in full Navy dress uniform, presented the folded flag to Shirley.  Then a long drive to the community center for food and more visiting with the extended Carpenter family.  Another long, tiring day, but that's what these things become for all the survivors.

Fred and Shirley met through mutual friends and began corresponding - then Fred's sister, Peggy, brought Shirley to California (where Fred was stationed in the Navy) to visit him and they married soon after.  Peggy, her husband, Zeke (a Navy buddy of Fred's who was introduced to Peggy while on leave), Fred and Shirley all moved to the Naperville/Downer's Grove area outside of Chicago and lived their all their lives.  What lives they have lived and what changed they have seen in their 90+ years. Fred was always such a sweet man and I am so glad that the last memory I have of him is from our visit in June where he looked up at me from his wheelchair and his face lit up with a big smile as I bent down to kiss him goodbye.

Saturday morning we checked out of the Plainfield Inn (a very nice place that is just 3 room suites above the family's living quarters - an historic home that's been totally restored and upgraded and well worth a stay if you are in the area).  We drove over to Downer's Grove to visit Peggy (Sweetie's oldest sister - she is 90) and her son, Michael (who lives with her and takes care of her).  Then on the road again.  

After many hours of driving and many hours standing and visiting and talking, we are both tired but glad we went.  

Once home and unpacked and settled, we caught up on some of the Coupe Rogers (Montreal) tennis matches I had taped.  And this week starts the Western Southern Open just 45 minutes north of us (in Mason, OH).  And we get to see a live match on Saturday!!!  So far, Roger Federer is still wowing everyone and all the other top 5 players are out with injuries or just losing to young bloods.  Go, Roger!!!  36 years old and still going strong.  Hope we get to see him this week in Mason, OH.

Oh, and for those still wondering, Sweetie still is keeping alive the tadpoles slowing turning to froglets.  We have had NO rain for weeks so we are waiting for a good, long, soaking rain and then will turn them loose in the trees around the pool and woods behind our neighbors house and we'll repopulate the area with tree frogs for next year :)  It's quite a process and ongoing, apparently, until the very last little tadpole decides to turn and be loosed :)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Took a couple of photos of the glads Sweetie brought home the other day.  Not for me, but as props for the little tree frogs!  Oh, well, I got to enjoy them a little bit and may try my hand at painting them - lots of shapes, though.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Worked a bit more on the painting of the mosses on paper.

Then I put down gold gesso on watercolor paper, let it dry, and began the painting again on the gold gessoed paper.  

Not sure about this version as it seems I'm lifting color every time I'm putting color down - so will think on that a while and come up with something to help darken and shape the mosses.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017


And you thought it would be another honeybee painting!

No, this one is an abstracted painting, the reference photo one Sweetie took on a nature walk months ago.  It's a close close close-up of moss on a fallen log.  Pretty great photo and I wanted to try it.  

This is just the first steps BUT
now that I see it, I see that mistake in composition (the whirly-gig type shape in the right side is a no no.)  AND
I also wonder if maybe I should try this on gold gessoed paper (there are a lot of gold tones in the photo).

And speaking of gold gesso, Daniel Smith used to make it, then stopped making it for some reason.  But now - YAY - they are back in business (artists probably called and asked for it to return).  I just saw the latest Dick Blick catalog and it's in there - a bit pricey but it spreads on a lot of paper/canvas/board/whatever so lasts a long time.  Get some and try it if you want to try painting on it as a ground - you can use watercolor (spray seal the painting when finished), acrylic and oil paints on it.

I have about a 1/4 pint tub left so may order another (just in case DS stops production again).  And I think I will start over with the mossy painting on gold gessoed paper.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


My Sweetie is having a birthday today!
Happy Birthday, Sweetie!!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Selling another painting in the Honeybee Series this week.  The buyer wants to put it in her cubicle at work :)

She Works Hard for the Honey

When you're busy with other things (meaning things other than art), a week or more can rush by.  That's what has happened to me.  I have 2 things on the drawing board to work out, but haven't gotten farther than the thinking stage.  Maybe next week.  Summer seems to have taken it's toll and I'm just lazy with it, spending time sitting in the sunroom watching the hummingbird at the feeder, coming and going dozens of time a day.  Watching the birds start their day with 5 bluejays squawking over the suet feeder and each taking a noisy turn.  Listening to the pool filter running (Sweetie got it up and running for the summer birthday gathering here last Saturday).  Summer.  It has not been as hot and humid as last year so that's a good thing.

Happy August
Sweetie's birthday is this month ❤💓