Tuesday, December 31, 2019


Picked up some mangrove leaves that had fallen on the dock outside our house, brought them in to save for a quiet day.  Painted on the counter in the kitchen while Sweetie watched a U.K. basketball game.

Didn't see any mermaids this trip, but did read about them in a very cool book by Christina Henry called Mermaid.  If you like interesting historical fantasy, you'll like it - and it's great to take to the beach with you.  

Sunday, December 29, 2019


A couple of paintings in my sketchbook - the whole sketchbook is filled with trips to Anna Maria Island and nothing else - from 2014 to 2019.  Time to start another!

When we arrived at the house we were renting, we unpacked and put things away, put away groceries, and then walked out to the canal and sat on the dock for a while.  For the first time ever, we saw 2 manatees swimming right by us!  It was great to see them.  But that was it for the trip, as we had a bit of a cold spell that chased them into warmer waters after that.  

Because of that visit by the mama and calf, we were inspired by manatees the whole trip, Sweetie even getting books on manatees at the library to read up on them and I, of course, had to paint a few.

So we met up with a friend who moved to Bradenton/Cortez from Kentucky and she told us about a spot that had manatees.  We drove over there and, sure enough, there was a mama, a calf and big daddy swimming in a little area where the locals keep their boats.  Amazing!!  

Now, you really cannot get great photos of them, but you can see their cute noses coming up for air and see, through the water, their big bodies, as they glide along.

This is mama.

And this is big daddy - he didn't come in as close as the mother and baby, but we could tell how big he was by that head coming out of the water.

And this is the mama and calf swimming together, coming up for air.  

Friday, December 27, 2019


Beautiful weather and beautiful sunsets on Anna Maria.

The Palma Sola Botanical Gardens are beautiful any time of year and this gorgeous banana plant was showing off for us.

This was the Explorer Tower at Cape Canaveral.  From the 7th floor, you walked outside and could see the bay with the huge cruise ships, the other boats, and the water all around.  Exhibit included about Kennedy Space Center and the astronauts.  (We even saw the launch of a satellite from the Kennedy Center from the yard at the house we rented.  It lit up the sky and soared across the sky.  Pretty cool.  We just happened to be there on a night it happened.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Getting over the ear infection and cold.  So felt like downloading some photos from the trip.

Our annual December trip to Anna Maria Island...

Walking to Bean Point to see the sunsets and catch photos of shore birds.

A short drive up to St. Petersburg to visit friends and to see the Chihuly Museum of glass art - and walk across the street to see the glassblowing exhibit.

Well worth spending an hour there seeing his work and seeing the recent exhibit on display of other glass artists. 

See glassblowing demonstrations right across the street from the Chihuly Museum - included in the price.  

More later...

Monday, December 23, 2019


I think that's an Elton John song?  I'm still standing.  Well, I am.  But it's been a rough few days this December.  In fact, it's been a rough few months this year, but I won't go into that.

Returning from 2 1/2 weeks of vacation and rest/relaxation in Florida, I had a slight cold but, apparently, a whopper of an ear infection.  Thought my head was going to explode on the plane as we landed (both times, since we had a 2-plane trip from Orlando to Cincinnati through Atlanta this time).  Also, I HATE the Orlando Airport and hope to never have to go through there again.  Another story.

Anyway, a major ear infection (the first one I've had in my life), a visit to a nurse practitioner since my doctor was not going to be in for days and she gave me whopper antibiotics to fight it and said the cold would just have to play itself out.  After two days on the antibiotics, I was no longer contagious (not sure how that works since the cold can't be helped by antibiotics and I was just taking Dayquil and Nyquil to kick it and drinking lots of tea with honey).  But glad of that because my amazing cousin finally lost her battle with metastastic breast cancer and died while we were in Florida :(  And her services were Friday and Saturday.  A strange affair because she said she didn't want a service so...no one spoke or no one said a prayer or no songs were played.  Just everyone talking with everyone else.  There was a nice selection of photos of her showing on two screens.  She was cremated and we had the grave-site interment Friday afternoon before the memorial service on Saturday.  She was placed in the grave of her mother (didn't know they could do that).  

So...also needing to get all the presents ordered and, hopefully, delivered in time - and wrapped - and...well, it's been a long few days and it seems like a month since we've been home but it's only been a few days.

I did paint while I was gone and will share those few things and the photos taken of the warm, sunny beachy days we were gone.  Here, not too shabby = 50 degrees today and 55 tomorrow and 59 the day after!!!  I hate that this strange weather is caused by global warming, but will take the warmer weather for a while in December and January as an effect of that.  I really am not a fan of winter.

I'll return soon with paintings and photos and, hopefully, drawings I still have to complete from my online course (Val's gotten a bit behind in her postings, too, so I'm not too far behind!)

I hope your holidays are warm and wonderful
with family and friends galore.
I wish you all the best in the New Year to come
with days and nights full of fun.

Take care, my friends.  Hug a friend, call a relative, send a card...you never know when it will be the last time you get to say, "Hi!" to that special person in your life.  My cousin had just turned 70.  I don't know if that's too young to die or just the right age, or whatever, but I will always miss her, her sense of humor, her wit, her intelligence, and her memory that held on to our family history better than I ever could.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


The flower is too dark.  Didn’t follow the instructions completely to find out the flower was to be done with just a dusting of the graphite/carbon black on a tortilla so went in and drew it, as usual.  Then, to make it look better, I needed to add the really dark carbon pencil background.  

Oh, well.  I’ll do the next one right - and may redo this one later.  
I like my little bug, though :).  Maybe I should just do little insects!?!

Hope you are having a good December leading up to Christmas and all the presents, family gatherings, etc.  

Monday, November 25, 2019


I admit, I was missing some color in the Val Webb online course using graphite and carbon pencil.  So I just had to add some color to his leaf :)

The goal for this drawing was to make the little beetle look shiny.  

I am having some issues with my neck and shoulders so taking more breaks and moving through things slower.  And haven't really worked on the gouache any so need to get back to that!  And then I hear there's a holiday season coming!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


Still working on the gouache on black painting - slowly building.  I think gouache is a slower process, but probably more like acrylics and oils in the slow build up to colors, shapes and values.  

This is on the Strathmore black mixed media paper.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


I didn't add the plant, just drew this little guy.  I am happier with the lighter touch on the wings, giving them more texture without overpowering them with strokes of pencil.  

I'm calling this one Fernando :)  

These drawings are all on a block of Arches 140# hot press, 10 x 14 inches.  

Monday, November 11, 2019


I did the next lesson in the Val Webb online course.  A fruit bat in a banana plant.  I have seen fruit bats in trees in Australia.  They are called flying foxes because they are really cute with fox-like faces and are a reddish color.  There were hundreds in the trees in a park we visited in Cairns and when evening came, they all starting flying around - amazing!  Really cute little things, too.

As per my usual, I got too heavy-handed with this little one and the banana.  So I decided to try again, with just the flying fox and keep my touch as light as I could - not easy for me!  I think we all have our own artist touch and that could be light or dark or in between (Sweetie says I even write with a heavy hand, so I guess that's just me).  

But I will try this one again.  Isn't he cute, sleeping there beside his favorite plant? 

Saturday, November 9, 2019


Just some photos from a short trip we took to try to find fall colors - in General Butler State Park in Kentucky.

We watched the ducks and geese hang out around the pond - there are cabins in the woods on the opposite side.

Then we took a nice hike in the woods around the General Butler family home.

This was last Monday, before the weather turned so cold and windy.  Our last warm, sunny day, I think.

I'll get back to the pencil work and the gouache work soon.  

Thursday, November 7, 2019


Decided to take out some of the black all media paper (Strathmore) and try gouache on it.  Doing a fall scene of leaves and acorns from a photo I found in a magazine (so just for play and learning).

It's a bit harder to get coverage over the black but it's a learning experience.  

Sunday, November 3, 2019


After watching Val demo the iris, I did this one, trying to keep the flower soft and delicate.  Not too shabby and I like the little bumblebee on the leaf :)

Our next lesson is going to be about drawing fur texture - on a honey possum!

Just a reminder, we are using 9XXB graphite pencil and a Wolff's Carbon Pencil set B, 2B, 6B for the class.

Friday, November 1, 2019


Val was having some time constraints last week so we didn't get our 2nd video for our lesson on Bumblebees and Flowers until Friday.  So I did a bee and then put in a flower, using a photo Sweetie took at a local nature center (he went there when he was mentoring a high school student in photography).  So I had some bumblebees and flowers - just not the flower Val was going to have us use.  

Again, pretty dark, but I'm getting used to the fact that it is the way I do my line work and carbon pencil work - we don't all have to do it the same way!

After I got the 2nd video, I did another bumble and the iris Val sent and demoed.  I TRIED VERY HARD to do the iris pale and delicate...you'll see if I succeeded in the next post!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


I keep getting the same comment from an art blogger that she wishes my images were larger.  Are my images coming up too small for you all?  

For me, whether I'm on the desktop or the iPad, they come up a good size.  I don't want them huge and I don't want them large enough for others to print them out and copy them so I think I'll leave them as they are unless I get a lot of complaints that they are too small to see well.  


Sunday, October 27, 2019


The last video/lesson with the gouache was to paint an eye on all media paper.  I learned you can get carried away quickly with the eyelashes - the last thing you put on - and ruin it.  I was a bit heavy with the eyebrow, too, but the eye's not too bad for a first try.  

Now I'm on my own with it and I'll keep playing to learn more how it works - unlike watercolor but still a nice medium to take on trips, etc.  

Friday, October 25, 2019


Since I had the gouache, I tried to make the boxes around the flower yellow.  It wasn't a complete success since I was working a bit wetter than you should with gouache (it will lift off the under layers if you do this).  But it's yellower now :)

For some reason, I thought we were going to work on black all media paper so I purchased a pack.  Guess I'll just play with that next on my own.  I have any idea of a painting to try...

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


I started this graphite and carbon pencil drawing, following the Val Webb video - or so I thought.  Turns out I made 3 mistakes immediately, which would change the look of the thing.  So...put it aside and started over.  And then pulled this one back out of the pile and added watercolor to it just for fun. 

Even with this, I made a mistake because I first put down Lunar Black as the background and it was so textured it was too distracting.  So put down a nice layer of Indigo over that to sort it out.  Better.  

While looking at it now, I wish I'd put yellow in the boxes to make it look like the flower is in front of a bright window.  Maybe next time.

So...when is a mistake something else entirely?  When it's a learning experience!   

Monday, October 21, 2019


Finished the landscape in gouache. 

Next lesson, we paint a human eye.  I'll get out my new set of gouache paints for some variety in the colors and try it.   

Saturday, October 19, 2019


Third drawing in the Val Webb online course using carbon pencils and 9XXB graphite - a delicate tulip.  Her's was delicate.  Mine, not so much.  

I'm not unhappy with it - it just doesn't look as light and airy as her demo did.  And I didn't get the white boxes to get the 3D look, either.  But I'm okay with this as it is.  

Thursday, October 17, 2019


While taking a break from the carbon pencil lessons, I'm also following along with the free Strathmore online course on gouache.  I had to buy a set of gouache to use (really!) because I didn't have the colors she uses.  This was a really cheap set I got from Amazon - but the reviews were good so I'm hoping they are good quality (I didn't want to pay $8 a tube for a new set).  

I haven't opened them yet but will in the next lesson - which will be painting an eye!

Not finished with this painting yet, but getting there.

What both media are teaching me (the gouache and the carbon pencil/graphite) is to slow down and take my time - work a bit, take a break, go back to it to make changes, etc.  Of course, gouache is the opposite of watercolor in that you put down your darks and then lighten then by going over them (I've never worked in oils but like oils in that technique?).  So you can always add lights and highlights later.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Still following along with the Val Webb online course on carbon pencils.  Still too heavy-handed, especially when seeing how lightly Val works with her graphite and carbon.  I would like to learn to be lighter in my application, so maybe that will come with time.  Or maybe this is just the difference in an artist's hand? 

So far, these have all been done on hot press watercolor paper.  We'll see if that changes as we go along or if this is the best foundation for carbon pencils.  That right black is pretty great when you layer a bit and keep the smudges off (I am getting better at that!).  

Sunday, October 13, 2019


Strathmore offers free online courses in a variety of mediums and techniques.  I recently signed up for, and started, the painting with gouache course.  These are just a mix of exercises and a beginning painting using gouache.  I didn't have the colors required but used what I had on hand.

I didn't have black paper so used the grey toned Strathmore paper I had to see how the gouache works over colored paper to cover - can't do this with watercolors.

If you're interested, you can probably still sign in and try the lessons (4 videos with lots of info).  Go to strathmoreartiststudio.com to see the offerings.  And if you can't get into this one, they offer workshops all the time - free - so get on their mailing list.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2019


The artist and teacher, Val Webb, offers online courses all the time and they are very reasonable in price.  She gives you TONS of information, including printouts to use and lots of good experience in something new.  So I thought I'd try her Carbon Pencil class - it's the garden pollinator class using carbon pencils and a graphite I'd never heard of = a 9XXB.  I had most of the materials she's using so I didn't have to invest too much in it other than the cost for the course.  Check out her website, if you're interested in drawing or painting (I've taken 2 classes from her and came away both times with lots of new stuff to try and use in my own work).  

Now, I have to say, one big draw-back to drawing like this is patience.  I don't have any, and I want to rush.  Also, I've found I have a heavy hand when drawing, so when Val says (on the videos) to "lightly draw" I just go in like always.  Doing this, I even was too heavy-handed with my tracing the initial drawing onto the watercolor paper because, when it came to laying down the 9XXB graphite and the carbon pencils, I had a white line that was difficult to cover.  I guess I'll get the hang of it.  Val's work in the carbon pencils is just stunning and I don't expect to get to that level without a LOT of practice.  

I did this little butterfly twice because I was not satisfied with the outcome on the Arches HP block - it wouldn't lift back to white with the eraser and was a bit smeary.  Thought I'd get a better look to the 2nd try and tried the Stonehenge Aqua Hotpress.  I like the top one best, maybe because I spent more time on it?

Oh, well, learning learning learning....

I am also going back to the free Strathmore class I signed up for and never got past the first class.  It's about gouache and that's another medium I've rarely used.  I am liking it but have only dipped my toe in so far with the exercises to get used to the medium.  Strathmore offers free classes online all the time.  I am on their mailing list so I get notified when new classes are going to start.  So far, they have been very good and full of information and good stuff - and they are free!  Check them out at
strathmoreartiststudio.com  and see what they have there (and they always have new things being added).  I'll share some of that work soon.  

Hope you are having a wonderful October so far.  Our heat is gone and it feels like fall.  Now, just add some trees changing colors and it will lift me out of this slump I've been in for a month or so.  

Saturday, October 5, 2019


Can you see the dancers in the top one?  I can.  Will have to use this for something interesting...

The blue background was a print I made and didn't know what to do with so...

stamped on it with a sunflower stamp and need to make it prettier with some additional acrylic paint to call it done.  

The right one?  Who knows?!?!  

Thursday, October 3, 2019


Top and left bottom are on cards I just printed over.  The bottom right is on rice paper so thin enough to glue onto something else.  We'll see.

Going to start on my Val Webb online course using carbon pencils and such...I hope I have something to share as I go along.  This is the 2nd online course I've taken from Val and she's great and gives you so much information - a very good, giving teacher!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


A few more prints using the Gelli Art plate and acrylics.

I can see a Christmas card or something in the upper right and perhaps the ocean waves in the bottom one.  The left top?  Maybe a Southwest theme?

Happy October - Happy Fall