Thursday, January 31, 2013


In class Tuesday, I worked on this while my students were working on their paintings.  Two had already done the Notan study and then, using the photo and the study, they were painting their swans in whatever color they chose.  Since I had already done one in cool colors, I chose warms for this one. 

Since I only have 3 students, I can gear the lessons around what they want - if they have any ideas or suggestions.  When I asked if there was anything special they wanted to learn, they said they had a hard time getting their darks dark enough so would like to learn how to mix darks or what darks to use out of the tube.  That will be our next lesson and I'll be making charts of my darks out of the tube and mixed to give them some ideas.  Of course, it's all a matter of using a strong enough mix of pigment and water on the paper and not diluting it down too much - and not painting too dry so the paint won't flow.  It never hurts to return to the basics for me - to try out some new colors I have and see what they will do. 

Today is Maggie Latham's last day of her 31 Days of Colour.  If you haven't checked out her blog, go over there and gain some very valuable information, whether you're a beginning student or an old hand at watercolor!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Another one painted just for fun and to see what I could intuitively come up with. 

I may have been thinking about family because I called this one
Blood Connections.

As you can see, I am not an abstract artist!

Monday, January 28, 2013


For some reason, I always feel like I should paint something on my birthday.  I often paint it on the day - but not always. 

Anyway, just playing with paint and paper with no planning - just picking up a color I want to try and using another color with it and keeping it wet-in-wet with the paper almost pooling with water.  These don't look much like finished pieces - just paper on which I've moved some paint around.

This one looks a bit like winter trees in the wind.  Using Permanent Brown and Cobalt Teal Blue  with a little Shadow Violet mixed in. 

This one looks a bit like blue thistles.  Mainly using the same three colors.

Nothing to write home about!

I'm reading the Georgia O'Keeffe book now, enjoying the visit to New Mexico via her paintings and the photographs in the book.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Well, I've gotten behind with my Sunday Sharing = sharing bloggers who have become followers recently.  I will catch up, I promise.  But for now, you HAVE TO go to this man's site and see his work.  It is seriously clever and well drawn, too....His name is Charlie Layton and he is a professional illustrator.  These Freezer Friday drawings are done just for his own amusement (and now we get to share that).   

His excellent work makes me want to go back to drawing and practice more.  I've been thinking about picking up the guitar again, too.  Heaven knows I have the time.  I just don't have the inclination - or maybe it's a lack of determination.  I mean, I tell myself I'm too old to start this up again and start from scratch...but another year goes by and if I'd practiced for a year, I'd be able to play something!!! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013


My sister treated me to dinner last night and brought lots of presents for me, too!  She went overboard, as usual, spending too much, but she says I'm her only sister so...

Amid the fiction books and cd, I also got 2 art books (she checked my Amazon wish list and picked some good ones).

A beautiful hardbound book of O'Keeffe's landscapes in the place she loved - New Mexico.

The paintings are all oils, but they have the flowing look of some watercolors.  The book includes photos of the places alongside the way Ms. O'Keeffe saw them and her color choices. 

And a book put on my wish list when Maggie Latham recommended it.  (If you haven't been following Maggie's 31 Days of Color tutorial on her blog, you are missing some good stuff!

So I have enough to keep me busy while looking and reading through these two and perhaps even trying my hand at a few paintings as a way to study these two different artists.  But maybe not until I get past the last of the Notan studies coming for Tuesday's class...don't want to jump around too much.  Of course, you could say that painting on the front of the Rankin book is almost a Notan painting in itself!

Lately, I find I've been thinking about painting a lot more than painting.  I even had dreams that my body was being painted on and then that I was painting a triptych of 3 full size watercolor sheet paintings, one on top of the other.  Wonder what that means?

Friday, January 25, 2013


Well, Roger Federer must not have gotten the message that what I wanted for my birthday was for him to win the Australian Open.  He lost in 5 sets to Andy Murray in the semi-finals :(  Boo hoo.  Next year, I'm going to have to send him an email ahead of time so he knows what I want for my birthday! ha ha

What I got for my birthday from Sweetie =
A new coffee maker which does not gurgle and glug and make a horrid sound when brewing.  It's still a Mr. Coffee brand, but a newer model and a different design.  I like it!
I got an old-fashioned, made in the USA, metal and glass gumball machine with a load of gumballs I put inside the globe.  :)   Yes, I guess, I am still a kid at heart and I won't tell you how old I will be tomorrow because, believe me, I feel older than dirt some days - no energy and no inspiration.  For those of you who are older than me, I get no sympathy (I know this).  For those of you who are younger than me, I'll try not to be jealous of your beauty and youth! ha ha
A new Louise Erdrich book I've been wanting to read.

Of course, my birthday is not until tomorrow but I'm still being taken out to dinner by my baby sister tonight.  I think Chinese is on the menu :)  I was invited out to lunch with my step-daughter, J., but the weather put the kibosh on that - freezing drizzle and snow caused this late morning/early afternoon to be a bit tricky to be out on the roads just for a lunch, so we postponed until...whenever. 
And my mother is making carrot cake cupcakes for me, instead of the huge carrot cake she usually makes so I can eat one, freeze a few, and save a few to eat later without thinking I need to eat it all.  My mother makes the very best carrot cake and fudge (peanut butter and chocolate).  It was her fudge and cookies that sent my gallbladder into overdrive after Christmas so I'll take it easy with the cake this time!

What is your favorite cake or dessert for birthdays?  I really love pie - pies of any kind (except strawberry - yuck!!!).  But homemade carrot cake is pretty darned good.

Are you having a birthday this month?  Next month? 
How do you feel about another year passing?  Are you reaching your goals (do you have goals, or are you like me and just flow with whatever comes along)?  Do you feel your age or do you feel younger inside? 
I hope you always feel young even if the mirror tells a different story!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I did another sepia study in class, showing the students how to let the paint flow and use more water - this is something they both need to practice since they tend to paint dry, not incorporating the beauty of watercolor in their works.  I think it just stems from fear = they are afraid they will lose control if they don't paint with a lot of pigment and a little water - but that's the fun of watercolor! ha ha  Of course, I act like I've always known and done this - and I haven't!!  Something we all needed to learn as we learned more about watercolor, I think. 

Here is another one I did, using cool colors.  I thought about what colors I wanted first and still tried to paint it as loosely and fresh as the sepia one.  

I'll do another in warm colors, just for fun and to get more practice.  But I won't do the warm one until next class so I can show the students how going back to colors should be easier, after the Notan and sepia studies.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

It is sooooo cold now.  I know the birds are thankful for their seeds and suet.  They need the energy to keep going during these cold winter days.  And I am thankful I can stand at my window and watch them every day.  A flash of red, or blue; the little round Carolina Wrens eating the dried mealworms (which were purchased for the bluebirds but too late to entice them to stay).  Funny bird antics every day is so much better than reality t.v.!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Most of the time, when I am drawn to a painting, it is because of the strong values and then the colors.  If your values don't work, it doesn't matter how great your colors are.

As Hazel Soan says in her book, The Essence of Watercolor, "The hue of a colour may lead the heart, but the mind is persuaded by tone."

This is the swan finished by putting down limited colors over the sepia underpainting.    

I will do a complete painting, using color, next.  Hopefully, the Notan studies before painting will help me keep good darks and lights.  Hopefully, my students will enjoy this and learn from the lesson on Notan.

If you have problems getting your darks deep and rich enough, try this technique prior to painting and see if it helps.  As Red Green says, "We're all in this together."

Monday, January 21, 2013


I've been getting a lesson ready for my watercolor students on Notan, the Japanese design concept of light vs dark.  You can Google the word and find lots of information about it.  Basically, I want to have my students do this as a way to help them see their shapes and values/tones better before painting in color.  Of course, a few good value studies would do the same but you know how we often omit value studies and want to get right into painting!

Here are some steps in the process.  

Using a photo with good darks and lights, you then draw the subject, using a black marker or black ink or dark paint.  Everything comes down to 2 values at this stage - whites and blacks; there are no middle values.

(Trumpeter Swan photo by Yvonne Carter shared at WatercolorWorkshop)

You can use your photo manipulation program to intensity the darks and lights.

But it's better to do it yourself, using a dark marker or paint to create your own version of the photo in Notan.

Next, you draw or trace your photo onto your watercolor paper and, while looking at your photo and your Notan drawing/painting.  
Then paint your subject, using only one dark color.  

This one is on watercolor paper, using Sepia (Daniel Smith pigment).  I painted with a large wash brush until working on the smaller areas of the swan.  I liked the way this one turned out, very wet and juicy.

But that's not the end.  The next step is to paint this well with colors (perhaps a very limited palette).  

I did one a while back on Tyvek using a simple mix of colors to get darks, and bleeding out the medium values.  (I did not get good darks on the Tyvek and used a staining color so couldn't lift back to pure white - so I don't consider this one as successful as the one on watercolor paper.)  

I may give the students the option of painting one on Tyvek or Yupo (because you can lift out the whites if you lose them as long as you use nonstaining colors).  

But I'll ask them to do the monotone painting on watercolor paper.

Most of the time, when I am drawn to a painting, it is because of the strong values and then the colors.  If your values don't work, it doesn't matter how great your colors are.

Instead of starting over with the swan in color, I just put color over the sepia underpainting and here is the finished painting.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


A bit looser, a bit bigger brush.  Easy to not draw anything here - in fact, what would you draw?

Friday, January 18, 2013


Again, in my Strathmore Visual Journal (9" x 12", 90# watercolor paper); another one without drawing before painting.  However, I think I'm getting too tight with these.  I need to stay loose and fresh - that is the goal.  So, instead of drawing with the rigger brush, I'll use a bigger brush and try to make more shapes.

I didn't paint yesterday - didn't do much of anything due to a flare-up of a gallbladder problem I was diagnosed with this month.  I tell you, it's all a straight run downhill after 50!!!  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Another painting without drawing.  I'm enjoying this and hope I'm getting better - I'll know when I review it all next month and see if there has been any change.

This was one of the blue jays on a post near the suet feeder.  I saw a blue jay yesterday that was so big I told Sweetie, "I think that jay ate all the other jays!" because we aren't seeing as many as we used to see around the feeders.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Another watercolor sketch/painting done with no prior drawing - in my Strathmore Visual Journal (90#).  I have the 140# journal, too, but I think this lighter weight paper doesn't take much working so it's easy to overwork.  Knowing that, I try to get the colors and shapes down in 2-3 passes and no more.  You can lift a little but not much. 

The goal for these paintings without drawing is to lighten up, get to a point where I will not overwork a piece so much, and to help me slow down and see shapes and values better.  

This was a pretty convoluted photo I used and I don't think I got the greens or the shapes varied enough in this one. 

Still working on this challenge for myself - at least throughout the month of January.

What are you working on this year?  What challenges or goals have you set for yourself?

Saturday, January 12, 2013


This is just a test to see if I can upload photos using Google Chrome on my laptop....

Yes, I can!  (I didn't think it worked when I tried it before, but it was my mistake - I was waiting for another screen to come up before putting in my photo info.)

So, it does work.  Just means I either have to install Chrome on the desktop
or I have to move photos from the desktop to the laptop more often. 
But it does work (and I've read that switching from HTML to Compose often causes problems, too, so I don't want to keep doing that on the desktop and then create other problems).

This is an old photo I have on my laptop - but we are having a wet end-of-week with mixed showers and thunderstorms, along with freakishly warm weather (65F in January ?!?) so it works as a current photo for several wet and stormy days which began Wednesday.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Another watercolor sketch in my Strathmore Visual Journal (90# watercolor paper) - done without prior drawing.  Just trying to get the shapes right with the brush.  I overextended the crow's beak and had to fix it - not a great fix but the goal is to not spend time overworking but just letting the colors go.  I don't think I succeeded this time - but I'll keep trying.

Another day of rain rain rain.  Time to get out the mask, fin and snorkel if this keeps up!  I hope, wherever you are, that you are warm, dry and safe.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Back in the fall, a local town held a Herbst Tour (Herbst = Autumn in German).  Many farms and homes were open to show their horses, cattle, artwork, bakery goods, pumpkins, etc.  Sweetie and I took the self-driving tour on a glorious fall day this year.  We stopped to see Don, a photographer buddy.  

Don's home is one I'd love, with a farm pond, a gazebo, and a gorgeous maple tree at the end of his lane.  I took a photo of an outbuilding/barn he had that was old and weathered.  I think that's a water pump in front. 

Anyway, I had this photo lying around since fall and decided it would be a good one to try for my painting-without-drawing challenge.  I see now it needs more to really make it look dimensional - the grass and stone under the well look flat.  But I guess the challenge is to do this quickly, without pre-drawing, and get as much as I can in one go.  I may return to this and pump up the volume a little here and there.  The photo really shows a lot of blues, violets, greens and greys in that old barnwood, but I needed to push back the barn wood a bit more with darker values. 

So I used a cobalt blue wash over the whole barn wood and base to push it back.  For some reason, I cannot get the darker blue to show correctly, no matter how I fiddle with the white balance on the camera or the hue balance on the photo program.  It's a darker blue than this but I'm done trying to get it just right.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter

This actually deserves more than one word.  Kentucky, the great horned owl Sweetie cares for at the raptor rehab, is a real persnickity thing.  If you don't feed him enough and his paper plate is empty before he thinks it should be, he starts hissing and tearing the paper plate into pieces!  Guess he's like most of us and doesn't like being on a diet.  

You might say he's a real Angry Bird!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


This little fellow was so cute - a snail seen in Belize a few year's ago when Sweetie thought it would be a good idea to take a trip to a remote area of Belize for our anniversary.  Um...well...we are still married so it wasn't horrid but we both returned home eaten up with mosquito and no-seeum bites all over us.  Anyway, there were nature hikes and talks and during one we saw this little guy in the evening.  Perhaps he was heading home for the night?

The words say:  Be brave, But watch out below. 
I think that sums up my thinking about painting without drawing and the beauty you can get but also the bumps in the road that have to be fixed with a touch of Chinese White watercolor.  (No, I'm not a purist unless the rules of a competition say you must use only transparent watercolor - I believe whatever works, use it!)

And here is my last postcard made from matboard, scraps of watercolor paintings and collage pieces and a silver marker.  I will add a bit to the berries because I don't like them right now - may even strengthen the vine/tree and limbs, too.  But I do like the blue and silver motif :)  The shiny bits are collage pieces I made in Myrna Wacknov's workshop last spring at Kanuga - it aluminum foil embossed with a design, then painted with acrylic paint.

For me, Blogger is still not working the usual way in the Compose mode.

If you are having problems with Blogger and being able to post photos, just upload them using the HTML mode, then return to Compose mode to type in your words.  It works, but it's another step - until they get this fixed. 
Is ANYONE else having this problem or is Blogger just picking on me?

Monday, January 7, 2013


Here are some of the cards and bookmarks made by the grandgirls - each girl has her own unique look with J liking the addition of words to her pieces using paint pens and markers.

(J made a few more but I didn't get a photo of them before she left Sunday afternoon.)

A did these 2 pieces.  She also painted a watercolor scorpion but I didn't get a photo of that before she went home.  She loves painting in watercolors and is doing a good job.
Blogger still acting up - wonder if they will ever figure out what is wrong?  I tried to upload from my laptop (which had Google Chrome on it) but it still wouldn't work unless I went into HTML to upload and then back to Compose to see the post and add the words.  Oh, well, it works - just not as easily as it used to work.


Well, Blogger is still having the same problems with uploading photos as it was having Friday and no fix yet.  There is a work-around, though.  You can upload your photos in HTML mode, then go to Compose mode to type your text.  Of course, this means some squirrelly positioning of things, but it does work to get your photos in the blog post.

So I've uploaded the postcards I did before the grandgirls got here Saturday afternoon.  I'll post their pieces next :)

I was thinking about Valentine's Day for this last one but will probably replace the black raffia ribbon (what I had on hand) with a red one (which I may have to buy or dye a natural one) before I give it to someone (meaning Sweetie!).

Saturday, January 5, 2013


If you've been reading, you know that our watercolor society had Marilyn Bishop come and give a program for us on the 2nd of January.  She is making beautiful and artful bookmarks out of scraps of matboard and "failed" watercolor paintings - with the addition of ink and rice paper and gold leaf and...whatever you can imagine.  I wanted to try this technique with some of the scraps I have lying around but didn't want to make bookmarks since that is definitely Marilyn's domain.

So I did postcards. 
(I would share them with you but Blogger is having a breakdown and won't allow me to upload any of the photos right now.  Apparently, this has been broken since Friday.  Hope they fix it soon as I don't want to install Chrome on Sweetie's desktop - which is old and I'm afraid every new thing I add will be the last thing!  They say it has to do with Internet Explorer.

Anyway, I made my pieces on 4" x 6" matboard, adding scraps of failed watercolor paintings and some markers and fluid acrylic paint and...whatever I thought looked okay. 

It does take time to lay things out, move them, reposition them, think about the composition, then glue them down (Marilyn used an Elmer's glue stick which I tried and I also tried Nori Paste - a bookbinding paste - for the heavier pieces).

The grandgirls are coming over this afternoon and I've got things laid out for them to try this.  I think it will be a fun art project for us to try together.  I'll share those photos when I can...

Friday, January 4, 2013


It's not been easy for me to stop relying on a graphite drawing before putting paint to paper.  But I'm trying to become more familiar with it and create something I like.  The trick is to know that I can still overwork a piece even if I don't have a drawing on the paper first and STOP before I do that.  The joy is just putting down the brushstrokes necessary and then letting it go.  I'm not there yet, but I can feel a shift that may be taking me closer.

This little pathway was painted from a photo Christopher Leeper allowed me to use during his workshop.  I've tried the painting once but it wasn't this nice.  I think I'm getting closer.  Not quite there yet.  But still, not bad and so much better than I used to be at seeing and then moving the brush and paint.  I even left some whites in this one! 

What challenges are you going to set for yourself this year?  Aim high and be bold!  What can it hurt, right?  If you stumble, you'll catch yourself; and this time next year may see a whole new avenue opening for you!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Our guest speaker/artist, Marilyn Bishop, gave a very interesting and entertaining program yesterday for our watercolor society.  She makes bookmarks from scraps of things - matboard, rice paper, "failed" watercolors, markers, etc.  And she had a great display of bookmarks to show us - none of which looked like you'd want to use for bookmarks!  They were much too pretty and artfully done.  So, I guess you can take bookmarks to a higher artful level than one would think - and she does.

I think we all were thinking of all the little scraps of things we could use on matboard to make these - or something similar - for ourselves.

Using an Elmer's glue stick to paste the watercolor and other bits onto the matboard, she said most of the time is spent thinking about the design.  I can see getting lost it lots of bits and pieces and not being able to choose which color, which scrap, etc.  Marilyn calls her scraps Strips (longer strips of watercolor paper) and Chips (more squared or rectangle pieces).  Loving color and paper, it was fun to watch her create several of these for us during the meeting.

So - do have scraps lying around?  Do you have any watercolor painting that didn't quite make it but aren't totally losers?  Do you have some matboard scraps or small pieces?  Then off you go!

I intend to make a few - but not as bookmarks.  I'm going to make them 4" x 6" like postcards.  We'll see what I come up with when I start sorting all the bits I have.  I even purchased an Elmer's glue stick and some gold, silver, bronze and white markers today to try it.

Of course, I liked all of Marilyn's bookmarks but chose only 2 that I really wanted (2 of the only ones she had in cool colors! ha ha)

This would be a great art-day event to share with your grandkids, who would love putting things together and all you do it stamp, glue, and doodle a bit for embellishments!

Thanks, Marilyn, for an inspiring program :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013



Photo by Jerry H. Carpenter (Sweetie)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Today =
Happy New Year!!!

Are you planning on turning over a new leaf to commemorate the new year - or making any resolutions you'll break before January is finished? ha ha  Not me.  Just painting without drawing in my Strathmore Visual watercolor journal (90# paper, not 140# but it seems to hold up pretty well).

Tomorrow = 
If the weather allows, we will have our first 2013 meeting of the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society.  The guest artist/speaker will be founding member, Marilyn Bishop.  Marilyn will share her tips on saving watercolor scraps and adding to them to create original, unique bookmarks, using matboard as the base.  I'm taking some collaged scraps from my Myrna Wacknov workshop and matboard and hope to make a few bookmarks for myself during the open paint session after the program.  If you're in the area, come on by!  We'll be there from 10 am - 1 pm.

I've got another year of being Program Chairperson for the GCWS and have our next 6 months' programs scheduled so no need to do anything except try out our new DVD Player/Projector after the meeting today.