Monday, December 30, 2013


Well, I intended to take photos of this, step-by-step.  But I got busy painting and before you know it, I was done!  So this is the canna lily finished a la Birgit O'Connor but with my own colors (especially the background).

I'll share this with the GCWS members who show up for the January program, so they can see how to make the painting their own.

Now, I need to get busy and get the program down pat using the projector and figuring out where to pause the DVD and talk a bit and have them paint.  (Why did I volunteer to do this?  I don't feel comfortable speaking in front of a group, even if it's a group I know.)

Saturday, December 28, 2013


In order to plan the program I'm giving for the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society on January 8, I have to also paint the painting like the DVD shows.  So here goes...

Each petal is wet and then color dropped in and allowed to merge and blend by tilting the paper.  This is just 1/4 sheet size (11" x 15") because that is the size I want the members to paint as they watch the DVD.

The colors used in the painting of the canna are:  New Gamboge, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine Blue, Azo Yellow (Birgit uses some different colors, but I used what I had that matched her colors).

The DVD I'm showing is:
Watercolor:  Within the Flower
by Birgit O'Connor.  

Somehow, I ended up with two of these DVDs so I'll be donating a copy to the GCWS after I show the DVD on our projector and have members try to paint this way.  I hope they enjoy it!  

Thursday, December 26, 2013


I finished the single pigment painting (Alizarin Crimson only) of the pink flamingo.  Here she is (oh, she has to be a girl, right?  Of course, all those pink flamingos can't be girls so maybe he's a handsome fellow who flaunts his bright pink color for all the ladies :)

Aren't they funny birds?  And the way they dip their heads down to filter out the little red crustaceans they eat (which gives them their color) seems so awkward.  

No color used but Permanent Alizarin Crimson from Daniel Smith.  One of my new 2014 colors on my palette (I have chosen a few to replace old ones I rarely used anymore and it's good to shake things up once a year and try new colors!).

I did not get my own barrista for Christmas but Sweetie gave me a brand new, fancy Keurig coffee maker.  Now I just have to try the coffees and find one that's strong enough for me (the mild blends taste like brown water!).  Any suggestions from those who use these type of coffee makers?  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


All I want for Christmas is my own personal barrista.  Someone to make a special cup for me whenever I want one.  While on Anna Maria Island, I found a perfect cup of cafe con leche at a place called the Olive Oil Outpost.  They didn't do flavors or anything fancy.  They just made a very good cup of cafe con leche, which, apparently, is a Cuban drink.  It's just coffee with cream but they sweetened the cream, heated it and then mixed it with a shot of espresso - yum!  They only served one size:  small.  So I sometimes had to visit twice in one day (especially if I was sharing with Sweetie who won't drink anything until it becomes tepid).

Oh, wouldn't it be wonderful to have your own personal barrista - or chef - or trainer - or shopper?  Someone you could say, "Could you please get this for me?" and off they'd go and get it - or make it - or whatever.  

So that's all I want for Christmas this year:  a personal barrista with a great espresso machine; someone to make me a small, hot, creamy, sweet, delicious cafe con leche whenever I wanted one.  That's all.  

What do you want this year?
Anything special?  Something important like world peace - or something small like, well, a personal barrista?  (We can't all dream big.)  
How about a moratorium on neighbors' dogs that do their business in your yard - or just a moratorium on those same dogs barking at every single moving and non-moving thing in their vicinity?
What about the perfect pumpkin pie?
Or a New Year's Eve dress that makes you look fantastic, sexy, 2 sizes smaller and shoes that do the same AND make you want to dance all night?
Or a whole bookshelf of books you want to read - and the time to read them without interruption?

Come on, fess up!  Tell us your wishes - if you don't get them out there, how will Santa know what you really, truly want?

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Great 2014!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Continuing on with my first lesson of January 2014 for the students when they return after the is the new,  No.  That can't be right! ha ha  

For someone who loves all blues, I do tend to wear a lot of pink, raspberry, mauve, etc. so what's that all about?  Oh, who cares?!?  

Here are the next steps of the pink flamingo in a single color (Permanent Alizarin Crimson by Daniel Smith).

1.  The masking fluid (Pebeo Drawing Gum) is off and some areas are darker and some more salt-textured sprinkles were added here and there.

2.  Going just about as dark as I want in the darkest areas except for the legs and bill.  While I don't normally have the patience to layer colors, this is kind of interesting in that it's just a single color and you're seeing how very pale and how very dark you can go with one color.  And I've not used Permanent Alizarin Crimson much at all (although I have it on my palette) - so it's my new 2014 color of choice! 

While I'm working on this, I'm also working on my program for the Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society.  I give the program in January - the date is the 8th so we don't cut into members' holiday gatherings or travels the first week of January.  I'm going to be using our projector and DVD player to show a DVD of Birgit O'Connor to the group and then we'll all try to paint along with what she is doing.  I'll just lead the showing of the DVD and have some handouts, etc.  The meeting will be set up like a mini workshop with tables for the members to sit around and paint on.  So...I have to do some practicing and getting used to the projector and get some copies made and I have to do some painting of the subject - a canna - using her wet-in-wet technique.

As for time in between these two projects, I have wrapping of gifts to do, sending out of the last batch of holiday cards, and scheduling get-togethers and such - plus I have to make time for my Pilates sessions so I don't get too big on cookies and candies and pies and holiday fudge and punch and all that - I wonder how many calories one consumes at a typical holiday gathering where there are so many munchies out?  Maybe I don't want to know! ha ha

May your days be happy and bright, 
And may your bum remain tight in spite
of the holiday goodies consumed in the night!

And thank you for taking this journey with me this year, especially those who have hung in there through the years :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Before you know it, the holidays will be over and we'll be back to the regular day-to-day.  Part of my day-to-day in January will be having my beginning watercolor students come back to the house for classes.  With that in mind, I should have a few lesson plans for them.  And I was thinking about how to help them be lighter with the paint and brushes and use more water...

So what about using only ONE color and painting something that limited, seeing how light and dark you can get with a good pigment.  I have some flamingo photos so...using just Permanent Alizarin Crimson from Daniel Smith, I'm painting a small (1/4 sheet) flamingo with just a pink background.  

I masked off the pure whites of the bird since I'm going to cover the paper with the first layer of pink.

The first pale wash of pink (Aliz Crimson) on over the whole thing.  Then went back in with a darker mix of Aliz Crimson on the bird.

I sprinkled a bit of table salt on the bird to get some texture on the body.

The next step is to scrape off the salt (after the paper dried completely) and put another darker layer of the Aliz Crimson on the bird, here and there.  Shaping the bird.  

I fiddled with the white balance on the camera and this looks more like the background in real life - a pale pink still using only Permanent Alizarin Crimson from Daniel Smith.  

So far so good...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Although Sweetie and I are back home after a lovely week on Anna Maria Island, my heart and mind are still there.  So I did this little drawing yesterday, of a shell Sweetie picked up in an AMI gift shop.  (It is "sanded" down to the shiny, multicolored nacre and is beautiful.)

This is charcoal pencil in my Strathmore Windpower Drawing sketchbook - 
9.5" x 12"

We have our last drawing class with Natasha today.  Every meeting, we have less people show up so I wonder how many will be there today with me?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Some more photos from our week on Anna Maria Island...

Found this guy on the deck furniture one morning.  He thought he was hiding but I got down and looked under the chair pillows to see him - cute!  

One of my favorite critters at the Mote Aquarium in Sarasota - a cuttle fish.  Curious, intelligent little creatures and I love to watch their display as they change colors and patterns in their skin.  

I like the puffer fish, too.  Such big, blue eyes!  They, too, wanted to check me out as I got close to their tanks.

Sweetie got this photo of a little seahorse hiding in the green grass in his tank.  So delicate and otherworldly.  I know most people run for the sharks or dolphins or large, impressive things.  But I like to hang around and watch the small, delicate creatures other pass by - who also seem to be looking back at me.

Sweetie got this photo of the loggerhead sea turtle.  He had a pretty big tank at Mote.  The turtles, manatees, and dolphins they have at Mote are rescue animals - they are not fit to go back into the wild due to injuries or health issues that would make them unable to live without human help.  This was a pretty big guy!

Monday, December 16, 2013


Winter arrived early in our part of the world.  Cold, snow, ice, sleet, rain; you name it, we got it.  And winter doesn't even officially begin until the 21st!

So what's a warm-blooded person to do?

Escape the cold.  Fly south!!!  The birds are pretty smart about this stuff and that's what a lot of them do.

So...Sweetie and I flew out of Cincinnati to Tampa and drove south along the Gulf Coast of Florida to Anna Maria Island (AMI), and spent a nice, warm, sunny week there instead of at home where we saw more snow, ice, rain, sleet, and -5F wind chills!!!!

Sweetie's Newport Aquarium buddy has a gorgeous vacation home on AMI and let us stay for a week at a very discounted friends and family rate :)  I mean, this house was gorgeous!!  Larger than we needed at 3 bedrooms, but we had a wonderful time there.  This was a view out of the livingroom window and deck that wrapped around the back of the house.  Just a short walk - very short - and we were at the beach.  This is on the Bay side but we walked on the Gulf side, too and saw several flocks of birds just sitting sunning themselves on the white sand that was as fine as baby powder.  

A neighbor's sea grape "tree" was huge.  I liked the curvy, twisty trunks of these.  

It was a bit odd to see Christmas decorations around the neighborhood with the temps at 80F and sunny, not a snowflake or ice crystal in sight!

We drove down the island to Sarasota to view the Mote Aquarium and take in the Aquarium and see what was there - and to take a Sea Life Tour with a group that operates beside the Mote.

The tour took us away from the are and into the Bay, visiting a bird rookery with herons, egrets and pelicans as well as visiting white pelicans (not native to the island but here on a short visit, as we were!).

When we stopped at a small island to look around, Sweetie (the Marine Biologist) had to get out with the tour biologist to see what could be seen and brought onto the boat to share later.

Bottlenose Dolphins swam along the way with us and showed off at the front of the boat while we watched.

The white pelicans come to AMI to meet and mate.  No mating behavior from them yet.  They must be waiting for some sign.

Sure was great to be in a warm, sunny place while Kentucky was having record cold weather with lots of icy and snowy roads.  

More photos to come...

Hope you are staying safe and warm, wherever you are.

The above photos are all mine.  Here are some Sweetie took...

The AMI City Pier where people went to fish off the pier - or just sit in the sunshine and soak it up for a while.  They have a restaurant there and a little bar with outside tables.  And plenty of pelicans on the roof, along with a great blue heron.

This little snowy egret (snowys have the golden slippers) was sitting on the bench, posing for Jerry :)  Maybe he was saying, Welcome to Anna Maria Island.

Throughout the town, you'd set the Great White Egret (could have been the same one) walking - always at the crosswalk - across the street, with people and cars stopping to let him (or her) pass by!  Smart bird.

Ah, memories of the week there in AMI will keep me warm for a while...hope you are staying safe and warm and are getting all your decorating and shopping done.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


The orange color of the flamingos was not harmonious with the pink background in the painting.  So I went back to the background, putting in more blues to tone down the pink.  

Still not quite what I wanted.  So I added a bit more turquoise and teal color to the background and then lifted some of the color from the flamingos.  And I think it works better now.  

Now I just need to get time to finish it up, maybe putting in some stronger teal and turquoise colors in the ripples and softening some of them.  Oh, and they must have eyes!

I think I've changed the name of this one, too.

Birds of a feather - Full sheet (22" x 30") watercolor on 140# Fabriano paper.

Monday, December 9, 2013


My sister is the one in the photos with the long long hair.  That's her best friend, Tara (we always called her by her nickname, Sugar), the blonde little one.  And in the left photo, that's me standing behind another neighborhood girl.  No one knew how to take good photos in those days - you were either in the shade with your features unrecognizable - or you were squinting into the sun.


Happy Birthday, Li'l Sister!!!

Friday, December 6, 2013


I think this has more dimension now.  I like the vignetted style, leaving a lot of it white and fading off to white.

If you've never painted on gessoed paper, try it.  Just brush plain white gesso on regular watercolor paper (104# works fine), let it dry completely, and paint.  You can add texture in the form of letting the brushstrokes show on the gessoes paper, or make it smooth by rolling over the gesso, while it's still wet, with a sponge roller.  Your choice.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Well, I was hoping for more drawing from a life model in yesterday's class, or maybe even drawing each other - but instead, Natasha brought in one of her paintings of a street scene in Mt. Adams.  We had to sit around it and draw it.  Of course, if you weren't sitting straight on, it was a bit more challenging, but we all managed - with a lot of sighing going on! ha ha  Natasha told us to use good drawing paper - some that would hold up to a lot of erasing!  She was right - we needed that better paper.  From my angle, looking at the painting, this is what I came up with.  I can't tell you how wrong it is because she didn't get around to me before the class ended to give me a critique.  I'll show her next time to see what she thinks.  We did get our homework from 2 weeks ago back and she talked about that with us.  I did the railroad tracks right - who'd a thought??

And I worked a bit more on the self-portrait.  Not sure how much more work it will take since it's on newsprint.  

Another student who arrived early for class told me a story:
Police sketch artists had people describe themselves and then the artists drew them.  Then they had another person describe the same people.  The sketches made from the other person's description was more accurate and looked like the person - the sketches made from the self-description did not!  Why?  Seems we all have ideas about how we look that are not accurate - like squinchy eyes and saggy chins and so on...

So I guess we have to really let those ideas go when doing a self-portrait so you are drawing the features correctly, and not like you think they look :)  

The next 6 weeks classes - which will begin in January - could continue with getting into ink and washes or watercolor glazing of subjects.  Of course, the foundation of the drawing and the rules of perspective will have to apply before we ever put color to paper - maybe we should stick to black and white for a while longer!  I would really like to learn more about portraits, though, with a live model...someday...

Everyone's in a stew here, looking for our first real winter storm to arrive.  Predictions are rain turning to sleet and ice and possibly 3-5 inches of snow.  I always feel bad for those who have to be out in it when I can just stay home safe and warm.  (Did you hear where parts of Idaho - or was it Iowa? - got 30 inches of snow in one day???)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


In just 4 weeks of Natasha's drawing class, we've gone from shapes (square, rectangle, oval, varied) to self-portraits!  

Portraits and figures are what I want to do.  I've had some experience with both, but I sure do need a lot more practice practice practice.

Here's what I came up with.  

First one, from a photo and just a quick sketch that wasn't going well so I gave it up and started over.  Sweetie said, That doesn't look like you - you've made your face too round.

Second one, looking at myself in a mirror under a side light in the livingroom while sitting on the sofa - ugh!  I HOPE I don't look that bad!  Or maybe I do, since I'm still fighting a cough and tiredness that won't go away.  YUCK!  

I decided that, at my age, that I don't want to spend hours looking at myself in the mirror to draw a self-portrait - so I went back to a nice photo of me and set it up like a model in front of me.

So, third time, photo in front of me, measuring, starting out with my head in a box.  Measuring.  Measuring.  Measuring.  The drawing is 1 1/2 times the photo size.  And still much more to fix.

Sorry this one is blurred - hard to get newsprint to photo well.  And I don't have a moustache - that's just the beginnings of trying to shade.  I let this one sit a while, walked back into the room and saw that the distance between my nose and mouth is not right.  

More measuring needed.  More changes needed.  I imagine portrait artists who are trying to get a good likeness spend a lot of time on a portrait, whether it's in graphite, charcoal, or paint.  But I feel like I have more aptitude for faces than I do for boxes!

Today is Week 4 of the class.  Wonder what she'll show us today?  Until then, I'll rework the last one a bit and see if I can make it look more like me.  I definitely made my eyes too big in the sockets.  I have little squinch eyes, not big eyes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I had to cancel watercolor class two weeks in a row:  once because I was just beginning my cold and didn't want to share it; and then again when we had over 1 inch of snow in the morning.

Hoping we could meet today, I made up a neat lesson - painting on gessoed paper.  I had the paper gessoed for them - all they had to do is draw this simple subject (from a photo from the WetCanvas folks) on the paper and have fun seeing how watercolor works on the gessoed paper.  This is my beginning.  It's on 1/4 sheet paper.  I still have to lift some areas and darken some areas to give it dimension, and put in those dark windows.  

This will be our last meeting for the year, giving them time off to get ready for the holidays - you all know how busy this time of year gets!

Sunday, December 1, 2013


From a photo by Sweetie (a.k.a. Jerry H. Carpenter), I got inspiration to paint these two lovely flamingos we saw at the Jacksonville, FL Zoo earlier this year. 

Funny, but when Sweetie shows these photos of these more orange birds to his photo club, they all say he's manipulated the color.  He hasn't.  They are really that orange color.  

I think the color of flamingos - from palest pink to vibrant orange - comes from what they are being fed in the wild or in captivity.  Our flamingos at the Cincinnati Zoo are pale pink.  

Calling this one Synchronized Wading but another title may come to me later.

This is a full sheet watercolor (22" x 30").  I masked off the whites of the flamingos and some streaks in the water, then went wet and wild into the background.  The flamingo orange was painted last.  But now it looks wrong - so will need to redo that background to fit more with a more orange bird, or lift the color from the birds and make them more pink.  Will share more when I decide on colors to make it more harmonious.    

Happy December 1st - can you believe it's already December?
Hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend doing whatever you wanted to do.  

I have to get some drawing done before class Wednesday since I did no drawing (other than these birds) since class the week before Thanksgiving.  I think we are supposed to try self-portraits!  

A busy busy couple of weeks ahead for me...will try to post every few days but can't promise.