Tuesday, September 19, 2017


Finished after just a few tweaks.  

Coffee Time

13 x 16.5 inches 
on 140# coldpress Arches watercolor paper

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Coffee Time 
painting continues.  

Still some things to do to make me like it more.

Friday, September 15, 2017


I began painting in the upper left side, slowly getting those geraniumns done, bringing the leaves and stems down to the plate of fruit.  Then the coffee grinder and blue jar and that orange around it (could not get the loose look of the sketch - the sketch paper just made that orange blotchy and interesting in ways the 140# paper did not although I kept adding water and a bit more paint as it was drying).

So far, so good!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


First:  Pull out some things from your home; things that mean something to you; things that "go together" for a future painting.  Think about shapes, shapes, shapes (and value).

Second:  Set up some things and pull out some photos for additional elements = flowers or jugs or dishes.  Make some changes.

By sliding the coffee grinder over to the side of the table, it came up against the orange painted blocks of my library shelves.  So...making me rethink my idea of painting this in pale greens and hot pink = how about that orange in there to put next to the blues and tans?

Third:  Sketch a loose drawing with color - think about what color you are going to make the painting, overall.  At this point, the blues are too pretty and will be cobalt and I will paint the geraniums in the left side with more oranges than pinks and maybe bring that orange down and around the grinder and blue jar.  

So many changes as you go along and try to decide what's best.  I need something to bring the eye into the painting in the lower left, too - will pull some little thing out to put there later.

Magazine pieces cut out for the elements and colors.

This is a better drawing of the grinder, cup and jar.  I wasn't happy with the quirky way I'd put the grinder in there - it should be solid with lots of texture on the wood and the handle.

In the painting, there will be no blue scarf but I'll put in a pot of geraniums there instead - the leaves will pour down over and around the blue clock and the plate of apples (did you see the plate of apples?).  This is so much fun to just try things and play with elements and colors.  And cutting out magazine elements works - keep a book full of things and just pull out and use whatever works best with your initial setup :)

And this looks more like I want the painting to look (sketch done over in Caran d'Ache watersoluble crayons with water added and some watercolor if the color needed a bit more).

No silver coffee pot, no little white creamer.  Letting the green and pink fruit move the eye around a bit.

That little white jug may show up again in the lower left but mostly unpainted (?) maybe.

I loved the orange and messy look here in the sketch of the grinder and jar and cup - will definitely try to do this in the painting!

This is where your creativity and your energy flow through you and you cannot WAIT to get started...
BUT that is the time to go sit down a while before starting so you don't rush (this is me talking to myself because I am not patient and tend to rush, overpaint and lose some freshness).

So - orange, pink and pale green around the elements of flowers, fruit and coffee stuff.

Ok, here we go!

Going to start with the upper left geraniums and the cobalt blue clock.

Monday, September 11, 2017


The top right of this one was just wrong - also the table didn't look like a table at all.  So "destroyed" that part with a rough bristle brush, some white gouache, a bit more color on the tall parts of the flowers.  Then just cropped off some of the top.

For this one, I just cropped a bit off the edges and bottom, bringing the view in closer.

Now, on to something new!

Saturday, September 9, 2017


A couple of cards - Strathmore Watercolor Card sets.  

I love painting some of these every now and then just to have some on hand for birthdays, etc.  

These both were "inspired" by the last Shirley Trevena book I worked through - with some additional colors and shapes as I painted.

On my palette.  
Not sure what colors running together made this watery/swampy object, but I like it :)

Thursday, September 7, 2017


This one has gone through some changes.  Mostly, the struggle is with the background that I want to be something but not too much something (as if that made any sense at all).

I darkened some shapes and brought in some more darks here and there to get the eyes to move around the painting.  

Not sure about this one yet.  I think that velvet chair needs to be pushed back in some way.  Shirley would just "destroy" it by taking a rough wet brush to it and smooshing it.  Or maybe the "table" needs to read more as a table and not as a stained glass window...

What do you think?  Be honest, now!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Started the painting, after the initial planning stages, with the flowers, then the vase.

(I know that looks like a big hat in the upper right but it will be a velvet chair behind a table when I'm done.)

So far, trying to stay focussed on
Value and

A lot of think about all at one time - whew!

Shadow Violet very very wet (over granulating medium brushed over the paper behind the flowers and "on" the table surface) so it separates into the three colors but is, mainly, violet. 

The other side a window shape cut out of a magazine - lots of water and secondary color dropped into the primary color.  The "black" line down the paper cut around the coffee pot and cup and right through the far left green apple.  

Hope you're enjoying this new venture for me!  I seem to be a bit obsessed right now :)

Sunday, September 3, 2017


Before putting paint onto paper, I am going to work out the shapes and colors on sketch paper with crayons and graphite.  This will help me plan a bit more than just start on paper and go from there (that intrepid style of painting probably takes years!).

I have been cutting out elements from magazines and pulling together some things that mean something to me, personally.  I'll use a little of this, a little of that, and come up with something good (I hope).  

Painting this way takes a lot of thinking about:
values and

I liked the colored sketch above, but decided to go for more personal things around the house.

I started with a light graphite pencil sketch, then put some magazine cut-out elements on the sketch to make changes.

At this stage, I pulled out some real elements (to look at as I paint) = the aluminum coffee pot and a small cup (both belonged to my Momah, who made a cup of coffee that was so strong, it would walk out of the kitchen right to you :)

Another magazine element = the velvety peach/orange chair.

Planning this way lets you see what works and what doesn't work before getting to the real painting.  

And then you can just go for it!

My goal for the whole painting is to make things less flat = more dimensional, using whatever works to make the shapes and colors pop.

Friday, September 1, 2017


I worked up a colorful sketch on plain paper, using water soluble crayons.  I will look at it a while before beginning to paint.  

I already know I don't like the black lines going right through the pears and will move the lines.  I also think the tulips need to come down farther into the lower left part of the painting.  

This seems easy but, truly, there are SO MANY choices to make it's like going to the grocery and seeing 20 types of chicken noodle soup and being stuck for a choice! ha ha

And I might just put this one aside and begin something else.  Afterall, I want these setups to be more personal to me.

I just found out I am running out of 140# paper except in blocks so need to think about an art supply order :)  

😊 Happy September! 😊

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!).