Thursday, December 20, 2007

Something Different

It's still pastel, but certainly different from woods. A friend gave me "Watercolor by Design" by Marianne Brown for Christmas and last night I started reading it. It describes a dozen different composition schemes, using many non-objective paintings for examples. This morning when I woke up I had the beginnings of this painting in my mind. Now, which way is up??

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Woods . . . again

I guess I'd better call these my "woods series" since that seems to be what I'm drawn to painting these days. Maybe because I'm frequently in the woods walking the dogs. I love it when they can run free. This is a pastel. There's a person (not me, I'm behind the camera) and a dog. It was sort of an experiment in putting a small amount of light values in a mostly dark painting. I'm always open for comments and critiques.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Frosty Morning

Pastel. I painted the whole sheet of white Wallis sanded paper a bright, red-orange (then made sure it was all dry) before I began using pastels on this. I chose the underpainting color to be more or less the complementary color of the final painting. If you look closely, you can see where the orange peeks through, giving the whole painting a liveliness. I love the intense blue and gold through the middle of this with the cooler, frosty green in the foreground. The long shadows give the sense of early morning, too.

Friday, December 7, 2007


I started another pastel of woods the other day and it wasn't going well at all, so I ran the paper under the faucet and washed out all I had done. This is Wallis sanded paper and it's pretty sturdy. When it had dried, I grabbed a photo of a sunflower I had hanging around and painted that instead. I forgot that the size paper I was using needs some cropping to make it a standard size, so if I frame this it will be expensive, but I like all the colors.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More autumn trees

Am I in a rut, or what? But I'm much happier with this painting than with the last. This time I concentrated on putting down the shapes until I had the paper all covered. Then I smeared the whole thing with my fingers and sprayed on some workable fixative. I tried to keep the texture and detail to the foreground leaves, although I did refine some of the edges of the previous shapes. The tree trunks and the branches went in practically last. The result seems to have more depth and is less busy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Yellow Trees

Pastels again. I like the way the pastels feel on the paper, especially the softer ones (they're all the "soft" or chalky pastels). And I like the way it's so easy to add light over dark, although I still tend to work from light to dark, a watercolor habit, rather than dark to light as one would with oils. That's probably why I get all the white speckles in the painting which you see better if you click on this painting to the right to see the larger version. I may do this again with some sort of underpainting. This painting is done from a couple of photos I took while walking the dogs.

Friday, November 23, 2007


One of Fran's clients brought her a bouquet of flowers, including a sunflower. I painted it in pastel today, on a scrap of paper 5" x 9.5". Odd size, which will be annoying to frame, but it works for this single blossom. I love the feel of the pastel on the paper but I find it difficult knowing exactly where the line will be, unlike a pointed, round watercolor brush. It's much easier to do bigger work than this for that reason. I learned today that layering a dark color under another dark color gives an even darker and richer color than either of the originals. Fun.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Woods Light

Back to watercolor! I painted this from a photo I took the other day while a friend and I were walking in the woods . . . with the dogs along, too, of course. She had her camera with her and I grabbed it to take this picture. The leaves are gradually changing here, after a record-breaking, hot October and the woods are gorgeous. I think they're gorgeous any time of the year, actually.

The painting and the photo of it are brighter than this Blogspot-generated size. This looks better if you click on it and get the bigger version.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Zinnias and Mums

A fellow painter brought these flowers in the beautiful, glass pitcher to our studio group this morning. So this is painted, with pastels, from "life,"

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pastel Water and Rocks

Obviously, my title doesn't refer to the colors in this pastel painting. I'm having a great time with the flexibility of pastels and learning to block in color to start. I'm always open to critiques.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More Pastel

I did this waterfall mostly from my head with only a little from a teeny part of a photo I'd taken in Scotland. The water view is from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine. I can see that the horizon in this one isn't straight. I was working to paint recognizable rocks with light on them in both paintings. They're different kinds of rocks and I'm especially pleased that I managed to get the roughness of the cliff rocks. Both paintings are better viewed from some distance and are brighter if you click for a bigger version. Critiques?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Water and Rocks

Another pastel, I did this from a photo I took in Scotland. This time I did a very sketchy value drawing in dark blue then used a wet watercolor brush to create value washes. When the paper was completely dry, I switched to pastels.

Monday, October 15, 2007


I did this one at the same workshop as the Scottish Burn. This one was done with warm colors over a cool purple underpainting. Also pastel. I'm not crazy about the purple sky, but it is the complement of yellow and it's warmer than blue.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Scottish Burn

Fran and I took a pastel workshop today and I painted this picture of a burn in Scotland. We began by doing a value sketch with charcoal and using only 4 values. Then talked about warm and cool colors (reds. oranges, yellows for the former; greens, blues and purples for cool). After we determined whether our painting would be cool or warm, we covered the whole thing with an underpainting of a complementary color. In this case, I used orange. At last we put on the colors we wanted. You can see quite a bit or orange peeking out in the light greens and in some of the light areas in the water. A big challenge was the darks in the rocks for which I finally used dark purple and some green rather than the "real" color of dark brown. At the very end I put in the bright red flowers, just to grab your eye.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Colorado Valley II

Done from a photo I took when we were in Colorado recently. We were looking down from a hillside into a broad, broad, very dry valley. This is mostly watercolor with some pastel added for emphasis.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Iris Center

I took this photo of a white iris last spring.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Yellow Zinnias

Yesterday one of our watercolor studio members brought in a nice bunch of zinnias and ageratum. I didn't try to paint the bunch but instead used their colors and shapes to arrange flowers in a sort of "S" shape. I've been reading Janet Walsh's book, "Watercolor Made Easy" (which really is not a book good for a starter book but is very good if you have some experience under your belt). She uses a technique of putting down a color with a round brush then immediately softening one or more edges with a clean, damp, flat brush. I tried it with these flowers and I liked it because my flowers look less paint-inside-the-lines-ish.


I painted these peaches from a photo supplied by a member of my online watercolor group for a group project. I made up the background and the tablecloth.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Last night was the opening reception and awards for the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society's 2007 International show. Fran, three other friends and I packed in one car and drove the hour and a half to Lancaster . . . all so they could watch me win an award. It was a strong show with 80-some well-executed paintings and I was amazed and excited that I'd gotten in, much less won an award. We found a notebook with the award winners in it with comments from either the juror of seclection or the judge of awards. The latter's comment about mine included something like a "spontaneous little [it's a quarter-sheet] watercolor" and ended with "any painter that can put green on the paper and not create mud deserves a pat on the back." Anyway, that's me on the right, getting my award.
The painting in question is earlier in this blog, posted July 27th.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Evening Light Pastel

Same photo as the previous painting, new version, this one in pastel. I painted most of this one upside down.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Evening Light

I took the photo for this painting last weekend when we were in Maryland. We were sitting on the deck having dinner when I saw this incredible light on the trees.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Stump

We spent a couple of days this weekend with our friends Cheryl and Paul in their new (second) home on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay (west of Cecilton, Doris). This is the view from next to their house overlooking the water, which is a lake made by damming the creek with bay dredging goop. Cheryl, Paul and I canoed to the dam and walked from there to the shore of the bay and I made this little sketch. Otherwise, we spent our time visiting and eating. It was beautiful weather and we spent most of our time on their deck.

It's done with brown, ultra-fine Sharpie permanent marker and a wc wash.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two Pastels

Our new pastel paper finally arrived and I've been itching to do some pastel. The late-day one is from a photo taken out our window at the house across the street (although the house itself doesn't look much like the painting). The other one is a field near the Brandywine Creek.

Sailboat and Charts

It's always hard to know when to stop when doing an abstract like this one. I'm doing it for the second time, since the first version contained collages of charts and old maps, something not allowed in many shows because they are not created by me. So this time I used various colors of ink, in addition to the watercolor paint, to draw my own charts and maps. If you look closely, none of the "writing" is real. I will probably work on this a bit more, but it's looking close to being done.

Friday, August 3, 2007


I'm still playing with painting sailboats, this time one that's under sail. Fran suggested I do one in reds and blues, so I did. I painted this about a week ago and didn't like it much, so it sat behind another painting. Today when I uncovered it, I liked it much better; it's often like that with paintings I do.

Friday, July 27, 2007


This painting just got accepted into the Pennsylvania Watercolor Society's their annual International Exhibition. It's going to be in Lancaster, PA, opening in the middle of September. Hooray.

Added later: The painting won an honorable mention!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sailboat, take 3

This is quite a bit bigger than my other two sailboats and it's on illustration board. I found some nautical charts on the internet and painted a couple, one old-looking and one as I remember paper charts from my sailing days. After I glued down a large chunk of chart in the bottom right, I painted the background, leaving the cabin of the boat white. The boat and the compass were drawn first with sepia conté pencil then with a brown magic marker to make them darker. I added paint to the crayon on the hull and for the reflections. Then I cut and tore more of the charts and glued them in places where I thought they'd work in the painting. I'm not sure I'm finished but now I'm going to live with it for a while and see what it (and you) tell me to do.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sailboat, take 2

I think this is much closer to the image I was thinking of yesterday when I started painting this sailboat in these colors. This time I painted in the background (the diagonals, mostly) then I used a sepia conté pencil for the drawing. I did do the drawing lightly in pencil before I started to I'd know where to leave that white splotch. I think I should crop it higher so the mast doesn't go off the top.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sailboat in Sepia

I woke up this morning with something like this image in my head. The tough part was finding an appropriate image in all my photos and then doing the drawing. Boats are HARD. This is painted with gold and purple pigments only, mixed in various proportions. I tried to combine looseness and a more precise way of painting.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Anyone Home?

The dogs and I pass this hollow-ing tree on one of our walks.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Someone posted this photograph on Watercolor Workshop, an online watercolor group. Today I had fun painting it. I love the distance created by the photographer and the difference between the precise daylilies and the looser background.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sheep in the Meadow

There were sheep everywhere in Scotland and this is the first time I've tried painting them (or painting white blobs that are supposed to look like sheep). I was attracted to this particular photo because of the dramatic shadow across the front and the spacious feeling of being on top of a hill. This farm overlooks Loch Tay.

Friday, July 6, 2007


This sort of thing has NOT been my style, probably because I didn't think I could draw something this complicated, thought I'd get lost in the drawing (it's easy!) and didn't think I had the patience. Well, I tried it and I like the results. And now I know a LOT more about peonies and how they're put together. I painted each section separately and waited until all was dry around a section before I painted it. With so many little pieces in a peony, there are always dry areas in which to paint. I used a much smaller brush than I normally do. During the course of the painting, I figured out to make a beautiful red glow and that's worth the whole project! I'm certainly not going to do this sort of thing all the time, but it's fun to add another tool/technique to my stash.

Now I'm trying to decide whether to put in a background. It would just be faint, maybe just at the bottom. Maybe none at all . . .

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Tuscan Fantasy

I decided to do a landscape today in the same manner as I did the rose a couple of days ago: painting each section individually, using a lot of different colors to achieve my intended color. When I experiment with a technique, I sometimes paint pears; this time I painted a "generic" Tuscan landscape which lives in my head. I even did a color sketch before I began. Unfortunately, I didn't follow my sketch closely enough and I ended up with hills in the final painting that are much too round and steep, partly because the proportions of my sketch don't match the size of a quarter-sheet of paper. Oh well, it was all a fantasy anyway and I'm pleased with the colors and the paint application even though the drawing leaves something to be desired.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


I took a photo of this rose recently; I think it's one of those more wild roses rather than a hybrid. I wanted to play around with painting one petal/area at a time and not painting an adjoining area until the first is dry. I used lots of different reds, from an orange-y one to a deep magenta, along with cobalt blue and some gold. The background is the same colors but with darker, ultramarine blue, added.

Rocky Run creek

I just don't seem to be able to stay out of the woods these days. On bright sunny days I take the dogs and my camera and we have a great time, me meandering along the trail taking photos of scenes with bright sun and dark shadows, and the dogs racing all over, sniffing, splashing in the creek, digging. This painting is in watercolor. I was taken by the reflections in the water, especially the bright, lime greens.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Gerbera Daisies

More pastel, with a watercolor underpainting. A friend gave them to us a couple of days ago. She was in Trader Joe's fairly early in the morning when a man working there handed them to her. What a treat!I managed to tip dust down the painting so I ended up with a dirty background. Oh well. These are such bright-colored flowers that I just had to paint them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Woods Path again

I've made some tweaking sort of changes in this as I've looked at it over the last 24 hours or so. Comparing this to the last version I posted reminds me of those games where you're supposed to find six differences between version A and version B. So, can you?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Woods Path

Pastel today. It's fun to switch media every now and then and I've had the urge to do pastels for a while now. The dogs love running in the woods and I sometimes take my camera, especially when it's a beautiful, sunny day as it was on Sunday. This a composite of several photos, or it's out of my head, but it's not an identifiable place.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Creek and Railroad Bridge

Today we're having a low 80's, low humidity day, rare for the Philadelphia area. It's also the day 4 of us paint together. Cheryl, one of the other painters, and I took my dogs and hiked into the woods for about a mile to a Boy Scout-built bridge over a small creek. There we sat, feet dangling over the water, sketchbooks and travel palettes to hand. No need to carry water in when you're over a creek! While the dogs chased around, splashed in the water, shook over us, clumped across the bridge and generally had a ball, Cheryl and I drew and painted. Lovely.

I draw in my sketchbook with a brown, fine Sharpie. Then I use paint to wash in colors. Today I felt like I'd gotten a little too caught up in the textures of rocks, RR bridge, leaves, so after the first go, I did a couple of others, simplifying more drastically each time. On the third one, I didn't even try for realistic colors.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I painted poppies today, composed from a couple of photos I've taken
of a friend's poppies.

I masked the poppies, stems and buds with masking tape and waxed paper, then spritzed the whole paper. Then I splashed drops of liquid watercolors here and there over the background, laid a piece of waxed paper over it all and used my hand to sort of smear/spread the drops around, turning the waxed paper a couple of times to move the texture around. I think I used a couple of colors of green, ultramarine blue and yellow, one at a time but not waiting for anything to dry between colors. The liquids and the waxed paper are a great way to get a textured background without painting it . . . and who could get that texture with a brush, anyway? I deliberately left the light diagonal across the top and left side.

After that mess had dried (hair dryers are great for impatient people like me), I took off the masking and used regular tube paints to paint the masked areas. The back, dark poppy suggested itself in the background so I let it be painted more red.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tea for Two

The photo for this painting was taken in Scotland at a general store/tea room/post office in the glen of the River Lyon. We stopped here for something to eat on a Sunday after we'd driven the one-lane road over the mountain from the village where we were staying. I loved the open space on the mountain but it was drizzly and hard to get a photo that encompassed the openness of it.

The drawing for this took me half a morning, what with getting the perspective and all the different elements and shapes. Then so as not to get too lost in the drawing, I painted in the shadows first. I worked for a long time from a copy of the photo that had only 4 values. The color was added over the shadows. It's a good way for me to work, since I sometimes get so caught up in the colors that I lose track of the over all painting.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

glazing paint over shapes

Today I tried something very specific, inspired by the work of Donald Holden shown in an article in the magazine "Watercolor" from American Artist which came the other day. I went through my digital photos of Maine and picked some that had big areas of dark and light. I printed several in grayscale and painted from them. The color is built up in glazes using only 2 colors: quinachridone gold in both; ultramarine blue as the second color in one and winsor violet in the other. They're both small, for me: 11" x 7". Comments and critiques invited.