Wednesday, December 22, 2010


We're moving and I've started a moving blog

Thursday, November 11, 2010

long time!

It's been way too long since I've posted. So Helen (who nags me every time I see her), here's some recent work.

The photo for this one was taken from a friend's deck a couple of weekends ago. We had spectacular sunsets, as you can see.

These two are 1/8th-sheet demos for my watercolor class. The woods was especially quick with no drawing except the too-dark paint outlines of the light tree trunks.

I started this one several weeks ago as a pastel but when I did the watercolor underpainting the paper buckled too much so I collaged, right over the sanded paper. I pulled it out today and tweaked it a lot with pastel over the collage. You might possibly perhaps recognize that it was done from the same reference photo as my previous post.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A pastel and underpainting

I've been working in watercolor only for the last six weeks or so. Yesterday I took a photo on my way home from teaching my watercolor class that just called out for pastel, so that's what I did today. I started with a wild, watercolor underpainting which got almost completely covered with the pastel: probably a good thing! You probably won't believe that the underpainting provided a map for the pastel, but it did. It was fun to do this one. I don't think I'm quite finished (no pastel is totally finished until it's framed) and I invite critiques.

This is the day after the miners in Chile were successfully rescued from their mine. I'm proud to say that my oldest son works for the company that made the equipment that both drilled the small hole which found that the miners were alive, and that drilled the large hole through which they were rescued. He didn't go to Chile but they did send a service tech. Here's a link to our local Fox TV channel and their feature on Schramm, Inc.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to Watercolor

After a summer of mostly painting with pastels, I'm painting in watercolor again. I'll be teaching watercolor this fall; I needed to rewet my brushes. Then on Sunday I attended a fabulous demo, part of the Philadelphia Water Color Society's annual meeting. The artist is Sarah Yeoman. Here's her web site: As a start, I've been working on eighth sheets, about 7" x 10". I would love to have critiques.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I've been too close to this now so I need to let it be and look at it some other day with new eyes. The photo was taken as it was clearing after a 3-inches-per-hour storm that included a tornado warning. I was driving to the airport and took photos of the sky at stoplights with my iPhone through the windshield. No rain by then on my route. Comments and critiques invited.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mixed Media Workshop

It's that time of year again . . . the annual summer, weeklong, mixed media workshop. As usual it was intense and exhausting and loads and loads of fun. This time we learned image transfer in addition to renewing (or learning) so many other MM techniques. And I'm getting better! My composition skills are improving enough that I got a "well done" from the teacher. What a thrill! I've only taken this workshop probably eight or ten times.

Anyway, here's a link to a Picasa slide show:

I don't know how many of these will survive in their present state after they've been put away for a while then looked at anew. For that matter, I don't know how many will survive at all. So if you have critiques or suggestions, they're welcome.

If you want to see any larger, click on the little Picasa logo in the bottom right hand corner of the slide show, then on the name of the album, Mixed Media. From there you'll see all the images and a click on one of the thumbnails will get you a larger version.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


My daughter-in-law took this photo of her niece, my granddaughter, and it just called out to be painted. I have been doing watercolor underpaintings on my pastel paper for a while now, usually very loose and not trying to get anything very clear. This time I did a much more detailed watercolor, with black ink loosely over the background, then added the pastel. Most of the background is the watermedia painting while the figure (and all those drops!) are pretty much covered with pastel. I keep seeing little tweaks calling me every time I walk by the painting . . . do you have any to suggest? Thank you, Lisa, for the reference.

Along the Dochart, take 2

My thanks to all who made comments about this painting. I took in consideration what everyone said and tweaked a bit, making it a stronger painting, I think. Unless there's something glaring, I think it's done. Of course, you can see colors that are more true in the larger image you get when you click on this one.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Along the Dochart

I don't think this is finished but it's time for input from others. The photo was taken in Killin, Scotland, when we were there a few years ago. The painting has an underpainting of watercolor with pastel over that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Big Green Wave

This pastel is from a photo that one of my watercolor students wants to paint. I'm not terribly experienced in painting waves and water, so I said we could each paint the painting together and learn together. So she emailed me her photo. I worked with the photo for a long time to get the wave in the water luminescent then spent yesterday painting it in pastels. I know, pastels go from dark to light and make this much easier to paint than the light to dark of watercolor. Maybe I started with pastels because I was too lazy to put them away and get out my watercolors. I plan to work on a series of small watercolors of this photo over the weekend in hopes of learning enough to be able to teach rather than experiment so much in class.
I started this painting with an underpainting which I managed to photograph this time, along with a couple of in-process steps. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that the focus on my camera had been switched to manual, so most of these are badly out of focus. Maybe you can get the idea of the earlier steps.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Do you think I'm finished? If not, why not?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Light on the Path

This is from another photo I took at Cheryl's house in Maryland. When I was browsing my photos for a reference, this one jumped out at me because of the light. The three photos here are at different points in the process of painting from the general to the specific. What I didn't think to photo was the underpainting in purple. This time when I did the underpainting I tried to make it true to the values of the final painting, loosely, of course. I think I want to make the "sky holes" where the sky shows through the trees either white or a blue that looks white. Right now as I see the painting on my easel all the light is in the ground. Perhaps I want some dappled shadows in the ground, too. I'm always up for suggestions and critiques! Just in case it's hard to tell, the larger image here is the most recent and they're all the same size if you click for a larger version.

Great Blue

This heron appeared while I was kayaking on our friend Cheryl's lake. I did an all-over underpainting in magenta.

Friday, July 9, 2010


This is another, pastel over watercolor. The lake is mostly the watercolor as are the non-blue part of the sky and the far shore. Under the foreground I had red watercolor. It was pretty ugly as just a watercolor but got a whole lot better when I got the greens over the foreground. I guess I'm finished, unless someone sees something glaring about it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

pastel over watercolor

We watched a DVD by Richard McKinley, pastel artist, the other day: Three Steps for Successful Pastel Painting. It was almost 2 hours long and could have had some of his commercials for his other DVD edited out, but it was really good and isn't so far from what I've been doing that it was hard to try the techniques. I found a couple of photos that I liked the feel of (read "colors in") but not the composition, so I spent some time doing thumbnails of various arrangement of the elements until I got a couple I liked. Then, to add to the mix, I experimented also with mounting a piece of Wallis paper to foam core. Acrylic mat medium may not be the best adhesive for this, but it worked well enough. Then I found the hardest pencil I could in my drawer (I prefer soft lead) and drew right on the sanded paper, a much more detailed drawing with values included than I usually do. The next step was the underpainting. I used watercolors and a hake brush about an inch wide. Last came the pastel. I didn't try to cover the underpainting but rather to enhance it liberally. I wish I'd taken more photos, but I just can't remember to stop when I'm all involved in a painting. I'm not done, but I'm waiting for the painting to tell me what's next and I'd love suggestions. Each image has a much larger version if you click on it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

An actual collage

I made more collage papers the other day, then got inspired and sprayed backgrounds on pieces of illustration board which is nice to collage on. Then I took one of those pieces, about 10 x 14, and started a collage. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a photo of just the background of that one. But here are the other backgrounds and the collage I've been working on. The first one of the backgrounds is the same size as the in-process collage, the other two are about twice as big. They have various things laid over them as sort of stencils to create interesting forms and texture. I put them on and took them off the piece I was working on at various times in the spraying process to vary their appearance. I've posted two versions of the collage and there will no doubt be more. I'm not even sure which side is up yet. I invite critiques of the collage.
I've been working with the receiver of entries for this year's Philadelphia Water Color Society's big show to get them to the juror in digital form. I found that the non-representational paintings that I liked most had a very limited palette. It wasn't until the last of the backgrounds that I remembered that and tried to do that for myself. I do love color!
Each of these is larger and more colorful if you click on them.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Yesterday our painting group of four met in Earleville, MD, where one member has a house which looks down on Pearce Creek which, at that point, is dammed and is really a lake. I did some charcoal sketches looking across their inlet, then a couple of color sketches, all in my wonderful Aquabee sketchbook. The sketchbook is 9" x 9", so you can tell these are pretty small. Of course I also took reference photos from the sketch location and other places around their property.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Collage Papers

I've been experimenting/struggling with doing collage in a non-objective way. That is, with good values, eye travel, overall design but nothing you could identify. I've painted tissue paper with various colors and methods of application. Yesterday I made more collage papers using liquid watercolors and a mouth atomizer. [see if you need more information.] I used ordinary tissue paper (not archival but sealed by acrylic matte medium which is) which I placed on a cut-open kitchen trash bag. I did this in the driveway because I didn't know how much overspray I would get so I wanted to be outside. It was a cool and dry day yesterday which helped motivate me. After a sheet of tissue was sprayed, I moved it on the plastic to the porch to dry which happened quickly so I could then reuse the plastic. The plastic keeps the tissue from falling apart when it's wet.

I sprayed a lot of papers and learned a lot. I could make paper of various shades just by spraying lighter in an area. I could mix colors directly on the tissue just by spraying a second color when the first was still wet. If I crumpled the paper then spread it out with the wrinkles still in and sprayed from a low angle, I could get interesting patterns. If I then turned the paper around and sprayed again with another color at a low angle I could get areas of the two colors intermixed. I found that many of the liquids could be sprayed right out of their little bottles or diluted in a small disposable cut. Others are kinda thick and needed diluting from the beginning. Acrylic inks would work well with this technique, too, although I guess I'd have to be more diligent in cleaning the sprayer and with the wc.s. Or I guess I could mix up a fairly strong mixture with tube paint and water and spray. Of course, I could have gone out and bought little spray bottles for each color but the atomizer is probably cheaper than a single bottle!

Here's a photo of a few of my dry tissue spread out on a white table. When I glue (using the acrylic matte medium) one color over another, they become quite transparent so I get a layering affect.

Now to get down to the business of creating these collages. That's the hard part for me, to do something with no reference but maybe a value sketch, but I find those hard to do for this, too. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Something Different

Last weekend I played in PhotoShop with photographs I have on my computer, photos I've taken in the woods and other places over the years. I layered two or three and fiddled with color. This is one of the resulting abstracts, along with a pastel I did from it. After I got the basic shapes in, I didn't much try to follow the photographic image but just went with the painting. As always, I invite critiques.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tropical Hideaway

ome weeks ago I started a painting in a very abstract way. When I came upon it recently I decided that rather than try to figure out what/where my reference was, I'd use it as a start for a collage. All the collage papers were colored by me, on some white rice and tissue papers. It's attached with a dilute acrylic medium with which I will coat the whole piece when it's done. Something like this could be a lifetime painting but I think I'm getting close. Suggestions?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Teaching! Watercolor and Pastel

Darlington Arts Center, Garnet Valley, PA, (5 or 6 miles from my house) has asked me to teach both watercolor and pastel classes this summer. I'm excited! Two watercolor classes on Monday evenings and one pastel class on Thursday evenings. This feels like a big step in my life and one I'm ready for. So if you live anywhere near SE Pennsylvania or northern Delaware, come join the fun! Their phone is 610.358.3632.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spring Sunshine I and II

I tweaked some more on the pastel and then worked from the same photo in watercolor. With the latter, I wet all the paper but the tree trunks and the path, then dropped in various blues, yellow, and mixed greens. With the trunks dry, the paint didn't spread there but made a nice, soft image over the rest of the painting. When that was dry, I painted the trunks, the path, and played a lot more with the greens. I've discovered a new green mix: ultramarine blue and Quinachridone gold, a mix I've frequently used for evergreens, especially, plus a little prussian blue. That's a green that's a bit more blue and less dull. Even the darks of spring greens aren't dull! For some reason, I had a hard time photographing the watercolor so the yellows are more dull here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring Sunshine

This is a larger, and more recent, version of the pastel I did yesterday that's included in that slideshow. I'm still tweaking and invite critique. I'm pretty happy with it at this point, but with pastel is one ever finished?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

All Paint from the Same Photo

Our painting studio group did something different today and all painted from the same photo. It's one I took recently while I was walking the dogs in the woods and I printed a copy for each person. As you can see, the interpretations varied but everyone got the same general composition. It was fun to see them as we did our critiqué. Many people kept working . . . tweaking or ditzing, depending on your point of view . . . after I took these photos with my trusty iPhone.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Trout Lily

I grew up calling these flowers "dog-tooth violets" but somewhere along the way their name was changed; more accurate, I suppose. They also grow wild in our local woods and I took this photo a couple of weeks ago when the dogs and I were walking there.

Wild Dogwood

I actually painted this version of the woods and creek before the watercolor one below. I was particularly taken by the shadows on the water. Dogwoods actually do grow wild in our woods.

"tetrad" paintings

These were each done with four colors only. A different combination for each painting. The tree was done with sienna, turquoise, cobalt blue and magenta. The landscape was painted with a bright yellow, turquoise, magenta and a mixed purple. It's an interesting challenge to use just a few colors and I must say, I liked the landscape combination much better. I missed yellow in the other.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

White Roses

My sweet brother gave me white roses for my birthday last weekend. I took them to our art studio yesterday to share with the other artists. I've never been able to paint roses without them looking just like big blobs, so I spent some time drawing individual flowers. Then there was only a short time until our lunch break and critique time. Every now an then when I have that sort of short time I just do a quick sketch and loosely apply color and something amazing happens. I'm not sure this pastel is amazing, but it's loose and different from my usual. I used a charcoal stick and drew three blossoms from my sketches, then put the color on with the sides of my pastels (the equivalent of using a big brush with watercolor). I probably used too much pink to have the blossoms look white; I only had a limited number of pastel sticks with me and a short time. As always, I invite critiques and remind you that you'll get more true colors if you click on the image for the larger version.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

North Shore

I took this photo maybe 30 years ago in Hawaii. I'm looking for critiques.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I think this is done now. I worked on lights and shadows, moved the person with the dog and made them a bit bigger. I'm always open for comments and critiques and nothing is really finished until it's signed and framed.