Monday, December 02, 2019


This is my second "Powder Puff" painting.  It took lots of patience as I dealt (by choice) with using a large floppy brush to create my work.  It took a fair bit of time but somehow I was able to capture the essence that I wanted, a soft reflective piece tending toward abstraction.

A Run in the Woods

Yupo paper paintings are both challenging and rewarding.  This synthetic paper keeps the paint on the surface so it doesn't lose any color when it dries.  It allows for a bright somewhat shiny finish which gives a lot of life to a watercolor.  It also requires a lot of patience because there is no way you are going to control any part of the painting easily!  One of my students took a photo at Oxbow Recreation Center while on a run.  It had a nice combination of trees and tropical foliage that made it a joy to paint.  The surprise was the little animal near the bottom of the largest tree that showed up unexpectedly!  Joy!

Just One Poppy

I have a tendency to begin a painting by first using masking fluid.  This one requires that the daisies and stems are added with the fluid then the actual painting begins when this is dry.
It allows for a lot of freedom when doing the background which gives a softer more fluid appearance to the work.  Just for fun one poppy was added at the end.

Hotel Baudy, Giverny France, home of Monet

My bucket list included a visit to Giverny to visit Monet's home and gardens.  I have many photo references from the property that is definitely very special.  A huge flower garden along with the water gardens, the bridges and rowboats that he used just added to the delightful time I spent visiting there.  Walking back through town I took a photo of the Hotel Baudy where Monet is said to have spent many a night with his friends.  This painting is one of several I created after that visit.

Home Sweet Home

Only three colors were used to paint this nest:  Antwerp Blue, New Gamboge and Opera.   I usually choose just a few colors to paint a nest but always, always I am amazed at the outcome!  Every combination of mostly transparent watercolors creates a different background.  The paper is lightly sprayed with water before paint is applied and then sprayed more fully afterwards.  Colors perk and blend together until they dry.  Surprise!  Nests are enjoyable to do and for me just discovering the colors that show up adds to the fun.

Bird in the Blossoms

This is what I call a "break out" painting:  creating art that defies the limited background then breaks out to successfully draw our attention to the unique design.  How is it done?
I start by drawing the image and then adding artists tape which determines the background area which is carefully painted first.  The tape is removed so the design can flow without interruption.  This watercolor can be framed without adding a mat since it finishes to look as if one is already there.

Birches in Autumn

I give watercolor instructions so I am always looking for new ideas to present to my class.   Using India ink to paint freehand on the paper before adding color is a way to create easily and yet have the necessary values that makes artwork so interesting.  Birch trees by nature of the fact that they are mostly black and white were the perfect subject for this lesson. Color for the autumn leaves was sponged on after the inkwork was completed.  Easy and fun!

Verona Flower Market

The Italian city of Verona has a wonderful walking shopping street that opens out into a market square. It was filled with many tents selling all manner of goods along with this charming flower stall.  It was such a really lovely setup of colorful blooms so of course I took a few photos.  I found it so appealing that I decided I would paint it. This is my artistic interpretation.

View from the Hill

Another powder puff painting.  It's amazing how hard it is to paint an entire watercolor using just a loosey-goosey large brush!  So much paint gets on the paper that it begins to appear like just an abstract of blended colors.  No form, no composition, nothing recognizable at first.  Careful blotting followed by more careful strokes brought the painting together.  It has the Impressionist feeling that I was after.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Soft Focus Reflections

Feeling the  need to challenge myself,  I once again picked up my puffy old makeup brush and began a painting.  The process of trying to control this brush is quite a feat!  Wet, sloppy, drippy, picking up several paints at once....and needing to be wrung out by hand each and every time. Was I happy?  You bet.  Doing this gave me the chance to attempt to create some kind of understandable image when everything was just all super wet chaos.  Many times I stood back and viewed the results, thought I was done and then bingo, picked up the brush again.  I do like the resulting softness and the fact that the paint eventually washed off my hands!

Friday, November 29, 2019

A Nest for Rachel

Playing around with masking fluid I came up with a new way to create a bird's nest.
Twigs, grasses, sticks and branches are made with careful strokes of the masking
fluid as the very first step. Then various colors of paint a flung from a large flat brush to create the background.  Next step is to remove the masking fluid and then use pen and ink to intricately
outline the resulting design.  Watercolor is added to tone the whites and eggs are added to finish the painting.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Amber Waves of Grain

I feel like I channeled one of the Impressionist painters to create this watercolor!  A desire to clean out my rather disorganized makeup drawer brought to my attention a large, fluffy brush.  The kind used to apply face powder.  It made me start wondering what would happen if I used this brush to paint??  So, naturally, always open to a challenge, I did just that. This painting is the result.  I had absolutely no control over what happened since the fullness and soft bristles gave me almost no options.  You know what?  I love it!  It immediately spoke to me about the golden wheat fields in the center of our beautiful  America. I added a flock of birds giving it a focal point and a lovely finish.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Cafe in St. Maxime


This traditional cafe was painted from a photo taken in St. Maxime, France. It's located along the French Riviera just on the Mediterranean and is filled with winding cobblestone streets, charming storefronts and sidewalk cafes. Can't you just picture yourself sitting outside in the warm sunshine, enjoying a cafe au lait with a light flaky croissant? 


Being in a playful mood I chose unusual colors for this painting which is done on hot press paper.
As you can see the paper allows watercolors to mix and blend easily but offers little control of edges.
New artists working in watercolor are often appalled by this lack of being able to keep the paint exactly where you want it.  As you move forward you move toward being more loose and accepting of letting the watercolor do it!

Thursday, December 21, 2017


This painting is a combination of two of my 'besties', chicadees and nests.  It was started with a very free form tree branch and muted leaves, more impressionist than realistic.  The birds sit on the branch waiting for the eggs to hatch.  Ogura lace paper was added to the nest to enhance and soften it giving the impression of a cozy bower prepared for the anticipated baby birds.

The Little Boat that Could

Traveling in southeast Italy, (the heel of the boot) I came across this boat in a marina in Ostuno.
While it was smaller than most of the other boats docked there somehow it spoke to me of being feisty, hardworking and well used.  And a bit charming somehow.  I painted it in watercolor then added pen and ink to give it a whimsical feel.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Golden Birches

I think of this as a birch family.  As students we are taught to have a "momma, poppa and baby" in our paintings to create interest.  Or big, medium and small to be more specific.  It does make for variety in the size of the shapes and eliminates boring compositions.
When I look at this I can almost see momma telling poppa to get junior to shape up!

Beach Ride

Living near the water is always inspiration for painting.  This one is quite whimsical offering a multicolored fence and Key West style bike.  The fence is created by dipping a slim piece of matboard into masking fluid, then stamping it on the paper.  To avoid 'muscle memory' I bend and shape the matboard along with varying the spaces and direction of the fence.  When the mask is removed the bright colors can then be added.

Sunset Snack

The area where I live has many ospreys flying around so I'm quite familiar with them.  The idea was to have the provider bird bring food back to the nest where the little ones were patiently waiting with the guardian bird.  The nest was created by dropping little puddles of paint onto the paper and then blowing through a straw.  It's a very effective way to get long thin streams of paint but boy does it ever make you dizzy!  The birds in the nest were masked out before this process began.  I left the sky to the very end and that presented a quandary because I wanted a smooth finish and didn't want to disturb what was already painted.  I resolved that situation by spraying the watercolor on, changing colors as I worked from bottom to top.

My Old Bike

Seriously?  Yes!  This is my Huffy Sea Pines bike that was a surprise Christmas Gift one year.  I was delighted and still ride it to this day.  In this painting I've added a bit old world charm to indicate the old and the new?  More like the real old and not so old!


Once in a while it's fun to be playful when I'm teaching a class.  Painting the subject of cows was well received by the group and offered a lighthearted lesson.  I decided to give this cow a bit of distinction by adding a set of green horns topped by a cowboy hat.  Seems like the cow is being patient all the while sending a beady eye to the cowboy who did this!

Country Roads

One of my favorite songs is "Country Roads".  Hearing it uplifts me and gives me joy.  I love outdoors and nature which makes the painting of landscapes a natural for me.  I used unusual colors for this painting just to create a different look:  Indigo and raw sienna.
In some parts the color is pure and in others it is combined.  This helped make different hues and values, all somewhat misty.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


I have painted several dozen nests but I never cease to enjoy the process of creating another one.
Each nest painting turns out quite different because I  choose to vary the position, colors and style.  I start with a plain piece of watercolor paper and put down some paint with a circular motion to create the body of the nest.  Then comes the best part, I throw paint to create the twigs and branches that surround the nest adding some spatters for good measure.  Deep dark paints fill the center of the nest.  When the paint dries I am able me to wash out the egg shapes which finishes this artwork.

Big Brushwork - 5

This is a favorite way for me to paint.  I start and continue to the finish only using a very large brush and start with  a plain piece of paper.  No drawing is done but I do know what subject I want to paint. This process definitely has some limitations but does ensure the creation of a very loosely done and freeing piece of artwork.  Ask most watercolor students what they most want to do and the answer is invariably "paint loose and free"!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Birch trees are a favorite subject of the artists in my watercolor classes.  These are started with pieces of masking or artists tape that are shaped to get rid of the straight lines.  A colorful diagonal sky is washed in followed by darker paints on the bottom of the page.  Previously I had painted several renditions using spring or summer greens and yellows.  This time I wanted to paint autumn but somehow wound up with the look of a wildfire!