Saturday, February 22, 2020

tree sparrow


I think he's a tree sparrow--chestnut cap, gray head-- though I took his picture in marsh grasses.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020



The grocery store had small bunches of not-yet-opened lilies and I couldn't resist.
A couple days went by before I finally got to trying to paint them.
I did this painting with no drawing.
I like the way the buds turned out so I started a larger, 16x20, using a little drawing this time to help me find my way.
Plan is to paint one stem, then find a place to add the second.

Sunday, February 16, 2020


A lot of wrens in my yard; such pretty--and loud--little birds.
The background isn't what I envisaged, wanted more backruns ... but you never get them when you want them! Pleased with it anyway.
Also tried an ibis!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

junco and finch


I'm going to be in a group show in June, and the organizer wants bird paintings from me. Ever since she told me that I haven't been able to paint a bird! (These is from a few weeks back.)

Sunday, February 09, 2020

more apples

Getting closer, but still a way from what I want, and a long long way from approaching the apples off maybe the best apple painter in watercolor, Charles Demuth. (The best, imho, in oil is of course Cezanne!)
Charles Demuth, Still Life: Apples and Green Glass, 1925

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

this week in class...


I took this reference photo two or three years ago; I think I was drawn to the overlapping planes.
This painting is pretty true to the photo. I did add the car, which is why it's out of scale!
When I do this again--and I will because I think I can improve it--I'll make it less of a close-up ... maybe put the ocean in the background?
And I'll change the colors of the houses and roofs: too many midtones here; I think I need to get some stronger high-low contrasts in there to make the scene brighter.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020



A sparrow in the snow.
I love sparrows, and these little scenes give me a chance to work on my grays.

Sunday, January 26, 2020



As with recent boat painting, I settled on a technique at the end rather than the beginning! At least I'll know what to do next time.
Here, I painted the bird and the more prominent branches then began thinking of the background.
So, I wet the background with a light warm-to-cool wash and painted branches into it using palette grays. I wasn't happy with some on the left, so I smushed them together. When it dried, I added a few more light branches.
Did I overdo it?

Saturday, January 25, 2020

portrait class


I'll be starting a portrait class this week. I'm not interested in portraiture per se, but I thought paintimg people would be a good challenge ... Sometimes challenges yield good results.
The teacher is an oil and acrylic painter, and that's where the focus will be, I guess, but I'll be using watercolor. If I get brave, ink.
I surreptitiously (or not so surreptitiously, according to my friend) snapped pictures of this young woman at an outdoor bar in Atlantic City. I liked the strong light, and her hair is a gorgeous deep copper color!
The shadows on her face, especially around her mouth, are a little weird, but maybe will work better in watercolor. 🤞

And a page of blind contour drawings from lesson 1 of sktchy's 30 faces 30 days online class

Friday, January 24, 2020



Looking for subjects to paint over graded washes...
I wanted to not create a hard line between the boat and the water, especially on the shaded side, and may have gone over it too many times. But, on my last pass, I finally hit upon the technique that gave me the effect I wanted: with the painting on a 45 degree angle, put on some realtively strong paint, then flooded it with water.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

in class today

...we painted clouds. The idea was to work with paint-to-water ratios and hard and soft edges.
Have to say, I found this very relaxing, painting madeup forms, just "practicing."

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

back to class ...

                              @ 7x10

This week went back to class with my friend and teacher Marie Natale.
We worked on small (imagined) landscapes painted over graded washes, one neural, one in color.
A good exercise 1) is using a "bead" to create a smoothly gradated wash and 2) using value to show distance ... 
Dis a quick apple sketch this a.m. too. Maybe beginning to understand the volume?

Monday, January 13, 2020

studies: 3 apples, 3 days

@ 6x9 each

My neighbor gave me a big basket of fruit that contained some Delicious apples; since I usually find I don't like to eat them, I thought I'd try painting them.
May go back to eating them! Seriously, I'm having some trouble with these apples! 
When I first started painting, I used to paint apples all the time ... MacIntoshes. The Delicious apple is more difficult for me: 1) I cannot get the color, neither the dark red nor the almost translucent yellow-green that you can see in places, and 2) I somehow cannot really grasp the volume, the shape ... where it turns, where it's flat; I have tried some different lighting, hoping it would help but I haven't hit on the magic formula yet.
These are some quick studies. I was of course hoping to get a reasonable facsimile of a Delicious straight off, but since I didn't, and can't, I'm going to keep trying to figure it out.   
And I'm open to suggestions!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

plein air: park in FL


I went to FL last month to celebrate my sixtieth birthday with my brother and our good friend Mike, who is also a watercolorist, and a fine potter too. (Really, he can do pretty much anything.)
Mike and I managed to get out for some plein air painting one afternoon; we sat under a shelter and painted while it rained.
I wasn't able to find something to focus on, so I looked as it as a chance to practice palm trees.

Friday, January 10, 2020



Little, uncomplicated bird paintings are a good way for me to get back into a semi-regular painting practice.
Planning to focus on birds for the next month or so.

Instagram has a widget that selects your nine most popular post of the year; these are mine. Most of the paintings were done recently; the top left and bottom right are from the summer.
You can find me on Instagram as: laurastarrett

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

happy new year


My last post was in September, and now it's January?!
I have been doing a little (a very little) painting, but going through one of those fallow periods ... 
When I have painted something I've posted it on Instagram, which is very easy to do!
Sometime last year my phone stopped letting me post to Blogger; so I had to go back to the old way: photographing a painting, uploading to the laptop, then posting it.
Then, the photo software on my laptop stopped letting me post to Blogger; so now I upload the phot, then upload it to another file then ...
I've got to figure out how to streamline this process!

I bought the palette below--which has removable 42 paint wells (which I really like) and comes with an optional turntable (also like)--from Robax.
Believe it or not, this is NOT their biggest palette: there's one with 85 wells!
Just have to fill it ...

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

plein air workshop, day 2


For the second day of workshop we moved indoors, to the Cape May-Lewes ferry terminal. Marie demonstrated painting peple, and I painted this couple whose picture I'd taken the day before.

Monday, September 09, 2019

plein air workshop: Delaware Bay


My teacher and friend Marie Natale held a two-day workshop this week. The first morning started out gray and cloudy, but we went ahead and it cleared up beautifully. 
I started a second painting, planning to capture more sparkle on the water--getting the right ratio of water to pigment continues to be the major challenge--but the wind kicked up and we moved to a more sheltered location.


Saturday, September 07, 2019

plein air: pierce's point


Spent a morning painting with a group of artists I met recently, most of them pastel painters.
This is a view looking south along the Delaware Bay. I've been painting this scene since I first started painting--that wedge of water never loses its appeal!

Friday, August 30, 2019

plein air: first ave beach (wip)


There were some spectacular ever-changing clouds at the beach on this morning. So beautiful it seemed pointless to try to paint!
But I did a little before it started to rain.