Thursday, February 28, 2008

Is half a painting better than none?
Want to get one more painting out of these daffodils, but I can't go any further on this, or anything else, tonight.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Another Pennsylvania subject: barn, covered bridge, ... springhouse.
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Another shot at the daffodils; I'm beginning to feel a little dogged in my pursuit of a bright, pure, pleasing yellow--it continues to elude me.
It may be time to move to orchids for a while ...
For a change of pace I took one of New Mexico photos and made the small (5x5.5), quick, wet picture below. When I selected this particular photo, I must have been subconsciously thinking of Suzanne's recent and ongoing and lovely series of paintings featuring roads (; it's fascinating to see, in her series, how the road evolves, or unwinds ...

May also try a self-portrait, inspired by Suzanne. I've did two about three years ago: the one in my "profile" and another, in which I look rather glum and sulky.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Added a complementary-colored background to see if could make the yellow "pop"; it's some help, but I'm not thrilled--which is what complementaries are supposed to do, thrill you. Mine are too weak: the trouble with this painting, and it can't be fixed, is that the ratio of paint to water wasn't right when I painted it: too much water. "They" say this is the hardest aspect of watercolor painting to master, and, I add, the most important! Colors come out dull with too much water.

Here's a smaller, 7.5x11, attempt, painted (to some degreee anyway) with more pigment.
I think I have to work more consciously on the way I apply the paint, not just on what I'm painting.
The daffodils are still alive so ...
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

I wasn't able to capture the yellow that these daffodils were screaming at me ... Perhaps it was drowned out by the three men hammering and sawing in the house. One problem, was that I couldn't decide between going alla prima or glazing; my indecisiveness resulted in a little of both, which isn't really working.
Then I just did a few daffodils freehand, just to try working it out ... Will try again tomorrow, when, perhaps, it'll be quieter!
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Saturday, February 23, 2008


Yet another Pa. snowscene ... I miss the red barn!
Tomorrow: daffodils!
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Same scene as yesterday, but from a little further away. I left the roof snow-covered this time, but may have to go back and paint it dark to correct the perspective on the roof: it's really distracting to me.

Without getting into comparisons, I'll just say, looking at these both, I think yesterdays' shows the optimum distance from which to view this barn: close enough to make a bit more of the planes and shadows. Scale of objects in the picture frame is a thing I have no feeling for whatsoever (and maybe why I like Egon Scheile so much: he's the master of that and placement on the page); it's hit or miss. Which is okay--I can do another.

A nice thing happened in the sky: I used my Schmincke pan set to paint this and yesterday's painting (Laura on Laurelines had a post about them awhile back, and I got a set; I thought at first the choice of colors was a bit strange--there's no what I would think of as a pure blue--but the consistency of the paints is wonderful: they go from being bone dry to being very juicy in no time). I started painting down from the top with Prussian blue and a lot of water; then, halfway down, in the middle, I brushed in some helio turquoise, which shot up into the wash above it. It was really fun to watch!

Jan Hart, in her book (see sidebar), writes about organic and inorganic pigments; the organics run and push other colors, whereas inorganics tend to stay put ... Something to be more aware of.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Third week in a row I've missed my Friday still life group; so no progress on my plans for a large still life. Instead, I selected another of my photos from the 2007 Valentine's day snow to do this 6x9 painting. I confess I never really understood the pull of barns (or covered bridges) as a subject, but now I get it: it's the red!
I'm still trying to figure out how to do distant, bare trees. These are as close as I've ever come to the ideal I have mind, which is--I'm sure you've seen these--those trees that are painted in a barest, pale dry wash depicting the fine, thick twigs at the end of the branches that give the tree its silhouette.
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Thursday, February 21, 2008

A work- and chore-filled day, which I really resented because it meant I didn't have time to go out and walk in the snow; it was only an inch and will be gone tomorrow. To compensate myself, tonight I took out my photos of last February's brilliant snowstorm and made this 6x9 10-minute sketch. I like the fence and its shadow and the sky; the trees on the right and the slope on the right are too prominent, I think. It's my first horse picture ... yes, those are horses! Or sheep or large dogs, if you prefer.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Worked on the original, 11x15 (see Feb. 17 post, below), tulip picture tonight. It may be done, but my heart's not really in it, so I put it aside and did this little (5x7) one just because I had the paints out.

The reflections are a problem ... where you can see green, in the middle, the water was flat; rippled everywhere else. Couldn't pull it off on this rough (and too wet) paper. Ah well.
Snowing tonight ... unusual here, and so very pretty!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

(4x6 Virgin Islands postcards: this post is a bit text-heavy, so I dug up these two-year-old but not-previously-posted postcards.)
I am not methodical in anything (even making swatches!), more a hit-or-miss type, but selecting colors for my new palette, I started looking at the color numbers, not the names, on the tubes. It's really pretty interesting.
Colors may have different names but be exactly the same, for example, Daniel Smith cobalt teal blue and Winsor&Newton cobalt turquoise light are both PG50; Sennelier Mineral Violet and Winsor&Newton Permanent Mauve are both PV16. These colors are the same and look the same. What's odd is DS transparent brown oxide and W&N burnt sienna are both PR101, but the burnt sienna is much brighter and warmer!
Other colors have the same name but are made of different mixes of color, e.g., Hooker's green: Holbein's is PY83+PG36, Daniel Smith's is PG36+PY3+PO49--though they look almost exactly alike (I'd say DS is a bit cooler). Turns out American Journey's sap and olive are made of the same two colors--PG7+PY42--but one is more yellow, the other more green.
DS's cobalt green is made of only one color, PG19, which should, I think, make it preferable (as you needn't worry about mixing it with it's complement unwittingly), but Sennelier's cobalt green (PB28+PG7+W6) is, I think, so much nicer! But note it does contain white (W).
Confused yet?
If you're interested in this sort of thing, you should go to or get books by Jan Hart and Hilary Page. I really don't have enough room in my brain for all this, but it is helpful to look at the numbers--not the names--when choosing colors to avoid overlap or if you want to use pure, unmixed colors (and make your own mixes).
I enjoyed making these little paramecium-like swatches: pulling the color out in a little trail of water almost always elicited an "ahhh." It's just pure pleasure to look at pure color!

Doudy of "tagged" me the other day, but I couldn't get to holding up my end that day, so here it is today.
Part I: 5 things about me:
1. I am not methodical (see above); rather impulsive. I dismiss it as a Sagittarian trait, i.e., not my fault and not in my control!
2. When I was in college I wanted to be a college professor. All my college professors seemed to have such wonderful lives! And they did actually.
3. In graduate school I found out I had stage fright and hated facing my classes; they terrified me! Years later I thought I'd give it another try, being older and wiser and all, when I was asked to teach an elective Intro to Literature class at a nearby college. It was still terrifying.
4. I would really like to go to Ireland, Scotland, and Iceland to paint. And to Banff.
5. When I was around 6 or 7 my brother and I won a poster contest at school. His prize was a football, mine a statue of the Virgin Mary. I'm still mad about it.

Part II: Here are a few wonderful blogs I've come across recently:

Also look at; I love her watercolor American Cranberry II, study--it was on the opeining page of her website when I visited.

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Just for fun, here's the original, with the additional cut-out flower positioned in 3 places (it's like Find Waldo!), any one of which would have been okay.
But I don't think I'll paint another tulip in. Yesterday's commentators made good points about 1) enjoying what's there, not what isn't; 2) being satisfied and moving on, beginning again; and 3) keeping it fresh. Thanks for all the really great input and perspective!
There may be one, or two, more paintings in these tulips, which are about a day away from drooping, which could yield some nice sinuous designs ... What a bargain for $6.99!

p.s. Have been looking at two great books, Between Ruin and Renewal: Egon Scheile's Landscapes by Kimberly Smith and Egon Scheile Landscapes by Rudolf Leopold. I'm always struck by Scheile's uncanny, unerring placement of his subject--landscape or figure; drawing or painting--on the page. The landscapes with winter trees--sinewy, fragile and black--are especially lovely.
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Painted these tulips yesterday, late afternoon into evening, watching The Sting on TV and nursemaiding Itchy, below, who hurt his back again. (We're off to the vet this a.m.)
Didn't notice until I photographed the tulips the "emptiness" in the center of the picture! It may be possible to add a tulip there. I think later I'll paint a tulip on a separate piece of paper and hold it in various places to see if it'd be worth attempting.


And I want to thank Doudy ( for his very nice comments on my blog when he tagged me. In return, let me say how much I enjoy his blog. Doudy is a self-described beginner at watercolor, one who has a terrific sense of composition and drawing skills, and who has a gift for finding and exploring all the great art blogs out there. He's very generous and open in sharing his learning process and it really is a wonderful vicarious thrill to follow his quest.

Being tagged means I have to write 5 things about myself and then recommend 5 other bloggers. I was lucky enough to be tagged by Suzanne (, who has several blogs where she posts her beautiful watercolors and other thoughts and inspirations, a while back--because Suzanne's blog is so popular that tag started bringing other people to my blog, which has, of course, made the experience of blogging less like navel-gazing and more like something productive!
I had a hard time coming up with 5 things then ... maybe it'll be easier this time; though I think the really important thing is that I tag or find other bloggers! Results of my search to come!
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Sunday, February 17, 2008


This is about as far as I'll get today, I think, and though they're not very Demuth-like, I'm happy with how the leaves are coming along ... I'm just trying to keep the washes from being flat and to vary the color.

I usually paint straight through till the painting's done, afraid if I stop I'll lose interest (and with good reason, judging from the number of unfinished paintings I have), but it's probably not a bad practice to stop and at some not-too-late point and think it over! In painting as in life I seem to bounce back and forth between impulsiveness and deliberateness.

I'm painting this on CP Saunders Waterford paper, which I've never used before, and I like it. It has a nice texture, like D'Arches, but my impression is that the paints lays on the surface longer, giving the washes more time to mingle and be manipulated, which I like.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

to come ...

Didn't make it to my Friday still life group this week, but next week when I return I'm going to go back to this still life that I started a year ago; the close-up shows what I did last year, the full size what I have yet to do! It's such an elaborate drawing, maybe too much so as I now find it intimidating, but I think in a 4-hour class I can concentrate and make some progress. We shall see.

And here is a Cape May scene I drew last summer and abandoned, then picked up and started painting a few weeks ago. Last night I added a bit more, starting on the sycamore tree, which I think I have to really work on--it and it's foliage, which should fill the top of the painting, were what attracted me to the scene, and I don't think I can or should go any further with the house before seeing how the tree comes out.
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tulips for the snowbound

Had a go at painting the tulip shapes, drawing a few of the flowers and improvising/inserting others, but I neglected to give much thought to the leaves, which led me to do the sketch below, delineating the shapes and directions of the leaves a little more carefully. I always have this same problem with tulips: the leaves are too much for me. I think I need to study a little Charles Demuth before painting the drawing; his way of painting only at the edges of shapes might work for me. Or I might paint the leaves as all one shape then drop in color and/or clear water and just see what happens!

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Friday, February 15, 2008

boscobel snow


Call me perverse: it's about 55 degrees here today and I have a bouquet of fresh tulips but, for some reason, I pulled out a photo Robin sent me from Boscobel, Wisconsin, and painted this! Maybe I'll get to the tulips later today.
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yesterday my local market had tulips and daffodils; today, no daffodils! So I got some tulips, but they haven't opened yet ... Maybe tomorrow.

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