Friday, January 31, 2014

30 days

30 days ... 30 paintings. 26 more than last time I attempted it. Some are good, some not so much.
I started out thinking that painting everyday for 30 days would inevitably lead to some breakthrough, a big improvement in my painting. I don't think that happened, but maybe it's less important than what did happen: 1) I painted every day, 2) I began to see subjects and have ideas for future paintings, 3) I feel re-engaged with painting after a long lapse.
And 4) I reconnected with my blog and with other bloggers. Thank you everyone for your encouragement and support.
Back tomorrow with a new painting!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

drawn and not drawn

A house sparrow ... drawn first (above) and not (below). I like how not drawing first forces me to find different "solutions" ... like the forward line of the bird's breast, below, where I added a bit of a dotted line to define it against the white background. In the drawn version: no need. (Although, looking again, it couldn't hurt.)


And a couple of pictures I took early Wednesday morning after filling the bird feeders. The details are not so sharp as one would like--I was using a zoom and should have adjusted my settings for photographing dark things on a bright white background--but I like the compositions.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I don't usually tackle pictures with cut glass in them. Many watercolor artists paint cut glass so beautifully and impressively, depicting each shard, reflection, and refraction. I don't think I could reproduce those details accurately and have instead to rely on trying to give the impression of cut glass.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Finished. Have to stop pecking at this; the top left is looking overworked to me ... I may crop it more tightly. And I think I'll try it again ... starting with a light wash and glazing.
I've taken two workshops with Mel Stabin and he noticed how I often fail to paint to edge, as on the right here. I don't know why I do that--just sloppy, I guess. One teacher of mine suggested lightly drawing a frame within which to paint, which is a good idea.

So, which do you prefer, the full-size or the cropped version?

Monday, January 27, 2014

sparrow & wip

Another little sparrow from my yard.

WIP from a photo by Suzy Knable on Paint My Photo.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

sugar bowl

 I used a photo by Viacheslav on Paint My Photo. The cloth in the photo is ornate, floral, but I decided I wasn't ready to tackle it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


From a photo I took of a couple lunching at Gecko's in Cape May. I did a little painting of the outside in June. I liked the overlapping white chairs.
More of my WIP: I'm glad I stopped and photographed it because I think it's gotten a little too red-violet. Planning to add a few details and gray down the purples in a few of the surrounding grapes.

Friday, January 24, 2014

bouy, with gull

A sketch: I wanted to try the rippling water ... Need more practice, and I think more confidence to pull it off: a lot of paint, a lot of water, and some courage would help.

WIP: This fall I visited a local winery where the woman conducting the tastings gave me a copy of a photo she took. I've been wanting to paint it, but wasn't sure how to approach it--one big wash or paint each grape individually?
Maybe the answer's both: paint the grapes in front singly; and wet-in-wet washes in the back? ... Any suggestions?

Boat-tailed grackles in my yard yesterday.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I took an idea from Katherine Harra to do this painting: in a blog post, Katherine describes how she traced one of her own drawings, then repositioned it and drew it again. Go see her gorgeous results!
 I tried the same thing here: I traced my first float painting, transferred it to a new piece of paper, then spun the tracing and drew it again. I just changed the looping rope on one of them a bit.

Now I can see what's wrong with the webbed float: it should be a globe, but the way I've drawn the webbing makes it look flattened. Won't be tracing that one.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

another float



Haven't been able to strike the right balance with this one, or capture its volume ... but it was fun to try.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Bouys are, I think, a great subject: simple to draw and brightly colored.
The same could be said of dinghies, I guess. Though I'm not so happy with this one. 
I painted these at the same time, and started the same way, painting the background first. 
With the dinghies I don't think it worked out too well; I'm going to paint it again, boats first.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunday, January 19, 2014

ceramic things

A small selection from the insane amount of objects I've accumulated to use in projected still lifes.
I painted the two on the left first, and did the one on the far right the next day, today. I had to go back and drop a little yellow into the other two ... And I should soften the shadow edges.
I was trying to let the running of the colors suggest the soft shininess of the ceramic glaze.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

found still life

A subject I would not normally attempt: bottles on my dresser.

I pick up all kinds of things at secondhand stores and elsewhere always saying I'll use them in a still life. I've used the "milk" jug before, but I may try a couple of simple setups using some of the things I've collected.

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Friday, January 17, 2014


Above: Another go at the pair of bluejays.
Below: A bluejay I painted several months ago, before starting to try to learn the anatomy of wings. The beak is too big and curved, but otherwise, I like the head.
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

more lbb

Another sparrow, above, and, below, inspired by Rhonda, one painted without any drawing.
It was interesting to me to do these together: without the guide and/or "safety net" of the drawing, I felt I had to push myself a little (a good thing) and respond more to what I was looking at on the page than to the reference photo. It's not as "accurate" as the drawn one but it seems livelier ... Perhaps one day I'll be able to combine the best of both approaches!
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


 Plucked off a drooping flower then decided to use for a little practice, trying to paint the flower without drawing and letting the running pigment suggest the petals.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014


There was an artist in Cape May, Alice Steer Wilson, who was known for her watercolors of the Victorian buildings and sycamore-lined streets. I was always partial to her interiors and still lifes, especially those with cyclamen; she really painted the leaves beautifully. Because of her I nearly always have a cyclamen, or two, and occasionally have a go at them.  
I started with this one, and wish I hadn't started adding the background ...

 so I started this one, without the background ...
and this is as far as I've gotten.

Monday, January 13, 2014

a little ...

A little 30 Days/30 Paintings effort ... things on my desk. I debated adding a background, doing something, to make it more of a "painting" ... but opted against it. It's just a little study, a little trying to get comfortable with the paint.

Following up (in a way) on yesterday's post, here are three paintings I started that I can't finish.
People waiting for their order at Hooked Up, a takeout seafood place. From a photo I took. I'm worried I may have begun too tentatively and piecemeal to pull this together now. It may be salvageable ... I hope so; but, of course, now I'm stuck in that place where I don't want to go and ruin what I have already done!
I think this is a case of just not knowing what to do... all those overlapping feathers! I have been looking at a book by John Muir Laws, The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds, and it's been very helpful to me in understanding the feather groups. I may finish this one.
A woman walking down Jackson Street in Cape May. From a photo I took. It's a good photo, and a nice scene, but I really got off on the wrong foot going in with so many details and hard edges right off. There's so much going on the street, with planters and flowerbeds, and the perspective and buildings ... I think I should begin with wet-in-wet, over all, and then add the woman and the tree and as little else as I can manage.
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

overdoing it

Overdid the salt in the background, and also the bird's feathers, the patterns of which I was trying too hard to define, especially on the back, or mantle. (See this page for a good diagram labeling all the feather groups.) I kept adding and adding, which is not good.
Wet-in-wet seems to yield a better result, but it's hard for me sometimes (many times?) to let things happen instead of trying to control them.

Tried to fix the background a bit ... but the main problem's the bird. So I'll juts set it aside and try again another time.
I think I need to move on to another subject for a day or two.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


As much as painting the birds, I'm enjoying trying to find a way to convey a background without doing too much or using a lot of detail.
I think this background could probably use a few more darks, but I'll leave it for now.

Friday, January 10, 2014

miah mull

A little quickie ... Normally I would say this is unfinished, but I'm thinking now maybe "unruined."
I could go a little further ... But once I stop, I have trouble going back.
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