Monday, December 31, 2018

oyster shooter

I hardly ever use masking fluid. (Though I will sometimes, if I think of it, use a wax crayon, which isn't removable.) Probably I don't use it stategically, but to me it is always too obvious.
I saw someone use a masking pen online and got myself one to try.
It goes on easy, very controllable, but is nearly impossible to remove! I gave up; where I was able to remove it, the paper is damaged.
(I wanted to take a picture of the pen, but I think the cats must have batted it under something!)
Back to no masking fluid.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


There are so many great watercolor and ink paintings of black cats online where the artist lets the flowing of the color define the shapes of the cat--they always amaze me! It looks like magic.
I don't know how they do it, but I thought I'd blunder in.
I identified the parts I had to keep lighter, then started flooding the colors in.
I think it'll take a lot of practice to find the right technique and to have the confidence to get it right on the first go, without having to keep going back and "adjusting"!

fishing boats

Back to fishing boats ... Not very Christmasy though. i should've hung a wreath on one!

Saturday, December 22, 2018


My photogenic boy!
Not worrying about getting the stripes just right has been a real help!

Friday, December 21, 2018


Lately, whenever I drew a cardinal, it seemed "off," but I didn't  know why.
So I drew lines on my reference photo to see what lined up with what ... and discovered that I'd been putting the eye in the wrong place, as well as not making the head wide enough.
In sparrows, for example, the eye sits on top of a line drawn from the middle of the beak; on the cardinal the top of the eye aligns with the top of the beak.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Several people asked about the snowy backgrounds in my recent bird paintings, so I thought I'd do a step-by-step.
I painted the background, very wetly, with cobalt, quin pink, and raw sienna.
But I waited too long to sprinkle on the salt!
I wasn't too happy with how the background turned out--too blue, I thought--and was going to abandon this one. But I finished it anyway, and spattered it with white watercolor.

Monday, December 17, 2018

too far or not far enough?

I couldn't tell if I did too much or too little here, then realized it's a bit of both.
Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to see it afresh and add something to improve it.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

preparing or procrastinating?

A gray, rainy Sunday here. I decided to take the day off from working and do some painting. (Since I work at home I have to convince myself to put the work away!) Wound up measuring and tearing paper; drawing; taping papers to boards ... I could call it prep work--my mise en place--but it feels more like delaying!
So I've got eight potential paintings all ready to be painted: now to convince myself to not find those boards intimidating!
I think before tackling any of them I'll try a little more free-form painting of poinsettias and Christmas cactus

Friday, December 14, 2018

gilly & arya

Not as pleased with this as I had hoped to be.
I was trying to concentrate on shapes of values, and, to some degree, I think that worked.
But where it fails is in expressiveness, generally, but specifically in their faces.
At least I painted today--have been somewhat lax the last week or so.
Back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

my cats

Drawings to paint of my cats, Melo and Sansa and Gilly and Arya.
I'm glad I decided to photograph these; looking at the photo I can clearly see a few things that need tweaking.

Sunday, December 09, 2018


One of my cats, Melo, sitting in a wreath.
I painted the wreath first because it was the part I was most worried about.
I kept the floor close to Melo in value because I didn't want to attract too much attention there; though I am now thinking of adding a little shadow ...

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

pine cone

Jo MacKenzie sent me the reference photo for this, which I painted after watching her pine cone painting videos on YouTube. Jo's emphasis on planning your values really helped.

oyster shells

The inside of an oyster shell can be so colorful. These were served on a plate garnished with strands of seaweed, which I found so visually appealing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Friday, November 30, 2018

melo & arya

This was coming along pretty well, then I started having trouble with Melo's face ... and the overworking began! I didn't finish; though I may, just for practice.
I will definitely try this one again, hopefully having learned from my mistakes.

Thursday, November 29, 2018


A couple of winters ago, I took some photos of birds in my yard after a snowstorm. They were all overexposed but I liked the quiet wintry mood that caused.
This is my first attempt to paint from one.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

cape may point park

From a photo I took this summer. I liked the dark reflections and the space of light between it and the shore. 
And, below, a little card I painted last year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

technical difficulties

(a painting done on location this summer)
Having some problems posting this week: posts sent from my phone or tablet keep failing. So, took pictures with my camera to download to laptop, but the laptop's not reading the memory card.
I've exceeded my frustration for the day--and it's only 9:30!--so I'll have to try again another day.
In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2018


The first, light washes were very pleasing, then I messed up with the darks.
Plan to try it again, I think I can do better.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

lady cardinal

I think I prefer the female cardinal, with her tawny coloring.
My cardinals always look cartoony to me ... haven't been able to figure out why!

Monday, November 12, 2018

value practice

The idea here was to be rigorous in establishing and maintaining values ... I can't seem to do values in color. That will be my next attempt!
I wasn't happy with how thick I let the branches on the tree get, so I added some streaks of white and splatter for snow.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

pine cones

I was just about to post this, and looked at the photo, and realized I should add a few more darks.
I often see what needs fixing only after photographing it.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

rhodo sprig

The plants here are all confused. With the terribly hot summer we had here most of my plants were scorched and near dead, it seemed, but the recent warm weather has apparently encouraged some things to bloom again.

Friday, November 09, 2018

old dpw challenge

Addendum: Sorry, I got my sources mixed up! I saw this exercise, using a DPW photo, from Jo's downloadable Visual Guide to Painting (which is on sale this weekend); ten lessons with links to her videos on YouTube.
You can see Jo's work and lessons on YouTube and on her website.
I came across this old Daily Paintworks challenge on Jo MacKenzie's website. I have long admired the clarity of the values in her paintings, so I decided to give this challenge, which she credits with helping her see values more strongly, a try.
The challenge was to change the color and paint the value. I didn't change the colors (much) because I couldn't decide which colors to use! But I think I will do it again, the way it was meant to be done!

Melo, interrupting my photo-taking. 

Thursday, November 08, 2018

pine cones

Still being a little more careful than I'd like;  but, I think anyway, if I keep at it it, I'll 1) get more confidence and 2) be able to distill the cone to its essentials for representation.

Saturday, November 03, 2018


Trying to paint some apples a la Jo MacKenzie, who is a whiz at seeing values.
If you haven't yet, check out her short videos on youtube.

bluejay re-do

Painted this again, a little larger. I wanted a more high-key background and wanted to, if I could, improve on the branches. Perhaps not surprisingly, I think I prefer the branches in the first version.
But I do like the almost marbled effect the salt created in the background.

Friday, November 02, 2018

backyard birds

Two cold weather tenants: white-throated sparrow and dark-eyed junco.
I like white backgrounds, but I'd like to come up with something else ... something out-of-focus.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

monday class

Trying to get back in the habit of attending class-- tho' it'll be breaking up in a couple of weeks for the winter break.
This week, working on imaginary landscapes, trying to build up from light, loose washes to darker, more descriptive ones.
My problem is I always end up covering up too much of the underlying wash, and I'm never sure where to put the darks!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

sktchy 30 faces/30 days

Accidentally posted this draft from a while ago yesterday ... Since it's here: I participated in the Sktchy app (only available on Apple devices, but they have a FB page and you can join challenges and get the reference photos via email) 30 Faces/30 Days challenge in January, when I was living with my mom. To keep it simple (and even so I only made it about halfway through the month!) I used only a mechanical pencil.
I found it very engrossing!

oak leaf sketch

A simple motif. Painted on lightweight sketchbook paper. Might try on watercolor paper where wet- in- wet might yield some good effects.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

value studies

A page of small value studies. I find these, more than anything else, help me simplify a complicated or detailed subject.
Also just fun to do when I have no other ideas!

Monday, October 29, 2018

pine cones

Picked up this little branch on my bike ride. The symmetry appealed to me.
Still struggling to find the right balance in rendering the pine cone: I don't want to pick out every light edge; I need to get a little looser, freer.