Thursday, December 31, 2020

arya and sansa


Painted from a rare photo of sisters Arya and Sansa sitting side by side; they usually fight!
Painting white cats, for me, is as hard as painting a black one, but in a different way!
I painted my back cat, Smilla, as a silhouette with eyes.
For the white cats I can never settle on what color to paint the areas in shadow, and also have difficulty with their soft edges.

Monday, December 28, 2020



Started this painting of one of my cats, Arya ... got this far and decided it was done. (Though I think I will go back and soften the hard edges in her toepads.)

Thursday, December 24, 2020



Another take on a background: lightly (maybe too lightly) painted branch shapes wet in wet; lifted/blotted a little here and there; and once it dried a little, added a few more branch shapes.
I like how chilly it feels.
But if that cardinal was in my yard, he'd be getting rained, not snowed, on.


This one didn't work out so well. You know how sometimes when you start out wrongfooted, you just cant fix it. This looks overwrought to me ... though I like the pine cone and needles!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

carolina wren


Wrens, Carolina and house, were numerous in my yard this some; a house wren even nested outside my bedroom window. Pretty little birds.
A little indecisiveness and impatience ( not waiting for the paper to dry), led to an unfortunate messy patch, but otherwise ...

Friday, December 18, 2020



Another of my favorites! Very plentiful in my yard in the warmer seasons.
Decided to try to tone down my salted background....
Was contemplating adding more branches or twigs, maybe berries, but since I couldn't decide, I did nothing.

Thursday, December 17, 2020



To me, one of the prettiest birds, with the prettiest song. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

pine cones and holly


I dont know what trees they're from, but I like the long, cooler, white-tipped pine cones.

Sunday, December 06, 2020

downy woodpecker


I like what I was trying to do here--the faint background, the wetness--but the execution needs work!

On the other hand, I am very happy with this hat I just finished knitting!
The pattern is called Celtic Hat and it's by Oh La Lana.

Saturday, December 05, 2020



I tried something different for the background: I painted it, then dropped alcohol onto it, which created an effect kind of like those old Christmas tree balls that looked frosted ... but when the paper dried, the effect disappeared!

Speaking of Christmas tree ornaments, if you havent yet, take a look at Jo MacKenzie's YouTube videos about painting them.
I tried last year, with no success.
Going to work on it this year.
This is my 2nd effort: still a mess, but, believe it or not, better!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

red poll warbler

On a birdwatching walk last week I just missed out on seeing one of these. Too many birders, not enough sightlines.


I added a light wash and threw some white spatter on ... because I can't control myself!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

house sparrows

Lots of these guys in my yard, at the feeders, hiding in the ivy, honeysuckle, and Virginia creeper vines.
I stand outside the back door and take their picture.

Monday, November 23, 2020

holiday cards


A couple of moderately successful holiday cards attempts.
In both cases I'm  mostly just annoyed with myself for not keep the white background pristine! 
Thinking about adding a flat wash to the first one. What've I got to lose.

.                               4x6
And this one will get a redo. Messed up the beak ... and, in this pose, it was important to get it right!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

lady cardinal


Another lady cardinal, in a sweet pose.

And my first holiday card. Holly is one of my favorite seasonal subjects. Was going for a gray background ... but made it a little too green, which led to a problem choosing the leaf color.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

house sparrow

The most common sparrow in my yard. There are dozens, and I enjoy their chattering.


A quick little study of one of my cats, Arya.
It didn't work out as I planned because--and, annoyingly, I never know till I get started--this paper was uncooperative: the colors sunk in rather than mingling on the surface.
I guess my method depends a lot on mingling!
But, it's just a study, so ...

Friday, November 20, 2020

song sparrow


I painted this ref photo once before; a friend has that painting.
Worked a little wetter this time, which I like especially for streaky breast patterns, and tried to add a suggestion of greenery.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

to the bay


From a photo I took near my house.
In the last few years, the township has been installing post-and-rail fences at the entrances to the beach. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

lady cardinal


I love the female cardinal, the variety and subtlety of her coloration.
"Subtle" is not my strength, but she makes me look close and think about color mixes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

beach scene


My first sustained effort in a while.
I was considering adding another layer--mostly to darken the foliage on the left--but decided against it because that area is already overworked, and I didn't think the paper could take it, either.
But I do like this scene, a photo I took this summer, and I would like to find a way to paint dune fences that, as the best paintings of them, imho, seem to do, bounces between positive and negative, sometimes painting the fence, sometimes painting what's behind it, so I'll be painting it again.

Monday, November 16, 2020

tree sketch


I love bare trees, all the winding branches and twigs, the shadows and cast shadows.


From my sketchbook.
Pencil, watercolor, and black Tombow pen.
Exploring techniques for depicting birds.
I like this approach--it looks fresh. The little pop of black from the Tombow pen really enhances the effect.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

more birds

Sketchbook pages: mockingbird, titmouse, Baltimore oriole.
I always forget how enjoyable pencil sketching is. 
What I have a harder time with is coming up with the bird's surroundings--how much to add? where? how much to simplify?

Trying to put this oriole in a wintery scene ... needs some work still.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

carolina wren

Another small study, painted without any preliminary drawing.
The paper is not so great, but I think I could go in and add some details, maybe.
Birds on the brain lately. Went on a lovely bird walk this morning; and I've started drawing some birds, thinking of painting them.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

eastern towhee

I've been a little frustrated with my bird paintings recently: they look to me flat, cut-out, uninteresting ... which is no fun.
Tonight on a sketchbook page I painted three little goldfinches: a yellow wash with black added when it dried.
Then, again without drawing first, painted this towhee. And though his eye is a little lower than it should be, I'm actually pleased.
Maybe most of all because I'm hoping I've broken the bad spell.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

fishing boat


We"ve been having mild days, with foggy, diffusely pink mornings.
I had a couple of these boat paintings sketched out but really messed up the graded wash!
So, starting over ... This ones a bit weak, to my eye. But it's just the first.
Went birding yesterday morning and the light was just beautiful.

Friday, October 30, 2020



This didn't turn out the way I envisioned it, but I think next time I'll get closer.
The first error was I chose the wrong paper. Actually, I did four drawings--all subjects requiring wet, flowing washes-- on paper I pulled from a Kilimanjaro sample pack, assuming it was 140 lb, but once the paper got wet (and floppy and wouldn't hold more pigment), I began to suspect it was 90 lb.
My storm clouds started off too intensely blue violet. (Can't lay off the smalt!) Adding burnt umber helped.
I am pretty happy with green section, mostly with the little whites I left, though it could be darker.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020



It's been so long since I last painted! I tell myself I will; I think about subjects, but then ... Finally, for some reason, this morning I managed to paint!
I'm not sure if this is done (I think not), but it's close.
Hope I can keep it up.

Started off by doing a little "warmup" painting of two apples.
I read or heard this advice, to begin with a warmup, somewhere (maybe from Angela Fehr?) and I think it helps: gets me in the frame of mind and blunts the fear.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

grassy sound


A quick, wet sketch. 
I wanted to see if I could unfussily paint the dock that runs alongside the buildings ... a thing I usually angst over and ruin.
This time it turned out pretty well, I think, using a 2-step process: the first go was a skipping mid-value wash leaving bits of white; second go, some strong darks.