Saturday, July 31, 2021



Took this photo several years ago (before red caps took on another significance) pand finally got around to doing a little sketch of it.
I needed a warmup after a week or so of not doing much.
The subject appeals to me so much largely because of Winslow Homer's paintings of rowers and canoers.

Friday, July 30, 2021

plein air: townbank

A little morning plein air on the beach: a value study and a color study.
Not a very good composition. Should have added my friend Robin!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

trumpet vine


I am finally--finally!-- beginning to get how to paint glass without painting it: it's what you put behind it ... and how you light it. The more discrete shapes you can discern to paint, the better.
I photographed this setup at least a dozen times before I settled on this view.

Friday, July 16, 2021

workshop w/nora mac phail

Earlier this week I took a 2-hour workshop on eyes, noses and mouths with Nora MacPhail. Tremendous fun, and it was so nice to "meet" Nora after following her blog for years!
Painting just features, for practice and to try out new techniques, is not something I've ever done before, but I'm going to collect some faces and do it more often.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

landscape class


I missed class last week and painted this following along with a recording of class-- it was hot and getting dark, and pretty soon after I started I realized I really do not like this paper!
It's from a Arches 140lb CP sheet but has next to no texture/tooth. It's very weird.
Recently I had ordered some Fabriano paper and though it came in Fabriano packaging it was watermarked "Kilimanjaro," the Cheap Joe's brand. Extra strange as I ordered it from Dick Blick!
This paper is watermarked Arches but it feels inferior. 
I was not happy as I struggled with grasses and the rocks!
It's not the disaster I thought it would be ... but I'm stuck with 4 more sheets of crap paper. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021



From a photo I took.
There used to be a dune-fenced path to the bay where someone, or someones, had topped the fenceposts with whelk shells. At certain times of day the light could be very dramatic.
Have painted this three times now ... still trying to find the best way.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

plein air: cape may


I worked on these simultaneously ... and each has things I like and things I don't like.
The top one is further along, though I'm not sure either one is finished.
But I don't think I'll finish either one: in both cases I'm not happy with the boat's cast shadow, which looks like a blob!
The sun was behind the stern, casting a shadow just like the one in the paintings ... But "that's how it was" is no excuse.

Friday, July 09, 2021



Elsa came through here last night with hours of a good soaking rain!
Also left a bit of dampness in the air.
The haloing effect doesn't bother me (though it admittedly caused me some aggravation as I was painting); makes me think of the shimmer of a hot day.

Thursday, July 08, 2021

south jersey street


Took a photo of this street this spring on an outing with my friend Gina.
I just started a Zoom class on perspective for artist with Carolyn Lord (!), and thought I'd try this as a warmup.
Grabbed a piece of hot press that was on my table, did the drawing, then started painting ... and discovered, as happens too often to me, that the sizing on the paper was shot: so no moving the paint around or mingling colors.
Decided to keep on and just paint shapes: simply, and once.
Up close you can see the defect in the paper, but overall I like the effect, which reminds me of the well-known Cape May watercolorist Alice Steer Wilson's approach.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

plein air: fisherman's memorial park


A little view of Cape May Harbor.
I'm trying something different this year and treating all my plein air work as practice. Trying not to have any expectations and just enjoy the experience of being out and painting with friends.I took a lot of pictures and may revisit the scene in winter in my studio.

As we were painting the kids' sailing class from the yacht club beached their sunfish in front of us.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

yard bouquet


The hostas are in bloom and I just love them--I am partial to all cone- and bell- shaped flowers. And the rubbeckia: such a beautiful yellow.
The hydrangea are in bloom too, but I have no idea how to paint them!

Saturday, July 03, 2021

wip: Cape May street


I drew this and painted the sky earlier in the week. Now I can't find the reference photo ... but I decided to paint a little more anyway. Why not.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

plein air: north cape may


Did a little plein air painting with my friend Gina yesterday afternoon.
My "value" sketch wasn't much help with the values here: there's not much to them. But it did help me simplify a riot of dune grass and scrub into some discrete shapes that I could handle.

Another still life from my first watercolor class: from a lesson on glazes. I rarely--hardly ever!--use glazes, but I kind of like the effect.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

young woman


A face from Sktchy. A lovely face and pose but I chose this photo because of the hair: it makes me think of a suffragette.
I was going to add a background but couldnt decide if it should be warm or cool, so I decided to do without it!

Friday, June 25, 2021

landscape class


A scene from Gros Morne provincial park in Newfoundland, home to some of the oldest rocks on the planet--which was news to me. The reference photo was taken by the teacher, Bill Rogers.
Up until I was about 14 I wanted to be a geologist and was a rockhound. I still pick up rocks everywhere I go.
Gros Morne is now on my bucket list.
I struggled with this subject a bit and I was really surprised when I photographed it and saw the lack of variation in the greens! I thought I was varying them, using 4 or 5 colors. I think I may have been painting to fast, without stopping to assess what I was doing.
Putting this in the "try again" pile.

I was looking through my pile of paintings for a couple to submit to a virtual art show and came across a few paintings I saved from my very first watercolor class, at Cooper Union in NYC, circa 1996.
Here are my first two still lifes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021



Took a photo of this girl walking on the beach a few years ago ... finally got to painting it.
I have quite a backlog of reference photos!
I am considering adding some ripples to the water. But I'm going to wait and think it over.

Monday, June 21, 2021


Did a little more to this, trying to add darks and move some of the warm colors into different areas.
I dont know if it's done--I feel it has places that need more definition, but I don't think I can go any further with it.

Sunday, June 20, 2021



We came upon this boy (about 8 or 9, I'd guess) and his parents when we were kayaking in Florida. Nice family, they were having such a wonderful time, it was great to see.
I love the boy's stance in this photo--looking out over all the places to explore.
I'm afraid I didnt do him justice!
But this is just a trial run ... really too humid to paint today, like painting on a paper towel.
And I made a few mistakes, which I, contrary to my mantra--Don't "correct"--I kept trying to fix.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

delaware bay


Another sketchbook painting.
This one started out pretty good, but I kept dabbing at it--never a good idea but really not a good idea on cheap paper--because I couldn't get the values right.
I'm most disappointed with the sky; the upper left section works for me, but the rest? The cloud on the right mimics the shape of the land too closely. And, too dabby!

Friday, June 18, 2021

the meadows


This is a sketch on not-so-great watercolor paper, one of those spiral-bound watercolor sketchbooks, which I often buy and never use.
But the way I approach landscapes is changing. All my classes are finally sinking in and I find myself taking time to draw or paint a little value sketch and/or to do a little "rough draft" painting in which I can, without the anxiety I might feel working on a "painting," work out a few things: colors and value, composition, and approach--wet? dry brush? 
When I do a larger version of this, for example, I'll extend the dark trees to the right a bit.
Also break up the stripes of back-, middle-, and foreground on the right.
Maybe some other things will occur to me.
And maybe (I hope) having done this I will be more ready for happy accidents.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

cape henlopen


Cape Henlopen, DE, is across the bay from me. The state park there has beautiful dunes, and wonderful bike trails that President Biden rides his bike on!
I let this get a little choppy; I let some darks get too dark without really thinking about how I was distributing them around the painting.
I think it might've been better if I painted all the grasses in one shape, in one midrange color and then went back and added more color and darker values.
Next time.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Delaware bay


A scene from near my house.
Mostly trying to get the shoreline ... the wet sand, the shallows. 
As usual, I always think I should have left more white.

Friday, June 11, 2021

zoom landscape class


From a photo the teacher, Bill Rogers, took in the Algarve, Portugal (which is #2 on my list of places I have got to get to! funny that everyplace on my list is on the Atlantic Ocean).
I was about to start delineating all the ways my painting deviates from the reference-- my "mistakes," in other words--when I could hear my first watercolor teacher, Marge Chavooshian, saying, They dont know what the reference looks like, and it doesn't matter anyway.
I painted this in what felt like a rush, telling myself the whole time, shoulda done this, shouldn't done that ...
But it turned out all right.

Monday, June 07, 2021



From a photo I took while birdwatching. Was struck by these birders' poses.
This is just a sketch, not much detail ...
But now that I've done this, I think I'd like to try another, maybe a few iterations, with more detail or finish.

Friday, June 04, 2021

zoom landscape class


Peggy's Cove, painted along with teacher Bill Rogers, at Chesapeake Fine Arts Studio, using his reference photo.
I probably could have gone further, adding darks to the rocks (the lighthouse is already overworked imo) ... but it's very rainy and humid here today and I really do think its affecting my paper. (See my other attempt from this a.m., below.)
So I'm going to say it's good enough.

Extreme humidity is making my paper very absorbent today.

Thursday, June 03, 2021


Went a little further on the coconuts. But I quickly got to that point where I was almost mindlessly adding paint ... Good time to stop!
From here on it's going to take more thinking and less painting to finish.
1) The main thing may be to bring some of the purple that goes up the middle into another sector. Logically it should probably go to upper right ... but I like that area and don't want to ruin it! So it'll have to be the upper left. (maybe something dark next to the right-most coconut...)
2) Will do a little more on the coconuts; they don't have volume--but with the shadows and light on them, I may not be able to accomplish that. 
3) Add a little, a very little, variation to the green in the lower left? But that wash is pretty clean, don't want to mess it up; may leave it as is.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

plein air: townbank


More dune paintings. I could do one of these every day and never get the same result!

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

plein air: villas


Couple of quick sketches of scenes along the Delaware Bay.
The paper is Saunders Waterford rough, and I really like it! The only place I know to buy it is online through Jackson's, which is in the UK, so the s&h is high. Next time I'll put an order together with friends so we can split the shipping!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

slow going

Almost every time I add something I think, That was a mistake ... but I keep going, slowly, as none of the mistakes have yet proven fatal. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

low tide sunset


Striving for letting the colors be wet enough to move and bleed but not so wet that the individual colors lose their own characteristics and beauty: I find this very hard to control! And I am now thinking that it's a thing that just happens, or doesn't!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

landscape composition class

                                     4x6 value study

Taking another 4-week Zoom class at the Chesapeake Fine Arts Studio. This one with Susan Lynn on composing landscapes.
We take one photo, make 2 or 3 1.5x2" value sketches using a very soft pencil; then translate those into watercolor value studies.
I am enjoying the process, and hope to use it in my plein air painting--where, traditionally, I just jump in and paint what's in front of me! With, not surprisingly, very mixed results!

Below, the two watercolor value studies I did: one emphasizing the foreground, the other the barn.

This is my value study from last week: everything gets darker as it comes forward. Kind of blows my mind that I'm only "learning" (in a methodical way) this stuff now. I excuse myself by saying I was having too much just watching the paint move to learn anything. I guess in some way I knew it, I had observed it ... but turning it into a principle that can be used to help me paint better paintings? That's new.