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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year to All!

Wishing you all a good 2011 - healthy, happy, prosperity and peace.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Still Standing!" a watercolor study of a building at Bodie, California

Like an old horse with an extreme sway back, this old building hangs on... and on...

Old barns and buildings are fun to get into the detail because they are so full of textures and linear shapes.  Various pencils, pen and ink, watercolor washes - are some of the the tools of texture to get your fix.

I did this sketch primarily with watercolor pencils. Then I used a very small and pointy watercolor brush sideways (after dabbing the excess water off first) and lightly dragged it across the pencil in one direction, with the grain of the wood.  The pointy tip can get into the tiny dark cracks for detail.  Later, I went back in with watercolor washes to add more variety of color and contrast. 

I drew this free-hand without tracing.  Working on my accuracy!  (That is, my accuracy of asymmetry!)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remembering our visit to Bodie - watercolor sketch

For those of you who are not from around here, Bodie is a wild west ghost town in the high desert of California.  We drove out there one day last summer, but it was spring there due to the high elevation.  We spent the day, had a picnic among the wild blue irises, and took many, many pictures.  It was a gorgeous day, wildflowers were everywhere.  I would like to do more sketches from our photographs.

A little history:

Waterman (William) S. Bodey discovered gold here in 1859.  The town was named after him and misspelled.  By 1879 Bodie had a population of 10,000 and was known for wickedness, badmen and the worst climate out of doors.  Killings were almost daily events.  The firebell (behind the falling buildings here) tolled the ages of the deceased when they were buried. 

In 1962 Bodie became a state historic park.  If you look in the windows you can see old bottles, furniture and peeling wallpaper.  I have heard that it is spookey on a windy, dark day, but it was so beautiful there, I did not see any ghosts!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Birds of my Backyard - The Chickadee - Watercolor Sketch

Just before Christmas I came down with a cold/virus.  So I took it easy.  I just sat at the kitchen table like a blob and watched the various birds at our garden feeder through binoculars.  Then I'd look them up in my Bird Book.  It inspired me to do a little watercolor sketch of a Chickadee today.  I noticed my hand was a little shakey.  That's OK, you can't tell!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasons Greetings from me!

Wishing all my blog friends a very happy holiday season, full of love, peace and joy.  May we all have a very good New Year too!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Backyard Tree Sketch

The weather has been variable!  First snow, then rain, then snow, then rain, then more snow.  Yesterday we had a Christmas party at our house for our family.  Before they came, I started this sketch while having my morning coffee.  Then it was:  stuff the turkey, get it in the oven, and prepare for the young families and kids.   It was a lot of fun.  Two cousins running around the house and going crazy over little gifts in their stockings.  Young babies being passed around for everyone to take turns holding.  Ten of us gathering around the table for turkey dinner.  After they left, we cleaned up, relaxed and unwound, and I had some quiet time to paint the rest of this sketch from memory.  It is our backyard tree - one I am very familiar with - an old friend.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's been snowing all day...

Yesterday I looked out the window and sketched a little tree with big bunches of snow on it, but the needles still poking through.

TODAY it is totally buried!  It has been snowing all day.  Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Poinsetta Drawing, and Last Night's Snowfall

Here we are in Truckee, California.  I finished this second version of a poinsettia.  This was done almost totally with watercolor pencils and then brushing lightly with water.  At the end it needed more darker darks, so I added a little Prisma Color pencil work (wax-based pencils). 

Look at the snow we had last night!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Decorating for the Holidays!

I was doing a sketch in between making batches of honey roasted almonds for gifts this year, but then it was time to get the Truckee house dressed up for our holiday party for our family and grandchildren!  So, here are some pictures of some of the house.  It might be our last Christmas there....the house is for sale. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Watercolor Study of Poinsettia Flower

I bought a medium size poinsettia plant for the holidays to brighten the house.  It is a good time to sketch them right now.  Many of my last sketches have been from still life objects.  It is my goal to hone my eye-hand coordination and try to accurately record the relationships of shapes as they are.  What is neat about working from objects rather than photos is:  if you're not sure about a petal or what is behind it, you can lift it with your pencil and examine it from different angles.  You can't do that with a photo.

My sketches are detailed studies in my sketchbook - for practise and for reference for later paintings.  Once I am very familiar with a subject I would like to paint it in a looser style or in a single stroke that suggests a petal instead of drawing it. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Study of the Leafy Sea Dragon

These are gorgeous little creatures that I've always wanted to draw or paint.  Due to their fragile nature in captivity, they are best seen in the wild (off the western and southern coast of Australia) or in public aquariums.  I did see one at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California, and the Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium.  I had to resort to a page from a National Geographic Magazine (I believe the photo was by Greg Rouse) to use as my photographic reference.

These little gems are related to seahorses.  The sea dragon grows bony prongs from the spine, ribs and head that trail gauze-thin ribbons resembling seaweed.  If they are not moving, they are totally camouflaged by the real seaweed.  To move around, they beat transparent fins along their neck and back which gives them the look of drifting seaweed.  They can grow to a foot long.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Shells" Sketch of trinkets we found strewn on the beach...

Somewhere, below the equator from me, lives a person who can see the ocean from her window!  It is warm there, while it is cold here. 

I love the ocean and walking on the beach, feeling the sand squish between my toes.  My head is always bent down, looking for treasures cast up by the is an addiction that does me no ill...

Monday, November 29, 2010

A little sketch of "Beach Memories"

Thanksgiving left-overs are done, the baby shower a fun day, and now my obligations are fewer!  Today I did a little sketch of treasures we found on the beaches of past vacations - watercolor and colored pencils.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time for Little Sketches - Ornamental Corn

During the holidays I'll keep my sketchbook out and mini watercolor palette and colored pensils handy for quick art.  Here is one I did yesterday of some harvest decorating items.

We are getting more snow!  But here it doesn't stay too long on the ground.  Not like Lake Tahoe area.  I am using the fireplace again for cozy evenings.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sock Monkey goes skiing ....

I think I'll just keep it to three nursery paintings and put the last canvas away.  I'm running out of time.  The baby shower is Saturday and Thanksgiving is inbetween!  I'm cooking this year for Mom, my daughter and her hubby (and of course my own hubby!). 

The next painting will be ..... maybe a small watercolor, using a small travel palette .... since my dining table is the Thanksgiving table, I have taken all my art stuff out of the dining room and stashed it away.  Maybe I'll do ornamental corn, or squash or something Thanksgiving-ish. 

We had two nights of snow.  The wild birds are happy I have a feeder going for them.  I love to look out from the dining table and watch them.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sock Monkey Rides a Bike ...

Thank goodness for the internet - I pulled up a cartoon of a bicycle to help me with this - since I don't have a bike myself.  (Remember - I have a horse!   Why would I need a bike?)

And, here is the finished painting of the Sock Monkey in the Balloon Races.  I have two more Sock Monkey paintings to do, then I can go back to my regular type of painting!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In Progress: Sock Monkey in the Hot Air Balloon Races!

Painting for children - what a change for me!  No pressure!  No art critics!  Just all play, fun and games....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

From Landscape Painting to Figure Painting!

I am very intimidated by the challenge of figure and portrait drawing and painting!  That is why there are no people in my paintings.  But, I am rising to the occasion to paint sock monkeys doing various things like riding a bicycle, floating in a hot-air balloon, and other assorted activities!  Why?  Because I am helping my daughter decorate her nursery for the new baby due in January. 

First I had to make the sock monkey.  Not hard, but you do need the RIGHT socks and directions from Rockford Red Heel Socks.  (For my friends from other countries - Sock Monkeys go back to 1880 in Iowa.  There are websites and blogs devoted to the Sock Monkey - watch out!  They are addictive!)

OK, now I have my model - I can pose him and paint from life!
... to be continued ... 

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Quick Study of Desert Plants - Pastel

Today I really wanted to go to the "Living Desert" park, but it is too breezy and cool right now.  the Living Desert is a little zoo and also a nature park with arboretum desert-style, with wonderful little paths to explore.  I love that place.  It is a wonderful photo-op place, but with the breeze blowing plants, the pictures may not come out very good. 

So, we are doing the vacation thing - doodling around.  I put up one of my photos on the computer and did a quick study here.  I'm trying to use the side of the square pastel sticks to suggest the plants.  It is challenging to do a curved shape this way.  The yucca plants at the bottom have triangular shapes to their leaves, but they have a slight curve to it.  The cholla in the middle of the picture was really hard.  They are full of spines which give them a fuzzy look, but the plant has curved branches.  Maybe with more practise and experimentation I can be successful at how I want it to look.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

More Research - Found: Two Artists I Admire

Jones and Terwilliger Gallery in Palm Desert also has galleries in Carmel, California.  I was perusing their gallery and was really attracted to two artists' work.  It turned out they are a married couple.  I guess I like their style!  I could tell they were California artists because the subject matter was clearly Monterey and Carmel.  Brian Blood had plein air work that was beautiful.  I immediately wanted to take up oils and take his workshop!  You have got to see his website!

Laurie Kersey, his wife, does wonderful landscapes, still lifes AND horses!  Her website is

Another gallery on El Paseo was Edenhurst Gallery.  It was like visiting a museum.  They had a beautiful collection of Early California Impressionism, including Guy Rose, Granville Redmond, William Wendt and Edgar Payne.

I have to admit, I feel funny going into a gallery like this, because I am clearly not an art collector.  First, they seem to look you over to see if there are any dead give-aways, like, gold watch, designer handbag or Prada shoes.  Sometimes they don't give me the time of day after that ... which is fine with me.  Sometimes, they invariably ask, "are you a collector?"  I say "no" and they go about their business.  I sure would like to have more fun with this.  Does anyone have any good "come-backs" for this situation?  I'd love to hear it.  Honestly, you don't have to be filthy rich to enjoy art!

Research: Visiting Art Galleries on El Paseo, Palm Desert

With this difficult economy, I was relieved to see several remaining art galleries on this posh street.  The first one I visited was an unusual treat - a fiber artist.  You can see his works on his website .  Here is a picture I pulled off his website of one of his desert scenes. These are really large tapestries that he handweaves on a tapestry loom.  These are 3-dimensional and really beautiful.  In his gallery he has several tapestries featuring bearded iris flowers; and even more of underwater coral gardens with fish flitting in and out of the gardens.  These are REALLY colorful as you can imagine.  As a painter, I really found his work inspiring because he had good composition, movement and use of color.  The texture and 3-dimensional aspect is something painters cannot do, but I really enjoyed.

In my next post, I will tell you about two artists I discovered that I would love to take workshops from!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A New Challenge - called: trying to paint on vacation...

This is called "sharing" ... we are on vacation.  15 minutes to do a value sketch and take a photo while hubby hits balls at the practise golf area.  Then 1 hour blocking in the painting using the computer with the photo I took displayed, and using the value sketch (while hubby is napping).  Then, one hour doing the painting by memory because hubby needs to use the computer....

LOL!  Now, it's off to dinner - a night on the town in Palm Desert!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So I ask myself, "When am I done with this painting?"

...When it doesn't bug me in some way ... 
This painting is called "Aspen Grove".
This painting wasn't bad last time I posted, but it just didn't "feel" right to me.  I don't know why, it is just something I felt.  I did more layers of pastel, so that now the watercolor underpainting is mostly obliterated.  Oh, well, Richard McKinley said sometimes the painting just needs more pastel to make it work.  ....But I still aspire to be able to do very little pastel and let the watercolor show through ... 

... maybe I'm close to being done doesn't look too bad here ...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Pumpkin Day!

It is Halloween today.  Here are a few decorations for your viewing - sorry, no paintings lately!

A hand-blown glass pumpkin, a miniature pumpking teapot, and candle holder:  a crow with his own pumpkins in a tree.  Have fun today!  Trick or Treat!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

...Getting closer...

I'm really dragging this painting out ... like a ghost story by the campfire ... step by step ... getting closer, closer...  and then .... (I have long forgotten the ghost story!  Dang!)

I bought a glass-blown pumpkin while in Kentucky.  I'll have to take a picture of it and the other cute nicknacks I have for Halloween and post them here. 

It has been COLD lately!  Frost outside and below freezing temps overnight.  The tomatos, basil, and morning glories froze and died.  I had my first fire in the fireplace today - with real wood! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Slowly and patiently...

I'm adding pastel ... slowly.   So, this isn't done yet ... so, while you wait ... I'm decorating my house for Halloween!!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Starting a fall scene...

After doing snow scenes before winter arrives, I have decided to do some fall scenes before it is over!    This is a scene from Hope Valley, of an aspen grove.  This is a watercolor underpainting on PastelBord.  When it is dry, I will do the pastel over it. 

We just got back from a short visit to Louisville, Kentucky.  We visited Churchill Downs Racetrack during the off-season and took tours there of the barns.  We also saw an exhibit about Secretariat. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Golden Glow" a pastel painting

I have never tried to do a sunbeam through trees in pastel before.  I learned a trick in watercolor class - to use a damp sea sponge and a ruler and wipe a "beam" from a dry painting.  But I know of no technique in pastel.  So, it was totally experimental here. 

I would have like to use less pastel over the watercolor underpainting, to let it peak through more, but it didn't look right.  I think I'd like to try this scene again in the future and see if I can show more watercolor.  "It's the challenge that calls me!"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beginning a New Painting of a Snowscape

I took a photo a few winters ago with the late afternoon sun coming through the snowy forest.  I haven't done this type of scene before - with the sun's light radiating like a star through the trees.  This is my watercolor underpainting on white Kitty Wallis sanded paper.  When it dries I will apply pastel on top.  I am really anxious to do this, to see if I can pull it off...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Adding the Background

Although we ran out of time in our workshop for Anne Abgott to demonstrate the background for this painting, I referred to her book and also used the same cross-hatching strokes that we used behind the pears.  First I brushed some mask around the edges of the glass and cherries so that I did not have to worry about accidently painting over the edges.  After the paint dried I removed the mask.  I lifted a few highlights on the cherries.  I have to admit, I am exhausted from painting this!  But it always feels real good to finish something.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lots of Cherries!

I think after this project I will be a master of painting cherries!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Project 3 - Painting cut glass vase with cherries inside

I finally sat down to work a little more on this last project from Anne Abgott's workshop last week.  I've never done anything like this.  I'm not sure if this looks like cut glass yet.  We have a very good color photo she gave us to work from.  Some of the cherries inside the vase show through and are distorted.  Some of the reflections and prism looking shapes in the glass are different shades of grey.  It is tedius work, and sometimes I get lost and don't know where I am since the shapes are abstract. 

It was a busy weekend.  We had a baby granddaughter born, the rocking chair I ordered for my own pregnant daughter came in and had to be picked up, and my mother is recovering from surgery and needs someone (like me) dropping by twice a day to check her meds and pain control and meals.  Sometimes it is darned hard to be a "stay-at-home-artist"!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Painting Silver Objects

This day we learned how to mingle 3-4 colors to make silver objects.  No one finished since this still life has so many things to paint.  But Anne Abgott demonstrated and helped us through the key techniques, down to the exact color to mix for realistic melons and white china.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cool Pears! Fancy Background!

Our second project with Anne Abgott was to take what we learned about mingling and apply it to 1) first the colors of the pears, then 2) to the values of the pears.  We did a red pear first, then a green pear.  She has spent a lot of time testing colors to get the perfect mix for the objects in her still lifes - so if we did not have the "right" brand and color paint, she gave us a little dab. 

She had a variety of backgrounds we could choose from - and I chose the "gold gesso" stamped background.  After laying a piece of paper cut out to protect the pears, we used her texture stamps to stamp in gold gesso and stamp it on our paper.  Then she showed us how to paint with rich dark colors in a marbled way.  Cool!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Watercolor Workshop with Anne Abgott - First Project

Today was our first day.  In the morning, we learned the basic technique she uses to "mingle" colors on the page.  We all got the same black and white photo and transferred a line drawing (contour) of the shadow shapes only - onto our 300 lb Arches watercolor paper.  Then we used about 3 or 4 of prescribed colors to mingle.  Basically, you place them on the paper in the shadow area and allow the pure colors to touch and let them bleed into themselves.  Here is my picture. 

I'll have to post the afternoon project tomorrow since I was running late and did not photograph it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Guest Artists at Reno's Artists Co-Op Gallery

It rained the day of our October Show Reception - but that was a good thing.  We had a very good turn-out.  I was thrilled to be invited to be a guest artist.  And here is my wall.  I have a variety of work here (that is what they requested) ... watercolor, mixed media and pastel.  We had wine and snacks of course, and some of my friends and family came.  It was fun.  The show will be up for a month.  I am going to go back during the week when it is not so busy.  There is jewelry, pottery, painted gourds and other gift ideas I may want to shop for family for Christmas.