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Friday, December 28, 2012

I made a book!

The cover

There are several online self-publishing companies out there.  My daughter made some beautiful family albums this way and really inspired me.  So, for a Christmas gift for my husband, I made some photo albums, and then, for me - I made a book of my best paintings of 2012!

It really wasn't hard, and it was fun.  The book came out so well, my husband wanted to gift it to family, so I took advantage of the 50% off holiday sale and had copies made for them.  They really loved it.  It was a gift that didn't require a frame, wallspace, etc.  And they could have a collection of 20 or more images!

I have two for myself.  One, I can show people who are interested in seeing my work when it is not easily accessible to show.  It can become dog-eared and have fingerprints on it - because I will save the other one to keep clean.
Each image is accompanied by the title, size and medium.  Some have a description of the location and if it was painted en plein air.  Some have a little story about my experience there or what inspired me to paint it.

The last page has all the shows I have entered and placed in, as well as the art associations I am a member of.  In a way, it is also like a portfolio.  But to me, it is also like a memoir or scrapbook of a very special year of painting and my progress as an artist.  We all need to look back and see how far we came in the last year.  It helps to inspire us and give us incentive to plan and make goals for the next year.

With that thought, I'd like to wish you all a very Happy New Year - 2013!!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A previous paint-out at Lake Tahoe

"Glacial Remnant" oil on panel

A couple of weeks ago I met up with two Lake Tahoe artists and we painted at Sand Harbor State Park.  I did this painting in oil, standing on the beach.  I learned something.  In the winter, the sun is low and passes between trees behind and to the side of me.  The shadows changed 3 times in the two hours I worked on this.  Even though I did a value sketch, I gave up on the morning light with cast shadows and just worked on mixing various greys and trying to establish the form of the rocks.

When I got home and looked at the painting, it looked quite dull and bland.  But, it was a good start.  So, I printed out the photos I took of the place, sprayed on a light fixative to give the dried paint a wet look again, and started painting over my "underpainting" with brighter colors and worked on the cast shadows from the photos.  Now, I am happier with it.  I learned a lot.
The "underpainting" done plein air

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Cactus

I painted this just in time for the holidays to make a holiday greeting card to send family and friends.  So, at this time I'd like to wish all of you out there a Happy Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A recent trip to Phoenix - painting in watercolor

Cave Creek Park in the morning

Hello friends!  I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while, so I have several posts in line for the next few days!  Got my pictures downloaded and photoshop'd - all ready for me to post.

Earlier this month we went to Phoenix for a week.  While my hubby went golfing, I went hiking!  For ease in going through airport security, and lightness in the backpack, I brought a small watercolor pack and Arches Watercolor Travel Book (which is all full now since I've used it over the years).

I enjoyed hiking new areas - mostly in the Northern Phoenix area - Cave Creek, Spur Crossing Preserve, the Botanical Gardens and Pagano Park - both closer to the airport.

Here are my other watercolor sketches:
This is unfinished, I ran out of time.
Spur Crossing Preserve (it looks like he is crying!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Painting from my vehicle

Today I went up to the top of Mt. Rose to the meadow to paint.  I planned it a week ago, and there was snow and rain just a few days ago.

I still went, but there were high winds, so I made changes to my painting plan.  I took a small watercolor kit that I could work in my vehicle.  I was warm, out of the wind, and had a great view from my truck!

Here is my set up:  a box top served as my desk on my lap, the center console held my water container, and the driver's set held more supplies.

There were plenty of people up there!  Several snowshoers with dogs, trekking across the meadow, and kids home from school were sliding in saucers down the hill.  Now there is a hardy bunch of people!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Golfers have caddies or golf carts - I've got someone with four legs to carry me and my gear!

I had the perfect day today!  Summer is over and the parks are empty!  With my trusty friend, I went for a ride at Washoe Lake...and we went where the hooved ones are not supposed to go.....

the picnic area!

That is because it is the only place that has trees!  We need a tree for valet parking.  Then I sat down on the sand and did a mini pastel painting.

Here is my mini kit - it fits in the saddle packs.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Painting at the local arboretum

9 x 12 oil

We have an arboretum in Reno, with a creek down the hill with wild plants and a tangle of trees and fallen-but-still-living cottonwood trees.

Today I painted with another friend there.  Today I was pleased that I finished in two hours.  I did a few things different - I used more turpenoid in the beginning and then put the board in the sun to dry it.  When most of it was dry, I could continue painting with Walnut oil alkyd medium with half turp.  I also premixed piles of colors and values.  And that helped, too.

New sketchbook, new pens

On a visit to Chicago a month ago, we were at the Art Institute, enjoying the art.  In the gift shop there was a sketchbook on sale for $9!!!  It is slick paper, so I thought an ink pen would work nice.  I bought an ink pen from Sakura with a brush tip.  This is what it looks like - very bold and very black.  I used watercolor pencils and a water filled brush to spread it around.  The ink is not affected by the water.

Later, we went to San Francisco, and I tried a fine tip pen by Sakura.  Then I used the watercolor pencils and waterbrush.  This is what it looks like.  I like this pen a lot.  I sketched from our hotel room (what a view!  Coit Tower!  We got lucky with our room!)

Then, the next day it was foggy and cold, and I sketched from the warmth of the car as we looked at the golden gate bridge in the mist.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Recent Paint-Outs

9 x 12 oil on panel

It is funny, the more I am playing with oil paints, the harder it is getting?!  I wonder why that is...maybe I am having more expectations than I was before.  Sometimes you just have to go with the flow I guess.  The painting above is from the most recent paint-out at Mayberry Park.  It was at 2:30 that we met and began to set up.  It was 4:30 or so when we finished.  The sun had gone down behind the hill, and the sudden change in light available made it difficult to see my values and warms and cool colors.  It was also too dark to take a picture.  Before packing up, I realized I had "made mud" with my colors, and lost my shapes.  So, the only way to deal with that (I have heard) is to scrape it off, or wipe it off with turpentine and a paper towel.  I did just that and left a ghost painting (below).  After that dried, at home, I re-worked it till I was satisfied (above).  I still think I need to practice a lot more!  Mixing paints is fun, but sometimes a challenge!

Below is a painting I did the week before, and it was done totally en plein air.  It is OK, but not totally what I was planning on the outcome to look like.  At least it is loose and I didn't make mud.

10 x 8 oil on panel

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Returning to the same location to paint plein air

10 x 8 oil on panel "Carmine and Gold"

Recently, I painted en plein air with another artist at Thomas Creek.  I still loved the same location as my previous posted painting "Aspens Along the Creek".  Being weeks later, different aspen trees have turned and some were a lovely shade of carmine red.  So that is where I set up to paint.

Now that there are no upcoming pastel competitions/shows to paint for, I'm enjoying a break and painting in oil.  It is fun and challenging in a different way.  Now I have to MIX colors!

The day we painted, it was beautiful and the morning light was shining through the trees, illuminating them like stained glass windows.  But we were having a little colder weather - breezes were blowing a cold front in and it light showers of snow were blowing on us.  I was wearing a knitted hat and wool sweater, but about two hours along, my hand was shaking as I tried to stroke the thin aspen trunks in....ha!  But I was determined to finish the painting and I did.  It looks impressionistic, which is what I'm aiming for.  Not bad, and I definitely am looking forward to doing this again!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Finishing touches on two plein air paintings

I worked on two plein air paintings at home - doing finishing touches.  The first one didn't need much - just the upper left tree.  The creek painting, however, needed a lot of work.  So much so, I probably can't call it a plein air painting, although it started out as one.

Running water fascinates and challenges me.  I suppose if I painted it often enough, I could paint it en plein air in two hours and have it look completed.  Some day....with a lot of work....

12 x 9 pastel "Aspens Along the Creek"
9 x 12 pastel "Ida's Creek"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Kokanee Run" - pastel painting en plein air

9 x 12 pastel
Yesterday I went plein air painting with a friend at Taylor Creek, Lake Tahoe, during the Kokanee Salmon run.  This was my first time to see this event, and it attracts a lot of visitors, as well as black bears feeding on the salmon.  Kokanee Salmon are a land-locked relative of the Sockeye Salmon of the Pacific Northwest.  "Kokanee" in Native American tongue means "red fish".  In 1944 the Kokanee were introduced to Lake Tahoe and they do not grow as large as their salt-water cousins.  In the fall they return to the creek where they were spawned to mate, lay eggs, and die.  Although the local black bears have a vegetarian diet, some are seen along the banks, feasting on the salmon.

We surveyed the creek near the Visitor's Center, and also the creek upstream away from the populated areas.  I chose to paint near the Visitor's Center, because it was still morning and not that many people were there.  Most took a look, stayed about 20 minutes, then left.  My friend opted for the creek upstream, where it was very private.

Both of us had trouble concentrating on our work!  My friend was distracted by noises in the bush, and would have to check to see if it were bear...but it was only chipmunks.  One thing you don't want to do is startle a bear, or, have a mom bear with cubs happen upon you.  But when you are painting, you are quiet and not making noise that would alert an approaching bear.  This makes me think maybe a portable battery operated CD player might be a good idea?

Now, I was on a stretch of beach along the creek, way at the end.  For a while, I only had the occasional vacationer who just had to ask me questions and so forth.  Then cam a busload of grammar school kids.  They are so cute, they are so honest and just have to see what you are doing.  Soon I was surrounded by kids with parents and teachers that could not control them.  Then came the next busload of kids, then came the next...

By the third wave, I just couldn't concentrate.  Kids were blocking my view, running, tripping and falling at my feet....Moms were "shhhh-ing" to no avail.  So I stopped after 1-1/2 hour.  I had a good base to the painting and only spent 20 minutes at home today with my photographic reference to polish it up.

My friend and I met at the car and I heard her story and saw her unfinished painting.  Even so, we had a wonderful time and were glad to witness and try to capture this special event!  Even with the distractions, it was well worth it!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Painting at Washoe Lake

9 x 12 pastel
This morning I went to Washoe Lake to paint.  It was 8am and just BEAUTIFUL.  I listened to the waterfowl and watched as a flock of geese flew in and landed on the lake - which was smooth as glass.  My painting friend could not make it, so it was just me and the birds.  I did a one-hour pastel study.  My challenge to myself was to paint mud and make it beautiful!  Not sure I succeeded, but it was fun trying.
The view

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Painting at Ida's

This morning I drove down to Ida's ranch in the Minden area to paint.  We drove up the old ranch road to the creek and then hiked in the rest of the way and looked for a spot to paint.

I started with an watercolor underpainting.  Sometimes I take longer at this stage.  Doing the creek was quite complicated, and I wanted a good base.  Next I did a loose sketch of the rocks with vine charcoal.  I haven't put much pastel on yet, but I started to in the focal area.  I can continue working on this at home.

Ida and her dog companion were too cute to not take picture!
Ida painted the creek from the other side, with a lower vantage point.  Here is her painting:

She really captured the browns of the rocks under water and the lovely green plants along the edge.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Study of water rushing over rocks

12 x 9 pastel on brown Canson paper

This morning my friend Kathy and I went to Galena Creek to paint.  I did a study of water rushing over the rocky creek.  It was a beautiful morning and we finished up just as two bus loads of school kids arrived for a hike!  Good timing!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Two days of plein air painting!

My friend and I enjoyed 2 days in a row of plein air painting.  We went to nearby places and only spent the morning.  You can learn more at   Here are my paintings:

Aspens by the Creek

Twaddle Ranch

Friday, September 14, 2012

Starting a Plein Air Painting Group

I just started a second blog - called - "Reno Tahoe Plein Air Painters".  I have a painter friend I paint outside with, and we thought it would be good to get others to join us.

I am still working on this new blog - getting widgets and stuff set is still a work in progress.  But you are welcome to stop by and check it out - even if you are not in the area and cannot join us.  Go to

Our plan is to post where upcoming paint-outs will be, give directions, and a little blurb about the place with pictures if available.  If you live in the area and want to keep track of upcoming events - one of the best ways is to click the button (widget) that says "subscribe by email".  Every time we post an upcoming event, you will receive an email with the first few lines of the post, and a link so you can click right to the blog to read the rest.

Another way, if you are a blogger, or if you just filled out a blogger profile, you can click the button "follow". You will have to go to your blogger dashboard each day to check the blogs you follow.... so that is an extra step.

We are hoping that other painters in our area will help plan paint-outs in their area and post their schedules on this blog.  This would be good for painters in Carson City, Virginia City, Minden and Garnerville, South Lake Tahoe, Incline, Truckee and North Lake Tahoe area, as well as other surrounding areas.

Hope to hear from you!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Colored Pencil Magazine - an inside peek!

Colored Pencil Magazine is a new (1-1/2 yr old) magazine.  As I mentioned in a recent post, they contacted me, asking permission to use one of my pencil drawings they saw on one of my blogs.  I said yes, and I bought the issue in print.  Here is the September issue.  The cover is done by an amazing western artist.  If you like horses, cowboys and ranch life - you would love the 4-page spread on Mikel Donahue.  For info, go to

Well, here it is!  My first debut in a magazine!  This is the Table of Contents, and my watercolor pencil drawing of the barrel cactus is there....

Then, on page 20, my drawing and credits also appear in the Gallery:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It is a new age - downloading art magazines

Watercolor pencil, watercolor wash, and colored pencil

I recently was contacted by a new art magazine Colored Pencil Magazine, asking if they could feature one of my colored pencil drawings in their new magazine.  After checking it out, I agreed, and they requested the above drawing "Barrel Cactus".  My picture is in their "Gallery" section of the September Issue!  I have ordered the download and the printed version for my portfolio.  They found me through the blogs that I posted this drawing from my sketchbook!

Colored Pencil Magazine is a very nice magazine.  The featured artwork they have is amazing.  What you can do with colored pencil - for example - photorealism - is done by more artists than I knew existed.  One nice feature with this magazine, is that you can order only one issue at a time, and the download is less expensive, and it gives you a chance to see if you want to be a regular subscriber.  I encourage you to check it out - I included the link above.

Finding out about this 1-1/2 year old magazine opened up a new world for me.  It is published by HP MagCloud - a service that will provide download magazines you put together, or print and mail them to the people who order them.  Fascinating!  They do brochures and other printable things for small businesses.  I might use them in the future!

Did you (all you artists out there) know that the American Artist Magazine is no longer being published?!!  Soooo sad - that magazine has been collected by public libraries for many, many years.  Maybe that is why I never subscribed!

When I get my issue in the mail, I'll scan my page and post it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Some exciting news

Some exciting things...

The International Association of Pastel Society's show in Brea, California has a slideshow of all the paintings (including mine) on their website.  Here is the link.  Scroll down to the slideshow.  I'm delighted they have this slideshow because it was too far for me to go to see it.  I was so impressed with the entire show.  What fantastic variations and effects and methods these paintings show how versatile pastel is!  It is a gorgeous show and I am so honored that my two pieces were in it with them!!!

Although my paintings did not win any awards (that is OK - the winning paintings were WELL DESERVED!), I did sell my painting "Desert Boulders" there!!!

Earlier this month my pastel painting "Feeding Time" sold too!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Almost Done - and my plans for this painting

I am very, very close to being done with this painting.  What I've been doing since the last post:
- finished the crinkle shadows in the petals
- finished softening the background flower using the wet first, then scrubber after it sinks in
- I used a little bit of deep crimson and dark green watercolor pencils in the base of the stamens, then softly brushed them with an almost dry brush
- I wet the background in sections and dropped in some of the same colors as well as the petals in shadow, to deepen them

The only thing I might adjust in the painting is to deepen the background in certain areas again.  When the paper dries, it can still be too light.

There is a Sierra Watercolor Society Show coming up the weekend of the Balloon Races in early September.  I'm going to enter it in their show, as well as enter it in the call to artists for the next consecutive book of "Splash".  What the heck - what do I have to lose by entering, right?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Progress on the Prickly Poppy painting

I am adding a little here and a little there.....
- I am adding some angular shadow shapes on the white petals to show the crinkly, paper-like structure
- I added deeper shadows to the right side of the yellow poofy stamen cluster
- I did a little negative painting to the leaves and stems at the left side
- Then I deepened the colors of the poppy and leaves on the left to make them in shadow
- I used a "scrubber" to soften the left edge of the shadow flower to see if it worked before I do the rest

Friday, August 24, 2012

No more shows to enter....time to play!

I am having fun taking a break from painting pastels to enter is a watercolor I am working on:

Mojave Prickly Poppy is the name of the flower.  First I drew the shapes and filled in with liquid mask.  Then I poured, brushed, dropped in, various deep rich background colors.  Before it was dry, I used a spray bottle to spray some droplets of water on it, and it made little "stars" for texture.

Next, I removed the mask and then painted the yellow center with a light yellow wash.  After it dried, I did strokes of liquid mask to look like the stamens catching light.  When it was dry, I did a darker gold and orange wash over the yellow center.  I repeated this step so I could add another darker wash over again.

Next I started doing soft shadows on the petals on the right, and then I put a light wash on the background poppy that is in shadow on the left.

Stay tuned....more to come!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Cool Waters" pastel painting

14 x 11 pastel on board

Today I finished this painting.  I am so happy, this is my last painting I am going to submit to an upcoming show....then....that's all!  No more shows for a while!  The pressure is off.  Whew!  Now, I can relax and do some watercolor flowers I have been wanting to do.  I also want to go back to painting in oil to experiment with that too.  So nice.....

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Morning Light" pastel painting

pastel on board 11 x 14

I used a plein air field study to "bring me back to the place" and my photographic reference to do a larger studio painting here.  I made a few composition changes in this one.

An artist can change things around anyway that looks good.  Clumps of trees can be changed and moved.  Rocks can be changed too.  I might do another painting from this again....the thing I want to accomplish in all of them is the morning light, the colors, the mood.

One idea I have is to have more background showing, and open up the view.  (Sorry trees, some of you have to go!).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two Upcoming Shows!

I am so happy to announce that some of my paintings have been accepted in two juried shows:

Pastel Society of the West Coast's Membership Show
August 9 - September 29, 2012
The Arts Building Gallery
808 Lincoln Way
Auburn, CA  95603
Reception:  September 29 from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm

Paintings accepted:
Flick of the Tail
The Pond

46th Mother Lode National Art Exhibition
hosted by Placerville Arts Association
August 12 - August 26, 2012
Placerville Shakespeare Club
2940 Bedford Avenue
Placerville, CA  95667
Reception:  August 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Paintings Accepted:
Tawny Gold
Light ComingThrough