Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Catching up!

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for all of your kind and caring comments while I took an unexpected blog break. Your thoughtfulness is genuinely appreciated.

We're getting back on what for us is an even keel (though life has a way of straying off keel on a regular basis :-). Our Thanksgiving was busy... but good. We enjoyed our families and friends... and lots of good 'ole Southern cooking. I've started back walking on the treadmill and am on a half-hearted diet. What a crazy idea. Who diets in between Thanksgiving and Christmas?!

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful too.... now it's time to plan for Christmas!

P.S. Laure at Painted Thoughts blog gives a neat idea on how to use a piece of art as your blog header - and customize it without changing the original art. It works great... I used it on my new header! Thanks, Laure :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just to let you know . . .

. . . I'll be back as soon as I find a few free minutes. Besides being busy preparing for several days of company during Thanksgiving we've also had a death in the family so things have been rather unsettled lately. Look forward to catching up with you and seeing what beautiful things you've been creating :-)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Winter Pleasures"

Here's what I've been (slowly) working on in between TMC's and the never-done to-do list!

8 x 10, watercolor.

When it was getting close to completion I emailed a version of this to several friends asking for a honest critique, and they responded with wonderful, constructive advice. Several made great suggestions - and I think I incorporated most of them. Made me realize that we art bloggers have a great resource in addition to books, workshops, dvd's etc.... the wonderful resource of fellow art bloggers! Thanks so much for your invaluable input!

P.S. The choice of subject matter for this painting will come as no surprise to Gary Keimig since I regularly leave comments on his blog reminding him of how lucky he is to have all that lovely snow in Wyoming every year. Not sure he always agrees with that point of view :-) If you haven't met Gary, click on his name to visit his art blog... you'll be glad you did. He's an awesome landscape artist and lives in a gorgeous part of the country.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ta-da... a TMC!

Been caught up in this and that, including a weekend out-of-town trip to visit my son and his lovely wife, a visit to the state fair (lots of photo ops there), and various other things that can so easily fill up a day. So easy for me to get sidetracked. Hope you're more disciplined than I am :-)

To get back in the swing of things I did a quick *TMC (Twenty Minute Challenge) yesterday of a grapevine and berries wreath I saw at the state fair. Just can't resist those cheerful red berries entwined among the curvy woody grapevines. Felt good to get a brush in my hands and mix that yummy red paint!

On other fronts, I'm making menu plans for Thanksgiving (see, I'm not always a procrastinator). This year, to avoid the exhausting 2-days-in-kitchen-cooking-and-baking-all-day-thing I'm going to make the pecan pies (4 of them) and the sweet potato pies (4 of those too) ahead of time and freeze them. Both kinds of pies freeze very well so that will take a little of the load off. We have family staying with us for several days over the holidays so it takes quite a bit of cooking. I enjoy taking requests for their favorite foods and making sure they're on the menu. Sweet potato pies, pecan pies, blueberry pies, chicken salad, pimento cheese spread along with ham, turkey and veggies are pretty much staples... we'll see what else they come up with this year.

All this food talk is making me hungry so I'm off to fix some lunch ;-)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Two More TMC's

Two more TMC's that I've uploaded to the Twenty Minute Challenge blog.

You know, I like these 20 minute challenges. No hassle, no stress... except for the last minute or two when I'm not finished and the clock continues mercilessly ticking away :-)

There's such a freedom in doing these. I keep in mind that it's the process that matters here, not the end product. This allows me to have fun and learn without feeling like the result has to be on a certain level. With TMC's success is the doing, not the end result.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TMC: Pecan in Hull

After a busy weekend (is there any other kind?), and an equally busy Monday spent running errands, it was really nice to settle down at my art table today, turn on the CD player, and with the sound of ocean waves rolling onto the shore in the background, dip my brush into paint. Something about art that deeply satisfies the soul.

For the first time, this year the pecan tree in our yard has produced a pretty good crop. Only the pecans are not edible. Not sure what the problem is, but they're pale, instead of light golden brown, with a moist, almost spongy texture inside that's yucky. Plus, they have no flavor. Since we can't eat them, I might as well paint them!

This is my latest TMC (Twenty Minute Challenge) and I can tell these little paintings are making a difference. Having only 20 minutes in which to draw and paint, I'm starting to look at a subject and pick out its defining characteristics... distilling the subject down to its essence. I can see this being a lot of help in future paintings. Here's a link for the TMC if you'd like to take a look at it.

A big "Thank You" to Teri Casper of Painted Daisies blog for the time and effort she puts into moderating the TMC!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Two More TMC's

Two more Twenty Minute Challenge paintings:

"Candle" (you can tell a lot of thought went into that title ;-) was done last week and "Firs in the Snow" was done this morning.

Candle was simply more practice on the "get in, get it done, get out" philosophy.

Firs in the Snow was a little more specific. In this little exercise I was after accomplishing two goals:

1. Creating a soft, misty background using the wet in wet technique
2. Experimenting with a softer, more subdued palette than I normally use.

I like the softer palette and plan to work on that some more. Doing these TMC's is the perfect opportunity to try out new things, get in some uncomplicated practice... and just have fun painting!

Friday, September 17, 2010

2nd TMC (Twenty Minute Challenge)

I'm learning more in this little 20 minute challenge than I ever dreamed I would!

I wanted a simple subject so I could focus on keeping the colors clean.... and not overworking (the bane of my artistic life). I think I'm at least heading in the right direction.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Twenty Minute Challenge produces a rather "UnTeresalike" painting

I need to learn to simplify. To focus on the details only when I want to, and learn to see my subject as color and tones masses, rather than this particular object or that.

With that goal in mind I decided to participate in The Twenty Minute Challenge, administered by Teri of Teri's Painted Daisies.... click here for a link to Teri's blog where you can access the TMC (Twenty Minute Challenge) and Cactus Monday... I joined that too!

With the TMC, you get 20 minutes to draw and paint your picture. That's it. No fudging on the time! As my timer counted the minutes down to zero, mild panic set in and I began to sling paint faster and faster! That accounted for some of the sloppiness in this. It was a great exercise, and though slightly nerve wracking when you're getting close to running out of time, it was lots of fun. So nice to just paint and not keep second guessing my choices.

I'm beginning to understand the truth of the statement that "in art quantity equals quality." Read the books, watch the videos, take the workshops... all great tools. But in the end, it's the time at the painting table or easel that makes one an artist.

I've posted my first (and sloppy) TMC painting. Shucks, 20 mins is a minor miracle for me... I consider one day to be a challenge ;-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

A FABULOUS treat arrived in the mail!

Oh, gosh!! I was overwhelmed when I opened the package from Milly (visit her blog here to see more of her gorgeous art).

Milly held a drawing on her blog (http://drawingsfromnature-milly.blogspot.com/2010/08/festival-of-quilts-nec-my-butterfly.html) and invited readers to guess how many butterflies are on her quilt. I guessed 778 and the correct answer was 777! Can't believe I got that close! Pure luck! So Milly emailed me, asked me for my mailing address and told me to be on the lookout for a gift in the mail.

I was expecting something modest, something small. My mouth dropped opened when I removed the wrapper and saw what was inside. Wow! A tag which I shall use as a bookmark (especially since she wrote on the back... makes it that much more meaningful), the neatest little origami art book, a hand-bound sketch book, and a package of her beautiful, beautiful art cards... they're so pretty I don't want to use them! :-)

All of this was handmade and carried her own art designs. Thank you so very much, Milly! I will treasure this wonderful gift and the kind and generous spirit in which it was given. Lucky me!


I'd also like to say "Thank you" for all the kind and caring comments. My arms/wrists are doing a lot better (brace is off...yay!!) so I'm going to ease back into spending some time on the computer. Thanks again... you guys are such a wonderful bunch of people- it's a privilege to be blog friends with you!

Friday, September 10, 2010

An enforced break...

If I haven't visited your blog lately... it's not because I didn't want to. I'm having a lot of pain in the wrists and elbows of both arms and having to limit my time on the computer since it makes it worse. I think 20 years of working on a computer is catching up with me (did I really say that? Am I that old? Yep... started working on a computer when it was still in MS DOS... anyone remember that? Yikes!) Elbow and wrist braces, along with Aleve or Ibuprofen, are helping some.

I'm still painting - short, limited sessions. Will post the results when I finish. I'm taking photos as I progress and will post the WIP's with the finished painting.

Have a great weekend.... I'll visit a few blogs at a time until I get around!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Watercolor, 4 x 6

Finished up the butterfly today. I tried some "body color" on the flower (body color is watercolor + Chinese white - which makes the paint opaque so you can paint light over dark as you could with oil or acrylics) just as a experiment. Not sure if I like it or not. Guess I'd need to use it a little more to see if it's something I'd want to incorporate into my paintings. At the moment I'm leaning toward not using it ... makes glazing difficult since opaque paints disturb easily when painting another color over them. You also lose that beautiful transparency that is so characteristic of watercolor.

Anyway.... always good to experiment. As my mother is fond of saying, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." Smart Mom!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuscany Mural

I think I'm finished... but reserve the right to go back and tweak if it seems necessary after it has sit for a while! I get a clearer perspective on a piece when I haven't seen it for some time... makes it easier to spot problem areas.

The mural is just a little larger than 8ft wide x 6.5 ft high and is done in artist grade acrylics... mostly Liquitex. The colors in the photos vary somewhat because they were taken at different times during the day. The last two photos are the most accurate color representation.

Working method: I drew the scene in pencil, stepping back frequently so I could get a view of how it looked from across the room (which is the way most people will first see it). I also stepped back from the painting regularly while painting; and the homeowner had a conveniently positioned mirror on the wall across from the mural so I could also get a great mirror view while working! I then started painting in the upper left hand corner and began to work my way across and down. I used a variety of techniques including brush painting, sponge painting, stippling and glazing.

If no tweaking seems necessary the final step will be sealing the mural with Liquitex Matte Varnish. Oh, and I need to sign it before I varnish it - so easy to forget that!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back soon..... !

My butterfly painting is on hold for the time being. Last week I started a mural, 8ft across and 6 1/2 ft. high, so haven't had much time for anything else. I'm hoping one more day will finish it. Will post pics when done.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

She's - gasp! - planning her next watercolor painting!

When it comes to painting, planning has not always been my strong suit. Far too often I was so eager to get to the good part - the color - that I didn't properly prepare and it shows in those paintings in the form of reworked and overworked areas, muddy color, too many colors that jumped all over the place and various other undesirables that left me less than thrilled with the result. I needed to put more time into preparation and think things through to avoid as many problems as possible.

So I've spent most of today planning a little 4 x 6 painting. You'd think something that small wouldn't take much time to plan. But it did. The same thing goes on in a 4 x 6 painting as an 8x10, 12 x 16, or whatever size. Regardless of size, there are underlying principles behind a good painting. Hence the planning session.

First off, I've found out - from messy experience - (remember the cherry shadow fiasco a few posts back?) that it's difficult - if not impossible - to glaze successfully over a hefty layer of cadmium red. Or any other cadmium color for that matter. Why? Because cadmiums are opaque and if you apply a heavy layer it's going to sit on the surface of the paper; then when you attempt to glaze another color over the cadmium it disturbs the color and you end up with splotchy mud instead of a smooth glaze. Trust me, I know.

So, determined not to let a little mud get the better of me, I selected the colors I thought I'd be using for my next painting (butterfly on a flower). Then I went to each of the manufacturer's websites, got the specs on their watercolor paints to verify the transparency or opacity of the colors. I'd read somewhere that you can mix several colors together and, as long as you're using all transparent colors, you'll keep bright, clear color - i.e. no mud. I wanted to see if that was true.

I now have a selection of colors, all transparent, all artist grade. My next quest was to find a beautiful orange. I already had a tube orange, but it was cad orange so it was a no-go. In the pics you can see the mini color charts I made while experimenting to find the colors I wanted. I have to tell you... this was absolutely fun! I oohed and aahed as beautiful, rich, clean oranges starting appearing before me. Yes! Free from the curse of the cads! ;-)

Some of you are probably thinking right now, "But I like cadmium red, yellow, orange, etc". So do I. But not when I've got multiple layers of glazing in mind. Which is why I spent the time on planning: my palette is selected, I've found several pleasing color combinations (some of them used four colors... and the resulting color did remain clean and vibrant), and have done the drawing and masking. All of this leaves me delightfully free to concentrate on the painting part. Oh, and I also stretched my paper for the first time to keep it from buckling.

You know, I think there's something to this planning stuff. I could get used to this :-)

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Watercolor, 4-1/2" x 6-1/2"

Was planning to take photos at each stage while painting this, but got so involved that I pretty much forgot about the camera- hence the big jump between the initial drawing and first wash and the last two pics. In the final version I darkened the background at the bottom. I wanted the petunias to stand out more. Not sure if that was a good decision or not.

I'm learning to "step back" while I'm painting. What a painting looks like when it's right in front of my nose, and what it looks like from 8-10 feet away is quite different. Since paintings are usually viewed from several feet away, I'm trying to keep this in mind so that I'm aware of how the painting reads from a distance. Periodically, I set the painting somewhere in the house where I can stand across the room and look at it. Amazing what you see from this viewpoint. This also helps me to fiddle around less, because from several feet away you can't see all those darling details!

The final pic has a violet cast to it... but the colors are truer in the middle pic. It was raining when I took the last pic so the light was poor.

Oh, an update on the blueberry picking... I've now picked 92 quarts and am thinking of having all the blueberry bushes cut down.

Just kidding ;-)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cherries..... and blueberries!

Cherries, Watercolor. Original size: 9 x 6, now bookmark sized.

If there's one thing I learned from this little piece, it's the importance of shadows.

There I was, merrily painting away, thinking that, hey, things were going fairly well (you know what they say about pride going before a fall) when I got to the shadows. So diligent was I about new techniques I was trying that I really hadn't given much thought to the shadows. Mistake Number One. They weren't neat shadows with clean edges that were easy to draw and paint. They were sort of there, and yet they really weren't there. So I decided I wouldn't worry about the shadows, I'd work on those yummy red cherries and just wing it when I got to the shadows. Mistake Number Two. You're going to cringe when you read this next part. Not sure I should actually admit to this... but, in the spirit of learning, here goes. For the shadows, I loaded up what I thought was a rich dark color, quite suitable for shadows, and then just dropped in this strong color with no particular aim or plan. I know, I know.... Mistake Number Three. I guess I thought the paint knew where it was supposed to go, and, like well behaved paint, would produce wonderful shadows to make those cherries pop! I laugh now - even as I'm typing this - thinking about my blissful ignorance and audacity. As you can see, I got exactly what I deserved for giving those all-important shadows short shrift.... a misshapen lump of some dark thing that's creeping up on the cherries.

As I looked at the mess I'd made (and thought about how much time I had in this one little painting) I remembered something Jo once said (Bless you, Jo!), "Why not cut out the part you like and make a book mark"? A Ha! A bookmark it is! So, the final, much narrower version is now a one-of-a-kind bookmark. Which, appropriately, I shall use while I'm doing some studying on shadows and light. I now have a new found respect for shadows.

Aside from the shadow fiasco, I was okay with the lace and the reflections on the side of the bowl... my first time tackling that kind of subject. I'm usually not big on still lifes, but I really enjoyed doing this one. (BTW: the yellow cast on the highlights in the first 3 photos is masking fluid).

And the blueberry pies in the last photo? This is the time of the year when my blog earns its name. So far, I've picked 72 quarts of blueberries. Made these two pies in between WIP's 3 & 4. At least something came out alright! :-)

Sunday, July 11, 2010


"Reflections" 4x6, watercolor

This is a small painting I started before the impromptu vacation. I was attracted to the scene by the almost calligraphic reflections of the leaves in the water. I'm still experimenting with different ways to apply paint and working on building my "effects library". I'm out of my comfort zone when painting water... but painting it is the only way to become comfortable with it!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Vacation: Back from the beach!

We had a kind of impromptu vacation. My son and his wife, spending a week at the beach, asked the hubby and I to come down and spend a few days with them. They rented the top apartment of a beach house and had plenty of room...so... off we went! We had lots of fun, ate way too much food that's on my no-no list (but it was a vacation!) and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with our son and daughter in law. Nice to spend time with your kids when they're grown... it's a different kind of relationship at that stage of life.

I'm posting a few pics. The surfer in the pics is my son, Philip. The last pic is Philip and Rhonda, our DIL, although we claim her as a daughter :-)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Studying + Experimenting = Bluebells

4x6, Watercolor

I mentioned in my last post that I've been doing a lot of experimenting with both technique and color. My practice sheets look like someone painted them who was under the influence (I assure you I was not... honestly!). After intently reading (and re-reading) both Glorious Garden Flowers in Watercolor by Susan Harrison-Tustain, and Paint Watercolors That Dance With Light by Elizabeth Kincaid, I wanted to put some of the things I've been working on into one painting. I elected to do a small study because I didn't want a lot of time tied up in the painting... it was just for practice and I didn't want to feel that I had to turn out a "finished painting".

Pictured is the resulting study, "Bluebells". The techniques I was practicing in this study are: getting a handle on smoothly glazing multiple layers; using those layers of glazed color to mix secondary and tertiary colors optically instead of premixing on the palette; and some practice for dark, out of focus backgrounds. Oh, and the thing that has been pretty much eluding me.... saving that doggone white space!

I managed to overwork a few parts (old habits don't die easily) but not too much. This was a great learning experience. I'm finding out that what works for me is to closely study a new technique, try it out multiple times on throw-away practice sheets until I begin to get a feel for it, then tie it together by using the new technique in a small, no-pressure painting.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Day's Harvest..... and more

Not a lot to show as far as art.... although I have been busy with the paint brushes. Doing a lot of experiments and practicing with technique and color mixing in watercolor.

In the meantime, we're still in the grip of the awful heat/humidity wave (it's 97 degrees now and expected to hit 99 or 100) so I'm out in the garden almost every morning watering. Since we live out in the country we're fortunate to have a deep well so I don't have to worry about a large water bill. Plus, the water goes back into the ground .... where, after it filters down through a couple of hundred feet of soil, sand and rock that purifies it, it will eventually get pumped out again for re-use. Recycling at its best!

I'm posting a few pics from my garden. Everything is growing nicely. After I finish watering, I collect the day's harvest... which you see pictured in the basket. For dinner tonight we're having a fresh Green Leaf lettuce salad with grilled chicken breast, pecans, mandarin oranges.. and the following veggies:(which I grew myself! I sound like a proud Mom, don't I? ;-) cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and sugar snap peas. Yummy! Blackberries and ice cream for dessert.

When I get around to it I'll be posting most of these pics in the RIL (Reference Image Library) on WetCanvas as resource material for other artists. If you see anything you'd like to use in a painting, email me and I'll send you the high res image for clarity.

P.S. The last four pics (for city slickers and non-Southerners who are wondering what that strange plant is) are of a field of tobacco across from our house. Years ago you saw tobacco fields everywhere in the South. Nowadays, with the health risks associated with tobacco use and the influx of cheaper foreign tobacco, it's almost a novelty to see a field of tobacco. I wanted to record this while I had the chance, before fields of tobacco were, well, gone with the wind ;-). The first two pics are the blossoms on the top of the tobacco stalk (ironic that the blooms are so pretty) and the last two pics show the plants in the field. A whole culture used to revolve around tobacco - working in tobacco during the summer paid for many kid's school clothes in the Fall; and bought me my first car - but that's a story for another day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Prairie Barn: An Exercise

This exercise from David Bellamy's "Developing Your Watercolors"- some really good information in there. I find doing these exercises extremely beneficial. Kind of like doing push ups to get in shape - except, thankfully, not nearly as strenuous!

This is not a faithful reproduction, was just going for practice. I was satisfied with the barn, but not much else in this one. Was tempted to go back and rework the parts that didn't work, but I've about decided that's not a good use of time. Better to leave as is and go on to the next project. One thing's for sure, regardless of perceived successes or failures, any time spent painting is time well spent!
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