Sunday, December 4, 2016

First Snowfall of the Season

We had our first snowfall of the season last night and this morning.  I've never painted a watercolor snow scene before.  I've done them in oils but not in watercolor, so I decided to paint what I saw out my studio window.  I had to improvise a bit with the sky and introduce some color since it is pretty drab and hazy out now that the snow has stopped.  There is a lonely round bale standing in the cornfield.  It is slowly sagging and losing shape - I suspect the deer have contributed to its demise as I sometimes see them out there.

How:   With snow you leave the white of the paper show through and just paint the shadows.  Use lots of blue to depict the cold.  If you wanted to mix a cold blue you could use Cobalt and Payne's Gray together.  Payne's gray also works nice for the shadows in the snow.  I wet the sky and then dropped some blue in, wiped out the clouds with paper towel and added a little gold to the tops of the clouds, a little payne's gray at the bottom of the clouds, blotted again.  Dropped in a little Alizarin Crimson in the sky toward the horizon and toward the top.  Painted the trees while the sky was still wet so they would soften on the edges.  Made the foreground trees darker than the background trees to make them appear closer.  Added details only to the foreground trees.  Painted in the corn rows with some yellow ochre and dropped in some of the blue while it was still wet.  Pulled up random stalks.  Added a little shadow to the snow with Payne's gray wash.

Joy and Blessings,

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Trucking Along

It's been some time since I posted.  I've been involved with various classes and posting my artwork in Facebook groups relating to those classes, so a bit negligent here.  Seems like I am always apologizing for my absence.  But I am here now!  :)  The above pic is of a recent watercolor I did from a photo I took several summers ago.  This truck was a lucky find that my friend, JoAnne and I stumbled on while wandering the Iowa countryside for photo opportunities.

My recent watercolor focus has been on landscapes - mostly of the Iowa countryside.  I'll try to share some more over the next couple of weeks.  If you don't hear from me, it probably means I am busy painting.  :)  I took lots of photos this summer and am anxious to paint them all!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had some weirdness here in Iowa last night with some unseasonable tornadoes.  But, fortunately, the damage was limited to a few buildings and trees.  Strange for this late in the year but we've been having an exceptionally warm and long-lasting fall.  Can't complain about that.

Love and Blessings,

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Watercolor Wishes

Sharing a watercolor card I made for my friend for her birthday.  It was simple to do using watercolor techniques from Martha Lever's Color Drop Flowers online class.  This method is a good way to exercise a looser style - and I can always use a little loosening up.

I stamped my logo on the back and placed it in a vellum envelope so that the artwork would show through. Fun to give!

Joy and blessings,

Thursday, July 28, 2016

One More Pear

This pear was almost deemed 'spoiled' and tossed in the garbage.  I find it a challenge to add the various layers of color without picking up some of the previous layers.  Even when completely dry, the watercolor can re-activate and lift with brushing and blending.  But I didn't give up and managed to recover the shape and tone with additional careful layering.  Now it is one of my favorites!  It puts the first one to shame but you can see how much improvement can be gained with persistence and practice.

Joy and blessings,

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Another Pear to Share

Still practicing my pears and I think this one is an improvement.  A little more life-like, a little more texture.  I have a tendency to over perfect and nothing in life is perfect. A few scabs, spots and uneven textures add to the character of a thing.

Joy and blessings,

Monday, July 25, 2016

Month of Martha

I've been busy enjoying grandkids' ball games, flower gardening, a couple of trips and just summer in general. With all of the rain we've had, I've also been very busy weeding!  But not too busy to squeeze in some art time. Creative Workshops is having a 'Christmas in July' sale on their online workshops so I signed up for a couple (ok, maybe a few) more of Martha Lever's courses.  I really enjoy her style, generosity in sharing and joyful personality.  Here is a little 'Monday morning masterpiece' inspired by her Pear-ology class.
I was a little hesitant to spend the money to learn to paint pears but trusted that Martha would have some gems I could use.  She did not disappoint.  She shares some wonderful information on layering and blending watercolor, as well as, some fun ways to make watercolor backgrounds more interesting.  Lots of insight on making the subject pop and giving it luminosity.

It looks even better in pear-son!

Joy and blessings,

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Continuing with 'Drawing the Girls'...  I've been practicing and refining my technique and drew a face I was quite happy with - but then I was afraid to add the hair.  This girl turned out so much more refined and elegant than my previous effort, that I could not picture putting magic marker hair on her.  So back to the drawing board.  Literally.

I tried different makers and different pencils and finally came up with a method for doing the hair with Caran d'Ache Neocolor II watersoluble crayons (love those things).  I first added some outlining with a watercolor pencil in dark brown and then added strips of color with three different shades of the crayons.  Once I had the crayon down I went over it with a damp brush to soften and blend the color.  Wetting the Neocolors really brightens the color and tones down the graininess.  I used a #6 shader working with the chisel side and pulling it across the color in long strokes moving with the direction of the hair.  This time I painted the hair first so that I felt comfortable with how it looked before proceeding with the face.

 Now that I have a method for future use I will have the confidence to put hair on those faces - no matter how pretty they turn out.  :)

Joy and blessings,

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Let's Face It

Well, I went off of the grid again for a bit.  I was busy finishing up some work obligations so that I could retire.  And, yeaaaa, I did it!  On May 12th I turned in my keys and headed out the door.  Some have asked what I will do with my time now.  :)  These are obviously people who don't know me.  I don't even attempt to answer that one since the list would be way too long and might give them serious concerns about my sanity.

Meanwhile, back at the drawing board...  I signed up for another class or two with Martha Lever.  I had been admiring her whimsical girls and decided to take her 'Drawing the Girls' class.  She works mostly with Copic markers.  However, I have never invested in Copics.  I tried one and did not like the way they smell and how heavy they go on and bleed through the paper.  So I did a little experimenting with the multitude of media I already have on hand.  In the end, I used Cretacolor AquaMonolith watersoluble pencils and Caran D'Ache Neocolor II watersoluble wax pastels for the face.  After applying the colors, I blended them with a damp brush.  I'm happy with the way this worked.  For the hair I used various water based markers that I had on hand - Koi, Winsor & Newton and Tim Holtz brands. 

I worked on Strathmore Mixed Media paper.  First I drew a basic face on graph paper and then outlined it with black ink so that I could use this again and again for practicing.  I just place the graph paper template under my mixed media paper and work on top of my light box to trace it.  Then I can sketch different hairstyles and clothing before I proceed with color.

The class is a good value and I think it will be fun to add these girls to my cards and journaling.

Joy and blessings,

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pen Points

Being a calligrapher, I'm always examining hand lettered pieces and trying out new letter forms.  If you have the same obsession, you know that Copperplate calligraphy has become quite popular.  There are all sorts of samples on Pinterest of hand lettered envelopes and invites.  It appears to be the current 'thing' to have your wedding invites mailed in individually hand-lettered envelopes.  (I can't even imagine what that adds to the already thru-the-roof expense of getting married.)  But the style caught my attention and I decided to try my hand at it - literally.

This thick and thin letter style is done with a pointed dip-pen nib.  I had some of these from years ago so I loaded one up with ink and gave it a go.  By the time I was done with my initial efforts, I had tried every nib I own, every paper ever produced and every crusty jar of ink in my somewhat aged stash - with extremely unsatisfactory results.  So I went back to the book and read again and mumbled to myself "Is this really possible?!?!"  But I didn't give up.  I called up my boyfriend, Dick Blick, checked out his supply of nibs and ordered a few more recommended options.  While waiting for my boyfriend to deliver, I watched some YouTube video demonstrations of the Copperplate technique.  No joke - the presenter really was accomplishing those beautiful thicks and thins with that pointed pen! 

The new nibs arrived and I tried again.  I loaded the largest of the nibs in my pen holder and tried various calligraphy inks and papers.  The thicks and thins were improving but what to do about all of that ink feathering (spreading).  It would look okay when first completed and then later as it dried the ink would spread out its feathery tendrils.  Eeeeek!  My studio was a mess with papers and attempts everywhere.  I read the next chapter of the book.  It said that as one improved their skills they could attempt loading their pen with watercolor, watercolor being a little trickier to use than inks.  What the heck - it couldn't be any worse than my other attempts.  So I picked up the only nib I hadn't tried yet (because the reviews said to save it for more advanced skill levels, which I definitely hadn't reached yet) stuck it in a holder, loaded it with watercolor and voila - good flow, defined thicks and thins, no feathering, everything my little lettering heart desired.

So, I guess, the moral of the story is don't give up.  Not that I usually do.  I am too stubborn for that!  The sample you see here is just a practice and no where close to as polished as I hope to become.  But it has only been a week.  So I'm good with my progress and will continue to practice each day.  Or at least until my next obsession takes hold...

Joy and blessings,

Items I used:

Various tube watercolors
The book 'Modern Calligraphy' by Molly Suber Thorpe (This has excellent letter examples and project info.)
YouTube demos by Hamid Reza Ebrahimi (This guy can letter!)
Brause Extra-fine point nib 66EF (This nib looks really small but holds enough watercolor to complete several words before reloading. LOVE it.)
Strathmore Mixed Media paper - 400 series, vellum finish  (Hot press watercolor paper works well, too.  Also tried Canson XL watercolor paper and it worked good but the nib can drag a bit on the rough surface.  Try using the smooth back.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tweet Sentiments

Been gone a couple of days having a lovely visit with my sister-in-law in Missouri.  I took some painting supplies along and spent part of a rainy Sunday morning painting this little guy.  That is one of the things I love about watercolors - it is so easy to pack a portable palette, a brush and a few pieces of watercolor paper for a little impromptu practice.

Joy and blessings,

Friday, April 8, 2016

Heaven on Earth

Is it Heaven - no, it's Iowa...

This fun little watercolor is one I did last year while taking another of Danielle Donaldson's classes - 'Creative Girl - The Land of Light and Shadows'.  We own two acreages that are side by side and that my youngest son refers to as the 'compound'.  Sounds a little sinister, like we are recruiting converts.  :)  I prefer to view it this way - our little slice of heaven.  I really do enjoy it out here and I guess to the outside observer it would appear that I do isolate myself a bit.  To me, it is more like absorbing the peace and tranquility the birds and plants can offer if we just stop long enough to take it in.

Enjoy the view.  Joy and blessings,

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Another little lettering practice done with Zig Brushables markers on Canson XL watercolor paper.  I purchased the paper for watercolor practice but do not like it for watercolor at all.  It was going in to the Goodwill bag when I discovered that it works very well with the markers.  Has just the right surface and tooth so I will use it for some much needed lettering exercise. 

I haven't actually seen any violets blooming yet, but I am sure they will be here soon.  My poor asparagus started out of the ground a couple of weeks ago but then changed its mind since the weather has turned so cold again.  Warm weather is just around the corner, though, and then we will have nothing to complain about - except the weeds and dandelions and flies...  :)

Joy and blessings,

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Party Animal

Inspired by Danielle Donaldson's 'All Creatures' class.
This is just an itty-bitty little guy I painted on the corner scrap of a piece of watercolor paper.  I ordered some new tubes of Sennelier watercolors from Dick Blick and they arrived yesterday, so I had to try out a couple of the colors.  Opera Pink and Phthalo Turquoise along with some Da Vinci Quinacridone Gold.  He is only about 3" tall but he packs a lot of personality in a small space - don't you think?  :)

Joy and blessings,

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bunny Tales

Monday's little practice critter.  I would love to sit and paint his friends but they will have to come to life some other day.  Now back to work I must get...

Joy and blessings,

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sunday Satisfaction

It was such a lovely warm day today that I took my art supplies out to the porch, opened the windows and sat and painted.  Such a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

This little guy was inspired by Danielle Donaldson's 'All Creatives' class.  Bunnie's, dogs, ellie's and bears - oh my...  Watercolor and pencil on Arches watercolor paper.

Joy and blessings,


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Happy Toes

Just a fun little watercolor and ink practice from Junelle Jacobsen's Traveling Brightly class.  This was done on Strathmore mixed media paper.  So fun to do!  That bottom one makes me wish I could go wading in a creek somewhere.  A little cold for that today, though.  I do so love denim crop pants and bare feet with the sun shining warm on the backs of my legs.  Oh - and painted toenails.  Red.  Have a lovely Sunday!

Joy and blessings,

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Bright and Happy

I've been hesitant to post my lettering practice because I wasn't sure anyone would find it very interesting.  But surprisingly enough, those are some of the pages that get the most hits.  I love to look at hand lettered words and phrases and I guess I must not be the only 'font freak' out there.  So here goes, two more examples of my brush lettering and simple ways to embellish them.

Joy and blessings,

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Greetings

A little art appropriate for the new month.  I did this last spring with ink, watercolor markers and pan pastels.  We had some nice thunderstorms a couple of nights ago and now the grass is so green.  Almost looks like it might need mowing soon.  Or at least it would if it hadn't turned cold the next day.  Ah, the fickleness of Spring.  But the crocuses, jonquils and baby irises are blooming and the bushes are budding, so all is good.  Spring - I love it!

Joy and blessings,

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Delving Into Mixed Media

I've never been one to mix up the various art mediums too much.  I've worked with nearly all of the different mediums - oils, watercolors, acrylics, charcoal, etc. - but this idea of mixing them all up on the same page or surface is fairly new to me and still a bit foreign.  Kind of like taking a favorite recipe for cake and throwing corn in it.  And then you have all of those layers - why throw the corn in if you're just going to add a bunch of chocolate to cover up the taste of the corn.  Okay, that might not be a very good analogy for someone who wants a good excuse to add more chocolate.  But maybe that is it exactly - maybe the point of mixed media is so that you have an excuse for more delicious layers of color and texture and so that you can bury some little secret ingredient that only you, the creator, knows about.  Hmmm.

At any rate, I gave it a go yesterday with this project inspired by Willowing Arts Life Book 2016.  Seriously, another class!?!  You bet.  I got interested in this year-long art journey because Martha Lever is contributing a couple of lessons during the year and one of them is a lesson on Chunky Versal lettering.  I have admired this style on her website and wanted to learn more about it.  That particular lesson won't be available until the middle of October, so I have plenty of time to entertain myself with the myriad of other art forms and contributors included in the weekly videos.  And, oh my, there is a ton of content!  If my blog posts start to sound a little British, it is because the main contributor, Tamara Laporte, is from the UK and she has created soooo many videos.  Believe me when I say I am not complaining.  I feel like I have hit the mother-lode of art techniques.  :)  I normally get up long before the birds or sun so it is a great time to sit with my breakfast smoothy (or a cup of hot cocoa), watch a video and get inspired to create. 
This project was a 'warm-up' project for us newbies to mixed media and was quite fun to work at.  I worked at it in little spurts throughout the day.  It was a good way to take a break from clearing flower beds and spreading mulch.  Not that I am complaining about that either - it has been wonderful to be outside clearing away the debris from all of the green things springing from the ground.  I am way ahead of my usual spring tasks so it makes it more enjoyable and taking little breaks more guilt-free.

Joy and blessings,

Friday, March 18, 2016

Birthday Wishes

Yesterday was my youngest granddaughter's birthday.  She turned 7!  Happy Birthday, Libby!

I like to create handcrafted cards for special occasions and I have featured some of them here in the past.  Sometimes life gets too busy and I have to actually purchase a card (oh no) and on those occasions, I feel like I have somehow let the recipient down.  I know - watch what you start!

But, even though I have been busy with work and getting all of my tax papers in order, I did not want to drop the ball on Libby's birthday because, after all, it's tradition and she is special!  So here is my little 'work of art' to mark her birthday, done in watercolor and ink with a little pencil shading.

Joy and blessings,

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Curious Friend

I've been busy getting my paperwork in order for the 'tax man' so haven't produced much noteworthy artwork the last couple of days.  Until that time, I will share another little mixed media piece I did last spring.

Each spring the bird songs change and I can hear the new arrivals long before I can spot them.  My Dad was always pretty smart at identifying bird songs when we were out working in the field (he also could spot and identify a weed at 40 paces) and he would point them out and sometimes whistle them back.  This was, of course, long before iPods and ear buds of any kind.  So I gained a love and appreciation for the melodies and the birds creating them.  I especially love the orioles that come to our yard each spring.  We have really tall trees and they usually like to perch quite high so it is not always easy to see them.  But this little guy came right up to the patio door.  I was able to photograph him and work from those to do this little painting in my Moleskine journal.  I used watercolors for the bird and lettering, pan pastels for the background and black ink for the outlining.

Joy and blessings,

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Colorful Coleus

Every spring I get excited about planting things and purchase annuals long before it is warm enough to safely plant them outside.  It's a sure way to encourage the weather to turn cold and wet just to spite me.  One Sunday morning last spring I was looking across the table at some plants I had brought in out of mercy.  Since it was too nasty to be outside, I decided to paint them instead of plant them.  This one was actually in a little plastic nursery pot.  So I painted him into a more comfortable home, painted some dirt around his roots and here he thrives.

Joy and blessings,

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Make Lemonade

This is just a little mixed media piece I did last spring.  They say when you can't think of something to draw, draw fruit, draw your dishes, draw your pencil - just draw.  So I did.  I used watercolors for the lemon and shadow, ink pens for the lettering and pan pastels for the soft background and lemony centers.

Joy and blessings,