Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas 2008

May you find the gifts of peace, love and joy this Christmas.
This was the image for my Christmas card this year. Thank you to grandsons Andrew, Matthew and Brandon for being my models.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Experimenting with Acrylics

My friend Natalie has been taking a class where she uses liquid acrylics, stamping, scraping, and layering, and all manner of interesting stuff. She gave us a mini "workshop" at our usual Thursday painting group to show us what she learned. Most of what she did was too complicated for a first timer, so I tried to simplify. Here is one of my finished pieces. (I have another one that I like much better using red, black and gold, but it too closely resembles something that I used for inspiration, so I am afraid to post it here).
This one would be my second best out of four tries. I started with a quarter sheet of Arches coated with gloss medium. I brushed on a thin layer of raw sienna (quin gold would have been better but I didn't have it), floated a bit of turquoise, scratched and stamped and let it dry. I stamped an interesting border (borrowed the stamps) on top, and sectioned off a vertical band and painted some narrow borders. I used a "writing" stamp in the vertical border. Lastly, I painted the orchid with gesso mixed with gloss medium, and mixed some shadow colors and painted the leaves. What I liked about this is the underneath layers showing through. The samples my friend brought were a lot more sophisticated in this technique. And I liked designing the different borders. I occasionally make use of borders in my watercolors, so this wasn't entirely new.What I didn't like was the shine from the gloss medium that we mixed with the paint, and the fact that the paint dried too fast. I would love to incorporate what I learned into a straight watercolor painting, or possibly one using liquid acrylics but without the gloss medium.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's Worldwide Sketchcrawl Time Again

Saturday was the 20th "Worldwide Sketchcrawl", but it was not the greatest day for outdoor sketching. My sister Joan and I started out at a local park where I knew we could sketch from a gazebo and from an indoor observatory. Unfortunately, the building was closed, but we did manage a sketch of the pond from the gazebo. It was only drizzling at this point. Since we couldn't get into the building, we drove off to the site of a historic building called the Hermitage in HoHoKus. It's an old "gingerbread" type house with lots of additions - all sorts of roofs, chimneys, and windows - perfect for someone like me who has trouble with perspective. :-) We found a parking spot with a good view of the side of the building - no parking at the front. It was raining harder by now, but we were all warm and cozy in the car. I actually enjoyed sketching all the nooks and crannies of the building. Then we moved on to a local plant nursery where they had pumpkins on display. By now it was POURING! We were right in front of several pumpkin displays but could only see them for a few minutes at a time, before the windshield was so covered with rain that the pumpkins were a big blur. Whenever Joan saw me squinting, she would put the wipers on for a few seconds to clear things up. After that, we attempted to sketch at Barnes and Noble, but it was very crowded - all the tables at the cafe and all the seats in the reading area were taken, and the occupants didn't look like they were leaving any time this century, so we decided to call it a day and went home with only three sketches. All in all, I think we did pretty well considering.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Group Show

Last year six friends and I formed a watercolor group for the purpose of exhibiting our work in local venues. Today we "hung" our second show at the Louis Bay 2nd Library in Hawthorne, NJ. I'm really proud to be a part of this excellent group of artists.


This pale pink peony was so much fun to paint with it's ruffly petals and the soft yellows, pinks and blues.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

May Bouquet

This is another of the paintings I started in the Janet Walsh workshop in May. It was started without drawing. I just started painting in the flowers as I saw them, starting from the top and letting the paint run downward, for the first wash. I did draw in a few of the azaleas after the first wash dried, so that I could paint in the deeper shadows, and I drew the bowl in after the flowers were done. I think I am going to leave the background white on this one.

11x15 on Arches cold press

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tree Peony

In May I took a workshop with Janet Walsh on painting florals as still lifes. In one of the first exercises Janet had us hold a flower in our hands and paint it. I chose this beautiful dark magenta tree peony. Later in the workshop we got to try some liquid acrylics for backgrounds, and I added a yellow green background. I thought it needed a more interesting background, so yesterday I toned down the yellow green with some greens, blues and pinks, and added more leaves.

Rhodies 1 & 2

These two Rhododendron paintings were painted simultaneously - I worked on one while the other dried. Both were started with an underpainting, and then painted negatively without drawing. I like the soft gentleness of the first one, and stopped painting earlier than usual so I wouldn't lose that. I worked on the second one a little more to get some depth into the darker flowers.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Amaryllis Collage

This collage was done for a project on WetCanvas. The object was to take an old painting and cut it up, and weave another painting, or other paper through it, adding other media, to make a new piece of art. I cut the old amaryllis painting into strips, and used matte medium to paste it onto black paper. I interspersed five strips of gold scrapbooking paper and went over the watercolored stamens with a gold pen. Now I need a name for the new piece.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sketchcrawl 19 - Carousel Dragon

This was the last sketch I did during the "Sketchcrawl #19" on Saturday. I never got to finish it because they closed the carousel at 5:00 p.m. sharp, and started to lower the metal doors that closed it in while I was still sitting there. The rest of the dragon is a dark green with some yellow green accents. I had to pick up and move a few times since the dragon did not always stop in front of me when the ride stopped. You can see all the sketches that my sister Joan and I did, and read all about our sketchcrawl here
What is a "Sketchcrawl"? Several years ago an artist named Enrico Casarosa from California spent an entire day sketching in the San Francisco area. He thought it would be more fun to do it again with friends, and he made a blog about it, and the "Worldwide Sketchcrawl" was born. You can read about this fun activity at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Baby Louis

This is a quarter sheet painting of my 10th and newest grandchild. Isn't he a cutie! I'm not completely happy with the composition, and I may end up cropping some of the bottom off, but then I keep changing my mind. I won't cut unless I'm positive.

I love that rosy cheeked, innocent "newborn" look, and they don't stay that way long. Louis is now three months old and he has already changed a lot.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


I painted these irises from life at my Thursday painting session with my friends. Anna, one of the other artists, picked these from her garden for us to use as reference. I love the purple/yellow/green combination.
"Anna's Irises" 11x15

This duo was painted from a photo I took at Grey's Iris Garden last year. I like the rich red/purples contrasted with the lighter tops.
"Twin Irises" 15x11

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Nothing says Springtime like a bunch of happy tulips!
11x15 on Arches cold press

Bouquet on Masa

I painted this one from life on a quarter sheet of Masa paper, using my favorite crinkle technique. I did something different this time, in that I usually adhere the Masa to a piece of watercolor paper first, and this time I didn't. Supposedly it is better to mount first because the paper is very delicate when wet, but it was only a quarter sheet and it was fine. I actually liked the feel of painting on it unmounted and may stick with unmounted sheets unless I am working much larger.

Trying a New Medium - Pastel

Every once in a while I get the urge to try a new medium, so when a one day pastel workshop was offered less than two miles from my home, I was there! Below is a still life that I did in the workshop by Christina Debarry , and a solo attempt at some dogwood blossoms that I did after the workshop. Both of these were done on Strathmore paper with Nupastels.

Monday, March 31, 2008

March Madness and SketchCrawl 18

March was a pretty busy month for me. It started out with the Gerald Brommer watercolor workshop in Myrtle Beach (see below for workshop paintings). I came home to my street blocked by a fallen tree and no electricity, heat, internet, or phone. It took 10 days before everything was restored to normal.
My newest grandson was born in March - Louis Joseph - a bouncing 9 pound 10 ouncer, and my 10th grandchild.
I celebrated my 63rd birthday on the 28th.
And I finished the month by participating in SketchCrawl 18. This was my second SketchCrawl. My sister Joan and I started at the Fort Lee Historic Park and our first sketch was the George Washington Bridge. I couldn't believe how close we were to the bridge. It seemed to be right in our laps as we sat and sketched. We did a few other sketches in the park, one of them a sketch of a gentleman who was dressed in period costume in front of a soldier's hut sewing a pair of "britches". While I sketched he told us a lot about the living conditions of soldiers in Revolutionary War times. On the way home, we stopped at the Celery Farm in Allendale where I did a watercolor pencil sketch of the marsh from one of the observation platforms set up for bird watchers.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Gerald Brommer Workshop Day 5

Day 5, the last day of our workshop. We were ending early on Friday, so we only had time for one painting. This time the exercise was in IMAGING. The object of the lesson was to work without reference material, and to "image" a painting from memory. Again, we were to make thumbnails of a subject, choosing several elements that we wanted to include. At first I didn't think I could do a landscape without a reference, but decided that if I could, it would probably have to be of Maine, because I can probably paint Maine in my sleep. So I decided on a lighthouse, rocks, the sea, and beach roses - all things I have painted enough times that I should be able to "see" them in my mind. After 5 thumbnails, I chose this vertical view.

On Friday evening, we had Gallery Night. The rooms were cleaned up and everyone had several paintings matted and hung. We dressed up, and enjoyed wine, hors douvres and piano music as we viewed the paintings of our class as well as the other classes that were there that week.

It was a great workshop, and I was very sorry to see it end. I learned a lot and hope to incorporate the things I learned into my future landscapes.

Gerald Brommer Workshop Day 4

On Day 4 Jerry did a demo on fog, and he pinned up several other paintings depicting interesting weather, times of day, or seasons, explaining that each of these were another way to show CONTENT. I chose to depict fog and rain, which, in hindsight, look quite a bit alike except for the slight streaks on the "rain" painting. It was a challenge to keep the colors muted and pale in the distance, and darker and slightly more colorful but still somewhat grayed in the foreground. I decided to go back to my white house reference for this exercise.

Gerald Brommer Workshop Day 3

It's day three and Jerry had a new challenge for us. He handed out a printed sheet of adjectives that described MOOD. We were to choose three adjectives for each of two paintings - again using the same reference. This time I had a simple house framed by two trees. My adjectives for the first painting were PEACEFUL, QUIET, COZY, and for the second SNOWY, ISOLATED, BLEAK. As you can see, I tried to make them as different as possible. They don't even look like the same subject, but if you look at the second one, you can see the same house way off in the distance, framed by the two trees. We wrote our "mood adjectives" on the back of the paintings so that Jerry could try to guess what we were trying to say. I really enjoyed this exercise.

Gerald Brommer Workshop Day 2

On Day 2 we were able to use our own reference photos. But there was a catch! We were to choose a few elements from our photo - white house, rocks, pine trees, lupines, sea and rearrange them in several thumbnail sketches, then choose 2 of our sketches to make paintings. This would be our routine each day - to do two different paintings from the same reference/references. I enjoyed doing this one, using a photo that I had taken in Maine a few years back. Great minds think alike, because my sis ended up chosing the same sketch as I did of the barn on Day 1, and her day 2 paintings also had Maine, and lupines as subjects. You can see Joan's workshop paintings at

Gerald Brommer Workshop Day 1

Last week I took a watercolor workshop in Myrtle Beach with Gerald Brommer. My sister Joan and I took this workshop together. The emphasis of the workshop was on CONTENT.

We started day 1 out by looking at slides of landscapes, and we had approximately 5 minutes to do a sketch of each one. You could hear the groans as the class tried furiously to sketch each one. Then we were assigned to take one sketch and do two paintings from it, one high key and one low key. I chose this barn because it seemed to be the least complicated, and therefore, the easiest to translate from my far from adequate sketch into a painting. I wasn't really crazy about the high key version, since I really like color, but I was pleasantly surprised at the low key one.

Here are the results from Day 1.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wiped Out

This iris was done using a technique made famous by Cheng Khee Chee and Roland Roycroft. I wet my paper thoroughly, and dropped in some blues, greens and purples, and while it was still wet I used a "thirsty" brush to wipe out the white iris. Of course, it didn't come out pure white, but that was okay - in fact, my reference was a pale blue iris. When everything dried, I added some shadows and the yellow beards. It's an interesting technique, and I felt that I really struggled with it, but I like the effect.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

And Now the Collage

I started this collage before the Masa one and gave up on it. But I don't like to give up, so I went back to it today. The camera cropped it a little close on the sides - it's really a square. I'll try to get a better photo if the weather is better tomorrow. This was done with stained and torn washi (rice papers) mounted on Arches 300 lb. rough 11 x 11 inches. The element of design is still "texture".

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Masa for Texture

This is the third version of the Ti plant, focusing on TEXTURE. My first effort for this one was a collage, which I was not too happy with, so I got out my trusty Masa paper. Crumpled Masa creates great texture, and I love the way the paint settles in the cracks. I used an underpainting of Quinacridone Gold (my "mother color"), various greens, blues and reds, sometimes mixed with the Quin Gold and sometimes on their own. I think I'm ready to move on to something new now.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sketchcrawl 17

I don't sketch enough. In fact, I rarely sketch at all unless I am doing a painting en plein air. So when I read about Worldwide Sketchcrawl, I knew I had to try it. A sketchcrawl is an all day sketching event held simultaneously all around the world. I wasn't expecting the next one to be in January.

It was cold, so my sister, Joan, and I went to one of the local parks where I knew we could sketch through the observatory window. We did a few sketches through the window, and some from the aquariums and displays inside the building. Then we drove to another park which had a little zoo. Many of the animals were gone or inaccessable for the winter. The only ones we could find were a few bison which were too far away to sketch, and some farm animals. I sketched a cow and started on a sheep. By then we were freezing, and the zookeeper actually made us leave before I finished my sheep drawing because it was getting late. So we went to a nearby mall for coffee and sketched some people and called it a day.

You can see the rest of my sketches at

Friday, January 11, 2008

It's All About Shapes

This version of the Ti leaves is all about shape, so I painted the shapes negatively. I first poured the background - Winsor Red, Winsor Blue and Winsor Yellow, and then painted behind shapes layer by layer, going darker with each layer. This was a relaxing painting to do. The hardest part was waiting for each layer to dry.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Emphasizing Line

Through my internet buddy Rhonda, I found Myrna Wacknov's blog and have been watching her and other artists as they work on challenges that Myrna proposes. This month's challenge had to do with the Elements of Design. I've modified Myrna's challenge a bit to make it less complicated for myself and have chosen a subject and an element. My subject is a Ti plant that I photographed in Hawaii, and the design element I want to emphasize is LINE. Originally I was going to draw the lines with pen, but just before I started it got the idea to paint red lines instead. As I went along it occurred to me that I could leave some of the leaves white for more interest, and then I decided to put the black rectangle in the background to add more lines, as well as a good dark to make the subject "pop". I evidently did not take my photograph entirely straight on, so please forgive the little bit of distortion in the rectangle. Next I will be doing the same subject emphasizing SHAPE.

Ti Leaves 11 x 15 on Winsor Newton Hot Press