Thursday, July 23, 2015


'drink from your own well' ~ watercolors, pencil and ink in moleskine sketchbook

i don't think i did a very good job of explaining *why* i like slant well palettes...


this!

no more digging a hole in the center of the paint in your pans or half pans...


if you want a small bit of paint for a light wash, you can pick up the diluted paint at the front of the well.   because i put a couple drops of water on the paint when i started working, all of the paint is wet;  it's easy to pick up a whole bunch of paint, or a tiny little bit.


i wanted to show you some of the books i refer to for flower painting inspiration and instruction - in case it's helpful.

carrie schmitt's 'painted blossoms' is one of them...   it's helped me figure out how to paint imaginary flowers,


watercolor and ink in moleskine sketchbook.

a little.

there are inspiring artists in it.  one that i especially love is lia porto.   if you don't know her paintings, check them out.

 watercolor in moleskine sketchbook

back to imaginary flowers...  without those darker bits in the rose itself, it's flat and barely looks like a rose.  it's those darker bits - and where to place those darker bits - that i'm trying to get the hang of.



i use these books when i can't think of *any* kind of flower to paint or draw.  there are lots of good shapes/ideas in these books.  looking in them you recognize what makes a flower look like a certain kind of flower.

 watercolors, ink, and pencil in moleskine sketchbook

the basic shape for the morning glories on this page came from 20 ways to draw a tulip.  


jean haines' books, world of watercolor and atmospheric watercolors are what i've used to try and learn how to paint flowers more loosely.  i have a looong way to go on this! 

 watercolors in 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" pentalic aqua journal

some practice flowers from last week.   i added the indigo to the top flower (a columbine) and immediately 'got' how much it helped balance the bright orange.   i have to *do* something like this to get it.  it will not sink in with reading.

watercolors and pencil in 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" pentalic aqua journal

jean doesn't use any pencil, but i did on these turk's cap lilies.  it's so much easier for me...

watercolors and pencil in 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" pentalic aqua journal

ha, this is not very loose, is it?!   


it takes a lot of water to paint the way jean paints, so i looked around for a collapsible water cup that i could stick in my daypack.   i found  faber-castell's clic and go collapsible water cups, and they are fantastic.   the outside is rubber so it's non slip, the top is wavy so you can rest your brush on it, and they collapse down to about an inch tall.    here mine's being filled under a very tiny waterfall where i was painting last week.  it looks like a flower!
 

the last things that i want to tell you about are the ink and dip pen that i use.  my favorite inks are pilot iroshizuku 'ina-ho rice ear', and j. herbin's 'ambre de birmanie'.   i use this nib holder, and this nib - they're inexpensive, but wonderful!

i'm beginning to get caught up on the things i want to tell you.  ; )

* * *

“The artist is the confidant of nature; flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms. Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs toward him.” 

~August Rodin

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


after van gogh ~ watercolors and white gouache in pocket moleskine sketchbook

the last few months have been a whirlwind...  three months have passed since my last post, and it seems like a month - at most!

l - r, carole, beth, me

the main event of my trip to virginia was a 165 mile, 16 day  hike on the appalachian trail.  i went with my sister, carole, and our friend, beth.  carole and beth had already hiked the other 300+ miles of the virginia AT; i just went along on the last section.


carole took this to show people that the AT isn't just a smooth path...


but sometimes it is!


it's beautiful, that much is certain.


we saw soooo many flowers...  this is a wild azalea, which may be my favorite flower.


a striped trillium...  we walked through miles of striped trillium.  we walked over mountains blanketed with white and pink trillium.  before the trip we had no idea that trilliums grew in such profusion...

the birds were mind blowing in their variety and in the songs they sang.  one night we heard whip-poor-wills all night long - above our tent.


here we are at the end, feeling very hot and sweaty.  and a little mighty...

it's humbling to hike the AT in late spring because you meet a lot of 'through hikers'.  they left georgia in february and planned to reach maine in july.  every day that they're on the trail they hike 13 - 26 miles.  whoa...


another thing i did in virginia was spend the better part of three days at the national gallery of art in washington, D.C.   i *loved* that.  they had a bookstore that was crammed with art books.  this is just one section - there was another!   i was in hog heaven...

i painted the painting at the top of the post that weekend; the original is in the nat'l gallery, as well as four or five other van gogh's.   i was happy to see them.


my 'daily book' on the trip was a pocket moleskine sketchbook.   before the hike i painted a lot, pages like the one above.


during the hike the pages looked more like this.   for the most part i had little energy for painting.


after the hike, back to painting!


now my 'daily book' is a 3 1/2" x 5" 'handbook', doing pages like this with watercolors and colored pencil.


but i'm also working outside my 'daily book'...   in fact my 'daily book' has become a place for writing things down about the day with only a tiny bit of painting/drawing.  i'm working in a lot of other books, and that's where my painting practice is happening.  one thing i do is tear 22" x 30" sheets of watercolor paper into fourths, fold them in half and stitch them together.


i'm practicing painting flowers in a looser way.  i practice and practice! the page on the left is acrylic flower practice.  i'm pretty stuck on flowers right now.


more practicing...   painting (with watercolors) without drawing first and using lots of water.  this is in the little book i take out walking.  one of these - they have *great* paper in them.


i'm tickled with the slightest progress.  i have to keep reminding myself to let each layer dry *completely* before proceeding.

and now we come to what *really*  motivated me to do this post!  i wanted to show you the slant well palettes that i've gotten recently.  if you're like me you'll say, "why didn't i figure this out before?!"


kathy gave me this ceramic palette, and i was immediately smitten with it.  not only is the palette itself beautiful, but the way that water lays at the front edge of the paint - so easy to pick paint up with a brush!  i wanted to order another one, but they no longer had this size (this is where they come from).


so, after much looking around on the internet i bought this holbein metal palette.  they come in different sizes, and in steel or aluminum.  this is the one i got - it has 24 slant wells.  i've put what looks like ridiculously small dabs of paint in it, but it's *plenty*. 


closed...   

they make so much sense for watercolors; i truly cannot believe that i never thought about using a slant well palette before.

i have more stuff that i want to share, but this post is long enough.  i'll be back -  and it won't be three months from now!

* * *

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”

~ Søren Kierkegaard

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


watercolors and gouache in hahnemuhle sketchbook, 4" x 6"

i've been delinquent, but i must post now because tomorrow i leave for a five week trip to virginia.  if i don't post now it'll be may before i do!    that's just too long!

after a maira kalman painting in 'my favorite things' ~ colored pencil and pencil in hahnemuhle sketchbook, 4" x 6"

my arm has healed beautifully, that's not why i haven't posted.  partly it's been laziness, and partly it's been a lack of anything to show.   i felt like the woman in the drawing above; everything i did left me uninspired.  it felt old, boring, bleh...   i tried a lot of different papers and a lot of different books, and everything i did in them felt bleh.

then a few things happened.  i read this post by julie ford oliver and what she described felt so much like what i was in the middle of that i better just knowing i wasn't alone.    i saw the flower paintings of bari j. and instantly felt "YES!" inside.  and last but not least, another post by julie ford oliver showing a watercolor painting in a moleskine sketchbook, which i've always thought of as the worst possible books for watercolors.  but hey, it was obviously time to shake things up so i painted in an old one and loved it.  it was the first thing i'd done in months that truly made me happy inside.

watercolors and gouache in hahnemuhle sketchbook, 4" x 6"

since then i've been painting gleefully...  this bird and the painting at the top of the post were done in a hahnemuhle sketchbook that i got in february - and quickly decided was no good for watercolors (but fantastic for pencil).   now i think that watercolors (especially gansai tambi watercolors) are gorgeous in it.

looking back it feels like i was in a maze, taking lots of turns that i thought would lead to soulful paintings, but were instead dead ends.  it was very frustrating and i'm glad i'm out of it...


one of the things that i'm gonna do in virginia (besides visit my family) is go on a long hike on the appalachian trail.  i've been walking *a lot* lately to get ready for it.  i'll be taking a sketchbook for sure, and this paint set which is (most) affectionately known as The Badass Paint Set.  i took the cotman paints out and put in my own choices...  also a small tube of white gouache. 


and now on to things that i've been wanting to tell you about!   this pencil sharpener for starters!  it's the best...  i know, i know, i've recommended other sharpeners before, but this one's better!

pentalic 100% cotton watercolor journals now come in a 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" size;  larger 5" x 8" books are also available.  the paper in these books is *nice*.

legion paper company sells samplers of many kinds of paper - watercolor, book, digital, drawing, etc...  you can order them here.

the best list of journals, sketchbooks and visual diaries ever, here!  thank you, beverley!

okay, i can go on my trip now...   : )

* * *

“A journal is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think that you control it.”

~ John Steinbeck, via tumblr


Wednesday, February 4, 2015


watercolors on fabriano mediovalis paper, 3 1/2" x 5 1/4"

a few weeks ago i fell off of a log while crossing the creek and fractured the humerus on my right arm.  the good thing is that you don't have to have a cast for this kind of fracture, the not good thing is that you still can't use your arm!    but i'm really, really grateful for no cast and only a fracture;  also that i'm completely off of dish washing duty for a while.

i've kept painting,  sometimes with my left hand (above), and sometimes with my right, which i can do if i keep the paper close to my body.  i have to use my left hand to rinse the brush and pick up more paint, though, so it's not a speedy process.

watercolors on fabriano mediovalis paper, 3 1/2" x 5 1/4"

this is one of the last paintings i did before i hurt my  arm.   i  will surely be glad to get back to painting these small, precise paintings!   i marvel at it now!

little by little it gets easier to type, so i'll be back to leaving my words at your places soon.  the main reason for this post is to tell you that...

* * *

“Art is, after all, only a trace — like a footprint which shows that one has walked bravely and in great happiness.”

~ Robert Henri (via tumblr)

Sunday, January 4, 2015


'tree girl' ~ casein paint, beeswax, watercolors and oil pastels on stillman and birn 'delta' paper

it's been a long time...  i've painted a lot since the november post.   i've tried to draw and paint every day, because it keeps me happy...

pencil and watercolors on 'delta' paper

but for sure there've been plenty of days when this was my motto.  when i painted and drew even when i couldn't think of anything to paint or draw. 

watercolors, oil pastels and pencil on 'delta' paper

i finished the landscape orientation book from the november post,

oil pastels, watercolors and pencil on 'delta' paper 

watercolors and pencil on 'delta' paper

pencil on 'delta' paper

watercolors and pencil in pocket moleskine

 started in a new pocket watercolor moleskine, and made a new book with stillman and birn's 'delta' paper.

pencil and watercolors in pocket moleskine

i painted a lot of leaf girls.

'golden' high flow acrylics and pencil on 'delta' paper

here i was messing around with 'golden' high flow acrylics. i *like* them.

watercolors, gouache, colored pencil and pencil in pocket moleskine

i painted/drew a lot of this page while i was on the phone, on hold.   listening to muzak can make you go a little crazy.

watercolors and pencil in pocket moleskine

i've thought about how much i love to draw small faces,

watercolors,  oil pastels, pencil and gouache in pocket moleskine

and bigger ones.

watercolors and pencil in pocket moleskine

watercolors and pencil on 'delta' paper

last summer i decided that i wanted to paint faces with watercolors only - no colored pencil or oil pastels.  i'm practicing and i feel like i'm making progress...

watercolors, pencil, acrylic paint, matte medium and gesso in pocket moleskine

a few days ago i took danielle donaldson's e-course 'creative girl: the land of light and shadows', which is offered on jeanne oliver's ning group. for two days most of jeanne's classes were half price; i took danielle's class and signed up for kathie vezzanie's 'plaster and wax 101' for $34!   i appreciate that jeanne keeps the prices of her classes low in general, and sometimes has super good deals on them.

watercolors,  pencil and uni-ball signo pen in pocket moleskine

in danielle's class i learned a lot about highlights and shadows, which is a subject i'm endlessly  fascinated by.   and danielle's a watercolor and pencil girl too - you know i love that!     i painted this 'danielle girl' in class...  (i'll pretend that the bottom line of her cape  really does make my eyes smile ; )   not only did i learn a lot, it was a lot of *fun* to paint and draw in a different way.

watercolors and pencil in pocket moleskine

i painted this yesterday, sitting outside.  i've hardly been out wandering at all - the ground is really muddy and it's been cold, but yesterday it was 30 degrees, which is warm enough to walk, and, if you find a sunny spot, warm enough to paint.   since i couldn't think of anything to paint i just put color down; i kept painting and repainting until the sun went behind the trees.  it felt so great to be painting outside again...  and yeah, i *do* keep a tube of white gouache in my daypack!

if you've made it this far, you have true stamina, ha!   thank you for your kindness, your comments, and your support in the past year...   and for all of the cool tips and great products that you've shared with me.  may 2015 be a happy one for you all!

* * *

"Art is a line around your thoughts" 

 ~Gustav Klimt