Friday, December 27, 2013

Riva degli Schiavoni, Venice

I was drawn to the warmth of this scene along the river in Venice. Most of the places I have visited there have been elbow to elbow with turisti but they must have been in the shops or out on the gondolas as I happened by. It's been lovely visiting Venice this month. As always, the virtual trip has made me want to pack my bags and go see it for real.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

On the Canali di Venezia

Venice at last! I've looked at Google Street View so many times over the years, hoping to no avail to see Venice. It was so exciting to find that the cameras have been there and Bill Guffey has taken us there for this month's Virtual Paint Out. There is a temptation to spend all available time just looking around but with the holidays coming up, I decided I better just get to it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Icelandic Sheep

I was looking for a single sheep to paint for this month's Virtual Paintout but I came upon this flock and the light was so incredible, I had to paint them all. There is one sheep who stands out for me though, the one near the bank who's laying down posing for the Google camera.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


This is the largest watercolor painting I have attempted in some time and, just as I suspected, it was a lot easier to paint than the little dinky ones I have been doing. I'm glad I found a big mountain to paint so I could break out of that rut.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Icelandic Homestead

This old homestead in Iceland appears to be the original home of the family, with a newer home and outbuildings nearby. Although the newer home is crisp and neat, it is the older one that draws my interest. I did an earlier version of this painting, using the colors and values that I was seeing on Google Streetview. As you can see below, it was pretty bland and I decided there wasn't enough there to make a painting. My thoughts kept returning to the little home and the dreams of the family who built it there by the sea so I glazed it with warm colors to bring it to life.

Original sketch:

Sunday, October 27, 2013


I discovered this colorful mamacita in Lima, Peru for this month's virtual paintout. I didn't think I would have time to paint this month since my own precious mamacita took a bad tumble near the end of September and broke her shoulder as well as breaking and shattering her kneecap.  She was in the hospital and rehab for two weeks, during which time I stayed in her room with her 24/7.  She's so tiny and fragile and was so broken, it was heartbreaking, but she's on the mend now and is her sweet and funny self again, thank God.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Seaview, Isle of Wight

I've been experimenting with different color palettes to try to add punch to the scenes that I see on my virtual travels. This beautiful little seaport town didn't need a color boost but I was in the mood to see how it might look in the late afternoon.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Afternoon Traffic

The strong afternoon light on this street scene in Newport, Isle of Wight, caught my eye. Cars can be intimidating to paint but their shiny surfaces made me think of glass. With that in mind, I painted them shape by shape and aimed for high contrast, just as I would for glass. Fun!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Thatched Cottage

A scouting trip around the Isle of Wight for September's Virtual Paintout brought me to this ancient thatched cottage. Originally built in the 1600s, it now serves as lodging. Wish I could go see it for real!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Detroit Mist

This month's virtual paintout takes us to the city of Detroit. Since it is a city with deep financial woes, I expected it to be an impoverished, boarded up, graffiti plagued wasteland, but I found it lovely, for the most part. I've been hungry for texture in my paintings lately so tried a combo of watercolor and gouache to depict this atmospheric scene.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Flower Blocks

This was a challenging but super fun exercise in my sketchbook to play with a limited palette. I used two new to me colors, antwerp blue and chrome yellow lemon, as well as rose dore, a color I haven't used in years. None of the colors had a lot of value strength so I punched up some of the background with moonglow. This is not my usual painting style but was so much fun I think I'll do some refinement in the design and enlarge it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Oregon Grape

The weather has been perfect for plein air sketching and painting. I didn't realize how rusty my drawing from nature skills have gotten, ugh! Fortunately, it is pure fun to be outside with a fountain pen and my tiny (4x2") palette in such sweet weather so I'm getting a little practice. I sat on a flat rock on a low bridge over a pond to sketch these Oregon grapes.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Southern Style (cropped)

After painting the original Southern Comfort, posting it here, and sending it off to Bill Guffey of the Virtual Paintout for posting, I plunked it in a mat with an 8x10 opening and I think it works a little better, maybe. It reduces the number of shapes, which seems more eye pleasing. What d'ya think?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Southern Style

We travel to Charleston, South Carolina with the Virtual Paintout this month. I love the stately, picturesque homes, especially the white ones that capture the feel of sunshine, set off by the lush tropical trees and flowers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Palm Study

Just seeing how far I could push the color on this one. I might have gone a tad overboard but I've been feeling that my color has been heading toward the anemic end of the scale lately so this was good practice.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Garden Shed

Last weekend, I went to a garage sale that advertised that its garden would be open to the public. It was a great garage sale but the back garden was eye popping. I've never seen such a beautiful private garden. There were several little houses/sheds in back, each more enchanting than the last, unique and wondrous sculptures, bird cages, birdhouses and birdbaths, and of course tons of flowers and shrubs meticulously attended to. In all, there were actually three gardens, one behind the other, with wonderful archways leading to each. Here is the garden shed from the back garden. The arch above the door is of woven, aged branches, with a bird statue perching overhead. Truly a delight.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sun Rays

There's something magical about the sun streaming through breaks in the clouds. The old cottage by the sea in Portugal had a front row seat for nature's show.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Marmalade Cat

Can you spot the orange cat in the yard of this house in the Azores, Portugal? This structure had such an interesting shape, with its twin towers and angled walls, but it was the cat that grabbed my attention, sitting so contentedly among the flowers.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Come Boss

I doubt that's how the farmers call their cows to the barn in the Azores, Portugal, but that's how my grampa called his cows in at night. I came across this straggler on a back road on the island of Angra do Heroismo, Portugal, when the night birds were flying.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


This little bunny spotted at a nearby lake park seemed to think he was hidden in the grass. :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Morning Glories

I began the Virtual Paintout month in Lido a little discouraged, thinking I would not find anything interesting enough to paint there. It's pretty touristy, which is unappealing to me. But it forced me to look a little harder and I found subject matter away from the towns. On the same country lane where I found my fruit picker, below, I discovered a long row of morning glories on a wire fence. I should have remembered, paradise is everywhere!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Girl From the Lane

I discovered this girl pedaling down a country lane in Lido Di Jesolo and stopped to take a closer look. Garbed in her yellow kitchen gloves and with a full bike basket and bucket of fruit, it seems she's been picking her neighbors' fruit. The bucket appears to hold mangoes.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sandy and Margie Go to the Beach

This bit of weirdness was painted from a tiny, pixelated screen grab from Google Street View in Lido Di Jesolo, Italy, May's Virtual Paintout location. I've spent many hours looking for inspiration there but it wasn't working for me, until I saw these ladies loaded up with beach gear. Because I could barely see them in the screen shot, I was free to make up a lot of stuff, including their backstory. I accidentally gave "Sandy" big hair and since the location's only commerce is tourism, I decided she's a hard working waitress on her day off, taking her old mum to the beach. Margie the mom doesn't get out much, so I gave her some bright red lipstick and fresh hennaed curls for the outing. It was fun but I suspect I need to get out more myself or next you know, I could be dolling up like Margie. ;)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Couldn't resist sketching this brightly clad lady taking the lower road, passing by ancient looking steps leading to an upper road.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Nice Catch

Judging by the admiring crowd, this Bulgarian fisherman must have gotten lucky with the day's catch.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I spotted this little robin out my front window, looking over his shoulder at me.This painting was a difficult one since I intended it as a sketch only and drew it on hot press paper which doesn't handle layers or lift-offs very well, at least in my experience.  I love his sweet expression, curious but not alarmed. It makes me think of the lyrics to a song, "I was lookin' back to see if you were lookin' back at me."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tree by the Sea

A simple scene from beautiful Bulgaria, this month's location for the Virtual Paint Out.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gediminas Tower Overlook

Gediminas Tower in Lithuania overlooks the medieval town of Vilnius. This view is of the Old Town which is tightly packed with buildings going every which way. Trying to make sense of, and simplify, all the buildings made it a huge but entertaining challenge to paint.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sunset with Red Barn

My first oil painting teacher admonished that artists should never paint sunsets or red barns because they were trite subject matter, but I decided to be a rebel today and paint both. Yeah, felt good! Silly rules.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Humble Bee

While painting this bee today, I pondered on what precious little creatures bees are. The title "The Humble Bee" popped into my head for some reason so I googled it and found it is the title of a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson.You can read it here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Italian Flower Shop

I spotted this flower shop in a narrow alley in Lucca, Italy on Google Street View. I wasn't sure I could pull off a painting of it, since the alley was largely shadowed by the surrounding buildings. Poor light is the greatest challenge on Street View, but slowly I am learning to make light where there isn't enough. Oooo, the power, hehe. Anyway, it was a valuable lesson for the day.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ornate Door

I've been trying to push myself to loosen up with my watercolors, but I spotted this ornate doorway in Siena, Italy, and knew I had to paint it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Siena Shoppers

This small painting was done in my sketchbook today to challenge myself to paint with a large (#14) round brush. I had the wonderfully good fortune to have taken a workshop from the late Irving Shapiro, whose favorite brush was a 1" flat, and that is what I have painted with, for the most part, ever since. Watercolor needs to do its own thing and I found the round brush helped me to allow that to happen. Great fun!

Friday, January 18, 2013

To the Sea

Other than the paved road in this scene on the Isle of Man, the landscape probably hasn't changed much for hundreds of years. The road leads to the Irish Sea from Cregneash Village, a living museum consisting of thatched cottages and houses, where farms continue to be worked via horsepower and livestock freely roam the 300 acres. According to the Isle of Man Guide, life continues as it has for hundreds of years with the old crafts and trades from earlier times used in the everyday life of the villagers.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Island Palm Tree

While the Isle of Man is an island, it is not tropical, with an average temperature of 49 degrees, so I was surprised to spot this palm tree.

Monday, January 7, 2013

St. Runius Church

On the Isle of Man is an ancient Celtic church, originally built in 1200 AD and rebuilt around 1860, surrounded by what appears to be hundreds of ancient gravestones. It's an amazing sight to see, even virtually.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rock Outbuilding with Sheep

I've begun the new year with a cold, ugh!, but waiting another day to feel better before breaking out my paintbrushes wasn't something I wanted to do. Not unexpectedly, I didn't paint a masterpiece today but I did learn something from it. The Google Street View photo was dark, with a limited tonal and color range, but I was really interested in the old rock building. Unfortunately, the painting was pretty flat when I finished. I went back into it with an ink pen and picked out some detail here and there which gives it a little more interest and saved it from the total crap file. Some days that's all you can ask for. ;)