Saturday, December 27, 2014

Piazza dell'Esquilino, Rome

Only after painting a corner of this ancient building did I discover a rather famous (having originally been at the entrance to the Mausoleum of Augustus), huge obelisk, behind the trees and my vantage point. There's something fascinating to paint around every corner in Rome. I need to win the lottery....

Friday, December 5, 2014

Loosening up

There's just nothing better than a new toy to wake up the muse. After watching a youtube video by Karlyn Holman this morning, I made a trip to Michael's and picked up the tool she was using, an Elegant Writer Calligraphy Marker. I did a quick sketch with the marker, then wet the water soluble ink in the house area lightly with a damp brush. Using a large brush, I flicked water over the tree to release the ink. A last layer, just touches here and there, was done in watercolor. I like the loss of control with this technique and its unexpected mixes and lost and found edges.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sunlit Street

Couldn't resist the sunlight on this curvy street in Luxembourg. I managed to keep to a limited palette of alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, and raw sienna. I really need to remember that a limited palette actually makes things much easier.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Canal Overlook

This month's virtual paintout takes us to the gorgeous city of Luxembourg where I spotted the colorful cars parked near the water far below the Rue Sosthène Weis.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ivy Covered Cottage

The Virtual Paint Out this month is in County Kerry, Ireland. There are so many beautiful places to paint there! I am still playing with sketching, rather than straight watercolor painting, is just fun. I spent some time on the pencil sketch on this one, then went over it in permanent ink. Application of the paint was quick, which disappointed me because I wanted to go on painting. With sketching tho, you have to decide whether the drawing is more important than the paint.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Waiting for the Bus

This month's virtual paintout is in beautiful Gothenburg, Sweden. There are so many interesting scenes there to paint but I decided to just launch in and sketch the first thing I found. It must have been cold there at the water's edge as everyone on the street was bundled up. This lady looked to me as if she has finished her shopping and is waiting for transportation back to the warmth of her home. I drew with the bamboo stick dipped in Chinese ink again and then painted with my new 12-tube introductory set of QoR paints. They didn't seem as intense as they were with my last sketch using them, but that is probably because I was using Hahnemuhle paper and it seems to let the colors sink in a bit.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Found Objects

Sketchbook Skool wasn't the solution I was hoping for to get back into drawing more, although I did enjoy it and do feel it was worth trying. I got the inspiration for today's drawing from bronze horses in a window full of interesting objects in this month's Virtual Paintout in Kinmen, Taiwan. Further inspiration came from cleaning my studio and discovering a long pointed bamboo stick with a paddle end that I picked up at a recent dinner at a Thai restaurant. It's too narrow to be a chopstick and too long to be a stir stick so I'm not sure what its designated purpose is but it was wonderful as a drawing instrument, dipped in Chinese ink. The watercolor paint is from an introductory set of dots supplied by Qor.  I am really excited by the way it moved on the paper and the intensity of the color. Also recently found my old chop that has been lost since I moved back from Hawaii, a lifetime ago.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

No Safety Net

This week's lesson with the Sketch Book Skool is continual line contour drawing taught by Brenda Swenson. The drawing is of three objects in ink, no pencil first!, and, as the name suggests, drawn as a continual line without lifting the pen. To make it even more interesting, this was done in water soluble ink, which causes unexpected runs and edges, followed with watercolor. It was such an unexpectedly fun way to work that I hope to continue to work this way lots more. I've never really been a sketchbook person, although just glancing up here at my studio bookcase I see at least 20 of them, so maybe I am! But just sketching for fun or as a journal has never been that interesting to me before. Kinda feels like a new toy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Fun With the Sketchbook Skool

Painting has had to take more and more of a back seat the last few months as my elderly parents require more care and attention.  I never want to put their needs second, or even my need for them second. They are so precious! Still, I do need to do something creative. I found the perfect solution by signing up with Sketchbook Skool (, taught online by six teachers over a period of six weeks. Danny Gregory, author, sketchbook wizard, and all-around amazing human being, is teaching the first week. He is not just informative, he is hilarious. It has been such an enjoyable experience so far, and with the lineup of teachers in the wings, I have no doubt it will continue to be so. It is not too late to sign up for this course, so if you are feeling stuck or just want to have some fun, I can't recommend it too highly.

There are videos, discussions and feedback from"klassmates," written materials, a gallery of student work, a dedicated Facebook page and a forum. There were two homework assignments this week. The first was to look at a piece of toast, of all things, really look at it and draw it in ink, color optional. I have to admit I've never really looked at a piece of toast. It was like drawing the craters of the moon. Really fascinating and fun. Here was my toast (Dave's Killer Bread, Good Seed variety, the best), although actually it was the heel of the loaf because I was low on bread. Every student had a different take on the assignment and it was loads of fun to see what everyone came up with.

The second, and last, assignment of the week was to do a one minute drawing of an object in paint or ink using the largest paintbrush you could handle (mine was a #14 watercolor brush). The second part was to refine the drawing with a large ink pen, and then refine it further with a finer pen.  I chose a water spritzer as my object and painted it with Chinese watercolor, then drew over it with Chinese ink and a dip pen, doing the last details with a Sharpie ultrafine pen. Like so:

This class was exactly what I needed, when I needed it. It took away the stress and just plain hard work watercolor painting can be. Don't worry, be happy!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Liverpool Backroad

Whew, my muse has deserted me for months! Maybe this little painting will get me back on track. I tried something different with it by painting the 300# rough watercolor paper with a first layer of yellow acrylic, saving the small areas of white paper, and painting over it with mostly granulating watercolors. I think I was a little heavy handed with the first layer, which caused subsequent layers to be quite dark, but I do like the contrast and saturation that I was able to achieve with this method. And it was really, really fun to paint this way.