Thursday, August 14, 2014


 'after henry' ~ watercolors and pencil in zecchi wat, 3 1/2" x 5  1/2"

this post is in support of Erwin Lian Cherngzhi's  kickstarter campaign...   Erwin is a sketcher who wants to create The Perfect Sketchbook.   his perfect sketchbook is 3 1/2" x 5 1/2", contains 60 pages of 140# saunders waterford 100% cotton coldpressed watercolor paper, and lays perfectly flat when open.   it also has lots of other great features that you can read about on The Perfect Sketchbook website.


as of today there are six days left in his kickstarter campaign, and i'd like to see him meet his goal because i want to paint in The Perfect Sketchbook!  


the pics in this post were not painted in one of erwin's perfect sketchbooks, but  in a 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" watercolor book that was given to me last spring.


i've had a blast painting in it and only have six blank pages left.  these are some of my favorite pages...


most of the paintings are *not* realistic,


but some are.  i feel like i've learned a lot about painting outside; i have increased respect for those who paint 'en plein air'!  for instance a strong wind always seems to come up when you decide to paint wet on wet, and i am amazed at how fast water dries on paper.


i wanted to make juliette a little less serious, but nope.  all of the sudden mosquitoes were bearing down on me, so serious she stayed!   i only paint in this book when i'm outside, and i always leave the paintings as they were when i shut the book.  i don't fix them up at home...


probably my favorite thing is smearing paint around in the background, and i can get way too carried away with this.  but it's so much fun.


lately i've been doing paintings like this...  whoa!  really fun!


this little book was given to me by kathy dorfer, who brought it back from italy for me.   thank you, kathy...


everything i use (except the pencil)...   it's a cotman watercolor set that i took the paints out of years ago, and replaced with daniel smith watercolors.  the brush is an isabey travel brush.

but back to erwin's kickstarter campaign!   if you think he's on the right track with his sketchbook i hope you'll consider supporting him.   a $25 pledge means that you'll receive a sketchbook sometime in december,  but you can contribute as little as $1...

*  *  *

When Van Gogh was a young man in his early twenties, he was in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. He sat in his cheap little room writing a letter to his younger brother in Holland, whom he loved very much. He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lampost, a star, and he said in his letter something like this: “it is so beautiful I must show you how it looks.” And then on his cheap ruled note paper, he made the most beautiful, tender, little drawing of it. 

 When I read this letter of Van Gogh’s it comforted me very much and seemed to throw a clear light on the whole road of Art. Before, I thought that to produce a work of painting or literature, you scowled and thought long and ponderously and weighed everything solemnly and learned everything that all artists had ever done aforetime, and what their influences and schools were, and you were extremely careful about *design* and *balance* and getting *interesting planes* into your painting, and avoided, with the most astringent severity, showing the faintest *academical* tendency, and were strictly modern. And so on and so on. 

But the moment I read Van Gogh’s letter I knew what art was, and the creative impulse. It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others, by drawing it. 

And Van Gogh’s little drawing on the cheap note paper was a work of art because he loved the sky and the frail lamppost against it so seriously that he made the drawing with the most exquisite conscientiousness and care. 

~ Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit  (via tumblr)

Friday, July 11, 2014


'june' ~ acrylic paint and oil pastels on 140# coldpress watercolor paper, 5" x 7"

june's not happy about the hot july weather...  she remembers the mild, sunny days of, yeah, june...   but it was the hot weather that made me stay inside and paint her, so maybe it's okay after all.  ; )

watercolors and pencil in fabriano venezia

for a while now i've thought about doing a post about my drawing journey of the past year; this post  is about that...   i've been learning how to express myself better through drawing, and it has not seemed easy.

pencil and colored pencil in softcover pocket moleskine

i don't think i'm any better at drawing than i was a year ago, but i have learned a few important things.  one of them is that my people/creatures like wings better than arms.

pencil and colored pencil in sennelier journal

and hair - i'm just not into it.
 
watercolors, pencil and soft pastel in stillman and birn gamma

i thought that once i learned how to draw it (how it sat on the head) i'd put it on every head i drew. 

pencil and colored pencil in sennelier journal

sometimes i do, but not often.   and not so often with legs either.

pencil, colored pencil, and watercolors in stillman and birn gamma

i like bodies that aren't human.

pencil and colored pencil in softcover pocket moleskine

these don't sound like big revelations,

pencil and colored pencil in sennelier journal

but it's taken me a while to figure them out.

pencil and watercolors in fabriano venezia

The Critic likes to tell me that if i were a serious drawer i'd draw more arms, legs, and hair.

watercolors, pencil and soft pastel in stillman and birn gamma

no way.

pencil, colored pencil and watercolors in stillman and birn epsilon

i've found myself thinking at times that i can't draw.

pencil and colored pencil in stillman and birn epsilon

what could be a more ridiculous thought?!!  but i've come to see that it takes practice to draw what i feel, in a way that makes me smile.

pencil and colored pencil in stillman and birn epsilon

and this.  it took me a long time to get this: i am a dabbler, a doodler, a jotter.  i am not a drawer of big, complicated scenes; i like little glimpses...  i am a messer arounder...


last week i got a .3 mechanical pencil and i love it for tiny details.  otherwise i use a .5 mechanical pencil and a cretacolor 8B pencil.   that's another thing i've learned:  i like drawing with pencil best - not because i can erase, but because i can smudge.

* * *

“There is only one valuable thing in art: the thing you cannot explain.” 

~ Georges Braque

Saturday, June 21, 2014



my friends, i wish you a happy solstice ~ summer or winter...  

may it be a beautiful one!

* * *

 “You know, they ask me if I were on a desert island and I knew nobody would ever see what I wrote, would I go on writing. My answer is most emphatically yes. I would go on writing for company. Because I’m creating an imaginary — it’s always imaginary — world in which I would like to live.”

~ William S. Burroughs, quoted in interview, The Paris Review (Fall 1965)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


untitled ~ acrylic paint, pan and oil pastels, charcoal and colored pencils and watercolors in 'daily book', 3 1/2" x 5"

it's been so long!  it's not easy to narrow things down, sum them up!  

pen, pencil, watercolors, colored pencil in pocket 'hand book'

i'll start with what i've been doing a lot of in my 'daily book', which is drawing/painting imaginary  flowers,

pen, pencil, watercolors, colored pencil in pocket 'hand book'

and these kind of people. 

pencil and colored pencil in pocket 'hand book'

i call them 'simple people' because there isn't much to them, but still, a few lines can convey a lot.


drawing and painting at home have taken a back seat to wandering, though.


it seems like a lifetime ago that i walked day after day on south facing ridges so i could smell the flowers on these bushes.  i'd love it if someone could ID them for me - i have no idea what they're called!  they smell like cinnamon buns with vanilla icing on top, and i will do just about anything to be out walking amongst them.


weeks - and many fragrant flowers - later, i'm entranced with a small patch of mountain lady's slippers.   this is the first time i've seen them here, and i visit them almost every day.  they smell like baby powder...
 

i've drawn on a lot of cans, sticks, and rocks, and left them behind...








for all of them i used a mechanical pencil and prismacolor colored pencils.


i've also been taking a small watercolor set with me and painting what i see.   first i draw with pencil without erasing;  if i don't like a line, i draw another i like better.  and then i paint it without being too particular about accuracy.   that way it stays fun, and i've loved doing it.


the arrow is pointing to the little watercolor book drying in the sun, and my watercolor set is in front of the chair, but what i wanted to show you is the chair.   it's made by REI, and it's called a 'flex lite' chair.  it weighs 1 lb. 12 oz., and it's super duper!!   if you're interested in a lightweight hiking/camping chair, check it out...


one more thing...   i took the table out of my tiny art room and made it into a place where i can sit and draw/paint/read.  it came to me one day that i've *never* liked sitting at a table to work, so why did i have a table in my art room?!  crazy...   i really love it the way it is now.


seen this morning - a gold beetle!  whoa!  

 nature...

* * * 

 “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place; from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” 

~ Pablo Picasso (via tumblr)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


'coral' ~ watercolors, gouache, graphite, gesso, and oil pastel on book page - approx. 5" x 7"

i'm still painting with watercolors more or less effortlessly...   sometimes adding oil pastel and gouache - or watercolors right out of the tube, which is what all the green is around coral. 

after matisse ~ watercolors, gouache and charcoal pencil - 31/2" x 8"

the long paintings in this post are in this book, which is my new watercolor book.  i really like the size - and the paper.

pencil and watercolors in pocket 'handbook' 

i abandoned the moleskine daily planner and started a new 'daily book' in one of these...   it was too frustrating not to be able to use watercolors in the planner.  i'll rip out the pages i drew on (in the planner) when i'm done with this book, and stick them together.

watercolors and gouache - 3 1/2" x 5"

effortless girls...  although the one on the right looks more like an indignant mother!

pencil, colored pencil, & watercolors in pocket 'handbook'

after van gogh ~ watercolors, gouache, matte gel medim, & oil pastels on book page- approx. 5" x 7"

inspired by Lisa DiNunzio's van gogh paintings...  and of course looking really *nothing* like vincent's, but so much fun to try.

after balthus ~ watercolors and gouche - 3 1/2" x 8"

pencil and soft pastels in pocket 'handbook'

'sally and her husband watch the rapture in their back yard' ~ watercolors, ink, and gouache - 3 1/2" x 8"

watercolors, watersoluble graphite, matte gel medium, and oil pastels on book page - approx. 5" x 7"

this is a painting that i just started, and i've put it here to show how easy it is to start a face with a few simple ingredients...


a water soluble graphite pencil,  a cream caran d'ache oil pastel, and three colors of watercolor paint: raw sienna, paynes grey, and vermillion.   i did the same thing that i do in my 'how i paint faces' tutorial in the sidebar.  once you draw the face with the watersoluble pencil, smear it around for instant shading, and go from there.    it's been a while since i started a face like this, and it blows me away how easy it is.   it took me two or three minutes to do this, and it gives me a good start...


on a completely different subject, did you see the lunar eclipse last night?  whoa!   i'm still under the spell of the starry sky and deep orange moon!   i'm thinking about how i want to have a tripod ready for the next one in october.

i think i've posted the following quote before, but it's a good one, and perfect for where i am now...

* * *

"To keep your process flowing, to feel the enjoyment of creation, you first need to go where it is easy.  Easy means ripe.  Go where you are attracted, whether it be toward a detail or a large shape.  While you work on the part that is easy, other parts will mature in you, and they will be ready and waiting.  You move step by step, from the easiest to the easiest.  It is never tedious or tiring because there is no need to force anything.  Depth resides more in surrendering to spontaneity that in hardworking struggle.

~ 'Life, Paint and Passion', Michele Cassou and Stewart Cubley