Revisit to A Yuba River Scene

painting #1 on Fabriano 200# 7 x 9 inches

I decided to revisit a scene on the river that I have painted at least 20 times.  I had recently discovered some old paintings from my watercolor past A Look Back and felt that it would be fun to go back and see how I would approach an old haunt of mine. Painting #1 was difficult to marry up the photo to the painting, bear that in mind. That rock on the left is not so blue and all the blotches are not as sharp as in this photo. I think that I might go back and soften up that darkest rock. It was that dark in reality but it doesn’t coincide with the rest of the landscape in this painting.

My scene

The photo above is my scene when there was more brilliant light, I had the hardest time taking a photo without the sun rays interfering. I must say that this spot at this particular time with fall lighting was so beautiful that I was almost constantly saying “OH MY GOODNESS!” I was also bursting out in song and I am not a singer!

painting #2 on Saunders 200# 7 x 9 inches

I totally loved painting this one, it seemed to be a no-brainer in how to paint it. The rocks to the left look almost too overwhelming in the photo but in reality, it is just right. I might take up a bit of the dark color but I’ll wait and see.

painting #3 on Saunders 200# 7 x 9 inches

Oh My Goodness! This one was so fun painting that I almost wanted to jump for joy, I couldn’t because I was too darn busy painting and I was perched on a rock…..jump for joy fun! I let loose with this one and didn’t worry that it didn’t follow the rock formation that I was looking at. I was going for feeling.

My “Jump For Joy” scene

Beautiful, isn’t it? Now I had painted a 4th painting but my water went muddy on me and I do believe that I introduced a 4th color to get what I wanted and I knew it was happening while I dabbed away at my palette. For shame! I am always a two or perhaps three color painter (as we all should be). I think that I didn’t plan out my color combo in the beginning and got insecure and there you go. I also have a rock in that painting that I have struggled with all the times that I have painted there. I plan to knock that component down with a future painting. Until next time!

Learning Points:

  • Duh! I keep forgetting to sign my name and do a copyright on my paintings! Debi Riley has been urging me, maybe pleading with me and what do I do? I ignore her once again! I need to learn how to put a copyright on my photos and my paintings but I am so slow at these kind of things.
  • Mix on the paper and alternate your edges, makes things fun and exciting.
  • Have fun, doggoneit!

Not Downieville but the Yuba!

Painting #1 on Arches 140# rough 7 x 9 inches

I had planned on painting in Downieville, a little mountain town that nestles along the edge of the river. I arrived promptly at 8 am but I found that the town was in complete shadow, the mountains surrounding this town are close and tall. Funny because I was thinking about arriving at 7 am but got to thinking that the sun wouldn’t be making it appearance until later. I asked a local man and he told me that I would have to wait until 9 am! what! I decided to go on up the road and paint at an area that I have painted many times and also have swam with the family.

My general scene of three paintings
Painting #2 on Saunders #200 7 x 9 inches

This is my favorite painting out of the entire bunch…there is something about this one that feels almost perfect. I haven’t figured out why, is it the composition, colors? what? any idea? By the way to paint where I did, I had to scramble over rocks and avoid plunging into the river, it was very fun! I had been dealing with vertigo off and on this past month and it is so much better. It had me worried when I was having it several weeks ago because all I could think of is that I HAVE to Paint!

The other problem I ran across is that I forgot my palette, so I improvised. I used the lid to my container of water.  I was planning on using a rock if anything, nothing was going to stop me from painting.

My underpainting for painting #3
My finished painting #3 on Arches 140# rough 7 x 9 inches

For some reason I didn’t finish this painting and later in the studio I thought I would finish it up. It was a fun exercise because I used my memory and “what needs to be done” abilities.

My scene for the next two paintings



Painting #4 on Arches 300# rough 11 x 14 inches

I had a lot of fun trying to paint this one but I got lost in the details and while I was fiddling around, my light was changing. I then proceeded to chasing light and lost my initial focus. I need to learn to get in and get out as quickly as possible. After all this is plein air right? Not meant to be a masterpiece or a refined studio piece. Keep It Simple Precious! I ended up with some nondescript areas and that is alright, I count this as a good exercise.

Painting #5 on Arches Saunders #200 7 x 9 inches

I decided to give it one more try. I went loose and fast, what do I have to lose? Absolutely nothing! My problem is that I am an aggressive painter, my approach is to throw on the paint and sometimes I muck it up or can’t go back the other direction. I can’t seem to hold back that urge and with watercolor careful planning while being aggressive is pulling out an juggling act on my part.

I took longer than usual getting this post out because of having a bout with carpal tunnel, I have been trying to rest my hand and avoid using my computer mouse so much. If any of you deal with this I would like to hear what has helped you other than surgery.


Learning Points:

  • It is alright to be aggressive but also plan ahead, a few steps ahead is all that I need.
  • Just because I am painting on a larger sheet of paper doesn’t mean to go slower and more detailed.
  • Keep it loose, watercolor loves to play and I love to play too!
  • Working with fresh paint is Marvelous!!!
  • Remember to double check my equipment and supplies before leaving.

A Look Back

300# Arches cp 7 x 9 inches plein air

While looking for old paintings to turn over and re-use, I ran across some of my paintings that aren’t so bad after all. I think that I needed to step back in time and re-evaluate some of my watercolors.

The painting at the top there was the first time that I had gone out and painted with another artist en plein air, this was back in 2007 . She also had given me a piece of 300# paper to try out, I was convinced but at the time didn’t like the price. As you can see, I am conservative with my colors and very straightforward.

140# Arches cp 7 x 9 inches

I do believe that this was about the same period of time that I painted painting #1 because it is the same view but closer in. I have painted at this particular spot at least 20 times, perhaps I need to go back and see how my current approach will be compared to these old paintings.

a close-up of the rapids
140# on Arches rough 7 x 9 inches

I couldn’t get the green to marry up with the actual painting, the color is rich while in this photo it is lack luster. The background is much better in the painting itself, the photo separated the colors. This is a studio painting I believe and I remember how much I stressed over getting it “perfect”. At the time I considered it a fail, currently I love it! Goes to show how much I have released the perfectionism within myself.

When I first started a serious “dive” into watercolors, I was scared and felt vulnerable because just the idea of posting my journey was overwhelming. It is one of the best decisions of my artistic life because I have learned to let go and enjoy the process of learning and exploring.  This post May oh My! was my first post about my incredible journey.

Thank you for bearing with me on this looking back post.

Trees Oh My!

Cypress trees on Arches 140# 11 x 14 inches

I have been working on this painting off and on for several weeks. I was going to establish it further but decided to let it be. Sometimes I think that with my studio work, I fiddle too much, this is a common problem, nothing new. Here is the original post with photos of this tree (I think) at least the post will give you the general idea Peoria Memorial Park-World Watercolor 7

Semi-abstract of oaks on Arches 300# rough 11 x 14 inches

I am not convinced that this is a success, because of several reasons, my darker foliage came out more bluish than I intended and I feel that my color passages are not fresh enough. I do believe that with plein air I am always vying for that fresh look so now I am spoiled because I am looking for that in all my work, which is a good thing but I raising the bar on myself.


This is the painting before I decided to bring out some of the dark branches. This was first started as a plein air of some oak trees with late evening sun. I didn’t continue on because I wanted to bring out the dark tree trunks when the paper was dry. I liked the underpainting initially, I have been painting from memory and imagination. I think that I might come back to this idea and do several which means I’ll start it en plein air and continue on as before. I am hoping for fresh color, and to carry over the beauty of the evening light.



Hall’s Ranch on the North Yuba


Painting #1 on Arches 140# rough 7 x 9 inches

I have painted at this spot once before but with pastels and I have fished here a few times as well.

My scene on the North Yuba
Painting #2 on Arches 140# rough 7 x 9 inches
Painting #3 on Saunders 200# 7 x 9 inches

Wow…..I love Saunders! I have painted several times before but I think it really hit me how much I love this paper, especially with granulating colors. It is pure magic.

Painting #4 on Saunders 200# 11 x 14 inches

By the time I was almost finished with my fourth painting, I was feeling rain drops and I was so involved with painting that I didn’t realize that it had quickly clouded up and was now threatening to get serious. I decided to wrap it up.

Learning Points:

  • Paint with different papers, change it up often, it is fun and you’ll discover your favorite kind of paper, Saunders and Fabriano are my favorites to date.
  • Pave your way through a painting, don’t allow the fear of the unknown to direct your hand, it all works out better if you just relax and follow your brush and paint.
  • Keep at it, watercolor is demanding, yes but it will teach you a few lessons on how to let go and stop trying to control every aspect of this wonderful medium.
  • Granulating paints are fun! Give them a try.



Yuba River-Rocky Rest

Painting #1 on Arches 140# rough 7 x 9 inches

Real Life got in the way for the past 10 days. My husband came home from a fire assignment and while he was on R & R we made a trip over the Sonoma Plein Air Festival. Very inspiring and I was biting the bit to get out to the river to paint.

It has been years since I painted this scene and the last time was several years ago with snow still on the ground though I had painted with pastels rather than my watercolors.

My scene with that special fall lighting


Painting #2 on Arches 140# 7 x 9 inches


Painting #3 on Fabriano 300# 11 x 14 inches
A close-up of my scene


I was hoping for more on this one but decided that I could always finish it up in the studio.

Painting #4 on Arches 140# 7 x 9 inches

I wasn’t able to crop this one properly, I cut off the bottom which as the water flowing around the rocks. I got impatient trying for the perfect photo! What was fun with this painting (#4) is that I decided to purposely make myself uncomfortable by using a different brush, a flat. I have been using my squirrel mop for months now and I wanted to challenge myself and use a brush that I haven’t used in a while. Also, I didn’t tape the paper onto a board, I painted it on the rocky beach with my legs at an awkward angle, scrawled about my water and paints. Anything to get myself to paint on the edge and stop being so careful.

To me it worked because it is my favorite one out of the bunch!

Learning Points:

  • Keep painting even when you feel like you are painting blind!
  • I found myself wanting to diss my painting while working, having a critic on your shoulder inhibits and diminishes your joy.
  • Dare to use an unfamiliar brush or technique to get out on the edge of the rock of creativity, sometimes the view or experience is so much more exciting!
  • Pare down what you see to simplicity, keeps the painting fresh looking and off the cuff.
Yuba Notes

Yuba Love at Shenanigan Flat

on Saunders 200#

My son-in-law had set up a rope system to enable me to safely access this part of the river about two weeks ago Shenanigans at Shenanigan Flat and I can say that it worked well and in fact there is evidence that it is being used by other people besides myself.

There is change in the weather and I love it here at the river. I was able to paint till 12 noon I am amazed because usually by 9 or 10 am, the light is not that beautiful and it is over and done.

My scene for the above painting


One of my warm-up paintings on Arches 140# rough

I was having a difficult time with this painting but decided to include it just to show you a warm-up that was rough going.

on Arches 140# rough 7 x 9 inches

This stack of rocks is quite unusual because it looks like an Italian dessert. My artist eyes were starting to come in, finally!

My scene of that very cool rock
on Arches 140# rough 7 x 9 inches

this painting has its’ problems such as that little rapid showing at the middle, too sharp and not very well done. I couldn’t get the photo to show the light violet in those back rocks. The photo doesn’t do the painting justice but oh well, the task of marrying up the photo to the painting is often difficult.

My scene
on Saunders 200# 11 x 14 inches

I wasn’t going to include this painting but decided why not? I consider it a fail because I had such a difficult time with the water and depicting the white water. I enjoyed the painting of it though I just couldn’t get the water to come together as cohesive.

My scene

I have discovered that I didn’t bring by Burnt Sienna so I relied on my Daniel Smith Burnt Tiger’s Eye and I must say, I am in love! I think when it is mixed with Lunar Blue it is exquisite! Yummy color. I plan on coming back and knocking this scene out of the ball park one of these days. Here I tried painting this scene the first time: North Yuba River-Shenanigan Flat I am not sure which one session won. Looking forward to more times on the Yuba river.

I love the Yuba River, can you tell?