I’m Back!


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Foggy November Morning

After taking an entire month off from blogging, I am ready to come back, slowly that is. I found that I enjoyed having some time away from the pressure of blogging. I think that I have a sensible plan on how to proceed in my coming months of blogging. First of all I am thinking that sometimes I push paintings  to a finish in order to post them. I will not be doing that, so you’ll see that I’ll post not as often. December will be an easy going month in regards to my getting back to blogging, in other words, I am treating the month as a semi retreat.

These are some of the paintings that I worked on this past month. Some of either close to finishing or needing more work. I really have learned that I am not going to push paintings to a finish as I have in the past. I can’t entirely blame this bad habit on blogging but my insistence that I have to have an end product…now!

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I enjoyed working on these in the studio I had a few problems here and there but isn’t that pretty normal?


Semi-abstract of oak trees along the North Yuba Trail


Reflection at Little Bear Lake 

I have quite a bit of work yet to do with this one, a wip and that’s alright.




Trees on the Bear Lakes Trail


wip semi-abstract of mossy trees


wip of the North Yuba


wip of mossy trees on the Bear Lakes loop trail

The above painting is about 30% washed out, the colors are far more vivid than they appear in this photo

Now for some abstracts! Below:


Abstract #1


abstract #2
I had a bit of trouble trying to get this post put together, I was hoping to number the paintings but WP is acting a little odd and as I tried to number them, it was really messing up my layout. I will upload this before I lose it!





















Faded Roses-abstract

on Saunders 200# 11 x 14 inches

I didn’t feel like working on my current studio painting of the river, wanting to leave that for another special day of painting. I had a vase of red roses that were dried up left over from my birthday and I thought I would use them as inspiration. The reds are darker and richer than you see in the photo, a nice kind of pop.

Do you see roses in this? I don’t either, but does it really matter? I used them as a kicking off point and it is alright that they didn’t make an appearance, their “scent” is in there somewhere.

I am undecided if this is finished or not and wondering if my addition of the green curly cue shapes are a hit or miss. I am not liking them too well. I might give it some thought and see if I need to continue or flip it over and paint on the other side. I really detest the ones at the bottom center. I am thinking if I were to go in and do something about those shapes, that I’ll mess it up.

One of my favorite parts in the painting

Learning Points:

  • Short and sweet….have fun!



Madrone Madness #8

Madrone and Co. on Saunders 200# 11 x 14 inches

I was high jacked this morning by the light and my trees. of course I obliged, willingly. I am in love with Fabriano but for abstracts like this, I love the softness of Saunders 200# and I can’t wait to try out Fabriano Soft Press in which Debi Riley raves about. As soon as I can manage it, I will be buying it. This is my first painting session with my madrones here: Madrone Madness-June WC #1 as you can see, I am getting looser and improving, I hope!

I am finding that I love to use my sprayer while painting to help coax the paint and to limit brush strokes. I do use my brush to drop in paint or use the very tip to push/brush the paint to make the trunks of the trees stand out. I also have found that allowing the excess water from my brush to drop into the paint mixture I had just put down, helps to lighten that area. I love this way of painting, it is truly me. Abstraction is something I love and I am hoping to incorporate it more and more into my plein air of the river. I try so hard to depict what I see and I usually overdo it or bungling it up, I have used this kind of  painting at the river before and I loved the results,  Shenanigan Flat-North Yuba River with painting #3.

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close-up of one of my favorite areas
My scene before the glow that I chased

Learning Points:

  • With abstracts such as these, incorporate all kinds of means to get the job done, think outside the box.
  • For me, limiting actual brushstrokes work best for abstraction.
  • Plein air is hard but when it is happening, it is heaven!
  • Don’t be afraid to let that paint flow or let those colors mingle, who knows what you will end up with?
  • Adventure keeps you young!
  • Wet paint from the tube is best for abstraction.

Madrone Madness #6

I was planning on going to the river but I changed my mind because I will be going to the river with my daughter and her three children tomorrow to swim. I decided to keep my ventures to the river special each and every time. I didn’t plan on painting today but with the lighting on the madrones out back, last-minute decision and here we are. One of my favorite painting sessions using these madrones for my subject Madrone Madness #5-World Watercolor Month #5

Painting #1 on Arches 300# 11 x 14 inches

I liked how this painting started but I changed my mind on certain sections and took off some paint. I am only including this painting to illustrate what happens when the focus or intention goes awry. My first intention was to highlight the golden color coming through the trees. Usually morning light isn’t as golden but because of our smoky skies, the light in the morning has been more of an evening tint. There are some parts that I do like in this painting but I call it a fail. I also am asking you all what would you do with this painting? add or subtract? I am undecided. I just might turn it over and paint on the other side.

This is the section that I do like
Painting #2 on Saunders 200# 7 x 9 inches

Now we are cooking! I loved how this one painted and turned out…..So fun! I used my water sprayer extensively and yet cautiously on this one. I learned from my last painting to keep my mind on one intention and let the magic of watercolor happen.

Close-up of my favorite spot
Painting #3 on Saunders #200 7 x 9 inches

I enjoyed this one almost as much….probably too much red but then it really makes the painting sing. Looking at it now, I had hoped for more soft edges but I am not touching it again.

Learning Points:

  • Don’t have two ideas conflicting while painting, one focus or intention at a time.
  • Getting in and getting out is fun!
  • Keep your colors fresh and allow mixing on the paper. I failed to allow this to occur on painting #1




Little Bear Lake Memories-World Watercolor #8

I had planned on working on my Intuitive Painting-Psalm 65 to get more into a meditative, prayerful attitude on my painting….but I guess I was pulled back to finish a painting that I started yesterday.

My reference photo
My painting! 13.5 x 15 inches Arches 140# cp

Keep in mind, that orange tree is not as sharp and vivid as it appears in the photo. I loved painting this so much, I did start it yesterday but ended up having to start all over again because I fiddled too much and on this kind of ethereal style, you can’t fiddle. I had a close mishap in which I bumped the table I was working on and my three tubs of water went splashing all over the place. I ended up with four good drops of water. Thank goodness, I caught it in time and no harm was done.

Close-up of one of my favorite areas in the water area.
My most favorite spot….looks like a forest within a forest

This kind of painting is so me that I can’t tell how much. I would like to learn more color combinations but I tried to stay close to the three primaries but I would like to have more subtleties and more greyed down areas. In the past, colors like these were too “fairy” for me but lately it is growing on me.

Learning Points:

  • Experiment! experiment!….I can’t emphasize that enough with watercolor.
  • Don’t feel that a painting is too precious or that you can’t re-do or start over, I am so glad that I have been learning this. No painting is so precious or that you will never get the same results, realize that, the sooner that you do, the happier you will be.




Madrone Madness #5-World Watercolor Month #5

Painting 1    Saunders 200# 11 x 14 inches

I truly wanted to go paint at a new location and I will hopefully be able to this weekend but this morning I just wanted to stay close to home. All I had to do this morning is walk out back and there are my madrones which I have been painting a series of Madrone Madness-June WC #1  take a peek at my very first post on these magnificent trees.

Painting 2   Fabriano #300 11 x 14 inches

I truly am in love with Fabriano. I can’t get over how wonderful a paper this is and it suits my approach to painting. With Fabriano, you don’t want to keep brushing at it. One to three brushstrokes is safe, any more, you are going to be messing with this picky, but beautiful paper. It suits me because I have a tendency to get in there and get out with just one or two brushstrokes because I am impatient and go bold, fast and get it done. That is basically my personality. I suggest that you buy a watercolor paper that is reputed to be “difficult”, it will teach you the lessons that you need to learn.

Painting 3  Arches 140# 7 x 9 inches

With this painting I intended to go tight and more realistic but I just couldn’t help myself. Why restrain the natural inclination to go wild and bold? I am painting first for me, I love how I am naturally being pulled into my own style. It has taken years upon years to move into my style. I worried for years, fretted and searched for my style. I hear other artists, in particular, beginners say that they want to find their style.

Fretting about it and pushing for it is really not the way to find your style. It comes with a lot of learning and hard work. It wasn’t until I ventured into watercolor that I began to understand that I do have a style and I know what it is. That came through watercolor I believe because I allowed myself to be playful, bold, let loose and just learn by letting watercolor show me.

Learning Points:

  • Accept that I love abstract and loose. I can go tight, I know that but I prefer loose.
  • Control and learn the ratio of paint to water, keep practicing.
  • Wet or dry paint on my palette? that is the question. With this style of bold, loose and wild, wet out of the tube is best but then I can’t put out wet all the time because then I will have to allow it to dry. Something that I need to research.
  • Stretch yourself and try all kinds of paper, techniques, stay out of that gutter of familiarity and sameness. Do yourself a favor and live a little.

July -World Watercolor Month #1

My contribution for #WorldWatercolorMonth will be two abstracts. I wanted to keep the Yuba River in mind while painting them. I always seem to love the color until it dries but that is the way of watercolor…sigh.

Yuba Gold Flow 10.5 x 14.5 Arches #140 rough

Keep in mind that blue is darker and richer, think Ultramarine Blue. I had a problem with globs of paint not mixing. All kinds of interesting problems but all in all, not bad. I decided to have another go at it:

Blood Mingling 10.5 x 14.5 Arches #140 rough

I think that I am drawn to that red, I decided to go bold and grabbed my red and had a go at it. There is a sad history in California regarding the Native people and the influx of gold miners and land hungry pioneers brought much misery and bloodshed. I didn’t paint this in mind of that history, it came to me after taking a good look at what I created.

I would include learning points but I am behind on my housework…plus I was also busy submitting 6 entries for a art show that will be up for two months. Wish me luck! Happy Watercolor Painting Folks! Go get ’em!

Intuitive Painting-Psalm 65

I am back to painting and  will be starting on a watercolor soon. I was hoping to go plein air painting but it is very cloudy out there and is threatening to rain, which we need so badly here in Northern California.

While talking about art with a fellow blogger, I had mentioned my intuitive painting, he suggested that I post about it and my progress. So, here we are!

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Tentatively named “Psalm 65” (the blues are not as rich as it is here in the photo)

I have been wanting to start this painting for a long time and I fought it because I didn’t know how to paint Psalm 65, do I go realistic or abstractly? Well, as you can see I chose the latter.

With this  painting, I literally empty my mind from any distractions, thoughts, ideas of what this painting should depict even though I was basing it upon Psalm 65. I am going for the spiritual and not literal.

This  is how I usually proceed.

  • Put on some music, lately it has been Gregorian chanting
  • Relax, pray, wait, empty myself, wait
  • Paint only what I feel I should paint…color, shapes or nothing
  • Don’t paint from the need to put a mark or color down
  • Entirely intuitive painting, nothing comes, paint nothing
  • Once I put the painting away till the next painting, I do not ever look at it or evaluate it (I broke my rule of not looking at it to marry it up to my photo for this post)
  • Don’t judge it while painting, or ever!
  • Be in the moment, no visualizing it as being done or half done or partially done
  • Treat it as an eternal puzzle piece, a stroke at a time

The why of this painting….well, it is a long story and at this point I will leave that out until a later date. I think if anything this is a personally designed experiment for me because I am a goal orientated person as most of us are. I come from parents who were workaholics and who focused on the finished product. I struggle with this so much, probably more than others because I have a tendency to castigate myself for not having a perfect or near perfect end product. I push myself to produce the end product, yes but also to have perfection in what I do, both in life and in art. I truly want to break this because it is not coming from the artistic self, it is coming from the “false self” the self that strives from a primitive part of the psyche. Striving for a whole bevy of reasons and I am very aware of this. I often spend time battering against this and arm myself with knowledge, both head knowledge and spiritual and yet, it remains a struggle.

Working on this painting is an attempt to work this out within myself. Thank you for taking the time to read this post being that it is a side step from my ongoing watercolor challenge. I would very much appreciate to hear what you feel or perceive but not what you think of the painting. I only ask you this because I am not going there myself, this is an open session painting with no analysis at all from myself or from others. Thank you so kindly!



Daring Watercolor #13

I painted yesterday at the river and I wasn’t happy with the results. Ugly is as ugly decides! I realize too late that it was the problematic value platform….again. This was my scene.

My scene….no color, no fun!

Here is my painting, peek, don’t look too closely, very ugly. I decided it is good for my ego to show the uglies.

Oh MY!!!!!!

This painting kicked my value butt big time. I had to admit that I bit off a big bite, more than I could handle because I realized that I had promised myself that I would be doing a value sketch before starting my painting. I lied! The sun would shine and then the clouds would start passing over ahead and of course it was mostly cloudy when I painted this view. I also realized that I have been using rough 140# without utilizing the wonderful attributes of the paper. I had that in mind and also fighting the values. Ugly happens to the best of us!

Myself perched on a rock trying to paint, my “granddoggie” enjoying the river and daughter Amanda and her husband, Luis. All having a wonderful day, no fish, not a decent painting but fun regardless.

Pretty view

Alright, we needed to look at something pretty.

Today I decided to combine yesterday’s plein air excitement and today’s paintings done at home. The first one is based upon some pictures I took of a local flower, Indian Pink. I am including the reference photo because well, it is pretty.

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Indian Pink Banquet

This was difficult and then easy, at least it felt that way at first. When I deactivated my needy brain for “order”,  I had an easy time. I decided to dance with watercolor and boy did we kick up the paint! Interesting how in the past I would freak out inside because things would veer from my idea of what I intended. The senario would be that I would continue on with the freak out plane for the entire ride. This time around, I settled for the chaos and decided to dance this African style dance that Watercolor decided was the way to go today!

Since I was having a glorious time, the painting below came about from a reference photo of a redwood tree that I had taken some time back. I probably could have worked on getting my yellow and blue to mix more properly to get that mossy green in the tree. Maybe another painting, another time. Regardless, I am learning to let go of the picture in my mind or copy a reference photo to the T. This exercise in a way was a loosening up of my ideals. For me that is a trip to the moon! I might go back and give it more depth or I might just leave it alone, or perhaps it might be artist muscle exercise.


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Old Mr. Redwood

What I learned:

  • Make good use of rough watercolor paper, learn how to dry brush like the master watercolorists of times past.
  • Freaking out because I am supposedly losing my control or grip on the painting only keeps me frigid and continuing the freaking out feeling.
  • Allow the gap between my ideals and the outcome to be wide or narrow, it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things.
  • Be willing to dance the waltz, the two-step or a wild African dance, dancing is dancing and it’s fun!








Daring Watercolor #12

The weary carries on….that’s me two weeks into my challenge. Although I planned on taking Sundays off, I am giving it some consideration because my daughter and son-in-law asked me to accompany them to the North Yuba to fish. Of course first thing I thought of….I’ll plein air paint! Again? yes! again! We’ll see tomorrow if I do or not. I might not post until Monday if I do go. I need a break and so do all of you!

I thought of doing an exercise based on Debi Riley’s post yesterday Easy Watercolor Flower and I planned away until I realized that this is getting detailed! what? Why must I always go to the extreme? This post is full of exclamations, so sorry but I am feeling exclamatory.

Spanish lavender 5 x 7 inches

Yep…detailed, nothing even vaguely familiar to what Debi was referring to. Another day for another painting, I say. With this painting session I learned:

  • We are not going to even talk about values right now…nope, too late.
  • Keep the original intent of the painting clear and alive throughout my painting session.
  • If I am too tired or weary, don’t push the painting. Do a sketch or think about art, post that, just a friendly reminder.
  • Keep in mind the color scheme and design, too late to realize that I had a purplish blue background for a purplish blue subject….hmm.

Now since that painting session didn’t live up to my plans….I decided to get crazy and go for it. Here is my reference photo that I shot yesterday while at the river. I do believe that I will do a planned out abstract painting at another time but for now I wanted to use it for a loosening up exercise. I thought of this too late but today was a little backwards anyway.

close-up of the flowing moss in the river
Yuba Flow 5 x 7 inches



I almost cried realizing that one of my favorite colors is almost gone, Daniel Smith’s Lunar Blue. It is such a gorgeous color and all those little blackish blue dots is the result of the granulation that occurs bleeding into the other colors. Simply yummy!

Colors used on this painting was quin. gold, aqua ultramarine, fr. ultramarine blue, lunar blue (all Daniel Smith)