Busy Makes Happy


painting #1 of the South Yuba river

If any of you have wondered if I have gone missing for good, here I am! Actually what happened is that I have recently purchased a Kindle Fire tablet and discovered that I can use it to take and upload photos to Instagram. I have tried Instagram before using my cell phone but I hated the quality of the photos (picky me). Posting there is so much easier, less than a minute and I am done. It takes me forever to navigate around WordPress, I almost dread it because it is so funky and slow. I haven’t given up entirely on my blog here but if you want to see what I am up to follow me on Instagram: Here I am!

I have also discovered that I can do a far better job of editing my photos of my paintings spot on. Going from my regular camera and editing I always seem to run into having my blues stand out a bit too much or my yellows are off.  On Instagram I am amazed how spot on I can get my paintings to be. Plus it is so fun and easy.


painting #2 of Bullards

This painting was started as a plein air but finished in the studio. It was so difficult to capture what I saw there and I almost decided to turn this over and use the other side. I decided to finish it and I really like the water.


painting #3 of Bullards morning light

This painting is not as yellow and pink in the sky, more subtle, keep that in mind. I had gone out to plein air paint at Bullards one morning, showed up at 5:45 am. So beautiful there but so very difficult to capture what I was looking at. I decided to sit and watch the light hit that section of trees and I think that about 30 minutes passed and I just sat and observed. In the not so long ago past, this would have upset me, the fact that I couldn’t capture what I was looking at.

Once I got back into the studio, I decided to paint entirely from my memory of the morning. It was simply magical how it poured out of me. To realize that you can’t truly capture Gods’ creation to the absolute T is imperative to being at peace as an artist, imho. But, we sure can express how we feel about what I see or experience, that is for certain. That is my goal.


painting #4 of the North Yuba

Perhaps a little more detailed with the rocks than I like but then I had fun with this one. 


painting #5 of the South Yuba

No don’t adjust your monitor, this was purposely painted with an out of focus, soft approach. I didn’t want to fuss with details or bringing it up to a finish, I wanted an impression, that is all. This was painted saturated wet on wet. 

Thank you for bearing with me on this long post, have a wonderful 4th of July for those who celebrate!

**A word about photos. The paintings and photos on my blog are mine, taken by me and copying them would be stealing from me. If you find a photo that you would like to copy or use, I request that you ask me for permission and I expect you to give me full credit for my own photo. Thank you so very much.






Bullards and Crystal Hermitage at Ananda

painting #1 on Arches 140# quarter sheet

I was trying for a landscape with minimal detail, just enough to give the viewer the essence of the scene. At first I wasn’t too happy with it but the more I look at it, I believe that I reached my goal. I am trying for that happy medium where I don’t needle my paintings to death with superfluous detail.

Tulips at the Crystal Hermitage at Ananda Village

I wanted to plein air paint at this beautiful local gardens before the tulip season is finished. This is last year’s post about this beautiful place  Glorius Tulips at Crystal Hermitage . I am planning to visit here throughout the year because they do have the gardens open for visitors year round.


Aren’t these beautiful? I love it at Ananda. When I lived with my Mom and Sister back in the 1980’s I often would hike up the road and visit Ananda Village. I still love the area and the people.


painting #2 My first painting at Ananda

I was fretting a bit about painting flowers, because I generally don’t practice with them enough. I decided to keep it loose and fancy free. I might bring in some more darks to bring out the centers but basically I want to keep it loose.


painting #3

I almost abandoned this painting because I have the tendency to freak out when I can’t see where I am going with a painting. But, I pressed in and was determined to get something out of the experience. Happy to say, I ended up liking it rather than hating it. I am unsure if it is finished or not. Plein air is suppose to be not detailed to death and I want to keep the freshness and resist the need to noodle it to endless detail.


Peaceful Beauty

If you ever get up to the Nevada City/North San Juan area, take the time to go see the gardens at Ananda, especially during the tulip blooming season which is typically March-April or early May.


*A word about photos. The photos on my blog are mine, taken by me and copying them would be stealing from me. If you find a photo that you would like to copy or use, I request that you ask me for permission and I expect you to give me full credit for my own photo. Thank you so very much.





Getting Back to Acrylics


Acrylic on 11 x 14 inch panel 

This is an acrylic that I painted about 8 years ago based on a near by reservoir. In my photo, I lost the orange in my sunrays and the water….and the pinks in the sky but at least you get an idea of this landscape. I will be purchasing a new set of acrylics and this time I am going to order Golden acrylic. I hope to make the order today.

I was trying to decide between gouache or acrylic and I have decided that I need a paint that I can get aggressive with. Gouache is similar to watercolor and aside from the opacity, I am thinking that I’ll probably approach the medium in the same way as I do with watercolor. Perhaps that is my thinking but I want a paint that has a firmer body and I feel that acrylic might do the job.

Wish me good speed on getting my paints and equipment!


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!





















Evening Light at Bullards

Arches 140# cp 11 x 14 inches

I worked on this studio painting for the past two days. It is based upon a photo I took while plein air painting along the 8 Ball Trail at Bullards Bar Reservoir.


I suppose that I could have gone darker and I might try this again until I get it to the satisfactory value range that it demands but I figure it is a way to get my feet wet with this particular scene.

Learning Points:

  • Saving my white paper and going slow is fun! so different from painting from the seat of my pants, plein air!
  • All of my plein air painting is paying off in the studio, I would not have it any other way and I again advocate painting from life, it is integral to being a painter.

I can’t think of any other learning points other than I am discovering that I love pure color and when a color went a bit muddy, I freaked out. Most people would consider what I freaked out at is simple intermingling colors to an usable grayed down color, to me it appears muddy. Interesting, I’ll have to see what this all means. I rather enjoyed this painting session even though I should be resting because I am barely over the flu but I couldn’t resist.

I have another painting in progress and hope to have it finished before the weekend. I have another painting of Humbug Creek in mind to paint next.

June WC #11-8 Ball Trail #2

I decided to plein air paint at the last-minute. I am so glad that I always have my supplies and equipment ready. This time around I sprayed myself thoroughly with mosquito spray but found it barely protected me, the mosquitos were out in full force. I was so intent on painting that I barely noticed though I did find that I scratched my knee raw while painting.

Painting #1 Fabriano 140# 7 x 9 inches

I made a mistake of taking photos of these paintings after I took them off my boards, it was difficult to make nicely cropped edges. This painting has many problems, the foreground was dark but I painted it too dark here.

#2 Arches 140# 7 x 9 inches

There is something that I like in this one, in particular the foreground mixture of warm and cool colors. There is more of a depth in this that I am failed to capture in my prior paintings June WC #9. I do believe that I was focusing so hard in trying to capture the light that I failed to build layers of foliage and trees to create depth. In this one, I worked towards it simply by making myself do it, I know that sounds weird.

#3 Arches 140# 7 x 9 inches




I really like how I was able to capture some of the trees in this (#3). I struggled with trying to bring some sunset-lit branches into the scene. They came out as lumpy masses. I think that I need to have a light, glowing watery mixture to pull it off.







#4 Fabriano 300# 10 x 14 inches

I made the big mistake of having two trees kiss in the upper right of the painting. I didn’t plan out the adequate space and as it was happening, I was silently screaming. I was having so much fun with the colors and within seconds I messed it up. Darn. I lost steam at that point and decided to call it an evening. I will simply turn it over and use the other side for another painting.

On my way home I spotted a fox eating fruit in my garden



My learning points:

  • Don’t allow the task of one difficulty to overpower the rest of the painting, in this case, my building up a sense of depth because I was trying for sunset color.
  • warm, cool colors against each other but not in equal portions bring drama and tension in a painting (correct tension)
  • No kissing allowed between elements.
  • Make sure when painting trees to give adequate room and planning to avoid having them kiss, very smart indeed.
  • Keep returning to paint this evening location until I get it and learn what I need to learn.
  • Take my mosquito spray in the future for back-up.

June WC #9

Evening is the best time to plein air paint, don’t you all agree? While my husband is busy pulling a security detail on the Pony Fire, I decided why not and go find some party time with my watercolors. I have been wanting to go out and paint along the 8 ball trail which is part of the Bullards Bar trail system. I live within a few minutes of this trail which is one of my favorite places to hike. I painted exactly at the spot that I had a bear walking up towards me not knowing I was there. Fun and exciting memories! I made sure I wasn’t obstructing the trail but no one came by, I had the trail all to myself.

my inspiration- 8 ball trail
painting #1
painting #2


a close-up of the lower left
Painting #3

I caught the wave of juicy evening color but later realized that I was adding too much water and not going dark enough. I was enjoying the fuzziness of the images, maybe too much. I am wondering if I should touch them up but actually I am going to leave them alone. Painting #2 was an experiment in that I washed a failed floral painting off and as you can see, there is a ghost image of red roses on there.

Fun painting but as I said, not dark enough, not vibrant enough and yet there is a quality that I like. I almost skipped putting these up in a post but I thought what the heck, why not? In a way, my artist blog is a painter’s diary. So here we are. I will be going back and painting this spot several times. As I was leaving the light was getting mighty pretty. Now I need a separate series for “Eight Ball Light”.

Learning points:

  • It is alright to go wild and abstract but do have a good plan, in this case control the amount of water vs. the strength of my paint.
  • Don’t allow the excitement of the scene to carry me away to “not thinking and all reaction”.
  • Paint some more evening paintings! Why has it taken me this long to get out there and paint evening light? I have been intimidated but no more!

Return to Bullards Reservoir

P1070614I decided to venture away from the river and paint at Bullards Bar Reservoir. This location is what I would say is a “spit and a holler” down the road from me. I am fortunate to live so close to so many subjects that I can pick and choose what I am in the mood for. The only exception is the desert or ocean which both are approximately 3 hours away. No actually I think that I am within 2 hours of the desert but that lies to the east of me in Nevada.

I wanted to challenge myself today with this location because when I first started out in plein air, Bullards was the closest. I have spent many days painting here both in watercolor and pastel and after a while it just seemed to get boring with an apparent sameness. So I decided to move on to other subjects and in my mind better heights.


The reservoir is about 86% capacity from the latest measurement which was about a week ago. I have seen it all the way up to the tree line and that was about 15 years ago.


Today the struggle was that I had to put aside my attitude that it will be a challenge because of that “sameness” that I had mentioned above. Sometimes I have noticed that I throw mental rocks in front of my feet by my mindset. I envisioned that the sameness (is there really?) is going to be an uphill trudge. Also, my past history of painting this reservoir so many times brings up memories of past failures. There were several successes but I often remember the failures before the success. Perhaps it is my ingrained perfectionism.

I couldn’t decide how to handle the trees especially the far back hills. Once I set in the sky and the impression of those back hills, I started on my focal point. I decided on that brightest area next to that dark shadow shape on the left. The water was constantly changing and I kept chasing the changes. Of course that can be such a never ending chase to frustration.


In times past I was the kind of painter that had to paint exactly what I see and I couldn’t imagine straying out into the realm of imagination. Today I could feel myself shifting between the two. In my attempt to push those hills back I used blue, in this photo the blue isn’t true but you get the idea. That far back rim of land probably should be slimmed down and more modeling is needed in my point of interest. It is too flat and there is a straight line which is too static and not interesting. Not bad for my second time in years to paint here and considering my angst with the location, I am proud of myself.



After painting I decided to hike on the trail. If you go back to an earlier post where I painted here in the fall of last year, you can see the difference of the water level. I am amazed how much rain we have received since then. https://yubagold.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/bullards-bar-gold/


The color of Bullards is an amazing greenish blue that I haven’t seen in a lake before. Until next posting, enjoy spring wherever that is in the world for you all!





Bullards Bar Gold


I haven’t been able to paint for weeks because either it is snowing or raining or it is a holiday or I am too busy. I have been waiting for a slot in the weather and when I saw how the lighting was turning out to be and having that certain glow, I grabbed my equipment and headed for Bullards Bar Reservoir which is located within 5 to 10 minutes from my house. I had originally spotted this exact spot while on a hike with my grandson, Rollin and my daughter, Amanda and her dog. I knew I had to paint here as soon as possible.


This is my painting just about finished. I always like to take a picture of both my painting and my scene. Today was no different in my approach though I keep thinking that my new found breakthrough won’t last but I am happy to say, I felt the groove as usual. I had to go back and remember how long I have been painting plein air and I do believe it has been 10-11 years. I didn’t always pursue it with passion so some years I was lucky to get out 5-10 times. I have been picking up steam for the past two years. It is a very difficult and vulnerable pursuit but it is worth the struggle.


I am not sure if this painting is done or not but I’ll take it back to the art room and work it to a finish. I am always reluctant to mess with a painting too much away from the initial painting session because plein air has a magic and look of its own and it is not intended to be “perfect” There is a sensitivity and liveliness that occurs naturally. I have to be careful that I don’t mess with that liveliness.


Now looking at where the shoreline is far below. This is the lowest I had seen the water level at Bullards. The water is very unique here because it has such a rich green color. I remember years ago before the current dam was built, I had gone with my Grandfather and Uncle down to the bottom of this valley which was called Garden Valley at the time to fish.


This is my scene for my second painting. This photo is bringing out that tree to be more blue than it actually is. I decided to make the background dark to highlight the mid and foreground and bring more colors into the subtlety of that tree.


My second painting. I will take it and work on it a bit more, perhaps crisp it up and bring out more depth. That white spot on the other right is from my camera. I am always a bit tired on my second painting and usually it is always on a smaller piece of pastel paper. I struggled a bit with that tree because of the colors were very difficult to match with what I was seeing.


Looking out further while the sun was really bringing more warmth to the area. Simply beautiful! Thank you for joining me. All I can say is that I was so happy that I decided to paint today because I would have missed an opportunity to paint this beautiful scene in my most favorite lighting.