Daring Watercolor #9

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My reference photo

Why did I ever choose the month of May to do a challenge? This month and June is my busiest months because of the tremendous outdoor work that our place requires. Alright, enough complaining!

I decided since I am so busy why not tackle a difficult subject? I think in the future I need to simplify my subject matter because this one took a good 4 hours out of my day and I had already done some outdoor work before starting my painting.

With some experience with painting florals, I realize that now they take a very methodical approach and many, many hours to produce the detail that I am going for. I truthfully prefer loose but I am starting out difficult because to me it is like going to the gym and lifting weights.


I am pretty sure that I have this as close to my photo as possible except for that tulip on the left is actually darker with more red. My problem is the granulation in that tulip on the left. I love when a color granulates but in this case, I need good clear, vivid color. I am wondering if some little rascal came scooting over and wanted to play! It could had been Mr. Ultramean….I mean ultramarine blue, it was used on the background, yep, the culprit.

You ask perhaps what I think about this painting? Well, I kind of like it but don’t love it. It is not as vivid as I was hoping, my whites and things that go pop didn’t. The granulation on that tulip on the left is a disappointment. This was a wonderful learning excercise because of the points listed below. I am becoming less and less critical of myself when I see that I have successes and failures, it is all a part of learning.

What I learned:

  • Painting detailed florals require a lot of time, there is no rushing beauty!
  • Keep those whites crisp and white….why do I always forget this?
  • I could feel the need to speed up to “fix” something that was occurring because I was going a little faster than I wanted to, a vicious cycle of mine!
  • Keep my palette clean and know which colors are which and keep them separate.
  • When I am starting to tire, take a break or put it off till tomorrow or another day.
  • Take more breaks to rest the eyes and brain…don’t forget to keep hydrated.
  • This is my challenge, there is nothing wrong with posting an update of what I painted today. No one is requiring me to finish a painting in one day…I set my own rules because I am the boss.

Daring Watercolor #7

My reference photo of a neighbors Iris

I worked as slow as a sloth today and I think it suits me far better. At least it is more fun and I wasn’t working as though my pants were on fire, that is always good.

I tried my best to match my photo up my painting. Only difference I would say is that I almost matched my purple to the purple to my photo reference not as you see down below. I took it slow and easy. I spent up to an hour in searching for my subject and drawing it out. Now that is something, at least for me, the “rush and get it done” kind of gal.

Here is my painting….the size is 7 x 9 inches. The colors used were: cobalt blue, permanent rose, quin. gold, lemon yellow, lunar blue, and french ultr. blue.


The blues in the background are darker and not so strident blue. The whites are whiter on my painting than they appear here.

I worked slowly and built up my layers, saved my whites and I also was careful that I didn’t hold my painting as lovely or precious. I pretended it was just an ordinary, no consequence day to make sure I didn’t get too carried away with the process. This attitude kept my mind engaged in the job in front of me without tricking myself into loving it too soon or for me to get caught up in the excitement; therefore rushing it to a finish because it is so darn fun. Oh, the silly things I do to get the painting done slowly!

There are some blatant fixes that I need to correct. For one, that light area on the upper right is too light, comes off too white. I will go back in and darken that area. I might do it today before quitting. In fact I should had done it before posting this, oh well. Gives me something to work on.

I wished that I was more careful with the mouth of the Iris with that beautiful yellow beard. I am tired and satisfied that I slowed down! Imagine that…..wonders never cease.

Daring Watercolor #6

A lovely swan planter

I suppose that when I decided that I am going to tackle watercolor to learn; I am not one to start out meager……I guess I know that I am one for starting out BIG. Now as I mentioned, I am not really new to watercolor but it feels like ever since I have started this challenge, I feel brand smacking new. I told myself yesterday during my down time that I would paint a simple motif with this next painting. It looks like I was dreaming because does this look simple? NO!


I tried to match up my photo…happy to say that my pansies in real life looks more like the color in the reference photo. Keep that in mind and also there is more depth in the shadows than they appear in photo of my painting. Also the light hitting the swan is not showing up as well as it should.

Initially I adored painting this but I found that I was staring to get tired about 50% in and I can see why artists take subjects like this and slowly work it to a finish. My initial plan of attack was to be sloppy and loose but guess what….yep I went tight. I figured that I would learn from being tight in order to familiarize myself with a subject like this one.

A close-up

What I learned:

  • Don’t bite off a big piece and try to finish it in one gulp! No…..little bites with slow chewing works wonders.
  • Learn to mix better greens
  • learn how to save my whites….for goodness sakes!
  • Slow way down, it won’t kill me; I am still learning this.
  • It’s just art, an expression even if it is an eyesore…..I don’t understand the philosophy to this statement, let’s not analyses this one.

I won’t be posting tomorrow because I don’t paint on Sundays and plus, it’s Mother’s Day! I’ll be going to a well known restaurant in Grass Valley to have lunch with my two daughters and son-in-law. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

Paint and a Hike

The overlook at the start of the trail

One of those days that I hastily grabbed the opportunity to paint and a last minute decision to switch the location I originally had planned to paint. Just up the road from me and newly opened this year I believe, Rice’s Crossing Yuba Rim Trail. Here is a website with info: https://hiketoit.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/rices-crossing-yuba-rim-trail-yuba-county/

I woke up to cloudy skies but I was determined to go paint. I walked off from the trail and found a meadow with all kinds of conifers and brush that are now in bloom. At this time of year, Ceanothus integerrimus (deer brush) and Scotch Broom are in ample supply in this part of the country.

My scene


I realized after I had pretty much started, I forgot to show different stages of painting. I’ll have to remember next time, always a next time.

I was feeling the groove this time around. I need to work on a few areas which is pretty standard, rarely do I come away with a finished painting or satisfied. The photo is pretty close to my painting although there are some grasses that have a touch of warm tan that doesn’t show up well in this photo. The blues are a bit “too blue” and more of a greyish blue and lavender.

I decided to go for a hike afterwards and here is a few of the photos from the trail. I have never been on this before and it was quite the adventure.

I love exploring new trails and a large portion was quite shady.


flowers everywhere



The overlook and a peek at the Yuba River in the canyon


I couldn’t resist to share my hike with all of you. I think that plein air painting is more than just taking your studio outdoors; it is experiencing nature and learning to truly see it and to be thankful for such beauty.

I will be trying something different for the month of May and that is to paint entirely in watercolor. This will be a challenge because I always reach for my pastels because they are familiar and safe to me. I love watercolor and I feel that I need to take the plunge and make headway in truly learning and feeling comfortable with the medium.

I challenge all of you to take on something new to you or out of your comfort zone this month or for as long as you see fit, even if it is for a week or a day. I dare you!






Glorius Tulips at Crystal Hermitage


I wanted to do a special post that highlights a recent visit to one of my favorite places in our part of the world. Crystal Hermitage at Ananda Village is a spiritual community and retreat located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada approximately 18 miles outside of Nevada City. I have a long history with Ananda having lived within 10 minutes of the village when I was a young adult. I remember hiking up to the Master’s store to buy a soda or commune in the beautiful surroundings. Every time I make a trip to Ananda I always think back to many memories of having once lived close by. Even though I don’t share the same faith as the people at Ananda, I appreciate their spiritual search and I feel very comfortable and attuned to their spirituality. http://www.crystalhermitage.org/


The Crystal Hermitage is where you’ll find one of the most beautiful gardens of its kind in the foothills. It is located on the edge of a canyon over-looking a vast area that has a spectacular view and if you crane your neck you’ll be able to spot the South Yuba river.


My brother, Doug joined me on this visit and while we were there we ran into my cousin who was raised in the area. She related many wonderful stories which included our great grandparents who had a saw mill just down the road from Ananda. Marcena is a vivacious woman and she is the most cheerful, outgoing person I know. She continued the tour with us and had us laughing more than once!



Beauty and serenity everywhere! I feel that it is important to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. Dig your toes into grass or sand, walk the quiet of the woods or through gardens, see and experience nature. It is something that I feel that is easily forgotten while living in our modern society.


Apparently the gardens are open throughout the year and can be accessed except for special private events which then the gardens might be closed.




Walking throughout the gardens you will find beauty everywhere you look. I am thinking of going back and plein air painting but that will have to wait for another two weeks because of the weather. The tulips will be gone but there is much to choose from to paint.


Get out there to paint or enjoy nature where you can find it. Thank you for coming along with me to this beautiful part of the country in Northern California!