Madrone Madness #4

Soft Pastel 10 x 14 on Mi-Teintes Touch

Yep, I am at again. I want you all to know that I painted this madrone in my nightgown! I am a devoted painter or perhaps crazy? The photo above doesn’t quite show the redness of the tree, the salmon color on the ground is perhaps a few shades brighter. The darks didn’t come out as dark as they should. The yellow and gold in the leaves are not quite brilliant enough in this photo but at least you get the idea. I tried my best to marry up the photo to my painting, it was difficult in this painting for some reason.

Having not painted en plein air in pastel for a while, I resented having my hands getting dirty, how did I ever get used to this problem when I first started? I am an aggressive painter and I had forgotten to go light with my softer pastels, I learned the hard way. I had one crumbled right in my fingertips. Lesson learned. I might go back and give my sky holes a lighter blue, they don’t show up well enough to read as sky.

close-up #1


close-up 2


I had an absolute blast and the process of creating a painting and decision making was no different between watercolor or pastel. That was a surprise for me. I have worked with both mediums in the past but the fact that I haven’t painted in pastel for over a couple months, I was able to decipher this difference.

Another realization that came to me after I had posted and looking at my painting, I feel that I over-worked it and the plein air looseness and freshness has been lost. I have recognized this before in some of my paintings and I would call it “boring or ho-hum” and the fact came to me that I was detecting a painting that has been over-worked. I never connected the two before and I think that now that I have recognized the fine line, I can head off this tendency to over-work. Of course it might be other factors that will make a painting ho-hum but in this case my painting has been over-cooked.

I feel the reason I take a painting too far is that I am trying to work out the problems; either the values are off or I am thinking that I am not depicting it like I see it or want it. Working it until I get there can be a trap. I have worked something until I got what I wanted and I have been able to do this without over-doing it. It can be done and it is achievable, it takes being sensitive to knowing when I am over stepping this fine line into being over-worked. Something that I will be more aware of and be working on. It is a never ending, learning task being an artist.

My learning points:

  • I hate Mi-Teintes Touch…not enough of a gritty surface for my personal taste. I am aggressive and it was too mediocre in receiving the pastel. I fought my paper.
  • Mid-tones are so important in building up your values, it is the foundation of your painting. I always seem to go dark and then concentrate on the lights. Not sure how to alleviate this lack of seeing and putting in my mid-tones. It is a work in progress learning this.
  • Even though I painted in my gown, I will not do naked, no thank you.
  • In order to depict details such as leaves, this can be done in a impressionistic grouping, convey it simply and bring in only necessary detail to convey the motif as needed.
  • Watch the fine line between good enough and too much, there is always next time, keeping it fresh and lively is key for plein air.

June WC #10

I was torn between pastel or watercolor plein air painting and the good old watercolor won out this time.

I wasn’t sure what time the light would hit this particular spot I was headed out to, I arrived about 8:30 am but I should have arrived a full hour earlier. I took the Canyon Creek Trail at Shenanigan Flat in Sierra Co. just before Indian Valley Outpost  Canyon Creek Trail  It seem to take forever because of having to hike back in at least 1 mile and a half, perhaps it was 2 miles, it sure felt like it. I got to see a bear, so exciting and I was trying to get my camera ready to take a photo but he decided to dash up the hill. So cool to have him there pausing, we both had a good look at each other, he decided he wasn’t up to introductions. I had this feeling that I would see a bear, I was right.

I didn’t like my photos today but here is a photo of this area back in the spring of this year. Look at all that green moss! I am hoping to plein air paint this fall and winter when I can have oodles of fun with that rich color.


I think in the future I need to scale down my supplies for longer hikes because I really felt the weight.

The photo at the top left was the area with this beautiful lighting, the tree was my first subject.

See the ladybugs on that rock? This is Cherokee Creek


Painting #1 Saunders #200 cp 11 x 14 inches

I overworked the base of this tree, I had some rich and beautifully mingled colors but I decided to go back in and make it even better! Wrong! leave it alone!

painting #2 Fabriano 300# cp 11 x 14 inches

These rocks were giving me a hard time trying to depict them correctly. I made the mistake of trying to work on two paintings at once and by the time I would go back to one of the other paintings, the light had changed. This system seems to work on smaller paintings but with a larger painting, not so well. I almost left this painting out of the group just because I am not happy with it, if you have some suggestions on what it needs or say “scrap it” that’s fine too.

Painting #3 Arches 300# rough 7 x 9 inches

I need more of a focal point, too busy with all the rocks. Yes, I know there are suppose to be a lot of rocks in a creek, but I need to point out my focal point. It needs something, that I do know.

Painting #4 Fabriano #300 cp 7 x 9 inches

This painting was so fun and yet I see some mishaps. Nothing is perfect when you plein air paint. So funny, as I sat there, I had hundreds if not thousands of ladybugs over all my stuff, the rocks and my paintings.

Sorry I would have cropped out the taped edges, I was in a rush to get it done and posted. Long day with painting, passing a motorcycle accident on the road on the way home, then having to wait for the helicopter to take off with the injured rider which was almost in front of my drive-way.

Painting #1 & 2 were the Yuba River, #3 and #4 were Cherokee Creek which runs right into the river. I do believe that I enjoyed painting the creek more.

Learning points:

  • The rocks in #2 were giving fits, as noted.
  • Careful with over working a painting, plein air paintings are suppose to be fresh and lively, get in and get out.
  • When I sense that I am picking at a painting, stop!
  • I hate Daniel Smith’s Lemon Yellow….HATE! Debi you were right….want some yellow?
  • Don’t accidently sit on my painting.

Return to the Middle Yuba- June WC #5

I went back to the Middle Yuba for some more torture…no, I mean painting! My daughter and I wanted to take her dog and hang out at the river, swimming and relaxing. Of course, I had to take my watercolors to have another go at it.

Middle Yuba
#1 painting 7 x 9 Arches #140 rough
#2 painting 7 x 9 Arches 140# rough
#3 painting  5 x 7 Arches 140# rough










I picked up my 7 year old grandson today to spend the weekend with me. With my husband gone on a fire assignment and having just Rollin to look after, we are going to have some fun! Hike, rest my eyes and have a little hiatus from my art angst. I planned on posting two times a week, Saturdays and Wednesdays but I wanted to get a good start on our hiking adventure in the high country, so I am doing this post today.

I have been losing a little steam and feeling very negative about my paintings. This does happen to me now and then and I think after my trip to the Sierra Buttes, it hit hard. The painting experience at the Buttes was wonderful until I got home and took a good hard look at my paintings. Then the left brain came alive and did a pass on the double yellow and spun some dirt and gravel leaving my right brain behind!

I feel as though I am in a rut and am doing the same kind of paintings over and over. Is it my style or what? Why can’t I get it in my head about the basics of what I have been learning, I seem to be re-learning the same points over and over.

So, this is my last post until next Wednesday. I might not post until next Saturday to give myself a bit of a much needed breather. I think I have been too critical and castigating myself and I have been down this road before and I know how it is totally worthless to keep spinning my wheels over this issue. I need to take a break and gather my wits and rest.

Good news, my eyesight itself did check out to be alright though I do have a common condition that creates dry eyes. There are glands in the eyelids that contributes a oily substance that helps to make tears last on the eyeball. I was severely lacking in tears, long story short, I now have an on-going treatment plan. I should be seeing relief soon. Thank you all for the concern.

Now have a creative weekend everyone and see you next week!






Rose To Be June WC #3

I should had skipped this Saturday posting but I couldn’t resist painting. I will rest after this, I promise! Oh I need to tell you that I am joining along with Charlie and friends for a nature hike and will include posts that pertain to nature for the month of June. Hop on over to check out  Charlie’s blog for the juicy details.

I didn’t feel up to a tight painting project because I need to rest my eyes from intense staring. I chose a photo of mine that I had taken of some single roses taken at the Empire State Mine.

my photo reference
7 x 9 inches Arches 140# CP


I realized after a few projects that I need to purchase a special collection just for flowers such as a vibrant pink. My reds won’t work for pinks likes this. I decided to go loose anyway so I can do what I want! even if I want to flatten out the flowers, it is my painting, my way. I didn’t pencil this out at all, going for “let’s see what happens” kind of painting.

You may ask why being a perfectionist such as myself enjoy painting loose. I can say that it takes far more patience for tighter paintings and I do tackle them but it is far and few between. I have noticed that with a tighter a painting project, it often fosters that need for perfection in me. I have found that when I do paint tighter, my approach has a loose attitude to the painting. I will take it slowly and enjoy it but when I paint loose, I feel like a little child set loose in the redwoods or on a beach. I feel like I can run up to the trees, take in the environment, kick up some sand, etc. I am using analogies here but this is what painting loosely means to me. You never know what you’ll get and the mysteries of watercolor allows for this wonderful discovery.

My learning points:

  • I need to purchase special colors for projects such as flowers.
  • Letting go is so fun!
  • Allowing little pockets of white here and there gives life and sparkle to my painting.
  • I am really liking the freedom of painting loosely, this is coming from a perfectionist!
  • I decided not to worry about the not so perfect spots in this painting, it is imperfect, so what?
  • I am learning that the “accidents” that watercolorists avoid such as blooms, areas that dry with a hard edge, etc….again, so what? I don’t see these as imperfections but a part of the painting, unless you are going for super realism, it wouldn’t work.
  • Walking on the loose, devil may care side of painting is kind of addicting!
  • Using a large brush on such a small painting really is fun and again, loosens me up, I used a 24 round Princeton art brush.
  • Let watercolor be watercolor, discover the mysteries and surprises that this medium has to offer, don’t be afraid, go on an adventure!

Colors used: permanent rose (Winsor Newton), quin. red, ultra. blue, ultra. turquoise, quin. gold and lemon yellow, all are Daniel Smith glorious colors. I am a fan of DS. I am trying to use up my other brands, so permanent rose was allowed to play with Daniel Smith colors this go around.