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.






Old and New Paintings


Painting #1 on Saunders #200 quarter sheet

I painted this one about a month ago and was undecided if I liked it or not. I do! I have been reading about the watercolor techniques of Edgar Whitney and I have been actively working on painting minimally. Whitney says that we are artists have a story to tell, don’t religiously copy a reference photo, take the artistic plunge and be creative!


painting #2 on Arches 140# quarter sheet

This is the same scene but painted even more simplistic, especially those trees on the left embankment. I wasn’t too concerned about making them “real”, almost a calligraphic approach.


painting #3 on Arches 300# quarter sheet

I painted this one yesterday and was striving for drama, so I worked the values to the hilt. I am not too sure if I like that rock shape in front but then at least it isn’t boring! Early part of the week I had gone out to plein air paint on the South Yuba river and I based this painting on one of my photos of that trip.

colors used: Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Aureolin, Prussian Blue, Quin. Gold, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue


painting #4 on Saunders 200# quarter sheet

This one I painted today. This is a scene on the river that is my ultimate favorite. If I could, I would paint this at least 20 times, there is something about it that reminds me of our trip to Canada when I was a child.

Colors used: Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Quin. Gold, Aureolin, Prussian Blue, Mayan Blue, Moonglow

Learning Points:

  • Standing up for me while painting is something that I have been doing for months. It gives me a better perspective and I am able to step away, tilt my head which for some reason really helps me to see what I need to do.
  • Taking the time to do a value and design sketch is so important. I am a very impatient person but this is one thing I plan on doing from now on. Again, something that I read that Edgar Whitney felt was important in the endeavor of picture making.
  • Let loose and see what happens, I take to this approach like a duck to water but I realize that it can be difficult for some people.
  • I lie! when I first started painting in watercolor, I was timid and it hasn’t been until last year that I started to become very bold with the medium.
  • Don’t be afraid of the dark, adjust those values if needed.
  • I use large brushes in most of all my painting, it helps to be bold and not to treat your painting as precious.
  • Paint what you love and know. Why would I paint Venice? I haven’t been there and I am not interested in painting scenes that don’t mean anything to me.
  • I am not going to paint scenes that accomplished watercolorists paint just because they do it or because it is a popular scene. I have my own story to tell by golly!

*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.





South Yuba River

My scene
Painting #1 on Fabriano 140# 7 x 9 inches

Be aware that the blues are not as blue as this photo shows, and the yellow/gold is too acid here. Not sure why but I just could not get an accurate photo of this painting. Everything looks too blue/yellow and very blotchy. With that in mind, I loved painting this and it was difficult because I was facing a bright sun coming through that canyon.

scene #2
painting #2 on Fabriano 300# 11 x 14 inches

I love Fabriano when depicting anything with textures and especially rocks! perfect! I think that I was able to marry up my photo to my painting except the gold/yellow is not as sharp but more blended with the other colors.

scene #3
painting #3 on Arches 140# 7 x 9 inches

Again, the blues are too blue in this photo….I had a difficult time depicting the underlying rocks. I think with plein air when you get in and get out, sometimes you grab an illusion of a scene without getting the whole tamale of a depiction. Not enough time especially when the light is moving so fast. I think that with my photos, I’ll be able to go back and do a studio painting and work up to the finish that most people appreciate. For me, I am caught in between. I like the freshness of a plein air and yet I like a certain amount of “I’ve got it” in the level of finish.

Looking downstream to the first bridge, built in 1921, these boulders are huge by the way and the river is meandering between them. Can you see me with my hat? Hello!

Learning Points:

  • Watercolor is a medium worthy of tackling over and over, hours upon hours and especially if you can get out and paint from life, do it!
  • Don’t give up! every relationship is worth the work and determination. Watercolor is a relationship of sorts. I have always loved watercolor and I plan to make this marriage work!
  • Paint what inspires you, very important. I love the river and the river loves me (I think) and I love watercolor when I paint what I love, a lot of loving going on!
  • Morning sun is the best when it is peeking over a ridge or just hitting the subject, same goes with evening light, when it glows and hits that zenith of pure beauty.
  • Don’t be afraid to use opaque white, I did! the watercolor police were not in proximity and it is not a crime.

South Yuba Gold-World Watercolor Month #3

South Yuba River-old bridge built 1922

I remember crossing this bridge as a youngster coming up for family vacations to visit my grandparents and family back in the ’60’s and 70’s. Before the new highway was built I believe in the late 70’s, driving Hwy 49 was treacherous. I remember going around corners, my Dad often would honk the horn because of the truckers taking a wide berth. Come to think of it, this road is still quite deadly. I haven’t been down to this part of the river in years, I focus more on the North and Middle Yuba. What a beautiful day to paint, I was the first to arrive.

Painting #1 scene

I was pleased with the beautiful lighting and the rocks of the South Yuba is very different from the rocks of the North Yuba. Subtle colors with a lot of granite, I believe. It felt like painting an egg study.

#1 300# Arches rough 7 x 9 inches

I decided to bring out more texture later in the studio, and added a little more depth to the water.

scene for #2
#2 300# Arches rough 7 x 9 inches

I tried my best to marry up my photo to my painting. Bear in mind that those yellow/gold areas are not blotches of green/gold but subtle and more like light washes of color. The blue is not as sharp. No idea why I had a difficult time, usually I can get my photo spot on.

Now to the painting. My shadow under the rock on the bottom right was the hardest part to paint. Whew….Now I know I should have soften up edges but with this kind of rock formations, it is something you do want to delineate otherwise, you have one big mass with no definition. I will work on this in the future, softening edges that benefits the painting without losing form.

Last scene #3
Painting #3 on 200# Saunders CP

The blues are not as rich in my painting and the yellows are more subtle not so acid as in this photo. I had another difficult time getting the shadow correct on that over-hanging rock, something that I will be practicing in the next months.

My Learning Points:

  • I need to venture to the South Yuba river more often!
  • It is alright to take a painting back to finish. I have had this idea that I need to finish on site because of a belief that I will lose freshness. I have decided this is not true, over-working is when I lose freshness.
  • I only touched up areas that I felt would enhance the painting and no more….I repeat NO MORE…so tempting to make it even better.
  • I love rough paper, it makes dry brush work easy.
  • Practice shadows on rocks!
What a view!

Get out and Paint en Plein Air….you can thank me later! Remember doing this kind of activity heightens your keen artist eye.

South Yuba River beauty