“The Falls”


painting #1 on Arches 300# 11 x 14 inches

Painting more detail (for me) with this painting of the falls located about 3 miles down the road from my house. I have visited here often to paint, it is a favorite swimming hole with the nudists. I used my plein air (photo below) as a reference though about half of it was painting by instinct. I might try this again and far looser and work on giving the focal area the credit due. I think that I got too caught into rendering and lost my focal point. I have been lately trying to exhibit more feeling rather than just show a scene.





plein air of the falls on Arches 140# cp 7 x 9 inches

I think that I liked the main focal rock better in my plein air than the first painting at the top. I liked how I handled my tonal values better in the plein air and especially the dark value of the main rock. Perhaps I will give it a another try and go for a deeper value. It is all practice and exercising my artistic muscles.

colors used in painting #1: Lunar Blue, Raw Sienna, Quin. Gold, Fr. Ultra. Blue, Green Gold

colors used in painting #2 (guessing): Fr. Ultra. Blue, sap green, yellow ochre, Burnt Sienna

*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.






Camptonville Cemetery-World Watercolor Month #9


My little plein air adventure was to Camptonville Cemetery which is located right in town. Camptonville history this link will give you some interesting details of the history of this little town. I arrived before the sun hit the cemetery itself, so I painted this truck on the edge overlooking the countryside.

My reference photo for my  first painting
painting #1 on Arches 140# cp 7 x 9 inches

Painting this truck has been a dream of mine for years and I think I need to do a studio painting of it and work on it bringing out the textures because en plein air, I was able to do so much. I wanted to keep the surrounding foliage simple. I could feel myself wanting to go abstract but I held myself back.

Painting #2 on Arches 140# cp 7 x 9 inches…. the countryside, backside of the cemetery

Alright wondering why I go to a cemetery and not paint headstones? I arrived too early and I had to wait for the sun to hit the cemetery itself. Finally, I was able to paint a headstone! I planted myself between these two headstones…..interesting…..a Margaret and a Maggie; just like before I painted next to a Margaret just this past week.





Painting #3 on Arches 140# cp 11 x 14 inches

My headstone is a bit off, it didn’t help that I had a meat bee trying to take a bite out of me and I was using my painting to swat at him. I can’t blame it all on the bee, I need to be more careful in cutting out my shapes in the future. My drawing was right on (I think) but the painting part, I lost some good edges. A good learning experience. The top of my headstone is off, it makes me laugh but that was when I was fighting the bee.

It was a ho hum painting experience, it didn’t have me on the edge of my seat, I ended up more focused on depicting detail which is alright. I need to learn to go from one spectrum to the other. I am not exactly crazy in love with any of my paintings. I am trying to find the sweet spot of working within my style which is very loose and yet I ended up painting more realistic than I really wanted to. I am trying to find my way.

I tried out my new color, Cobalt Teal Blue in the 3rd painting….I do believe that it is opaque or semi-transparent and it should be used alone as my fellow blogger Debi has mentioned many times. Debi’s Cobalt Teal Blue Wisdom I had to test it out and she is right! I didn’t really mix it but it needs space and strategic planning. I feel that it does not look right in the spot that I used it.

Learning Points:

  • Practice out of my comfort zone as often as I can.
  • Alternate different approaches, ie:  abstract to tight. It keeps my drawing skills in tune and helps to keep my interest level engaged.
  • I need to learn to depict grasses better.

Peoria Memorial Park-World Watercolor 7

Up and at it early and arriving just before the sun hit the cementery, located about 5 miles from Loma Rica.

The sun just coming over the ridge
beautiful light and color on these cypresses
painting #1 on Arches 140# rough 11 x 14 inches
painting #2  on Fabriano #140 7 x 9 inches
Painting #3 on Arches 140# rough 7 x 9 inches
painting #4 on  Fabriano 140# 7 x 9 inches

I intended to make a rather tight study or detailed paintings but, again….my loose and crazy side came out to play. I actually painted one more but it was not quite clear enough in the shapes and values to include here.

I am trying to find my way into an approach that really works for me, I do tend to want to abstract my paintings lately, so I am not holding back. Perhaps it is my way of finding how far I want to go with looseness. Time will tell if I venture back to more realism, I am not worried about it. I am painting for pure joy and for me at this point.

It was so fun to hear the birds and mooing cattle nearby. I scouted out this cemetery about two weeks ago and I finally was able to come and paint. Now….if you are wondering where are the headstones in my paintings? I think that you can see one that is a shape of a headstone that I intended to paint but was initially forgotten. I think that I was to excited about the trees and the beauty rather than the headstones.

Poor dear Margaret….. but she had a long life!


Love that view! especially of the oaks in the background

Learning Points:

  • Mingle your paints rather than on the palette, so much more exciting!

Short and sweet….sorry I ran out of steam, more next time.

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!






Madrone Madness-June WC #1

Kind of dark but you get the general idea of my scene


It’s June and I am off to the races with my adventures with watercolor. I decided to paint the view right out my back door. While relaxing early on the patio this weekend, the lighting was so beautiful coming through the trees from where I sat. I decided I had to paint those trees. The madrone is the largest tree and will be my focus and it is at least 75 feet tall.

I can fit my plein air supplies quite well in my backpack but this morning taking everything out to my site took extra trips. I should take my “plein air mentality” out my back door without trying to take my entire studio outside. Lesson learned.

I first warmed up with a couple of color sketches.

I decided to try a larger size paper for plein air and on an easel. I immediately freaked out and decided to put my painting board in my lap. I was doing a few things different and found myself nervous and trying to take back what I was doing. Talk about insecure!

Once I relaxed and enjoyed watching the mixing colors and eventually I realized that I was going against the current by judging and freaking out when I hardly had paint down on my paper.

My final painting on Arches #140 rough 10 x 14.5 inches

That drip was when I had my painting on the easel and I changed my mind because of that drip, I need to get comfortable having my painting tilted and dealing with washes that are cascading down. I probably had too much water on my brush. I will eventually learn this but I wasn’t ready for it today.


My learning points:

  • Steady that wild mustang of fear and anxiety, “she” won’t be bucking me off after all, I am holding those reins, me!
  • Just because I went out of my comfort zone doesn’t mean that I won’t be able put out a decent painting, going out of my comfort zone is not a recipe for failure.
  • Get use to being able to handle both fresh and dried paint, especially fresh gobs of paint on my palette.
  •  Set aside the fear of making mistakes, it dams up creativity.

I have a question for you watercolorists, I have been used to working from the dried paint on my palettes and I find that I can control my washes far easier than with fresh globs. I had to replenish my paint this morning and of course, I had fresh paint. I found that I was being aggressive and getting too much paint on my brush and well, you get the idea. I would like to hear what you all have to say about this.

Daring Watercolor #22

Mining equipment, ore car, rock crusher and stamp mills


I decided to go down to the Forest Service to paint some of the mining display equipment. My eyes really needed a rest but I couldn’t resist and silly me, why pick out difficult subjects to paint? I think that I need help….anyone hear of Painters Anonymous? Maybe I should do a group start up!

My two paintings were of these two items, the left “thing” is called a blower which blows compressed air into a mine. The ore car on the right was my second painting.

my first painting 4 x 5 inch Arches 140# rough
my second painting 4 x 5 inch Arches #140 rough

Oh my, I should had given myself a day off because these equipment pieces were very intricate and I decided to paint at mid day so the lack of good contrast was at its minimum. I did want to post this anyway because it was a good way to end my Watercolor Challenge for the month. I will be making a slide show of all my paintings during this challenge and my final thoughts, be looking for that hopefully on Tuesday. I will also talk about my upcoming challenge for the month of June in which I will be continuing in watercolor.

I wanted to include a photo of the dedication plaque of my husband’s boss. I always liked Dick Zembiec and his knowledge of mining and his understanding of the gold miners he dealt with.

My learning points:

  • Goodness sakes it is alright to take a rest, especially when my body is telling me to.
  • Learn to use that rough paper, perfect for dry brush, this was a golden moment that I allowed to slip away (darn my eyes!).
  • Learn to bring a definite three value play into subjects such as these.

Daring Watercolor #21

My scene on the Middle Yuba

I decided to go try out further upstream from the spot that I painted  Daring Watercolor #16 . I should had arrived even sooner because I had only about one hour of the best lighting.

My scene but closer up
My first painting 7 x 10 inches on Arches 140# rough
My second scene
My second painting 7 x 10 inches on Arches 140# rough

I have several areas that I don’t care for….on painting #1, there was a large amount of blue paint that settled in a valley and then dried, leaving a blue strip. On painting #2 the rock on the left with the shadows doesn’t seem to have enough value range and just “sits there”.

My learning points:

  • Fun to charge in Cerulean blue to watch it boss other colors around. So far the only color that I have discovered is as “bossy” is yellow.
  • Don’t be timid to put down bold dark passages and forego the typical watercolor technique of light to dark. With my squirrel hair mop saturated with water, endeavor to connect the shapes and watch magic happen. Fun!
  • Allow the colors to mix on the paper, charge the wet paper with color.


clear, clear water

Daring Watercolor #16

The scene for my plein air notes

I was up and at my location early to paint, so fun! This spot is about 5 minutes down the road from me and this is the middle fork of the Yuba. A very popular place for the locals to swim and relax.

I am finding out that I love to get right to painting and skipping my value sketches. I have found an alternative, color notes! I also decided to use a different brush, one that I am not quite use to. A brush from England that is a Japanese style mop? I have to learn what to call it but it is made from squirrel hair.

Reference photo
Painting #1

I had so much fun I think that I could had painted all day but then the lighting was changing and I wanted that early morning glow.

reference photo
painting #2

I had so much fun and I’m thinking that I prefer watercolor to pastel for plein air painting. I can’t even fathom that I am writing this because watercolor scared me out of even trying it in the field and I am now saying that I prefer it to pastel? WHAT? Maybe an alien has taken over my body.

What I learned:

  • Don’t feel that I have to depict exactly what I see, a photo can mimic that. I am an artist, bring my own view of things to the paper.
  • Don’t focus so much on how, find out by getting in there and getting my feet wet.
  • Feel the scene, the scene will tell me a story, listen and observe and follow that story with my brush.
  • Don’t be afraid to change elements (motifs) to make the scene to come alive.
  • Learn to allow edges to meld, our brains want to naturally make order, that often can kill the beauty and gentleness of what you are looking at.
  • Learn to mingle colors, don’t try to over control my colors. Magic happens when color is allowed to play on the paper. Goodness sakes, let the colors party!

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!






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!