4
Jan

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Watercolor: Vanilla Sun – and a month after the Thomas Fire

Flexing Our Composition Muscles While experimenting with the camera on my phone, I snapped a flurry of photos around the house to exercise my composition muscle. When I upload the photos to my computer, I’m always surprised. Looking at vignettes as a row of little thumbnails makes it easier to find impactful compositions, because I can’t get distracted by the details. With a little cropping here and there, a few of them were just right for watercolors.  Do you harvest painting subjects this way too? Do you walk through your home when the sunlight is slanted and bright, looking for ideas?  If not, …[Continue reading]

19
Dec

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Collagraph – Garden Watch (and artist’s perspective via fire)

Grab Your Colored Pencils Colored pencils provide immediate, no fuss, easy-peasey art making on the fly. Even if you’re traveling, it doesn’t take much to pull out a handful of colored pencils and a sketchbook to make something fun and meditative. In lieu of a sketchbook, I worked on a collagraph this week, and it was splendidly calming, despite the chaos. And speaking of disruption, thank you to everyone who left wonderful emails, comments and messages on social media about the fire. We are all hiking towards normal.   Courage The air quality here still requires a respirator, and the ash and soot …[Continue reading]

13
Dec

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Collagraph: Island Fox and the Thomas Fire

Checking In How are you doing this week? We’re all hiking through the woods together towards the end of the year.  This last stretch is equal parts lovely – because we spend time with people we love, and harried – because the To-Do list is three stories tall.  I’m a squirrel, searching for a magical nut-of-balance between the two extremes. I hope you’re sneaking mini-opportunities to doodle on the back of opened envelopes, and jot down post-it note art-ideas to tackle in the new year. Did you add art supplies to your wish list? Have you picked a workshop to take, or an …[Continue reading]

4
Dec

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Mixed Media – Sur la Sorgue Sunday Market

Loss and Perspective Loss puts a magnifying glass on the concept of time. A sweet, kind, joyfully positive friend of mine died last month. Grief and good memories shared with a community of people who loved her has been a salve on my bereaved heart. Making art and planning new paintings helps enormously too. She would like that part; planning and being excited for all things related to Potential. What Do We Say? Knowing what to say to a family suffering a loss is challenging.  Feelings get tangled in social skill hiccups, bereavement diplomacy, and the delicate balance of expressing your grief in …[Continue reading]

14
Nov

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Firenze Cucina – Watercolor and Making Art More Often

Surrounded by Shortcuts As a painter and printmaker, I enjoy things that require steps or process. I also like to garden and cook for those same sequential rhythms. Working with my hands is meditative. Years ago, as a newbie attending an artist’s dessert potluck, I made cookies from a recipe that – to me – has just the right amount of crispy and chewy. One of the artists quipped “Oh gawd, you didn’t MAKE those, did you? Well, you’re new here. We all buy cookies! You’ll figure it out and follow suit shortly.” I offered her a cookie. She loved it, and muttered …[Continue reading]

2
Nov

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Watercolor Sketch – Cranberry Cottage (and color studies, and 10,000 YouTube Subs)

Simplify Before Committing Back in the day, when I quizzed established artists about best practices towards making art full time, the sculptor Ron Pekar gave me a great tip. He suggested limbering up by painting small studies in watercolor as though they would be cut into simplified wooden puzzles. Ron said beginner painters want to paint every leaf, branch and flower on complex landscape scenes, because we don’t trust the viewer to fill in the missing shapes. New painters want to copy detail, instead of painting a scene artistically, because we haven’t practiced editing, which is key to moving away from documentation and towards …[Continue reading]

23
Oct

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Watercolor: Saturday Morning Sleep-In (and painting the figure in watercolor)

Drawn to the Figure Do you paint or draw figurative work? I’ve been doodling and drawing figures and faces since grade school. I can’t articulate why my affinity leans so strong for figurative subjects, but even when I commit to a still life series, I’m easily swayed midstream to paint a figurative piece. I really love other genres and subjects, but I suspect the muscle-memory of my figurative art reflex resides somewhere deep in my monkey brain. 🐵 Inspired by Degas The Morgan Library & Museum in New York had an exhibit five years ago on Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917). Thanks to …[Continue reading]

19
Oct

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Watercolor Sketch: Tulips and Starfish (and painting watercolors on a plane)

Painting on a Plane I just got home from Annapolis, Maryland. I grew up in and love the East Coast, and our kids used to be stationed in far away places, so long flights are a familiar event for us. That’s how painting or drawing became my inflight cocktail. Do you find art-making to work for you too, on long flights? With a small watercolor kit, and a good audiobook lilting into my earbuds, a trip across the continent goes by lickety-split fast. I had the middle seat on the plane – both there and back, but it didn’t matter, as long as …[Continue reading]

10
Oct

Scouting for Tulip Petals 7x7 inch collagraph

Collagraph: Scouting for Tulip Petals (& Art Groups on Facebook)

Making Art with Other People Make art more often by joining a group, taking a class or scheduling your creative time with fellow artists. A schedule makes you accountable, and anticipation from art-minded friends expecting you to show up can be the right kick in the pants to Get Things Done. So Many Artists tell me they don’t create often enough. Self-doubt, time management, life/work-conflicts, and health issues are mortar in the block walls. And then there is the subtly squirmy discomfort with working alone. We know that making art is a solo endeavor, so that can be part of the culprit.  If this …[Continue reading]

4
Oct

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Watercolor: Painting in the Canyon (& gift ideas for artists who paint outdoors/travel )

Painting Outdoors is not Easy I have talented friends who paint outdoors in fields, meadows and beaches here in California.  I admire their ability to make beautiful art while tracking slipping sunlight & shadows, fending off cows, swatting mosquitoes, and keeping their easels from poking an ant hill. Plein air painting is a courageous endeavor. So is the urban sketching movement; it’s not easy to draw in a garden or the subway with people watching over your shoulder, dispensing advice on your work-in-process, and waxing poetic about their great aunt Harriet who used to paint daisies on canvas shoes. The Right Tools for the Job …[Continue reading]

2
Oct

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Watercolor – Nested (and my Patreon page)

Nourish your Creative Self Advice for Life Thank goodness brilliant minds take time to document ideas, creations and formulas. Especially these days, with storm clouds all around. Where would we be without the written word, or art supplies? You and I have the option to pour over the masterful conclusions scribbled and painted by smart people who lived centuries before us. Populations have previously wrung their hands, knit their brows and scribbled solutions toward figuring things out. We probably don’t need to sit in a foggy slump, stained by events we can’t control, or stuck on a problem. Let’s try taking a deep breath, …[Continue reading]

22
Sep

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Monotype: Winter Geraniums (when art is inspired by family photos)

Do you Paint from Family Photos? The reference photo for the monotype above was snapped in the mid 1970’s, in my dad’s childhood home in rural Connecticut. My grandparents bought and renovated the house in 1944, after it had lived a full life as Old Meadowbrook Farm – a Country Inn and gladiola farm since the late 1800’s. If you’re unfamiliar with monotype printmaking, there are many posts on this blog featuring monotypes in process (click here to see a few posts).  You can also watch monotypes being made on my youtube channel. Gather your supplies and lets make something, shall we? This monotype, …[Continue reading]

19
Sep

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Tips for Supplies – Travel Watercolors – and the cafe Les Terrasses

Traveling with Watercolors I see lots of great art supplies in the travel totes of my plein air friends and the artists I follow in the urban sketching movement. While packing for a trip to Provence with WorkshopsinFrance.com,  I tested light-weight, small watercolor sets to cajole my affinity for art-making on airplanes, in hotel rooms, on sailboats, and in gardens. Are you thinking about drawing or painting on an upcoming trip? Here’s a list (below) of the supplies I keep handy for roaming, with links. (Note, some of the links are affiliates, so if you make a purchase, I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost …[Continue reading]

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