Saturday, December 9, 2017

Friends by the Fire

This is a painting/drawing from a photo of Howard and two of his friends sitting by the fire at Camp Westwind, on the Oregon Coast.  We spent many wonderful Thanksgivings there. The photo was taken in 2001.  It seems so long ago, and yet the memory is strong.

It was juried into a show in Georgetwon--"La Vida Buena"---the good life!  The show will be in January.

It's done in a style I used to use a lot--watercolor with charcoal and pastel.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

CHAL Fall Show "Life Off the Hill"

Next Saturday, November 18, is the reception and opening of a juried Capitol Hill Art League show that includes my painting "Oregon Beach."  I did this once before, as part of painting a day.  This version is larger, and framed as 11" x 14.".  The scene is at Westwind on the beach, for those who know the location.  The reception is from 5-7.  There's a lot of good art and it is always fun.  The show will be up until December 2.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Francesco Fontana : Day Four

On the fourth day of the workshop, we went to Valencia to paint.  We ended up in a little park by a plaza, where there were benches and a fountain to replenish our water supply.  The scene I chose was a large tree against an old, large building.  There were umbrellas in the foreground and also--yes! Valencia orange trees.  I also liked the dome in the background.  Here's my thumbnail sketch:

I tried, but I think I still have a lot to learn!  It was a very busy spot, and had a real city buzz.  I can't find my painting from the day, and I may not have even brought it back, but I do recall that I had put so much emphasis on the tree that it was hard to relate to the painting as a city scene.  My sketch was a little more successful in that regard.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Francesco Fontana Day Three

After the usual buffet breakfast with lots of fresh fruit, we went back to the village of Xativa.  We found a nice spot in a kind of town square where we painted.  The scene was white umbrellas against some old buildings and a glimpse of a car headed away from us.  Here's my sketch:

I got the car a little too big, and fell short of a good value pattern, but I began the painting. This is the result:

Lesson learned:  I needed a good thumbnail value sketch to work from, and I really didn't have it.   As Francesco Fontana says, if you have a good sketch, you can use it to complete the painting.  I probably could improve this one by adding some details---or cropping, but I think I will just say it was a valuable lesson and not spend any more time on it.  I also never really captured the darks under the umbrella.  It was pleasant, though, to be out and painting in Spain!

In the afternoon, we worked in the studio on color schemes, such as developing a painting from a prevailing color, its complement and one other color.  Francesco again talked about how to improve dark colors.  Mixing a color with its complement will darken it, but it will not be black.  Francesco had to tell us this many times!  I am still working on it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Art Holiday in Spain, Day Two

In the morning we went to the local village Beniganim to work on site.  We walked around and enjoyed the village flavor.  Our hostess Loli seems to know everyone, so that was fun.  We settled on painting a church that is historic because it began as a Mosque in the 14th Century.  The name I wrote down was Christo de la Sangre--Christ of the Blood.  I did the above sketch and I am pretty happy with it.  Francesco explained tonal drawing, which is sketching in the various values as areas and then drawing the lines of the subject.  I like that idea and plan to use it more.  He also showed us how to place a perspective line and vanishing point.   We also saw Loli's art gallery in town.  Again, I didn't get to doing an actual painting, but I did a watercolor sketch:


I love the idea of the value sketch when painting on site.  If the sun moves, you can refer back to your sketch.  I didn't fully succeed, but it is progress.

We went back to the villa, ate a huge lunch of paella with chicken and rabbit and took a siesta.  In the afternoon, we went to a castle in Xativa that also dates back to the Moorish occupation.  It was a beautiful location, and very peaceful.  We found a comfortable spot to make our tonal sketches.  This is mine:

I started a painting, but didn't get very far with it when it was announced that the site was closing and we had just ten minutes to leave.  We packed up and left.  I hoped for a time when I could actually paint that scene....which might be difficult from the sketch.   However, I did get some photos, too.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Art Holiday at Dalvaro Art with Francesco Fontana: Day One

I recently attended an amazing art workshop.  Although I didn't produce anything worth posting, I got a lot of good ideas and feel that my art will be improved....significantly.  The was  location was Las Orquideas in Beniganim, Spain.  Our hostess was Loli Alvaro, and the workshops are Dalvara Art Holidays.  There will be more about that in my travel blog, though it isn't there yet.

Francesco Fontana was the tutor.  He is a classic watercolorist with an interest in painting plein air.  I had been familiar with his work and been on his mailing list for a few years.

The workshop began with an overview of Francesco's work.  He demonstrated how to plan a painting using a value sketch to simplify the subject, suggesting that the value sketch should have three to five values. Of course, I have been told to make a value sketch many times, and sometimes I do.  This demonstration and the exercise following it showed me why it is so important.  As Francesco pointed out, a good value sketch provides a plan to evaluate progress.  If it is done well, a painting can be made using the value sketch without regard to the subject.   This was a little hard at first but, but the end of the week, I was a believer. Above left is Francesco's demonstration of a thumbnail value sketch of a vase in the window.  Another tip was that cell phone camera in the monochrome mode can be used to clarify values.

The next phase is to determine whether the colors are predominately warm or cool and then, using a limited palette (more about that later) make the painting. Francesco made the small watercolor sketch on the right, using his value sketch rather than the vase itself.  He explained that the fewer brush strokes you use, the more effective your painting will be.

We then had a big beautiful Spanish lunch and a siesta.  When we reconvened, we went into the garden to practice value sketching and painting a composition with five elements.  I did some passable sketches, but didn't get to the painting stage.   I didn't keep the sketches.  I felt I would do better as the week progressed.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Something Kind of Fun

My art group, Capital Hill Arts League, has a fun show coming up.  We all signed up to do a painting based on the cover of a song.  My song is "On the Road Again."  Since I had been reading The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, I decided to paint the bus, "Further." This is the bus Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters took across America.    The driver is Neal Cassady, who evidently did most of the driving.

This painting is 22" x 28," so it is pretty big and kind of "in your face." I think, though, that was how it was when the Merry Pranksters were on the road!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

John Salminen Workshop

I took a workshop several years ago with John Salminen.  I haven't thought much about it until recently when I had a conversation with David Daniels, my watercolor teacher at Smithsonian Associates. What we discussed was the differnece between Salminen's amaszing urban landscapes and the content of the workshop, which was focussed on abstract composition. Above is the painting I completed in the workshop.  Salminen led us through an interesting process. We did several drawings of common objects and then superimposed them on each other for rhe compositon.  The paintings we worked on are full sheet watercolor, so they are complex. As we worked, we left a large area white.  The idea, as I remember it, was to introduce color in a gradation so that the darkest areas would be toward the edge.  In this workshop, we also used small collaged scraps and some black paint, including the lines.  I nalso loved the use of glazing in various areas.  When I came home, I continued to explore this process, and made a few more paintings.

I may return to this proscess though, of course, I will have my own take on it...there is something to be learned about making an effective composition.  I am still learning!  I think it is my biggest challenge.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Palouse River

This is my most recent painting.  It is a view of the Palouse River.  Everyone who has been there will remember this site.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Buty Winery inspiration

At Christmas, my grandson Griffin gave me a bottle of wine from the local wine shop, DCanter.   I made my usual "thank you card" based on the wine label.  I also filed away a thought to make a bigger painting.  This is it, but I modified it to make what is the logo and is yellow into an orange "orb"--maybe moon? maybe sun? maybe Mars?   I also took "liberties" with the sky and made it yellow.  Well, I do have an artistic license!   The winemaker is "Buty" and they are in Washington state.  Here's a picture of the bottle of wine and the actual label.

Size is still not that is 9" x 12"

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Relaxing Under a Palm in Puerto Rico

I did this last month when I was on the beach at Puerto Rico, but didn't ever finish it.  I could fuss with it a little more, especially the sand, but decided to leave it as is.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Color Challenge

Here's another fun challenge.  Make a painting in which everything is the complement of the local color.  So, green is red and blue is orange.  It was harder than I thought it would be, but I like the result.  Yes, the colors are that intense...and they were in the image I was using:

I felt the blue would interpret better as a "new gamboge" yellow than a true orange.  It is something I will try again.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Class Challenge

Last week, in my watercolor class taught by David Daniels, we got a challenge.  The challenge was to work from a sheet of black and white photos and make a painting.  We could use one of the photos, or several...or, of course, not do it at all.  This is my composition.  It is 7 1/2 inches by 22 inches.  I'm not sure what the animal crawling on the rocks is....any suggestions for improvement are welcome.

My plan is to mount it on a rice paper scroll rather than framing it.

Below  is a photo of the handout I used as inspiration.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


I haven't posted to this blog in awhile, but plan to get back into doing it more regularly.  I have been taking watercolor classes from David Daniels through Smithsonian Associates.  You can learn more about him at  His teaching style is just right for me.  We begin with a critique of the work we've been doing since the last class,then David does a demonstration of techniques and ideas.  The rest of the time (2 1/2 hours) is spent painting.  David makes time to visit with everyone and is sensitive to who needs more advice and who should just go with it.  The class is fairly large, but he makes time for everyone.

David's inspired me to take some risks with my work, and here's an example.  In this one, I did a non-representational wash and glazed another non-representation wash over it.  I then thought about what it could be and decided a path would work and sketched it out.  I used frisket in some places and then did the painting.  It has lots of layers.  I like the "spirit" of it and will do this again, though I am not very happy with my use of frisket.  It was fun, and my plan is to make more art posts on this blog.  I have been doing it on Facebook, but the blog format gives me a history of only the art....not the other stuff.