Monday, December 4, 2023

8" x 8" watercolor
Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

Trying to channel Marney Ward again. I still have miles to go, but she did give me some pointers that helped this along. She encourages working from photos with backlighting, to help convey a luminescent quality. 

Baby steps.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
6" x 9" ink and watercolor
on Stonehenge 100% cotton hot press paper

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies2
6" x 9" ink and watercolor
on Stonehenge 100% cotton hot press paper

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Last Call for Persimmons

Last Call
4" x 6" ink and watercolor
Arches 100% cotton hot press paper

The persimmon season is coming to a close. That means it's late fall in northern California. 

Such beauty, and so tasty when sliced with thinly sliced pear and sprinkled lightly with olive oil and honey-ginger balsamic vinegar. Over the top, just a little sea salt and a few strips of basil. Mmmmmm. 

Friday, November 24, 2023



4" x 6" watercolor
Arches 100% cotton hot press

So thankful for Thanksgiving with family yesterday. And for these bright persimmons to paint today. Life can be so wonderful. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Couldn't Resist


Dahlia in Golden Gate Park
10" x 10" watercolor
Arches 100% cotton cold press

I couldn't resist adding just one more dark background layer to the painting featured in the previous post. I think it helps the lighter areas pop just a bit more...but I have miles to go before I am even close to channeling Marney Ward

And maybe there's only one Marney Ward out there, though Cara Brown's style is similar. Such beautiful transparency and luminescence from both artists. I'll never be as painstakingly realistic with my paintings--I don't have the patience. But if I could achieve that luminescence once in a while, that would be something. 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Anatomy of a Painting


Dahlia in Golden Gate Park
10" x 10" watercolor
Arches 100% cotton cold press

I've been taking an online course from Canadian watercolor artist Marney Ward. If you check out her web site, you'll see why I'm dissatisfied with this painting. My goal was to learn how to paint with the kind of luminosity she achieves. Her flowers positively glow right off the paper. 

This flower...does not quite do that. 

She had us start with a somewhat detailed drawing, and then work first on the background. Here's my start, below. At this point I was thinking anything was possible--a very heady feeling! 

She then advised working petal by petal around the flower. I quickly realized I was getting carried away with stripes (see just below). Now I was thinking, "Dang, I'm messing it up." 

It helped to cover some of the petals in blue (see very top), to cause them to recede for some depth and to call less attention to all those stripes. 

But that version (see just below) still didn't glow like a Marney Ward painting. And my the colors veered too far into the blue territory. I hadn't kept enough pink for warmth. I felt I'd failed the painting entirely.

So I added more pink:

And then even brighter pinks and yellows here and there (same as top image):

I'm calling it finished, but it still does not sing like a Marney Ward painting.'s back to the drawing board, but probably with a different reference photo. 

(Here's the photo I was working from:) 

All in all, four days' intensive work just to yield a "Meh" painting. 

But I've learned some things that maybe will help the next one. 

This watercolor learning curve is mighty roller coaster-y, but it's still quite fun. 

Friday, November 10, 2023



From Mary's Garden
6" x 8" watercolor
Arches 100% cotton hot press paper

Yes, it's been a relief this week to abandon the literal and pull out the ink, using a stick for bold lines, and then after the ink dries, slopping on some juicy, bright watercolors. FUN!

More About the Sally Project

I met Sally forty years ago when I was twenty and she was the one in her sixties. I was a waitress at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant on...