Sunday, May 31, 2020

Let There Be Peace

Sky and Trees
Watercolor, 6" x 9"
on Arches 100% cotton cold press w/c paper
Feeling heart-broken for the family of George Floyd. Let peace begin with me. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


Bougainvillea Revisited
5.5" x 7.5", Arches 100% cotton, cold press paper
Today I rolled into another version of the bougainvillea with the idea of giving the flowers more real estate than in yesterday's painting

This time I wasn't trying to avoid using ink, so that's a testimony to facing what you're avoiding in your next painting, as per artist Lyn Boyers' advice.

The pressing issue today was time. I knew this painting would take more time than yesterday's. I needed to draw it a little more carefully (I used a watercolor pencil so the lines would dissolve with water). I needed to make sure the perspective was right. Then I needed to apply layers of color, giving more time especially for the brighter colors to dry before adding other colors. All told, it was about a seven-hour process with several (welcome) interruptions. That's seven hours during which other work did not get done. 

I'm not sure this painting is finished. I'm not sure it is an improvement over yesterday's. But I am sure it was time well spent, because now I'm even less afraid of approaching a challenging composition without ink. I'm also feeling more confident about working with larger paintings.

Now I need to work on giving myself permission to spend more time on this learning curve. Until recently I've mostly been painting in the cracks -- between work and social commitments. Deeper learning is going to take more time. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Bougainvillea Season

"Bougainvillea Season"
6" x 6" Arches 100% Cold Press w/c paper

I had the time but didn't want to paint today. That's how it goes for me: when I don't have time, I crave creating time. When I have time, my mind can think of all sorts of reasons not to make stuff. 

I tuned into an art podcast and started organizing my office/studio. Today it was Eric Rhoads and artist Lyn Boyers on Rhoads' PleinAir Podcast -- one of my favorite go-to podcasts.

Coincidently, Boyers addressed my situation: "Sometimes I literally don't want to paint," she said. What that happens, she immediately does a mental scan. 

"You can do it quickly," she said, "and the answer is immediate. I say, 'What am I avoiding?' and 'What scares me?' (In relation to painting.)" Boyers then faces that fear in the day's painting.

I'd wanted to portray this house in the 'hood with the bougainvillea. It's high season in Alameda for these beautiful bushes, and they are my favorites. (I also covet this house, which happens to be for sale but is waaaaay beyond my price range.)

I wanted to approach the painting without ink because I thought the black lines would interfere with the color intensity. But as we know, using ink for a beginning framework is my comfort zone. That's why I'd been avoiding the project for several days.

Boyers beckoned me to plunge into my fear. I took a breath and did the color study, below, and then took another breath and created the painting above. I may try another version that gives the bougainvillea more real estate on the page and that doesn't bungle up the support column quite as much. But when I do, I won't be afraid of not using ink.

Thank you, Lyn Boyers and Eric Rhoads.  

Color/Value Study for Bougainvillea Season
7.5" x 7.5" watercolor
Stillman & Birns Zeta sketchbook

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Another Garden Selfie

Another Garden Selfie
Watercolor and Ink
7.5" x 7.5" Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook

Sure -- splattering with watercolors may have become cliche. I just couldn't help myself here. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

More Sky Drama

Sky Drama 2
5" x 7" watercolor
on Arches cold press, 100% cotton

More sky drama in Alameda. Lots of unintended things going on here, some that worked and some that didn't. But I think it will make a decent b.d. card for a special friend. Lori, this one's for you. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Three Confessions

Along the Bay
5" x 7" Arches Cold Pressed paper
Three confessions. 

I exaggerated the sky drama in this painting. The truth is, the sky is rarely this cloudy here in the Bay area.

I miss the dramatic sky shows in the Midwest this time of year. Thunderclouds, anvil clouds, cumulus clouds, cirrus clouds, the near certainty that it will rain sometime soon -- I miss all that.  

While walking along the bay this a.m. and listening to the shorebirds and lapping waves, I heard a couple talking to each other. They must have been visitors because one looked around and said, "What a great place to shelter in place." 

Indeed. These almost year-round, cool-but-sunny days are kinda growing on me, here in Alameda. 

We may be talking addiction here, folks. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Sudden Beauty

Is it just me, or does it seem like bushes produce fully blooming flowers overnight in California? Seems like you get a little more warning in the Midwest. Out here in the spring, it's "Ta-Da!" every time you turn around. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Garden Selfie

Those gardens around town -- they're just so vain right now. Everywhere you go they're taking selfies.  

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...