Saturday, April 24, 2021

Not as Mini

"Monterey 'Scape," 7.5"x7.5" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton rough press w/c paper

So I took more time with this one but here's the paradox: I like the quick mini-paintings much better -- especially the one of the Lone Cypress tree that I posted a few days ago. C'est la vie.

I wanted to make it looser, more impressionistic, but everything tightened up awfully quickly, and the added pencil lines don't help. 

One thing I'm noticing these days, though: less focus on the disappointment I feel when I produce something I don't love, and more excitement for what might be just around the corner. 

Realizing it more and more: the failures are so necessary. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

More Mini's


"On the Way to Monterey," 5"x7.5" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton rough w/c paper

More mini-paintings done in the spirit of Birgit O'Connor's video, while the three-day trip to Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Pebble Beach is still on my mind and in my heart. What a great way to capture some good traveling-with-my-mate memories. Thank you, Brigit.

And thank you, mate.  

Carmel Beach State Park, 5"x7.5" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton rough w/c paper

Wednesday, April 21, 2021



"The Lone Cypress of Pebble Beach," 5 x 7.5" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton rough w/c paper

Inspired by a short video from watercolor artist Birgit O'Connor on creating mini-paintings (there is so much available on the web for free!) I made these two sketches early this a.m. 

We'd returned yesterday from a trip to the Monterey area, and I wanted to paint while the trip was fresh in my mind.

Will these little sketches give me the courage to try more finished paintings of the same scenes? 

Stay tuned, folks. 

"Monterey," 5 x 7.5" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton rough w/c paper


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Crown Beach Poppies


Crown Beach Poppies, 7.5" x 7.5" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton rough w/c paper

Living next door to the Crown Memorial Beach State Park in Alameda is such a gift. 

Those who help preserve public spaces deserve a special place in heaven. Thank you to Robert W. Crown, a state legislator who campaigned for the site to be preserved as a public park. Tragically, Crown died in 1973 at the age of 51 after being struck by a car while jogging in Alameda. 

But his legacy includes 2.5 miles of beach and a biking trail that follows the San Francisco Bay, along with acres of green spaces for picnics, soccer, and thousands of shorebirds that winter here. 

These poppies are currently in bloom in a large bed of native perennials near the bathhouse. Behind them are bushes with vibrant purple flowers. 

While walking in the park along the bay trail once or twice a day, I often see what appear to be tourists snapping photos with an air of wistfulness as they try to capture their special times here, just like my husband and I used to do when we visited this area from Iowa. 

But now we live here, and each day is literally a walk in the park. And the poppies are in bloom and life is good.

(Not quite as crazy about this painting as I was with "Poppy Pleasure." Background is too controlled here, and the intensity of the purples fights with the intensity of the poppies, whereas with "Poppy Pleasure" I muted the background and kept it looser--all by intuition rather than intention, mind you. So goes the learning curve.) 

Thursday, April 15, 2021



"Ice Plant Season," 8x10" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton rough w/c paper

Iceplant: it's in bloom all along the bay. Those hot pink petals that you have to be careful not to overdo when working with watercolor. Those sturdy succulent fingers that envelope the flowers. 

Nature can be so bold and beautiful.   

Also invasive, apparently. A coastal shrub native to coastal South Africa, iceplant was brought to California in the early 1900s to prevent erosion near train tracks and roadsides. Spreads easily and can choke out other native plants. 

Be careful, iceplant--don't get too pushy. But you are very pretty. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Another Keeper


"Forest Floor," 7.5" x 7.5" watercolor on Arches 100% cold press w/c paper

As with "Poppy Pleasure," I may have to keep and frame this one, as it too makes me deeply happy. 

I test these paintings out by taping them to the wall above my desk. After a couple of weeks, I know which ones touch me the most. Most don't, just FYI. I'd say 1 out of 10...and that's if I'm lucky. But I've heard much more accomplished, seasoned artists say that, so I guess that's the life of the artist. 

"Intermittent reinforcement," it's called in behavioral psychology circles--the most addictive kind of reinforcement. 

I don't mind. There are worse addictions. This one is the gift that keeps on long as you keep making stuff, something's bound to please you. Eventually. 

(I painted this from a photo I took several weeks ago at Filoli Gardens in Woodside, CA. What a beautiful place to return to again and again!)

Pure Idea Destroyed by Impure Reality

Sibley Regional Volcanic Preserve," 7.5 x 10" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton rough w/c paper

Yes, I had such a great image in my mind for this one but it went sort of awry. Too much fiddling, especially with the mountain and the trees on the right. Probably with the flowers, as well. 

Though I have to say, this painting does look better in person than on screen. Funny how that works. Sometimes it's vice versa. 

"Pure idea destroyed by impure reality" is a line from Frank Conroy's book, Stop-Time. I don't remember much about the book, but the line comes in handy now and then. Like right now. 

BUT...the picnic and the hike that day with my mate at Sibley Regional Volcanic Preserve more than made up for this lackluster painting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Poppy Pleasure

 Poppy Season, 5" x 7" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton rough w/c paper

I waited a few days to post this and then a few more to weigh in on it. But now I can say it: this one makes me deeply happy. It At least for me. 

The true colors are a little brighter than what shows here, but strangely, the pencil lines seem less dominant in the real thing. I guess you'd just have to see this one to appreciate it like I do. Though you're not likely to because I will likely frame this one and keep it. 

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...