Monday, July 26, 2021



Sky and Grass Along the Bay, 9" x 9" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

Got carried away as usual re: the intensity of the blue sky--tried to lighten it and that made it worse. The sky gets so blue here! But I am learning that you have to go easy with representing skies on paper or those intense blues will walk away with it all. In painterly terms, it's easy to go too dark with the sky values. 

In the middle of another version. Stay tuned. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Clouds Over the Prairie


"Clouds Over the Prairie," 6 x 6" watercolor on Arches 100% cold press paper 

"Paint in one style for a month and see what you can learn," my artist friend Emily Weil told me recently. So I'm sticking with channeling Andy Evansen since I took his class recently. 

And I'm challenging myself to paint every day, even if it's just a little painting like this one. 

And I'm noticing a shift: less disappointment when the paintings fail, along with more excitement for what's next. More openness to just experimenting. 

Kinda likin' this new method. Thank you, friend Emily! Channeling you next. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Thank you, Andy Evansen


"Cows: Imitation of an Andy Evansen Painting," 7x 11" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

I caught a glimpse of the mystery earlier this month while taking an online watercolor painting class from Minnesota artist Andy Evansen. What a great teacher.

His approach is to do a value study with paint and establish the middle values. Then move to color and establish that middle value with a graded wash that allows edges to blend when shifting from one color to another. This middle-value wash is connected and that is what unifies the painting, Andy said. 

After this middle-value is established, you return to your value study and add the darks, then follow your "map" of darks on your actual painting. Finally, you put a few finishing details here and there (sparingly!) and viola, you have a painting.

He makes it look so easy. 

I love the philosophical appeal of everything being connected. And I experienced it with this painting! I can't take credit for the composition or the method I used; I faithfully followed Andy's demo and basically tried to recreate his painting. But at least I caught a glimpse of the mystery for a couple of hours. 

Since then I have created several failed paintings. The glimpse of the mystery doesn't usually last long, I've learned. At least not when you're on a long, slow learning curve like I am. But I did experience that glimpse. That's something. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Feelin' It

 "Cones from Home," 7" x 7" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton cold press paper

Yeah. I'm feelin' it. Concerns about climate patterns shifting more rapidly than expected. Pandemic fatigue. Homesickness for the Midwest. For family and friends there, and for green--that florescent green of mid-summer when there's been rain. 

Painting helps settle the limbic system. And there's a local Citizens Climate Lobby meeting Monday night to attend via Zoom. And family and new friends here to see--thankfully!!! Vaccines are helping those who are able/willing to partake. A green vortex may be helping save our climate future.  And we'll be visiting home soon.

Got to keep on keeping on. 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

More Flower Drama


Another Garden Selfie, 11 x 11" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton cold press w/c paper

Stuck in this zone of trying to render flowers in traditional watercolor mode, building up the layers (also known as glazing) but getting carried away and overdoing. This got much darker and more dramatic than I intended. And stilted. If I look it at from a distance, not so bad. Up close: sorta bad. 

"Efforting," an artist friend calls it--as in trying too hard

That's for sure. 

Whatever happened to those carefree days of sketching everything in ink with simple contour drawings and adding color with Prismacolor markers or colored pencils? And being happy with whatever showed up in the sketchbook? 

What happened is ambition to learn more, which can lead to "efforting" and the realization that the more you learn, the more you don't know. 

Art is definitely not for the weak-hearted. 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Matilija Poppies Everywhere


"Matilija Bush," 8" x 10" watercolor on Arches 100% cold press paper 

The matilija poppy bushes have been flowering lately. I love these large, papery flowers, also known as "fried egg flowers," that can grow to a diameter of five or six inches. 

Bushes can become quite tall -- eight or ten feet. They definitely make a statement when the flowers are in bloom.  

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...