Thursday, August 31, 2023

Morning Along the Bay


Morning Along the Bay
4" x 6" watercolor

I thought this would be just a color/value study--or a "draft," as I like to call them because of my years of teaching writing. But the three larger paintings that preceded and followed are awful, trust me. This may be the best I can do right now with the beauty that struck me so powerfully a few mornings ago as I stood by the bay. 

What struck me were the rich blues and purples and aquas of sky, distant hills, and water--all in contrast to that very dense, very dark cypress tree. How to suggest that tree without overpowering the composition was, and still is, the question. So far, this has come the closest. 

Monday, August 28, 2023


Fried Egg Plant
8" x 8" watercolor
Arches 100% hot press paper

Just trying to loosen up, folks. 

I've been meeting up weekly with local artist, Emily Weil, and several other painters. Emily's style is so fresh, free, and alive. I tried to channel her today with this painting. 

One thing for sure: the weekly gathering motivates me to paint more. Emily tells me that painting more is the #1 key to improving. 

May this be the beginning of a long painting binge. 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Lost--In a Good Way


L's Home
10" x 14" watercolor

L., a friend of mine, moved to CO a few years ago and I finally was able to visit her. She recently bought a little house that she's remodeling in the foothills northwest of Ft. Collins. This is a view from near her place. The rocks and their shadows jumped out at me as we hiked the first morning, and I knew I would want to paint the scene.

I like this painting, maybe because I got lost while painting it yesterday. That does happen occasionally. Sometimes the question about whether it's good or not fades away to a simple absorption in the process and then finally the question of "What does the painting want?" arises and you get away from the photograph and just try to honor the painting's wish. This painting wished for some pink, even though it wasn't in the photo. It wanted the rocks, not the trees, to be the point of focus. Even though the sky was big and full of beautiful clouds, the painting still wanted the focus on the rocks.

I got lost as I thought about L and how much she has embraced--and been embraced by--her home in CO after living so many years in the Midwest. I thought about how where we decide to make our home also makes us who we are. She's flourishing here. She's both home and at home among these rocks, hills, and distant mountains. 

With this painting I celebrated L's new life and celebrated the way I continue to make my own relatively new home in CA...and the way it continues to make me who I am.  

The way even though I got lost as I painted, I'm not really lost. Because I, too, am home. 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Believe It or Not


Heart Rock
8" x 10" watercolor
Arches 100% cotton hot press paper

Weird to paint something that most viewers' eyes will dismiss as fanciful. But it's true: this precariously perched heart-shaped rock actually exists near Livermore, CO. And I was lucky enough to hike several miles with two good friends to see it.  

Friday, August 4, 2023

This or This or That or None of the Above?

10" x 12" Garden Selfie Revisited
Watercolor and watercolor pencil on Arches 100% cotton cold press

I sure love these white flowers with the purple and yellow centers that bloom this time of year in northern CA. I decided to try painting them for the third time, but this time with more than one flower in the composition. (See last year's first  attempt in June of 2022 here and the second attempt in mid-July here.) 

I like this composition better, but I clearly had trouble portraying the main white flower. It's way too tight and controlled, and I should have left more white spaces. In terms of the main flower, my first effort is more pleasing. 

However, I did some things with the background of this new composition that I found interesting. I like the abstractness of the lower two flowers. I added some light blue here and there with a watercolor pencil and I like that effect.

Below is a cropped version of the same composition. Time will tell whether this one, cropped or not, will stand up to the standard I have in my head. I doubt it because of the lack of fluidity and luminescence I am after with that main flower. I'll let the composition rest and maybe try again next year when these beauties start to flower again. 

10" x 10" Garden Selfie Revisited, Cropped

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...