S l o w

For this past Thursday's paintsite, we went to UC Santa Cruz's lovely Arboretum, and I was instantly taken by this structure - this Japanese looking glass cube perched above the Succulent Garden. I found out later when I went up the steps to look inside it that it
- was called "Owl Observatory" - contained inside it a cracked concrete slab with two empty chairs facing each other - was a charming wood structure with what looked like a skylight inside, but instead of glass, had a wood panel on which was painted Saturn that (possibly) glows at night - contained an old framed black and white photograph of ITSELF - of the structure from the outside. ... a self-reflective device.  I did a small compositional study, though I had an idea in my mind of what the composition would be - vertical, with stairs leading up to this structure. I followed the whites/light areas as I looked at the scene, and made some things lighter than they were simply to keep my whites connected. I t…

Spark & Glow

I feel I do my best work en plein air. There is a sense of urgency so I tend to be less fussy. I am more uncomfortable and want to be done with it. I am not using a photo and the light is changing. When I look at photos of the same subject later, they seem more drab. Of course I can use the photo and create my own composition, but I tend to want to do more of that in field, when the inspiration is fresh. Often the photo will lose the sense of depth, and more things will be in a dark value silhouette than they actually are - the error of the camera. With my eye, I can bring that distant flag into focus and MAKE it my focus, which the camera may pick up like a toothpick. When I am wandering around looking for where to set up en plein air, I stop when I am inspired. I can modify the values and create my depth of field, modify the values and blur my edges to create my focus, and manipulate the composition to lead the eye there. In that moment of inspiration, all that theory comes easier t…


This a great time for R&R - rest and relaxation, as well as recap & resolutions.

In recap: it has been a very good year - I am grateful to the powers that be, for my family, and to have the opportunity to paint whenever I want. I am grateful to the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society - for making me feel welcome, for the new friends I have made with whom I can talk in watercolor language, and for the community it constantly gives me, in actuality, and in thought.

This is one of the sketches I did in Puerto Vallarta - figures by the pool, mostly. I loved the scene of the white umbrellas, overlapped and touching, against the backdrop of the darker tropical forest. I also made friends as I sketched/painted, and people stopped by to look, take pictures, and chat.

I am also grateful for my progress as an artist - I got into two juried shows this year (FL and AK)
AND after being rejected a year ago from my application to display in the Performing Arts Center in Mountain View, this…


My lovely friend Karen from book club asked me if I would do a series of watercolors capturing her barge-and-bike trips with her mom - for her mom's upcoming 80th birthday. What a privilege - and how I am now woven into the giving and the gifting, and the memories - of the trips, and of this birthday. But what pressure!
Here are the four watercolors I did and presented. The bottom two - not presented - were extras - one in the wrong format (portrait)! And one extra of Germany - she only wanted one from each place they visited. I gave them all - happily.

New palette

I don't have a new palette but the phrase "fresh juicy watercolor," said by so many artists, was going on and on in my brain, making me feel guilty - that I am not doing my best in what I create because I am being stingy with the caked-up paint in my old palette. How I will quickly pay hundreds of dollars for a workshop, but penny-wise and pound-foolish style, not squeeze new fresh juicy paint into my palette because I don't want to waste that stone-hard piddly piece of watercolor paint that I haven't used up!
So, I took the palette we got as a freebie in Charles Reid's class, and looked at the chart I had made of my pigments - their staining tendencies, their transparency, their sedimentary qualities, and chose my colors, labeled them with Sharpie in this new palette, and squeezed fresh juicy paint in its wells. Then I put the old palette in the sink in several soaks of water until the water ran clean. End of stone-hard pebbles of paint.
And the surprising g…


Recently, I met a friend for lunch who was trying to figure out what to do with her time now that her two children are in college. She was saying maybe something creative, maybe painting - but watercolor is so hard, she said - there is no room to make mistakes.
I was listening.
She asked me - isn't that true - you cannot fix mistakes in a watercolor?
Well, I found myself saying, it is true that it is less forgiving than other mediums. With oil or acrylic, or anything opaque, you can slap on more paint to cover mistakes, or slap on white, to get back your whites. And you can do that ad infinitum - layers and layers of fixing.
In watercolor, you have to plan your whites.
And live with your mistakes.
But only you know they are mistakes. Nobody else knows. So it is what you make of them, what they might mean in the painting. And how you might turn your mistakes into positives that serve the painting.
I said to her that watercolor is the medium that will transform you the most in chara…


Speaking of Charles Reid - a funny series of events happened that needed to happen to lead me to their inevitable conclusion. These events are listed in chronological order, but not in order of when/how I realized them and their importance and role in what happened later, if that makes any sense at all.

Event 1: I received a 40% off coupon from Lenz Arts when I checked in to the Capitola plein-air event on the morning of Day 1 (October 30).

Event 2: I lost a paintbrush - my favorite Escoda Prado synthetic round 14 - the first one I bought when I started painting 3 years ago - recommended by Karen Bieber. I thought I lost it in Capitola on Day 1 but I looked and looked and couldn't find it. I then realized I *could* have lost it in the previous paintsite, Sawyer Camp Trail, almost a whole week prior - unlikely for me to not have missed it at home. Or, I lost it at home. I should look harder again at home. It will be very silly if I find it at home after all this ... though it is mo…