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…

Hayes Mansion

I feel like I have come full circle. Hayes Mansion - the last time we went there for paintsite - was in my early part of being a member of the watercolor society, and I feel it was where some friendships were solidified. Here are the two I did last Thursday, November 21 - the first one a tight one to get the tightness within me out, so that I could then do a looser second one :-) . Someone (John - the man in the flowered blue shirt on the right IN the painting!) said this reminds him of Charles Reid's style. Whoa! What a compliment. I miss Charles Reid. I wish I could see him again.


I've been going through all the photos I took in Capitola during the plein-air event, and have been inspired to continue to paint scenes from there. Here are a few I have done since my return from Capitola. I have found that I am bolder with my shapes and my brushstrokes, and am starting to see more essence than reality, foregoing the details and minutae. And I do less of searching for the perfect view and more of making a better painting from the view I see, THAN the view I see. Four days of intense painting caused this transformation. It is akin to where 100 hours of meditation over 10 days takes you - so so much farther compared to where an hour a day will get you.

This is similar to the painting I sold at the event but in a different color palette.  The silhouette of the wharf just demands to be painted, with the  lace-like gaps of light shining through the piers. And that flag.

Charleston Slough

Sloo or sl-ough, that is the question.
I did these during paintsite on Thursday, November 14. It was a bleak day, which matched my mood as I knew many of the artists would be in Monterey, which was the second option for paintsite that day. I preferred the (much) shorter drive to Charleston Slough, or Palo Alto Baylands, after the back and forth to Capitola five days in a row. Yes, recovery from that event took a good couple of weeks. All my big plans of adding a plein-air day to the week - just going by myself for two hours tops to a place nearby - none of it happened. I was pretty burned out. But I still painted daily.
These are the two paintings I did - I was very uncomfortable and cold and wanted to get out of there after the second. I didn't stay for lunch - the lack of a proper large group brought down my mood. Not surprising then, when I was almost at my car, walking slowly carrying all my watercolor supplies, I twisted my ankle, lost my balance, and splattered to the ground…

Traffic and Matboards

On one of the evenings, returning from Capitola, there was a traffic jam on Highway 17. Such a pretty highway, with towering pine forests on both sides. It always reminds me of parts of Oregon. The windy 8-mile portion where traffic should be slow but zooms - is my favorite part of the drive. I feel a sudden alertness that I am about to witness great beauty. I open my sunroof and inhale the forest.
I took a photo of the stopped cars and the greenery beyond, and did these paintings a few days later. See how the whites catch your eye - whether they are big or small. So it is important to plan them - to serve the eye which will follow them anyway. And to manipulate it :-)
A couple of these were painted on the matboard windows that were cut out for the custom mats. I had them lying around, and used them for these quick paintings. They've been quite handy for other purposes too - I used them to make my architectural model for the new house that I am designing. Everything can be useful …