Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Early Fall – On the Trail!

This watercolor painting was done from a photo taken on a recent hike in the Great Smoky Mountains.  Fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year to hike AND capture in paint!


The best way to start the painting is to analyze the scene and determine the colors in the landscape.   The Great Smoky Mountains are known by the smoky haze that rises over the mountain peaks.  This painting is of a vista along the trail in early morning before the sun peeked through the smoke.  The grasses are starting to die back, and there are gold and brown touches among the green grasses.  The trees, except for these evergreens, are slowing turning, but are still mostly green.  The background trees are cast in shadow and smoke.  


Materials Needed:


140# Watercolor paper – I use Arches


#12 round brush

Flat brush


Watercolor Paint:

Payne’s Gray

Sap Green


Yellow Ochre

Van Dyke Brown


Sketch the scene on your paper which has been taped to a board.   We will be executing this painting, as with most watercolors, by starting with the background and working forward – wet on wet.


Wet the top portion of your paper down to the horizon.  Using a pale wash of Payne’s Gray, paint in your sky using a flat brush and allowing the gray to form clouds, but leaving lots of white.    While this is still wet create areas of tree shapes with lighter in the background building into darker in the foreground.  Add more Payne’s Gray and a little bit of Ultramarine.   I used a large round brush for the tree shapes.   Leave lighter areas of gray and white space between the darker tree shapes to create the “smoke.”  Use a tissue or paper towel to blot out some of the excess paint to create cloud shapes.  This is painted down to the horizon with the green trees painted on top of this background.   Spray with water as needed to mist the trees.    Allow this to dry.


Layer in some pale shades of green for background trees, building in deeper color as you move forward to the trees in the midrange of the painting.  Deepen your green with ultramarine and add touches of this to indicate shadows in the trees.  Allow some of the lighter areas as well as background to show through.    Allow to dry.


Lay down your base for the grass by using a wet on wet technique of a light green and yellow ochre.  Drop in some of the deeper color of green and ultramarine under the trees for shadows.  While still wet pull up the taller grasses using shades of yellow ochre, VanDyke Brown and sap green.  At the base of the grasses drop in some deeper shades and pull up into the grasses.  Allow to dry.


Wet the trail area and using a round brush float in shades of gray and brown, letting some of the white paper show through in areas for highlights.  Allow to dry.  Using the same colors as the trail, spatter the area with paint to indicate rock, gravel, etc.  Don’t forget to cover areas of your painting that you do not want spattered.


For final touches, add a few pieces of tall grass.  Allow to dry.  Using a razor blade, scrape in some highlights in the grasses.


Congratulations!  Don’t forget to sign your name!


Happy Painting!










Plein Air Painting - A Battle of Wills!

Needless to say it has been way too long since I posed on my blog…..but I promise to try to do better.  Actually, I have been painting and gathering “inspiration” for my paintings and have been too busy to sit down and blog.    

Last fall, I spent a week at Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN participating in a plein air painting class.  During this time, a group of fellow artists went up into the mountains and painted trying to capture the subtle changes in the sun and shadows on the canvas. 

I usually paint in watercolor, but for this trip I chose to use acrylic paints.  This was an interesting change for me which I enjoyed immensely.    The painting above is one that I painted plein air with my easel set up by the side of a mountain stream.

In this blog, I’ll discuss the challenges in plein air painting as compared to painting in studio.

Where to start? 


1.       People
Actually, painting in plein air in a national park, especially one as busy as the Great Smoky Mountains, is not easy.  Fall is a popular time of year for the park for leaf viewing as some of the most beautiful mountain vistas in the world bring millions of visitors every year.  And, the novelty of an artist painting a landscape right in front of the tourist is a distraction that most tourists can’t ignore.    The artist’s time is limited and most tourists would like to talk about the painting…..not to mention, the one or two that would like to learn and ask to add a brush stroke or two to the painting.  (This one surprised me!)    However, I am an outgoing person and enjoyed the interactions, but had to keep painting and not stop to talk.  On the positive side, tourists are for the most part very complimentary - which gives a great boast to the ego.  Some of my fellow artists did run into one or two tourists that saw themselves as art critics. 

2.       Climate
We ran into numerous weather changes – sun, rain, wind, cold, heat….all in the same day!  We were prepared to dress in layers, but the rush of battling the elements when sudden rainstorms hit was quite a chore.  It never seemed to fail that as soon as we got to a location, set up and started painting, the weather would change.  Rain caused problems with all of the paints.  Wind caused many of us to hold tightly to our easel with one hand and the paint brush with the other.  Once a strong gush of wind blew over one of our artist’s easel and he chased it down  - almost falling over the side of the mountain.  He said that he had worked too hard on his painting to let blow down 3,000 feet – at least not without an effort to catch it.

3.      Bugs
Insect repellent works great and we all used it to keep the mosquitoes and flying insects away.   But, we could not spray our paintings and it was common to look up and see a gnat or some crawling bug working his way across the canvas of wet paint.  It did add some interesting designs. 

4.       Portability
Easels, paint and canvases:  we had to carry everything we needed with us including water, etc. for clean up.  All the equipment, no matter how pared down one thought they were, was heavy!  Boy, were we tired by the end of the day!

5.       Wild animals
Although the Smoky Mountains are known for black bear spotting, we never ran across one while out painting.  However, we did find bear footprints on the windshield of our van one morning.  We were serenaded by a bull moose in the North Carolina side of the mountains one day. 

 In summary:

The glare of the sun, rain and wind, biting insects or worrisome wild animals, as well as interruptions caused by fellow humans, all add to making what should seem like a delightful experience -- drawing or painting in the fresh air -- into a battle of wills.

It was a memorable experience and one that I would do again!

Below is a short description of Arrowmont.   They offer all kinds of classes and the experience of classes there is unforgettable!
Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is an arts and crafts center located in Gatlinburg, TN.  The oldest craft school in Tennessee, Arrowmont offers workshops in arts and crafts such as painting, woodworking, glassblowing, photography, basket weaving and metalworking.    The campus contains the oldest buildings in Gatlinburg and comprises two historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For additional information or just some interesting reading, check out their site:  http://www.arrowmont.org/
Happy Painting!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

At the Market - Painting a French Marketbasket

I find inspiration for my paintings from many sources. The inspiration for the painting above came from browsing through a travel magazine encouraging visits to rural areas of France. I loved the look of the market place and decided on selecting one of the elements of the scene.

Many beginning artists attempt to paint an entire scene which is complex with many different perspectives. And, then become frustrated when the painting just "doesn't look right." I encourage my students to pick one part of a scene that draws them and focus on painting just that part. This is much less daunting and easier to achieve. I will often paint elements of a scene individually and then combine them in another painting.

I used masking fluid on parts of the lavender blooms so that the areas behind the blooms could be painted easily. After the masking fluid dried, I worked from the background forward to execute the painting. The following colors were used:

Background - Indigo
Market Basket - Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber, Sepia
Lavender stems - Sap Green, Hooker's Green, Ultramarine
Lavender blooms - Violet, Ultramarine, Alizarin crimson
Blackboard - Ivory Black
Blackboard Frame - Same as basket
Chalk - Chinese White

After the background was painted in a wash of Indigo and allowed to dry, I started work on the basket. Using a wash of yellow ochre, I applied the paint in a wet on wet wash using a large round brush, adding deeper colors before the first wash dried at the edges and in various areas to add character to the basket. See the photo below with a closer view of the basket.

Next, I painted the lavender stems using a wash of the colors listed above in various strengths to give the stems some detail.

The blackboard frame was painted in the same manner as the basket using darker color on the edge to distinguish it from the basket. After the frame dried, I painted the blackboard. However, I did not add the "chalk" until the final step - after the lavender blooms were painted.

After the basket and the frame dried, I used a dry flat brush and Burnt Umber to add the wood grain in several areas.

Painting the lavender blooms, started with a wash of the lightest violet. See the photo above. After each wash dried, deeper washes of violet was applied in various locations. Using a round brush, I added the shape of the blooms.

The final step was to "write on the chalkboard." I used a wash of Chinese White and the tip of a round brush. Allow some of the blackboard to show through to realistically look like chalk.

Review your painting for any final touches! When complete, sign your painting!

Until next blog........

Happy Painting!

Sunday, July 27, 2014


The painting above, "Memories" is a watercolor painting done on Arches 140 lb - 100% rag watercolor paper. I used a muted and limited palette to covey the feeling of drawing from one's memory when viewing the items in the old barn.

First, I sketched the picture and used masking fluid on the following areas that I wanted to remain light or white:

1. Edges of the stairs
2. Cracks between the boards on the wall on the right side that allows sunlight to filter in
3. Old bedframe in the top storage area.
4. Tricycle
5. Highlights on the old pail and gate

Once the masking fluid was dry, I used a wash of the following colors:
- Indigo
- Sepia
- Yellow Ochre

Once the background wash dried, I started laying in details. Since I am left handed I worked from right to left across the page to prevent dragging my hand across my finished work.

As you know from previous blogs, I am an Impressionist painter and prefer the illusion of the items rather than a photographic representation Details are kept to a minimum in this painting with areas of the background blurred allowing the viewer's mind to fill in the details. Notice in the photos below, that bright colors are used in specific places to draw attention to special "memories."

I used varying shades of Sepia, Yellow Ochre, Indigo, and VanDyke Brown to create shadows in the darker areas of the barn with only shadow and shape with no definite object. Notice how the boxes and chest on the upper left are very muted with no definite edges, nor shape. Refer to photo at top to view the finished boxes and chest.

Once you are satisfied with the result of the shading, allow the painting to dry and remove the masking fluid. See photo below. The sun will stream through and provide your highlights.

Check the painting for any details you would like to add. Perhaps a touch of fine detail on the pail or a line or two of detail on the gate and trunk.

I hope you have enjoyed this painting journey into memories in the barn. Until next blog........

Happy Painting!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I've Been Busy!

I thought I had better post to my blog. I am sorry it has been so long between posts, but I have been keeping busy.

In addition to my watercolor painting, I have been working on numerous projects around the house, hiking in the mountains, and preparing for an art show.

I participated in the Farragut, TN Arts Council juried art show held in May. This show was in conjunction with a flower show and was titled: Alchemy - The Magic of Art and Flowers. Needless to say, the painting had to be a floral.

Two of my paintings were juried into the show and one of them was selected to have a floral arrangement showcase the painting.

I submitted my paintings: "For Only" - a day lily that only blooms for a day; and "Welcome" - a home with a picket fence and a flower garden to welcome family and friends inside.

My painting "Welcome" had a wonderful floral arrangement inspired by my painting. The painting (top photo) has a white picket fence with various types of garden flowers surrounding the front entrance. The floral arrangement carried the theme of the white picket fence.

According to the theme of the show, Alchemy is a science that was used n the Middle Ages with the goal of changing ordinary metals into gold.....or a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.

Thus, is art....the power to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary!

I'll be back with another blog and a painting....until then,

Happy Painting!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Starting 2014 with one more fun piece of pallet art - literally! Then, in my next blog, I will provide step by step instructions for a watercolor painting.

I am enjoying using slats from an old pallet and I wanted to find a way to make another sign and find something to do with old paint brushes! I never have the heart to throw away old paint brushes......they hold fun memories.

Supplies needed for the above sign:

1 piece of pallet
White paint
Black paint
old paint brushes

Using the old pallet slat: I painted it with a wash of white paint and allowed it to dry. I painted block letters spelling A-R-T vertically on the pallet, leaving some extra space at the bottom of the sign for the paint brushes. When dry, using medium sand paper I sanded down the edges and in random spots on the sign....sanding down to expose the unpainted pallet underneath.

Arrange several paint brushes under the lettering and glue into place. When dry - hang! You have a wonderful pallet art sign!

Happy Painting!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas - a Craft for the Season!

I love Christmas and crafting, so what better time of the year to enjoy both! The simple nativity scene above is easy and inexpensive to craft for yourself and as gifts to share the "reason for the season!"

The photo above will show the basic design which is made out of the following supplies:

- 1" x 1" wood for the bodies of Joseph and Mary. Cut (1) 4 inches long for Joseph and (1) 3 inches long for Mary.

- 1/4" x 3/4" craft wood (2 inches long for Baby Jesus

- (2) inch ball knobs for Joseph's and Mary's heads

- (1) 1/2 inch diameter dowel cap for Baby Jesus's head

- Small piece of burlap approximatly 4" x 6" for Mary's shawl

- 18 - 24 inch piece of jute to wrap the figures together

- Wood glue to hold pieces together

- Paint (color of your choice). I used green for Joseph and burgundy red for Mary, flesh color for the heads, and burnt sienna for an antique wash

See photo below of supplies.

Assemble the pieces as illustrated below.

Glue figures together AFTER placing the shawl on Mary. Glue shawl on where the pieces meet in the front. The back part of the shawl is wrapped with the jute. Glue Baby Jesus in place.

Wrap with the jute and make any adjustments needed to the shawl.

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:11
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ The Lord.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pallet Christmas Tree

There are so many wonderful uses for pallets....from signs to Christmas trees! Yes, Christmas trees.....see the steps below for making a pallet Christmas tree.

Step 1
Select your pallet. For any pallets that will be used indoors, be certain to determine whether or not the pallet may have been treated with chemicals that may release harmful gases. I usually try to obtain a pallet that was used to transport food items. There are regulations for treatments that can be used for foods, which would make the pallet safe for indoor use.

Step 2

After selecting the pallet, cut it down into the shape of a Christmas tree, see photo below. I left both sides on the bottom section to make a base. The other boards were removed from the back, however the board running down the center was left in place.

Step 3
Select the color paint you would like to use. I selected green and used a "sample" size container of paint from Lowe's. Use a large brush, apply the paint. Since I like a "worn" look, I used only 1 coat of paint and allowed the wood to show through in some areas.

Select the "saying" for the tree and using either stencils or computer lettering you have transferred, paint the letters in a contrasting color. In my case, another sample size container of paint from Lowe's - in red.

Step 4
To complete the tree, I painted a star in yellow on the top, hammered nails in the 5 points and wrapped with jute. I wanted to display my tree outside, so I purchased a 100 count string of white lights and wound around the tree!

Step 5
Set up in the location of your choice and enjoy!

Until next blog, Happy Painting!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fall is Craft Time!

Although my blog is mainly for fine arts, specifically watercolor painting, sometimes I share other crafts. I have recently been lucky enough to get several old pallets that I am using for several crafts. Today I will show you a great use for pallet boards for seasonal crafting fun!

I took one pallet apart (with help from my husband). Pallets are hard to take apart and still have salvageable pieces of wood. This pallet had been left outside in the weather for quite a while, so the wood was "antiqued" - just like I wanted.

My project today is a seasonal "harvest" sign. I selected a piece of pallet wood and used sandpaper to remove any extremely rough edges. I like the rough, worn look, so I only sanded lightly.

I painted the front side only in a bright orange using acrylic paints. Allow to dry. I wanted a seasonal sign for fall to use through Thanksgiving. So, I decided on the word "Harvest." Any word of your choice and any font will work. I saw a font I liked on a card and simply copied it. To be certain of the placement, I cut a piece of paper the same size as the sign and printed my word on it first. Once I had the spacing like I wanted, I transferred the letters to my pallet board. Since the surface is so rough, it is difficulty to do. Use a pencil and draw your letters on the pallet. Press lightly with the pencil and any errors can be erased. Once you have the placement correct, use an old brush to paint the letters

Caution: Be certain to use an old brush. The surface of the wood will ruin a good brush for painting.

I used a dark brown color paint in keeping with my harvest theme!

Until next blog -
Happy Painting!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Red Rocks of Sedona - Part 6

With our background and rocks painted, it is now time to add some details. I want the red rocks to be the dominate feature in this painting; therefore, I will not use detailed trees or yucca plants.

The yucca plants in the foreground will be the last step in this painting. The trees at the base of the rocks will be painted next.

Prepare the following paints:

- Deep Green mixed from Indigo and Sap Green
- Light Yellow/Green mixed from Sap Green and Light Yellow
- Sepia for trunks/branches

Using a small, dry sea sponge, pick up a little paint and using the painting above as a guide, dab in the foliage working across the horizon and varying the heights of the trees. Use a mix of both shades of green. When dry, add a small truck/branches using a liner brush and the sepia. Allow to dry.

Using the same mix of light green and a flat brush, add grasses working from the horizon to the foreground.

See close up photo below for details.

Painting the base of the Yucca plants:

Use a round brush and the following colors of paint:

- Sepia
- Yellow Green used above

Using clean paint and the round brush, paint in the shape of the bottom of the yucca plants. While wet, drop in the sepia and pull to the lower part of the plant and drop in the yellow green in the top part of the plant.. Allow the paints to blend and using the round brush, paint the foliage using sweeping strokes. Allow to dry. If the color is not as intense as you would like, repeat.

Remove the masking from the yucca blooms using an eraser.

Using a pale wash of the yellow green, add some color to some areas of the blooms, but not to all. Allow the majority of the bloom to remain unpainted.

Add the stems/stalks of the yuccas using a small round brush and wash of both green and sepia. Let the colors vary slight.

Add some darker areas to the base of the scrub brush in the background.

Allow to dry and check for any additional details you would like to add.

Sign your name - your painting is complete!

Happy Painting!