Painting Styles

new blog banner 2015

My old banner collage has bothered me since I have been active on my blog again. It was fine when I started this in 2012, but it was time for an update. I have redone it with some of my more recent paintings as well as keeping some of the previous ones.

From left top, then left bottom: Mirabeau Springs Waterfall, Mission Dolores (in San Francisco), Who’s There (Eurasian Eagle Owl), On the Savanna, Abbey Reflections, Bird of Paradise; Rose Bouquet, Moo Selfie, Deserted and Pretty in Pink. While not all are 2015 paintings, none are very old and I feel it is now more representative of my current art.

Painting Styles

I’m still struggling with getting back to painting, as I mentioned in my last post. Inspiration is not the problem at all. I have so many art projects running around in my head that I want to do-and I’m confident the day will come soon when I will be back at it and turning some of those ideas into paintings. Since painting is still not working at the moment for me and I NEED to do some kind of art project, I decided to do some sketching. Working at any type of art is practice and, after a couple of months of being stalled, is necessary for me. Today I did a quick sketch from a reference that caught my interest; I found the photo in the Wetcanvas image library. It’s in a tiny (5″ x 7″) sketchbook. I then did pen & ink on it for some depth and definition. It’s not great art, but good practice and it was fun to do. I may even add a quick watercolor wash in places tomorrow.

cat sketch-IMG_0664

Painting Styles

With spring finally here and birds everywhere, another Wetcanvas challenge grabbed my attention earlier this month. This time it’s the called the “Fur, Feathers and Scales Challenge”. The reference for this painting came from the March challenge ( and I did not paint it in time to post it there, as this one closes at the end of each month. Since I’m not very familiar with painting birds of any kind and I think Bluebirds (this one is an Eastern Bluebird) are really gorgeous, I wanted to paint it for the experience. This painting is 1/8 watercolor sheet-about 7”x 10”; it’s a very simple rendition of the reference, not well composed but practice nevertheless. Even though I don’t totally love the painting, I’m posting it because I want to encourage everyone to try new things in their art-subject matter, methods, media, whatever; it all expands our knowledge and stretches us as artists! Get out the paints and brushes and just do it!



Painting Styles

Last October I was privileged to have my very first one-woman show at Robert’s Mansion, a local Bed & Breakfast in a very historic part of our city. I actually had admired that beautiful old mansion for years and had taken several photos in 2011. After my show, I wanted to do some sort of artwork with those pictures, but watercolor didn’t fit exactly what I had in mind. Having very little experience with pen and ink and being ready for a challenge, I drew the mansion and then did my first fully pen and ink painting. Perfect? No! But I’m very proud of this artwork and am proud to share it here. I enjoyed using the media and techniques so much and, even though it’s a very time consuming media, I look forward to delving into pen & ink again soon! I think the results can be stunning.

DSC00081correctedinPS6-smaller to email

Painting Styles

I just finished a fun project. I have done a lot of small format paintings in the past, as small as 5”x 7” and many 1/8 standard watercolor sheet in my early classes, but I have never painted trading card size (3”x 4”) until this painting. Drawing it was the biggest challenge; I drew a flower and it was too big to fit the format so I had to start over-and over, and over and over… Once I conquered that, the painting was a real joy. I just did what I normally would do but with a much smaller brush. It wasn’t as quick as one would think as it still took drying time between glazes, etc. So, I’m sharing my very first watercolor trading card.

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Painting Styles

I wrote yesterday of painting a subject that you’re particularly drawn to. My friend and fellow artist, Jeanne Wallace, is my guest blogger today, writing of what most draws her and why. Thanks for sharing, Jeanne!


Elaine had asked me to write something about why I love to paint statues.  Well, for one thing, they sit still!  However, my real reason is that some of them “speak” to me. In the three images I’ve included here I saw honor, humility, and humor. Three attributes that I personally appreciate in my fellow human beings, and hope to attain in my own personal growth.  “To All the Women of the Nation” is a statue I found in “The Cloister” of the Washington Memorial Chapel surrounded by the Valley Forge National State Park, Valley Forge, PA.  The other two, “Daydreaming” and “Confucius Said What?,” were treasures I found in local gardens.  My search continues……  Who knows, you may see a stranger taking a photo of one of your statues for the very reason I take my photos.  Thanks Elaine for starting this wonderful blog.

To All the Women of the Nation                   Daydreaming

 To All the Women of the Nation                                   Daydreaming

                         Confucious said what?

                                           Confucius Said What?

Painting Styles

Warning – personal opinion! High key, mid key, low key-that is the question. I’m revisiting something I said in my Inspiration – part 7 regarding styles of painting. Have you ever looked at another artist’s work and mostly seen only darkness? I’m not referring to dark against light for contrast and impact-I mean so dark that it almost screams “severe clinical depression here”, where there really is no contrast to draw your eye! I’ve seen some works by artists I greatly admire that lose me immediately because they just seem to want to take me to a dark, foreboding place where I don’t want to go. I’ve sometimes particularly seen this in portraits, which makes me wonder if the artist is really seeing a dark soul in the subject or maybe is in a very dark place himself/herself at the time of the work. Does the artist want us to examine that part of our own psyches-or does it simply say something about his own?

That brings me back to my previous mention of gravitating to softer works. Those and bright, colorful works make my brain happy and inspire me so much more. Those preferences drive my artistic spirit and I think we should all paint what we are most drawn to. While I believe that we all, as artists, need to stretch ourselves with different subject matter, styles and even media, we still seem to gravitate back to the subjects that most drew us in the first place. I have a friend who almost exclusively paints outdoor and/or farm scenes and another who prefers wildlife subjects; both are fantastic artists and their subject matter told me a lot about who they are before I got to know them personally! Since I love to garden and I’m most comfortable and happy around water – lakes, streams, waterfalls, the ocean – you’ll see many florals and watery landscapes in my work.

Obviously there is room in the art world for all manner of styles. But I personally think it’s sad to be driven only by what a judge might want to see in any given juried show or only the subject matter a certain gallery insists on. I know artists who dread having to paint a subject or style for those reasons, but of course they do it anyway and almost hate every minute of it! Apparently that is the only path to any success in the art world, but does that make it right for the artists?

Painting Styles

I’m sufficiently inspired now and I hope others have taken inspiration from some of my posts too.

Negative painting – okay, that’s a method that really scares me. I understand the principles behind it and exactly how it’s done, but doing negative painting is something I always seem to struggle with. I forget what I’ve planned to paint around, I mess up the shape I’m trying to achieve, etc. I even remember the first time I “got it.” I was in a class several years ago taught by my friend and fellow Spokane Watercolor Society member, Sue, in which she did a quick demo and it suddenly made sense to me. The easy way I was told to remember it is: If the object is darker than its surroundings, it’s positive painting; if it’s lighter, it’s negative painting-it’s just that simple. Or is it? Technically, yes it is, but in practice I find it much more complex. My most successful artwork with negative painting was done in her class that day (and it wasn’t that good). While I still know the “how,” I don’t seem to be able to DO very well. Here is one lesson I have found:

The following is the one I’m working from. It starts with an underwash, some large splatters and negative painting to complete it. That tutorial is one I found on Wetcanvas: It’s a really fun lesson and so far things are going fairly well, but now it’s time for the darkest darks, painting around the already established daisies to make stems, leaves and other background shapes. That is usually where I mess up…and I have put off continuing with this painting for about a week so far.

I got past the darks and here is the finished painting. I’m showing you both a before and an after. Not my best work by any means, but actually I don’t hate it-and for a negatively painted piece I’m okay with that!

daisies negative unfinishedpainting-resizedforweb   daisies negative painting-PS-resizedforweb