30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge

I gave another “scary” subject a try, which went fairly well; I also made my attempt at doing a Bev Jozwiak-style background. Obviously, I haven’t practiced this a lot since her amazing workshop last fall. Regardless, it was fun to try. The rest of the story is that when I was about 3/4 done with this Mandarin Duck, the light in my studio went out! Because my studio is completely underground, that’s a big deal! Thank you to my husband who took care of that yesterday! Even though it wasn’t just the bulbs, as it turned out, it wasn’t a huge problem. At least the fixture didn’t have to be replaced, just worked on… I’m back “in the light” now!

The photo inspiration here was taken by photo artist, John Frost, shared on a Facebook site where artists are free to use the references. This colorful, amazing creature equally inspired and frightened me; I really didn’t know if I could manage to do it justice. I do love using this month-long challenge to not only paint every day, but also to dare myself to try new subjects and different styles! Besides the Mandarin Duck photo, I was also inspired by a workshop I took last year, presented by Bev Jozwiak. The workshop was amazing, as is Bev; her style was contrary to many things I had learned over the years never to do-and more fun than I think I have ever had painting! I can’t say that I remember everything I learned, nor can I say that I have practiced those skills enough. What I can say is that I am still very inspired by her incredible work! So here is my meager attempt to paint a beautiful bird and use something from her workshop!

Just Ducky 2-corrected, cropped PS-300PPI-best-watermark-smaller to post  Day 3 – “Just Ducky”

Day 3, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

World Watercolor Month July 2016-first ever!

I mentioned my participation in the first ever World Watercolor Month, July 2016 – and that I had finally finished everything on August 31. I photographed those quickly, as two pages at once, because these will become a hand-made book. I must explain that because I have had so little painting time for quite a while now, I used these small works as practice and experimentation. It really helps to get the feel of the brush in hand again, as well as the various brands of paper, the multiple paint brands and colors, etc.! So, here are two of the thirty pages, most of which were painted using other artists examples.

On the left is one of the first paintings I did for this challenge in early July. It is a white Peony and, for the moment, I cannot remember if I took the photo or used one I found in one of the various Facebook groups to which I belong. The groups I refer to are where photographic artists post photos and member artists are free to use any photo essentially for any purpose, but you must give the photographer credit. Once I dig deeper and find the reference photo, I will do so here! The peony was a study to practice painting a white flower. The painting on the right is my attempt to follow a demo by Joanne Boon Thomas, obviously a man in the rain. It is so very different from anything I usually paint and was a fun challenge. Hopefully now, when I need to portray someone in the rain, this will help me to do so!

Under Umbrella from Joanne Boon Thomas demo; White Peony from-can't remember where I got it






Well, I see by looking at my own blog that it was the end of February when I last posted-oh my! What can I say except that life gets in the way…

I have been painting a LOT lately, much of it being practice after having painted far too little for the past 3 1/2 years! During that time, I was president of Spokane Watercolor Society, which I loved doing-and for the past year, I was both president and vice-president, which was a little much! August 31 was my official last day as an officer in the group. I will still participate – a lot; but for now, I’m concentrating on painting, sketching, drawing and painting more and what a joy it is!

I participated, on Facebook, in the first official World Watercolor Month (July 2016). The only problem is that it took me two months to complete 30 paintings, completed on Aug. 31! I will photograph my work and share here when I can. I cut my watercolor paper into 15″ x 7.5″ pieces, folded each in half and then used a 7 1/2″ square for each painting, with the idea that I would assemble the pages into a book when the paintings were completed. I still plan to do so – soon! Some of the work turned out very well, some…well, not so much! That’s okay though, because I learned something from each piece I did!

So now, here it is September and this challenge has begun. I love challenging myself to do this and, obviously, signed up for it again. The biggest problem I have is time, because I am preparing for an art show, Spokane Studio Art Tour, which takes place on Sept. 10-11. Although I go to this event almost every year (this is year 13), this is my first time participating in this wonderful, local show. I hope we have lots of visitors, great weather and that many people like my work!

My first painting was begun before September, but completed after midnight on the 1st. It’s the most awesome story, one that really touched my heart. Briefly, a friend and I were plein air painting at a beautiful, popular local park. We talked to many people that evening, but the most fun and memorable was a young couple who were quite interested in our work. Since I had forgotten my art tour flyers, I told them about it and, for more info that they could contact me on our group’s FB page. He did, asking if I could paint Hydrangea (his girlfriend’s favorite flower), with the idea of getting a print for her upcoming birthday. As much as I love flowers, I have always steered clear of even trying that one. I can grow them, but I just didn’t think I could paint them. But with their off again, on again story and his desire to give her something really special, I decided to try. So, I pulled up several photos from my own garden, did a little research, played with an attempt starting with no drawing, then started drawing! It took me almost a week – and a lot of nerves over whether I could really do this – but I finished the painting posted below. And yes, I did get the matted print to him for her birthday and he seemed very pleased with it; I hope she will be too! Personally, I’m excited to conquer yet another subject that scared the heck out of me!


Hydrangea completed, 300PPI, ready to print-small to post-watermark added   “Am I Blue?”

Day 1, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

Still Life – Me?

I never paint still life! It’s not that I don’t like it at all, because I have seen some incredible paintings, ones I absolutely loved. In fact, one of my friends does some of the most beautiful still life paintings I have seen. But for me to paint it…B-O-R-I-N-G! And yet, I did this one and enjoyed it immensely. The photo reference I used for this was posted by Ana Rodriguez Carrington on Photos for Artists, a Facebook group. Her photo actually inspired me to give it a try and I’m very pleased with the result. I might just try it again one of these days!

Still Life Limes-Cropped, straightened, corrected PS-96PPI-watermark   Day 28 – Still Life Limes

My son’s birthday

This painting, the third done on Friday, was inspired by my son, Craig, whose birthday is today! One of his passions is bicycle riding, to and from work (weather allowing), for exercise and to challenge himself by training and riding “Century” (100 miles) rides a few times each year. To honor his special day, I created my interpretation of the sport-it even has him in a shirt that I have seen him wear for riding. After losing all my photos when the old computer died (so no longer having any photos of him riding), for reference I used a wonderful photo generously shared by Carol Kibble on Photos for Artists. A loosely done piece for sure, but it shows all it needs to show!

Bicycle Race-scan-cropped PS-96PPI-watermark   Day 27 – Bicycle Race

Getting closer…but running out of month!

This was a complete experiment and learning experience! It is watercolor, but on canvas (first treated with watercolor ground); it handles so very differently than my usual Arches cold press 140# paper. I have had two canvases ready for weeks now and decided it was time to finally get brave and give it a try. I happened upon a video by Karlyn Holman about preparing canvas for watercolor, which definitely gave me more confidence with it. So, I drew directly on the canvas and painted away. I very much like the result, but I was unable to get a usable photo to post. I ended up scanning it since the canvas is fairly shallow and not very large. That came out better, but the actual work is far better than the image of it shows. The problem, with both the camera and the scanner, is all of the texture… But yes, I will paint on canvas again!

On the Vine-cropped PS-96PPI-more corrections MS-darker-watermark


I just noticed that I missed posting one of my “days” paintings. I’m not sure how that happened, but here it is. This was a class project on the 18th; mine looks quite different from the example set forth. In spite of the fact that it’s not my usual style or favorite type of subject, it’s good to try something different and I ended up enjoying it. Plus I always put my own spin on it anyway…

Old Mill Pond-cropped, straightened PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 21 – Old Mill Pond


Tulips that didn’t like me…

I painted this one right after I painted the Fuchsia, but with less success. It actually was quite good at one point, but I did what I know I should never do-I kept picking at it until it was far less successful! But, as I’ve said many times-it’s always a lesson learned, whether good or bad-and the practice is essential!

Sunny Tulips-cropped, corrected PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 23 – Sunny Tulips

Closer to catching up…

I made an executive decision that four sketches I did for another challenge count as artwork done this month…so I posted those also! That helped me get closer to catching up with myself. I am pleased that I drew and completed two pieces on Wednesday, both florals. I guess when all else fails, fall back on what you know best – although I am still experimenting with styles and methods! I also used a brand of paper that I’m much less familiar with and it definitely handled differently than my usual Arches. I do have four more pieces in progress in my studio, in various states of completion. With only 4 more days in the month, I’m still in trouble!

So, here is the first one I completed on Wednesday, Fuchsia I grew and photographed last summer.

Hangin' with My Buds-cropped, straightened PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 22 – Hangin’ With My Buds

Half Way Through…

Yes, half way through, but with only a week left in January, that’s not so good… But I’m doing the best I can and I will finish just as many paintings as possible! While they’re not all terrific, all artists know that practice is  a good thing. From practice comes more knowledge in handling your media of choice and you are always learning something in the process!

This is actually a drawing/painting that I started during the summer. Then various situations kept me out of my studio, this work got somewhat buried and frankly, I had forgotten about it. When I started this challenge, I spent some time organizing in the studio and ran across this partially finished work. I have put it off for most of January and figured it was time, for good or bad, to finish it! I actually like the way this turned out- hope you do too!

20160124_030857-cropped, straightened, brightened PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 15 – Swallowtail

Still Plugging Along on Challenge…

I actually completed this painting during the day on Saturday. It is most difficult to get into my studio when my husband is home, but I worked on it while we were going through some stored boxes in that area. I just went back and forth between the junk and my art space and actually managed to finish this. I absolutely love the photos of Hobbiton in New Zealand and I just learned that they no longer allow photography there, so they are especially precious! It was such fun drawing this, figuring out how I wanted to handle it, working on and then finally completing it! It’s just such an interesting place to me!

Hobbits Only-cropped, straightened PS-sized to 96 PPI-watermark   Day 14 – Hobbits Only Please!

Day 13 Painting Completed

Look at me, doing something involving rocks two days in a row… I decided to revisit a painting that I did recently and then sold, using a somewhat different approach. I liked the one I titled “Sunset”, colors and all; this time I tried for a brighter, sunrise look with the same basic subject. Subtle differences, but really obvious at the same time. It was really a spur of the moment decision to do this painting again and I cannot decide which of the two I prefer. I’m still running so badly behind on the challenge, having posted my Day 13 painting in the Day 21 list!

Sunrise on Basalt Cliff-best-96PPI-watermark   Day 13 – Sunrise on Basalt Cliff

More Progress – Another Landscape

This painting is another inspired by one that Jim’s class did on a day when I was unable to be there. I should explain that while in class, you can work on your own thing, use Jim’s example, painting it as he did or you can take his example and “do your own thing” with it. After so many years of painting, the latter is what I do, but also using Jim’s expertise as well as my own experience as my guidance. There is always more to learn, which is the advantage to dropping into classes sometimes. The other advantages with this class are the camaraderie and fun with the great people there-and always time to learn more from my mentor!

In addition to painting florals, which is probably my favorite subject, I very much enjoy working on landscapes covering of all sorts of subjects. Rocks are often my nemesis, so it’s always a good thing to practice them, whether simple rocks or rock cliffs; the more you work on them, the more you understand and can mentally picture their shapes and angles.

Rock Cliffs-cropped, brightened PS-96PPI-watermark   Day 12 – Light and Shadow

Making Progress

I have spent hours and hours in my studio over the past two days and I’m happy to say that things are coming along. I completed two paintings about 3 hours ago and then got a great start on another. I have one in progress that I’m a little stumped on, so it’s sitting there waiting for further inspiration! It was such an usually beautiful, sunny day Wednesday and I spent most of my time where I wasn’t seeing that sunshine at all. But when I need to be in my studio, I need to be in my studio…

So, the first painting I completed is just pure cuteness and fun! This idea is from class, but it’s not a class I attended. As I understand it, the bear is based on one that Jim’s lovely, sweet wife, Sue, made and then the class recreated it in 2D. When I saw the example of it, I couldn’t resist, especially since I saw it just days after my new granddaughter was born! So here is my version of Sue’s handmade teddy bear.

Teddy Bear, cropped, brightened PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 11 – Sweet Teddy

Landscape Painting

My Day 10 painting is based on a reference photo that I have had for years-and never had the nerve to attempt the painting! This is such an amazing, inspirational location! I decided I was finally ready to try it and worked on it for most of the month (to this point). Very challenging and colorful, but I can see the light, shadows, the heaviness of the rocks and extreme complexity when I stand back to look at it. I hope you can too!

Antelope Canyon Arizona-96PPI-with watermark   Day 10 – Antelope Canyon

Another Experimental Challenge Painting

This one was an interesting challenge. I had heard about and seen the “stone” paper, which I guess is meant more for acrylics and even alcohol inks. But I did see a demo using it with watercolor, so I simply had to try it. It reminded me somewhat of Yupo, but I think it’s a little more “controllable.” I didn’t feel the colors were as true as they are on watercolor paper, but that may have been primarily caused by their tendency to blend a LOT on the “paper.” It was also very difficult to get darks as dark as I wanted them. Regardless, it was fun to try and I will be experimenting more with it.

Nebula II-96PPI-with watermark   Day 9 – Nebula II

30 Paintings in 30 Days-Class Inspiration

This painting was a project done in class. I enjoyed this, as I love pretty much anything “beachy”! It’s funny how a project can look horrible until the finishing touches are in and suddenly it all seems to come together. That’s how this painting went and in the end, I am happy with it, colors and all. Enjoy!

Beach Grass-Jim's class 1-11-16-cropped, corrected MS-96PPI-watermark   Day 8 – Beach Grass


Catching up on my challenge postings…

My Day 7 painting was more of accidental painting than intentional, but it’s fun and colorful and an abstract that I happen to like! I know it’s an artistic style I should play around with more often, but it’s not my favorite thing and I find it somewhat difficult to do, as opposed to actually painting something tangible. But here is one, kind of a leafy thing, shown in a mat that my friend/mentor Jim gave me to use with it since it works so well…

Abstract with mat-1-11-16-96PPI   Day 7 – Abstract

More 30 in 30 Paintings completed!

Admittedly, I am running terribly behind, but I have completed 6 more pieces and have 3 works in progress in my studio-and many more in my head. The biggest hindrance was last week’s Spokane Watercolor Society meeting. I literally spent 19 hours over three days getting ready for, at and following up from the meeting. That, and everything else I have to catch up on, makes it difficult to get into the studio! Doing my best…

Also, as a follow up, during the first week of January, I met with the two wonderful ladies who bought those paintings and had a chance to talk with them. Each was so happy with her painting and was also such a delight to meet and visit with! I really liked having the opportunity to meet each of them rather than just selling the works!

The two I am posting this time are silly little works that were for birthdays in Jim’s class-and yes, I did use them for the 30 in 30 challenge! Each gift had to cost no more than $1.00 and start with first initial of the the recipient’s name-or can be a regift, etc. Once I drew and painted these, I dug through my extra mat board and found an appropriate piece for each. After cutting each 2″ larger overall, I used gel medium to attach to the front of the board. It worked well. Then, after class, we went to lunch together and had a great time as well as a delicious lunch! There were some very clever, inventive gifts given and we laughed a lot!

Silly Giraffe-Gloria's BD-Jim's class-1-11-16-72PPI          Cymbal Monkey-for Mary BD-Jim's class-1-11-16-72PPI

Day 5-Silly Giraffe for  Gloria                                                             Day 6-Monkey with Cymbals for Mary

More Christmas cards – Wetcanvas exchange

Before I head into my studio to work on paintings for the 30 in 30 challenge, I thought I would share a couple more of the cards… These two are similar – same cat, but somewhat different scenes. No titles for these, just fun cards to paint and share.

img048-smaller to post                                                img047-smaller to post