What fun the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge was!

I already said that I’m pleased and proud-and I really am. This is the first time in quite a long time that I’ve managed to do 30 pieces. There’s nothing wrong with doing fewer-it’s all good practice and a wonderful learning experience. But, as I’ve also stated earlier, I was determined this time to do all of them – mostly because I spent so much of last year painting far too little and it’s time I work at being the artist that I can be, that I want to be! If it’s in you, it’s something you need to do; it’s something I NEED to do!!!

Collage, all of my February 2018 30 in 30 challenge paintings!


Oh-No; I haven’t posted Days 24 & 25!

Obviously, I’m now not only behind, but also out of order! Again, there have been so many demands on my time that I forgot to post these two days after I finished them-darn! My day 24 painting is also entered in the monthly challenge on Photos For Artists (on Facebook). The challenge is “waterbirds” and I wanted to participate, but hadn’t found what I wanted to paint. Then, on February 20, I was scrolling and saw that Mal Rayner had some new postings-and there was exactly what I had been looking for (an Avocet) in those new photos!

As for my day 25, is a mini-painting and it’s mostly a throw-away. I had a few minutes, didn’t really feel like painting and, while I did the best I could under those circumstances, it just didn’t turn out… I knew I wasn’t in the mood to get something done, but pressured myself to do one anyway. I will say that the real piece looks somewhat better than the scan came out. In spite of all that, I posted it-because that’s my accountability!

     Day 24-“Fishing”

(Photo credit and thanks to Mal Rayner for this awesome Avocet picture.)


#art #challenge #watercolor #painting #fineart #artist #birds #beach #ocean #shore #Avocet #inspiration #flowers

Days 26-29 done-only one more to go!

During this challenge, I seem to have had a particularly difficult time finding time to paint, with the past couple of weeks being almost impossible… So, yesterday, in just 12 hours, I drew and painted three pieces and painted a fourth without a any drawing on the paper. After that, I fell into bed in exhaustion, without posting any of them…

I also know that the 30 days is technically over, but there was no way I could do a fifth one yesterday. That is on for this morning, just as soon as I’ve finished breakfast – and decided what I want to paint today! I told myself that I was going to do all 30, and I am, even if I’ve gone over the time frame by a day! That determination to get painting done needs to stick with me from now on-and that’s rather the point of this wonderful challenge to begin with!

     Day 26-“First Flight” 

(Photo credit and thanks to Russ Bridges on Facebook group, Photos For Artists.)

     Day 27-“Santorini View”   

(Thank you to Phil Jenkins, also on Photos For Artists, for this reference photo.)

     Day 28-“Teasel Stop”

(My appreciation, again, to Russ Bridges for his Goldfinch on Teasel photo reference [European Goldfinch, looks quite different from what we’re used to seeing here].)

     Day 29-March Snowflakes Dancing”

No photo credit, no drawing-this from my mind to my hand and on the paper…

#art #challenge #watercolor #painting #artist #fineart #colorful #birds #landscape #snow #winter #weeds #view #arch #European #buildings       


Day 20-done!

What fun this one was! If you have to have winter and snow, you might as well get photos and use them. I took the photo reference for this is one out my back door last Saturday, after the snow had stopped falling. I really like my “condo” type birdhouse out there and it looked particularly pretty with the new snow on the roof. As always, all hand drawn and then painted.

     “Waiting for Spring”

#art #challenge #30in30challenge #painting #watercolor #birdhouse #birds #winter #snow #landscape #backyard #garden

Day 16 – finished!

This one was fun and very, very frustrating! I’ve been loving painting on the rough paper surface, but maybe not so much on this one. The bird went fairly well, but the rocks it’s standing on simply didn’t work very well. In fact, I had to wash off that part the best I could and correct what I was able to. It does look better than it did…but then the scan isn’t great either. But that’s what this challenge is about – practicing, trying new things, finding out what works and what doesn’t, fixing what you can; it’s ALL a great learning experience! I know I’ve mentioned how very valuable this process is!

     “I’m Talking Here!”

(Reference photo credit and my appreciation to Dennis Flynn on Photos For Artists, a Facebook group.)

#Puffin #bird #painting #challenge #watercolor #rocks #landscape #experimentation #art #colorful

Day 12-oops, forgot to post it last night!

I wanted to work in at least one bird during the 30 in 30 challenge, then I thought something more exotic than typical backyard birds. So I searched my go-to legal-to-use reference sites and found an awesome Toucan photo. That’s another one I’ve never attempted before. Hand drawn, guided by the reference photo, watercolor on Moulin Du Roy rough watercolor paper (which is something else new to me and I really enjoyed using it). The title I have given this piece is a riff on the Froot Loops bird…

I strongly recommend not only challenging yourself to something like the 30 in 30, but also to different subject matter, styles and papers. I’ve only ever tried rough paper once before and, for some silly reason, didn’t use it again. Obviously it isn’t for every subject matter, but for this it worked great!

     “Just Call Me Sam”

(Thank you to Wendy Sinclair for sharing this wonderful photo!)

#watercolor #painting #art #exoticbirds #challenge #toucan #colorful #experimentalart #roughpaper

Day 2 – a real challenge

This one somewhat got the better of me. I’ve painted an owl (different type) before and loved the result. This one gave me a rough time, maybe partly because of using the sketchbook rather than watercolor paper. But, as always, I post what I do because it’s part of the challenge and we, as artists, all know that not everything comes out the way we want it to! That’s called learning!

     “Barn Owl”


And…Day 5 of the 5-Day Challenge!

I not only finished the challenge, but I completed this painting about 11:30 PM on the 5th day! Yes, I kept it simple – and fun! This one took 22 minutes or less and I would like to say that I learned a lot from this “speed” challenge, but I’m not sure about that aspect. What I know this challenge reinforced to me is what I’ve known for years and years-sketching, painting, just doing something artistic every day really makes a difference!

     “Emperor Penguin in the Snow”

Cardinals in snow inspire me-it’s Christmas!

Less whimsy, slightly more realism – so a bit of a change of pace. I actually used a YouTube video for inspiration on this one, but ended up turning it off, drawing it similarly and painting it in my own way. I’m not saying that the help didn’t make a difference, just that it inspired me and then I moved on to my own style. I really enjoyed the challenge of drawing and painting these gorgeous birds; I messed up the background by adding the salt about a minute too soon. I can’t really say, “lesson learned” though, because I already know when I should do it, but just pushed it a little. But in the end, I think I made it work and do really like my result – I hope the recipient in the Christmas card exchange does too!

cardinals-card-scan-2-better-smaller-to-post     Card #4, “Cardinal Contrast”

30 Paintings in 30 Days-Day 6

I find that I currently have so many ideas and reference photos that I’m struggling to choose! I’ve been looking over and over at the wonderful “Puffin” photos that have been shared on Photos for Artists on Facebook, thinking that they are such interesting, almost cute-looking birds and that I could paint one. So, I went through the photos and chose one, by photographer Harry Reid, that “spoke” to me. It was fun to draw and more fun to paint. Just figuring out the background is what I almost always struggle with. I have been attempting to somewhat emulate Bev Jozwiak’s style, not without problems! I was fortunate enough to participate in her workshop last fall when she was here. I learned so much, but if you take a workshop and then don’t continue to practice those methods, you lose a lot of what you learned. Having had so little painting time, that’s what happened with me, that and the fact that I wasn’t that good at following her method to begin with, after just three days. So, I’m trying to think back to watching her work and re-learn the style that I loved so much! I can only maybe do that by trying over and over… So, here is my version of the two Puffins photo –

sentry-duty-best-corrected-cropped-ps-72ppi-watermark   Day 6, “Sentry Duty”

Day 6, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

30 Paintings in 30 Days-Day 4

I completed my Day 4 painting and completely painted my Day 5 piece on Tuesday, September 6; obviously running behind, but not badly behind at this point!

This rooster fought me every step of the way and I almost gave up at several points. I finished him and, even though it’s certainly not my best painting, I’m proud of doing so! With every success or failure, I learn so much and that learning process seriously comes from practice, practice and practice! I don’t believe that I have ever heard artist Stan Miller speak without making sure people know that he has spent at least 40 years, painting at least 8 hours a day! That’s dedication of the type that most of us simply cannot give, what with all other demands in our life. But we still can give our art more effort and time, with minor tweaks in our lives.

The photo reference here came from Karen Broemmelsick, another of the incredibly generous photo artists on Facebook’s group, Photos for Artists.

20160906_160250-cropped,straightenedPS-color,exposureMS72PPI-watermark   Day 4 – “Puffed Up”

Day 4, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

Back at it; 30 Paintings in 30 Days January Challenge!

The past two months have sped by at the speed of-well something really speeding! We had a horrible wind storm in November, which caused untold damage all over the area. Personally, we only had minor damage to a couple of our trees, but we were without electricity for 8 days and then without internet, phone and TV for an additional 2 days. It was cold, dark and miserable and I literally cried when the power finally came on! I also got so far behind on everything I “had” to do that I still haven’t managed to catch up-especially with the holidays in that time frame.

I sketched a little during the “black out”, taking off my gloves until my hands were so cold I couldn’t work any longer. I missed light, I missed heat and I missed working on my art! I managed to finish 14 hand drawn and painted Christmas cards, most of which were for my third year participating in the Wetcanvas Christmas card exchange. I’m quite pleased that I got them done and sent and with the cards themselves. I will post them, scattered among the other works I want to share here. I signed up for Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge for January and, even though we’re only 5 days into the month, I am currently trying to catch up! I’m also participating in a Facebook group, Every Day in January, which is a sketch challenge with daily prompts. I am also behind on that, but am determined to manage them both. I need to spend time on my art! So, right now I will post my day 1 and day 2 paintings for the 30 in 30 challenge.


Birds of a Feather-day 1-72PPI to post   Day 1 – Birds of a Feather-from my own photo taken in my yard on January 1, 2016 with birds all over, while it was 5° and sunny outside.

Lonely Beach-done in Jim's class 1-4-16-scanned, croppedMS-72 PPI to post   Day 2 – Lonely Beach-done on January 4 in Jim’s class (my mentor/friend/first watercolor teacher) from his reference.

Day 13 Painting

20150929_005855-bald eagle-cropped PS15-with watermark-smaller to post Bald Eagle Portrait     11229372_10204981545391539_4367768305458494959_n-Heather Ward photographer-saved smaller to post in comments     Original photo by Heather Ward

Several days ago, I mentioned my eagle painting in progress. Well, I finally decided it was finished. This was definitely a challenge to do-and I love tackling things that are challenging, fun and different from my normal florals or landscapes. When I did the owl painting during the January 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge, it was the first time I had ever tried a close-up bird and so much enjoyed not only the work, but also the outcome. This is something I need to do more often-and practice, practice, practice!


Sandpipers on the beach



original watercolor “Wait for Me!”IMG_20150216_021215_106-cropped,correctedPS-smaller to post

I always seem to be inspired by the ocean and, for that matter, most bodies of water. Perhaps growing up so near a lake has something to do with that. This was a fun painting to do, with some experiments along the way. It is based on the numerous photos I took a decade ago while on the Florida Gulf Coast. I loved watching the Sandpipers on the beach!

I am currently stressing over planning and executing a painting or paintings to enter in our Spokane Watercolor Society 2015 Open Juried Show, coming up this fall. Because of that and several other issues, I am still not managing a painting a day. I am doing something toward my art every day though – digging through years worth of photos for reference ideas, compositions, pre-drawing, sketches, etc. My smaller works might not be impressive enough for some, but after my “painting marathon” in January, for me it seems to be a better way to improve and to simply feel like I am accomplishing something. But you can’t submit anything of that size as a juried show entry… I just have to make time in my schedule for the larger works too.



I still can’t quite get over that I finished 30 paintings in 30 days (actually in 28 days because of starting a little late)! I completed the collage of my work, then proceeded to add a border with text around it in one of my photo programs. That wasn’t my idea-it was available on the PicMonkey site, but my computer is too old and has inadequate memory to be able to handle that part of the collage procedure. Below are two versions; one with all 30 paintings and the other with the ones of which I am most proud-twenty of them. What a journey it was! Would I do it again? YES! Especially if I find myself slacking off and not devoting time to my art!


Collage-all challenge paintings with border redone2-smaller to post


Collage-best paintings with border redone2-smaller to post



IMG_20150128_141927_910-egret-croppedPS  “Egret”   Day 26 painting

I have been so busy painting that I’ve neglected blogging! As of about 24 hours ago, I actually caught up; yes, I had the same number of completed paintings as there were days in January!

Backing up several days, I painted an Egret. I am determined to learn to paint animals and birds well. This one is a very simple approach and I’m fairly happy with my effort.


IMG_20150118_234218_464-albatross-croppedPS2-smaller to post  “Laysan Albatross”   Day 16 painting

Oops, I forgot to publish this last night, so here’s that post…

I did it – I got one more painting finished before Sunday ended! In doing so, I also completed another painting to post for the Facebook group, “Paint Colorful Birds for Fun” weekly challenge. As with the owl, it’s a fun thing to do and yet another way to get inspiration for the 30 in 30 challenge. I must spend some drawing time now for the challenge since I’ve used almost everything I had ready to paint. So many ideas, but what will be next???


IMG_20150107_230359_160 PS-resized for posting       “Who’s There?”  Day 4 Painting

Have you ever noticed that when you’re under pressure to get artwork done, inspiration sometimes flies out the window? That is somewhat where I’ve been since January 3, when I again signed up for a 30-in-30 challenge-sponsored by the same artist as last September. I started 3 days behind!!! I have yet to catch up, but I have completed five paintings so far, have three more drawn on the Arches 140# CP paper and have a wealth of ideas floating around in my head. After I squelched the panic, I just started looking around and found all kinds of inspiration. Here is my day 4 painting. It is a Eurasian Eagle Owl, which was the week 11-29-14 subject in a Facebook group, “Paint Colorful Birds for Fun.” I rarely participate in the weekly choices; I’m quite proud of this since I have almost no experience drawing or painting animals of any kind. So, between trying to do at least some less familiar subjects and trying to fit at least one painting in each day (assuming I ever get caught up with myself), challenge is the perfect word for this! Not everything I paint will be up to what I expect from myself, but to me it’s all about practice, practice, practice! You cannot improve as an artist without devoting time to your art!