Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Virtual Paintout 20: Timeless Italy!

Last day of the last month of the year! Time for a photo of my studio workspace. Yes... a wee bit messy. And I confess, this is a neat day, ha ha ha!

On to my painting for Decembers Virtual Paintout. For this last month of 2014, we virtually visited Rome, Italy. So full of beauty and history! 

A sense of Timelessness.  Words fail me. 

The site I chose was at the Baths of Caracalla, the famous ancient Roman Baths. Built in the early AD 200's, they were huge public baths. Here's my original location (can click on any pics to enlarge):

Something appealed to me about the ancient ruins, beautiful sky, and green grounds.

And those trees.  
They looked as if they had been around for ages. 
Their height, their shape. 
Old trees that could tell a story. 

And my imagination went wandering, and I saw Others present. 

From an even more distant past. 
Like Time overlaying Time. 
Energy from the Past still interwoven with Today. 

So I played with it. :-)

In progress on my easel:

And the finished painting:

Baths of Caracalla, Rome, Italy
9 x 12 acrylic on
wrapped canvas

A couple of close-ups... 
first the Triceratops Mama and baby:

And the Brachiosaurus:

My thanks to artist Bill Guffey for leading the Virtual Paintout. He takes us to a new location every month, and spends untold hours posting all of our paintings in our Facebook gallery. You can visit Bill's own art website Here.  Thanks, Bill!

I haven't mentioned it in awhile, but the monthly Virtual Paintout is open to anyone of all skill levels and almost all mediums. It's a lot of fun! For more info, check out his blog Here

Thank you for visiting and Happy painting - and Happy New Year!


PS: for the purists amongst us...
The Brachiosaurus was from the Jurassic era, and was first discovered in Colorado, North America in 1903 (not Italy, ha ha).
The Triceratops, on the other hand, was from the late Cretaceous era, and many skeletons have been found in North America and Canada. Oh, and the flying Pteranodon hung out in about the same timeframe and places as the Triceratops. 

Obviously, my painting is a work of fractured fantasy! :-D

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Virtual Paintout 19: Beautiful Luxembourg!

For the month of November our fearless Virtual Paintout leader Bill Guffey led us to a lovely place to visit: Luxembourg. It's a very small country bordered by Germany, Belgium and France.

I thoroughly enjoyed toodling around via Google Street View, and settled on this location for my painting:

Funny story: This is a small country, yes. But it was hilarious to me that as I traveled around randomly, I saw this SAME man walking his dogs FOUR times, in 4 different locations. I recognized his bright yellow shirt. 

Anywhoo... I thought I'd experiment a little with ink and watercolors on this one. And it turned out... well, not as I had expected. The good part is, I finally understood what some other artists had been talking about in Sketchbook Skool. They said: 

Either the Line leads, or the Color leads, but not both.

 I wanted the Line to lead here, but failed. So I kept adding color, trying to get the definition I wanted in the foliage. But then ended up too saturated, losing a lot of linework. After looking at artwork by others using both ink line and watercolor, I realized I could have re-stated some key lines again at the end. Well, live and learn. 

Anyway, here it is: "Over or Under?", a street in Luxembourg:
(can click on any pics to enlarge) 

"Over or Under?"
6 x 9 sketchbook
Ink, watercolor, gouache
and colored pencil

A close-up of the hilltop house:

Silhouette of MrYellowShirt walking
his dog through the tunnel:

Happy painting,


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sketchbook Skool &Remembering the Colors of Rembrandt

Oh no, say it ain't so!

This was the last week (of 6) of this session of Sketchbook Skool, called Storytelling.

I've enjoyed it SO much, so decided not to rush this lesson. I'm taking my time with the homework assignment, and thoroughly "sucking the marrow out of it", to paraphrase Henry David Thoreau.

I took my color scheme for the first page from some Rembrandt sketches I studied online. He's famous for the drama of his paintings, but Rembrandt also did wonderful preparatory sketches (ha ha, how's that for name dropping).

This is the first page of several to come. I'm loosely planning on 5 pages. This is the Intro page, with small sketches featuring our fearless leader, Danny Gregory. I took the reference photos from his road trip video he filmed for this Lesson.

First, the close ups (can click any to enlarge):

Mugging for the camera in 
Albuquerque, New Mexico:

His yellow sunglasses caught my fancy 
at the Grand Canyon stop:

And I couldn't pass up the cowboy hat in Texas:

Here's the whole Intro page for my homework 
project I'm titling "My Trip to the Moon & Back":

Intro Page from 
"My Trip to the Moon & Back"
Pitt pens, colored pencils, 
watercolor pencils, waterbrush, 
white gelly pen, on paper 
toned with acrylic

Happy sketching,


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Sketchbook Skool: I need Practice!

Week 5 of Sketchbook Skool: Gesture Drawings

Yikes, that was a hard week for me. 

I am NOT a fast sketcher, painter, drawer, anything-er. But I signed up for this Sketchbook Skool, plunked down my hard earned money, so by golly, I was gonna get my money's worth by giving it a try, ha!

First homework assignment up: Group Gesture Drawing;  Spend the afternoon in a local cafe sketching groups of people. Goal:  gesture, movement, a small "story", not a likeness.

Well... I couldn't go to the local Cafe and hang out (mobility/transportation issues), so I hung out with the singing group Train, recorded singing live on Letterman. They sang a favorite song of mine "Calling All Angels" (thank you, Mr Youtube). (can click pic to enlarge)

"I Won't Give Up"

9 x 12 sketchbook
Pitt pens Med and Brush
watercolor pencils

This assignment taught me several things:

I DO enjoy dancing lines, thick and thin lines, dashes and dots and squiggly lines.

I do NOT enjoy drawing just in black and white, nor do I enjoy drawing under a time pressure, in a hurry.

At first, I did NOT like my finished piece; it seemed stiff and gawky.

So I decided to just cut loose and have fun with it! I added some border lines, lettering at the top, a few of the colors I saw on the stage, and stage lights. Now I like it. :-)

Last line in their song: 

"I won't give up. You don't give up."

If you'd like to hear Train sing the song, visit youtube HERE. 


Next up: One Person Gesture Drawing.  Follow one person around and make gesture drawings of them.

This was HARD!
Me not LIKE it.
Felt rushed and stressful.
But me DID it.

My "subject" was available for this overcast
and chilly day in Southern Oregon.

He couldn't mow grass until leaves raked.
So I sketched husband while he worked.
(He thought he was working while I was playing).

Filled mower with gas.
More raking.
Chewed on bone (dog, not husband).
Finally mowed lawn.
By that time I was cold (and complaining 
"but he keeps moving").
Wimped out and went inside to hot tea.

There you have it, my homework for Gesture drawings. 
And I learned WHY I didn't enjoy drawing in a rush:
I don't like the results. 

And that's just lack of practice. 
I get better results when I go slow 
but it's not natural and easy,
like the teachers of this kind of gesture drawing. 

My take away: practice, patience and persistence!!

Happy sketching,


Saturday, November 01, 2014

My Favorite Homework Assignment Yet!

Jane Filer is one of my favorite acrylic artists, creating amazingly imaginative, wildly colorful and unpredictable paintings. 

So, I was excited when my latest Sketchbook Skool homework assignment was to create an imaginary book cover, done in the style of a favorite artist. Here's an example of her art (can click on any pics to enlarge):

Since my husband and I recently celebrated our 37th anniversary, I chose to make the imaginary book cover for our Wedding Photo Album.

My sweetie proposed to me all those years ago on a bridge at a park, in front of the children's wooden playground.

Doing this assignment brought back such memories. I enjoyed 
doing it very much!

It all started with a line drawing. 
I drew many of the shapes as an homage 
 to Jane Filer, such as pointed arms and 
feet, angel in the air, fish  seeming to 
hover, flower and tree shapes, and
the running rabbit with ears
streaming behind:

I scanned it and played with color 
schemes in photoshop:

And the finished colored sketch:

"The Proposal"

Done in 9 x 12 sketchbook, Pitt pens, watercolor pencils, 
waterbrush, colored pencils, white paint pen, 
and gold Pearl-Ex for the lettering. 

Close ups:

Thanks for looking, and happy sketching!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Flying Pigs, Enhanced Reality & Sketchbook Skool

Wow!! I had no idea what went on in my studio after I went to bed. But thanks to Mattias Adolfsson from Sketchbook Skool,  I found out about the secret lives of my studio inhabitants. 

I wasn't able to sleep, thinking about the homework assignment. So I got up and shuffled in half asleep to my studio. Lo and behold... my Flying Pig collection was having a party!! The Flying Pigs were being rowdy, the Blue Birds of Happiness were singing, and Mr Skull was grumpy about being kept awake.

I grabbed pen and paper, crouched low and drew while trying not to giggle. Here, then, is my homework from Week 3, drawing Enhanced Reality:

(Can click any pics to enlarge)

"Flying Pig Party"

9 x 12 sketchbook
Micron pens, watercolor pencils,
waterbrush, colored pencils,
and white gelly pen

And some close-ups for you:

Happy sketching,


Monday, October 20, 2014

Sketchbook Skool: Unleash Your Imagination!

This 3rd week at Sketchbook Skool our teacher was Mattias Adolfsson. His "specialty" is drawing from imagination. His 1st homework assignment for us, after his excellent teaching videos, was to sketch a memory from our 1st day of school.

Say what?? That was in 1956!! 

But, I did come up with a memory. It was my Mom having to push me from behind, with me digging my heels in to resist. School was not a "fun" memory for me, but as a family we've laughed at this incident over the years.

So... here is my memory. Not of the actual event, but rather the feelings of a little girl, self-conscious in orthopedic shoes, with no friends, starting this strange new place called School.

And for those who aren't familiar with Vincent Van Gogh... he was known for the black crows he painted in the sky of his last painting, right before his suicide. Yeah... this memory was a day of "drama" for that little 5 year old. 

First, the inked line drawing (can click any to enlarge):

Next, the shading, done with Inktense 
watercolor pencil and waterbrush:

And lastly, the finished drawing:

"No! No! No! No!"

9 x 12 sketchbook
Sakura Micron pens, watercolors, 
waterbrush, watercolor pencils, 
and colored pencils

Here are a couple of close ups:

This weeks homework was a challenge, but I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching from Mattias about making drawings from our imagination. Highly recommended!

Happy sketching,


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Week 2 of Sketchbook Skool - What Was I Thinking?!

Yikes! This 2nd week of Sketchbook Skool took me far outside my comfort zone. The homework assignment was to sketch moving people in ink. Go to the park or somewhere similar and go for it, loosey goosey. No pencil, no eraser, just let the ink fly! The instructor, Melanie Reim, is a professional who travels around the world and also teaches art. She calls this style "Reportage".

That sure isn't my style, but I tried to have a go at it. I know I'd like to loosen up some, but had no way to get out of the house and go to the park this week. So... into the "park" of my backyard I went!

Joey (my girl Mini-Schnauzer) gets ecstatic when her Hero gets home from work. After the quite vocal demand for immediate pets, she tells him "Come on, let's go outside!!" He puts his stuff down, and then she leads the way to the backyard, impatiently looking over her shoulder to make sure he's coming. It's dark by now, illuminated by a yard light. 

So I drafted them as my subjects. Some of it I had to finish later, like the color and waterbrushed shadows. And the top right face of Joey was made the next day, too.

I appreciate that each of the 6 week lessons are taught by a different instructor, and we experiment with different styles, mediums and assignments. I've learned a lot already! I know I need work on drawing people, so this got me started.

Here is the link to Sketchbook Skool, should anyone be interested. It's a 6 week course, with sessions starting and re-starting at varying intervals. And there is a huge online supportive community of artists of all degrees of skill, full of enthusiasm, who will make you feel welcome.

(can click pic to enlarge)

"Daddy's Home"
9 x 12 sketchbook
Kuretake Sumi brush pen,
waterbrush, watercolor pencils

I mean really... what was I thinking, trying to sketch an excited Mini-schnauzer while she streaked around the backyard at night, ecstatic cuz Daddy was home??! But it was a lot of fun and challenging, too.

Happy sketching,


Friday, October 10, 2014

Sketchbook Skool Homework #2 - This Really Happened to Me!

Whoa, this week went by too fast! 

I'm officially 19 minutes late getting my second homework assignment posted to Sketchbook Skool. Good thing they are a loosey goosey bunch. :-D

This weeks 2nd lesson from teacher Koosje Koene was to make An Illustrated Manual. 

So here it be, my "manual", based on something that really did happen to me.

(Can click pic to enlarge)

"How to Decorate Your Bedspread"
9 x 12 sketchbook
ink, watercolors, wc pencils,
colored pencils, acrylics, gouache

By the way, for anyone who doesn't know... India Ink is the darkest, blackest, WATERPROOF ink imaginable. Good luck getting it out of ANYthing. :-D  I sure learned my lesson about leaving the jar open!

Thanks for looking and happy painting!


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Joey Wants Beef Stew & Sketchbook Skool Homework #1

I am so excited!

Last week I joined an online 6 week course called Sketchbook Skool. This is the third semester, but the semesters don't need to be taken sequentially.

I joined this one because the subject of the session really spoke to me: Storytelling.

So I thought I'd post my homework assignments here as I go along. After we watched the teaching videos and saw the examples, our first assignment was to sketch "An Illustrated Recipe". Any way we choose, any theme we choose.

Here is my version of Crockpot Beef Stew. As you can see, Joey was VERY interested in what I was doing. She kept her eyes on me the whole time!

(can click pic to enlarge)

9 x 12 sketchbook
ink, watercolors
watercolor pencils 
colored pencils, acrylics

Anyone interested in Sketchbook Skool can check it out HERE.

Thanks for visiting. And try the beef stew, it's actually quite good!

Happy painting,


PS: yep, I know how to spell School. But they are a quirky bunch at Sketchbook Skool. Anything having a "k" sound gets spelled that way! Such as skool, klass, kourse, etc. They're a fun bunch!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Virtual Paintout 18: Swedish Teddy Bears!

For September the Virtual Paintout gang took off for Sweden! Our fearless leader, Bill Guffey  chose the city of Gothenburg for our destination. 

I went site-seeing and ended up at the seaside. I was delighted to discover that the Google camera guy had somehow gone INSIDE the seaside resort. All the rooms were empty but beautifully set up, as though expecting guests at any moment. (You can visit HERE and guide the camera around inside the resort; it's fun).

Then I saw it. A big wicker box next to a crackling fireplace. And in the box lay a Teddy Bear. 

I instantly felt it. A feeling of patiently waiting... eager and ready to be loved, and wanting to give love in return. The little bear has a specific and wonderful purpose in life, a destiny. 

I had to paint it.

Here is the original image:
(can click any pics to enlarge) 

And here is my interpretation of it:

"Waiting To Be Loved"
Gothenburg, Sweden
6 x 9 sketchbook

Had to have a Teddy Bear close up:

Thank you for looking, hope you enjoyed it. And as always, anyone is welcome to join the monthly excursions with the Virtual Paintout gang. HERE is where you can find all the deets.

Happy painting!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

How to be MORE Productive at... Whatever!

I met author Mary Pax  several years ago on the internet. She made me feel welcome, and I consider her my friend. I've watched her career blossom, and have been amazed at her level of productivity... rain or shine, illness, sick kitties, weather, you name it.

I was listening to a podcast the other day (forget the name of it) about advice for artists. And I was struck with something they mentioned in passing: Leave your STUFF at the studio door.

I always thought my art was intricately tied to how I felt. I was convinced I couldn't work - with joy - if I was upset or having a tough time in my life. Obviously, my production level was insconsistent. Life has too many ups n' downs!

But that suggestion - Leave your Stuff at the studio door - wouldn't go away. 

And I thought back to a waitress Jim and I were impressed with YEARS and years ago. She went to church with us, so we knew her backstory. Her life was NOT a bed of roses. Lots of struggle and pain. Yet she made amazing tips! She took care of her kids very well on what she earned as a waitress. She made her customers feel like they were king or queen for the day, and was cheerful and happy. So one day we asked her what her secret was?? 

She said: she left her troubles at the restaurant door.  


Why didn't I get it back then???!!! The memory of what that amazing waitress told us collided with the advice on that podcast, and a NEW BELIEF was birthed in my heart: that I could do that, too.

Well, I HOPED I could. And I soon had my chance to see if the idea had, indeed, taken root deep enough inside me to actually change me. I signed up to do a post for Mary Pax's new book series, The Rifters.  Not only a post, but I got this idea to make a whole sketchbook based on the imaginary Oregon town of Settler, where her series is based. A huge project, with a looming deadline!! You can see that completed post here; yep, I made my deadline, and the drawing is still open there for a set of FREE e-books! 

No time to wait til I "felt" like it. Time to sketch, NOW.

And lo and behold... it works. It really does.

I leave my "stuff" at the studio door... crank up My music, and enjoy myself.

Who knew?!!

So, if YOU, too, want to increase your productivity: Leave your Stuff at the studio door!

I'd love to hear if you already to this... and if you have any tips for me. Thanks!

Feel free to download a copy of my Cowgirl Up poster if you think it would be a good reminder for you. I have mine hanging in my studio where I can see it every day! :-)
(Be sure to click it open before you download, so you get the full sized file to print).

Happy productivity!


Friday, September 19, 2014

My Sketchcrawl Adventure... and Win a FREE e-book!

My friend, author Mary Pax, is having another book launch!  

I'm super excited to be participating, since I enjoy her writing. It's a strange combination of urban fantasy/contemporary sci-fi/paranormal adventure/ and even steampunk. Weird is a good word for it! 

Mary has generously provided a FREE set of e-books (Books 1 & 2 of The Rifters series) to one of my lucky commenters here. I'll announce the winner on October 1st (last day to comment and be included in the drawing: Sept 30th).

The new series is called The Rifters, and Book 1 launched on Sept 8th. Here is the LINK to Mary's website, where you can read Chapter One of The Rifters; it also has links to Amazon and other sources. As of this writing, The Rifters e-book is FREE at Amazon, Smashword and others! Cool deal, yes?? 

I've read several stories by Mary Pax, and enjoyed every one. I always end up shaking my head, thinking "how in the world does she think this stuff up??!" 

I have a lot to share, so will be posting thumbnail pics from my sketchbook. Just click on them to enlarge... don't wanna crash anyones pc, with so many images to load, ha!

Without further ado, here is our "Book Launch Vacation":

(Spoiler alert: 
forget what the Settler Tourism Department says... 
there ARE weird happenings around Settler, Oregon!)

I'm one of the lucky ones. I live in Southern Oregon. The infamous town of Settler, Oregon is within a days driving for me, being up north from my town. Since my husband is a photographer, we drove up to the Caslow County Fair and Expo at the end of August. Jim wanted to take photos of the high desert country, and maybe Swit Lake if he had time before sundown. 
Me? I did a SketchCrawl.** That's where you take your sketchbook and painting/sketching paraphanalia and just hike out to... wherever. Last time we visited Settler, Francine at the Settler Mercantile let it slip that the rumors were TRUE about "otherworldly beasts" being spotted near Settler. 

We found out for ourselves this time! I had hoped to stumble on some Beasties to draw. Was thinking... "Wouldn't that be cool?? If I survive the encounter, that is! Mwa ha ha, sure wish they were for real."  Careful what you wish for!

Well, we DID make it home in one piece, and I am so excited to share images from our "vacation".

I really DID get to see some of the rumored "other worldly beasts". Honestly, I thought it was just "marketing hype" for the tourists, ya know?? But after Jim dropped me off so he and Joey (our Mini-schnauzer) could go exploring on their own, I took my time poking around. It was an overcast afternoon, so not too hot.

There were boulders to sit on and sketch, but it was almost dusk when the adventure REALLY started. That's when the beasties ventured out!! 

Enough jabbering... below are pics from my 5.5 x 8 inch sketchbook. Some were rough... I was trying to draw fast, the light was fading. So a few of the color touches were added from memory once we made it back home. But wow, it was amazing to see what really lives in Settler, Oregon. You've GOT to visit Settler for yourself. Honestly, if you love "weird", you'll have a blast!

You can click the pics to enlarge. I didn't caption these; they are in order, so you could read each journal entry if you'd like to know about the sketch following it.

And a few of the photos Jim took:

He thought this was funny...

Morning glow on a pansy...

And they were functional!!

Taken right before the sun came up...

He said he noticed a lot of strange things around Settler, this being one of them...

Yikes, Jim almost ran nose to nose with this guy...

He said he had a hard climb to get this view of Swit Lake, but it was worth it...

Even some of the plant life there is weird...

He stumbled upon this old house right at sunset...

A full moon!

I wonder if that full moon might explain some of the weirdness, including these strange lights he saw??

Well, what can I tell ya... I now know where Weird lives. 

Hoped you enjoyed the visuals from our vacation, and I know you will enjoy this new book series from Mary Pax. And don't forget to leave a comment by Sept 30th so I can put you into the drawing for a FREE set of e-books!

Happy painting - and reading,


**The town of Settler, Oregon is a figment of author M Pax's     imagination, as is my account of our vacation, my Sketchcrawl, and my encounters with the Beasties. Oh yes, the sketches are real!! But they were drawn right here in my own safe little studio, with Joey barking and Vevie and Butterfly meowing to be petted or fed. They are the only carnivores around here, and they don't glow green. ;-)

Edited to add:  The drawing is now closed. Thanks for looking at my sketchbook... hope you enjoyed it.