Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Last of Autumn


This past year has been a year of transition.
Many changes have taken place, and I have felt like I have shed many layers.  


I watched a beautiful autumn come and go in the mid-west in a state of quiet transition.
Much like other elements of my life, my art has transitioned as well


I find myself wanting to shut down my own expectations and focus in on the creative elements of flow and joy.  By doing this, I have found my desire to learn, to be the student, has grown.


The colder months keep me inside more, so I spend less time scribbling in my sketchbook and more time using it as a tool of exploration and study.


I continue to love my unique combination of watercolor and watercolor pencils, and I shed the need for excessive pen and ink.

And as always, nature is my muse.


I captured a picture of the last autumn leaves from a tree that sits outside my kitchen window recently.  I spent many gentle hours immersed in the nuance of its color.  

They're all gone now, and the tree is asleep for the winter.

This is watercolor and watercolor pencil in a Stillman & Birn "Zeta" series sketchbook.

Wishing you is for a peaceful week. Thanks for stopping by. xx

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Announcement About My Online Classes



With the coming of a new year comes profound change all around.  This change has descended upon my life in ways that have been unexpected to me.  Everyone goes through periods of deep transition, and although challenging, these experiences are necessary to help us grow into the next phase of our lives.

Some changes in my life have necessitated me taking a break from online teaching. In addition to this subscription fees to some of the platforms I use to deliver my class have increased significantly over the past couple of years.  This has forced me to take stock of my priorities and as a result I have made the unthinkable decision to close down my online classes next year.

I have always taken great pride in my online classes and the fact that they are offered with indefinite access, I know that has been a benefit to all of you and I know that many of you who are enrolled will be deeply disappointed, frustrated or even angry. But I implore you to understand my position and give me your compassion--not your wrath.  

This is not a decision I have taken lightly; in fact, I have been agonizing over this for several weeks and have considered many scenarios in the hope that I can find another solution.

For those of you already enrolled in any of my classes--I have paid my various subscriptions through to mid-2016. This means that my classrooms will remain open until June 30, 2016.  

This gives you a little over six months in which to revisit or complete your class before it is shut down. I sent a note to all enrolled participants several weeks ago to notify them directly and to let you know that  you have full and unimpeded access to the classroom and all the materials until this time.  

If you would like to join any of my current online classes, you can still register. But note, you will have access to them until June 30, 2016, regardless of when you join.

Check out available classes here

I am profoundly grateful for your ongoing support, understanding, and creativity. I have been touched by the many hundreds of people who have passed through my artistic life, especially by those of you who have shared so much of your heart and soul in my online classes.

I plan to continue blogging and participating in various online art forums in the new year, plus I will continue teaching live classes at the Waterloo Center for the Arts, in Iowa.

It has been my utter pleasure and privilege to have been a part of your art journey through my online classes and I will be taking many beautiful memories with me as I move onto the next phase of my life.

With my deepest love and gratitude for your understanding.

Dion. xx

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Taking a Break


I will be taking a short break from blogging while I focus on my family.

Please keep in touch with me via my Facebook and Twitter pages and I will be back blogging soon.

Hugs xx Dion.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer Sketching: Quality Time in a Cafe


My summer sketching challenge is done for this year.  A few months ago I set myself a task to sketch everyday and capture the nuances of the Iowa summer.  What a joyful experience it's been for me. The highlight was definitely the time I got to spend with my beautiful daughter Megan.  Every morning for three hours my son Thomas went off to Summer School, so Megan and I would venture out on our bicycles with our sketchbooks and watercolors and capture our gorgeous city in summer.

To finish it off, we sat in our favorite cafe called "Cup of Joe's" in downtown Cedar Falls.  What a joy it's been, and thank you to all of you who have followed me through this beautiful summer journey.

Enjoy your day. xx

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer Sketching: Summer Park Studies


Today I'm sharing another page from my Stillman & Birn "Alpha" sketchbook.  This is a study I did over summer during my "Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook" class.  The Cedar River runs right through where I live in Iowa and with it brings a host of natural inspiration.  This week we were sketching trees and I had to add a few geese for fun.

I'm almost done with this sketchbook and I'll be sad to fill the last page.  It's a landscape format and although I've never really worked in that format much, I've loved it so much that I will definitely be getting another one.

My summer sketching challenge is now done, but oh what a joy it's been.  Maybe I'll do a Fall challenge for myself? Thank you to everyone who has sharing this beautiful summer sketchbook challenge with me.

Thanks for stopping by. xx

Friday, August 28, 2015

Summer Sketching: Summer Feast


Nothing says summer like a summer BBQ.  We didn't have too many this year, time seemed to get away from us, but of those we did, it was worth it.  This is just a quick scribble in my "Alpha" sketchbook.  Watercolor and Watercolor Pencils.  Sometimes it's the little things!

Enjoy your day. xx

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Summer Sketching: Gentle Pond


This sketch was done over summer during my "Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook" class that I taught at the beautiful "Waterloo Center for the Arts".  I remember this evening, a beautiful summer night, lots of Canada Geese around, families enjoying their twilight picnics. We were working on rocks and water and I worked quickly to capture the moment before I lost the light.

Have a great day. xx

Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Sketching: Vibrant Lilies


My children go back to school today!  My 9yo daughter is heading into 5th Grade and my little 6yo autistic son finally heads off to Kindergarten..  He'll have a lot of help with a full-time aide and his sister close by, but it's still one of the most emotional experiences for me. Letting this little bloke loose on the world, this precious child who has been through so much is not easy for me, but it has to happen...he's ready.  I'll probably spend most of the day crying, but that's ok, I've earned those tears and I plan to shed them.

This summer sketchbook page was done in watercolor and watercolor pencil in a Stillman & Birn "Alpha" sketchbook.  These lilies sat on the east side of my house and put on the show of shows this year.

Today is also my 50th birthday...are you kidding me?? So, in celebration, today is the last day you can sign up for the special price for Mastering Twinks Online Classes (Part 1 & Part 2). 

These two classes are on sale for a very special combined price for today only!


Have a great day, I know I will! xx

Friday, August 21, 2015

Summer Sketching: Vacation Preparation


Heading off on vacation is always exciting and in preparation I was testing out some new Sennelier L'Aquarelle colors in my Stillman & Birn "Alpha" sketchbook.  We're heading off on a road/camping trip soon and given we'll be in the car I am able to carry a few extra colors in my palettes. I wanted to include a few more vibrant pink and yellow tones, simply because the combinations I get from these hues and a few nice blues is wonderful.  I'm almost finished my "Alpha" sketchbook and I've picked myself up a new "Epsilon" to take on my trip.

Did I mention that Stillman & Birn have something new coming out soon?  Oh, well, you'll just have to wait and see!

Have a great day. xx


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Summer Sketching: Late Summer Harvest


This part of summer is by far the most delicious.  All around us, neighbours are harvesting their vege patches.  We didn't get around to putting one in this year, but we will next year.  Vegetables taste far better from a back yard than they do from a grocery store.  This page is watercolor and ink.

So today is also the launch of 21 Secrets Fall 2015.  An extraordinary, beautiful, and jam packed program of 21 art journaling workshops from some amazing teachers.  Connie and her team at Dirty Footprint Studios have put together a truly brilliant program, unmatched by anything else around.


But the big news is that if you pre-order your copy of 21Secrets Fall 2015 (officially delivered to your inbox on monday September 28th), you get an AWESOME early bird gift.

In 2014 when Connie celebrated the 5 year anniversary of 21 Secrets, she put together a wonderful program call 21 Secrets LIVE.  She gathered together a wonderful group of artists for a weekly "LIVE STREAMING" workshop.

These recordings have never been available outside of that program, and if you pre-order your 21 Secrets eBook between now and September 4th, you receive ten 90 min workshops from 10 incredible teachers including-- Jane Davenport, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, Roben-Marie Smith, Rae Missigman, Kate Crane, Gretchen Miller, Diana Trout, Dion Dior, Andrea Schroeder, and Violette Clark.


Have a yummy day. xx

Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer Sketching: Pots


I've been loving this little "Summer Sketching" challenge I set myself.  I decided that even though I have a pretty good sketching habit, I wanted to focus on capturing scenes that hold more meaning for me more quickly.  Mostly I wanted to capture them from direct observation, but that hasn't always been possible.

When I can't get out to sketch, I find photographs that inspire me and practice my techniques.  This is a beautiful scene of somebodies garden path.  I loved all the different pots littered around.

I hope you've been enjoying my summer sketches.  Maybe you could join me for "Fall Sketching" which I hope to start in October.

Thanks for stopping by. xx

Friday, August 14, 2015

Summer Sketching: Australian Farm


Even thought it's summer here in the Northern Hemisphere I still think about my beautiful homeland of Australia.  I especially love the distant valley scenes of windmills and horse-sheds.

This is a sketch I did from a photo.  It's simple and invokes powerful memories.  It's watercolor and Ink.

Have a great day. xx

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Summer Sketching: Remedies


Summer is almost over and it's been a good one.  But that doesn't mean to say kids don't catch summer colds.  My kids have been sick with sniffles and sore throats which is no fun when it's hot and humid.  But, even though it's summer, I bring out the remedies to help them along (and me!).

Vic's Vabour Rub and Lemon Ginger Tea...works every time.

(Watercolor, Watercolor Pencil & Ink)

Enjoy your day. xx

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer Sketching: Little Red Schoolhouse


Today is my little Tommy's 6th birthday.  As a beautiful autistic boy he doesn't always know what's going on.  He's not sure about why the fun and celebration, but he'll take the cake and balloons anyway.

Tommy's birthday's are always a special time, and this is no different.  He starts school in a couple of weeks and I can't even think about it. I guess that's why I'm sharing this sketch I did 'In-Situ' a few weeks ago. Megan and I sat across the street on a beautiful morning and sketched.

Happy Birthday little bloke...we love you forever. xx

Friday, August 7, 2015

Summer Sketching: Imaginary Field


Today I'm sharing a sketch I did from my imagination.  Don't ask me why, I think sometimes I just have to sketch and I don't know what inspires me.  I've been pretty focussed this summer on building my skill with landscape scenes and their elements.  Some days are better than others.   This sketch feels pretty crude to me, but I just wanted to play around.

Anyway, it is a peaceful scene and I think that's what I was needing.  It's watercolor and ink.


Just a reminder than in celebration of my upcoming 50th birthday, the Mastering Twinks Online Classes (Part 1 & Part 2) are on sale for a very special combined price until August 24th.


Thanks for dropping by. xx

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer Sketching: Park Bench


My little 6yo has been in summer school for all of July.  My 9yo and I took lots of opportunity to get out and spend quality time together, and of course we usually had our sketchbook.  On this day we went to a park on the north side of the Cedar River in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  It was early morning and the park was completely deserted.  We say in the early morning sunshine and sketched.  This is a view out across the park toward the river. My straight lines are always a challenge but the moment is very much ingrained in my memory.

Enjoy your day and your summer sketching.

Thanks for dropping by. xx

Monday, August 3, 2015

Summer Sketching: Stone Cottage


Today I'm sharing another study done from a photo.  This is a simple stone structure.  I wanted to practice perspective my recent "Keeping A Watercolor Sketchbook" class.  I was kind of pleased at how it turned out.  I would like to have done it in the field.

I've been using a Stillman & Birn "Alpha" sketchbook lately.  It was not my first choice, I prefer the "Beta", "Epsilon" or "Zeta" books, but I had run out.  I must say, I've been really surprised by how lovely the slightly textured surface is, and how well it holds watercolor washes.  I think I will be using this kind of book again.

This sketch is watercolor and ink.

Enjoy your day. xx

Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Sketching: Rambling Garden


Quick sketching, although never as aesthetically pleasing as more considered sketching, is still vitally important to maintaining your habit and sharpening your observation skills.  This quick summer sketch was of the first lily to appear in my rose garden.  I just loved the contrast between the deep rich roses and the riotous, vibrant lily. I think it took me only 20 mins to capture this moment, but it was worth it.

This is watercolor in my Stillman & Birn "Alpha" Sketchbook.  And guess what...I've had a sneak peek of something new and exciting coming soon from Stillman & Birn.  I can't say anything yet, but stay tuned.


And don't forget, in celebration of my upcoming 50th birthday, the Mastering Twinks Online Classes (Part 1 & Part 2) are on sale for a very special combined price until August 24th.


For more information, click here.

Thanks for dropping by. xx

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Sketching: Chocolate Factory


Not every day offers opportunity for summer sketching.  There have been days when the either with weather has not cooperated or there is too much going on.  It's on these days that I find photos and use the opportunity to practice.

Architecture and perspective are not my strength.  I struggle drawing straight lines so I look for simple perspective images that are a little forgiving.  Like this inaccurate and incomplete sketch of the Ghirardelli factory in Europe.  If you know the factory, then you will see that this is inaccurate.  But it was fun nonetheless.

This is watercolor and ink in a Stillman & Birn "Alpha" sketchbook.

Have a wonderful day. xx

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Sketching: Rail Bridge


Iowa is a remarkable place!  Misunderstood and underestimated, like fine wine, she is an acquired taste.  I think the reputation of her winters dominates people understanding of Iowa, and that brutal reputation is well-deserved.  However, Iowa truly shines in the warmer months.

When I first came here more than 10 years ago I was rendered speechless by the intense, almost blinding green of the summer months.  But it is the evening twilight that is the hidden secret.  Still warm air that is literally glittering with the twinkle of lighten-bugs.  I stupidly thought for most of my life that a fire-fly was a mystical creature, much like unicorns.  Then one night I saw them for the first time and was simply gobsmacked by their beauty.  I can only say that they have to be seen to be believed.

Iowa also contains perhaps the cream of American's storybook scenes and beautiful bridges, (Think, "The Bridges of Madison County" and "Field of Dreams", yep, both Iowa).  Cedar Falls is no different.  The Cedar River runs right through the center of town and the many bridges that connect it's north shore to the south are begging for sketching.  This little sketch was done from behind the Ice House Museum, looking east toward the rail bridge,just below the weir. It is watercolor, watercolor pencil and white ink.

Thanks for stopping by. xx

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Sketching: Sweet Rose


If you've been following my blog for a while, then you'll no doubt know that I love to paint flowers.  In fact, they are my favorite subject to paint.  I often have to force myself to explore other subjects, just to broaden my skills and perspective, but I always come back to flowers.  And of all the flowers in the world, roses are my favorite.  Their complex form and beauty is breathtaking.  This little beauty bloomed beside my bird-bath in late June.  It was intense red-ish, orange-ish, pink-ish, almost glowing against the deep green leaves.

The roses in my garden have been extraordinary this year and I have many photos of them that will sustain my need for floral painting right through the brutal winter.  This was done in watercolor and watercolor pencil.

Don't forget, in celebration of my upcoming 50th birthday, the Mastering Twinks Online Classes (Part 1 & Part 2) are on sale for a very special combined price until August 24th.


Thanks for stopping by. xx

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Sketching: Rocky Outcrop


Yesterday in my "Watercolor Sketchbook" class we sketched and painted natural surfaces, with particular emphasis on rocks.  Rocks are remarkably forgiving in a sketchbook ad can make a scene very interesting when they are included.  This is one of the views of the ponds in the Cedar River Exchange Park where my class is being held.  I've had such a joyful time this summer, getting out and about and just sketching the moments and scenes I find myself in.  I guess that is the essence of keeping a watercolor sketchbook, or an artist's journal.

In just a few short weeks my family and I are heading off on a camping adventure.  We're going to make our way out the the Pacific Northwest where my daughter was born.  We'll be stopping at lots of wonderful national parks along the way, including "Mt Rushmore", "Devil's Tower", and "Yellowstone".  I am over the moon excited about sketching some of these places and adding to my legacy of illustrated and treasured memories.

Thanks for stopping by. xx

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Sketching: Goose Feather



The woodlands and parks around Cedar Falls/Waterloo in Iowa are a blaze with wildlife.  Particularly the Canada Geese who seem to stay for most of the year.  They are beautiful creatures, large and silky.  Right now there is an abundance of adolescent goslings bounding around and any of the views along the Cedar River contain a sweet little goose family meandering along with the current.

Sketching them is never easy, they simply won't sit still.  But this week in my "Watercolor Sketchbook" class we'll be attempting to sketch and paint them.  But for now, I'm settling for sketching the gorgeous feathers which are everywhere.  The downside to a gaggle of geese is the copious amounts of droppings, which makes for sitting in the grass rather difficult.  This feather was done in watercolor and watercolor pencil.

Thanks for stopping by. xx


Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Sketching: A Pool for the Pixies


Earlier in the summer we had a lot of rain, and one morning I wandered out into my garden, tea cup in hand and no shoes to be found.  I often do this in the early morning before everyone stirs.  Well, this particular morning I was amazed to see this huge and fabulous mushrooms sprouting up on the front lawn.  Their cups were upturned and each of them was filled with rainwater.  It looked so amazing, I swear if I didn't know better there would have been pixies running around having a pool party.  After I sketched one I tried to find out what type of mushroom it was, but for the life of me I couldn't find anything like it.  If you know what type of mushroom it is, please let me know. This sketch was done mostly in watercolor pencil with a splash of paint.



Don't forget that the Mastering Twinks Classes (Part 1 & Part 2) are on sale for a very special combined price until August 24th.




Enjoy your day and thanks for stopping by. xx

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Sketching: Pond & Pier


This week in my "Watercolor Sketchbook" class we painted water and trees.  The park that sits behind the boat-shed where we meet is truly gorgeous.  It sits along the Cedar River but also has several ponds.  So in preparation I thought I would share some of my practice done from some reference photos I found on the Internet.

Water is very unpredictable and leaves itself wide open for interpretation.  It's mood is determined by the sky above and the strength of the breeze.  Capturing the mood in water is always fun and much like humans, it's never what it seems.  This sketch is watercolor, watercolor pencil, and ink.

Thanks for stopping by. xx

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mastering Twinks Part 1 & 2 - Special 50th Birthday Price For A Short Time Only!


Several years ago I created a beautiful online class called Mastering Twinking h2O's

Twinkling h2O's are mica and crystal infused pots of watercolor made by ColourArte.  They are simply sublime and have been a major part of my art process for a long time now. 

Due to the huge popularity of this first class I went on to create a follow up class, Mastering Twinkling h2O's Part 2.



Part 1 is a glittering, shimmering discovery into the world of luminescent watercolors. The class consists of 5 jam-packed lessons that teaches you all about these beautiful paints, along with technique, pdf downloads, projects, exercises, and loads of high quality video. 



Part 2 takes your twinkling journey to whole new level .  In this beautiful 5 lesson class we explore a myriad of ways to get the most from Twinkling H2O's on different surfaces, with mixed media, and by expanding your watercolor skills.  

Both of these classes combined form the ultimate journey into luminescent watercolor technique and expression.  These classes will also help ramp up your skill through the many drawing lessons peppered throughout.





So, because I'm turning 50 next month I thought I'd share the celebration by offering these two extraordinary classes together at the drastically reduced price. 

For a limited time only you can purchase a "Ultimate Twinkling h2O Class Package" for only $165 for both!  Normally they are $135 each, but until my birthday on August 24th you can get both classes combined for only $165.

Plus, you get indefinite and ongoing access to the classes and all the materials. This means you can take your time, and come and go as often as you like, even redo the lessons and projects over and over again. Each lesson is jam-packed full of learning so there is no pressure to complete the classes within any prescribed time frame.  




And to top it all off, all registered participants get a ColourArte 15% Off Coupon when they register. This coupon can be used to buy ANY ColourArte products when used directly through the ColourArte website.  Perfect if you're new to Twinkling h2O's, because you can use your coupon to purchase any of the Dion Dior Twinkling H2O Color Packs put together especially for these classes. 

Over the years these classes have helped hundreds of artists find their inner sparkle, now it's your turn.  


This offer is only available until August 24th 2015.



To Register for this one time special offer, click the Buy Now button below.




Mastering Twinks Ultimate Class Collection
$165





Thanks for stopping by xx

Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer Sketching: Sprigs of Beauty


I have this wonderful set of friends who are all nature lovers.  Once a week we meet up on a Thursday evening and ride our bikes along the many miles of recreation trails in the Cedar Valley area.  It's ladies only--gentlemen by invitation--definitely no children!

Iowa has seen a very wet and humid summer so far and I have been amazed by the beauty of the nature foliage and wild flowers.  So I went out on the trail early and sketched this little beauty.  I also snapped some pics of this gorgeous plant.  The flowers were a little pinker than what I painted here, but I did this one some weeks ago when they were just appearing.  I did it very quickly because I wanted to capture them in the little time I had available.  Perhaps I'll use my photos as reference for a larger work one day.  Who knows?

Thanks for stopping by. xx

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Sketching: UNI Campus


As many of you know I have an Autistic son.  He's joyful, fun, and filled with love, but that doesn't mean as his primary carer he and I don't need a break from each other occasionally.  I have a lovely person who comes and spends time with him every now and again, and for that I am very grateful.  Thomas is high energy and needs a lot of love and focus, so it's important for me to take time out to spend with my 9yo daughter.



Over the summer months, Megan and I load up our bikes with sketching supplies and head out into the beautiful Cedar Falls area.  The University of Northern Iowa is a favorite sketching location of ours and we spend many joyful hours in each others company capturing the beauty of the campus gardens.  This sketch is the western corner of one of the many green-houses littered around the campus.  We liked the spot where we sat, so we sketched whatever was in our range of view.  It was a beautiful day, although a little breezy and that made for fast drying paint and fluttering pages...all part of the experience.

I try to do a lot of fun stuff with both my kids, but the quiet moments Megan and I share, sitting on little stools, sketching and painting our world is by far the most joyful.  We chat about amazing subjects and I am forever fascinated at the workings of her mind...or we sit in utter silence, with no need to interrupt the music of nature.  In-situ nature sketching is an experience not to be missed, so I encourage you to grab a sketchbook and get outside.

Thanks for stopping by. xx


Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer Sketching: Bleeding Hearts


Today I am sharing another of my spring sketches.  The first plant to bloom in our spring garden is always the "Bleeding Heart".  It is truly one of natures wonders as the little sacks inside each bloom are transparent and when caught by just the right light, glitter as if they are filled with diamonds.  They are one of my favorites and our bush seemed to bloom well into summer.  The late summer blooms will be showing themselves soon and it's always a great time for sketching.

Enjoy your day.  Hugs xx

Friday, July 3, 2015

Summer Sketching: Amethyst Beauty


On Mother's Day this year my children gave me this beautiful Clematis.  It's called "Amethyst Beauty", and it lives up to it's name, that's for sure.  We planted it by a fence where it can climb happily, but I fear it may be getting too much sun.  As the summer moves on, it seems to be wilting more and more.  Hopefully it will perk up next spring.  This page was done in watercolor and watercolor pencil.

Enjoy your weekend, and thanks for stopping by. xx

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Sketching: Always Pears


Welcome to July!

When I teach technique classes I usually always include a pear of some kind.  The reason for this is that pears are not only glorious subjects to paint, but they are easy and always work.  Students gain enormous confidence when they tackle a pear in the early part of their classes.  I particularly love painting pears on the branch and have many sketchbook pages filled with all kinds of them.  This was a quick, splashy rendering I did in one of my spring classes.  It's watercolor and ink.  Sometimes, the quick splashy pages are the most fun.

Thanks for stopping by. xx