Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Sketching: Yellow Daisies


My daughter's favorite color is yellow, so in spring when she got to choose what flowers she wanted to plant in her pot, of course she chose yellow daisies.  The pot is her's to care for and she has done a great job watering it.    She placed them outside the front door and they have bloomed continually for months.

But the pot is not entirely yellow, she planted some purple daisies as well and it is wonderful to see them alternate their blooms.  I sketched this picture when the pot was only blooming yellow.  It is a quick sketch done in watercolor and watercolor pencil, and I enjoyed the moment sitting on the front steps creating it.  I remember everything about that moment...the sounds, the smells, the light, and the activity going on around me.  That's what keeping a sketchbook does for you...it enhances your memories and calms your mind so you can take it all in.

Have a great Monday and thanks for stopping by. xx

Friday, June 26, 2015

"Watercolor Pencils" Online Class - Sale Ends June 30th


My online class "Watercolor Pencils" has been hugely popular, and I've loved sharing the joys of these humble, and vastly misunderstood art tools with hundreds of participants.  There are so many different ways to use watercolor pencils, either on their own or coupled with other mediums.  They're versatile, effective and very simple to grasp.


In this huge, six lesson on-line, self-paced class I take you through the fundamentals of sketching and painting with watercolor pencils.  We cover strokes, diluting, layering, and shading, amongst other things.  Each lesson contains around 15 videos, covering theory, technique, sketching lessons, projects, and inspiration. It has been enjoyed by both beginners, and those who have more advanced skills who have wanted to master the use of watercolor pencils.

"Cardinal" sketched and painted in watercolor pencil

I never go anywhere without a set in my travel art kit.  So to celebrate the northern hemisphere summer I'm offering this class at a special discount price until the end of June.  Register now to receive this self-paced class for only $95 instead of the usual $135.  So if you've been thinking about learning more about these tools, along with wanting to improve your technique, then now is the time.  

"Songbird" painted in watercolor pencil


The sale ends on JUNE 30, 2015. To learn more about this class, or to register, click here.  But hurry, you have only a few days left before the price goes back up.

Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for stopping by. xx

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Sketching: The Boathouse


Yesterday was the first session of my live summer class, "Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook".  It was truly delightful and I am once again blessed with some amazing people with whom to share the summer.

In preparation for this class, I spent some time at the Cedar River Park where the Boathouse is located during  early spring.  This is the venue for our class over the summer.  This is a quick sketch I did some time ago, and although the perspective is a little off, and the tree is a little bare, it captures the essence of this beautiful venue.

The front of the building facing the river is all glass and there is a balcony on which we can sit the runs the full length of the building. Behind it is a pond and a vast expanse of natural habitat which is teaming with wildlife.  We may even get to capture some in our sketchbooks if it's quiet enough.

This class runs right through summer and I'll be sure to keep you posted of our progress.

Have a great day, and thanks for stopping by. xx

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Sketching: Cedar River


Although I've been off-line for most of this year, I have been concentrating on teaching live classes at the Waterloo Center for the Arts in Iowa.  I've had quite the full schedule during spring with "Intro to Watercolor", and "Painting Watercolor Flowers in Spring".

This week sees the beginning of my summer session, and on Tuesday June 23rd, I'll be teaching a brand new class called "Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook". This is the class I've always wanted to teach and I'm so excited.  The Waterloo Center for the Arts has a beautiful Boathouse facility right on the banks of the Cedar River.  It was completely destroyed in the floods of 2008 and has since be rebuilt to perfection.

The Boathouse is situated within a huge park and we'll be taking full advantage of our surroundings.  It is a six week class and I'll be covering everything from materials and techniques, to watercolor sketching the world around us.  We'll be out and about in the park every evening, learning how to paint rocks, trees, buildings, landscape vistas, and random objects.

My intent is to demystify the art of keeping a sketchbook journal and bring my students into a life-long love of gentle watercolor sketching.  If you're in the Cedar Valley area over summer, why don't you consider joining me.  You can sign up by calling the Waterloo Center for the Arts on (319) 291-4490, or by filling out the online registration form and email directly to them...click here.  And if you do sign up and don't have time to get supplies, let me know and I can put a kit together for you at low cost.

Thanks for stopping by. xx

Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer Sketching: Pine Cones


Here's a sketchbook page I did in march when the snow had finally melted and the sleeping pinecones were everywhere.  It was the first beautiful day and I remember we were sitting outside after a long winter.  My husband was raking leaves and the kids were playing.  I sat on the deck and sketched these pinecones that my son kept delivering to me.

It was fun and peaceful and holds sharp in my memory every time I look at this page.  Although I don't get very much time to sketch on location, especially with young children in time, I do advocate it as the most powerful way to experience the world around you.  Nothing enhances observation of memory recall that sitting in situ putting brush to paper.

Sketching from photographs is fine, and is something I do lot of in the late evenings, but if there is ever an opportunity for me to sketch in the field...that's where you'll find me.

Hopefully you can get out an about with your sketchbook this weekend.

And happy birthday to my brother Shaun.  Have a great weekend.

Thanks for dropping by. xx

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Sketching: Roses Galore


When we moved into the home in which we are living, the garden was rambling but sadly neglected.  During our first spring, we set to cutting back and cleaning up, and during this we discovered no less than 12 rose bushes hidden beneath the scrub.

Roses just happen to be my all time favorite flower, and when I lived in Australia I had a house with over 30 bushes which were all well love and beautifully abundant. I don't know a lot about Roses, but I do know that they are a lot more 'hardy' than I gave them credit for.

The winter here in the midwest is brutal, so without any guidance, I cut them back severely, covered them with layers of mulched autumn leaves and hoped like crazy they would survive the extreme cold.

That was two seasons ago, and this year I am astounded by the health and beauty of the bushes. There is a mix of miniature and regular roses, but no standards, and the blooms on the regular bushes are glorious to say the least.  One of these is this minimalist pink/purple bloom that is so elegant that I decided to sketch a cluster of them.

I actually painted this page while thinking about my sister who was celebrating her birthday Down Under last week.  So this is for her.  It's done using Sennelier L'Aquarelle in a Stillman & Birn "Alpha" Series Sketchbook.

Enjoy your day, and thanks for stopping by. xx

Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Sketching


Having the children home on summer vacation means there is little to no time to myself.  But the consolation at this time of the year is the rising sun at around 5:30am.  I've always been an early riser and if I'm not woken up by my 5yo, I'll sneak out of bed and spend some quiet time alone in my studio.  A luxury I rarely get these days.

I start my day by putting the kettle on, throwing open the windows and letting the cool of the early morning spill into the room. Often, I'll take my cup of tea and walk around the garden in bare feet.  I usually delight in some new bloom that has shown itself, or examine the condition of my rose buds to see if the critters have made a meal of them. Then I make my way into the studio and begin to sketch.  There is so much inspiration that I find it hard to know where to begin, but I use this time for quiet meditation, so the chaos of choice doesn't last long.

This beautiful little yellow Lily is the first of its kind this season, and I found her nestled amongst the pink roses.  There are plenty of buds around her, so it won't be long before yellow overtakes pink. This sketchbook page was done using Sennelier L'Aquarelle Watercolour in a Stillman & Birn "Alpha" Series Sketchbook. It was done wet on damp, with a scribble of Faber-Castell "Albrecht Durer" Watercolor Pencil for detail.

Enjoy your day, and thanks for dropping by. xx




Friday, June 12, 2015

Summer Sketching: Rainy Day Sketching


It's a rainy day and my well laid plans for getting out and sketching today have fizzled.

I don't mind the rain, or even the intense heat when I'm able to sit under an umbrella or in the shade of a tree and sketch quietly, but mostly I have children in tow, so my sketching adventures have to be modified to playgrounds, picnics, or library windows and such.

I always take a camera, especially when I'm with kids, because I'm always seeing things that under any other circumstances I would sit and sketch right there, but when you're not alone and the people you're with don't want to sit still and watch you sketch, then a photo is necessary.

So on days like today, I plow through my photos and choose scenes to sketch like this little window scene I photograph many years ago on my global travels. It was a quick sketch done in watercolor and ink.

Sketching from a photo doesn't have quite the same powerful recall as taking the time to capture a moment in situ, but it works nonetheless.

Today is one of those rainy days where I'll be looking through photos in between games of scrabble and the like!

Make the most of every moment by making art a part of it.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend. xx

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sketching Spring


Well, it seems I must apologize again for my long absence once again.  It has been a very busy year and as my children grow older, so does their need of my focus and attention.   That doesn't mean I have been absent from art, I have withdrawn from my public blogging and sharing somewhat to become an introverted learner.  Plus, I have been busy teaching live classes, a pursuit that I hope to do much more of.

Art is a lifetime's learning and I have found that I spiral through different stages, different inspirations, and different motivations, and as I pass through these, I feel the need to withdraw and paint for my own sake. Lately, I've been exploring technique and style, and focusing in on subjects that I connect to more.

But I have plenty of sketchbooks to share, and hopefully I can share a simple picture of what I've been doing more regularly with you.  Such as this rose, which I painted from my summer garden.  I've been tending my rose bushes, which I inherited when I moved into this house, and the past two seasons are beginning to pay off.  Two of my bushes have burst into bloom and they are stunning indeed.

This is done using Sennelier Watercolors in a Stillman & Birn "Alpha" Series Sketchbook.  The Alpha is a new thing for me and I've really been enjoying it.

Enjoy your day, and thanks for dropping by.  xx