Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ocean Breeze, Three Sailboats in Watercolor

Time to think SUMMER. I created this painting, Ocean Breeze, for a gentleman who lives in Port Huron. He actually took the reference photo for this piece and he knows the three boats. I used lots of light value glazes on the boats and water to get the effects you see here. To see a larger image of this painting you can visit my website:
Limited edition prints are still available.

Classes for this six week session are winding down and the new series of classes is about to begin. To learn more about my classes visit my website and click on the Classes link.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Self Portrait with Harley

This was such a fun piece to paint! I created it a couple of years ago from reference photos taken in a parking lot during one of our art shows. We were in Lexington, Michigan at a show, and our booth backed up to the parking lot. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day and someone parked this immaculate, shiny Harley right behind us. I really love to paint reflective surfaces so I ran out with my camera to take a bunch of reference photos. When I came back to my studio I noticed my reflection in the chrome of all the photos. I didn't want to paint the reflection literally (with the camera) so I tweaked the image a little. I told my husband that this is the only picture we will ever have of me as a tall, thin woman. In person I am only four feet, ten inches tall! This painting won an award at a show a couple of years back in Florida. It is still available as are limited edition prints.

Here is a close up of the area with my reflection in case you had a difficult time seeing it!
If you would like to see more of my work visit my online gallery at:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Amish Shed Watercolor Painting

This is a painting that I did in 2006 for a couple in the Detroit Metro area. I actually painted several paintings of their home and the surrounding gardens. This small piece, only 13.5" x 9.5", was my favorite of the entire series. This shed was so charming! The homeowner told me that she ordered it from an Amish builder in Pennsylvania and had it shipped to Michigan on a truck! The challenging area for me was the glass top; I really wanted to get the reflections right. I enjoyed painting the pine trees also. Of course, trees are usually fun for me since most of my work is considered landscape painting. You can see a larger image of this on my website at:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Painting Foliage on a Tree

I really enjoy landscape painting and I have learned a few little tricks to create the illusion of a "real" tree. Most of the time, in watercolor, we paint from light to dark. So the first thing I do is look at the lightest values of the foliage I want to depict. With a quick stroke (I call this a brush dance) of my brush, which is held almost straight up and down, I let the tip of the brush dance lightly in several directions around the area that needs the color.
After the first application I dry the paper completely. Then I apply the next value in the same manner. Small dabs of transparent, wet paint. I try to pay attention to add this next value only where I see it in my reference photo or the tree I am looking at if I am painting outdoors.

I continue on working with value changes, adding additional colors to develop the shadow areas. Notice that the leaves on a tree come from the branches only - not the trunk. Each clump has a shape, and each shape has a light side and a shadow side. The light side will show more of the lighter values, and the shadow side will show more of the darker values. Also, there will be more value contrast (wider range of lights and darks) on a tree that is residing in a very sunny landscape. If the day is overcast, the value range will not be as drastic.
After I have painted in most of the foliage, I then, sparingly, add the trunk and branches. I try hard to keep this to a minimum so the tree looks natural.
The painting below is a piece I created last year of a cottage in Petoskey, Michigan. Notice the light and dark values in the foliage of the trees. Random strokes and high contrast help to make the illusion of realistic trees. I believe that observation is 90% of creating a piece like this. The other 10% consists of lots of planning and a little painting. The last image at bottom is a detail of the "Petoskey Cottage" painting.

I have on-going classes and workshops held in Oxford, Michigan. If you are interested in classes or in having a Garden Portrait done, please visit my website:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I have been spending some time in my garden these days enjoying the daffodils and digging in the dirt! This is one of my favorite times of the year as everything here in Michigan begins to turn green, and yellow and pink and lavender, and ... you get the idea. I just love to watch things grow in my garden. The deer have eaten lots more tops of things than usual. I'm not sure if my tulips will survive their trimmings, but the deer don't like the daffodils, so they are cheerily popping up everywhere.
This flower bed runs across the front of our property along the road. Every year I put in more bulbs, whether they are on sale, given to me as gifts, or traded for other things. Each year the color gets "bigger". We are also salvaging materials for a "new" potting shed. We now have several old wood windows, some cement block and a few other items. As we enlarge the collection of salvaged building materials we will design and build the shed. My husband humors me and we enjoy the process together. I hope we can start the building sometime this summer. Right now I am thrilled that my daffodils and hyacinths are blooming and that the weather has been very nice.
Spring is when gardening Michiganders come back to life! It is also the time when calls for commission work start coming in. It's a great time to get on my Garden Portrait schedule. I can usually begin visiting gardens and taking reference photos in mid-June. Last year the schedule was pretty full and I wasn't able to get to the last few paintings until February of this year. If you are interested in having a Garden Portrait done, contact me soon, so you can get on the calendar early. I work on the paintings in order of the dates I take the reference photos. It can take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks to complete a painting. So, if this is your year for a Garden Portrait call soon! For more details visit my website:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Franklin Garden Walk Painting From 2006

This painting, "The Garden at Hickory Hill" was painted during the Franklin Garden Walk in 2006. This garden was amazing and beautiful. I sat at one end of the Rose Garden at Hickory Hill, facing the house. In every direction I looked was a beautiful view! I really like to paint structures in the garden, so I chose the view with the house. I worked on this image all day. I took some reference photos to help me later when I completed the piece in my studio.
I will be painting in the Franklin Garden Walk again this year on June 11th. I think this particular garden tour is one of the best in Michigan. If you love gardens you really will want to tour here in June! This tour is very well organized and the garden club members host a salad luncheon in the middle of the day, which is also wonderful.
Most of the gardens will host artists, myself included, during the tour. What fun for visitors to see these amazing gardens and enjoy a wide variety of artists using lots of different styles and mediums! Visit my Events page on my website soon for more details!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Red Lilies in Watercolor

I love to learn and experiment with new techniques. This painting, Red Lilies, was developed by masking the entire area of flowers and foreground leaves, then pouring paint over the paper to develop the soft background textures. I used a little brushwork once the background was nearly dry. After thoroughly drying the background, I removed the masking and painted in many layers of texture and color onto the flowers. This painting won a purchase award at an exhibition last year. The print has been a favorite at art shows.
My art show season begins on Mother's Day weekend. You can see my latest work at the Birmingham Fine Art Festival May 10 - 11, at Shain Park in downtown Birmingham. Stop by and say hello if you are in the area!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Apple Blossom Workshop

On Saturday I held a workshop at my home studio. We painted some apple blossoms. We started with watercolor pencils to draw in the delicate reflected lights and shadows of the blossoms and some of the leaves. Then, we used the paints from our palettes to work in a wet-in-wet background and to flesh out the other areas of the painting.
My next workshop will be on June 7th. We will be painting pets from my photo references or from ones the students bring in. For more information on my classes, please visit my website:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Barn Roof From Wednesday Night Class

My Wednesday night group worked on a barn roof with a cupula last week. We experimented with using various washes in different stages of wetness. Our first wash was very wet-in-wet. Then we moved to damp paper and thicker paints until we used relatively dense paint on dry paper. We also used opposite colors for the shadow areas to build the contrast and values. This was a fun project and how amazingly different each piece looks! This was a great way to get those who work with rather dry pigment to use more water, and those who work very wet to experiment more with color variations. Great job everyone!
To learn more about my classes visit my website:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Proof of Spring in My Garden

Here is proof! Spring is working hard to make an appearance in my yard. I have a row of trees along the front of the property here. Under the trees I have planted hundreds of bulbs. Some have come to me as gifts from family members and friends, some I have purchased on sale at the end of the season or through a special offer from a bulb catalog. Each year the collection grows and I look forward to April to see which little faces pop up first! Here the crocus are coming up. There were quite a few today so I took some photos. The photos came out great in the afternoon sun, so I may use these as references for future paintings. This is probably my favorite time of year, or at least it seems that way after we experience a tough winter like this one was. I just love to see everything budding, developing color and coming back to life! Oh, happy spring!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Michigan Watercolor Society Exhibition

What a great weekend! I just got back from the 61st Annual Michigan Watercolor Society Exhibition. It really is a beautiful show which will be at the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Michigan through July 6, 2008. From Jackson 30 of the 70 paintings will be traveling to The Alfred Berkowitz Gallery in Dearborn August 4 - 28; The Art Center Traverse City, September 2 - 26; The Arts and Science Building, October 3 - 31; Saugatuck Center for the Arts, November 7 - December 29; and finally to the Oakland County Galleria, January 9 - February 19. More details will be on my website soon. Here I am, at right, with my piece from the show.

Left, Betty Pruden receives her award from MWCS President Lori Zurvalec, center, and me.

I met the juror, Ellen Murray Meissinger and enjoyed visiting her workshop on Saturday as well as her lecture on Sunday. The workshop participants explored painting without a brush and created several different experimental pieces. During her lecture, Ellen talked about her influences, inspirations, subject matter and techniques. Ellen's work can be seen at her website (this is a link to one of my favorite pages):

Photo at right is of Juror, Ellen Murray, award winner Darcy Scott, and award winner Charmaine Kaptur. If you get a chance to see the show at one of the venues, I guarantee it will be worth your time!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Michigan Watercolor Society Exhibition

This weekend I am off to The Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Michigan for the Michigan Watercolor Society Exhibition. The image at right, 1931 Ford, was accepted into the show by the juror, Ellen Murray. Awards will be announced at the opening reception on Sunday.
As Awards Chairperson for the society I have handled keeping track of the donations for awards (a BIG job!). I am excited to see which of the 70 wonderful pieces will receive awards. If you are in the area, please stop by, see the show and say hello! The artwork entered this year is outstanding.
Here is the information regarding the weekend:

61 Annual Michigan Water Color Society Exhibition, 2008
April 6 - July 6, 2008
Ella Sharp Museum of Art & History
3225 4th Street
Jackson, Michigan 49203
Phone: (517) 787-2320
Museum open Tues.-Fri. 10am-4pm; Sat. & Sun. 11am-4pm.
April 6th
Lecture by Juror Ellen Murray: 1-2pm
61st Annual MWCS Exhibition Opening Reception 2-4pm
To learn more about the Michigan Watercolor Society go to:
To see more of my artwork go to:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Arches and Geraniums in Friday Class

My Friday Drop-In class is really fun! Each week I bring in either a photo reference and prepared drawing or a still life set up and we work through the painting, step-by-step, together. This past week we completed our Arches and Geraniums painting. Here are three of my students with their work. I am amazed at the talent that walks into class. I love seeing the student's own styles develop and shine as we all work together. Even though we are doing the same image from the same reference and drawing, each painting is lovely and reflects the personality and style of the one who painted it. Other students bring in their own projects that they are working on and I assist them where they need help. It's a great opportunity to see what others are doing and to enjoy the camaraderie of other painters!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another Vision of Suzanne's Garden

My friend Suzanne has a beautiful garden that has been an inspiration for many paintings in the past few years. I painted this one from a scene she had set up with some of her plants and old tea pots. My favorite part of this painting was working on the subtle little washes that created the shadows on the pottery. I glazed several layers of thin paint in various pigments to create the soft colors and shadows. I also liked the contrast of the light pottery on the right with the dark background fence. Thanks, Suzanne, for another inspiring view! The original to this painting is still available. You can see a larger view on my website at