Celebration Day!

After a lack-luster Christmas season art wise, January has been AMAZING! I credit a lot of the success to Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. Above is a collage of the paintings and pieces of artwork that I made during January 1-30. Nine of them sold. Below is a collage with the sold pieces indicated by a red dot. Thank you so much for the support and encouragement if you purchased any of them.

My original plan was to do ALL 4" X 6" watercolors. I did not do that, but I did do quite a few of those and decide to make a collage of just those to see if I have "a style" in the smaller format.

My watercolors are usually large; I tended to paint more realistically in a smaller format. I think that the smaller watercolors have traits in common, but are not as distinctive. I have a few favorites though. The earlier ones are on display at Stifel & Capra in Fall Church, VA. I will be framing several of the others for shows around town.

Another exciting thing that happened in January is that I started painting in alcohol inks on yupo. Both the medium and the surface are new to me. What fun! What a struggle! I've by no means conquered it or explored its possibilities!

I hope your January was one to be proud of. See you in February!


Day 30 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Jazz Man
4" X 6"

Day 30! I've done it! Supposedly, tomorrow I will have a collage/composite of all my photos.

Today's painting is from a photograph that I took of a singer at the Monterey Jazz Festival. I decided to keep it on the abstract side and I like the play of color and light vs. dark. I rarely paint figurative pieces and doubt that I would do a large painting of this subject, but it made a good subject for a small painting in the challenge. That has been the case for many of my choices for painting this month...photos out of my wheelhouse, but that I liked and wanted to pursue. I hope that you have enjoyed them!


Day 29 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Silent Neighbor
4" X 6"

This is the portrait of our neighborhood rabbit. I don't know where he sleeps, but it must be in our front yard. (It cannot be the back yard, because of our two dogs.) Even this morning, this bunny left tracks through our inch of snow! I really like seeing rabbits. The main thing I notice when I see them is that they are so quiet. Tentative and quiet...definitely not my spirit animal.

I enjoyed doing a watercolor today. I guess I'm ending the challenge how I began it. I am not sad that it is over, but I'm certainly glad to have participated, and unless something else comes up, I will likely do it again in September. That is not to say that these small watercolors may appear from time to time, but not on a daily basis. Thanks for joining me on this journey! I'm off to sketch tomorrow's composition. See you then.


Day 28 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Perfect June Day
Alcohol Ink on Yupo
5" X 7"
$40 SOLD

This started out as a very simple landscape and I was concentrating on the clouds. Is it a lake? Is it a meadow? Both? You decide. I do like the sky and I like the way the clouds are casting shadows on the ground/water.

Day 27 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Crossing The Reef
Alcohol Inks on Yupo
5" X 7"
$40 SOLD

Yesterday, I felt like doing some simple imaginary landscapes. This one made me think of being out on a ship or boat and looking at the horizon. It is always so beautiful and serene, especially when the depth varies and you get different colors of the water, as in this painting.


What I've Learned (while doing the 30 in 30 Challenge)

I'm really proud of my perseverance in the 30 by 30 Challenge, but the commitment has been draining some days.

1. Even a very small painting can eat up half of my day.

2. I can still manage my life (most days) even if I spend a couple hours painting. I had to give up Papa Pear Saga and such to do it. It is worth it.

3. Posting every day (to my blog and my FB art page) has helped me to network and make new friends in the online art world.

4. Apparently, I get bored quickly. I was planning to do a watercolor 4" X 6" piece EVERY day, but on Day 3, I already wanted to do something different (a new medium = alcohol inks) and in the third week, I was beginning to panic about other projects I wanted to work on and hadn't found the time to do because all my creative energy was going into the 30 in 30. So, I don't have thirty paintings all the same size and style. And, that's okay!

5. I was reminded how much I do not like to draw. That might be the reason the ink on yupo is appealing. I can see through it to sketch outlines. I love to paint and the drawing just slows me down.

6. Movies with subtitles (i.e.-Kite Runner) are not good for painting entertainment. Light and funny movies can be (Guilt Trip and What To Expect When You're Expecting). Audiobooks and podcasts (Artists Helping Artists and Satellite Sisters!) are still the best!

7. Snow days (no school related sports/theater/etc.) make great days for just staying home and painting all day (in pajamas)...but result in lots (LOTS) of cups and dishes. Plus, the dogs just love everyone being home.

8. I really need to purge some photos from my "potential artwork" folder. I am never going to paint some of that stuff!

9. Artists are some of the nicest and most encouraging people!

10. I can't wait until February, but by September, I'll be ready to do this again!

BTW, I have sold seven pieces (with four days to go), so approximately 25%!

Day 26 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Lone Gull
Alcohol Ink on Yupo
4" X 6"

I guess I take a lot of bird photos since I've painted three in 26 days. Don't tell my children, but I still like seagulls. I know most people don't. They are "rats with wings" in some situations. In California, the school lunch tables were outside and they would hang out and steal food straight off the kids' tables if you didn't pay attention the whole time. For this reason, my children have no love for them. I just wish I had captured that in photos!

I remember watching them at the beach and thinking how cool it would be to be able to fly like they do. They are very graceful in the air. We also had some metal seagulls hanging on the wall of our beach house porch. I remember looking at them and putting them in order of which wing positions I preferred. Weird, yes, but I hated the naps we were supposed to take after lunch and found many ways to avoid them.


Day 25 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Out the Window
Alcohol Ink on Yupo
4" X 6"

This sweet mother bird built her nest down in our window boxes. I took this photo looking out my bedroom window and back into the living room window. (See the photo I was working from below.

I'm not sure what kind of bird she is. I originally thought she was a junco; now, I'm not sure. See the pictures below and give me your opinion. I am definitely not good at identification.

Dark-eyed Junco

 Western Bluebird

I had always wanted a house with window boxes and they did look lovely, but had to be watered A LOT. I'm still glad we filled them and enjoyed them while we were there. I wonder if the next renters kept them alive. I was planning to post a picture of the house with the overflowing planters, but I can't find a photo. I sure hope I have one somewhere!


Day 24 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Pacific Daydreams
Alcohol Ink on Yupo
4" X 6"

This morning, I perused my thousands of photos looking for inspiring images to get me through the last week of the Thirty in Thirty Challenge. I have about 500 "art photos" from our ten months in Carmel, CA. We lived downtown near Dolores and 10th, five blocks uphill from the beach. It is a truly beautiful area and I miss being able to walk to all of my favorite spots there. It was too cold for this Southern girl; I wouldn't want to live there permanently, but....I daydream and look at my photos often.

This particular spot was a favorite of mine. It was almost as far toward Pebble Beach as I could walk on Carmel Beach. The rock I was standing on when I took the photo is covered in green mossy, seaweed stuff. If you tread carefully up and over it, there is one more tiny bit of beach. Sometimes, I would find small bits of sea glass there...and moonstones...and coral...and pottery. Yes, I have about ten pounds of stuff from all my walks. I was a little obsessed and I am not recovered, just removed from the trigger, lol. Here is the result of one day's walk.

 Enjoy the painting and your own daydreaming; it is a worthwhile pastime.


Day 23 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Destin Harbor
12" X 12"

This painting is of one of my favorite places, Destin, Florida. We had a house on the harbor when I was a child. Of course, in the mid-70's Destin was a sleepy fishing village. I have amazing memories of summers there crabbing and learning to waterski in the harbor. Things are different now. Most, if not all of the harbor is a no wake zone now. Traffic is crazy. There are amazing restaurants and boutiques. It is still a great place to vacation, but for different reasons. The beaches in Destin are still as pretty as any in the world; the water is emerald green and the sand as white as sugar. The harbor area has gone through a transformation in the last few years as well. A boardwalk has recently been put in. I have not been there since it was built, but I like the idea of it. The photo that I used as a reference for this painting was posted by the Destin Harbor Boardwalk Facebook page. I asked if I could paint it and they said I could as long as I sent them a copy of it.


Day 22 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

In Cobalt
Alcohol Ink on Yupo
4" X 6"
$40 SOLD

When I got my alcohol inks, it dawned on me that I had no idea how I was supposed to use them. I had first seen them on my internet friend's blog. She directed me to Karen Walker Art, where I saw examples of what finished work could look like. I searched for YouTube videos, like the new one made by my friend Lillian and there are a some that help. I will say that if you are a control freak, this medium may not be for you!

Today's painting was for a peacock video that Karen Walker is putting together. I'll post the finished product down the road when it is completed. I sure have enjoyed seeing all the artists peacocks on the alcohol ink Facebook group. If you paint with this medium, you should request to join.


Day 21 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Snow Day
Alcohol Inks on Yupo
4" X 6"
$40 SOLD

Here I am, doing a painting a day for no discernable reason, with two shows quickly approaching, and I decide to visit the Daily Paintworks website, where my friend Patti (also a 30 in 30 participant) had posted a challenge. I decided that I just had to paint her cat, Max. I'm not sure that I stayed within the spirit of the challenge, to stay true to the values, but I did have fun. In fact, perhaps you may want to paint him too! I was happy to discover that I did not have to "join" to participate in the challenge. Enjoy!


Day 20 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Mixed Media
11" X 14"

Today, I finished my second quail, this time a majestic quail. I have to say that the top knot is what makes the California quail so appealing. I am not sure whether it imparts royalty or is a little bit silly, but it certainly makes me love them.

The palette used in "Sentinel" is a contemporary blend of neutrals and a blue-green. I find it soothing. I had a bit of a break-through when I wanted to add "something" to the upper third where it was uninteresting. I didn't want a big focal point and everything I tried drew too much attention. Then, the lightbulb lit up and I thought, "maybe the alcohol ink can tint the rice paper a color very similar to the area I want to change." Voilà!


Day 19 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Queen of the Covey
Mixed Media
10" X 14"

The timing of the 30 in 30 Challenge, might not have been optimal and it took me a few weeks to realize that. Although I really enjoyed painting the 4" X 6" watercolors, I am giving up my spot at a community printmaking studio at the end of the month and need to finish several mixed media prints before my access to the press disappears. I spent two days last week in the printmaking studio working on several new pieces, one of which, "Wild Marsh," will be an exhibit next month at Glen Echo Park. The other main objective was to finish a series of California quail mixed media pieces that I started last fall. "Queen of the Covey" is the first of three prints featuring this intriguing bird. All three include watercolored etchings and collage on a monotype print. It was really rewarding today to see the first of these works completed. I really wanted them to turn out well, so I've been dragging my feet for fear of messing them up. I was so excited about the monotypes on Friday that I was inspired to get them done. Hopefully, the other two will be finished in the days to come, but I do have to do a bunch of framing for the Collective Ink Printmakers exhibit.


Day 18 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Three Butterflies
Mixed Media
4" X 6"

For today's "painting," I finally painted this sweet little butterfly. It has been a project that I have been putting off for a few months now. It is part of a monotype diptych that I did a long time ago with ginko leaves that I trimmed into butterflies. See it below.

Although I liked this arrangement pretty well, the left side just seemed so much "less finished" than the right side. Below is the detail of what I painted today. I think it balanced things out quite a bit. I think I will frame them separately this time...and hang them one over the other. Enjoy!

Detail of Three Butterflies


Day 17 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Kelso & Midgee
11" X 14"

Today I started an alcohol ink painting of two cats that belong to a friend. For the first time, I applied masking fluid to my drawing and started dripping and smearing, lol. I've learned a few things: fingerprints show, the ink covers the masking fluid until it is hard to differentiate from the ink lines, making stripes with pooling colors is near impossible.

This piece isn't complete, but I have bigger fish to fry today, so I'm off to the studio to work on some monotypes and mixed media pieces. Perhaps I will work back into this later.

Note: If you think, the larger cat only has three legs, you would be correct. He DOES only have three legs in real life. ;)


Last night, I decided to rework my ink painting. I think I captured the details of the cats much better, even if I lost the fresh white outlines. They served their purpose keeping the background and the cats somewhat separate early in the process. I fixed some areas where the shapes were wrong. I didn't think I would be able to make the ink stripe, but I think that worked out pretty well on both the kitten (Midgee) and the larger cat (Kelso).

I started thinking that perhaps what bothers me about the painting isn't the "painting" at all, but the composition. What do YOU think? Here is a slightly rotated/cropped version.


Day 16 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Time for Tea
Mixed Media
4" X 7"

If my daughter sees this, she will likely call me a cheater, since I didn't begin this piece of artwork today, but I did finish it up today, so I am going to count it. "Time for Tea" contains many elements and layers. The spoon and the blue floral at the top are watercolor monotype elements. I constructed the tea bag out of several layers of paper and used the actual string, staples and little tag/label. The square is part of a watercolor that I decided would be better served in parts. Behind the spoon is a piece of an aquatint etching. I also see some papers I purchased and some papers some friends and I dyed and embellished.

Inspiration for this piece comes mainly from my print studio friends. Printing there requires a tea time to catch up and I greatly enjoy that. I am currently planning a show with these wonderful ladies, called Collective Ink Printmakers. That said, I am off to the print studio. Enjoy today's 30 in 30 here and on Leslie Saeta's blog.

Days 14 and 15 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Border Riot
4" X 6"

So...tonight I am attempting to place catch up on the artwork front. While my teen daughter was in a voice lesson, I sketched the image above of zinnias from Photostream on my iPhone. Thank goodness for technology. It isn't my best work ever, but I got a new book on painting flowers in watercolor last weekend, so I wanted to do another flower painting. I didn't really follow any of what the book recommended except it talked about petals reflecting the sky, so I did add a little blue to some of the petals, which I really like. I was also a little more aware of the fact that flowers are three dimensional. I got a little bit bored with it at the end and started abstracting the background shapes, which I also like.

Yellow Belly
4" X 6"

After I finished my flowers, I decided to finish one of my etched pieces. You would have to look REALLY closely at the turtle, but the line drawing he consists of is an etching on a piece of rice paper. I then gesso the back of the paper and watercolor the front. From there, I did things slightly differently than my normal mixed media process. I knew I wanted to include the turtle in some collage, but I feared that the watercolor would run when I applied matte medium, so for the first time, I sprayed the front of the turtle with varnish and let it dry before proceeding. I also applied him to a 300# scrap of watercolor paper instead of the printmaking paper that I normally use. (It was really wonderful to avoid the warping of paper!) I think he turned out well; I love lime green and bright blue together.


Day 13 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Crisp & Tart
4" X 6"

Today was not a normal day around here. I wasn't able to paint "first thing" as I've been doing most days. Several exciting art developments happened around here later in the day, which occupied the time I thought I would be painting. Needless to say, my 10pm post last night is being outdone by my 11:45pm post tonight. Leslie Saeta may have even posted tomorrow's painting by now.

"Crisp and Tart" is a watercolor based on a photo I took last week in California. After breakfast last Monday, I sat with my husband and son by the hotel pool while all our friends and neighbors in Virginia waited for the polar vortex to roll in. Next to the pool was a large metal bowl of Granny Smith apples. As we left the pool area, I put one in my purse. It came back to Virginia. I don't think anyone has eaten it yet. I don't do a lot of fruit or still-life paintings. I like the way the bowl turned out and there are details of the apples that I feel good about. I have plenty of additional apple photos from apple picking last fall, so if you like it, say so. I might paint more.


Day 12 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

It is almost 10pm and I am just now writing the post about my "Painting of the Day." I never thought the most difficult day to find painting time would be on the weekend, but that is exactly true around here. I am not a morning person and though I got up earlier than usual, a sketch was all I got done before leaving for church:

So, fast forward through a Beth Moore video lesson, a great worship service, lunch with son while daughter at youth choir, explain chores, drop off kids, art meeting, cook dinner... Then, paint! Better late than never.
Birdhouse in My Soul
4" X 6"


Day 11 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Balloons Aloft
4" X 6"

I so enjoyed painting balloons yesterday, that I decided to do it again. I decided to "zoom in" just a bit so that the shapes would be a tiny bit bigger.

What have I learned so far during the 30 by 30 Challenge? I've learned that one of my rosy reds will bleed into other colors, even after it has dried. I suspect that I know which one it is and it will soon be replaced! After listening to Carrie Waller on the Artists Helping Artists podcast, I decided to buy the quinacridone colors before they are gone; now, I have a good excuse! The timing couldn't be better because about a week ago, I splurged on a new large palette.

I hope all the artists in the challenge are enjoying it like I am. I will say that my house needs more of my attention, but I'm hoping that this week I am able to balance things a little better.


Day 10 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Mass Ascension
4" X 6"
$40 - SOLD

As I near the 1/3 mark of the 30 in 30 challenge I wanted to paint something festive. Of all the photos that I have taken, very few are more fun than those taken at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque! I told myself that I was going to paint it quickly and keep it loose, but that didn't end up happening. I set my kitchen timer for 45 minutes, but kept resetting it! Maybe I will do a few more of fewer balloons.

If you have never been to the Balloon Fiesta, you really should try to do so. I will warn you that often the events get "winded out." Plan to be there for several days and be flexible. Plan to get up early...really early. Be sure to buy the mini doughnuts from the Tom Thumb kiosk. Enjoy!


Day 9 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Single Bloom
4" X 6"

Today's painting is of a single rhododendron blossom. Yes, there were other flowers I could have also painted in the reference photo, but that is the great thing about being an artist; you can decide to paint things however you want! My painting contains a nod to cubism, which keeps me interested and gives me a few more shapes to work with to strengthen the composition.

I take a LOT of flower photos and struggle getting them on paper or canvas in a way that pleases my eye. I am pleased with this one. I think it would also make a good note card or Mother's Day card as well as a basis for some other projects I have bouncing around in my brain. Stay tuned!

Day 8 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Hillside Shade
4" X 6"

Happy cows come from California! This sweet black cow was hanging out on the rolling hills beneath a tree. I find the countryside of coastal California peaceful and serene. I hope this painting makes you feel that way.

Day 7 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Mission Bell
4" X 6"

Today I am playing catch-up in the 30 in 30 Challenge. Yesterday was an all day travel day from California back to Virginia. My seating situation on the flight didn't allow for painting.

The subject of "Mission Bell" is one of the approximate 400 bells placed as guideposts places along the El Camino Real in California in the early 1900's. California Bell Company is still in business, if you would like to get your own. This particular one is on Rio Road in Carmel, CA just uphill from the Carmel Mission. I lived a bit further up and over the hill, but occasionally walked this road to go to the Farmer's Market. I will probably paint a picture of the Carmel Mission too, before the month is over.


Day 6 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Aubie Strikes Up The Band
4" X 6"
$40 - SOLD (reproductions coming 1/15)

I had to do it! About to head over to the Rose Bowl! War Eagle!


Day 5 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

"Sea Holly"
4" X 6"

I finished up this painting today while on a commercial flight flying across the whole country to cheer for my Auburn Tigers in Pasadena!

Somewhat appropriately, the painting for today is of sea holly that grows in California. I took a picture of it on a walk in Carmel. I thought it was the oddest looking fruit...sort if like a rounder, tiny ugly fruit, but with beautiful colors and glistening looking. I've noticed that you see it in the fake flower sections of craft stores, but until I saw the actual bush, I thought it was fictional.


Day 4 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

"Lighting Pescadero Road"
4" X 6"
Sale Pending

There are many things I should be doing today besides painting, but here it is! Today's watercolor is of a lantern that hangs by a driveway in Carmel, CA along Pescadero Road. The ten months I spent in Carmel provided thousands of photos that I could paint from, but this one stood out to me today. I love the play of light and shadow the ironwork provides. It was simple enough an image that it made sense to paint it small. When I was just about finished, I decided the beige-y wall shape needed something and splattered it just a bit, something I haven't done in twenty years! Enjoy!


Day 3 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

"El Paseo Courtyard"
4" X 6"

The subject of today's painting is a planter that I photographed in the El Paseo Building Courtyard down the street from where we lived for a year in Carmel, CA. If you have not been to Carmel, one of the most enchanting aspects of the town is the plethora of hidden alleys and courtyards, often filled with fountains or sculpture and always beautiful plants and flowers. The climate in Carmel is the dream of many plants. It rarely freezes and even the hottest days don't burn up tender petals. They probably love being misted by fog in the afternoon too! This particular courtyard is between Pepe's Little Napoli (great bolognese!) and Pepe's Wine Bar on the corner of Dolores Street and 7th. (If you put it in Google Street view, you can see the entrance to it complete with the Vespa that is always parked there. I have to admit that even the virtual walk through Carmel made my heart go all aflutter.)

If it doesn't look like my last two 30 in 30 watercolors, that is because I decided to try something different. One of my desired Christmas presents was a set of alcohol based inks and some Yupo to paint on. I did receive these items. (Thanks, Mom!) For the thirty paintings in thirty days challenge, I want to keep the size of my work consistent, so I trimmed a sheet of Yupo into rectangles the same size as my watercolor paper and set to work. Honestly, I had/have no idea what I'm doing. I debated watched at least on demonstration on YouTube, but I'm never one shy away from the unknown, so I didn't. I just jumped right in.

Wow! I can see why so many Yupo works are rather abstract. At least with alcohol inks, there is no way to maintain a sharp edge of a shape. I want to learn to "suggest" what is in the picture instead of providing so much detail. Some time with this combination of materials should help with that goal if it doesn't make me pull my hair out first.

The palette of inks I have is called "Pinãta." I was able to mix most colors that I wanted using it, except for purple. The red and blue in this set do not make the color I was going for, but that is okay. I decided an assortment of blues would be fine. In the end, I like how it turned out. I like the blooming flocculations that the medium encourages. I think it is better suited to certain subjects, but you will see more in the days to come. Feel free to leave comments about your experiences with Yupo or alcohol inks in the comments. I plan to watch some videos too!


Day 2 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

Pike's Place
4" X 6"

In May of 2012, I visited a dear friend who lives in Seattle. It had been a decade since I had seen her and she was a fantastic host and tour guide. I painted this picture from a photo that I took at Pike's Place Market. She bought gorgeous King salmon that she cooked for us at dinner. It was amazing.

I think the look of this carried the jaunty essence that make me think of nautical flags. That is likely the abundance of blue and red and the two "x" shapes that I left white within.

I had a good time painting it, but even at 4" by 6", it took considerable time. I am hoping that I get faster doing these, because I do have other paintings that I would like to do this month. I would love to whine that watercolor just takes more time than some mediums by my friend Lillian Connelly over at It's a Dome Life has managed to do much larger works both days and has posted much quicker than I have.

To see other Day Two paintings, visit Leslie Saeta's blog.


Day 1 - Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days

I thought that I would be a little ahead of the game when this challenge began. I didn't count on my mechanical pencil having no lead during a long car ride, misplacing my travel watercolors in my daughter's room on vacation or being sick for the last three days.

Anyway, today I got up and did my first of 30 paintings that I will do this month. I gave it the title "Pond Dweller." I painted it from a photo I took at a pond on the Burke Centre trails this fall. I hope you enjoy it. Come back each day to see what I am up to.

"Pond Dweller"
4" X 6"

To see more daily paintings by other artists, visit Leslie Saeta's blog.

A Look Back at 2013; Happy New Year!

As 2014 arrives here and I wanted to look back at the positive accomplishments of 2013. Enjoy this infographic!