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Remember when I said I don’t paint anything fast? …and that it takes me F-O-R-E-V-E-R to finish something. This is a painting painted in one evening.  I have a soft spot for yellow houses. This house sits on a hill on the edge of a small man-made lake called Trader’s Point Lake north of Indianapolis. I took the photo reference sitting in my sister’s paddle boat right before that awful dry heat spell began. There are a few things I need to watch for when I paint quickly. In this painting, the lean of the house?  🙂  and that real hard edge to the right and on top of the foreground hedge (wish I had softened that).  I also think I could have had a little more fun with the house without harming the value pattern I had decided upon. My favorite thing about this painting is that Huge oak behind the Huge house and how they seem to be trying to outdo one another.  My goal with this painting, other than completing something in one evening, was to work on the value patterns to promote depth.  I used greens, violet, yellows, burnt sienna, halloween orange cerulean blue and a few dabs of prussian blue to paint this piece.

I live in a yellow house, just not this one.  🙂




   click to enlarge

The above painting is of a view of a home behind my house, while peering through the branches on my large maple tree. There are other homes in my subdivision, but you would not think so looking at this piece. Painting this caused me to think of how an artist can control imagery to create a different feel of an area than what is actually there. I like that. I framed this scene in by making a four sided viewfinder with my hands, thumbs and index fingers touching. I moved that home-made viewfinder around until I found this view.  I set these items to my masa paper with a graphite line drawing, first, and then defined the scene  by trying to replicate the lights and darks I saw in it.

I must note that I used toned masa paper to paint on and I tried something new. I glued the masa to coldpress Crescent board. I wanted to try this surface as the board is sturdier than the 140 lb coldpress Arches I usually use. I will not use this support after completing three others that I have already glued down. The illustration board does not take the pigment with ease and I had to work painstakingly with my layers to achieve my darks. It does offer up a different look than my other masa paper paintings, however.  I am thinking the coldpress paper on this board must not have been very thick nor very absorbent. That is my best guess. …but someone just starting out with the masa paper painting might abandon the technique very quickly with this support as it requires a lot more patience and diligence to work on  than  Arches 140lb coldpress paper.

I will reserve the Crescent illustration board that I have remaining as a support for my citrasolve collage work.

How to prepare masa paper here.

The above painting is the next step in following the book titled Watercolor and Collage Workshop  by Gerald Brommer. I was to draw something realistic and design all of the format surrounding that realistic image with what I had learned in the previous exercise by using the rice papers and watercolor techniques.  I want to try several of these after experimenting with this one. It was wonderfully freeing to play with the papers and decide which ones I wanted to incorporate to tell a story. My thoughts about the title for this piece went from “This Old House” to “Living on the Edge” to, finally, “..there will be roses”. I guess that would be the best way to describe what happens to me, the artist, as I let go and allow the papers and the color to inform me of what they want to become. I thought about my attraction to old homes, what goes into keeping them up, what many have faced during trying financial times, to thinking positive in the face of of such times.

For those of you following and wishing to try this on their own, at home, I have included the step by step process below.

I drew the realistic object I wanted to include.

In the next step, I, first, painted several large washes of color surrounding the realistic object.  I decided to run some of the color down and into the roof. Notice that these washes bridged the sides of the paper. I allowed those washes to dry. This step can be shortened by using a hair dryer to dry the initial washes.  I then mixed my matte medium for glue. I use acrylic matte medium with just a little water to make the mixture creamy. I then selected and tore different pieces of rice paper to begin glueing to the surface and designing the space surrounding the home. I did not use the landscape in the photo that I used to draw the house. I allowed myself the pleasure of being creative and designing my own format.  I wanted the home to look as though it was sitting on top of a hill in golden light. I tore the papers and placed them on the hill so as to direct the viewers eye up the hill and toward the house. I chose a very light and different textured paper to represent the tree to the left of the home and tried to create a shape that pointed toward the front porch. I chose a darker rice paper to shape the tree to the left and behind the home and created a shape that also pointed toward the porch and dropped across the roof. I then included some low plant life around the front of the home and darker bushy like shapes to the right of the home. I wanted to create an atmosphere that appeared as though nature was hugging the home. I allowed this step to dry overnight.

I painted these paper shapes and concentrated on the image that began appearing around my central object, the home. It was at this point that I decided I did not like all the blank sky and thought I may be able to enhance the hugging of the home more if I included more plant life. I decided to tear more rice papers in the shapes of large arborvitae to extend in a line behind the home.  Mr.Brommer suggested that there can be furthur laying in of papers after our second wash of pigment. I like this concept of building a composition. I then had to allow this phase of the painting to dry overnight again.

I, next, painted the arborvitae and was pleased that the home looked hugged by shapes of nature.

  final painting

My final step was to paint the home and define the darks in and through the natural shapes to lead the viewer’s eye to the front porch. It was at this point that I was overwhelmed by a feeling of  compassion for all who are and have faced incredible circumstances due to the loss of their homes through financial difficulties or natural disasters or those who are facing health issues and job changes. I added the roses and changed the title from “Living on the Edge” to “…there will be roses”. It is my sincere wish and prayer that beyond the loss and tragedy that you have suffered that there is a steady and positive force that enters your lives and you are lifted up and that, yes, …there will be roses in your lives again.

This is a watercolor sketch I did a few years ago of my sister’s home.  I had wanted to see if I could do a view of her home looking up the hill through some of the branches of a tree at the baseof the hill. It was really kind of fun trying to get the angles of the deck and porch and the small portion of the house I could see. The other challenge was getting the leaves and branches to read well in the foreground.  I found that I needed to darken the foreground branches and leaves to get it to have depth. I like to play around with different points of view.

There is always something special about painting outdoors.  A year and a half ago I participated in a wet painting silent auction. I painted two landscapes that day.The other is posted here. My paintings, done outdoors, always look different than the ones I paint from reference photos. I think we tend to pare down the non-essentials when we have a time limit. I  feel the brightness of the light or absence of it and the experience of the moment is found in plein air painting.  Many artists turn their backs on plein air work or work from life because they feel their work is less when they do so. Don’t do that to yourself, is my advice. There is something to be gained from both approaches. I have found that my work from reference photos helps my plein air work and vice versa. I strive to maintain a balance between the two. It is going to be getting warmer and I hope to take advantage of painting plein air again this summer.

…to Grandmother’s house we go!”

As a child we would travel either to Granny’s or Grandma’s house and it always included singing this song. The poem and brief explanation about its writing can be found here. Those of you who are traveling, be safe!

Yesterday, Kokot awarded me the RA bloggers’ award. Thank-you Kokot. I feel greatly honored and will pass it on in seven days.


I started this painting last Sunday, on site. I was able to get the drawing down as well as the shadows on the building, foliage and some of the reflections  in the large window. I was most interested in the doorway as its’ color and the way the light was hitting it just drew me in. We have had a bit of a dry spell here and it seems to make the light look more severe due to burned-out lawns and dried-out everything.


This week in watercolor class, we are working on man-made objects in a landscape. We talked about looking for specific shapes. We discussed  paying attention to the  angles of the edges of the object and or street. We discussed looking for shadows caste by edges of the object on itself as well as the terrain around it. I pointed out that the size of a window pane changes  depending on where it is located and to look for overlapping shapes.