Kauai is a magical place. It fills us with wonder — the sea, the plants, the creatures!
breadfruit (ulu)

 gecko (mo’o)

 chicken (moa)
There were 14 of us. 
We lived, we laughed, we cooked amazing food and
painted our hearts out — all on the tropical island of Kauai.

Table centerpiece of lychee fruits

Driftwood “dragon” on the beach at Hanalei

I have NO IDEA what this is, but found it floating on the beach.

Children playing.

Adults playing!
We listened to poetry by Sue and Rosemary. 
Here a page from Sue’s new book “The Carniverous Gaze” 
decorated with last year’s Hawaiian limpets!

We visited the Limahuli Botanical Garden…

…where it rained! I’m ducking for cover. 
But the sun blessed us most of the time this year.

We shopped the farmer’s markets… 

…always on the lookout for ripe fruit — or a photo op! 

A special moment, finding a favorite artist showing in a local gallery. 
We visited the Kilauea lighthouse.
Laura added immensely to every facet. Her baking was awesome!
We have dates already for next year’s Kauai adventure… 
Sun, Jan 24 – Fri, Feb 5, 2016.
A slideshow of our KAUAI artwork is coming soon!

Distracted with work on a marbling video and with teaching in Kauai, I haven’t been blogging as much as I would have liked. The upside is that I have had an opportunity to work on several pieces I’ve been wanting to marble plus working on a few new paintings. Stay tuned for more examples.

This is the marbled painting you saw in my last post. I don’t love it at this stage, but there’s way too much fun happening here to give up!

Below is the piece again, after painting over it with gouache and watercolor! Notice how the shape of the head and beak have changed and how the body is now defined. Adding white feathers over the marbling, along with a bit of darkening of the background near the shoulders creates that definition while the underlying marbled pattern lends cohesiveness and complexity to the piece.



A word often used to describe something that is average, but was expected to be much better. Ordinary, uninspired, forgettable, amateurish…

This is not how I normally like to think about my work.  But here’s the thing: Unless you are willing to take risks — to fail, if necessary — you’re not allowing yourself to really succeed! 

Above is a painting of a swan, in acrylic. I didn’t love it.

While marbling over it helped, it didn’t completely “fix” it. 

Marjorie Johnson, who was taking my workshop at the time, said “Well, you can’t turn a pig into a princess” ! So true. But what I love about this process is the journey. 

And we don’t know yet where this painting might go…

This kingfisher I also painted in acrylic before marbling. 

The marbling originally was too contrasty, so I and added a wash of white gouache to subdue it and put the fish in the bird’s mouth with watercolor. 
It’s currently at OSA’s show, 200 for under $200. 

This barn owl was painted as a demo at the Painters Showcase art show in September. Marbling added interest but it was still not fabulous until I overpainted with my “black” mix to create contrast for the head and stamped a feather pattern. 
The result — an award winner at the OSA show!

So, go ahead and set a high bar. Expect to excel, but accept whatever happens with the understanding that it’s the doing that is important. And the learning

I’m never going to love everything I paint. But how else will I know what direction to take my work unless I give myself room to experiment? And play.

I found this crocus while cleaning my studio… not necessarily a BAD painting, but I don’t LOVE it!  Marbling might help. I could also cover it with watercolor ground and start over, if it doesn’t! All I know is, it will evolve.

Stay tuned!

Much has happened this summer that I’m still hoping to catch you up on.
mostly TEACHING…
  Self Portraits at Hood River — with the Creative Arts Community at Menucha — Marbling at OSA
But this post is on AWARDS. When they rain, they pour!

FIRST I was awarded third place for “Marbled Crane” by juror Diane Kruger 
at the Painter’s Showcase art show last month. 
The painting is on an 8×10 cradled panel, 
and went from plain to pizzaz with a coat of marbling, 
applied in a demo at Menucha.
AND the members of Painters Showcase voted on their favorite painting, and chose 
“Treading Lightly Among Old Souls” for the Florence Thurman award — an awesome honor!  
This one is a full sheet, combining photos taken in Italy.
The portrait is of my friend Sharon Rackham King.
THEN last weekend WSO juror Linda Daly Baker gave my painting “Brownlee Moment” 
an award of excellence, meaning it will go with the 
traveling show around the state! 
It is a beautiful show, and if you were there to meet Linda you know how 
gracious she was with her critiquing and so giving of her expertise.
This painting is of my husband, Tom, caught in the magic hour 
as we hiked above the reservoir 
along the Idaho/Oregon border. It’s a half sheet.

YESTERDAY I learned I took second place at the Village Gallery for “Tranquility”
which also won people’s choice at last Spring’s WSO Show 
(one of the very best honors in my book). Full sheet.
Now if I can find time to update the images onto my website gallery! And even more important — find time to paint.
Oh, and if you haven’t already, check out the Oregon Botanical Artist website
mastered brilliantly by our own Janet Parker. 

You’ll see postings of our paintings from the David Douglas show at the Bush Art Barn 
through October 17.
It will travel to the Washington County Museum in Hillsboro in November!
It was a drizzly Friday, when a few happy painters met 
at garden designer Kip Nordstrom’s to paint — 
one that put the WATER in watercolor. It also added lovely droplets to the roses!

Fortunately the giant fir trees served as umbrellas! 
When a few tiny droplets came through, they created interesting textural patterns. 
I did a demo of a brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ that I’d sketched…
… also these lilies and alliums in a looser style. 
What I love about journaling is it’s just for fun. No need to try for perfection here. 
Misty droplets on the edges make sure of that!
Kip made some yummy fresh scones that we had with tea and coffee 
up in her above garage studio — 
so well equipped that several of us decided that we could live there!
And then the mist lifted.

We scattered around and painted… 
what a lovely setting to work in, with color bursts everywhere

Kip, thanks for sharing your garden and your photos with us!
Painting at Bella Madrona!

No tour of Tuscany is complete without a culinary discussion. And not surprisingly, food is a reoccurring theme for us. Is it because the ingredients are so fresh that food tastes better there? Maybe it’s the artisan and farm to table fare? The sensuousness of the culture? The fine local wines? Or is it simply dining al fresco?


Whatever the reason, we all agree that food tastes better in Italy.
And Italians do amazing things with cured meats. Below are piled up samples or rustic meats and breads at the May food festival in Lucca, called the Anteprima.


Monica, who we met this year, is showing Helen and Tom the wool from her cashmere goats. She also sells wonderful mildly flavored goat cheeses, both hard and soft, which she makes very near our villa!


Here’s Giovanna, who sells our favorite olive oil — La Chiusa di Nanni — from her olive groves just below our villa. No one we’ve met in Lucca is more gracious than Giovanna. When we visit she brings out wine to share with us and home baked biscuits made with olive oil. This year she also prepared a wonderful Tuscan meal for us at her nearby cantina. It was a traditional Italian eating experience that spanned the entire evening, including home pickled vegetables, tuscan bean soup, prosciutto, strawberry tiramisu and liquors! We were joined by Kaegan and Sasha who were biking through Italy.


This menu is from the fabulous meal that was prepared for us by longtime friends Mary Lee Damutz and her daughter, Marina, who live in a small rural village, Nocchi. The raviolis were made from scratch in our kitchen while we watched. Marina had picked the nettles and borage for the filling that morning. Below, on another occasion, they are showing us how to make tiramisu!


We found these artichokes in Lucca at the
Saturday Market…
Below you see them on the table
with fresh pasta and salad! Yum…

The ambience and appetites improve as the shadows lengthen!  


Here’s rustic bread from the festival in Altopascio.
My favorite is the dark walnut bread
in small round loaves.

Tuscany is filled with small eateries that ooze with local color. Perfect for a lunch, or inspiration for a painting!

                                And then there’s Gelatto! Our favorite in Lucca is Venita.  

Another fabulous May in Tuscany!

Linda Nye and I had so much fun last year that we vowed to return — after all, there is NO POSSIBILITY you can see and do everything the first time you come to Italy! Returning is the only way. This year we brought two new groups of seven to paint, visit interesting places, take hundreds of pictures, walk in the hills and sample tuscan wines, olives, meats, cheeses and breads. Janet Parker, of Oregon Botanical Artists fame, joined us for the month to help with logistics.

So much to tell

Mary Lee took seven of us into Florence
for a tour on Saturday before the workshop started.
We spent a good bit of the time looking up,
and with our mouths open!

Part of the joy for me is seeing it reflected on the
faces of the people we bring.
Clearly, Janet is having an “Oh My” moment!

We couldn’t loose our leader in the crowd, wearing these bright yellow pants!

 at the Museo di San Marco

Above, Carol (right) takes the lead.

 It wouldn’t be Florence without the Duomo.

Trattoria Bordino

We stopped for lunch at a steak house across the Ponte Vecchio. The food was terrific and we taste tested their deserts. I think Linda expresses how satisfied we all felt when we left!

Mary Lee poses with me in front of the Ponte Vecchio

at the Bargello Museum

Below are Janet and Linda, to the right is Elvina, lost in a photo moment. 

Florence is full of characters

Parents wait while a portrait artist sketches their daughter…
Walking through street market, this dear girl was giving out free hugs. One side of her sign was in Italian, the other in English and she flipped it when she got a quizzical look!

These young men knew what we did not — that we were traveling with an Australian movie star, alias My Allred! They were convinced she was the real thing (and they are right, she IS sexy!)

It has been a whirlwind week…
First the WSO convention where I was given the people’s choice award for “Tranquility”!

Then Robert Burridge’s workshop Monday – Thursday.

Followed by giving a one day workshop for Southwest Washington Watercolor Society on USING ACRYLIC MEDIUMS with watercolor… as in my self portrait piece, below.


First Burridge
I was lucky to get in — it was by lottery!
Here are the Bobers and Bobettes (as Bob’s lovely assistant, Kate, calls us)…

While working in acrylic was a stretch for this watercolor lover, Bob did not disappoint! He exudes fun. Maybe it’s his background as a magician or just his playful attitude — he genuinely enjoys teaching and his enthusiasm is catching.

We learned to paint drip trees… And carrot people… these are Bob’s examples.

I wanted to do birds. Here are a couple of acrylic paintings in progress — loose by virtue of using lots of water. I used the new Golden FLOW medium to make it extra juicy.
Bob doesn’t draw first, but I do. Pencil doesn’t work over an acrylic background so I used a white Derwent Art Bar (water soluble crayon) to make a quick sketch.

I’m using negative painting over a background of gold gesso with an over layer of greenish paint — covering anything that is not the swan. It still needs some work.

This heron appears out of the mist — I’m liking it pretty well as is.



On Friday I went up to Vancouver to teach a workshop for Southwest Washington Watercolor Society. We had a blast!

We worked fast and covered a lot of territory. First we put watercolor paintings or paper on cradled panels, step-by-step.

Then we painted watercolor over matte medium to get textural effects.
I started this trillium painting at the workshop (left), drawing quickly with water soluble graphite. I’ve added another layer (right). The graphite bleeds into the paint when it gets wet, creating interesting effects.

Here’s Lynda working on a trillium. The matte medium makes the paper less absorbent and the paint tends to pool and make oodles of oozles. Sometimes I tilt the paper to direct the flow, propping up one side. Other times I allow it to do it’s own thing! Resist sopping up the puddles and be patient as the paint dries. Keep building up paint until the values are right.

This magnolia pod is finished, after several layers plus scribbling over the top with my black mix, adding to the darks — blending with a spray of water.

What a sweet group… some said it was the best workshop they’d ever taken! I look forward to returning next spring.

14 of us spent 12 days at a retreat center in Kauai last February.
It was a remarkable time! This will give you a flavor of the trip…

We toured botanical gardens, visited art galleries, walked on the beach, cooked amazing meals and took scads of pictures.


See, it didn’t rain the whole time… that’s Harriet with a sea treasure and Melody and Verna getting their feet wet at Hanalei, where Puff The Magic Dragon lives!

For both food and entertainment. We ate, we gawked, we took things home as reference material for painting! That’s Sharon, holding a large citrusy thing and breadfruit — perhaps more lovely to look at than to eat?

Specializes in native plants — and also labels the non-native invaders. The views from above were lovely! Here’s Peggy, referring to the handy plant guide.

Fascinating cultural landmark cut into a hillside —plus home to hundreds of orchids! I took hundreds of photos.

OK, that’s a myth, the Makauwahi Cave Reserve is just a sink hole, but it’s fascinating. We were lucky enough to be led on a tour by David Burney, who wrote a book about it, and could give us the real significance.

Janet connected us with an invitation to visit Wendy Hollender’s class at the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Research Facility. She works in colored pencil to render fabulous botanicals. One of her students, hard at work on the left, and me at the garden’s visitor center.

Here I’m using water soluble graphite on a pineapple drawing. I found out that water soluble pencils without wood actually become soft when left out in wet weather! When it rained for several days solid, we brought our work indoors and kept on painting.
In a spirit of collaboration, we invited everyone to share their skills. Peggy taught us us how to dance Hula! Since I was dancing I don’t have a photo, but it was a great form of exercise. I do have this shot of dancers in Kapaa.

Pouring a colorful wash for an under layer on my rooster painting. I’m using 300 pound arches paper treated with acrylic medium. And the finished painting…

Linda shows how she does it on this hibiscus blossom, started as a poured wash. It was so much fun tag teaming with Linda, as we could move back and forth, teaching different concepts. She also led us in stamping, which was so successful it merits it’s own blog post!

This painting is still unfinished, but I like what’s happening so far. While I rarely do, I used resist to make the light lines, using a plastic bottle with a wire stem as an applicator.

Sharon introduced us to the ways of the formal doodle. Notice the breadfruit pattern on the right? It was fun to see the variety of drawings that resulted.

Laura prepared a step-by-step to show how she makes them.

A photo op — 5 of us with the cigar lady at the spice shop!