Last Friday we began the
“Paint In The Garden” series,
at scenic Chrystal Springs
Rhododendron Garden.
Seven intrepid artists joined me
in painting.

I first did a demo, painting a rhody
in my journal (right), followed with
everyone painting their favorite

Below are images of work in progress:

Heidi’s painting

 We were in the covered area, which turned out to be a good thing, as it
rained hard at times. Some very lovely work happened in spite of the weather! And the resident critters kept us entertained.

I sketched out another painting on crescent
watercolor board that is still in progress. Below is my work station. I used a lightweight wood easel.

This week Friday June 15: Hoyt Arboretum and painting needles & cones! It’s supposed to be in the mid 70s…

Treasures: on Black Stone
In the collection of Sanda Smith

on an island with my husband,
both sons and their girlfriends last
I found myself unable to take my eyes
off the ground. It was
littered with every shape
and color of stone and shell you might imagine

and then some!

Upon arrival I sat in one place and picked up
about 50
shells without moving. It was hard
to take more than a couple of steps
anywhere on the island without reaching down
to pick up a pebble.

there, I photographed some of the stones,
and couldn’t resist bringing a
few home.
A couple of the photos became reference
for these paintings,
which I’ve just brought back
from OSA’s Marine show.

These are painted on watercolor paper,
mounted on American Easel’s
Extra Deep panels, at 2 1/2 inches.

Treasures: Vein of Gold


Dick Blick has opened a grand new store in Portland’s Pearl District, and to celebrate they have events planned January 25th through February 5th. While this store doesn’t have every item in their extensive catalog, what they DO carry is impressive.

To honor Oregon Society of Artists and Watercolor Society of Oregon, I will be at Dick Blick’s from 4 to 7 pm on Friday, January 27th, giving a demonstration. You can watch me paint in watercolor, plus I will show how to use wood cradled panels with watercolor or graphite. American Easel in Salem makes the panels, and have offered to give some away at the start of my presentation. Plus, there will be discounted purchases, music and refreshments. 

That’s 1115 NW Glisan St. between 11th and 12th.  See you there!

Stop by Oregon Society of Artists (OSA) for a pink flier with a 40% off one item coupon. You’ll find them on a table inside the gallery at OSA, which is a couple of blocks up hill from the MAC club. Open 1-4pm every day except Monday. While you’re there, check out the art show, which changes monthly, and our classes and workshop offerings.
2185 SW Park Place (Corner of Park Place and St. Clair)

Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO) will have their spring show at the OSA gallery April 14th, before it travels around the state.

Both societies are non profit and anyone can join.

While visiting my sister, Theresa, in Texas just before Thanksgiving, I prepared art for 12 paintings, each 10 x 10 inches, sketching them on Crescent watercolor board. I chose this size because I’d found a source for the gallery frames. They came with plexiglass, which I’m just tossing and will use acrylic mediums to protect the art.

2 Iris, 2 Zinnia, 2 Trillium, 2 Rhododendron, 2 Peony, and 2 Lily — to make an even dozen.

I decided to record my process as I painted the first two, and make step-by-step lesson plans from the notes and photographs. Theresa was thinking about a large Iris painting for her house, so I started with the Iris.

Here is a finished painting…

And the second one, which is the one I’ll be working with…

       The step-by-step lesson plan…                                                                      Framed art……….

The IRIS photo was then a useful tool, using Photoshop and another photo of my sister’s wall to create a virtual image of what the painting would look like, true to size, if it were painted 50 x 40 inches. The “small” painting in the before photo is actually a full sized sheet of watercolor paper.

Notice the changes in the after photo from the iris painting above… dark background and vertical crop. When light/dark values are determined during preliminary work, it’s much more likely that a painting will be successful. Considering the painting time invested with a large piece, both thumbnail sketches and small study paintings are well worth the effort.

        BEFORE                                                                             AFTER

I’m pulling art out of drawers and sorting. In taking another look, I often see room for improvement. It’s so easy to get the brushes wet and rework them. The results are usually worth the effort.

Having a good supply of wood cradled panels, I’ve been playing around with displaying some of my art on them. First I started painting the panels with acrylics to match the art. Here’s an example of a dark burgundy frame with a lily, painted watercolor on paper before attaching to the cradle.

Soon I realized that for a cohesive look, painting all the cradles black is the way to go. Here is an example of that, using paintings of birds. Notice the art does not reach to the
edges. Instead, I’ve left a mat-like perimeter of the front face showing.
It is a good look for displaying several pieces closely
together. This treatment is great for hanging a show.


This Preening Crane I originally painted vertically for the John Scharff Migratory Bird festival, 11 x 17 inches. Then I painted it again, cropped, on Aquabord, 24 x 24 inches. This version is smaller, and horizontal. It’s fun to see how a good composition can sometimes work well more than one way. While each has it’s own character, I am pleased with all three formats. On this one I’ve left a mat-like edge of white paper, along with the black face of the cradle.


This sweet bunny is painted by Lorraine
Bushek, a Portland artist who is also a good friend. It is oil on Gessobord, then attached to a
wood panel to frame it. You can see why Lorraine’s work is in such high demand. I traded this piece for one of mine — Bleeding Hearts.

‘Judy In The spotlight’

This painting was finished just in time for the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies Exhibition entry.  I met Judy Hoiness at the WSO conference at Eugene last spring, and shot reference for this painting at one of the breakout sessions she led. I love the way the light hits the side of her face as she demonstrates the water soluble paint sticks. The background pattern, inspired by the drapes, reminds me of the curls in her hair.
30 x 22 transparent watercolor

‘On The Horizon’    

 This piece showing my son Dane (center) with his two best friends (Dusty and Isabel) includes a 4-inch painted mat with the background seascape flowing to the edge. But since Western Fed requires a 3 1/2 inch white mat, I cropped several inches off the outer edge so it would look more like a liner mat.
30 x 22 (full image) transparent watercolor

‘Wanna Be Like Mike’

This is a quick study of artist and musician Mike Henderson from a video capture image as reference, using watercolor and DaVinci Watercolor Encaustics which are no longer on the market.
I’m using a limited secondary color palette.
15 x 11

Wish me luck!!!

An age old question arose as I contemplated how to use the birch Cradled Panels.

Should I attach the paper before or after painting? If I paint first, I can toss anything I’m not fond of and not waste the panel. But if I adhere the paper first, it stays flat — no buckling while painting, even loaded with water. So I tried it both ways and found, as often is the case, there’s not one right answer.

The good news is: either way works.
Adhering first there’s no need to stretch, the paper stays perfectly flat as I paint. I can leave the edges as an overhang to protect the wood, cover the wood with painter’s tape, or both.

Of course, that perfect balance between advance planning and spontaneity can be elusive. Painting before adhering to the panel does allow one to make decisions about the cradle later. I found using a larger cradle with exposed wood on the front face was a better look, overall. And stretching paper on a board for painting keeps the paper completely flat while working this way.

This painting was started on a stretched piece of watercolor paper and transferred to the cradle after painting.

Here’s a similar painting of a magnolia blossom in progress, attached to panel first. You can see how it stays perfectly flat. Notice the paper extends beyond the cradle for easy trimming later.

It is always a treat to participate in the WSO conventions, twice a year, where many artists from around the state and beyond, gather to learn (or teach). Each time it is at a different location around the state, and this one was at the Hilton in Eugene.

I’ve been a member about 10 years, and it didn’t take long to develop a comradery.
Here is Jane Ferlitsch and Shelly Wiersba posing in front of the sculptural wall on their way to the gallery next door.

I took in a lecture by Judy Morris and a demo by Judy Hoiness. Judy is explaining textural effects she gets using water soluble crayons.

Our juror, Betsy Dillard Stroud, critiqued slides of our artwork and gave a demonstration on Sunday. Here is her demo piece, held by Venita Pampas (who won an award for her painting that conveyed a depth of feeling) for photographing. It was purchased by one of our WSO members.

Notice Betsy’s “signature” script that is in reality a form of scribbled texture. We watched her crank this out in about an hour using stamps and acrylic paint. It is both complex and elegant.

By the end of the Convention it feels like someone opened up my head and poured it full! So I take lots of notes to digest later. And eye candy from the show inspires me to see illustration possibilities in everything I see around me!

Here are a couple of images I may use someday as reference for future work…

Sharon posing for us in a phone booth with reflections in glass, above and below, an eatery at 5th Street Market.

It doesn’t take a long walk into the woods to find inspiration — especially in Spring with the Trillium blooming — hundreds of them! And each one unique.

I’ve been grabbing my camera to record favorites — close-up, and from every angle — in sunlight, in the rain.

Then took some inside where I could create dramatic lighting…

I found one so sweet, with it’s leaves curling up instead of laying flat….

…and HAD to make a sketch right there in the forest, so I grabbed my pencil and found a log, almost dry, to perch on. Naturally, it started to rain again before finishing, but I kept on drawing.

Here’s the sketch… in a Pentalic Aqua Journal made for watercolor (another local product) — though not realizing, this was drawn on the coversheet instead of the watercolor paper underneath!

Back inside, I drew another on 12 x 12 inch watercolor paper that I will attach to a cradled panel, using this sketch as reference. The fun part will be using expressive color when I paint…

A couple of “special effects” can be used in conjunction with watercolor paint to create interesting texture. I am using them on the Cradled Panels by American Easel.

KROMA Crackle, comes in a tube. It’s a new product made by a company in Vancouver BC. An actual sample of it is applied to the label.

I decided to make a rose, here’s the sketch this piece is loosely based on:

Here I’ve painted the background watercolor on paper. The reflection in this photo makes it appear whitish, but out of the tube it’s entirely translucent.

Here it is beginning to dry. It turns white when it dries and becomes much flatter. The size of the crackles are in proportion to the thickness of the application. It will take several days to dry completely!

While durable, it is also subject to flaking off watercolor paper if handled… so no handling until it is fully cured. In this detail you can see that a few pieces have flaked off.

I then sealed with the Golden Top Coat with UVLS to further bond it to the surface.

Here’s the finished piece before trimming the edges.


For very sculptural texture… try Fiber Paste, made by Golden. You can lift it into peaks or spread it with a palette knife.

Here’s the initial drawing from my sketchbook.


First I spread Fibre Paste onto a 4-inch cradled panel with a palette knife.  I used ferns and leaves to press into the stuff then lifted them up — with the exception of the heart shped leaf, bottom right, which I left adhered to the Fiber Paste. After it completely dried, I coated it all with a mix of absorbent Ground / Watercolor Ground to accept watercolor paint, then penciled in the drawing, below. 

Here’s the final piece after painting with watercolor. Notice I also used texture on the sides.