Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Mom gave me seeds from one of her many Columbines and I planted them late in the fall 2016.... come Spring of this year I had these gorgeous blooms brightening up my shady spots.  This one is a very compact, tightly formed blossom.  Noting the pale greenish petals with slightly pinkish tips I fell in love!  (If anyone would like any seeds leave me a message, I've been sharing them with seed traders on FaceBook)....

And I'm VERY EXCITED about the paper I painted this study on.... I've tried every hot press watercolor paper I can find and was pretty content with Canson's HERITAGE paper.  It was helpful with drybrush work (which I find tricky still yet) but the only problem I had was it's difficult to get a crisp, straight edge.  But then I learned about STONEHENGE papers which is even made in the USA (awesome!).....  It was a little more expensive but comes in a longer size than other papers I usually buy.  Let me tell you,.... i'm in LOVE with STONEHENGE!  This paper is incredible (for me at least).  It's so smooth and slick.  Drawing on it is a dream and it erases so much easier than other papers.  "Lifting off" the paint is so much easier on this paper than the others I have tried.  I highly suggest any artist still searching for their "perfect" paper to try this brand. 

Painting the columbine on this paper was such an enjoyable experience. 


This Japanese Chrysanthemum was purchased last year at my local Food Lion Grocery store (all of a sudden they began carrying more and more interesting flowers... including a Mendivilla which was only $25.00.  Usually they sell for around $40 on Logee's website).  Unfortunately, the plant didn't survive the overwintering indoors and I haven't been able to find any chrysanthemums that look anything like this one.  Note: I did find some 'Spider Chrysanthemum" seeds on eBay from overseas and amazingly enough, some have already sprouted under grow lights!!!!

I've been eyeing the photos I took and finally got the nerve to begin the drawing.  The bright, almost neon colors stumped me so I decided to ask on the Botanical Artists FaceBook group for suggestions.  
Botanical Artists from FaceBook group suggestions on help with color mixes....
Kathryn Macdonald: " the photo I see warmer yellows/pinks where the pink is reflected onto the underneath of the petals above it."
Kathe Lewis: "I just made a similar neon green with Winsor Lemon PY175 and Winsor green (blue shade) PG7.  The complimentary color to greenish yellow is red violet, so I would try using some of what you have in the petals for shadows, perhaps with a tiny dab of blue as well.
Dianne Sutherland: "Lemon Yellow Nickel plus Manganese Blue for the main yellow and Winsor Lemon plus Winsor Blue (green shade) for the neon yellow."  *which is the colors I went with.  She's perfect on which mixes to use on each flower!
And while I'm at it.... I highly recommend Dianne's online botanical art classes....Dianne Sutherland's website for her classes!

(the study is more finished on the right hand side.... I'll go back one day and see how drybrush work and more details will look....)


Deciding I need to work more on "crinkles",.. I revisited the previous purple SALVIA study I worked on many months ago.  I drew this on a different paper than the Stillman and Burn sketchbook I had painted the first one on. Also, this time I painted the study by looking at a photo on my iPhone instead of the iPad because the IPad seems to show much duller colors than in real life  (the iPhone photo is a brighter and pinkier purple).

It still isn't finished but you can tell the uppermost and middle parts are more complete.  The further along I painted the better I felt about the study.  I decided to stop where I was and leave it to come back at a later date.  I want to practice and try to learn more my own techniques for "crinkles".... The biggest thing I have to remind myself is to paint the "negative" space around the raised "crinkly parts" instead of the actual crinkle itself...  Some people this comes so natural and easy to.... I WILL get it! And my paintings will be SO much better once I do!   I think I can, I think I can.....!!!
(The "crinkles" I have problems with...)

I asked the Botanical Artists on FaceBook how they would handle painting these crinkles.... I got some great suggestions.
Jackie Isard: "Thinnish stroke with a quick graduated wash out."
Sue McDonough: " ....on hot press heavy watercolor paper with non-staining watercolors, I'll go a bit heavier with pigment, then as it's set and drying, use a small squared-off flat brush to push the pigment to one side clearing a light area and pilling pigment alongside it to form veins or shadows.  If you work one segment of a flower like this at a time instead of the whole blossom at once, it also helps convey crinkles; same with leaf segments."
Dan Mooney: "I usually paint the line on and then very quickly blend one side away with water."
Lauren Lentini: "... I would suggest trying to lay down your crinkle line first then gently glazing over the area after it's very dry - because I think your effect would translate more naturally that way versus painting it on top of the base layer; as you described, getting a drawn on look."
Shirley-Ann Dick: "Layer your wet and dry layers.  A gently applied wash of pristine water will soften your brush strokes.  That's how I managed the dry wrinkly layers on the onion."
Vicki Thomas;" I find that if you dampen the area close to the highlight you can then stroke on to dry paper the darker tone and as it approaches the damp area it will naturally blend so you can get graduated tonal values."

Everyone gives such amazing advice and so open to helping a complete stranger!  I guess we are all in the trenches together!  I can't wait to one day be able to help another artist!

(the early first wash stage....)

(I'm leaving the study as it is, for now.... to come back to it one day after more practice on those pesky "crinkles")

(the chaos)

Monday, December 4, 2017


Poppies are a big time favorite of mine and have been for years.  Which bums me out that I have the worst luck growing them from seeds!  I've bought so many different packs of seeds from different varieties and online nurseries... I must be doing something wrong!  This coming spring will be the "year of the poppies" in my garden.  I'm determined to have them everywhere!!!!

Luckily, though, this past spring my local nursery had one "Tulip" variety as an annual and as soon as I saw them I snatched up almost all of the two trays!  And it's crazy, but I had so many plants to plant that I procrastinated and just kept them in their little 4 inch pots for weeks. Finally, I planted about half of the poppies in various locations in the garden hoping to let them go to seed and come up where ever they might find it happiest next year.  I planted the other half several weeks later.  It's crazy the difference in growth between the two sets!!!  The ones first in the ground ended up as tall as I am with several stalks and many blooms that were as big as my hand and GORGEOUS!!!! The ones that were planted much later appeared almost "stunted" in growth.  They grew very little, not even a foot compared to about five feet from the first set!  They still bloomed but the blossoms were as small as a walnut (which was really rather adorable)!  Both sets went to seed and I saved thousands of seeds.  If anyone wants any just message me and I'll be happy to share!     ..... the moral of this story is plants like being in the ground or at least not being pot bound!

An Oriental Poppy from a garden I visited last spring.... I fell in love with these instantly!

An Oriental Poppy I bought from ANNIE'S ANNUALS.... she has an amazing variety of plants (especially poppies but you better order them by April or she gets sold out very quickly)... I saved seeds from each of the nine or so plants I bought and grew... they are so amazing in the colors and shapes.  Some are frilly, some are so crinkly.... and they have the best karma in their catalog!

Painting in my Stillman and Burn mixed media sketchbook....  The first step is always laying down a base layer or light wash over the entire flower.  I do that to map out where everything is and what main colors go where.  Usually this is when I also do a wash of yellows or blues if I need to add warmth or coolness to certain areas (especially for leaves)...

It takes me many layers to add various colors and deeper hues.  I was very nervous about the crinkles and folds in this flower.  But I do love all the different shades of purple and pink...

Adding deeper and deeper colors.  I try to use "negative painting" to paint where the crinkles "aren't" instead of painting the actual crinkle itself.  Does that make sense?  Maybe it's confusing even to my brain because I'm not sure if I accomplished as correctly as I'd like to all the crinkly bits.....

The center was faint in the photograph which led me to a not so great center in my painting.  Common sense would have led to the idea of looking at other photos for better viewing or to actually look at the plant in real life but it wasn't blooming at the time and I just didn't think to look at other photos! 

NOTE: I've mentioned it before but as a reminder.... ANNA MASON  has a stunning poppy tutorial that I need to rewatch!
SKETCHBOOK SQUIRREL - JARNIE GOODWIN has a gorgeous poppy tutorial as well!  If I'd rewatch and study both of these wonderful tutorials then I shouldn't have any excuses on not painting this beautifully!


Zinnias are absolutely one of my favorite flowers.... This orange one excited me because I haven't painted many orange flowers yet and was needing a break from pinkish purplish flowers that I seem to keep painting!  I've saved seeds from this year's Zinnias and would be happy to share if anyone wants to message me their address! 

A "Cactus" Zinnia in bright orange and yellow..... truly gorgeous bloom which I don't know if I got seeds from.

A "Cactus" Zinnia in salmon color (to be painted at a later date I'm sure!)

 As usual, I paint a base layer all over to map out where each petal is.  Then slowly build up more colors and deeper hues. 
 Then I start working on the center parts which still confuse me and I'm not sure how to properly paint the center to accurately replicate (best I can) the weird texture.  I feel like I want to draw every little squiggle... but it's not reasonable to do that.  So should I just use brushstrokes to "draw" or paint the  little bits?  I don't know.  But I'll keep trying!

The center I mentioned having difficulty reproducing.... I welcome suggestions on how other artists would recreate this texture. Which makes me think.... I haven't really focused much on panting different textures.... I'll add that to my list of what to learn and practice on...


My DAHLIAS this year were stunning! Blooming from July (thanks to a two month early start growing then indoors in pots) all the way to first frost end of October! That made for extraordinary blossoms and gazillions of photos for reference material.  I'll be painting dahlias all winter long!

This one caught my eye because I knew the white petals would be a little challenging to reproduce subtly and I loved the bright details on the end of each petal.  This was very enjoyable to paint and taught lessons in very light shadows.

As always, I painted a light base layer to map out where everything is.  It helps me not to get as lost when looking at individual petals.. I can see the "whole picture" easier with some color in it!  The very light shadows were painted using several mixes of "Botanical Gray" (which in this case was Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue) plus other colors on the palette.... like "Botanical Gray" plus Lemon Yellow, or Sap Green, or Permanent Rose and even Cobalt Violet.  Just depended upon where I perceived "warmer" or "cooler" areas.... and it made this more, I believe, than just a plain gray painted all over.  I added warmth to the center where there is yellow on each petal.

Deepening colors by adding more layers and adding the bright purplish ends to the petals makes the bloom really stand out. 

I just mapped out some of the green and didn't go further with that area.  There's things I'd like to change and do better but this was a nice learning experience for painting a white flower.  Of course, a completely plain white flower will be more difficult because there isn't as many colors to help the petals stand out from the paper.... I'll work on that down the road! 

I dug up probably a hundred dahlia roots to store and overwinter!  Hopefully they'll survive long enough for me to plant them in pots in a few months to force them into growth for next years blooms and paintings!!!!


I was looking forward to painting this zinnia because of all the different pink hues and especially the brown faded splotches!  I figured...