Russian Sage Cottage


Here’s another painting from the workshop I was fortunate to take last week from Ruidoso artist Patsy Blasdell.  Again, this was from a photo I’ve taken in the northeast of El Paso and I’ve been fascinated by the image, and the challenge of it, but never got up the courage to actually try it.  At the workshop I decided that I would challenge myself to try those kind of paintings, and I’m happy I did!

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Abstract rocks — Tina Stallard workshop


This week I took a fun and really informative workshop with Tina Stallard, a fabulous watercolor painter from Albuquerque.  The class was structured to teach us design elements to make stronger work to submit to juried shows.  It was intensive and I learned so much.

She brought two black and white photos for us to choose from to use as a basis for creating a value sketch that really works, including strong design scenarios such as the cruciform shape of darks/lights in a intersection shape around the focal area, a radial arrangement that radiates out from the focal area, and another common one, a horizontal/vertical arrangement.  She strongly recommend buying this book Seven Keys to Great Paintings. If you are unsure what I am referring to, browse some of her pages.  I can’t wait to get my book in the mail.

This is an abstract based on a black and white photo she took of the rock pattern in a dry river bed, and some of us really made it abstract with wild fun colors.  I chose more earth tones but added pops of dark color near the focal point which made me uncomfortable initially, but now I see the value of it.  I think I will eventually crop this smaller but I’m happy with all I learned.  I’m hoping to have the time in the next couple of days to work on value studies for future paintings to really “bake in” what I learned.


As a wind down activity on the last day we did a wet in wet wash with colors and let it dry during lunch.  Then we came in and sketched a design lightly on the top and used negative painting, or putting darks in to define shapes, to create a painting.  I like how this one turned out!

And now the rest of the workweek will be focused on getting ready for my booth at the Queen of  Peace bazaar.    I can’t wait to see how that all plays out!

Thanks for visiting and thanks in advance for your comments.   I enjoy hearing from you!


Summer Cosmos

Summer Cosmos.  Rachel Murphree watercolor

Summer Cosmos. Rachel Murphree watercolor

Here’s another painting from the workshop with Carol Carpenter done from a photo of my cosmos from several years ago. These were some of the instructions we followed.

  • Show an odd number of items (more pleasing than even numbers)
  • Have their edges be interesting and varied
  • Make the objects big and near the edges of the painting.Having the items go out of the painting increases the realistic appearance.
  • Keep your brush on the paper using a circular motion to fade out the color and distribute it throughout, keeping soft edges
  • Allow a “window” of lighter color so the scene doesn’t feel claustrophobic
  • Don’t put items at the corners that could lead the viewer’s eye out of the painting (a pointed leaf or stem, for example)
  • Vary the colors by charging in heavier pigment into a wet area to have them blend on the page.  An example of this is the blue shadow under the bottom flower on the right.
  • Bring your background sometimes over the objects to soften the edge.  An example of that is the top right petal of the bottom flower.
  • Put more detail at the focal point which for me is the top flower.  See how much more detailed the top center is than the other two?  The one at the bottom left is the least detailed.

And I’m going to add an extra point I learned from a video with Jake Winkle   His work painting animals is expressive and wonderful.  Thanks to my friend Frances for introducing him to our group.  One of his comments that stuck with me was: Accept the marks you make.  So don’t second guess yourself, paint each brush stroke purposefully and don’t fuss with it if it isn’t exactly right.

For me that happened in the top right blossom where the center and petal colors flowed together and my first inclination was to blot it out but I let it go and it’s now my favorite part of the piece.

I hope you enjoyed hearing the process and tips.  It helps me to write it down again, to learn it all over again and my plan this week is to reinforce it with another couple of paintings keeping all this in mind.  It should be a fun week! Thanks for stopping by… I enjoy hearing from you.



Workshop notes

Yesterday I took day one of a watercolor workshop with Carol Carpenter, and I really enjoyed loosening up with her exercises and seeing her brushstrokes and how she approaches a painting.  She gave us copious notes on all aspects of what she was showing us which was very nice.

The top two are exercises in softening edges of circles, changing the shape, going back in and adding if you wanted…some became  flowers.  The second is called “three amigos”.  blobs of three colors which became torsos with the addition of heads and legs and their shadows…all done while holding the brush high up on the handle to loosen up. I used a dagger brush for these.  way fun!

Another exercise was to make a painting of three flowers in 15 mins with using only 15 brush strokes….this keeps you thinking of how to get colors spread out and keeping the brush on the paper. she does this exercise to warm up several times a week, and I can see how helpful it would be to incorporate into my studio time.

The bottom is an in process piece of snow on mountains in shadow.  I’ll do more work on this today.