Getting Cranky and Postpartum Blues

A whole lot of effort and time goes into pulling off a solo art show.  This past Monday I dropped off 32 paintings matted and framed to be put on display in the gallery at Woods’ Memorial Church in Severna Park Md. It represents roughly my last 3 years of work (less the pieces that have already sold) Besides the work involved with creating each piece, there is also the framing process – I do it myself, and then selecting the works to be displayed – you do want a theme, submitting your list, bio sheet oh and then there is packaging them for delivery, plus delivery. IMG_2128.JPG

Do not mistake me, I am thrilled to be having a solo show – “Daffodils and More” but exhausted from the work and emotional energy that gets used up in prepping for a solo show.  All of this “have to do stuff” eats into all of your possible creative time process, and the longer you are out of the rhythm of painting on a regular basis, the more self doubt creeps in and devours you.  It reminds me a lot of the postpartum blues I suffered after the birth of each of our 5 children.

And then there are the other demands that are requiring my attention: family – have I mentioned that the last of our children, our only girl, is getting married this coming October?  She and future husband did not take my/our sincere offer of take the money and elope. I adore them to the moon and back, so of course said yes to doing their  flowers ( I do do wedding flowers- reluctantly because of the stress level and I swear she will be my last).  Not to mention all of the things that need to be addressed in pulling off this “simple, small, rustic wedding in the mountains” HA!!!!  – 6 bridesmaids – I don’t think so!  So now to find a whole sale florist close to the venue to order the flowers that I am not able to grow.

Besides the let down of after prepping for a show I am now getting really cranky because there are just too many other things preventing me from getting into the painting zone.  I still find it so hard to accept the flow of life, especially when it doesn’t go the way I think/want it to go.

I have a lot to work on.

Not Suicide for Van Gogh

Alas with my aging brain I can’t remember where I first heard that it was not suicide for my hero Vincent.  I do believe that it was on some PBS station on the radio while driving that I heard the news that some 8 year old shot my hero, and that it was not until his – the shooter’s deathbed, at age age 88 that he confessed to taking out one of my all time favorite artist.  And all of this is written up in some newly released book for all to read.  But can I find this book, or even the newscast that I heard? Not a chance, google has failed me….. maybe you will have better luck than I.

But I am am happy, sleeping better each night knowing/thinking that it was not suicide.

Ha, the secrets we keep………  let me state now that I have not shot anyone at anytime, the only secret that I will publicly release is the theft of a neighbor’s very cute small hairbrush from their screened porch when I was about 7 year’s old.  I am sorry.  And I am also not on my deathbed (to the best of my knowledge).


It was aboutIMG_1863 15 years ago I screwed up my courage and went to paint with a bunch of other established artists that meet weekly in Galesville, Md  to paint every Wednesday. I had been invited to join the group by two members while we were taking a workshop together taught by Skip Lawrence in Laurel Md. Skip is an incredible artist and teacher. (and I also love the fact that my mom took classes from him at a local college back when i was just a kid in college myself!)

I think it has been an invaluable journey for me to be lucky enough to have joined this group.  The West River Artist Association opened my eyes, introduced me to new and wonderful talented artists in the Maryland area and keeps me stretching my artistic endeavors. They do not mince words during critique, but are also very encouraging to everyone no matter what their skill level.

I treasure the friends that I have made there, and miss the ones that have moved – either out of the area or to where colors and compositions are beyond our wildest dreams here on earth.  Thank you to Marita and Juan who reached out to me in the fragile state I was in back then to invite me to join, I will always be grateful.

The photo is of those of us that retreated to the mountains in VA to paint for 4 solid wonderful days in late May of this year.


Thank Goodness for Photos

A few weeks ago I completed another watercolor – Tulips from the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands.  This painting was inspired from a most memorable trip there with our oldest and his family. Seems like just yesterday, but was floored to see that the date was ten years ago! fullsizeoutput_2c61They were living in Germany at the time and we treasure our memories from those visits and day trips we took. I am  grateful for the technology that enables one to step back in time and keep those memories so fresh.

The gardens and sculptures were beyond amazing (as were the waffles sprinkled with powdered sugar with the magic ingredient being “love” I was told that we purchased from a vendor before we entered) . Here are just a few photos from that magical trip:

On  another trek into the Netherlands we went to the Kroller-Muller Museum which holds the second largest collection of Van Goghs ( 90 paintings and over 180 drawings). There were many other greats there as well, Seurat, Redon, Gauguin to name just a few.

Helene Kroller- Muller loved collecting art, her husband loved to hunt. The  property where the museum is holds many sculptures and there are over 1,000  white bicycles to ride around the beautiful grounds.  Needless to say, if you are ever in Holland, this is a must!

The Process of Making “Daffodils Jubilant”

So I thought I would document some of the stages of the painting process of this piece.  I started with a photo of a bouquet I had made for church, then cropped to find what I wanted / thought would make a good painting. Once I decided on composition then I  lightly sketched it onto 300 lb watercolor paper, then put in a faint Winsor blue wash for the background greens.fullsizeoutput_2c55 Then started with light washes of grays – and oh there are so many grays that you can make – and so easy to get wrong!  Here are some pics of the painting as it progresses from start to fullsizeoutput_2c58finish. And many undocumented steps in between

fullsizeoutput_2c59It is so challenging trying to get the yellows right! But, know I need to get the flowers close to being finished before I start layering in the greens.  Right now reminds me of some sort of wallpaper, or lovely fabric.

fullsizeoutput_2c57Okay finally started with getting in the greens and some darks, but flowers still need so many more glazes to make them pop – and you do have to let your paper totally dry between each layer, other wise turns to mud. And here is the finished piece (finally!) : fullsizeoutput_2c52 With the darks added, I ended up blotting up some of the lighter areas while still wet to get the depth in the background, then kept adding more gray in the white daffodil leaves and a wash of gray over some of the white whites. Finished after I added a wash of green in center daffodil’s shadow on white leaf, and purple to lower right daffodil’s shadow in tube.

I have enjoyed painting my past two daffodil paintings in pure traditional watercolor fashion, but am already missing painting more intuitively and freely.  Yet feel that I should pursue in this vein to really learn more about color and layering.  It has been a lesson in perseverance.

And one final note of gratitude, am finally using 2 Kolinsky (hair) brushes that my husband gave to me over 15 years ago (not cheap).  What workhorses they are – hold a ton of water/color and can go to the tiniest point when needed.  Ah the joy of having the right tools to do the job! So glad that I never dipped them into my acrylics and ruin them.

Stealing Like An Artist

  • I love the book by Austin Kleon, ” Steal Like an Artist”!  It takes away all guilt I may have felt in trying to emulate a favorite artist I love – Shirley Trevena. In my quest to get back into watercolors, I took a small section of a Shirley Trevena painting and put my own spin on it.  (You are viewing the results) . Since I have been painting daffodils the last 3 weeks, I thought “why not try her style?” Had I not done this I never would have discovered what paints to use to make that luscious blue purple sky – a coat of cobalt blue followed by winsor purple with some watercolor pencils while wet.  And am so excited about the depth of red with orange mingled into it.  Now this is the way I want to paint, for now….
  • fullsizeoutput_2c4f.jpeg .  And here is one final quote from Austin’s book “Steal like an Artist”, page 41:  ” In the end, merely imitating your heroes is not flattering them.  Transforming their work into something of your own is how you flatter them.  Adding something to the world that only you can add.”

Still No Engagement Ring, but do have/had a finished painting

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Ha! Just finished writing the most amazing paragraph as to finally getting back into watercolors after finding the photo of this flower arrangement I had done years ago, and forgot to hit save as I tried to figure out how to place the text beside the photo, and then lost it all…. Luckily, that did not happen to the painting – tho it does already have a new good home.

My desire to paint more watercolors has been rekindled, and I have already started my second.  I love the feeling of light and translucency that you (or I should say me) can’t get with other mediums.  But, it is also unforgiving.  With acrylics and an “oops” you just paint over it with gesso and go again, or mixed media, oh just collage over it.  Not so with pure watercolor.  How long I stick with this time will tell. I am enjoying it’s challenges for now.

As to finding the lost engagement ring of my mothers (mentioned in an earlier post) it is still missing. But that is okay.  I know it will turn up one day just like my desire to paint with watercolors did.