Sunday, March 1, 2020

February Sunflowers II

I set this aside for a few days, and considered whether to add a dark background. Stark contrasts are often successful with bold-colored flowers so I decided to work the background in Indigo. Early stages yet, with only a portion of background filled in. It's interesting to evaluate how the upper portion of the top blossom "pops" where the petals are outlined in Indigo. As I have discovered with previous floral paintings, this often takes the image and kicks it up a notch...
I anticipate doing a second wash of Indigo over all sections, to add depth to the color, before the painting is completed.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

February sunflowers I

It's that time of year when seed catalogs start filling up the mailbox, and every time I go to the grocery store I'm tempted by the colorful array of cut flowers on offer. Today a bunch of sunflowers caught my eye and became the inspiration for this watercolor sketch-in-progress. Trying to keep it light and loose. I'm using a quarter-sheet of Fabriano Artistico #300 cold-press paper, a #6 Golden Fleece rigger from Cheap Joe's. Stay tuned for updates (and the finished painting).

"February Sunflowers, detail"

Monday, February 17, 2020

News about "Art in the City" 2020

Since 2013, I've donated paintings to this annual event, and this year I'm honored to have my painting, "Mixed Bouquet"selected as the signature artwork for the Family Health Center of Worcester's annual "Art in the City" benefit auction. 
This evening gala is held at the beautiful and historic Mechanics Hall in Worcester on Friday, May 8 -- it's always lots of fun, food, great music, and most of all, it's made possible by hard-working volunteers and generous artists and other sponsors! 
Learn more about the auction at this link  And if you're an artist who would like to donate a piece of your work to this year's auction here is a link for that. Don't delay: the deadline  for submitting donated artwork is in mid-March.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Holiday Amaryllis study

Holiday Amaryllis" detail

Last Christmas, my husband received an amaryllis that needs no planting. It doesn't require any potting soil (and not even a pot!). The bulb is encased in a thick blob of paraffin (or something!), so it can easily be set on a sunny windowsill to encourage its growth. It's been fun to watch it start to bloom -- and it's the perfect subject for an rainy-afternoon studio session.

I started with a line drawing on #140 cold press Kilimanjaro Bright White paper. My goal is to capture the sort of perky, stalwart quality of the bright scarlet blooms, and the hard, shiny surface of the encased bulb.
"Holiday Amaryllis" detail

The photo reference (taken with my iPhone) is not the greatest quality. And the quick (iPhone) shots of early stages of this watercolor study show the pencil lines as well as the mingling of several red pigments in the blossom.
Reference photo for "Holiday Amaryllis"

Finished study. Not exactly what I'd expected or hoped for, but at least it's colorful!

"Holiday Amaryllis"  transparent watercolor  12" x 16" unframed
$35.00 plus $9.00 shipping
Available at my online gallery at Daily Paintworks  (click to go to that page in a separate window)

Monday, October 21, 2019

Taking a Second Look

Painting outdoors doesn't come easily to me, but pushing myself in that direction has taught me a few things. First, I always bring at least two or three small-format painting surfaces –– 140 lb. paper securely taped to a 10" x 14" Gatorboard panel, a watercolor block (7" x 10" or 9" x 12"), a watercolor notebook made with high-quality paper (Moleskine sells a good one). Too, my three-legged, collapsible, folding stool (with a shoulder-strap for carrying) guarantees a place to sit. A one-gallon water thermos and a folding vinyl water bucket are both necessities, as are a few folded sheets of paper towel and a clean scrap of 100% cotton fabric (a man's discarded T-shirt is ideal) for blotting my brushes.
After painting non-stop for 40 minutes, I generally need to step back and check my work to see if I've misjudged an aspect of perspective, or if I have focused too closely on details. My goal when working outdoors is to capture the general mood or feel of a scene, without worrying about a completely accurate rendering. Recently I was painting at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, and discovered that the color values in my sketch were too uniform and the scene lacked depth.
Before adding deeper colors...

Rather than "fix" the problem right then, I set it aside and reached for a second watercolor block. When I got home, and my problem painting was fully dry, I thought about which areas needed deeper color, and how to make the background recede which would give the bright foliage more emphasis.
I started by mixing a wash made of Mineral Violet with a little Burnt Umber to darken the background foliage on the right. Using Burnt Umber and Sepia and a 1/2" flat brush, I dropped in dark shadows where the lawn met the gravel roadway, I added a few strokes of Mineral Violet wash to give depth to the road. Finally, with Shadow Green and Sepia, I added more deep green foliage. The changes I made were subtle, but the results are sketch that is more dramatic, and the eye is drawn to the vivid trees on the left at the front of the scene.
"Bend in the Road" transparent watercolor   10" x 7"
Available for purchase at my Daily Paintworks Gallery

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Tim at Breakfast -- portrait sketch

Step #1
I've been experimenting recently with watercolor sketches of portraits and figures using old photographs as references. Some of my subjects sat for these photos more than 100 years ago, although I've also found it enjoyable (and challenging) to work from more recent family pictures. Many of these were shot in B&W, so choosing a color palette that would reflect the mood of the original photo is always interesting.
Step #2
Reference photo
Today's portrait sketch is of my son, and I used a photo taken when he was about four years old. It is slightly out of focus, and the shadow contrast is quite pronounced. I recall that my son was acting moody that day, and it was this slightly dreamy moodiness that I hoped to capture in my watercolor portrait.
I began with a light pencil sketch, then added a wash of Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber. The eyes are done with Cobalt Blue and French Ultramarine. (Step #1) I added successive layers of wash, using a slightly darker tone to suggest shadows along the left side of the face. The mouth was emphasized with a pale wash of Quinacridone Scarlet  and the eyes received more details with Sepia and French Ultramarine. (Step #2) The hair is done with Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna, and the shirt details are Cobalt Blue. (Step #3)
Step #3
In the final version of this sketch (below) the pensive look on my sons's face is emphasized, and the contrast between figure and background, by combining French Ultramarine and Sepia along the left edge of the face. I used this same combination to add depth to other shadows as well. This entire sketch took about 30 minutes to complete.
"Tim at Breakfast"
watercolor   9" x 7" 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Announcing two award winners

Thrilled to have two winning watercolor paintings in the 2019 LightSpaceTime Online Gallery's 9th Annual “Botanicals” Art Competition. There were 678 entries submitted by artists from 28 different countries, as well as from 32 different states and the District of Columbia, to this year's "Botanicals" show.

"Garden Royalty II" (below, left) received sixth place among the top 10 best entries in the category "Overall Winning Artists." This part of the competition can be seen HERE.

And, my watercolor "Peony Awakening II" (below, right) was one of 40 paintings chosen for a "Special Merit Award" in this competition. Winners in this category can be seen HERE. 

Both paintings are available for purchase through 
The Creative Hands Gallery
812 Main St., Unit #2, Osterville, MA 02655
phone:  (774) 521-4304  
email:  CreativeHandsGallery(at)gmail(dot)com 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Cliff Walk

After spending a few days in Newport, RI, I have been wanting to paint a few images captured on my phone. Yesterday's project was to lay down the cloudy sky in this small (12" x 9") painting of one of the mansions along the Cliff Walk.
My photo reference isn't the greatest, but I'm aiming mostly for atmosphere and "feel" of this water-edge setting, rather than to capture every windowsill, gable, and shrub.
Reference photo

French Ultramarine was my choice for the sky, with a little Sepia for the shadowy parts of the clouds. I added a wash of Cobalt Blue on the left to indicate where the sky was clearing.
The grass, shrubbery and trees are done with Green Gold, Undersea Green, and Shadow Green, plus some accents of Winsor Blue GS, Burnt Sienna, and French Ultramarine.

The finished painting, below, is available for purchase through my online gallery at Daily Paintworks, which can be accessed HERE
"Cliff Walk View, Newport RI"
transparent watercolor  12" x 9" unframed

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Peony Awakening

I recently spent a few morning hours taking photos at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA, and am excited about the results. A series of peonies provided me with some needed inspiration. I completed this painting, which is based on an image taken when the sun was at a bright slant.
"Peony Awakening II"
transparent watercolor  matted & framed  23" x 19" 
This painting is available as shown below, with a double-mat and gold wood frame, at the Creative Hands Gallery in Osterville, MA.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Juried into a Rhode Island Watercolor Society show

Pleased to announce that my painting "Christmas Day Dinner" was juried into the upcoming regional water media exhibit, "Tell-A-Tale" at the Rhode Island Watercolor Society.   The show runs from June 22 through August 19, 2019, at the RIWS, Slater Memorial Park, 831 Armistice Boulevard, Pawtucket, RI 02861.  Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

"Christmas Day Dinner"
transparent watercolor 15.5" x 13.5"

Sunday, May 26, 2019


Both of these paintings were done quickly, with little or no preliminary sketching. I've discovered that the results can be interesting if you plunge in without worrying too much about making "mistakes," or "wasting" paper, or whether the final image duplicates the original reference...
"Magnolia" watercolor  9" x 12"
"Pink Magnolias" watercolor  9" x 12"
The goal with these paintings was to emphasize shadow and form, rather than to execute an exact copy of my photos. Allowing the intense colors -- Winsor Blue (GS), Green Gold, Shadow Green, French Ultramarine, and Quinacridone Rose -- to blend on the paper minimized any need to add fussy details. Both paintings were done with one brush -- a #12 Pointed Round. The single white magnolia was done on 200-lb. Saunders Waterford Cold Press; the pink magnolias were done  on 140-lb. Kilimanjaro Bright White, Cold Press. Both paintings are available at the Creative Hands Gallery, 812 Paint St. #2, Osterville, MA. Phone: 774-521-4304.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


Not the first time I've painted these gorgeous blooms -- and surely not the last time, either. This painting is a creative combination of several digital photos taken in a number of locations -- including Amsterdam. My goal was to capture the foliage with its multiple colors and shadows, as well as the bright fuchsia blossoms, which were done with wet-into-wet applications of Permanent Rose, Mineral Violet, and Winsor Violet. The warmth of the sunny areas was emphasized with thin washes of Burnt Umber brushed on after the upper areas were completely dry. The depth of the shadows on the right sight of the painting was enhanced by washes of French Ultramarine mixed with a bit of Winsor Blue (GS). I used Sepia to give definition, and add contrast, to stems in the lower area of the painting.
"Rhododendron  Shadows" transparent watercolor  9" x 12"
This painting is available at the Creative Hands Gallery, 812 Main St. #2, Osterville, MA.

Some of my rhododendron reference photos...