Watercolor & on Being a Mother

This week I pulled out the watercolor supplies and began to dabble with them again.  It has been a few years since I last used them and it was a pleasure exploring their properties.  When working with watercolor I am never quite sure how the painting will turn out because I like to experiment with the way pigment is dispersed in a wash of water, and revel in the happy accidents that occur.
While working with the watercolors this week I began to think about the similarities working with this medium has with being a mother.  In that I never know how a painting will turn out, all I can do is try my best, give it my whole attention by noticing the details and keeping an eye on the overall goals, and most of all, by hoping that because I have been fully engaged in the process, the painting becomes something to be proud of.
A lot like motherhood, don't you think?
My goal with Naomi is basically the same, I want her to grow up into a happy and resourceful person, someone to be proud of.  In being a mother to her, my goal is to interact with her in a cooperative and respectful manner, acknowledging that she has her own freewill and that she already enjoys doing certain things on her own, which almost always create unexpected outcomes.  I know ultimately Naomi will become her own person, and all I can do is be as fully engaged in her life as I can be and support her as she explores and grows.

the darling has a passion for collecting rocks,
we need to find a place to keep them all 

Friday Inspiration: Land, Sky, and Water


I hope you are able to make the most of this holiday weekend.

Maybe take some time to go out and explore the land with a long walk in some meadows

or a hike along a stream
or maybe relaxing by the water's edge is your idea of paradise
Whatever it may be, enjoy.
and I will see you next week.

DC Sketchbook Entries

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I want to thank you for all the kind comments and emails supporting me through this time of concern over my most precious Slim :)

My husband, S., has over the weekend has been helping me see the small steps of improvement in Slim’s condition which will hopefully continue to progress. During this time I have been focusing more on working in a sketchbook, something that is permanent and is going to be kept together, and something that is more informal than working on canvas. It is a personal journal of filled with images of DC and items gathered from walks. Once a week I go into DC with the specific purpose to observe and record.

{acorns and leaves found in Dupont Circle}
{Jefferson Memorial from West Potomac Park}

{the oldest cherry trees @ the tidal basin}

I like many others that live in the DC region; I am not a native of the area. I have always considered myself from Texas and still have roots attaching me to the San Antonio area, however I have now lived here for over nine years and am truly starting to consider it home. I am beginning to value the differences of the seasons and the scenery, and I absolutely love the variety of cultural activities found in this region. This sketchbook journal is sorta like a love letter to the area, identifying what it is that makes it so special while also strengthening my ties to it.

As the time goes by I will continue to share some of the entries on this blog, and I am hoping that some larger paintings will also result from these informal investigations. Tomorrow I will post one such painting, once I get a good photo of it.

See you soon,

Workshop with Susan Abbott

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{w/c ~ exercise of applying value and colors
of a Diebenkorn painting to a totally separate scene}

Hello ~

This week has been busy working on two new projects while absorbing the lessons learned from Susan Abbott’s workshop on Landscape.

The 4-day workshop focused on how landscape paintings are built, the premise of the workshop was that they are not just about going outside and painting whatever you see in front of you, instead the artist applies a sense of purpose when interpreting the landscape with an underlying structure.

Where Danni’s workshop was predominatntly focused on painting a single set up with the occasional demonstration, Susan organized the workshop to be half theory and discussion and the other half focused on exercises designed to have some experiential learning.

We individually focused on individual components of a painting and how they support the visual idea of a painting.

*Format (composition)

* Value

*Color Temperature (warm vs. cool)

* Color relationships (as on the color wheel)

Susan had gathered many slides of landscape paintings that supported the discussion. I really enjoyed how she gathered a variety of painting styles to demonstrate that all successful landscapes possessed these individual components.

Susan also asserted the idea that there was also an order of how paintings are organized. First the format of the painting is established by the canvas or base it is painted on. Then comes the value relationships. If the values do not hang together all efforts of color temperature and color relationships will be to no avail. After the value comes color temperature, the relationship of warm and cool shapes, how they relate and where they join, providing an interesting and convincing view. Finally color selection is chosen. Susan will often employ a limited color palette when working en plein air.

{w/c ~ color temperature exerecise}

This exercise was about experiementing with color temperature, where warm and cool colors meet while also establishing complementary color pairs (when using complementary colors you also typically have a color temp. difference)

{Oil Canvas Panel ~ plein air @ River Farm on the Potomac}
On the last day of the workshop we went out and worked on a plein air painting applying all we had learned. This painting was completed with a limited palette of alizarin crimson, cad red, cad lemon, cad yellow lt, cerulean blue, French ultramarine, and Prussian blue. This is the most limited palette I have every employed!

I really enjoyed this workshop, how the information was presented and the exercises that immediately applied what we had discussed. As most skills gained during the time were theory, I know it will take awhile to chew on all the ideas and apply the various pieces to how I go about creating a painting. My goal in taking this workshop was to improve my understanding of landscape paintings, I am drawn to them and want to become more proficient with them, and this workshop more than met my goals.

During the class I also met some wonderful people and hope to meet up with them again.

Texas Watercolor Sketch & Colors

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{Queen's Crown Vine ~ watercolor on paper}
Last week was spent visiting my grandmother in Castroville, Texas. For as long as I can remember the fence dividing her property from the neighbors has been covered in this beautiful vine full of delicate pink flowers. I love how the leaves are heart shaped and the flowers fall in such a delicate way.
Unfortunately it rained the majority of my time there and the rain limited my walks and time spent wondering and re-introducing myself to the various scenes of the town and area. Fortunately on my first day I took time to make a color swatch card of the various colors encountered after a morning walk (the only one that was not rained out). I will sometimes record the specific colors of items as it helps me focus and remember that specific time with greater clarity.

{watercolor on paper}

{3} Summer Journal

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Watercolor & Acrylic Ink in Moleskin Sketchbook


How has your day been? I hope you are having better weather then we are in the DC area. All I can say is that I am tired of the gray clouds and down pours of rain. Today we received a real gully washer, with water starting to back up into my patio because the drains could not divert the water fast enough. My plants are waterlogged and look beaten down some, I am hoping for sunny days.

Today was also the first time to use some acrylic ink I got last month. I used a crow-quill pin to draw with it and so far I like it. Though it would probably read a better if I had waited for the watercolor paper to dry 100% before drawing with the ink. I was just too impatient to wait.

If you have a chance be sure to visit the echoes flickr group, there are some wonderful and inspiring summer images shared there.

Have a good day, Liz

{2} Summer Journal

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Watercolor in Moleskin Sketchbook


This morning I spent some time in the Haupt Garden at the Smithsonian on the National Mall. I have been there several times but never with the intention of sketching and absorbing, so today’s experience was rich in sounds, smells, and thoughts, with time speeding by. I love how when working on a drawing or painting, time no longer is important, instead other senses are asked to step up and be present.

Have a wonderful afternoon, Liz

Boston Sketchbook {Part 2}

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I am back with some more sketchbook pages from Boston. These are all from my last day in Boston, I was really inspired to draw and observe that day. On the previous days I was more caught up with thoughts and musing about different ideas on how best to go about developing my art career. I spent a lot of time thinking and I feel it in my bones that some decisions were made, though in a lot of ways I think the ideas still need time to crystallize into more definable goals… Does this ever happen to you? After making decisions in your gut, you still need to take time and let them settle so your brain can understand them more. Right now that is where I am at.

While in Boston I visited the Boston Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Isabella Gardner Museum.

These two layouts are from the Isabella Gardner Museum

This sketch was from a long wait at a bus stop.

The Museum of Fine Arts had a great special exhibit on Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese. If you are fortunate to visit Boston this summer, try to make time to visit this exhibit, it was really great seeing so many strong paintings in one grouping and to learn how the individual artists were influenced by each other. And for a more eclectic museum visit go to the Isabella Gardner museum. This place had some truly remarkable pieces, including the Sergeant painting El Jaleo. It really knocked my socks off.

That is all I have to share now, see you tomorrow with a post about the Artomatic show and photos of my wall there. Tomorrow is the last day to set up before the opening this Friday, May 29th.

Boston Sketchbook {Part 1}

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Hello ~

I have been very busy during the last two weeks and I regret it has influenced my ability to post on a regular basis. There is a lot to share with you, and I will be making more regular visits to the blog and to yours in the weeks to come. I have missed catching up and reading your blogs and seeing how you are doing.

Two weeks ago I was painting like a mad woman in order to get my series completed for the Artomatic show, part of the rush was because last week I knew I would be in Boston for several days accompanying my husband on a business trip. The trip was fun and once back I have been busy with final preparations for the Artomatic show, more on that tomorrow.

Here are a few pages from my travel sketchbook.

Friday Inspiration - Other Blogs

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{Working on the final watercolors of the Awakenings Series}

Hello Friends ~

It is Friday already. How was your week? Mine was pretty good. I am still learning tons in this class (we are now finishing the third week). I enjoyed a fun lunch out with a friend and shared a slice of coconut cake. Yum. I have been working in different mediums this week as my back continues to get better. Hopefully next week I will be back a the easel painting away.

Here are some links I came across this week that have inspired me and hopefully will do so for you.

} Sarah Ahearn's Paper*crown, and she has an Etsy shop.

} Lisa Hebden - I am fascinated by her emotive portraits.

} Sara Winters - She captures water so well and has some great work in progress posts. I find it interesting that her painting ground is a bright crimson. This is new to me and am thinking it maybe something to try.

} Parallel Botany is offering a free wallpaper for your desktop. I really like the calm beauty of the image.

Here is a quote I read early this week and it has been floating around in my head.

"Be guided by feelings alone... Before any site and any object, abandon yourself to your first impression. If you have really been touched, you will convey to others the sincerity of your emotion." Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

What has captured your imagination this week? Anything special, leave a link in the comments as I would love to learn about it.

Have a wonderful weekend and see you Monday, Liz

More Watercolors

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More from the Awakening series. VII, VIII, & IX

These three paintings were exercises in analogous color palettes with a complementary color laid in as an opposing color mass or highlight.

Awakenings VII – 2-1/2” x 2-1/2 – watercolor
Yellow-Green-Blue were the analogous colors and the deep red is a direct compliment of green

Awakenings VIII – 2-1/2” x 2-1/2 – watercolor
Red-Orange-Yellow were the analogous colors here, with a very large field of blue as the complimentary color to orange.

Awakenings IX – 2-1/2” x 2-1/2 – watercolor

Red-Voilet (Purple)-Blue were the analogous colors with yellow being the compliment to purple.

Art Goals and Career Direction

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Awakenings V – 2-1/2” x 2-1/2 – watercolor

This past week I was working on the words for a thoughtful post about what direction I will take once I am able to focus on art fulltime. I was obsessing about the wording and how to prioritize my goals, because it feels so important to me.

However after a fun weekend of being with friends at an ATM workshop, eating good food (thanks Craig and Yvonne), and knitting some, I realize that maybe it is not so important to plan, but to just do it. Instead of me presenting my treatise on my goals and steps of how I am going to dedicate myself to the arts and personal growth, my focus will be more on actions.

How have you gone about focusing and building your career?


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Awakenings IV – 2-1/2” x 2-1/2 – watercolor

Wow it is Saturday already, I am not really sure where the week went. During the week I was really busy with finalizing some items at my current job, transistioning the departure. It probably was a good thing I gave 4 weeks notice, as it would have been impossible with only two weeks.

This week I have been more in a cacoon. Thinking about what I am going to do the first week I am off and how to organize my studio to maximize time and space. This Awakening watercolor are soft curved shapes was inspired by thoughts of how the hand has a natural tendancy to shape and create items. The soft belly shape of clay pots and vases, and kneading bread dough.

Yesterday I had class with Robert Liberace, and will take photos of the drawing to share this afternoon. I have not really had any time to paint with oils this week, and my weekend is pretty packed. Maybe I will find some time to paint with watercolor, if I do I will post them for you to see.

I hope you are having nice weather like we are in DC. I already went on a long walk this morning along the Potomac. It was beautiful.


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Awakenings III – 2-1/2” x 2-1/2 – watercolor

The dream is coming closer, everywhere I look and turn is providing me with the excitement to begin creating.

Here are a few places I have been finding inspiration this week:

*finding winter
*colors that remind me of spring
*a Richard Diebenkorn quote

What has been capturing your artistic spirit this week?

One more step taken...

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Awakenings II – 2-1/2” x 2-1/2 – watercolor

Well my employer is somewhat understanding about my decision to go. Being that I am leaving to pursue art (my heart’s desire) instead going to another architecture firm may make my resignation more palatable.

Today I mailed in my business license renewal application. These are heady times for me; I get excited about the official-ness of these activities. I am not playing at this, it is for real! Taking the steps to be a responsible business owner and a fulltime artist is liberating.

Above is my second installment of the Awakening series. One of my favorite pigments/colors in watercolor is cerulean blue, I love how grainy it is. I never know really what it is going to do, especially if you add another pigment into the mix. Will cerulean play nice? Maybe, but not always… Where I find ultramarine blue always plays nice, mixing in with strong color.

Have a great evening! Liz

Awakening 1

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Awakenings I – 2-1/2” x 2-1/2 – watercolor

I have started to experiment with watercolors again, small pieces that are inspired by emotion and color. This is the first of the Awakening Series, which will record this time of transition from working fulltime as an architect to working fulltime as an artist.

Tomorrow, February 23rd, I am resigning from my current job. March 20th, 2009 will be my last day of fulltime architecture employment. This has been a dream of mine for a long time and it has been a goal that Steve and I have been working on for now close to five months. I have wanted to focus on art fulltime for several years, but it was more of a dream than a reality. And this gigantic step would not be possible without the wonderful support of my husband, family, friends, and patrons. Thank you for the wonderful support! Liz

Watercolor Gourd Sketches

Gourd Sketches – w/c on 120 lb Cold Press paper
I have been pretty unlucky lately… Today I went into the dentist complaining of some tooth pain. Turns out that tooth was cracked. So three hours later I left the dentist’s office in a world of hurt after an unplanned root canal…

This being said, I was feeling pretty awful and did not have the energy to stand and paint at my easel today. So instead I sat in a chair and did some watercolors. It has been awhile since I last painted with watercolor, so I experimented with different techniques and color applications. The top gourd was my first attempt. In this one I started pretty much like I start with oil painting, applying the general local colors and developing from there. The middle gourd was the next painting completed, where I was just playing with colors and color theory. This one was based on the yellow-purple complementary palette, and then I would lay in other colors just to see how they would glaze over the previous layers. The bottom gourd was the last sketch, where I worked with glazes of pure pigment. No color mixing on the palette occurred. I started with a cad yellow in the light areas and cerulean blue in the shadow areas. The later color variations came about laying glazes of different colors, I used some viridian, pyrrol orange, with Prussian blue and quinacridone rose in the shadow.

It was a rather pleasant way to spend the afternoon after the trauma of the morning.