The start of it all…

Sophisticated Sticks

Sophisticated Sticks

Just yesterday, I had a most enjoyable Creative’s Date with a friend of mine. We both painted, laughed, enjoyed a light lunch and good conversation. At one point, she asked me how long I had been painting and, as it happens, I had posted to Facebook a picture of my humble beginnings (image at right).

Ten years ago, my primary method of capturing memories was with the written word.  But trying to document the memories you’re experiencing with two kids and a pup that was on track to rival Marley (&me), it was tough!  I couldn’t write fast enough.

To keep up, I started drawing stick figure comics.  Then I couldn’t decipher between the two kids (stick figures are pretty much identical), so I decided to make the girls wear triangle shaped tops and the boys had sort of a half-egg shaped top.  Then there was the problem of hair.  Daphne had quirky blonde hair that she liked keeping in bed-head fashion and Devon had red hair that he wore in a close two-phase.  To fix the problem of baldness, I grabbed up the nearest art supply that had color to it.  It was an old set of crayola watercolors.  I still have the set, with a price tag from Montgomery Wards of $5.29, marked down from $6.99:

You know they’re old paints when the pan label has warnings and a patent number:

I’ve tried many times to give those away, but never seem to be able to part with them at the very last moment.  It was a good thing for me that there were so many colors in the set – I had only the very basics of how to mix color.  And that didn’t always turn out right.  Red/Blue/Yellow may make white if you’re using color but it does NOT make black or grey if you’re using pigment.  The mixture just returns mud.

I’m now doing fun pieces in watercolor like this:

I won’t ever forget where I started.  That shows me that *anyone* can learn to create – they just have to keep at it.


PS: I’m blogging along with Effy Wild in April. If you’d like to join the facebook group to read the rules, go here:

Art Studio in a Box

I live in a two bedroom corner apartment right next to a fantastic park.  I have two drawers in the whole space.  That didn’t really work for me right off the bat because I moved in from a spot that had 6 drawers.  I was actually looking for a solution to the drawer problem (where to put all my kitchen towels and utensils??) when I found the IDEAL solution for an art studio.

The best lighting in my whole living space is in the kitchen – of course, right?  I needed a way to house all my painting stuff in a compact way that would be cooking friendly and keep my art stuff clean, dry, but still have it all be accessible when I want to work on a piece of art.

In the kitchen.

Where I may or may not be cooking/baking/entertaining.

It occurred to me that this problem had already been solved, but with a more *traditionally* masculine bent on it in the form of garage work spaces.  A bank of drawers for hand tools, more commonly known as a workbench is it!  I thought this the ideal solution for the kitchen utensils and towels.  But, after looking at a few, I soon discovered they’re also the perfect Art Studio “in-a-Box.”

They come in all sizes and shapes!  They’re on wheels!  They’re metal and practically indestructible!  They have a wooden top or you can take that off and use the metal top!

For $300 and a little handy work putting the wheels on myself, I found something remarkable.  I’ve a drawer just for paint, one for finished pieces, one for my paper, one for journals and reference material, one for camera stuff, and a couple others for the miscellaneous stuff that comes with painting.  It functions as a standing desk, but I can also pull out a couple of the drawers, lay the wooden top over them and pull up a chair for a sitting desk.  I even found that I could elevate the wooden top with a few blocks and hide my work from my curious cat so she doesn’t have the opportunity to “play” with my work while I’m sleeping.  I’m able to use magnetic clips to extend the storage space for larger books of paper, too.

Even better, when I have people over for a paint party, I am easily able to rearrange my space to accommodate multiple artists  for the party, have several flat surfaces for hors d’oeuvres and beverages that aren’t also where my artist friends will be painting, and we’ve got easy access to the kitchen sink for water.

PS: I’m blogging along with Effy Wild in April. If you’d like to join the facebook group to read the rules, go here:

Favorite Watercolor Paint

This is a great video that gives a high level overview of many different brands of watercolor. It’s a personal choice, though, and I do have a different top three because I’m not that fond of Daniel Smith watercolors.
My top three, in order:
M. Graham
Da Vinci
I really like the honey based watercolors and I even add *more* honey to them so they’re even more wet and the colors separate a little bit better after they’re down on the paper. I have a small half pan of honey in all my travel kits, in fact. Certainly, that’s not for everyone. I can use M. Graham paints in a very controlled fashion as well surreal and more loose. My newest love affair with one of the Fletcher palette (download the Fletcher book here) known as Y-B-RV. In fact, I limit myself to just three colors:
Ultramarine Blue
Naphthol Red (particularly staining, btw)
Azo Yellow
In addition to the honey, I also have a small amount of these two to work with just to make the color intensity move up and down easier (mostly, I go down in value):
Lamp Black
Titanium White Opaque
I like to follow a pseudo glazing technique akin to the methods used by the old masters in their Oil Paintings. So, my colors go down on the paper in a very wet manner with very little pigmentation for each layer and I build it up slowly. Sometimes, I even add clear gesso so I can capture the light from the side of the painting and make it seem to breathe.

PS: I’m blogging along with Effy Wild in April. If you’d like to join the facebook group to read the rules, go here: