Painting Charlie the Cat in Watercolor

•June 29, 2018 • 8 Comments

Watercolor painting never gets old or boring if you constantly find new challenges. Like many things in our everyday lives we need to stretch ourselves to keep our interests growing. I find new subjects to paint, things that I’m not too comfortable with, like cats. Using my photoshop program I will enlarge the image to fit my watercolor paper and then transfer it with a water-soluble pencil. This pencil allows all the marks I make on the paper to disappear as I paint.

Here is my cat sketch


Cat Charlie2


Before I start my painting I work out my color palette on a piece of scrap paper. I need to determine the eye color and the body colors. By doing this I do not have to make color choices while I’m painting.

My color choices are

EYES: Under Sea Green – Daniel Smith Leaf Green – Holbien

BODY: Hematite Burnt Orange,  Hematite Violet & Raw Sienna – Daniel Smith


Cat Charlie


I ALWAYS start my painting by painting the eyes. I need to feel that I have captured the soulful expression of the animal I am painting. Once this is done I’m ready to continue the painting.

Cat Charlie3

I continue painting the animal and I think of the words a great artist/teacher once told me. “Use your finger and stroke the animal’s fur, (on the photo image). Feel the direction the fur grows and use those same strokes to paint the animal with your brush” Thank you Jean Haines



Little by little I build up the layers of my painting. Here is a close up of  Charlie’s beautiful green eyes. My goal is to make them look liquid and they should have depth.


Cat Charlie5

A subtle back ground color that does not compete with the subject is added.


Cat Charlie 6_2018

My painting of Charlie is a donation to the RSVP animal rescue group. I donate art whenever they have a fundraiser. This year I was asked to create a painting of a major benefactor’s deceased pet. It was with great pleasure that I painted Charlie for this lovely lady. I hope my art brings a smile to her face and conjures up warm memories of her beloved family member.


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My Watercolor Thank You

•January 7, 2018 • 2 Comments

I have a wonderful life. I’ve been a successful hair salon owner for 31 years and built enough equity in my business that at the age of 51 sold it all and semi-retired. I now work for the new owners 2 days a week. That leaves me plenty of time to pursue my passion for watercolor painting.

Most artist see themselves as artists that would like to sell their art. I look at my watercolor painting as a business. I guess it’s probably because of my history of working for myself. Therefore I am constantly promoted me & my art. It is hard work building an art business but really….what else do I have to do? I truly love painting and why not make it into a self supporting career. Remember it’s not work if you love what you do.

I know that I have many people who have been there for me in my art journey. The friends & family who encourage me and help me by being a terrific team of cheerleaders. The clients who buy my art, they are supporting me and helping me continue on the course I set out on. Money does help, you can’t be successful if you are constantly a ‘starving artist’. I am thrilled when someone says how much they would love one of my paintings in their home or to give as a gift. And there are many others, like my framer who helps me by making my paintings look amazing in their frames.

I decided to raffle off an original watercolor painting at the beginning of each year as my way of saying ‘Thank You” to all the special people in my life. I didn’t come up with this idea on my own I borrowed it from a friend, David Daniels. After receiving his annual card & raffle ticket I thought I would like to do the same thing and it has been a great success.

This year I am mailing out 250 cards, with tickets attached, to win my 15″x11 painting titled   ‘Colorful Bouquet’ (image below)

Colorful Bouquet

I have someone draw the winning ticket from a bowl and post the winning numbers on my website. And then I wait to be contacted by the winner. Each year it’s a surprise to see who won.

The raffle for 2018 is already in the mail. The number is picked. The waiting has begun.

Thank you & good luck to all!


A Simple Winter Watercolor Painting

•December 19, 2017 • 4 Comments

It is the week before Christmas and I have spent the past several weeks busy and not having time to paint.  I prepared art for 2 Fine Art Fairs, finished the painting I will be raffling off (my next blog will have all the details on my annual raffle), ordered 250 cards & envelops, completed any on-line orders and shopped & baked gifts for friends & family. Today I went to the studio and made time for me. It’s a great feeling when I have no obligations and I can paint just for me!

I decided I wanted to paint a simple snow scene, something I could post on my FaceBook page to say Merry Christmas to all.

Knowing I would be flooding the paper with water I taped the paper down on a board. I completely wet the paper and gave it a moment to be absorbed, then I adding a little more water. I wanted my first wash to be soft with no hard edges. I used an ultra marine blue paint and a Quinn Crimson paint. Because the paper was wet I used very little water on my brush as I loaded the brush with pigment. I wanted strong color knowing that the water on the paper would dilute the pigment and it would dry lighter. Don’t be afraid of it being too dark at this stage.

Next I allowed the shine to leave the paper. Don’t be tempted to use a blow dryer you will most likely over dry the paper. Be patient. When the shine is gone use a small brush, I used a very small synthetic rigger which wouldn’t carry too much water, and drop in tiny spots of clear water. These drops will spread and lighten giving the illusion of a snowy sky.

I added a ridge line of distant trees in a very light value.

Christmas 2017a

When the paper was completely dry I painted the tree. I used a mixture of thalo green & ultra marine blue and very little water. I wanted a very dark value but still wanted the tree to have interest and not just be a dark blob. As the paint started to dry I dropped in a few drops of clear water to adjust the value within the tree shape.

A shadow grounds the tree and gives shape to the snow it’s sitting on. The addition of a few weeds poking out of the snow and their shadows again give form to the ground.

Christmas 2017b

To complete the painting it needed to have a sprinkling of snow. I used Titanium white mixed with just enough water to allow it to splatter off my paint brush. Always test this over scrap paper before you do it over your painting. Tap the wet brush on the handle of a dry brush and watch the snow fall. See how much snow falls and what size flakes come off your brush. Try different size brushes until you are happy with the results.  Here is where you will definitely need self-control because it’s not only fun to do but you might have the tendency to feel that a little sprinkle is good and more may be better but watch out you do not get carried away with the snow. Force yourself to stop before your tree is lost in a blizzard!

Christmas 2017c

I added a few words to express my joy of the Christmas holiday. Don’t forget to add a few words of your own to you painting and share it with friends and family.

Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night……


Painting Trees With Watercolor

•September 27, 2017 • 2 Comments

Soon the North East will explode with colors as the trees turn brilliant shades of yellows, oranges & reds during the upcoming weeks of Fall. I will head to Vermont where the mountains and valleys put on a spectacular show as the leaves go through their yearly ritual prior to falling to the ground. Hundreds of leaf peepers will take to the roads to see this outstanding display of color.

I am teaching a watercolor workshop in October titled ‘Capturing the Colors of Fall” I’m busy preparing exercises for the artists which will have them mixing and mingling colors reflecting the colors of Fall.

Using several colors I make puddles on the paper in random shapes, keeping the value light. This is a simple wash of colors to help the artists warm up. I always take a few moments prior to painting to warm up by doing a few color washes. 

When the paint is almost dry I add the trunk and smaller branches to complete the tree.

Here is another simple tree, to take it a step further I added grasses.

Trees workshop1

These next trees was done side by side by me and my 7-year-old great-niece Brianna.

Trees workshop2

Brianna helps me work out the kinks of these exercises by painting along with me. Having a 7-year-old at my studio allows me to test my ideas for simple yet successful exercises for the artists who will attend the class.

She loves watercolor painting and is elated when she sees her results are so successful.

Trees workshop3

Watercolor doesn’t have to be difficult to achieve beautiful results. With some practice you too can have fun and paint simple trees that reflect the fall colors that surround you.


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Brianna painting with watercolor

•July 15, 2017 • 2 Comments


I developed this simple exercise of painting flowers in pots as a lesson to show how to paint wet-in-wet and how to control edges. This is a fun study of painting flowers and my students always are successful with this task. I decided to share this exercise with Brianna, my 6-year-old Great Niece. She has been painting with me since she was 2 years old and her skill with watercolor is constantly growing.

I showed her the first step, painting the pots and allowing the colors to bleed into one another.



Brianna working on her pots

Brianna flowering pots class1

Next I added the flowers using an assortment of colors. These too are allowed to blend on the paper. I showed her how to pull out some spikes on a few or the flowers using a rigger brush.

Brianna flowering pots class3

My demo painting

Brianna handled the flowers exceptionally well and floated in her colors keeping the paint wet to be able to pull out the spikes. BUT to my surprise she asked me for a straw and proceeded to blow out the edge of the flowers to create the desired effect. She saw a better way to change the edges so she used a blowing technique. This surprised me. Her knowledge of the various watercolor techniques and when to apply them proved to me that her grasp and awareness of the use watercolor is by far greater than I could have imagined.

Brianna flowering pots class2

Brianna flowering pots class4

Brianna’s finished painting

She was so pleased with herself and I could see the confidence with which she paints is growing greater with each painting. I am so proud of her and look forward to many delightful experiences painting with her.


Here are some of the flowering pots I did as examples either in my classes or preparing for my classes.





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Painting the Swan Family in Watercolor

•June 21, 2017 • 7 Comments


Cygnets 7 2017

I feel so blessed to be able to see these sweet baby swans swim daily by my house. Most days they stop by, have a bite to eat and sun themselves on the warm sand. I have dozens of photos of them. I’m hoping to spend lots of time painting them with my watercolors.

I choose this photo because I liked the composition of the 3 cygnets. First I sketch the image onto my watercolor paper. I am using Arches 140lb paper 15″x11″ I paint the eyes first, I feel it starts to bring the animals to life.

Cignets A1

To start painting the birds I am using Hematite Genuine a Daniel Smith watercolor paint. I love the granulating effect it achieves. It is great for painting animal fur or wherever I need texture.

Cignets A2

Cignets A3

When the babies are finished I add a background to the painting. I am using Luna Blue and a touch of Phtalo Blue both are Daniel Smith paints.

Cignets A4 copy

My finished painting is only my 1st attempt at painting this photo. I will take the parts that I feel are successful and use them in the next painting and the areas that I feel were unsuccessful I will use as a learning experience.

I’m already looking forward to getting back into my studio and starting another painting of this photo. I will make sure I share those results with you soon.


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Painting Edges – Flowering Pots

•May 30, 2017 • 3 Comments

I have been preparing for my latest watercolor workshop and I thought these flowering pots would be an easy exercise in how to paint hard & soft edges. I  firmly believe that we learn not only by seeing an artist paint but by doing it ourselves therefore I always challenge my students with simple exercises encompassing a single technique. This lesson is all about painting edges. I constantly stress the importance of changing up the edges in our paintings to create more interest for the viewer.

The most simple explanation of edges is:

Hard edges are created by working on dry paper

Soft edges are created by working on wet paper

Paint a few connecting shapes, each one a different color allowing the edges to touch and the paint to bleed into one another. The outer edges will be hard edges painted on dry paper.

Edges-Flowering Pots

While the paint is still damp add the flower shapes to the pots. Have fun choosing the colors and allow them to blend & flow into each other and into the pots. Within each shape you will have very soft edges.  You do not have to define each flower, the painting will read as groups of flowers.

Edges-Flowering Pots2

Look at how cheery & enchanting this uncomplicated exercise is. Here are several more for you to try.



Edges-Flowering Pots3


Edges-Flowering Pots4


Edges-Flowering Pots5


My goal for my students is to help them better understand the use & techniques of painting with watercolor. I design my workshops to include exercises to make them feel successful. I think this will be a good lesson that when it is complete they can walk away with a better understanding of painting edges.


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