Free Range


Free Range

Recently my son and his wife bought an old farmstead. One of the amazing features of the property is a deluxe chicken coup and beside it this enormous ancient oak. I believe I will sit to plein air dabble on many a summer, fall, winter, and spring afternoon. The Kalamazoo River runs behind the distant trees . . . and the chicken will soon range free.


Rovinj, Croatia


Little Venice.

Two Christmases ago my son gave his sister Abigail a round-trip ticket to Croatia where she spent the summer working as bartender, cook, tour guide and all round peace maker, at a friend’s hostel in Pula. It is truly a beautiful part of the world. She took this picture in Rovinj, Croatia when she was there with some other residents.

PureWatercolour Easter Challenge

Several months ago I joined a very friendly and encouraging (free) online website hosted by Patrick Ley-Greaves (of youtube fame) called PureWatercolour (, where there is a forum for chatting and exchanging ideas, and many many helpful tutorial videos for the beginning watercolorist. Every couple of months there is a challenge. This one was to paint 14 paintings over the course of 14 days from a list of themes. This was indeed a challenge as I am very slow and although none of the paintings is good in its own right, I got some good sketches for later work and I learned to go faster 🙂

My first was a plein air sketch of a favorite spot of mine:

Bridge Closed Sketch

This bridge has been out for as long as we have lived here and longer. Folk just like it that way. At one time the bridge crossed this little creek called Augusta Creek. Now it’s just a nice quiet spot to sit and pray. There’s not much traffic with no bridge to the other side. I will later develop this into a painting.

50 years - Senior Moment

As turned out to be the case with several of the paintings that I did for this challenge. Next was “50 Years” done for the theme “senior moment.” It is a portrait I am working on for my daughter-in-law of her Grandparents who passed away last fall. This is the rough draft and it is indeed Rough! I’m sure you will agree once you have seen the finished product.



Painted Rocks Painting

The next little painting was a color experiment for the theme “the color of magic” and I chose the Painted Rocks of Northern Michigan. dripped paint. It was at least fun:


Into Perspective

This next one was silly, but I had so much lovely paint left in my palette from my painted rocks that I did not want to waste so I painted “Looking into my Palette” for the “Into Perspective” theme. I took a lot of artistic license in interpreting this theme, I admit.




This next little painting was for the theme “Insects.” I love moths, they are so beautiful. But, I don’t love working small. This painting is 4″ x 4″ which was a huge challenge for me . . . AND I need to work on my backgrounds. The darks are done with a mix of Indanthrene Blue, Cadmium Red, and burnt umber.


fire and ice


The Land of Fire and Ice – where Neflheim meets Muspelheim and Norse creation begins. This was fun!! for the theme “Earth, Wind and Fire.’ Lot’s of color and experimentation with techiques I’d never tried before, like plastic wrap!


Love is in the Air


And the last painting for week 1 was for the theme “Love is In the Air.” I sent this to Ruthie as a card for encouragement as she begins her busy season at work. Another very small painting. This completed the first week and I am exhausted but pleased that I am keeping up with the pace.


Easter Challenge WEEK TWO:

This week is going to present a particular challenge because I am getting ready for my Spring Break and getting my Grandsons to keep with me while their mom is in Pakistan on assignment with Rotary for two weeks. So I try to stay ahead and get done early.

Child's Play2

This first painting for the theme “Child’s Play” is done from a photo by my daughter Miriam of her youngest son Charlie and his friend Lula playing at the beach. I have wanted to paint this and this is the practice version. I don’t know how to do the shoreline wave. But, I think I have a better idea now and an about to start on the finished painting.



Painting #9 for the theme “reflections” I thought it was Venice, but my daughter who took the picture just informed me that it is Rovinj, Croatia. They call it Little Venice. I actually really love this one and will give it to Abigail as a gift once it’s framed.




Painting #10 is kinda funny but totally recognizable. For the theme “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” I decide to do this portrait of Abigail. And I can tell you, I am slow as molasses in winter when painting a portrait. So this was an added challenge of doing a portrait in less than 30 minutes. I tried. It’s rather cartoonish and doesn’t do her justice. Again, this might get painted later.




For painting #11, the “Equine” theme, I did a copy of a painting of a favorite artist of mine, Hazel Soan. Ummmmm, her’s is much better. But, I’d like to do more silhouette work.




Ok, we’re almost done. Painting #12 for the theme “mammals” I did this painting from a photo found online of a Cheetah! I gave it to my grandson, but he left it here so he must not have been very impressed 🙂 Admittedly, she looks a bit threatening.


Down to the wire here for painting #13, themed “stormy seas.” This started out as an experiment for the theme “Space the Final Frontier.” I wanted to try layering the washes with cellophstormy seasane, drying completely between washes, growing darker each time. I think I did four layers, adding Prussian blue in the last two to really darken it up. In the third wash I also used salt, the effect of which was intensified by the last wash and cellophane. But, I decided it looked more like it could be made into a better “stormy sea and sky scene”, so I went that way with a little Chinese white and some yellow in the sky. A fun experiment with new stuff. I actually like this one.

low tide painting

And last and finally!!! painting #14 for the theme “low tide” and I’m going to post it just as a show of humility ( an oxymoron ). But, this painting was a disaster. I was using the wrong paper that got mixed up with my Arches stash. And I had never worked on this paper before. Very different.


And that ends the Easter Challenge with PureWatercolour. They run these challenges every couple of months and they really are great for just getting you painting. The mini challenge for this month is “Interiors.” Come join us! There are accomplished artists and those just beginning, all posting their paintings for encouragement and community.



Henry Painting

This painting is of my grandson Henry. He was over one day and I asked if he would sit for me and so he did. But, as any 9-year-old boy would do, he got fidgety  and so I snapped some pictures and went from there with the pictures and my model notes.

A couple of weeks later I had finished the portrait and was picking Henry up from school so I took the opportunity to show it to him to get his input. He looked and looked and talked about all the things that he liked about the painting; he liked the design in the couch, and the shirt is really nice and the background is good . . . but his tone was pretty unenthusiastic. This is what he was looking at:

henry portrait

So, I asked him to tell me about what he didn’t like. He was very hesitant, said he didn’t want to hurt my feeling. But, I explained that I was just learning and that I needed his input to make me better. So, he let loose: “Gramma, I’m just too perfect. My nose is too small, I need some freckles or blemishes of some kind and my hair is never that neat. I look more like a plastic toy Henry, like a Henry action figure.” I agreed and told him I really appreciated his input.

So, I mussed him up a bit and the finished product is above.