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Looking for My Inner Child

January 13, 2020

The holidays came and went just like that, didn’t they? For the first time ever, I didn’t put up my tree, and it felt so good. I still draped the top of my china cabinet and the mantel with lights and some garland, and that was that.

Then a quick trip to Florida over New Year’s to celebrate with some of my kids, grands, and greats. And here is where it gets especially fun. One of the moms shipped watercolors, brushes, and paper ahead so we could have some art time, and we did it all at a table outside. It was glorious. How I love kids’ art. They have a fearlessness and freedom that we lose at some point as we get older, and then we struggle to regain that same spark.

My favorite time of the year is now, after the holidays, when there’s not much going on out in the wider world. It’s a nice, quiet, creative time for dreaming, sketching, and just letting my inner child play with ideas.

My watercolor classes are back after a 2-week break, and everyone is glad to be back in “therapy.” We all miss it when there’s no class. I want to push them a little bit this year to try to open up and be more free. We’ve spent a lot of time just getting to know a bit about the medium, and each one has his or her own way of approaching it. It’s been interesting watching that unfold. There are the ones who are perfectly happy being loose and free, and then there are a couple of perfectionists who still want their work to be more like a photograph. I think you may know where I fit in: loose and free is my eventual goal. But it’s funny how a new medium forces one to go through baby steps before feeling brave. At least that’s what has happened with me. Please, Goddess, let me learn by watching the children.

Progress in the Studio

November 24, 2019

The last time I checked in with you, clutter in the studio was seriously getting in the way of the creative process. After ignoring it for as long as I could, I decided to take concrete action. You might not even notice that a lot of “stuff” is gone, but the space is starting to feel more calm and inviting. The one thing that I’ve pledged to do is fill one trash bag a day and remove it, starting with three full bags yesterday. I can do this. It felt good to make a start.


Paintings my Friday friends are currently working on.


This is the table dedicated to my 8-year-old student. Those canvases leaning against the cabinet  on the right need to go out of sight — just not out of mind.


Paints sorted – sort of. This is just one handy bin where I keep my odds and ends of acrylic paints.


The table to the left will get cleared off once again. This will take a little longer.

So, the studio is a work in progress, as am I. I will leave you with a closeup of the contents of my nature basket, a constant source of inspiration. If you look at the picture above, you can see it in the window on the far right.

Have a creative day!

Cleanup on Aisle Three

November 8, 2019

This studio has become unworkable. Now that I have private lessons in here twice a week, I’ve discovered there’s no place to lay out things to work on them myself. It is way past time to start tossing things.

I’ve always worked in the midst of controlled chaos, but this is ridiculous. Seriously.

On a happy note, I am having the best time with my new sketchbook, ultra fine point Sharpie, and my tiny watercolor field set and water brushes.

My next brave step is going to be sketching in public places like coffee shops and maybe the public library. It’s too cold to do that outside yet.

I strongly recommend a sketchbook. I never developed the sketchbook habit before, because my painting always involved paints and textures and materials and brushes. Now that I’m enjoying watercolor, doing lots of drawing is a necessary part of that. I couldn’t be happier.

Learning on the Job

September 19, 2019

As I recently wrote, I’m still teaching a watercolor class for beginners. Ages in the class range from 19 to 91! I don’t think 91-year-old Bettye would mind it one bit if I publicized a picture of her posing with a recent painting. She’s always very proud of her work. I photograph all the paintings each time, but I don’t usually take a  picture of an individual student posting with their work. But with Bettye I do. Every time.

Bettye is amazing. I love to tell people that she goes to spin class three times a week. She no longer drives, but has enough friends and family members to get her where she needs to go.

Teaching watercolor is my way of learning on the job. I don’t charge for the classes, but I get more than I give to it. Still, when learning and teaching a new medium or skill, it’s a temptation to stick with conventional imagery. I’m getting a little restless now, after a year of this, and have started to wonder if the ladies (plus one brave man!) would like to cut loose and play a little. That’s still in the thinking stage.

A couple of weeks ago our lesson was sunflowers. Here is my class demo.

And although I did give them a sunflower drawing as a guide, they did their own interpretations. Here are a few of them. I adore sunflowers, don’t you?

Looking for Inspiration

August 3, 2019

Have you ever felt uninspired? Maybe it’s the summer heat, but I’ve been unable to stir up a lot of inspiration in the studio lately. Feeling a little scattered is part of it as well. I have several must-do projects underway — paintings I’ve promised to a gallery and a commission — as well as teaching the weekly beginners’ watercolor class. So my focus is kind of like a spotlight that shines brightly on first one shiny object and then the next one.

Notice that these things don’t take into consideration the daily maintenance of my surroundings and keeping clutter and dog hair at bay.

Just reading that back, I realize the problem. Too many must-dos. Reducing those down to a minimum or — ideally, to nothing — would open me up to the inspiration that would come naturally as a result. Inspiration is all around us. We just need to open ourselves to it.

In the meantime, the watercolor class I’m teaching is forcing me to get inspired for at least 2 days a week, preparing for a class and actually deciding what I’m going to demonstrate, and practicing beforehand. Then the day of class is kind of a long one, spending whatever remaining time I have before class getting ready, and then the 2 hours with the students.

This week we did sailboats. More than half of the students live on the water. We have one big river running through all of our communities, along with some major tributaries. So naturally the water and the sky are favorite themes. Here’s a fun little slideshow I made from Tuesday’s class time.


Something to remember: Leave room in your day for inspiration.