Garden Days Are Here Again

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One of the final projects of my watercolor class I teach was home portraits.

I love doing home portraits because in looking back, they become little time capsules.

For instance, here is the portrait I did of the same house seven years ago:

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We had just moved in, the house was green, my kids were 5&7 yrs, we had our first cat Pina still with us and I had decided to do a little folk painting capturing all of the kid’s activities.

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Seven years later, I painted the house the color I wanted, created the gardens I envisioned, my kids are now teens, our new cat is Willow. Times have changed.  My plan is to keep the old paintings behind the new paintings in the frame.  This way seven years from now I can look back and reflect again.  I wish I had done a painting of my first house ten years before that, but I hadn’t thought of it!

I can’t talk about my home without instantly referring to my gardens.  My yard is small, the house is –a cape.  Not much out of the ordinary there. But my gardens are where I feel I have made my mark. It’s where I’ve turned my house into a home.

If your a gardener, you can’t help but take photos.  There’s so much going on in the garden! It’s almost like I need to look at it through photographs in order to process it all.  I also think that gardening is the largest inspiration in my artwork because it makes such an impact on my life. I absolutely love organic lines as well as the twists, turns and wiggles.  Gardens are like puzzles of perfect chaos.

So here is my inspiration for 2019. It has been a fantastic year for flowers.  I have moved every plant in my yard at least three times, but I am starting to feel like everything is now in it’s place.

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Back I go – into my gardens.

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My Rhode Island







I just finished a series of paintings of some of my favorite local locals.

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The painting at top left was a little 12 x 16 painting I did during my 365.  Back then I had spent weeks trying to minimalize my painting style as much as possible.  I had loved the effect and promised to return to the concept, but you know me…I got distracted :)

Well, I remembered and tried again.  Even though the color palette is quite restrained and minimal itself, I tried to keep the colors as bright and vivid as possible.  No mud.  I don’t see the world through a beige lens :)

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I also knew I wanted them to all tie together like a series, so I worked on all of them simultaneously.

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First I did all the skies, then I blocked out the landscapes and then carefully, one by one I added all the details. I have to say, adding the trees, grass and rocks was terrifying.  I really liked the uber-simple landscapes and wondered if I should just stop there.  I’d love to get some viewers feedback.  How minimal should I go and still be able to communicate my beautiful locale?  My intuitive self would say make a hundred more paintings and then you’ll see clearly… but my good old regular self says “hey, that’s way to long. I want to know now!”   Yes talking to myself again… :)

I am going to turn this collection into a mini-art print set.  I’m thinking 8×10’s.  It will make just the prettiest little bathroom for someone won’t it?    ;)

Today’s my birthday.

As a gift to myself, I joined Weight Watchers and the gym in February.  My goal was to feel awesome by my birthday which is always Memorial Day weekend which just happens to coincide with the beginning of summer.  The past months have been a lot of hard work and discipline.  I put myself first very adamantly.  My exercise schedule was just as important as the kids music lessons, sports practices and play dates. Of course there was guilt in that at first, but now I am an equal citizen in our family and everyone has supported me.  To date, I have lost 16 pounds.  And guess what?  IT FEELS AWESOME!!!  Hardly anything is wiggling and jiggling and I’ve slowly decreased my addiction to salty crunchy junk food (mainly Doritos and anything orange!)

So today I will thank the universe for my good health and smaller waist size.  But I think I’ll take an extra few moments to embrace the discipline.  I come up with some crazy goals and after I declare them to the world, I WILL NOT BACK DOWN.  That’s usually why I like the declaring it to the world part.  But really, I didn’t think I could do this one.  I really like to eat – and drink for that matter ;)  I thought I’d fail within a month… maybe even two weeks.  But, showing up at WW, seeing the same women each week and routing each other on, sort of made it fun.  I don’t own a scale so I had to show up for weigh-in once a week.  That in itself was enough to get my personal drive  into OVERDRIVE.  I do like a challenge I must say.  It’s been pretty cool.

So, I did it.

The weather is absolutely stellar today. I’m heading outside with my head held high.  I’m a year older and I feel great!


#322- Vivid Knoll (2)

30″x36″ gouache painting on 140 lb cold press paper.

Wow, this painting didn’t go at all as expected.

I was going for a free spirit, go where the wind takes you painting experience and instead I got the total opposite! I should have known better.  You can’t  plan  spontaneity!

If you look at yesterday’s post, you can see how I back pedaled on half the painting.

#322- Vivid Knoll (4)

Eventually I worked it out.

#322- Vivid Knoll (3)

I got to make some more tree stamps today.  I’m debating on adding one more tree to the bottom right.  I most likely will.  I’ll see if I still think so in the morning and then I’ll post my changes.

You know, I haven’t really worked with gouache in months.  In fact, before this creativity challenge, I had never worked with gouache at all.  I feel like this week the medium finally clicked.  I get its plusses and minuses now. Months ago I tried very hard to create a smooth surface with gouache. Now I see textured brushstrokes are what make these paints so appealing.  I also didn’t realize you could paint over areas nor did I know you could reactivate the paint with water similar to watercolors.  I’m slowly learning through experience.  I have to say, mostly what I adore is this medium’s vibrancy.  I’ve never experienced colors so clean, crisp and vivid.

Now that I’m getting the hang of gouache, I’d like to try again. To try to create more works.  Hey, they can only get better from this point I think right?

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#321- One step forward three steps back (1)

Yesterday’s post was all about using my intuition, you know, going with my gut.

Ah yeah, that didn’t go so well.

I was so excited this morning to wake up and complete this painting.  I really liked it yesterday and I thought it would go smoothly today. Nope.

My concentration was completely off.  blame it on the kids running back and forth, blasting their morning cartoons or blame it on me.  I just couldn’t get into the zone.

Do you know what happens when I don’t get in the zone? This:

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I started in one direction, and hours later I was whiting out everything I had worked all day. I just couldn’t find a direction to go in.

I know, I know, some days are like that, but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing!

#321- One step forward three steps back (3)

I printed out my unfinished painting and then used markers to fill it in.  I was hoping to gain some perspective for tomorrow.  Two of these could work, but I am going to rest my eyes and look at it again tomorrow morning.  Hopefully the answer will come.


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Day #320 – Half a landscape

#320 - Half a landscape (1)

I started a new 30×36″ gouache painting on 140 lb cold press paper today.

I wanted to try one more time because I felt like yesterday’s painting was a little more planned and calculated then I wanted it to be.

Pattern Hill, yesterdays painting, was mapped out, sketched and deliberated. There isn’t anything wrong with this, in fact, most people would expect that this is what one would strive for.  But what I would like to experience is a painting created purely on gut instinct.  No over thinking. No angst.  Just trusting your gut.

Today I wanted to try again to go the direction of this painting: #313- Ode to Hundertwasser


To many it may look like their third grader’s last art assignment, but it really is not easy to deconstruct the world into lines and wiggles.  Really, your entire life from kindergarten on, teachers are trying to show you the “right” way to paint or draw.  This usually has a heavy emphasis on rendering exactly what one may see, not on using one’s imagination to create that which does not exist.

I fall into this category.  My whole art education seems to have revolved around learning how to draw everything realistic.  I like realistic rendering.  I do. It can be very rewarding, but I don’t ever feel like I get lost in a realistic painting.  My mind doesn’t wander, question or provoke thoughts.  I think  to myself “Pretty apple or very flabby body or yes that looks just like Madonna or wow a tulip and it still has dew on it.” and this is where my thought on the painting ends.  Pretty.

Yet abstracts and impressionism leave room for me to wonder.  Why is that there?  What’s around the bend?  The artist deliberately manipulated that, why?

I love the freedom, the lack of restrictions, no comparisons, no one telling you what is “right”.  It is simply your vision.  People can like it, dislike it, they can not understand, they can not even care.  But there may be a few that gain more insight into your brain, how you think, how you feel, and what naturally flows from your tap.

This year is my first year venturing outside realism.  I’m not sure what my publics response is to it, but I sincerely am doing it for me.  I enjoy it.  When I put paint down without any thoughts, without a script, I feel like I am working purely off intuition.  No angst, no comparison, no get it “right”. I’m simply feeling and reacting.  In this way, I also feel way more vulnerable.  It’s like hanging your soul on a wall for others to see.  Not so many volunteers for that job I’d imagine.

#320 - Half a landscape (2)

So for today’s painting I filled up a palette with paint, picked a spot on a large white canvas and began to paint.  From the first spot, I stay incredibly present and simply ask myself “Do you want to go left? right? up? down? Quick! Don’t over think it, choose a color…what FEELS right?” and I simply move from area to area.  No pencil sketch, no itinerary, no struggle to implement all the “shoulds” I’d like to add to my work.  It’s just the inner me. Which apparently is very bright.  I mean LITERALLY!

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Here’s another tidbit about today.

I just love carving. Next year I think I’ll have to try wood cuts, but for now, stamps will suffice!

I created a forest stamp to use in my painting today.  I carved it out of a pink rubber eraser.  It worked perfectly.  It gives an area a “wood cut” look to it which I just adore. Here’s a close up of the stamp in action. It’s from the right top section of my painting:

#320 - Half a landscape (2)b

There is so much more to do tomorrow.  Day #320 of my challenge and still LOVING it! I have to go to sleep so I can wake up and get busy.

Until then…Nighty Night!

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Day 319 – PATTERN HILL Completed

#319 - Pattern Hill completed (1)

Pattern Hill  30″ x 36″ gouache painting on 140 LB Cold Press paper.

What a fun painting! Well, I had fun painting it for what it’s worth!  It has all my favorite components:

Color, pattern and I was even able to sneak in some of my hand-made stamps.

Did I mention color?

I love the movement created by the curvy black and white fence.  I like the herringbone pattern sliding down the hill.  I love the way the sky just says hallelujah gosh darn it! I just want to put on some running shoes and take to the road like Forrest Gump!

Well, that’s sort of it.  Quite plainly.

This painting makes me feel happy and energetic and don’t we all need a little of that?

Happy Friday everybody!

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Day # 318 – PATTERN HILL


I feel a little bit better today.

Yesterday I was feeling like the painting was embarrassing and weird.  Today it’s just weird which I’m totally fine with!

So judging by the title have you figured out the premise?  I plan on having a blast coming up with all sorts of patterns and designs.


I started the day off simply blocking all the spaces off with color.  It’s great having a computer.  Every once in a while I take a photo and put the painting up on my computer screen.  This allows me to gain some distance from my painting.  Since the painting is large, I don’t have much space to literally “back up”.  It allows me to check the colors and patterns and gain perspective.

I was originally thinking the sky didn’t fit.  It’s a totally different style of painting, but today it doesn’t bother me as much.  I love days when the clouds seem aligned with the sun.  The sunrise and sunset are in a halo of sun-glow.  Somehow it works for me.

It’s pretty cool to see in real life.  It’s large enough that you can focus in on different areas and roam around a bit.  I love that in art, when you’re forced to wander.

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I hope to finish this painting tomorrow. There is still quite a bit to do.  I’ll cross my fingers!

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I had so much fun with the painting #313- ODE TO HUNDERTWASSER this past weekend that I decided to try something similar only really large.  The painting I started today is 30″ x 36″.  That’s about the size of a dishwasher.


Ok. So this is the painting from Saturday.  It is gouache and I did it without any planning.  It started abstract and then I went in the direction my first strokes took me.


Already, I’ve done too much planning on this one.  I created a small sketch or map you might say. I also have been thinking a great deal about color and pattern before I put it down on the paper.

I think it’s bad news.  I should have went from the gut like last time.  The sky is traditional and painterly yet the foreground is more of a 2 dimensional pattern.  The two styles contradict one another.  Tomorrow I will begin the task of flattening the sky and adding more detail to the patterns in the front.

I’m sure something cool will come from it, but already I want to try again without planning, you know, simply intuitively paint.

That is the one thing I hate about this daily blog.  I totally do not want to show my work today.  I feel completely vulnerable.  I’d never show this step of a painting if I knew I was going to scrap it.  I guess that is what’s cool about blogging though.  It’s real.  Not every day is perfect.

We shall see what tomorrow brings to this painting.


On another note, I was complaining Saturday that I ran out of yellow gouache. What was frustrating is that I still have plenty of every other color but yellow.  I guess I’m a little heavy-handed in the yellow department.

Thank you South County Art Supply I mention this because I had the coolest thing happen to me at South County Art Supply.  I went in and bought a new six-pack of gouache paint because I needed the yellow.  I was telling the owner this and the next thing I know, she slipped a yellow paint tube in my bag.  It was yellow gouache from her own personal set.  I think that says so much about Andrea and her mom & pop art supply store.  When I tell her what I like and dislike about certain products, the very next time I come in, she has thought of a solution.  When I need something she doesn’t carry, she orders it lickety-split. She also does a great job educating me about what’s new on the market.  I’m sure I’ve already said this, but I’m so very glad to have S.C.A.S right here in our little town.  It is such an asset. Thank you!

On that note, I’m headed back to the kitchen to put my mom-hat back on.  Got to get dinner on the table ASAP!

See you tomorrow!

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Every time I come home from the library with a big heavy art book, I find yet another wave of inspiration!

This past visit reintroduced me to the work of Grandma Moses. When I was a child Grandma Moses was one of my favorite artists. I believe it’s because there is just so darn much to look at!  Her paintings tell stories about her life, where she lived and how she felt about things.  As an adult I still look at all of the detail with wonder and amazement.  But now I realize how valuable these paintings are historically. They document life on a farm during the early 19oo’s.  People rode horses, hung laundry, quilted, canned, & gardened. We may have forgone some of those traditions in the name of technology, but the idea of documenting one’s memories, great loves and surroundings seems like a valuable endeavor.

Worth a try right?


For those who know South County, Rhode Island where I live, they know it’s not just a town we love, it’s an area.

Because Rhode Island is such a small state, everything is a hop, skip and a jump. South County is a region of the state.  It is where you find the most sea-shore.

In my painting, I combined 5 towns into one.  The theme is Autumn in South County so I took all the different things I love to do and wrapped them all into one. It may not be technically accurate, but it is what I am considering a memory painting.

When I look at this painting I will think of how gorgeous the sailboats are as you drive over the Jamestown & Newport bridges.   How quiet all the towns are after the tourists have gone home.  I think of Galilee, where you can watch the lobsterman head out to sea.  Off in the distance are the Beavertail and Narragansett Lighthouses. Center left is historic Casey Farm.  This is where Rhode Island Red chickens are raised.  Dead center is “The Tower” or some locals call it “The Tow-ah”.  The longer you live here, the more reasons you find to never pass the tower. Meaning you never leave South County!  Hey want to go to Boston? Providence? Connecticut?  Nope. too far most locals would say.  “We’ll just stay here.”  I used to think this was one of the oddest things, now I find myself one of them.  In Jamestown, across from Watson Farm is where I go to see the large hay bails.  They look like giant jelly rolls randomly strewn across the field. North Kingstown is where I go apple picking and by the time the fall is over, I will have most likely taken my kids to 4 different farm festivals filled with hayrides, corn mazes, homemade French fries and pumpkin picking. I also added my little town.  we are all sad when Brickley’s ice cream closes for the winter.  I included our Neighborhood Guild, playground and bike path too.

My final thought on autumn is of course Halloween.  This year my son is going to be a court Jester skeleton and my daughter Cleopatra.  I stuck them in the hay wagon since they are the ones that inspire me to get outdoors and enjoy it all!

This painting is a 10×20 inch watercolor.  I might just have to create memory paintings of the other three seasons too!

Thanks for the memories Grandma Moses.  I find your ideas delightful!

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