Secret Garden Series – #4 PEACOCK

It’s soooo hot!!!!

I’m finding it hard to focus! I told myself I was making a set of 8 paintings about a fantasy garden and here I sit only just completing #4. I’d say I’m crawling… at least that is how I feel. I thought about this for a moment. For the past two weeks, I have slightly dreaded showing up to the canvas. Why is that? The easy answer is that I am a Gemini personality with ADHD tendencies, but a little deeper, I think it might be all the detail. These paintings are so loaded with detail, it’s like painting 17 different paintings within one. Because of this, I don’t get that instant gratification of making serious headway. The painting can look the same for many days. Boo. I like fireworks and race cars!

With this said, in times like this, I refer back to one of my all time favorite films “Field of Dreams”. I whisper to myself “…go the distance” and “If you build it, they will come…” The film was about building a baseball field, but really, the message is about having BLIND faith. Even when you don’t know the outcome, what your doing or why, listen to that little inner voice and JUST DO IT. Boy, That film came out in 1989. That was a while ago. I’m kind of laughing because apparently I have been whispering “go the distance” to my self for like 31 years. When do all of my dreams come to fruition???

Over and Over I am realizing that when these big 18″ x 24″ watercolors are completed, it’s the little vignettes that I love. For instance, my favorite parts of the peacock painting are these:

They don’t feel as overtly planned as the larger composition, yet I could have never created the ease of the animals location without the heavy planning of the larger composition. I’m calling these little vignettes “moments”. So after I finish the 8th painting in this series, I want to move to working at the smaller size of 16″ x 20″, have fewer subject matter and try to create “moments”. I just don’t know why simplicity is so elusive to me!

Here are the smaller 8″x10″ and 5″x7″ watercolor studies up against the large final painting:

I like viewing the evolution. This concept changed a lot, yet you can see small details like a butterfly passing by which made it to the final draft.

I almost forgot! Here are some details. Each of the 8 paintings will have a Latin phrase within it. For this painting, the phrase is “FORTIS FORTUNA ADIUVAT” which translates to “Fortune favors the bold”. I love that. Life’s too short. Be bold man. Be bold! There’s also a bunch of items hidden in the garden. For this painting be on the look-out for: a frog, an Egyptian ankh, a cairn, an infinity symbol, an umbrella, a letter, a monarch, a queen chess piece, a gold finch feather and the number thirteen.

I keep this visual on my computer. Like a kid putting a star sticker on the refrigerator, I get to add another visual to my completion poster. Ahh, that feels good!

Because I’m suffering from a little summer brain-drain, I am going to pause the button on this series. Just for a week or two. I am craving a new painting to put over my fireplace mantle and I have some amazing photographs from my vacation on Block Island that I’d like to play with. I’m going to flip to acrylic paints and canvas which will disorient my brain. I hope the disorientation can act as a small mental vacation. That way I can come back to this series refreshed and ready to start #5.

Amen. Aint no rest for the painting weary!

2nd Set of Secret Garden: Cats



5×7 inch study for watercolor painting series.

Here is the comparison of the first attempts and my latest adaptation.   As you can see, this one hasn’t changed that much.  The concept is still the same, I’m just trying out different variables…



It does seem that my sole focus has been on figuring out the setting.  Creating that background.  I like the new layout from the 5×7 drawing, so I will keep it but my next focus will be on really punching up foliage and flowers.  After all, this is supposed to be a secret GARDEN!

Secret Garden Series – Cat and Fowl


8 x 10″ watercolor study.

Here is a great example of how an image evolves if you continue to draw and sketch it. Below is my first drawing:


After drawing this initial study, I felt like I wanted a more tight/ close-up composition.

Recently, I just started my third attempt at this concept which is already completely different.  I chose a different building facade, a different cat laying in a different position and different flowers.  If something has never existed before, you need to look at it in many different ways to finally know what it is you want.  It’s like an architect.  They have to be able to visualize an arch, dome, cube and cone attached in all sorts of ways, well before they break ground on a building.  However, they get to use computers. I’m using a fairly archaic mind ;)

Overall, I like the subject matter.  So the concept will go forward.  I may add fabric into the layout as well as symbols and secrets.

 continuing on …

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I know, I know, what was I thinking?  How on earth did I wind up with a cat in a bag?

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Well, it began with a lesson in pinch pots.  I was learning how to trap air inside a pinch pot.  Pretty much, you create a clay bubble.  When air is trapped inside, you can then roll, morph and play with the clay, yet it stays inflated. I took my clay bubble and transformed it into a cat head.

Well, then what do you do with a cat head?  First I tried making a coil pot for its body, but it looked horrible.  It looked like an abandoned bee hive.  It was abandoned to the trash!

Then the idea struck me…BAD PUN = AWESOME! = CAT IN A BAG

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I made a ceramic bag out of clay slabs, stamped in my bad pun, added some handles and viola!

It’s being bisque fired as we speak….

Now what will  I do with a  cat in a bag when  I get this thing home? …hmm… I have no idea!

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Today was another first.

This is a pastel drawing on black Canson paper 19×25″.

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Here lies one more art medium I haven’t had the pleasure of working in.   Of course since I haven’t really worked with it, I’m going to find it somewhat intimidating and if I  find it somewhat intimidating then it really should be part of my creativity challenge!  It wasn’t too bad actually. I found it moves along faster than other mediums.  Most likely because nothing has to dry.

Above is a wonderful treasure trove of artist pastels handed down to me by my illustrator grandfather after he passed away.  Some of these materials date back to the 1950’s- 70’s.  He’d be happy that they weren’t thrown away and were put to good use.  I just love the old boxes.  They make me think of his artist studio.  My grandfather used quite a bit of charcoal and pastel.  He drew illustrations for King Features Syndicate in NYC.  Many of them were for magazine articles and stories.  The most memorable were murder mysteries.  The drawings were great.  No one else knew that it was his wife posing dead on the floor or his children shrieking in fear! Every year he would gather all of his grandkids and pose them in all sorts of crazy positions. A few months later these magical Christmas cards would emerge.  All of us kids would be pointing toward the North Star, There was Grandpa and his little angels, little drummer boys, he was so creative.  I’m lucky to have been born from such a creative and supportive family, really blessed.

 #346 - my widdle willow (3) #346 - my widdle willow (1)

I began by mapping out the lights and darks of my furry friend.  From there I created the patterned Afghan, and then went back and added some finishing touches to Willow.

You have to know the blanket’s my favorite part, however I do love to watch my little kitty all snuggled up cat-napping.  Willow loves to sit on ALL of my papers, mostly my artwork.  If I leave the room for even a minute, when I come back she’s lying on my artwork.  Today wasn’t any different.  I came in and Willow was sitting on my pastel.  Do you have any idea what damage a cat can do with pastel?  I had little blue kitty tracks everywhere! She’s lucky she’s so cute and soft, that’s all I gotta say on that matter.

Which brings me to my final thought.  Can anyone out there give me advice on how to work with pastels neatly?  I made such a mess!  My table was covered, my floor was covered and I was covered in very richly colored pastel dust.  When I added water to the table, I added an extra 20 minutes to my clean-up detail.  It became a colorful spackle!  I brought out the vacuum for the floor and myself, but something tells me I only got half of it.  How do pastel artists set up and walk away unscathed?  I’d love to work with this medium again, but something tells me I may need to invest in tarps and a Hazmat suit!

Wow, I actually finished with an hour to spare today.  That hasn’t happened in months.

As a special treat, I am off to do a little local Christmas shopping.

I hope you all are having a Merry!

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Ok. Not really.  I made faux wallpaper for my painting though!


First I had to design and cut out a custom stamp.  This is a nod to the Indian Pomegranate motif.  I love how the positive and negative spaces of this shape fit so nicely.  It’s great for wallpaper!


I also made two leaf stamps as well…I didn’t get to apply them today though.

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I also started to add some pattern to the dress today.  I plan on covering everything with pattern, so it’s going to take a little bit longer….

I also finished up all the hands today as well.

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Here’s a picture of newspaper I cut to cover a particular area before I begin stamping.  This way part of the stamp prints onto the newspaper giving the illusion the wallpaper is behind the woman.  I rip and tear tons of little pieces of newspaper throughout the entire process.  There is always some area that needs temporary protection.


This is my painting of a multi-tasking mom as of today…

IMG_4846 #256 - Little Further #262- WALLPAPERER (1)


Well, at least my cat’s enjoying it!

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