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Cormorant Roosting On A Snag at Hyatt Lake, OR

Yesterday my husband and I took a drive up into the mountains to nearby Hyatt Lake, OR.  It was a beautiful day and perfect for a drive.  After a good winter for snow and rain, the lakes are almost full.

Cormorants Roosting On Snag, Hyatt Lake ORNaturally, I took my field painting box.  There is an old snag that’s been taken over by the cormorants.  They’ve even established some nests.  I thought I’d sit down and do a watercolor study.

Its funny, when I get into focus mode, trying my best to work with the paint, I forget things like all the little gnats flying around.  Or the killdeer that keeps calling trying to distract me.  Or the ants on the log I was sitting on.  The ants left me alone, so, I left them to do their business.

The next cove down we saw a bald eagle.  We were looking for the osprey; the bald eagle will do!

To crown the day, we stopped to have some ice cream at another lake – Howard Prairie.  Nice indulgence!

All in all, a lovely day at Hyatt Lake in southern Oregon!


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Color Bias: Its Relative; Lesson in Primary Color Mixing & Mood

First Lesson

Color bias was one of the first lessons I learned when I started learning about watercolor painting.  Understanding color bias is useful, particularly in mixing color and creating color mood.

Early Advice – Look For Color Bias

Early in my watercolor painting education, I received some guidance and advice from family friend and retired Arts Student’s League instructor Mr. Vincent Malta.  One idea he shared was that all colors have a bias.  They have a warm bias or cool bias.  Warm bias would be a tendency for the pigment to have a little bit of red or yellow in it; cool bias would be toward blue.

Learning - Its all relativeFor personal clarification, and to assist in color mixing, I refer to the bias as toward yellow, red or blue.

Primary Colors

To begin, lets consider the three primary colors – red, blue and yellow.  Easy enough.  Yellow and red are considered warm colors – think fire.  Blue is a cool color, like ice.

But, its not quite so easy because of pigment bias. That is, most yellows have either a slight red or blue tinge.  Reds are either just a tad bluish or yellowish. You figured it – blues either slightly yellow or slightly red.

Why is this important?  Color mixing. Color mood.

In other words, color bias can be huge!

Color Wheel - Its All RelativeColor Wheel – Simplified

To explain, I thought I’d create a simple color wheel.  I selected two examples of each primary color from my watercolor palette.  I created a wheel, arranging them according to bias or tendency.

Regarding the yellows, new gamboge has a bias toward red; hansa yellow tends toward blue.

The reds I selected are scarlet lake – yellow bias, and quinacridone rose – blue bias.

The blues I chose are Prussian blue – yellow bias, and French ultramarine blue – red bias.

For Instance…

Lets do a “for instance”.  If you mix two primary colors with a bias toward each other, then you get a more “clean” color.  If you mix two primary colors where a third is present through bias then you get a “muddied” color.  Its best to look at pictures.

Color Bias - Its All Relative

Two Primary Color Mixing

Above are the pairings of my paints if I only want two primaries in the mix:

  • new gamboge (red bias) mixed with scarlet lake (yellow bias)
  • quinacridone rose (blue bias) mixed with French ultramarine blue (red bias)
  • Prussian blue (yellow bias) mixed with hansa yellow (blue bias)


Clear as mud?  🙂

Color Bias - three primaries

Three Primary Color Mixing

Compare the two primary mixes with pairings where all three primaries are present.

  • hansa yellow (blue bias) mixed with quinacridone rose (blue bias)
  • new gamboge (red bias) mixed with quinacridone rose (blue bias)
  • scarlet lake (yellow bias) mixed with Prussian blue (yellow bias)
  • scarlet lake (yellow bias) mixed with French ultramarine blue (red bias)
  • quinacridone rose (blue bias) mixed with Prussian blue (yellow bias)
  • French ultramarine blue (red bias) mixed with new gamboge (red bias)
  • French ultramarine blue (red bias) mixed with hansa yellow (blue bias)
  • Prussian blue (yellow bias) mixed with new gamboge (red bias)
  • hansa yellow (blue bias) mixed with scarlet lake (yellow bias)

You might notice that even though the mix might be interesting, the colors aren’t “pure”, or clean.

For example, French ultramarine blue (red bias) and hansa yellow (blue bias) create a muted green.  I might use this green in depicting the soft greens of desert sage.  I would not use the mixture to depict the bright, clean greens of new leaves

Idea Restated

Just to re-interate, two primaries mixed together results in a cleaner, often more vibrant color.  Three primary colors mixed together create more muted, muddied and sometimes richer colors.

And, they’re all good!  The subtle differences help the painter use color to meet expressive intent – that is to say color mood.

So, now what?

I recommend looking at your own palette and experimenting.  Create triads of reds, yellows and blue and think about each pigment’s color bias.  Then, do a small study.  What kind of mood do you create?  How about the colors?  Is it useful to you?


With the left triad, you might notice that all three pigments have a cool bias.  With the middle triad of pigments, there is a warm bias.  The right most triad has a mixed bias, though I would say that it is cool dominant since both hansa yellow and quinacridone rose tend to be cool.

Color Bias - Its All Relative


Please feel free to comment about your own explorations in color bias and mixing.  If you do a blog post of your own color pallet and experiments, please share your link!  Thanks!


Though I talk about watercolor paint, the principle of bias applies to all pigments and paints, from color pencil to oils.



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“Organic Grind” Coffee Kiosk – Drawing Talent Series*

Grinding Another Drawing

Greetings!  Its “Organic Grind” time!   And, time to add another entry in my “Drawing Talent” series.  The series is about on location watercolor drawings of my hometown  of Talent, OR.  (See the bottom of this post for more about the series).

Today I took the opportunity to walk to “Organic Grind”, a local drive through coffee kiosk.

Organic Grind, Watercolor & Ink


About “Organic Grind”

“Organic Grind” is located on one of my exercise routes.  Its also located near one of the main intersections in town where Valley View Drive crosses the Pacific Highway. Its a busy place with lots of customers driving though every morning.  I went out late morning to draw the kiosk and it was still busy.  There was a steady stream of cars driving through.  It made drawing the kiosk interesting as the cars blocked part of the view.  Fun, though.

Today’s baristas were Shawna and Crystal.  I met Shawna; she was nice and enthusiastic about the fact I was drawing the kiosk.

Today’s Lesson Learned

Oh, I learned something today.  As I said above, the kiosk is located near one of the main intersections in town.  The first location I chose for drawing was near one of the roads.  I set up just inside of the sidewalk that borders Valley View Road.

OOOPS!  Not so good.  Valley View Road gets plenty of truck traffic.  Even though I wasn’t on the road, I felt its effects.  The first truck that went by sent my paper flying.  I was received a nice back-blast gust of air.  Not so fun.  I retrieved my equipment and found a better place to draw.

Lesson learned when drawing and painting outside, make sure you are away from truck traffic!

We Love Our Coffee

One thing about the Pacific Northwestern states – we like our coffee.  Its my impression that most towns have several places where one can get an excellent cup of espresso or coffee.  This is one of the things I like about the Northwest.

Double Espresso – Of Course

Naturally, I had to have a double espresso after completing my drawing.  In my opinion, the best way to test a coffee place is to try the espresso – neat of course.  No milk, sugar, cream, syrup or other foreign things in my espresso.

I like an espresso that leaves a satisfying, slightly citrus-ie after taste.   I enjoyed “Organic Grind’s” espresso and recommend it.

Organic Grind, Ball Point Pen

The Drawings

Back to the drawings.  This past February, I did a quick study of the kiosk.  At that time, there were people ordering from one of the coffee windows.  I did this small drawing during my morning exercise session.  I gave myself five minutes or less to do the drawing.  Such time limits force me to look at the big shapes.

Today’s drawing was the watercolor and ink study.  It was done in about an hour or less.  There is nothing particularly magical about the timing.  I’m just working on my ability to focus.  Plus, I want to do the studies quickly so the light doesn’t change too much.

Drawing Talent Series

*Note:  The intention of my “Drawing Talent” series is to get to know my home town one watercolor and ink study at a time.  I started this series in May, 2014.  Its fun and interesting.  Its the type of the thing that one might not ever finish.  Already, some buildings have changed businesses a couple of times.  And, there are plenty of places I haven’t drawn yet.  I have only gone to places within walking distance.

More soon!  I hope you enjoy the drawings!



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Drawing Talent: TID Dump Truck

I just wanted to do it – go and draw something around Talent, OR.  Its been several months since I’ve been out.  Things just keep getting in the way.

Drawing Talent: TID Dumb Truck

For example, rain and storms are headed our direction.  And, it should be rainy for several days.

The signs were there that maybe I’d get rained on.  But, I wanted to go anyway.

So, after lunch dishes I got my tool kit together and made for the door.  Oops.  Where is my hat?  Yes, I do have a special hat that I wear when I’m out drawing on location.  It’s made by “Sunday Afternoons”, which is a Talent based apparel and hat company.

My husband found my special hat for me.

Happily, I walked out the door and went on my way.

Two blocks from the house, I realized I’d forgotten my water.  Kind of hard to work with watercolor without the water.  Fortunately, I had a spray bottle with me.  That’ll work.

I wanted to go down to a coffee kiosk.   But, with the dark clouds gathering over the mountains, I decided to pick a subject closer to home.

I do like the big equipment at the Talent Irrigation District’s motor pool.  Just the subject.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to set up and get to work.

My process is to do a graphite drawing, followed by ink then watercolor.  As I started laying out my drawing – the clouds looked the color of Payne’s gray.  I quickly switched to ink..then watercolor, then back to ink!

It was great fun, no time to think.

I collected my gear and went home.  An hour later, it still hasn’t rained.

The moral of the story?  Sometimes, you just have to go for it.  And, moral number two, be prepared when you forget something.

Maybe I should do a “Drawing Talent” checklist.  🙂



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Weird Year

Greetings!  Its been a weird year.  Could it be because I started out with a proud proclamation of big goals?  I had great intentions of doing a painting every day.

Weird Year; Study: Watercolor Tube & Paint Bottle

And, then, mid-January hit.  A close family member became ill.  And then…and then…and well, then other things happened.  Its been stressful.  Here I am and its almost mid April.  My best intentions and goals seem to be derailed.

But, I’m still painting.  I’m still plugging away at my goal.  Every day I pick up my pencil.  I have missed a few days with the paint brush.  As soon as I can, I get back to it.  Goals have just been sidelined, not totally disregarded.

I think my intention of doing a painting every day was a good one.  That I have not been able to complete one every day doesn’t mean the idea was bad.  Perhaps with this type of year, I need to take things one day at a time and just keep plugging away at it.

Do you have strategies for times when external factors call for your attention to be somewhere other than the studio?  And, when you get back to the studio, what then?

Since its been that type of year, I think I’ll upload one of my latest studies and make sure I have a posting!


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Drawing: Still Life with Egg Cup & Egg Shells

New Drawing

Hi!  I’d like to share a recent drawing with you.  I seem to becoming obsessed by drawing, which is a good thing.  And eggs, shells and cups.  This is an experience I want!

Drawing: Still Life with Egg Cup and Egg Shells

Inspiring Articles

I ‘d like to share a couple of links to articles with you that I think are inspiring.  Both are from the website “In The Artist Studio”.

Article:  “Ask the Expert…Iain Stewart”.  Posted, March 16, 2016.  An interview with the artist.  I particularly liked Mr. Stewart’s answer to the question of how to improve.

Article:  “Words to Paint By, Irwin Greenberg”.  Posted December 7, 2015.  A list of studio practices and disciplines.   Mr. Greenberg was a watercolor artist and instructor.

Its About Experiencing

I think I’m attracted to articles about drawing because I’m interested in improve.  I suppose I’m finding articles that re-inforce my current thinking.  I’m not sure; I just know this is the experience I want!

Draw & Think Some More

Perhaps, I need to think, draw, and then share my thoughts.  In the mean time, I hope you enjoy my drawing of an egg cup and egg shells.



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Creating “Irish Maiden” from Start to Finish

Intro to Creating a Painting

One of my artist friends asked to show how go about creating my paintings.  The suggestion came a couple of months ago while I was participating in a local watercolor critique group.  I said “sure, no problem”.

Now as I get ready to write about it, I wonder what do I say?  On the one hand, its simple:  do a drawing, enlarge, paint layer by layer.  Stop when you’re done.

On the other hand, how do you convey all the in-between work, like the inner dialogue and decision making, that happens while you’re busy creating?  Its all the in-between work that makes the piece.   And, its the in-between work that matters!

Creating Irish Maiden - drawing and finished painting

Concept Development

My process for creating paintings starts with a drawing.  I usually work in a small sketchbook (5.5×8.5) that I can hold in my hand comfortably while I work.  I use pencil, a kneaded eraser and a piece of felt to smudge.  I draw, smudge, lift, draw some more.  I push and pull the design on the piece of paper until I have something I like.

“Irish Maiden” started as a doodle in one of my smaller sketchbooks – smaller than usual.   To explain, a local gallery (Rogue Gallery and Art Center) is having a show with an Irish theme and artist members can submit.  I was playing around, seeing if I could come up with an idea.  I was having trouble coming up with a design, so I switched to my “doodle” sketchbook.

Sometimes, doodles are the best thing.  They help me to get concepts down and ideas flowing.  I thought it would be fun to combine some Irish symbols with a maiden done in a somewhat Cubist style.

After pushing and pulling the pencil around, I started to get an idea!

Creating Irish Maiden, State 1 & 2

Irish Symbols

I went onto the internet to see what I could find about Irish symbols.  I consulted nieces with Irish ancestors to get ideas.  I was able to incorporate a couple of symbols into this particular design.

     The Shamrock.  When I was a child, St Patty’s day was all about wearing a shamrock and green so I wouldn’t get pinched.  Green was my favorite color, so that was easy.  I always thought of the shamrock as being a good luck charm.

But, it is much more than a good luck charm to the Irish people.  The shamrock is the national flower of Ireland.  Its meanings date back to the times of the Druids.  I like the idea that the three lobes of the leaf echo the trinity: life, nature, spiritual; or mind, body spirit.

     Three Spirals; Triskelion or Triskele.  Another ancient symbol the triskelion pre-date the Celts.  It dates back to ancient Greece and Sicily.  It shows up early in Celtic and Irish art.  The spiral represents continuously moving forward.  The triad refers to the things that come in threes again – past, present, future for example.

I like spirals as a symbol of life cycles.   The idea of always moving forward works for me.  So, I created a crown for my maiden incorporating a variation of the three spirals.

Throw in Cubism

I do like the two perspective portrait or double face done Cubist style.  I like to think of it as the face looking and not looking at you.  Its one of my favorite devices when I want to draw an abstract face.  Its not particularly Irish; just fun to use in designing a painting!

Creating Irish Maiden, States 3 & 4

Its About Opposites

I like using a simple color palette based on opposing colors.  In this case, since I’m painting about the Irish, I used green and red.  Green is the dominant color, in terms of percentage of area that is greenish.  However, its pretty hard to miss the warm red braid!

On a side note, I do tend to associate red hair with people with Irish or Scottish ancestors.

Painting  Layer by Layer

The painting of the piece is accomplished by laying consecutive washes of thin, runny paint over a dry surface.  I use soft sable brushes and lots of water.  The surface must dry completely between washes.  It is easy to pick up the paint from earlier layers, especially after many washes; not so desirable!  But, if I watch what I’m doing, I can build up a nice, rich, colorful tone.

Most of my washes are single color washes.  I mix on paper, usually!  I will say that my darkest darks are achieved by mixing a tub of strong dark paint.  The darkest dark layer is close to one of the final things I do.

Design Adjustments

The last few layers of paint are not particularly dramatic.  As I approach the end, I will make any adjustments I need to the design.  I will make small adjustments to color and tone.


I feel a painting is “done” when it has achieved balance; when it has a feeling of wholeness.

Put another way, if I add anything, or subtract anything, will I maintain the feeling of balance?

Creating Irish Maiden, States 5 & 6

Final Word

For me, I think its the designing phase that is the most important part of creating a successful painting.   Its the place where the seed of excitement begins.  I see my ideas start to become real.  Its the impulse that carries me through to completion.


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Coffee Break Conversations – Watercolor Society of Oregon

Good News

I am thrilled to say that my painting “Coffee Break Conversations” has been accepted into the Watercolor Society of Oregon‘s 51st Spring Experimental Exhibition in Silverton, OR.  Thank you Juror Kathleen Conover for selecting my painting as one of the 80 watercolors in the show.

Watercolor Painting: Coffee Break Conversations

Its a huge honor to be included in an exhibition that includes some of the finest watercolor artists in Oregon.


The WSO Spring Exhibition will be at the Oregon Garden Resort, April 9th through May 23.  Address is 895 W Main St., Silverton OR.  Please stop by if you are in the area!

About the Watercolor Painting

I thought it would be fun to show you the original drawing and the inspiration behind “Coffee Break Conversations”.

Back Story

In 2014, my husband and I took a trip across the country.  We visited a niece who was living and working in Athens GA.  She graciously showed us the town.  At one point, we stopped at one of her favorite places for some refreshment.  As we were having our beverages, we noticed a group of four young people coming in.  They came in, sat down and immediately pulled out their cell phones.  Each person set their cell phone down at the table.  It was done so naturally that I found it tremendously amusing.  This is our times; this is what people do.

The Drawing

As soon as I saw the group of four pull out their cell phones,  I knew I had to do a series inspired by their action.  When I came home, I set about making several drawings exploring the theme of people having a coffee break and using their cell phones.  This is one such drawing.

Coffee Break Conversations - Drawing


My intention was to create a lively watercolor painting with a sense of humor.

Design Considerations

Three.  My subject is the three figures or three friends.  Three made me think of a triad color scheme, so I used three primary colors: red, yellow and blue.  Naturally, as you combine the three, other colors are suggested.  As you may have noticed, each of the figures is assigned one of the colors as dominant.

Frame Within A Frame.  As I was drawing, I decided I wanted a “frame within a frame” design scheme.  My three figures are connected by the light, warm, rectangular frame shape.  I also sought to break up the frame by connecting each figure to the background.

I find it challenging work making the frame within a frame design scheme work.   My prime consideration it to make sure I don’t have a hole in the middle of the painting.  What I mean by hole is a place or shape that one you visually enter it, you stay there.  There is no movement out of the shape.

To avoid a feeling of a visual hole, I made the frame shape relatively light and warm.  It helps keep the space shallow since optically, light shapes seem to come forward.

The other advantage of the warm, light frame shape is that it helps me establish a feeling of friendly conversations.  That is to say, even though everyone is having a conversation with someone off scene!

Center of Interest.  My center of interest is the left figure.  She is the most animated and dominates the table.  She is painted with the warmest of colors to highlight her excited conversation.

Thank you!

I do hope you enjoy the watercolor painting.  And, if you are in the area, do please see the painting and the Watercolor Society of Oregon Exhibition at the Oregon Garden Resort!  Thank you for sharing my success!






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“Torsten On Bass” At “Kindred Spirits”

Greetings!  I’m happy to say my painting Torsten on Bass will be shown at “Kindred Spirits” in Talent, OR.

Kindred Spirits

About “Kindred Spirits”

“Kindred Spirits” is located is in the historic part of Talent.  The address is 106 Talent Ave., Suite 2.  Hours are Tuesday through Thursday: 4 to 9 pm; Friday: 4 to 11 pm; and Saturday 3 to 9pm.

“Kindred Spirits” features wines, including several local varieties.  They also have craft beer and yummy appetizers.  An extra special feature is the artwork.  Owner Cathy Dorris is an artist and art instructor.  I particularly enjoy her three dimensional art work; they’re intriguing.  I confess, I do look at them and wonder how she does them.  :)  Cathy also conducts art classes on Wednesday evening.

As part of Second Friday festivities, the theme for the February showing is Music.  Artist showing include Cathy Dorris and photographer Pat Moore.  I am contributing one painting Torsten on Bass, a personal favorite.

About the Painting

Torsten on Bass

Torsten on Bass was inspired by a friend (Torsten) who played bass for a German band called “Lunatics United”.  The members were friends of my husband and I when we lived near Heidelberg in the ’90s.  Robert took photos of the band during one of their performances which I used for inspiration.   To date, I have done four variations of Torsten on Bass. Fun times!


If you’re in the southern Oregon area, I invite you to come in to Kindred Spirits, enjoy the art, wine, beer and food!



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Sketching Main St Railroad Crossing

Sketching On My Mind

Yesterday was another lovely January day in Talent, so a sketching trip to the nearby local railroad depot was in order.

Talent OR: Sketching Railroad Crossing Main St

Look At Light Pattern

When considering a place to sit and draw, I look at how light is falling on my would be subject.  It was about an hour before sun down so I needed to hustle and find a view facing west.  The railroad depot was on my mind since its close by and has a west-facing side.

Unfortunately for drawing purposes, the west facing side is blocked by a fence.  No matter, I decided to draw the crossing gate in front of the depot, with city buildings in the distant horizon.

Crossing Guard Shapes

Drawing the crossing guard was fun; I’d never paid attention to all that hardware!  In order to make sense out of all this “stuff”, I focused on the interesting shapes.

Sketching With Pencil

You may notice that today I’m drawing only with pencil.  I have a new book that I’m working through titled “The Urban Sketcher” by Marc Taro Holmes, Citizen Sketcher.  I’m working through the first chapter.  The first exercises are with graphite.

I think sketching with graphite (pencil) is a great way to learn something new.  Its also a great way to get to know a new subject or revisit an old one.  Its a simple, portable and readily available tool.  I like this simple, powerful instrument, come to think of it!  Pencil drawings are part of my daily workout.

Talent Train Depot

Drawing Talent Series: Different Views

I have drawn our depot before from a different points of view back in 2014 as part of my “Drawing Talent” series of sketches.  On the post I did in September of 2014,  I included a bit of history about the railroad depot building.  Just a teaser, there really was a person with a last name of “Talent”.  And the depot was sent to us by rail!

The small ball point pen study is from the west side of the depot.  The watercolor and ink sketch below is of the south side of the building.

So, I’ve drawn the place at least three times.  Could be I need to visit this subject multiple times!  I went by today and in the morning light, noticed lots of great places to draw and paint.  In time, I think I might like to do some full size paintings of this subject.

More Talent Changes

Much like yesterday’s post about the “Funky Fashion” building, things have changed at the Talent depot and railroad crossing.  For one thing, the tracks are active again!  Two years ago, there were no trains running through Talent.  In 2015, the trains started up again.  So, when sketching near the tracks, I need to be alert.  Fortunately, the train had just past by before I left for the drawing session.

Another change is that we are getting a new cafe on the south end of the depot building.  I’ve been watching them prepare the facility.  It will be called “Cantina Vida”; I look forward to its opening.  On another day, I’ll do a sketch with the cantina.

Thank you.

I hope you enjoy my sketches and Talent’s railroad depot.

Daily Habit: Drawing Talent Series


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