Friday, March 17, 2017

NEW Class!

I guess it was inevitable though I didn't see it until last week—we're going to visit Marie Selby Botanical Gardens! These gardens are spectacular and given Florida's mild winter, everything is busting out in glorious colors EVERYWHERE!

Registration for An Imaginary Trip To Selby Gardens will open on Friday, March 24th, as the sign up process will be changing for all of the classes.
You will now have the option of taking the class in an interactive environment with a blog and feedback from me and your fellow travelers
you can opt to have the class materials for a year, work at your own pace and not worry about interacting on the blog.

If there is sufficient interest, I may add a third option where you can join the blog AND keep the materials for a year after the interactive portion of the class is complete, but that's down the road a bit!

I think in the long run, this will serve us all much better and eliminate some of the double work I've been doing that slows down making the classes available over at

As always, please let me know what questions you have!

P.S. If you're going to be in Florida on June 24th, check the sidebar for an exciting workshop opportunity!

P.S.S. Next, we're going somewhere hot, sunny and red! Any guesses!?!

Another GREEN Tutorial Just In Time For St. Paddy's Day!

In the first Green Tutorial (HERE), we discussed making friends with those greens on our palette by blending them with other pigments on our palette.
In the second Green Tutorial (HERE), we put what we learned in the first post to work by painting individual leaves.
In part three of this Green Tutorial, we're going to apply what we learned about painting leaves by painting a basket of flowers and last, a charming cottage garden in England!

A Pretty Basket of Flowers
The image at the top of the graphic is from a postcard I started at Selby Gardens but did not get a chance to finish. There were hanging baskets everywhere just brimming with blooms. This one was full of Impatiens. In the first layer, I laid down a scribbled wash of yellows and greens after I completed the pot.

In the second step, I add spots of color to represent the flowers. Again, these are mostly little scribbles of color without any real attempt to look like a certain flower but rather something generic.

In the third step, I started adding in darker greens. I used my base green mixed. This included yellow mixed into my icky palette green to make it more natural. I then added blues and violets to get a variety of darker greens.

In the last step, I went even darker and when I felt I had enough darks built up, I add some "raggedy edges" to the edges of the plant mass to make it read more natural.

Notice the lack of details. There's nothing there but suggested shapes and a variety of colors. I've used my darkest darks to indicate the areas in shadow so that I am suggesting a light source (see the small penciled sun in the left corner just above the border).

When we're out on location doing quick sketches, we don't have a lot of time for details, but we can certainly suggest them to our viewers!

English Cottage Garden
Below is the "inspiration source" I used for an English cottage garden sketch.
Click to enlarge
I gave myself a maximum of 30 minutes to create a sketch based on the image. Knowing my time limit helped me to focus in on what I liked best about the image—the row of trees with the garden and lawn below it. I love the cottage in the background, but with only a half hour, I decided to forego it until I had a bigger window of time to tackle it and do it justice.

In the top image, you see my beginning sketch...just a few outlines to tell me where things belonged. Since I planned on letting the paint do most of the work, I didn't need much. Notice I've used the rule of odds with five trees.

Also, I wasn't shooting for a copy of my photo but rather my interpretation of the garden. 

In the second step, I painted in the lawn using a smooth wash that had a mix of the yellows, oranges and icky green on my palette. Next I mixed blues and yellows with the green to get the tree "balls" with squiggle shapes to suggest trees.

I added the back lawn using more green and less of the yellow and orange.

In third step, I add spots of color to suggest flower shapes and then I added in a very dark background to help establish the middle ground. This also helped to push the foreground closer to the viewer.

Again, this was all done with squiggles except on the left side in the background where I used long strokes to suggest long pieces of grass.

Starting in Step 4, I begin to build the flower garden at the base of the trees. To make sure I was going dark enough with my first layer in this area, I also added in some of the dark, dirt color. If I waited to add the darks until last and my first layer looked too light, I would have to paint yet another layer over the first. Layers take time to dry and are not ideal for location work. It is best to limit them as much as possible by going dark enough on the first layer.

In Step 5, I added more detail in the background, closed up some of the white skips and adjusted some of the background darks.

In Step 6, I've completed the foreground garden and added in a second layer of "squiggles" over the tree balls to give them more of a leafy texture.

I've added in turquoise and Indian yellow which are no where to be seen in the "Inspiration Source" photo.

In the last image, I've added in the sky with some fluffy white clouds meandering by to give the image a more complete look.

This entire sketch was accomplished with a base green and by adding the other pigments on my palette to it.

If the green on your palette is not a natural green found in nature, it helps to go ahead and build a puddle of a base green and working from that. Be sure to use lots of pigment and as little water as possible. It may take yellow, blue or both to make the green look like something you would expect to see outdoors.

The rest of the work was done via texture, shapes, temperature and value.

Texture - the trees, background and part of the flower garden are nothing more than squiggles. The lawns are a smooth wash.
Shapes - the grasses in the background are long lines as are some of the shapes in the front garden.
Temperature - notice the warm yellows and greens that make up the grasses vs. the cool greens that make up the tree balls and the darker areas of the background on the right and directly below the trees.
Values - by using darks, I push the background further into the back. By using lights, I am pulling the trees and the front flower garden towards the viewer into the middle ground. The light value lawn also moves towards the viewer. I also used lights and darks to give the trees roundness and volume as well as to separate them, one from another.

Greens are here to stay and it only makes sense to make friends with them if we're going to find ourselves outside in a England or a Garden (click the words for upcoming workshops!). Just looking out the window can bring greens into your view!

Questions? Questions about greens or another troublesome pigment? Let me know in the comments! 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wow, What A Week and More Yet To Come!

Painting Postcards in The Gardens Workshop

Oh my! We had a super fun time at Selby Botanical Gardens this past Thursday and Friday! I kid you not when I tell you it did not matter what direction you went, there were at least a half dozen views that were sketch-worthy within a dozen steps! Blooms, bees, osprey, boats on the water, butterflies, statues, koi, water fountains, planters brimming with saturated color were artist's paradise! Can you tell I was digging it?!

The weather could not have been any better if we had custom-ordered it. Lots of sunshine with a hint of coolness in the breeze and shade...Florida at its best! The image above is some of the fabulous postcards the group created in just two days! There were more, but I would have had to climb up a ladder to get all of them in.

I think one of the most important things that came out of this workshop was the participants realized how different your mindset has to be when you are working on location vs. working in the studio. You don't have time to capture every detail, every leaf or bloom and there's a bazillion more things calling out to be drawn on the page and painted!

We were out and about in the gardens, sketching on location. We "appropriated" cuttings from some of the work carts to draw back in the classroom before we ventured out to do more sketching.

We worked on using thumbnails to get a page composition we liked, we worked on embellishing our work by adding color and elements that were not there as well as on exaggerating what was already there. We also worked using a template to create title banners and flags as well as date and temperature boxes.

We even shared our kits and inspiration with each other. There is just something about sharing with like-minded people that cannot be beat!

And if you missed this workshop, not to worry! There will be one more class in April. It's a one day class from 9 - 12 on Friday, April 21st. The title of the class is Advanced Painting Postcards in the Gardens, but do not let the "Advanced" deter you. Anyone with a desire to art journal is more than welcome!

To register for the class, please click HERE. (Please sign up soon though as spaces are going quickly.) I hope to see you there!

Keeton's and Flamingos

On Saturday, we painted a fabulous, pink flamingo! I introduced everyone to working on a simplified grid system to be able to quickly get a likeness of their photos down on the page.
We worked on creating broken-color washes and then creating a unifying wash once everything was dry to create the look of feathers without having to render each and every one.
By the time we were done, we had a finely, feathered flock of phenomenally fantastic flamingos! One of the coolest things to me about these classes is how everyone can work from one photo reference and come up with such a diverse crowd of flamingos!

But if you missed this class, not to worry because I have you covered! You can still take the online class. It is available HERE. You'll have the materials for 365 days from the day you signed up and you can watch the videos as frequently as you'd like.

Annnnnnd...we'll be doing it again next month at Keeton's as well! We're going to be creating that big blue Florida sky with gorgeous fluffy clouds and a beach umbrella! Sound interesting? You can call Keeton's at 941.747.2995 to register! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Birds, Gardens and Glue—All Good Things! (Classes)

Wow, it's been a busy week! I hope you can join me for one of the following treats:

Painting A Fabulous Flamingo
These gangly creatures are so much fun to capture on the page! It may seem like a lot of work, but by using broken color washes, it's actually not so hard at all. In this class, we learn to suggest texture as well as work with contrast to give our bird that gorgeous and warm, sunlit look.

If you struggle with developing your drawing skills, this may just be the class for you. I introduce using a simplified grid system that gives you a support system to develop your drawing skills, and also helps you to develop your skills more quickly than tracing an image.

If you'd like to get your pink on and be a fabulous flamingo, come and join the fun here in The Imaginary Realm

I will also be teaching this class live at Keeton's Office and Art Supply on Saturday, March 11th! I hope you'll join me if you're going to be in the area! Click here to get the details.

Painting Postcards In The Garden
While much of the country has been dealing with crazy up-and-down temperatures with the occasional snow dump the day after wearing shorts, Florida has already ushered in spring! The flowers are blooming, trees are busting out with new leaves and everything is that bright, brilliant green!

I can hardly wait to go to Selby Gardens on March 10th and 11th for the two-day workshop, Painting Postcards in the Garden! This workshop will cover making friends with your palette, working on location, how to create a more finished postcard (or page) and basic drawing skills. This workshop combines time in the garden with plenty of classroom time.

It's also a wonderful opportunity to soak up some sun, enjoy being outside, enjoying the gardens and spend time with other artists. Interested? Click this link for more info and to register!

Using A Glue Resist With Hand-Lettering - A Free Tutorial!
As promised, I have created a tutorial showing how I used a Tombow® Glue Pen to create a fun resist with hand-lettering. I'm the first to admit I'm not a letter artist as that takes way more hours and patience than I can imagine, but I LOVE to play with letters as an art form.

This tutorial will take you through the steps of setting up a drawing a word and using both water-soluble markers along with the glue resist to get some great effects. There's even an ombre technique in there!

It's FREE and it's available here! (I have no affiliation with Tombow or their products.)

I hope to see you—online or in person—and I hope you enjoy these learning opportunities!

Friday, February 24, 2017

7 Awesome Reasons To Take An Art Walk Workshop

Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's wife's, family home
If you're wondering whether or not take a weeklong workshop (like the Art Walk England in August!!) is a good fit for you, I hope the following will give you a better idea:

7 Awesome Reasons To Take An Art Walk Workshop

1. Ummm, because it is sooooo much fun!! It's total immersion into the location you're visiting. In our case, we'll be spending time in Stratford-Upon-Avon. We'll have plenty of time to explore our surroundings, mingle with the folks that live there, and absorb the environment. How often have you been on a trip where it felt like all you did was snap a few quick pictures, but when you arrived home, you felt like you didn't really get a good feel for the place? Have you ever wanted to linger in a place but your travel schedule didn't allow you to dawdle?

Blue Walk Tours gets that this about travelers, especially about artists. They get that we need to take our time and not just look but truly see. They make sure we have the time to sketch the fabulous wildflower in the meadow or shamble around the old bookshop.

2. Speaking of  s-l-o-w-i-n-g  d-o-w-n…you have time to plop down and sketch where you are because there is time built into the schedule. You'll still have time to see the various sights without being rushed. There's time for you do a little exploring on your own if you'd like, or maybe you'd like to enjoy a good "lie-in" (British slang for staying in bed later than usual).

3. The joy of being with like-minded people. Artists are, or can be, an odd lot. We want to draw and paint the darnedest things like our meals, a pot of flowers near a bench on a busy thoroughfare, a cat in a window or an unusual piece of pottery in the garden. But when you're with like-minded people, they get it. They totally understand why you just have to stop and commit those daisies to the page. They're likely to join you!

There is also safety in makes it easier to be brave when others are near-by doing what you're doing and if you just happen to be one of those artists that loses all perspective of where they are and what they're doing (also called getting into the zone), there's someone nearby to watch your back. If you want to travel, but do not have someone in your life to travel with, this is an excellent way to see the world as well!

4. You're NOT sitting in a classroom! This is both a scary and exciting point. After all, you're there, in England, out in Stratford with a sketchbook in your hands and you have TIME to put something on the page. Freaky-scary-kinda cool, right?

You also have a secret weapon—me! I will be there by your side each day to help you get started, to answer questions, to make suggestions on how to fill the page, to show you how to tackle different subjects as well as different approaches to the page. I promise to help you get past the sticky bits by doing impromptu demos based on the day's activities.

Think how exciting it will be to come home with a sketchbook of your making full of little snippets of your memories—each page an instant portal back to where you were, who you were with and what you were doing!

5. It's a small group so you won't get lost in the crowd. The group is deliberately kept small in number so that I have time to work with each artist and so that you can see the spontaneous demos, ask questions (and get answers) and not get overwhelmed by too many people.

Blue Walk Tours strives to find the right balance between enough participants to make it interesting (as we can learn a lot from our travel mates) and activities (sight-seeing places of interest) with spending time with our sketchbooks and giving you plenty of opportunities to work with me. (There are still some spots left! Click here for more info!)

6. Assistance is at your fingertips. The Blue Walk Art Tours are guided tours and there is always someone around to assist with questions, challenges and obstacles. And they know the scoop on all the cool places to go and the ones to avoid! They are there to make sure you don't have to worry about getting around, to the playhouse, back to the restaurant or anywhere else. Having visited Stratford before, they can answer questions you may not think to ask until after the day's tour is long over. They provide a wealth of knowledge as well as peace of mind. They have our backs so we can enjoy our time!
Cottage garden

7. No dishes, no housework, no laundry, no job interference for seven days. How often do we try to create our art in stolen moments found between the demands on our time? You get to concentrate on your art without all the distractions you have when you're at home (what's for dinner, I need to go pick up the dry cleaning, I need to prepare for that big meeting tomorrow).

There is a sense of freedom when you're totally away from the daily demands. The idea of having all that time to create as much (or little) as you want is liberating in a way that's hard to describe, but it's worth experiencing!

We're heading out to Stratford, on August 14th! I hope you'll join in the fun.

Please let me know if I can answer any questions in the comments!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Part 2: Frustrated to Fabulous Green Pigments

Information does not become knowledge nor does it become powerful until we after we apply it and make it our own.” 

Think about it…how often have you heard a piece of information that seemed helpful, but had no relevance to your life because you had no use for it or didn't put it into use right away?

It is much the same with learning new information with art. Unless it is applied and we make the information our own, it will continue to be just that, information.

However, when we apply it and grasp what it means to us, even if we only get an inkling, then it gains in power and it truly becomes knowledge!

So it is with color charts.

You've created color charts and you've begun to "see"  that icky frustrating green pigment may not be quite so frustrating after all. It's still kinda icky by itself, but we now know there's hope for it.

Without applying what we learn from some of those super-cool mixes we came up with from the first part of this tutorial, well, it's kind of a waste of time. The color charts don't really help us to take a step away from frustrated and towards fabulous. Sure, we have a hint, but we don't have any application.

Welcome To Part 2: Applying Color Mixing To Simple Subjects
If you're like me, there were a few mixes that really caught my eye and appealed to my color sense. (Color sense or preference is as individual as our fingerprints!)

Look back over the color mixes you created and evaluate which ones sparked your interest. They don't have to be "traditional" leaf colors. If you like some of the zanier color combos, play with those as that indicates where your interest lies.

Begin With Simple Shapes
Draw out a few leaves on a piece of watercolor paper or in your sketchbook. The leaf shape can be quite simple, as the focus of this exercise is color mixing rather than rendering a perfect copy of the leaf. If you happen to live somewhere in the world where the only green leaves at the moment are on the artificial arrangement sitting on your table, it's quite acceptable to use leaves from the arrangement.
Draw a simple leaf shape.
Someone got the munchies
and this add interest to the shape.

I have also taken a photo of some leaves I picked up on my way out to the mailbox today. Click this link to download a high-res copy of the leaves I used. (I specifically chose leaves with interesting color combinations to help with the learning process.)

**If you are new to watercolor, don't worry about making the leaves look like specific leaves. Remember, this is about color mixing. If you become so focused on making the leaf look like an exact leaf, you often miss the other learning opportunities like, say, color mixing!**

Mixing on the paper
Once you're ready to paint, choose a two-color combination from your prior mixing exercises. If you have not created any color mixes, take a look at this post to learn more.

Try painting both colors on the paper and let them mix rather than mixing the two paints on the palette and then applying it to the paper. On a different leaf shape try mixing the colors together on the palette before applying the paint to the paper to see which you like best.
Adding the third and fourth color
to the combo

Once you're happy with the results of the first two-color leaf, choose a different combination and paint the leaf shapes again.
Note the legend at
the bottom of the art.

Remember to keep color notes (legend) at the bottom of the shapes so you can refer back to the color you used to create a specific result. See example on the right.

After you've exhausted the two-color combos, move on to three- or four-color combinations and repeat the process of mixing the paints on the paper as well as mixing them on the palette before applying the paint to the paper.
In these last few images, I have added the color mix I created in the first exercise in the corners of the art to show where I started. In the example on the right, I started with a mix of yellow and the palette green. To get the darker spots, I add a hint of brown at the end.  

In the next example, I used a mix of yellow and blue on the paper. I then added in touches of the palette green as well as brown at the very top of the stem.

Whether you mix on the paper or the palette, there is no right or wrong way. There are different uses for each method for various subjects, but it mostly comes down to which style you like best.
In the last example, I used yellow and the palette green for the leaf on the palette. I then added violet and brown for the darks as well as a hint of orange. I allowed the violet and brown to mix on the paper. You can combine techniques in one subject.

While I'm sharing only three of the leaves I created, I have many more. I highly, strongly recommend you play and paint as many leaves as you can stand! Why? Because the more we do, the more we understand. As the information is used and understood, it becomes knowledge and with repetitive use, it becomes reliable. That's where the power lies. It is only with constant use that our knowledge can begin to help us create consistent results that are predictable and remove the guess work!

Next we're going to tackle foliage in the shape of bushes to build on what we've learned from our leaves.

Did you do the first part of the tutorial and come up with lots of great mixes? Are you going to try your hand at the leaves? If so, send me a link in the comments or via email—I'd love to see what you've come up with and even more important if this series is helping you to turn your greens from frustrating to fabulous!!

Even better, come and join me at Selby Gardens in March for a two-day workshop and put your knowledge into action! Click here for more information.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Heart and Hand Lettering Reveal

Having fun playing with a squishy sweet Valentine's message for my honey! I used a Molotow masking pen to create the lettering and then watercolored over them. I added a bit of shading using Faber-Castell PITT pens to the first and last words.

And of course, Ms. Moby had to get her nosy self in there too!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Frustrated or Fearful of the Lovely Green Pigment On Your Palette?

In a recent conversation, an artist shared she had just purchased a pre-filled watercolor palette and it only had one green pigment. Not only did it have only one green, she confessed, she didn't even like the color. She explained it was a very "fake green" not found in nature and she didn't think she could paint a garden whether it was her own, a cottage garden in England or a botanical garden like Selby.

Since she was new to art journaling, she was not ready to spend a lot of money on tubes of paint she wasn't sure she'd ever use. I get it. Setting up a custom palette can be an expensive undertaking when you go with quality grade watercolor pigments and it requires a commitment to invest in costly supplies. (If you're looking to try top artist grade paints without the big outlay of cash, consider an palette here.)

Does this mean she (or you) can't paint a garden if you only have one green pigment on your palette and you don't even like the green?

Absolutely not!

A Simple Exercise
To learn more about the green pigment(s) on our palette, we need to have some organized fun! We need to play with all those pretty colors to see what happens when we start mixing them together. I say organized fun because we want to be able to replicate any successful mixes easily. and to do that, we need to make sure we label each and every mix. If we mix with abandon, we may or may not know which pigments combined to give us that fabulous now color.

For this exercise, I used a palette of eight pigments by Yarka White Nights or Gamma brand.

Step 1. Choose a shape and draw it out on a piece of tracing paper in pencil. Flip the paper over and trace the lines several times with pencil. I chose a leaf since I was playing around with greens. The shape itself is not so important as long as the shape can easily be divided into two parts and the shape is large enough to allow ample room for playing. (My leaf was approximately 1.5 inches long by 1.25 inches wide.)

Step 2. Either on a piece of watercolor paper or on a page in your journal, trace several shapes using the tracing paper as transfer paper. I scattered the leaves around the page, but the shapes could just as easily been in neat and tidy rows. I found it more entertaining to scatter the shapes.

Step 3. Choose a green pigment and paint it from light to dark in one leaf or shape. (Example 1) This is the base color and should be labeled as such. This shows how dark the pigment is when fully saturated as well as how light it is when it is diluted with water.
Example 1

Step 4. Choose another leaf and select one color to mix with the base green. The first color I chose was yellow. At the bottom of the leaf, I painted a small spot of green and a small spot of yellow so I could look and see at a glance the two pigments I used to achieve the greens within the shape. On the right side of the leaf, I started with the green at the top of the leaf and then the second color at the bottom. I let the two paints touch and mix in the middle of the leaf without help from me. This allows for both pigments to retain some of their original characteristics as well as to combine with a second color to make something new.

Step 5. For the other side of the leaf, I mixed the pigments together on the palette before painting the mix onto the paper. I call this homogenizing the paint because you eliminate most, if not all of the original pigments' personalities to form a new color. Because I was attempting to create greens, I pushed the new mix towards green whenever possible. I also lifted the paint on this side while it was still damp because sometimes the mixtures were more pleasing when they were not fully saturated.

Step 6. Once I ran through the eight colors on the palette, I started mixing two pigments to make green. I mixed yellow and blue to see what type of green I could make. Since I only had one yellow pigment, I then moved onto creating with three pigments by adding a touch of orange to the yellow to make an Indian yellow before mixing the color with blue and with green.

Other combinations I used were yellow and brown mixed with green, blue and violet mixed with green, red and yellow with blue...all in pursuit of finding pleasing green mixes.

Oh, What You Can Learn
Every mixture you create is not going to make a pleasing green, however, it may make a gorgeous gray or a moody black or a rich brown! Just because it didn't make green doesn't mean the new mix is not useful.

Look closely at the areas where the paint was lifted while it was still wet to determine if there may be a useful color not the paint is not at full strength. Make note of any combinations you dislike so you'll know to avoid that combination in the future. If there were any combinations that were especially pleasing, draw out a few more shapes and explore them further using more or less of each pigment to find out the range of the two or three pigments when combined.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!
Many greens available on the market and in pre-filled palettes today are mixtures of greens and yellows. Occasionally, you'll find a green mix with orange, white, blue, or even violet pigments.

When you throw blue into a green mix that contains orange, what do think will happen? It will most likely turn to a grayed green as orange and blue are complements. If you have a green that has yellow in it and you add a bit of violet the results are likely to be gray as well.

Is it bad if it makes a grayer color? Oh no! Think about a foggy morning when everything is shrouded. Those grayed greens come in handy for shadows, foggy and overcast days.

Some palettes give you the composition of the pigments used to create each pigment and some do not. Even if the information is not provided, you can often tell if a pigment is a mixture depending on how it mixes with the other colors. Use this knowledge to avoid making mud!

Label, Label, Label!
Create a legend for your page if you create a page of mixes. Be sure to include the palette you were using as well as a small example of each pigment in its pure, unmixed state. Make notes as to which side was mixed and which side the paint was allowed to mix on the paper. I find dating the page to be helpful also. This information can be invaluable later when you're sitting in the meadow in England and want to paint the leaves of a Early Gentian.

And just so you know, there are few things more frustrating than going through old mixing sheets and seeing a mix you really, Really, REALLY like and you have no idea which pigments were used to make it. I'm sure you can guess how I happened to come by that experience! Don't be like me—label, label, label!

Last But Certainly Not Least
Just as this works for green, this exercise will work for any pigment on the palette. The exercise can be very handy when you're considering adding a new pigment to the ones your existing palette. If a pigment does not mix well with over half of the pigments I use on a regular basis, I typically will not add it to my palette as I know I won't use it.

As you begin exploring the pigments on your palette, I think you will quickly find there are far more possibilities than you thought possible. The time you spend playing with the pigments NOW will pay huge dividends later when you're out on location.

Up Next...
In the next post in this series, we're going to take what we learned in our mixes and start applying it to creating a garden!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Painting A Fiery Sunset - NEW CLASS!

What is it about sunsets that we are compelled to capture their beauty in our sketchbooks or on canvas? Is it the colors, the brilliant light, the fleeting moment that will never be again or is it capturing the memory of the moment?

I think for me, it's a bit of all of the above. There is something poignant about a sunset as it marks the close of a day and all the possibilities it held whether they were capitalized on or not.

The photo reference for this image was taking on the last evening I spent at St. Pete Beach with eight artists back in January of 2015. To say the evening was bittersweet would be an understatement—I so did not want our time to end and yet, it had to.

And while this was not painted that evening, it could have been! You may think capturing something so complex on location would be impossible, but it's not.

It takes some prep work to get the page ready and it takes knowing the steps of breaking down a complex image so that it can be tackled quickly and easily. The other keys are working in a small format along with using select pigments and suggesting detail.

I will be teaching how to "Paint A Fiery Sunset" at Keeton's in Bradenton, FL, this Saturday, February 11th and I hope you can join me! (Please call them to register. Just click on Keeton's to see all the info and the phone number to call.)

But if you're not able to jet into Florida for a three-hour class, you can still learn how...

Introducing "Painting A Fiery Sunset" online e-course at The Imaginary Realm! This class is an Independent Learning Class which means you can start any time and you can keep the video demonstration for one year. The instructions handout is a pdf yours to download and keep forever. You can watch the video as many times as you would like until you get the hang of painting sunsets!

You can sign up for the class by clicking this link. After a few practice runs, you'll be painting Fiery Sunsets in no time and hopefully, some of them will be there in the brilliant light!

Come and join in the fun!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Time In A Garden

There is a great deal of peace and serenity to be found at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, FL, and I found myself in need of a place to unwind and decompress after my whirlwind experience at the Suncoast View show. Selby was the perfect place!

What was even better was running into two of the artists who sometimes join me at Keeton's for classes. They even had their kits with them!

There was a light breeze coming in off from the bay that kept things nice and cool. I walked around for a few minutes just soaking in the ambience before pulling out my Stillman and Birn sketchbook. This is the Zeta version and it's their smallest softcover size at 3.5 x 5.5 inches, closed. It's perfect for small bags and pockets!

The sketches above were all done on location, but with a two-hour drive in front of me, I chose to add the color after I arrived at home. (It was only when I went to paint this that I realized I had not finished the tree that went with the really odd bloom at the upper right side—it looked like it was ready to strike! I didn't even take a photo! I must have been distracted!:)

I will be teaching a two-day workshop there in March, Painting Postcards in the Gardens, and we'll have a chance to explore this phenomenal place together in our sketchbooks—I hope you can join me! I will be returning in April for a second class as well.

Please let me know if I can answer any questions and I hope to see you there!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Playing Around With Lettering

Many of you know that back in October, Chris and I decided to open a booth at a vintage market, Picker's Place in Plant City. One of the side benefits of this adventure has been the opportunity to use my creativity in unexpected the sign you see above.

It's not perfect lettering and it didn't need to be for what it is—an attention grabbing sign! It was soooo much fun to do not to mention quick! (I copied the original for extra copies rather than lettering four different signs. It also stands out in the booth, letting folks know we have a few things we're looking to move out to new homes.

I love that I'm finding new and practical outlets for some of my creative energy!

Below is a peek at our booth:
This was taken during December. If you look closely, you'll see more lettering on the wall. You'll also see that insanely cool guitar lamp my uber-talented hubby made from a real guitar! Isn't that awesome?!
Here's a close up of the guitar lamp. It still has the strings and the volume knob is how you turn the light on and off! (Since I have "connections" to the guy who creates these beauties, I also have one hanging out in my living room!)

The clipboard was another opportunity to play around with yet more lettering (see a trend here?). It's a paper/cardboard clipboard from a discount market and was about to go in the trash. I slapped some chalkboard paint on it and spent a few very happy hours lettering out the saying.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoy adding an artistic touch to ordinary things and in unusual places. Sure, a lamp is a lamp, a wall is a wall, but why not add some flair to both by looking for ways to add your artistic style?!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Oh, The Surprises Life Can Throw At Us!

I found myself blessed with a VERY unexpected opportunity late yesterday—I was asked to appear on the Suncoast View as a guest to talk about Art Journaling!!

The cohosts finished a piece of artwork I had started (we only had five and a half minutes!!) while I answered questions about art journaling and gave a plug to Selby Gardens as well as the two upcoming classes I’ll be doing there in March and April.

If you’d like to see my very first LIVE appearance on television you can see it at the following links. The show airs at 4:00 pm today and will be available afterwords on the web site. I think my segment airs in the 30 to 45 minute section of the show.

Live stream link online at h​ttp://

Facebook: w​ww.

Following the broadcast and live stream, links to full episodes can be found at w​ 

I’d love to hear what you think (just be gentle—I've never done television before)!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Making Waves!

Can join me on Saturday, January 14th, for Anatomy of A Wave? 

One of the artists who is frequently in class made the statement, “I understand things better when I can hold them in my hand,” and she’s absolutely right. It is often easier to translate a 3D item onto a piece of paper once we understand how it is put together by holding it in our hands...but how do we hold a wave in our hand? It’s not possible!

What is possible is to look at a wave from different angles and see the shape it takes from those angles. Once we begin to understand a little of the shape, it becomes easier to adapt what we’ve learned to other viewpoints. By working in gray values so that color does not confuse us, we can learn the shape of the waves:

From there, we’ll need to work out the paint colors needed to replicate nature’s colors. You might be surprised to learn that we only need a handful of colors and among them you’ll find orange and yellow as well as violet! Below are some of the paint mixed used to create the final wave at the bottom of the post:

Last, we’ll put together what we’ve learned and we’ll create our wave in four steps. In the first step, we create just the basic shapes. In the second step, we’ll add shading to form the depth and volume of the wave. In the third step, we’ll adjust values. In the fourth step, we’ll add the “icing” which is the details of foam using a white pen. Each step builds one upon another to give you the final portrait of a wave breaking:

By studying shapes from different angles and understanding how a wave is formed, it becomes much, much easier to create those shapes on paper! I hope you can join me!

I hope you’ll come and join the fun of painting Anatomy of A Wave on Saturday, January 14th from 9 am to 12:30! Please note, to register for this class, please contact Keeton’s directly. Their number is 941.747.2995. They're located at 817 Manatee Avenue West in Bradenton, Florida.

UPDATE: For some folks, there are two small, blue boxes with question marks in them showing just above the first image and just below the last image. For some reason, I am unable to delete them. Only three images should be showing in the post regardless of those little blue boxes. My apologies for the confusion!

Friday, January 6, 2017

After The Holidays...

Happy New Year! 

Isn't it wonderful to begin a brand new year with a sense of hope and a lighter feeling? A whole calendar of days, pristine and unstained by what's come before (or so it seems). I'm not sure what it is about the new date that makes me so ridiculously hopeful and even expectant of good things to come, but there it is.

Unfortunately for me, 2016 ended much the way 2015 did—sick an upper respiratory infection that started way before Christmas. At the end of 2015, I wanted to throw the whole year in a trash heap and say forgetaboutit. 2015 seemed like a horrid, awful year even though it really wasn't. What I realized and wrote about here was that I was judging the whole year on the last two weeks of December when I was so ill.

Realizing I had not done a very good job of keeping track of my goals and accomplishments for the year, I resolved to make some serious changes. At the beginning of 2016, I got myself a planner and an accountability partner. I have to say those are probably two of the smartest things I've done in a very long time!

I also chose a word of the year (see below) and incorporated it into my planner as well as some art that hung out on my desk all year so I would not forget the word I'd chosen. These changes had a tremendous impact!

Fast forward to the end of 2016. Even though I've been sick for two three weeks, my feelings towards the whole year are completely, totally different. I can thumb through a stack of weekly emails that tracked what I worked on and when, goals accomplished, areas that could stand to be improved and a few areas where there simply was not enough interest to keep going. I redirected that energy into areas that could benefit from more attention.

My word of the year started out as progress and then progressed into thrive around the middle of the year. I was able to create more "live" teaching opportunities for 2017 with classes at Keeton'sMarie Selby Botanical Gardens as well as a chance to teach a week-long workshop in England with The Blue Walk! That's when I realized my progress was turning into thrive as many of my goals were beginning to come to fruition!

I found that having someone read my list of tasks week after week was a great motivator to get things done that probably wouldn't have happened without that check-in. It was also nice to have someone ask for specifics on an ongoing project as it helped me to get interested again when I found myself getting sidetracked by too many other tempting opportunities.

It also motivated me when I had one of those weeks that went off the rails and nothing on my tasks list was accomplished. My partner was there offer insights, to help me pick myself up and to push me forward rather than letting me sink into a pity party (that had the potential to derail the next few weeks).

As the year marched by, we started to refine our lists and efforts in ways that helped us to see where we were going and what we were doing as well as what we were accomplishing. We celebrated each other's accomplishment and milestones. We had occasional meet-ups so we could discuss things more fully than you can via email.

When we met late last year to wrap up 2016 and celebrate our accomplishments, we started working on ways we can leverage last year's success into making 2017 an even better year. The year has already gotten off to a crazy-busy start with several streams of attention that I'm attempting to juggle.
I suspect both my planner and my accountability partner are going to key to keeping me on track. Otherwise, I'm fairly confident I'm going to fall victim to attention splatter (read more on that here).

I'm looking forward to a prosperous, happy, 
fun-filled year that is my best one yet!

How did your 2016 shake-out? I know some of you were going to use planners while others were going to use a bullet journal or a program online and some of you lucky duckies were retiring...what worked for you and what didn't??

 Let's learn and grow from each other by sharing ideas!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Wishes For You

I wish for each of you the season's very best delights!

I hope your hearts are full, your eyes aglow with joy and you're surrounded by love. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pack Your Bags, It's Time To Get Going!!

Oh, my goodness, I have so much to tell you! I've been quiet these last few months as I've been working on opportunities and I finally get to share all the joy with you! To cut down on confusion, I'm going to go in date order so I'm sure to cover all the yummy goodness coming up. You can bet I'll be sharing more in the weeks to come!

December 3, 2016
Festive Starfish Designs
Keeton's Office & Art Supplies
Bradenton, Florida
December 3
9 am - 12:30 pm
Cost: $35
Please call 941.747.2995 to register

These festive starfish can be arranged in a number of ways including a ball, a swirl, and a wreath, just to name a few! I know I haven't been able to stop at just one because this idea opens up so many possibilities.

This dimensional project combines scrapbooking paper, extra watercolor paper, salt, glue and a little bling! It's just another way we can make our journals come alive.

March 9-10, 2017
Painting Postcards In The Gardens Workshop
Sarasota, Florida
2-Day Workshop (March 9-10, 2017)
9 am - 3 pm
Cost: $215
Please click HERE to learn more and to register for the workshop. Registration is now open!

Selby Gardens is a lush, tropical playground and it's a perfect location to learn how fun Art Journaling can be! We'll work together to create a series of postcards of colorful sketches that can shared with friends and family, near and far. 

This class is open to all levels and will introduce various approaches to sketching and art journaling. Basic drawing skills, laying out a page or postcard, learning to observe,  adding interest with borders, background color blocks and such will also be covered. 

Weather permitting, our time divided between the classroom and working out in the gardens enjoying the sunshine! 

As a side note...I will be teaching an Art Journaling class at Keeton's Office & Art Supply in Bradenton, Florida on Saturday, March 11th. Keeton's is just a few miles north of Sarasota and the class will run from 9 to 12:30. If you would like to join this class, please click here. I will make the class information available as soon as possible! 

The recommended supply list can be found here

April 21, 2017

Advanced Painting Postcards In The Gardens Class
Sarasota, Florida
Friday, April 21, 2017; 9 am -12 pm
Cost: $65
Please click HERE to learn more and to register for the workshop. Registration is now open! 

We will continue to work together to create a series of postcards of colorful sketches that can shared with friends and family, near and far. 

This class is open to all levels and will quickly introduce various approaches to sketching and art journaling. Basic drawing skills, laying out a page or postcard, learning to observe,  adding interest with borders, background color blocks and such will also be briefly covered. 

Weather permitting, our time will mostly be spent working out in the gardens enjoying the sunshine with a brief beginning and closing session in the classroom.

The recommended supply list can be found here.

August 14-20, 2017
An Imaginary Trip Made Real To England 2017! Workshop
Stratford-Upon-Avon, England
Monday - Saturday, August 14-20, 2017
Please Click Here For Tour Details and To Register 

All aboard for a fabulous trip to the Cotswolds and in particular, Stratford-Upon-Avon, home of William Shakespeare! English cottages, impressive palaces, afternoon tea, rolling meadows, meandering canals, cobblestone streets...need I say more?!

I am so very, very pleased to be partnering with The Blue Walk to provide this travel workshop to you. You may have heard of the Blue Walk before as they have hosted a number of Art Walks with artists like Leslie Fehling and Jane LaFazio, to name a few. They get and understand the need to slow down and really see rather than look and go. Needless to say, we'll be in very good hands!

There will be many impromptu, on-location demos provided throughout the day, depending on our day's activities as well as some advance instruction because I am a strong believer in a-n-t-i-c-i-p-a-t-i-o-n and it makes the trip begin way before we ever step foot into the English Countryside! 

Once we return, there will be a little more info sent out to help keep you on track to finish your sketchbook and to add in a few memory sketches as well as any ephemera you may have picked up in your travels. 

Does seven days wandering the English town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, time spent with likeminded folks with the opportunity to indulge your love of art and sketching, sound like your idea of a great trip?!

If so, click here to sign up and join me!

I am in the process of creating the schedule for 2017 for the online classes we will visit via virtual reality. If there's somewhere you'd like to visit, please share the location in the comments. I'd love to know where you want to go. 

Whew! That's a lot and I am sooooooooooo excited to share all these fabulous upcoming opportunities with you. I hope there will a date (or seven) where we can connect and spend some time together making art and happy memories!

As always, please let me know of any questions you have!