Tag Archives: watercolor

The Birthday Train

Those of you who have been hanging out around here for a while may remember the Birthday Pact. The rest of you can either click that link over there…or not, whatever, your choice. Anyway, I have been so-so in keeping up with my commitment to making gifts for Sir’s friends. Honestly, I just tend to run out of time and it’s much easier to run to Target. Heh.

Fortunately, I actually did have time to make something special for one of Sir’s friends whose birthday was yesterday. I asked his mom what kinds of things he likes and I plucked the following from the list to work into this piece: trains, fruit (mangoes and grapes), and ‘airplanes with the trail behind it’. Heh.

Here is the finished illustration (I actually included his name at the bottom, but I cropped it off of the scanned copy).

watercolor + ink on paper

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Happy Birthday(s)

Today is my dad’s birthday. I’m not sure he ever has occasion to visit my blog (unless, of course, he’s looking for my perogie recipe), but here’s a little birthday message for him anyway.

Dad at Michigan State sometime in the 1960s
(little did he know then that his daughter would spend a lot of time in this very spot)

Dad and the aforementioned daughter (me) in 1977

Dad and his dad in 1982

Dad and Sir (and Lake Michigan) this summer.

Also, if you didn’t know, it’s this cool chick’s birthday too. Be sure to leave her some birthday love on her blog.

illustration : by yours truly

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Illustration Friday : Mysterious

Wow, two weeks in a row, can you believe it?

I’m still pretty sure the muse is on sabbatical, but perhaps she’s drawing nearer as I honestly have no idea where this illustration came from. I was just messing around in my studio, lamenting the fact that the near 100% humidity in our house has rendered much of my paper supply to a curled-edged mess.  Seriously, it is so humid from the constant rain that surfaces in my house are actually wet, as if it were raining inside as well as outside. And then, of course, there’s the flooding. But, I digress.

I did this with watercolor, pearlescent watercolor, alcohol, and brush pen. I also sort of carved out the outlines of the trees using an awl (no idea why I felt compelled to employ such a technique). The man showed up very near the end, when I decided the trees just weren’t interesting enough on their own. I’m not quite sure what he’s up to, but considering my current state of mind, I’d say it’s probably no good.

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More Two-Color Series and PPF





claw your way out of the valley : watercolor and alcohol on wood panel

This is the third piece in my two-color series (see the others here and here). It took me quite a while to get this piece just right. I was growing increasingly frustrated at how it was turning out and then with one final (miraculous) brush stroke, everything just fell into place. I think I’m starting to rely too much on anticipated outcome and that is not serving me well. The techniques that I am using in this series are meant to yield very organic designs/textures and trying to control them too much is counter-productive.


Also, I am submitting this piece to Paint Party Friday. I’ve never contributed anything there before because I’ve mostly been doing illustrative work. Now that I’m painting a bit more, I figured I’d give it a shot.


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Another New Painting





some kids weren’t meant to be cool : watercolor + alcohol on 8×8″ wood panel

This is the second piece in my two-color series. It isn’t a terribly unique color combination, but I did a lot of work creating variations in the shading and texture of this piece. I also used the natural grain of the wood to my advantage. I think it adds another layer of visual interest and is one of the advantages of using wood in the first place.

I am going to be adding this piece and kate is not a hipster to my Etsy shop today. I have mixed feelings about selling my original work on Etsy. I had intended to have my actual web site finished by now, but since I don’t (and I have no real desire to even work on it) and I really need to start selling some of my work, I guess I will put aside my ‘Etsy issues’ and just do it.

UPDATE : some kids weren’t meant to be cool and kate is not a hipster are now available on Etsy.


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It’s a Great Day to Spray (Fixative, That Is)

My absolute least favorite part of painting is applying fixative and varnish.  I have never been very good at it and it is part of the reason that I pretty much quit working with acrylic on wood years ago. I’m sure that part of the reason I tend to mess this step up is because I lack patience. I hate waiting for the varnish to dry completely before adding another coat or handling the piece. This usually results in smudges, smears, and other unpleasant blemishes that end up driving me nuts.

And then there’s the smell.

Spray fixative is stinky, which means having to find a suitable, well-ventilated area in which to apply it. My studio definitely does not fit the bill here. That leaves my basement (you know, the Kingdom of Canine Hair), the garage (I’m sure the spiders running across the wet fixative would add an interesting textural effect), or the front porch (which is the perfect place as long as it isn’t raining, humid, or sweltering outside). Today, I opted for the front porch since we are finally getting a break from the stifling heat and humidity. As long as no huffing teenagers catch a whiff of what I’m doing, I should be good.

This is the first time I have ever used fixative on watercolor. Typically, watercolor pieces are framed under glass, so there isn’t much need for fixative (although, I have heard of people using spray fixative and varnish and then framing watercolors the way oil paintings are framed – sounds interesting, but I have yet to try it). Because I’m working with watercolor on wood, a fixative and a layer of varnish are necessary to not only protect the piece, but also to help bring out the true colors, which tend to appear a bit faded once they dry. I chose Krylon UV-Resistant spray, which I will then cover with a clear matte varnish. So far, the fixative it going on well (just finished my third coat). It is definitely a slow process, but I am happy that there hasn’t been any change in the integrity or texture of the piece, which was my biggest fear. As long as I get enough fixative on, hopefully, I will be able to brush the varnish on without affecting the painting.

Fingers crossed.


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A New Painting? Yep!





kate is not a hipster : watercolor + alcohol on 8×10″ wood panel

This afternoon I finished the first painting in my new two-color series. I decided to go with wood panel rather than paper. It posed a completely new set of challenges, but also yielded new and interesting results. I am really interested in exploring what I can create with these limited color palettes. It is definitely a challenge, but I think that by incorporating some different watercolor techniques, I can create something meaningful and (hopefully) aesthetically pleasing (to someone other than myself – heh).

Also, I made a HUGE mess of my studio working on this and another piece in this series today. There is paint everywhere – on the floors, my desk, my laptop, my clothes. So, apparently, I am capable of making messes (out of things other than my life – heh).

So, thoughts?

UPDATE : some kids weren’t meant to be cool and kate is not a hipster are now available on Etsy.


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Random Drive-by Blogging

Just a few randoms before I wrap up this Friday afternoon…

  • I’ve been messing around with some different watercolor techniques this week. I started the doodle pictured above on Tuesday and it took me until today to finish it. The washes are watercolor splashed with alcohol and the doodle (heavily influenced by Deirdre McCormick) is white gel pen, which I am still trying to get the hang of.
  • I updated my blogroll yesterday. Be sure to check out the awesomeness there.
  • Oh, obviously, I was not killed in my sleep or spirited away by demons last night. Yay!
  • I have a surprise coming this Monday. It is something I’ve been meaning to add to the blog for quite a while now and I’m finally getting around to it. Stay tuned, it’s fun!
  • At the end of today, I will be 85 posts away from my goal of 500 by this blog’s one-year anniversary.
  • I am giddy over the number of comments I’ve received lately! Did you know that if you leave me a comment and include your blog link, there’s a 97% chance that I’ll add you to my Google Reader? It’s true (but I also suck with numbers, so I may be off by a percent or two – heh).

Okay, I’m done.

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School’s Out for Summer

Today was Sir’s last day of school. It was bittersweet for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that he has grown quite attached to his two teachers.

Despite the fact that, as a class, we had all decided to pitch in to buy each teacher a gift card, I found myself frantically scrambling to add something personal in order to truly express our family’s appreciation* (and make up for Teacher Appreciation Week – also known as The Great Flower Debacle). I started out just writing a little personal note to each teacher and, before I knew it, I was pulling out my paints in an effort to create something worthy of the occasion.

Did I mention that I did this less than 3 hours before school let out…and that it takes me 30-45 minutes to drive to Sir’s school? Yeah.

I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to do something small. So, I dug out some little frames that I had in reserve and settled on just doing some 3.5″ square watercolor paintings. I think they turned out okay, but next year I WILL START EARLIER.

There, you all read that, right? I’m counting on you to hold me to it.

* Honestly, I have ‘thanking issues’ – nothing ever seems to be enough.

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