Wednesday, October 29, 2014

This is different! The "Coyote Connection"

An exhibit called "Coyote Connections" is now showing at the University of New England's Art Gallery. The inspiration behind this exhibition is the wildlife biologist, Geri Vistein  

It is an honor to be creating the paintings to illustrate Geri's upcoming book. Here is one that is in the exhibition and depicts a scene in the book where the female coyote and her mate hear loons singing on a wilderness lake, and lift their heads to join in the song.
Wild Song

Happy News in the Mail!

When I last wrote , I was just barely home from Italy. Picking up the story, after arriving home at midnight after an eleven hour trip from Florence, I fell into bed, so happy to be home. The mail was waiting for me on the kitchen table in the morning.

My first thrill was finding the catalogue of the World Watercolour Competition. What a beautiful presentation of the 1400 artists who survived the first cut out of 3980 paintings! Those of us who made it to the last 275 are featured in half page presentations. I think you can imagine how good it feels to be in the same group with Chris Krupinski, Jean Pederson, Mark Mehaffey, Dean Mitchell, Thomas Schaller, Carla O'Connor, Alvaro Castagnet, and others whose work I admire.  

Here is one of two paintings that are in the catalogue. The second is "Tea And Sushi".
 This painting has also been accepted to the 118th National Exhibition of the Catherine Lorillard Art Wolfe Club at the National Arts Gallery, New York, NY that opens on December 2nd. 

The second thrill was getting word that I have been accepted as a juried member of the National Association of Women Artists. I'll be going to the induction ceremony and art exhibition in New York on November 13th. It's such an honor to be associated with these incredible artists from all over the United States and I'm looking forward to meeting some of them in New York. 

Plein Air Study, Hill Town near Pienza, Italy

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Hardly Know Where to Begin! Home from Italy.....

Tonight as I was preparing dinner, I suddenly said out loud "I really miss just showing up for a dinner of roasted fennel in cream sauce, rosemary baked potatoes, some new variation on pasta with sauce, salad of fresh greens, crispy green beans, a bit of luscious pork or chicken, grandma's cake and a carafe of the house wine to share".........(I think I'm in withdrawal - as well as a touch of jet lag)!

I've been pretty much out of contact for the past two and a half weeks as I've been in Italy teaching a workshop at Castello di Spannocchia (just 11 miles from Siena.) Although I had hoped to write and post photos every day, after very busy days with my group of wonderful artists and finishing dinner at 9:00 pm, instead of going to the wi-fi area, I'm afraid that the only activity that happened was a direct trip to bed!

I thought I'd share a little bit of the story that unfolded during my stay in Italy. This first excerpt takes place at Spannocchia with the ten artists from all around the US and Canada. Here are a few of our group gathered around as I'm doing a demonstration. 
       And here's the finished painting.

The 12th century tower at Spannocchia and Holly with her painting in process.

 The artists found the many arched doorways at Spannocchia to be great subject matter. Fig trees and vines grew over them, reflected light in the interior revealing stairs leading up and out of sight - fascinating!
Lisa at her Painting Station

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Changing Mediums - It Can Be Confusing!

In response to questions from several artists over the past weeks, I have been giving a lot of thought to the interesting challenges that arise when one changes mediums. Of course there is the constant dealing with "do I paint from light to dark, or dark to light". When one is accustomed to using oil or pastel and then switch to watercolor, it can be tricky to remember what comes first!      

However, I think most of us manage that very well. We save the white paper when using watercolor rather than using white paint, and at least until you are proficient, the "traditional " method is to paint from light to dark. When you achieve a level of mastery with watercolor, you can start with the darks, or the mid-tones, whatever works for you. I often add some mid-darks and darks early in the painting as that gives me a value to judge other values against.

I do think that there is one area that you could consider: how you handle the edges in your painting. We do this differently with each medium, although the principles are the same.

                    Detail of a large pastel painting "Snow Flurries on Mt. Katahdin"

In my pastel paintings, I really like cross-hatching (over-laying) colors and then scumbling a soft pastel lightly over the surface. In this detail of a large pastel painting, I think you can see the results of letting the various cross-hatched colors glitter through the soft scumbling on the surface. 

I can make the edges merge, or sharpen one when necessary. Some artists like to blend the pastels to a smooth finish; it's all a matter of personal preference.

When I painted in oils, I tended to use value to join or separate shapes, and as in all mediums, controlling the warmth or coolness of the pigments is also an important factor. i.e. a warm shape painted against a cool shape will create a little separation, even if they are the same value and of course, a more distinct change if deeper or different values.

                               Plein Air Painting at the Frederic Church Camps
                               16 x 20 Watercolor on Twinrocker hand made paper
                                             September 20, 2014
This painting shows my method of "knitting" adjacent shapes together so that they do not look like separate, unrelated planes.
I accomplish this by continuing some of the color from the sky to the mountain to the foreground large shape and the water, and also by "losing" the edge where the values are similar.

                             Detail of a Watermedia Painting of a winter scene on Mt. Katahdin

Creating a textured underpainting with gesso, and then over painting with transparent watercolors allowed me to capture the memory of the snow-encrusted mountain side in January.

Can you see how the variety of edges keep your eye moving through the painting and the cooler colors in the shadows add a luminosity to the warmer pigments in the sunlight?

This is by no means a complete statement on creating effective edges with the different mediums, or the difficulties encountered when changing from one to another. However, I think just being aware of what we are aiming to achieve gets us off on the right "foot". So - we have started the conversation!


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Pipes are Calling! Paint with me in Ireland

    Painting The Beautiful Beara Peninsula of Ireland
                       with Evelyn Dunphy  

A Watercolor Painter's Idea of Heaven 
May 30 - June 5, 2015    

Early Sign-Up
by November 30, 2014 and Save

This is a small group workshop and it is filling up quickly this year, six artists are already committed for 2015, so if you are interested in attending, please send me an email: and save your place.

A full description of the workshop is on my website:
I would like to invite you to join me in a painting retreat at Anam Cara, "a tranquil spot set apart to nurture and to provide sanctuary for those who create".  You may want to visit the website:  

We would like people to know that they are coming on retreat; meaning coming away from the dailiness of their lives, to this quiet, beautiful part of Ireland to become part of a creative workshop group to learn and find inspiration for their art as well as to become part of a small, rural, Irish community.

If you ask: "why should I take this workshop", I would reply by including comments from artists who came with me this past May. I believe that personal recommendations are definitely the best way of judging if a workshop will be what you are yearning for.  

"I am sending you a note to thank you for the wonderful time in Ireland. I will forever look at light in a different way. You have also rekindled my love for mixing color. Will treasure the memories for a life time". Angela R. 2014 Workshop.  

"I just want you to know the workshop far exceeded my expectations. It really was the best I have ever taken.  I also teach watercolor and I've taken many workshops.  I think you give 200% and it is appreciated" - Jane H. 2013 Ireland Workshop

Sunlight And Shadow

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

                       Before the sunrise, an artist, sketchbook and a mug of tea
                                  Come and experience this unforgettable place with me
September 18 -21th workshop at Rhodora, Frederic Church's camp on Millinocket Lake in Maine. Please send me an email at for information on joining me at this historic site.

Maple Leaves on the Lakeshore

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Painting in the Maine North Woods

Every year I teach a painting workshop at the site of Frederic Church's remote camp on Millinocket, Maine. It's like stepping back into the late 1800's (except that there is a generator if needed). The camps on right on the lake, looking straight at Mt. Katahdin, our iconic and sacred mountain.

When the weather is good we paint Katahdin, but what to do when it rains! Well, we do very well. There is always a blazing fire in the enormous fireplace, a teapot is ready, we are toasty and warm, and it's just lovely - here's an example of my demonstration during a rainy afternoon.
If you'd like to read more about my workshops, please visit my website:
where you can find out all the details. Or just send me an email at

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vienna Nocturne

I'm reading "Vienna Nocturne" by Vivien Shotwell and wanted to share this passage with you (it's part of letter that a young artist is writing to his sister, in the late 1700's):

"There's a robin in the birdbath. For ten minutes together it has been standing ankle deep in the water and making no motion. Does it care about ambition? Does it wish to be more beautiful than it is? No,  it is beautiful as it is, because it is. I will fix it in my mind and paint it in the afternoon".

I love it .......perhaps it strikes a chord for you as well.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Art & Music in the

I recently read about a Hunger Prevention program in mid-coast Maine called "Backpack," that sends food home with children after school so that they do not go hungry during their time at home. Putting the food in a backpack saves a child from experiencing the humiliation of other students knowing they are receiving assistance. 
It really hit home for me; just the thought of a child going home to a place with nothing for dinner and breakfast is heart-breaking. Like most of us, I can't write a big check, but I have learned that I can use my work to help with things that are important to me.  And so with your help, I would love to be able to support this effort through donating a portion of the sales of my paintings.  

And so for this event only:  

25 original paintings regularly valued at $500 - $750.00 each will be priced at $350.00 in an effort to raise
money for this effort that is serving hundreds of Maine's school children. I will donate 15% of each sale to the Backpack program.
You may view these paintings on my website:
Just click on "Preview Paintings for Backpack Program" on the left hand side bar of the home page.

You may purchase a painting in advance of the August 9th event and pick it at my studio anytime, or we can arrange to ship it to you.
Signed, limited edition Giclee Print

Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to Join Planes Together to Unify Your Painting


 Plein Air Painting Done at the Workshops at Frederic Church's camp on Millinocket Lake in Maine
Join me August 14 - 17 or September 18 - 21 for an unforgettable experience in an historic setting.

I found that painting scenes such as this were a real challenge as it was all too easy to have the different planes of the painting look as if they were separated by hard lines. After studying Cezanne's paintings of Mt. Victoire over a period of time, I suddenly had an insight that was a life-saver! I realized that by carrying some of the color of the sky into the mountain, then two or three colors of the mountain into the next area of the tree line and so on throughout the far islands that I was able to create a sense of unity throughout the painting. See if you can tell where the blues and greens are carried from one shape to another. 

Of course it's also necessary to create soft and merged edges throughout the painting as well. 

I believe that studying the best painters is a wonderful learning process - look at great books on art, turn it upside down so that you are not intent on the subject and look for interesting compositions and color combinations.

Happy Painting!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This Is Why I Love To Paint!

During my recent watercolor workshop on the beautiful unspoiled Beara Peninsula of Ireland, I found myself standing by this old ruin, just a few steps from the main street of Eyeries. I thought that a demonstration of how I might paint old rock walls and stones would be valuable to the class and so I set up my easel and began.
Behind me was a hedge filled with wild fuchsia, back lit by the sun. Birds swept overhead; the temperature was perfect - I was overcome by a sense of well-being and I think I could safely say - "euphoria".

That night I had barely gotten into bed when I just had to get up and write this in my journal:
Standing in the tall grass under a bush laden with cascading fuchsia blossoms - birds are singing, swifts too numerous to count darting overhead. The sun is shining. Paint going down on paper, merging, meeting, blending colors - the lovely meeting of grey-blue, cerulean and bronze- friends nearby - I was struck by such a powerful feeling:
My Unfinished Plein Air Painting

"THIS is why I love painting".
Wild Fuchsias

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Keeping in Touch

Painting in our Garden
I just got an email from a motivational group that I don't seem to be able to unsubscribe to - but they do have a nice daily quotation that is often enjoyable.  

Today it was for a program that would "change my life if I signed up for a set of CDs", and the question was "what are you lacking, what do you want more of, what is missing in your life"?

Once I thought about it, I was really surprised to realize that actually, the answer to all of those questions is NOTHING. Of course we could all use more money, more time, etc. etc. but really and truly, I have everything I need.    

And I want to tell you that you are a very big part of this for me. I never imagined myself as a teacher of any sort.  And it's become one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.. 

I'm flying away to Ireland in a couple of hours, and I will be thinking of you every step of the way, and wishing that you were there too.
Irish Recycling
There's a group of eleven artists coming from Maine, Sweden, Toronto, California, Michigan, Guam - all gathering at Anam Cara, a sweet retreat center overlooking Coulagh Bay. on the Beara Peninsula.
While I'm away, I hope that you will be finding time to enjoy your painting time. Most of all, I wish you a subject that really excites you; one that makes you lie in bed at night thinking of the colors you'll use, how you'll plan the composition and just how you'll go about it. Enjoy the anticipation! Love  the process, and allow yourself to take as much time as you need. That's what it's all about.
I'll be in touch.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

An observation worth reading

A friend who is also a very good painter wrote to me about the story of the cupcake paintings that is posted below. She said that she loved the painting with the gray background. It reminded her that even in gray times, there are sprinkles, frosting and cherries.

I think this is a wonderful observation. It's all in the eye of the beholder!
Til next time, happy painting,

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cupcakes. Pink or Gray?

HOW COLOR HELPS TELL YOUR STORY (or - betrays you!)  

Here's my set-up for a still life studio class. At our local grocery store I ordered cupcakes loaded with icing, sprinkles and a cherry on the top.  Then I arranged them on a cake stand and put birthday wrapping paper around the whole thing.

I thought it was a very happy image and the artists in the class created such great paintings that I was really pleased.

I think you can imagine what colors dominated that subject matter!

Fragments of a Woman's Life

I always emphasize to my students that having a "story" or a "concept" for a painting is very important. Sometimes I have a title before I even begin a painting and I love it when that happens! Then I can see clearly what colors will help to set the mood.

Here's an example: in a small village on the east coast of Newfoundland I walked by an abandoned house that had all of the windows boarded up except one. And in that window was a collection of fancy hats on a hat rack. I was so surprised; what woman had lived in this house and left all of her hats behind?

As I looked through the window, the sky and trees behind me were reflected in the glass. I immediately had a "story". This painting was done completely in opaque pigments. Their particular characteristics made it possible for me to create the textures of crushed velvet cloche, a fuzzy knitted bag and felt hat. When you see the painting in real life, you can almost feel the fabrics.

Do you see how the soft, muted colors contributed to the overall mood of the painting? I love this painting because of the story that I have in my mind about the woman and her life, even though it is a melancholy image.

Imagine that painting done in transparent, glowing pigments of bright, saturated color.
It would be an entirely different story.

And that brings me back to cupcakes.  

During our conversation at the end of the class, I was talking about how the colors we choose can help to support our "story."                                                          

                                    Happy Birthday by Andrea Galuza          
Here's an example of one the paintings done that evening. I am sure you agree that the chosen colors are a huge help in expressing the lively subject, and evoking a feeling of a celebration.


As we looked at each painting, I realized that one of them had been painted with a neutral gray background. I do not have a photo of the actual painting, so I've used Photoshop to put gray all around the cupcakes on the cake stand so you can see what the effect was.

It was striking. I could almost feel my heart sink when I looked at that gray color all around the brightly colored cupcakes.

Later, with the artist's permission, I asked the class
what message this painting sent to them.

Someone said: "I gave a party, and nobody came".
What do you think? Compare the two images and ask yourself how you can use color in your next painting to really make your story come alive.
Leave me a comment or a question. I'd love to hear from you. Happy Painting!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Exuberance in the Studio

So glad that you are visiting my blog; if you haven't been here in the last few days, please scroll down a few screens to see the first steps in the process of creating the painting "Exuberance" which is one of two paintings that has moved to the third level of judging in the World Watercolour Competition sponsored by The Art of Watercolour magazine published in France.

So to continue:

7th Step Tulips 
 Painting the Tulips Reflected in the Mirros

I decided that I would paint the reflected tulips first so that I could better judge how saturated and warm the "live" tulips would need to be. And also, I couldn't wait to paint them!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  At last - the darks! I love painting the darks, especially when I know that this will really make the tulips more three-dimensional. I painted this wash in one step. I mixed alizarin crimson, phthalo blue red-shade and phthalo green to make a deep black. 


 Am I Done Yet!

I liked the abstract shapes under the tulips but the color combination just did not work, even though in theory (and planning) it sounded good. So I made the decision to change the gold on the right corner to dark red, and add a dark red strip to the gold band on the left.
Much better!



Not the end of the story, though. The day this painting arrived back at my studio from the Rhode Island Watercolor Society's National Exhibition, I took one look and removed it from the frame. I spent a few hours removing the white line that you see to the middle left of the painting. It was the edge of the mirror and it had seemed like a good idea to include it. But there is nothing like a fresh eye to make an error pop out at  you. The line drew the eye right to it, which was definitely not good design.
It wasn't just a case of painting over the white line. I softened each edge, and then repainted each shape in the mixture of colors that I had originally used. 

Here's the final painting:


It is never too late to make a change! I hope that you agree that the painting was improved with the loss of the line.

Next time I'll show you the process of creating "Tea and Sushi", the other painting that is continuing in the World of Watercolour Competition. 
Hope you'll come back, and please do leave comments or questions. I'd love to hear from you! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Great News! The World of Watercolour Competition

I am so excited to learn that two of my paintings have moved to the third level of judging in the World Watercolor Competition sponsored by "The Art of Watercolour", the watercolor magazine published in France. I wanted to share this with you, and so I thought that it may be interesting to you to see the steps in the creation of these paintings.  

My First Reference Photograph
I decided to put the set-up on a mirror. These are the two photos that I used for my composition.

   I began the drawing with the central tulip. I knew that if I got the size of it correctly, I would be able to relate all of the others to it.
I decided to paint the colorful facets of the vase and the fabrics around the vase and tulips first. This would frame the tulips and I thought it would be helpful in judging where to go next in the painting.
Green was introduced into the negative spaces around the subject. I knew that using the complement of the rose and reds of the tulips would set up a "color interaction" between the reds and the green.

I continued with the patterns on the fabric. Perhaps you can see the value changes in the folds of the fabric. I painted the shadows in the folds using a wet in wet technique, and after that was dry, the stripes and flowers, and also the geometric patterns were added;
I was also careful to change the colors and values of the strips as they moved from the light into the shadowed areas.



I'll continue this demonstration tomorrow. Please leave me a comment if you have thoughts about it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Learning to Love Greens!

I remember when I first started painting, I told someone that I really did not like painting trees and rocks. The response was "you live in Maine! You are in big trouble!"

Almost every green pigment that you purchase or any green mixture that you make yourself will require a tiny bit of red or rose in order to make it look natural. Just try it.
Greens found in the landscape are often more "neutral" than they are painted.

Here's a suggestion: set aside an hour three times a week. Mix each of your blues with one yellow (i.e. use cobalt, ultramarine, cerulean, phtyalo and aureolin yellow). Make a 3" square. Label each one. Then, change the yellow (i.e. cadmium yellow) and then continue through each of your yellows, and using the same blues, mix new greens. Be sure to lable each one.

Next, try each of these mixtures with a touch of one of your reds and see what results. 
You can also take each of your tube greens and modifiy each with a bit of your reds or roses in the same way. Adding a little rose madder will give you a very different result than using cadmium red or alizarin crimson.

If you label each mixture, you will have quite a library of greens to use in your next painting.

This sounds like a lot of work, but I can promise you that it really doesn't take that long!

This plein air painting was done over a period of four mornings as the light and shadows changed by 9:30 am.   

Notice the variety of warm and cool greens in this painting

Let's Begin with the Greens that are Far Away

We know that cooler colors will stay back while warm colors come forward.

(there are exceptions to everything, but as a general rule, this works).

So in order to set the stage, I mixed some cool greens using aureolin yellow and cerulean blue, as well as viridian plus a bit of aureolin and a wee touch of permanent rose and cobalt blue. By varying the amount of yellow and red you can get several varieties of green. Just remember to keep them "cool" so don't add too much yellow.

The sky began with cobalt blue graded to cooler cerulean and then to naples yellow behind the trees.

Look at the pale cool greens that were painted into a sky wash that was still damp.  

I think you can see the progression of cool to warmer greens as the trees came from far away to nearer to my line of vision.

The sun-lit grass area by the gate was very bright and was painted as a warm yellow-green. Varying amounts of green and blue were added as I painted into the shadowed areas.

The dark cyprus trees also included some warm and cool variations. Always observe the angle of light; it will help create the dimensional form of the tree.

We have barely scratched the surface of all the ideas and ways to make greens a beautiful part of our paintings. But progress begins with small steps and I know that just having a "vocabulary" of three warm and three cool greens as well as some complimentary shadow colors will make a world of difference in your paintings.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Had No Idea How To Paint This!

I saw a photograph of my brother's  three year old granddaughter on Facebook. She was sitting on the edge of the stage at her ballet class recital in her pink tulle tutu. But dear me! She was not happy....if this had been a pretty little picture of her, I would have thought "how cute" and that would have been the end of it.
But - she was pouting; it was a dark photo and I was quite fascinated with the idea of painting her in this setting.

Here is the reference photograph. I lightened the photo on Photoshop which helped a little as her features were not clear. I felt that I did get a likeness in my drawing and most importantly, the posture that appealed to me so much in the original photograph. 

As I was drawing this little figure, I began to think about how I could achieve the look of the filmy tulle and also see her plump little legs under the tulle.  

The more complete the drawing became - the less I felt I knew how to proceed.  

I told myself "it's just value and edges".  

Have you heard this before?
It didn't help.

So - I took my own advice and did a study.   The minute I started this, I knew that yes, it truly was values and edges. The folds of the tulle were graded washes. I changed the temperature from warm to cool as the fold turned into the shadow. Edges that turned away were softened.

The next two studies gave me the confidence that I needed to start that large stretched paper.   I made the value of her legs a bit darker under the tulle than they were in the light, and then lifted out the light lines. I left the green ribbon as the white of the paper until I had completed the skirt.

 I painted all of the background first. This allowed me to paint her hair into the dark and then lift out wispy hairs that gave her head an "airy' feeling.
I painted the warm colors in her hair so that they would show as "highlights" against her dark hair

Here you can see how the change of values gives depth and puts the underskirt behind the tulle. This effect is enhanced by wet in wet painting where I charged different roses and also a darker
neutral into the pink skirt 
  "Reluctant Ballerina"  

I spent a day adjusting the values of the shadowed areas on her bodice, the dark background and I can't tell you how many times I touched her lower lip with rose! It just disappeared time after time. Finally used a bit of quinacridone rose and that worked.  

I hope that this may prove helpful to you as you work through ways to achieve specific effects with your paintings.

What worked for me was being clear about what I was trying to do (create the look of crispy tulle over soft flesh) and then ask yourself what you know how to do that will make that effect possible.

You've heard me say that "naming it makes it possible". I am more convinced of that every single day.