Monday, November 29, 2010

"Turning Japanese"

6 x 6"
watercolor on aquaboard (Ampersand)

I'm back after a fabulous Thanksgiving vacation with family.  This painting went slowly due to all the details.  I'm pleased with branch lines that keeps the viewers eyes active.  I love how this aquaboard makes it easy to pull the whites out.

Reference photo was taken on September 26.  These are Japanese wind flowers.  They are located on the lower terrace.  It's fun watching them all sway together, but of course I like to zero in on the individual.

Friday, November 26, 2010

"Here's Looking at You"

6 x 8"
oil on linen panel (Ray Mar)

I know I should be painting another fall flower, but here I am with a honeysuckle.  Sorry. I was attracted to the orange and the contrast.  I'm very pleased with the painterly quality of the brush work on this one.  My goal is to stay loose.  So, the tiny details in the two flowers drove me a bit crazy.

Reference photo was taken on April 10. I don't know how I jumped so far back. I'll try to stay more seasonal. This vine was right before the pergola on the path down from the rose circle.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


6 x 6"
watercolor on aquabord (Ampersand)

Thought I'd post one with more fall colors.  Back to the aquabord, I enjoyed working on the background circles and liked how the thin branches moved through the composition.

Reference photo was taken September 26.  This is one of my favorite blooming fall plants.  It's a bush that lives in shaded forests and has these cool scarlet pods that burst in the fall. Native to North Carolina, I had not seen one until moving back here and discovering them in my backyard.  There are several in the H.L. Blomquist Garden of Native Plants section at Duke Gardens, though the largest one I've ever seen is in the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum along the path leading up from the North Pond.  I'll post one done in oil soon.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 22, 2010


6 x 8" 
oil on linen panel (Ray Mar)

This one went fairly quickly.  I started by putting down a sepia ground and then rubbing out the lightest shapes with a cloth.  Then I sketched with a brush using a dark alizarin crimson.  After the shapes were how I wanted them, I painted the darkest colors and background, keeping it soft.  The next day I completed the flower.  The highlights worked out very well.  This one will be hard to part with.

The reference photo was taken on August 8.  It was the day of the rose path.  With so many beautiful subjects, the trick was to find pleasing compositions.  I liked how the background flowers look ghostly. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Rose for Texas"

5¾ x 5¾"
 watercolor on mounted Arches Cold Press

I'm trying this Artboard mounted watercolor paper again which really soaks up the color.  It has a softness to it. It felt good to be working on paper again because you can layer it.  Seeing through the various layers gives a nice glazing affect.  I am very pleased with how I was able to make the tiny roses pop using the contrasting colors as well.  

Reference photo was taken on April 10.  These rose bushes were right at the end of the rose circular path over the higher wall.  They are small clusters of blooming tiny yellow roses.  The lusciousness of the blooming bush is a treat.  Zooming in on the details that creates that is what I love to do.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Rose Path" 6x8" oil


This one went quicker than many of the others.  Maybe I'm gaining a little more confidence with these oils. I'm not as fussy and tentative.  I really like how the sky turned out.  It has a plein air feel.  So does the path. 

Reference photo was taken on April 10.  It was nice to pull back a little.  Those who are familiar with the gardens can place yourselves on the circular rose path.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Georgia's Type" 6x6in watercolor on Aquaboard


Took a little tropical detour from the promised roses.  The aquaboard just loves red, so when I saw this lovely bloom, I knew it was destined for a watercolor.  Have you figured out the title?  Georgia, as in O'Keefe.  This flower just seemed like one Georgia would have chosen to paint, though she would have done it huge and straight on instead of a small profile.  Back to roses tomorrow.

Reference photo was taken on July 25.  There were several of these blooms, at the bottom of the terrace where the temporary barrier was put up while they work on the pond.  Most of these (again not sure what they are) were past their peak.  Even this has a slight hole in the petal which I liked.  Beauty. No perfection.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Coming Up" 8x6in oil


I'm carrying over the focus on the background circles from the last painting in a big way in this one.  I wanted to paint them loose and thin at first, and then add thicker brushstrokes.  They definitely became prominent.  The vertical worked well as the bud is coming up.  Can you hear that little bud singing to Diana Ross's "I'm coming out?" (of course replacing "out" with "up").  

The reference photo was taken on August 29.  There were so many beautiful blooming roses it was easy to take many photos.  The trick was finding ones with a little more interest either with composition or light. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

"What's Red for?" 6x6" watercolor


I love how the aquaboard handled the red.  So vibrant! This one also took longer than one session.  I got wrapped up in the background circles.  I also wanted to make sure the greens were right.  Greens can be tough.  The trick is to always, always, always mix your own greens.  No tube colors.  Using a variety of hues adds depth and interest.  

This reference photo was taken on August 8 in the rose garden.  They are all blooming beautifully.  You'll be seeing more roses.

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Bubble Yum Field" 6x8" oil

I know the title is a bit goofy, but the colors just reminded me of Bubble Yum bubble gum colors. Do they still make that gum? Anyway, I had fun with this one.

The reference photo was taken on July 25.  The terrace was just full of colors.  I love how they layer the plants so that you are bombarded with complimenting colors.  Always breathtaking.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Reaching" 6x6" watercolor


This one took longer to paint than the others.  I experimented with layering the paint a bit on this aquaboard.  I am very pleased with the results.  If I'm going to do a painting a day, however, I may need to choose subjects without so much detail.

I don't know what kind of flower this is, so if anyone can help with identifying it that would be great. I know it was on the terrace. The reference photo was taken on April 10.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010



I focused on contrast in this painting not only in the bright yellow versus the dark background, but also in softening the edges of the background flowers versus the foreground daisy. I'm pleased that it made the flower pop.

The reference photo was taken on July 25, 2010.  I was struck by these little yellow daisies shinning through from under the dark purple spider grass (? - not sure exactly the name.  I promise to get better at identifying what I'm painting).  So, maybe not shinning bright, but attempting to shine.  I was also listening to David Gray's "Shine" while painting.  Click and have a listen.  Great song.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010



This watercolor is a slight departure in that I've gone back to using watercolor paper.  This is Arches Cold Press paper mounted on a natural fiber board by Artboard.  It is thicker than the other panels and has a slot for hanging on the back.  So, I've gone from working on the aquaboard which is not as absorbent as regular watercolor paper to this mounted Cold Press which is very absorbent.  The mounting process must fuse the fiber with the paper because it has a very soft, almost fuzzy surface.  The painting, therefore, has a very soft appearance which is perfect for this subject.

The reference photo was taken on March 31. Unfortunately, I can not recall where these peach colored blossoms were.  It was either on a small tree on the terrace or on the path walking towards the small iron bridge.  Sorry.  If anyone knows, please tell me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Hi ya"


This is the last of the tulips for a while.  I had fun with the composition on this one.  I felt like the little one was saying "hi" to the larger one - thus the title.  I was also pleased with the contrast of the bright red against the black shaded stone wall.

The reference photo was from that same gorgeous day of the tulips - March 31, 2010. Seeing the stone terrace wall gives you a better sense that this was taken at Duke Gardens.  I may on occasion back away from my intimate moments to give a wider scope of the gardens.  Something to think about for future paintings.

Friday, November 5, 2010



Another tulip.  I was very pleased with how the sky peeks through the trees on this one. I'm getting used to the aquaboard and figuring out how best to layer the paint.  Still, I may have to try some on real paper that's been mounted.  Maybe the next one. . .

The reference photo was also taken on March 31.  I just couldn't pull myself away from the tulips on the terrace. Tip toeing??

Thursday, November 4, 2010



Tulips are so cheerful.  (I know Meg Ryan says daisies are so cheerful in "You've Got Mail," but tulips are a close second.) The luscious oils make it easy to keep things bright, though I had to be careful not to overwork the strokes otherwise it could get muddy fast.  Getting the color right on the shaded yellow of the petals was a bit tricky, but I'm pleased with the result.

The reference photo was taken on March 31.  You really should try to make it to Duke Gardens in the early spring when the bulb flowers come up.  It's lovely.  I even enjoyed it as a child with my sister, Missy.  See the photo on the sidebar.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Peeking Daffodil"


I'm getting used to using this aquaboard.  You can pick up colors more easily to leave white. It does not allow for the colors to play as much, though, as you would with paper.  I was happy with the vibrant contrast in this one.
The reference photo was taken on March 31.  Many variety of daffodils are showcased on the terrace along with the tulips.  These were on the lower level by one of the stone benches.  A lovely place to ponder.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Returning Tulips"


This is the first oil I've done in a number of years and I have to say that it was a lot of fun, but a bit frustrating too.  I have been so used to painting with watercolor or encaustic - both of which dry very fast - that it took a bit of fiddling to get these oils to do what I wanted.  Still it was good to smell the linseed oil and mineral spirits in the studio again.

The reference photo for this was taken on April 4.  The historic terraces at Duke Gardens are just covered with tulips that time of year.  So cheerful.  Hope it warms your cool day.

Monday, November 1, 2010



So here is number one.  I realize that some of you may have seen it before, but it truly was the very first of this series. It is watercolor done on aquaboard (from Ampersand).  I've enjoyed using this textured board for watercolor. Colors are very vibrant.  The reference photo for this piece was taken on March 31.  The plant is on the right side of the path just before you reach the wisteria pergola.