The Doors

I love doors, doorways and arches. Here are some more of my quick time-limted sketches; all of these were under five minutes for the ink sketches and then I threw in some quick Crayola watercolor.


Some of these compositions came from Steph at Big World Small Pockets; thanks again for allowing me to use your photos as reference.

Visit her page here:

Big World Small Pockets – Budget Travel Blog


Quick Flowers in Watercolor

These were part of my daily quick ink sketches I was working on this fall. I probably took closer to 10 minutes with that big pink and bluish rose, but everything else I gave myself 5 minutes for drawing and then added quick strokes of Crayola watercolor.

All of these quick sketches are done on printer paper with cheap ball point pen. You, too, can practice with inexpensive materials. The reference for these paintings came from the considerable photo-stash of my late mother-in-law Eileen Steen who really got me started on my path to being an artist.

Planted by Living Waters

Planted by Living Waters is never going to hang in The Louvre, but it’s the fulfillment of a long-planned project; I’ve had several tree paintings rolling around in my brain for years and this was the somewhat obvious outcome for a recycled canvas that 2 other people had previously painted with a basic tree form and some rudimentary (blobby) leaves.

I’m still amazed how the Lord set every little detail in motion for me to complete a painting I’ve wanted to do for a long time – all using someone else’s substrate and basic forms and my limited supply of paint.

I’ve stripped down to bare minimums for art supplies, so making a totally new painting on this used canvas wasn’t an option. There were many opportunities to complain about my limitations, but I chose to skip complaining and to be thankful instead, trusting that I had all I needed to bring this work to completion. As I pushed forward in trust, He opened the way for me to see how to work around problems and He even replenished my paint supplies!

Only after I began working on the previously laid tree framework did I make the connection that this was the form I needed to begin one of my set-aside-for-another-time projects. I ran into some challenges along the way and had to go back and make some lumpy round blobs fit in with my new composition, but now I see that some show-through of the old painting is exactly what My Master wanted in the first place.

Like Jesus did with my own life, He worked with the mixed-mess that I gave Him and made me a new creation, yet left some of my scars, bumps and basic forms still in place to show through!

His Word says He causes all things, ALL things, to work together for good for those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose and that He makes all things beautiful in His time.

Though some of my old scars are still visible, they don’t hobble me; they add dimension to what He’s doing in me now. They help make me who I am becoming in the hands of the Master Painter.

By doing this painting I have MUCH better insight into His process; He takes what He’s given, uses it all, and makes us completely new at the same time! It’s a paradox.

God’s Own Fool by  Michael Card

Seems I’ve imagined Him all of my life
As the wisest of all of mankind
But if God’s Holy wisdom is foolish to men
He must have seemed out of His mind
For even His family said He was mad
And the priests said a demon’s to blame
But God in the form of this angry young man
Could not have seemed perfectly sane

When we in our foolishness thought we were wise
He played the fool and He opened our eyes
When we in our weakness believed we were strong
He became helpless to show we were wrong

And so we follow God’s own fool
For only the foolish can tell-
Believe the unbelievable
And come be a fool as well

So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son
For a madman who died for a dream
And you’ll have the faith His first followers had
And you’ll feel the weight of the beam
So surrender the hunger to say you must know
Have the courage to say I believe
For the power of paradox opens your eyes
And blinds those who say they can see

Planted by living waters 20181121_142149.jpg

Psalm 1: 1-3

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.


John 4: 5-26

So He came to a city of Samaria… Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” 

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.


John 7: 37, 38

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Believest thou this?

Not So Old Jan Clair Has a Farm

Another set of quick daily 5 minute sketches done with a free ball point pen on quarter sheets of printer paper and Crayola Waterolor. Photo reference was kindly provided by my artist-farmer friend Jan Clair. This rooster and the autumn view of the farm are among my top faves in this series of quick daily exercises.

Thank you Jan!

Atta Boys


A few months ago, I ended up with a fair amount of time on my hands which was nice because I really needed a deep rest after my summer. I’ve sought to use my time of restoration well and have included a bit of daily exercise. Art exercise, mostly.

I began with daily timed ink sketches that I added a bit of kiddie watercolor to, but that’s another post.  The last few weeks I began working on small acrylic thumbnails again. A couple of days ago, I felt like working on some horse stuff again and did this quick acrylic thumbnail; it’s pretty loose and impressionistic, but I decided to share it on Facebook and several friends responded quite favorably. They are horse-lovers and I didn’t even have to say it was a horse eye. That sure feels good!

I am so grateful for friends and other painters who support me.

I think I’ll just leave this one alone and go on to another one! That will be the real challenge because I see what’s wrong with it and want to fix it!

The Nordberg Collection

About 12 years ago, we became acquainted with the daughter of two hobbyist painters and since then our friendship has deepened and we’ve often been graced to see these paintings in person, sometimes on a daily basis. I love being surrounded by art!

As a landscape painter, I’ve taken great inspiration from the works of Katy and Bernard Nordberg who were originally from Indiana and  have long wanted to show some of the private collection still held by their daughter, Carol.

Emily Kathryn did mostly still life florals and her husband, Bernard (Benny) Oscar Nordberg, painted mostly landscapes. They both in painted in oils and usually worked from photos.

This landscape by Katy is one of my all-time favorites – I love her use of color an this is always a favorite subject for me:
Katy (Emily Kathryn Nordberg )20181113_104707


And I’m still fascinated by the trees in these oil paintings by Bernard:
Here are some of Katy’s floral still lifes:



When they retired to SW Florida, Bernard began working in watercolor  and did many landscapes. This is the pier and beach in our old hometown of Naples. I enjoy looking at all the cool negative spaces in this and am amused by Bernard’s sense of humor and subtle commentary on local realities; the people laying on the beach are all tan and the tourists have subtle pinkish sunburns!


and here are some lovely covered bridges!


He painted for these for his beloved daughter, Carol:


and here are some adorable, whimsical fish!


And here is one last oil painting I found squirreled away in my archives!


This is what I want to do!

Thank you for sharing your parents’ art with us all, Carol! It’s long been a great inspiration!

A few years ago, I also found this other painting from Bernard Nordberg online:
Bernard Nordberg Painting

It was really cool for me to share it with Carol after I found it!

Artistic Anthophobia (a bit of hyperbole)

Anthophobia — Google says it is a fear of flowers.

Some things, like roses, have given me LOTS of anxiety. Fear.

Actually, I love roses. I love their shape, silky petals and their scent, but drawing them has caused me some frustration and anxiety. Just being honest.

I’ve been painting for over two decades. Drawing? Only about seven years. Most people learn to draw before they paint. Not me. I dragged my feet and only began learning when I couldn’t  accomplish my artistic goals any other way.

I often do things backwards — it drives my family nuts, my husband especially.  He’s the rational one. He thinks things through. He sees ten steps ahead in any given situation. Not me. I’m the creative one. The one who has had lots of experience learning the hard way. And it’s taken a lot of personal hardship for me to learn to listen to him. So seven years ago. I finally started to draw, using the resource he’d recommended to me almost two decades ago.

Learn to draw here:
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

Still, even after seven years of drawing practice some subjects terrify me, so I don’t draw as much as I should. (Like, daily.)

I know I should be drawing more; I tell people THEY should draw more, so when a post by Ben Makin of The Napkin-Doodle Challenge popped up in my Facebook Newsfeed I thought it might be something to motivate me to get back into daily drawing.

Find him here:
Ben Makin

Ben’s drawings are fairly simple, even for complicated subjects and with the step by step illustrations I was able to complete the 7 days of drawing fairly easily. On about Day 3, there was a drawing of a simple rose; roses are actually fairly complex, but with the instruction I managed a decent little rose doodle. I practiced it a couple of times. I wasn’t thrilled with it, but it was recognizable. Like I said, the instructions were great, though to me at the time, it seemed a strange way to draw a rose. (At first.)

It wasn’t until the end of the 7 days when I’d run out of Ben’s instructions and daily challenges that I decided I wanted to make sure I was keeping up with my own daily drawing, so I sat down to do a few simple line drawings on my own with no prompts. I decided to see if I could draw what I remembered from the week’s illustrations.



This is what just happened on my paper — with very little effort. I was astonished by how it flowed.

I reviewed my initial response to the mid-week challenge (the rose); I had trouble with it at first, but a few days afterward, as I was reviewing, something had very obviously “clicked” in my brain.

Too bad I drew this on a piece of scrap paper! (I have been told to never do this., btw.)


After I posted this photo in the The Napkin Doodle Group on FB, I got plenty of positive response, but I was silently lamenting that I hadn’t drawn it on better paper. I was especially upset because my second go on watercolor paper hadn’t turned out quite this well, but then I remembered that I could use this as a template and trace the shape onto watercolor paper. (No extra drawing! Just tracing.)

I also remembered that not everyone knows how transfer drawings, so I photographed my process;  you, too, can take your quick sketches and easily transfer them to better paper! Realize that you don’t need special artist tools to make pretty pictures.

Except for the watercolor paper, I used materials that are pretty easy to get: masking tape, kids Crayola watercolors (even the brush that came with the set was decent though I wouldn’t want to paint a big picture or very fine details with it) and graphite. I used a graphite stick, but using an everyday pencil works too.  I also used a pen I picked up at my last hotel stay–not fancy at all, but it flows well! “That’s it!” as Jacques Pepin says. (He does watercolor, btw!)

If you are interested, see his art here:
Jacques Pepin’s Art


So, here’s my transfer process:


I tested out my kiddie watercolors on my initial drawing on scrap paper before I decided to use it as a template–and it demonstrates that you can paint quick sketches on printer paper:





I flipped my drawing over; as you can see, I have other odd doodles from The Napkin-Doodle Challenge on the back of the paper.

Reminder: Don’t use scrap paper to do you drawings. 🙂

I have a nub of a graphite stick that I use for this process, but you can just lay a sharpened #2 pencil on its side and darken the paper  on the back side of your drawing; just make sure you cover the entire area of your drawing since the graphite will be used to transfer your original drawing onto your fresh sheet of paper.


(I should have used more graphite here to make for a better transfer, but you get the idea, I hope.)

Once you get a nice, even layer of graphite on the back of your drawing, turn your paper over and tape your template drawing to the other piece of paper you want to transfer your drawing to. You don’t need a lot of tape — just enough to keep your drawing in place; I try to make sure that not much tape is actually sticking to my watercolor paper. If you don’t leave it on long it should come right off, but if it’s a better tape (like from Scotch) it can pull at your nice sheet of paper. That’s bad. I like using cheap dollar store tape for my artwork–it’ not quite so sticky and comes off more easily. And it’s cheaper. What a bonus!


Many artists use this transfer technique so they don’t mar the surface of their watercolor paper; erasing drawing mistakes can affect how the watercolor paper handles the water and the paint.

Now take your pen or pencil and firmly, but gently, trace the lines of your original drawing; the graphite on the back will transfer your drawing to the other piece of paper.






Now you can see why I should have laid down a thicker and more even layer of graphite on the back of my template.




This was good enough for me to see the basic shapes though, so I took my pencil and darkened the lines with my pencil freehand.




So, now you know an easy way to transfer a drawing to another piece of paper.


You don’t need fancy artist paints to make nice paintings. Some of my favorite watercolor lessons were from Gerald Brommer who used kid’s watercolors for his demonstrations. The goal is to do more art, not sit around waiting until you can afford better materials!

See Gerald’s work here:
Gerald Brommer

This is my finished rose!


With just a couple of dollars for kids’ supplies (brush included) you can do all sorts of beautiful work. I’ve used Prang and Crayola; this one was done with Crayola.

You don’t have to use watercolor paper to learn all watercolor technique and strokes–many things can be learned on less expensive lighter weight paper; another painter I’ve watched, Barry Toshio Shiraishi, uses printer paper to do his practice painting.

See Barry paint here:
Realistic Cherries by Barry

So, what’s stopping you?

Anthophobia? I’m over my anthophobia now.

The Furnace of Affliction
Old Hawaiian Kiln — watercolor (photo reference by permission from Mary Deal)

Streams in the Desert – July 9
by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10).

Does not the Word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yes, is it not an asbestos armor, against which the heat has no power? Let the affliction come–God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayest stride in at my door; but God is in the house already, and He has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayest intrude; but I have a balsam ready–God has chosen me. Whatever befall me in this vale of tears, I know that He has chosen me.
Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, His presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom He has chosen for His own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is His sure word of promise to His chosen ones in “the furnace of affliction.”
–C. H. Spurgeon

Pain’s furnace heat within me quivers,
God’s breath upon the flame doth blow;
And all my heart in anguish shivers
And trembles at the fiery glow;
And yet I whisper, “As God will!”
And in the hottest fire hold still.
He comes and lays my heart, all heated,
On the hard anvil, minded so
Into His own fair shape to beat it
With His great hammer, blow on blow;
And yet I whisper, “As God will!”
And at His heaviest blows hold still.
He takes my softened heart and beats it;
The sparks fly off at every blow;
He turns it o’er and o’er and heats it,
And lets it cool, and makes it glow;
And yet I whisper, “As God will!”
And in His mighty hand hold still.
Why should I murmur? for the sorrow
Thus only longer-lived would be;
The end may come, and will tomorrow,
When God has done His work in me;
So I say trusting, “As God will!”
And, trusting to the end, hold still.
–Julius Sturm

The burden of suffering seems a tombstone hung about our necks, while in reality it is only the weight which is necessary to keep down the diver while he is hunting for pearls.

Yarnell Hill Fire AC151012b-13 Acrylic on MDF 20130707 100_7395 crop 3600x1700
Yarnell Hill Fire

The Desert Shall Bloom and Rejoice

The Desert Shall Bloom and Rejoice AC160608-13w 100_2853 cropI freely admit that I am NO great fan of the desert under most circumstances, but we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the desert and there are times when the beauty is both totally surprising — and overwhelming.

After a rare rain, the flowers are a delight. And the mountains provide for spectacular views and awesome sunsets. Our desert times have inspired these paintings.

Saguaro Sunset WC151206d-13 IMG_4813 crop

Despite the HEAT and unbearable dryness of the desert, I did come appreciate the beauty that can be found in the desert, but it’s still a discovery process to our friends Bill & Patricia Kics.

They’ve left everything familiar to them — beloved surroundings, (moisture), family and friends — all to serve and support those who are in foreign and domestic mission fields, using their skills in the offices at MissionONE.

You can read more about them and their journey here:

Bill & Patricia Kics at Mission One

We know firsthand just how long and difficult the road has been to get them from their beloved Sarasota, FL to Phoenix, AZ. They have sought the Lord and surrendered to His will as they pursue this work.

They are indeed worthy of your prayer and financial support as they share Christ’s love by serving those in the offices of MissionONE and other Fields elsewhere.

For every person on the “mission field,” it requires a great deal of support from others, praying and giving to meet needs. We are members of one another and the hand cannot say to the foot, “I have no need of you.”

I don’t believe you’ve found this blog post by chance and if you have read this far, please prayerfully consider whether you should be part of their mission to share Christ’s love.

They also serve who stand and wait.

If God has placed it on your heart to be part of their ministry, you can give here:
Support Bill & Patricia Kics at MissionONE


Called to “Go”

This was originally posted on my blog at Niume –in late 2016 or early 2017. Since then, I have been to Seattle and back, finished a long project in Fort Myers Fl and am again poised to “Go.”  We have longterm plans elsewhere and are moving forward, expecting doors to open. Thank you for upholding us in prayer:Whom Shall I Send- AC160913a IMG_5756 crop

Who will follow their Master’s command to ‘go’? Who will stay and send those who are called to go? Who will uphold in prayer–that those who are in desperate need will hear the Truth that Christ died for them? All these play their parts in preaching The Good News. Don’t neglect the command of your Master; “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” This painting, Whom Shall I Send, sprung from my heart’s cry after reading KP Yohannan’s book, No Longer a Slumdog. And I am poised to “Go” once again.

Daily 5 Minute Drawings

About the first of the year, I decided that I should be drawing more, especially since I haven’t been able to paint in months. I figured that pretty much, no matter what, I could manage 5 minutes a day. I figured wrong. 🙂

It’s the 16 of January and I’m already behind, but I thought I’d share the ten or so I’ve managed to do so far. Sketch11194058Sketch11415180Sketch33115014Sketch33195359Sketch114134929Sketch114152819Sketch125153556Sketch125153837Sketch125155420

Emmanuel — God With Us

As the day to celebrate His birth approaches, I wanted to share these two digital paintings with you.

A King is Born in Bethlehem DP150903b Nativity Sketch16022417 1300x2000
 A King is Born in Bethlehem DP150903b


Here’s a great new song I’ve just run across to go with these paintings as we celebrate His birth.

Light of the World by Lauren Daigle

“The world waits for a miracle
The heart longs for a little bit of hope
Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel

The child prays for peace on earth
And she’s calling out from a sea of hurt
Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel

And can you hear
The angels singing

Glory to the light of the world
Glory the light of the world is here

The drought breaks
With the tears of a mother
A babies cry is the sound
Of love come down
Come down, Emmanuel

He is the song for the suffering
He is messiah
The Prince of Peace has come
He has come, Emmanuel

Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
For all who wait
For all who hunger
For all who’ve prayed
For all who wonder
Behold your King
Behold Messiah
Emmanuel, Emmanuel

Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Glory to the light of the world
Behold your King
Behold Messiah
Emmanuel, Emmanuel

The world waits for the miracle
The heart waits for a little bit of hope
O come, O come Emmanuel”

O Holy Night DP150903a Sketch226133654 300dpi 1300x2000 text
O Holy Night DP150903a





Christy’s Island

Bright Seascape Watercolor 1:2 sheet '13 June 01 100_6414

This is another older watercolor done larger than I usually work — it was a  half sheet of watercolor paper; I was experimenting with permanent rose an Indian yellow. I’m definitely going to have to put the permanent rose back into my palette.

If you like this watercolor, you can find fine art prints, home decor and exercise products featuring it exclusively through Kess InHouse:
Christy’s Island by Cyndi Steen at Kess InHouse

Flock Flying Low

wc.2009.07.20.seascape.cHere’s another early watercolor I did after watching Frank Clarke in his series Simply Painting. I really liked the delicate colors of the sky and the wave action in this one.

If you like this painting you can find prints, home decor products and exercise clothing exclusively in my shop at Kess InHouse:

Flock Flying Low by Cyndi Steen at Kess InHouse

My First Acrylic Painting

reblogged from Niume Art (defunct):

My Garden at Giverny - from iPhoto

More than twenty years have passed since I painted this version of Monet’s Garden at Giverny. My mother-in-law, Eileen, introduced me to the world of art; I used to draw in school and even did a tiny bit of pastel work after high school, but I got very frustrated and just gave up. Eileen helped put me back on the road by sitting me down with a stretched canvas and her paints.

__1998ish.givernypainting 589 in process

My art “career” actually started here with this painting (above). After returning from a year in China with two small children, we were living in a condo that someone had decorated with tropical themes. I get it. It’s Florida, but this canvas in the living room had this GIGANTIC Nautilus shell painted on it. I like shells just fine, but I REALLY REALLY HATED that painting.

I told my mother-in-law that any time she wanted to cut down the great mounds of paint making up that ugly shell and paint Monet’s garden over it, I would be delighted! Not long after that she took the enormous sofa painting down, cut all the huge globs of Nautilus shell paint off it and then enlisted the help of my four year old daughter to paint. They laid the painting down in the grass outside and grandmother and granddaughter painted the afternoon away. After that initial blocking in, we hung it on the porch and whenever family members visited, everyone was given a brush, some paint and a reference photo. It became a huge family project. My husband’s grandmother even contributed.After that, Eileen gave me my own smaller canvas so that I could work on my own version — that you’ve just seen on the the first page of this post. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Having Fun with Crayons

This is another older watercolor from a few years ago. I was experimenting with wax resist using Crayola Crayons and decided I wanted to make this a very colorful house and played with complementary colors. I also tried to keep it kinda loose, so it looks as though this house may fall down soon, but I still had fun.

Re-Do Before Moving On

reblogged from Niume Art (defunct):


The Chapel watercolor mixed media c 100_9380 iPhoto'dI think this is the last one that I have an early comparison for from the Walter Foster book. I painted this in 2013, before giving the book away, just as a way to see how far I’d come. To see one of my first efforts, go to the next page. I’d prefer you didn’t, but feel at liberty to see some of my worst early work! 🙂


I can’t believe I’m showing this to ANYone, but this is the first version of this painting I did, way back when, in probably 2009.

Lesson in Crashing Waves

reblogged from Niume Art (defunct):
Crashing Waves watercolor lesson 20130813 c 100_9388 iPhoto'd

Another old lesson in the Walter Foster book from my last hurrah before I gave the book away in 2013; apparently, I didn’t feel the need to do water and rocks when I first got the book in 2009, so I don’t have an earlier comparison of this lesson. I always find it a challenge to keep so much white of the paper, but this is a good reminder that I need to focus on doing that more in my current works.

After and Before

Reblogged from Niume-Art (defunct):

Sunflower watercolor lesson 20130810 c 100_9384 iPhoto'd

Looking back at this one–another 2013 redo of the Walter Foster lessons in that book before I gave it away–I think I should have put some more darks in it, but for a relatively quick painting, I was pleased with it. See the next page to see one of my first versions of this lesson from about 2009

wc.2009.05.sunflower 001.darker.c.smaller.nfs

Another one of the first few watercolors I painted using instruction from the Walter Foster book.  In some ways, I like this first one better. But in truth, if I had either of these originals now, I’d add more layers of color to both of them and probably do some ink or graphite in them as well.


Re-blogged from Niume-Art (defunct):

Rooster Watercolor Lesson 20130810 c 100_9386 iPhoto'd

This was a lesson from a Walter Foster book; this is 2013 just before I decided to give the book away. I wanted to get an idea of just how far my skills have come in the seven or eight years since I started painting in watercolor. Click to see the next page and you’ll see just where I came from! 🙂


This is one of the earliest watercolors with instruction that  I’ve done–probably 2009 or 2010–I hope you can see why I put the one from 2013 on the first page.

High Interest

reblogged post from Niume Art (defunct):


Straight lines are boring. This was a great lesson–again, from a book I picked up at the library. It’s one of my favorite compositions too; it reminds me of my grandparents’ old cow barn. There were many techniques used in this painting — from creating the brick work, bleeding out lines in the door, adding paint splatters and lifting out paint to create a vignetted appearance on several of the edges.

Street Market in Marrakech

A reblogged post from Niume Art (defunct):

An old painting and one of my first attempts ever at painting the human figure. I painted it for my sister and brother-in-law who’d gone to Marrakech and allowed me to use their photographs as reference material. Overall, I was very pleased with this, especially the women’s faces. You can tell they are faces, but without much detail.

The Cliffs

reblogged from Niume Art (defunct):

Watercolor The Cliffs 20121103 jake

This is another older watercolor lesson done from a library book. It’s not a technique I use often, but it calls for dipping your brush in several different colors of paint before applying the brush to the paper, instead of mixing the colors beforehand. I like the effect, it’s just hard to keep my colors clean unless I’ve planned ahead.

More Peony Pretties

These are the last of my peony studies from a few years ago on 90lb practice paper. I really loved the pink blended with the purple. I threw some Phthalo green in with Phthalo blue and I LOVE the pink witha that vioet. All in all I loved this color combination and I’ll definitely be adding the pink and sap green back into my standard palette.


Pretty in Pink

reblogged from my Niume (defunct):

An old peony study on 90lb paper. I’m in the mood for spring! So I’m posting another flower today. Technically, it’s a little early for peonies, but I don’t care. I LOVE FLOWERS and miss the peonies my mom used to grow in our flower garden when I was a kid.  This one reminds me of the bright and delicate pink varieties that brightened our yard.


Exploit Your Public Library’s Resources

A few years ago we happened to live in an area of the country that had a fabulous Public Library system. I used to regularly check out the art section and find all kinds of great books on art instruction and they also had some really good videos as well.

This is one of my favorite watercolors. I did it a few years ago; it was done from a lesson in one of the library books I’d picked up. I had a blast creating those bricks, putting in the darks for definition and then lifting out at the corners of the painting to sharpen the contrast in the overall work.

I think it’s about time to try another version of this one, but it may be a while. Paints are put away, following Irma; though this leaves me wondering what I may be able to accomplish with digital.  Hmmm….

Spring is Springing

a reblogged post  from Niume (defunct):

For the last week, my friends have been posting pictures of their daffodils that are starting to bloom, so I thought I’d share this early watercolor of daffodils that I’d done many years ago. I just love daffodils!!! I was not made for winter and seeing this flower in bloom is just thrilling for me.

A Help For Hands

A few years ago, I had to stop a big painting I was working on to learn how to draw. Going through Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain helped me to overcome some huge obstacles in my art.  After working through a few exercises in the book and using a glass picture plane, I was able to draw my left hand.

 hand using picture plane 20130121 100_2067 crop
Here is my glass picture plane and how it helped me draw the complicated lines of a lampshade I was working on.
glass picture plane 100_2779

Once you have your sketch paper divided into four quadrants (like on the piece of glass),  you can draw in the outlines of your difficult subject on your sketch paper, using the grid method.

To use this method for my hand, I had to lay the picture plane on top of my left hand and draw the lines in marker on the glass with my right hand. It was kind of a balancing act, but it worked. Then I used the guide lines drawn on the picture plane as a reference to draw lines in graphite on my toned sketch paper that I had lightly marked with quadrants using the grid method. (Betty Edwards’ grid method only uses a grid of four equal blocks.) With the initial drawing laid in on the toned paper, I was able to add more graphite to create deeper tones and then lift out graphite with a kneaded eraser to create highlights.(If you want to learn to draw better, you should check out Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. No, I don’t get paid to say that; I just liked the book. A LOT.)There are a number of artists out there that say that using a picture plane is “cheating*”; Albrect Durer used one as did many other famous artists. It’s just plain faster than figuring out complicated lines without the extra help. glass picture plane 100_2778

*Apparently, it’s not cheating if you are a professional artist whose life depends on greater productivity — because you like to eat.

Tea For Two Purposes

Reblogged from my Niume (now defunct):

Watercolor special effects: this is an old study exploring watercolor techniques touching one color up with another one and letting them mix on the dry paper; before the colors dried I sprinkled instant iced tea in various places to create a mottled effect on the stoneware pieces I was having fun with. It’s still one of my favorite watercolor effects, but unfortunately, when I have instant iced tea powder around, I usually just drink it and don’t have any left over for painting. 🙂

wc 2012 dried tea study scan

Make Every Stroke Count

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           I’ve been working on horses for the last six years or so. This is my first attempt at a minimalist approach to a horse. Knowing that I needed to make every stroke count, I tried to keep those strokes very fluid to communicate the spirit of the animal. His ears are a bit short, but overall I am VERY pleased with this drawing.

Learn to Draw!!! Yesterday!

I’d been sewing, crafting and painting for DECADES, but my husband told me many times –and for YEARS– that I should learn to draw; I hemmed and hawed and totally ignored his encouragement because I simply didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to stop painting and take the necessary time to learn a new thing with tools I didn’t prefer. Then one day I found myself in the middle of a very personally important project –a gift for someone I love– and I couldn’t complete it because I didn’t have the skills to do what I most wanted. I got REALLY frustrated.

After getting most of the landscape portion of this painting completed, I hit a road block that stopped everything and made me back up. The painting process went on hold and I finally began learning to draw.  However, because of my time constraints, I couldn’t complete the ultimate ideal project . This painting should have a moose in it. You will notice that it does not:  

After I learned to draw a bit, I was able to do this moose as a study, but he was too big to fit in the painting I was working on and with my limited skills I wasn’t able to fit a smaller one into the painting and finish it on time. I tried. Believe me, I tried, but I’d hemmed and hawed too long:

I still don’t draw as much as I should. Everyone says so. Everyone who matters most to me. But here’s one of my most recent charcoal sketches.

My figures still aren’t fabulous, but they are good enough to get an outline laid in for a painting if I need one and I no longer fear having to tackle a complicated subject like a horse. Before I went through the Betty Edwards’ book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, I would have simply avoided the subject altogether. Avoiding things left me feeling very incomplete and stunted, both personally and in my work.

I just can’t say enough good things about Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Betty Edwards provides exercises and tools for you to SEE better and so you can draw what you are seeing, not just what you think you see. The book is often available at your local public library. Check it out. Literally.

Drawing exercises a different part of the brain that often gets neglected in many parts of everyday life and it helps you access creative solutions and develop problem-solving skills that will help you work through problems in other areas of life, not just in art; almost everyone has access to a pen or pencil and a piece of paper throughout the day. Draw more.

I actually had a few meltdowns as I began to learn to draw, but made GIANT leaps forward in my personal life, in addition to acquiring new art skills. Once I began to really SEE what was around me, dormant parts of me began to blossom; my communication skills improved and I also had more self-esteem as I learned to conquer my fears in this process; it’s been personally therapeutic as well as professionally satisfying.

In most instances and for the average person, pencil or pen and paper is sufficient for drawing sketches, but for those who want to see what they are really capable of I heartily encourage you to go through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain; she’s an excellent teacher and gives you the tools you need to succeed.


Here is one of the exercises I worked on in 2012, using a glass picture plane (demonstrated and explained in the book). Hands are one of the most difficult subjects to draw and I’m still astounded that I was able to do this! You can too!!! She’s an excellent teacher and gives you the tools you need to succeed.


Here’s the glass picture plane I used to draw my hand; here you see I was working on angles for some confusing lines on a lampshade:

Missing Syd

Reblogged post from my Niume:
Cantaloupe Still Life WC150919a IMG_3654


I am NOT a city girl, but last year we spent 5 months in Sydney, Australia and  I loved it! But alas, visas run out and we returned to the States. Earlier today, a friend posted a meme of an Aussie Rock Melon, captioned, “Why do Rock Melons have elaborate weddings? Because they Cantaloupe.” Corny, I know, but it got me thinking and pining over Sydney.Here’s a watercolor I did of a Rock Melon and other fruit (fresh and fermented) that I did while we were there; we’d had some serious weather with terrible flooding and I was stuck in my room for a few days, but on this rare occasion I was able to get most of my painting done before my family ate and drank my models!

Today’s Art Tip:Always take a reference picture of your still life before you walk away; family members may not notice your big signs, “DO NOT EAT!” At least that was their story. And they’re still sticking to it.

Sleeplessness and Productivity

A reblogged post from my now defunct Niume account:

So, last year when I was staying in Auckland I went through a couple of very sleepless nights. At first, I thought it was because I was on the other side of the planet from where I’d grown up and all my friends “at home” were up, but now I think it really was a factor of aging or I that I had lots of things on mind. In fact, since returning to my native hemisphere I’ve had to limit my screen-time to mostly daylight hours, so that I sleep like normal people. Normal people… Anyway, during my sleepless nights I’ve been known to do a bit of digital painting; it’s hard to paint with traditional media in the dark and I really don’t like to have lights on while my husband is trying to sleep, so painting digitally is a huge blessing on those occasions! It helps me refocus my mind and settle down so I can sleep. (Now that I’m limiting my exposure times to blue light–computer screens–I am sleeping better, so I don’t have many nights when I simply can’t sleep anymore.) These are a couple of my middle-of-the-night paintings when I was experimenting with the full version of Sketchbook Pro on a Surface 3 that I was trying out.

I did really like this “brush” for doing abstracts!

And though this was a daytime painting, it was the first one I did on the Surface with the full version of Sketchbook Pro, so I’ve included it with the other works. Reference for this lemon painting was shot by my friend and fellow artist-photographer, Allen Randall, in San Diego. Seriously, the man can make snails look GLAMOROUS and this lemon was stunning. I am not kidding–he’s been a great inspiration!

After a few months, I discovered that I didn’t “paint” as much using the full version of the program. Yes, yes, there were too many choices and I found it overwhelming; the program and the hardware worked quite well, but I’ve never been too much of a “bells and whistles” sort of person. In the end, I ditched both the hardware and the full version of the painting software and went back to my old Galaxy Note8 and the simpler version of Sketchbook Autodesk.

Here’s a painting done with the Note8 and Autodesk; reference also provided by Allen Randall:

I pronounce the simpler program totally adequate for my needs! The Note8, however, is on it’s last legs and I’m left wondering what to do…

So, if I’ve piqued your interest at the idea of glamorous snails then you can check out Allen Randall’s paintings here while you wait for him to upload his photography :


Reblogged from Niume Art (defunct):

Irma DPAR 13_005

My spot for viewing the first half of Irma was handpicked for me; Hand-Picked by Someone who knows more than I do about what I need and where I need to be. I don’t think we could have plopped in a safer place. The steps of a a righteous man are ordered of the Lord; and from what we’ve seen, so are his stops. Our hotel room on the 3rd floor of a Ft. Myers hotel took no wind throughout the entire storm. We had a north-facing window and during the day we saw trees battered by winds from the east. Later as the sun went down and we were in the calm, we could see the lights from Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte from our room. We lost power about 5 pm so we watched the changing sky from our room; it was pretty calm about then as the eye was passing over. Just after the sun was almost completely set, I saw three notable explosions in quick succession at the same spot on the horizon. Later, I heard that one of the other hotel’s generators had blown up. I was immediately grateful we didn’t have a generator!

Our hotel staff was awesome. They were short-staffed, had never been through a hurricane and have handled themselves admirably. Just before the sun set and we lost power, they went from room to room, handing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fresh fruit and water to everyone who was hungry.  The second night with no electricity, they brought in meat and mayonnaise sandwiches for everyone! La Quinta is now my new favorite hotel. Love them to bits!

We were without power for about 28 hours. We are SO thankful for everyone who worked so hard to get power back to our area so early! Again, another reason we know our room was handpicked for us; we were near the airport and the hospital which were both high priority for restored electricity. After Wilma we were without power for about 5 days down in Naples. Irma is my 4th hurricane. I would like to hope that she is my last, but I have the feeling that this is just preparation for what is to come.

I won’t lie;  I had many anxious moments, especially before the storm hit, but KNOWING that I was in my Father’s hand the whole time and that we had friends and family all over the planet who were praying for us, I had tremendous peace after the rain and wind started.  I was even able to lie down and sleep peacefully though the first parts of the storm and then slept soundly through the night for the last half after the winds changed direction. “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.”

The following morning we took a look at the damage in our area; there were lots of damaged trees and two of the other hotels on our road had some minor roof damage. Our hotel lost the big sign out front and the pet station. Not bad, all told. We are most grateful for everyone’s prayers. Thank you!

See my post Irma photos and brief video of the winds here:

Quick Horses

A reblog of my now defunct Niume post:

Ever since I was little I’ve been fascinated with horses; I was not one of those fortunate ones who ever got to ride one much and certainly never owned one of these beautiful beasties. My fascination with them continues and after several months of solidly painting landscapes I decided it was time to get back to some horse work today. I’m not going for masterpieces here, but my son and another artist friend of mine have encouraged me to do quick paintings as an exercise. So, today, I got back to it and had a lot of fun with it!

A Quick Horse AC160916a signed IMG_5804 touched up enhan rot crop

This full horse was done in about an half hour with just a few colors that were left on my palette from my landscapes earlier in the week.


I spent a bit longer on this head sketch, but also used a limited palette and tried to work quickly.

Rodeo AC20151027b-13
Rodeo-quick horse study in acrylic

This is Rodeo, a friend’s horse, that I did several years ago; he’s still one of my best and favorites. It was a quick sketch in acrylic paint with a limited palette.