Day 31! YeeHaw!

Super excited to have painted every day for a full month. 11 more to go, lol! I’m definitely learning how to better handle a brush, mixing values better, among other things. I’m analyzing work I’ve finished and thinking about how I could improve it for next time. And I’m finishing up an online floral painting course, which is why I’m painting a peony. It’s still looking like a hot mess, and I’m not thrilled with it, so I’ll wrap it up tomorrow by adding more lights, finishing the flower center, and calling it done. I’m impatient to get on to the next challenge!

Is this my waterloo??? Never!

Day 30, In the Messy Middle

So the daily painting continues, but I’m in what they call the “Messy Middle.” This is where I’m not at all sure if the painting is going to work. I’ve laid down my transparent layer, then started to lay in the darks, and now I’m moving into the mids and some of the lights, but there is still a ways to go. And it’s been a DAY. Hours of planting outside in the sun, which is fun but as this is the 3rd day of it, I’m done. I feel like sometimes some seasons in life can feel like the “messy middle.” That verse in Psalm 23 comes to mind, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” Not that it’s a matter of life and death today, thankfully, but some days it’s a challenge. But the rest of that verse says, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” And that, my friends, is the thing to remember! If we are in Him, then, ergo, He is with us. And He promised He will never leave us, never forsake us. Wow, what a promise! We just have to remember it! Thank you Lord, for being with me in the “messy middle,” because I have promises from you that it IS going to all work out in the end, even if my painting doesn’t. HA!

This is the last assignment in my online floral painting class by the immensely talented This will hopefully look like a peony when I’m finished. We shall see.

Harsh realization: the worst, absolute WORST time for me to paint is after dinner. I was so tired tonight, it was a huge struggle to get in my hour of painting. It’s hard to concentrate, and I think I might’ve taken a few steps backward.

The best time for me to paint is in the morning, then afternoon as a 2nd choice, something that has become very obvious to me during these past 30 days. SO! What to do if I only have an evening available to paint? I think I will start a new piece, where I’m just laying in the transparents (I pretty much paint alla prima). Doing finishing work at night is a bad idea.

A hot mess? Or a peony in process? Maybe both! 😀

Day 26, “Orangeade”

I haven’t had a whole lot of time to paint the past few days, but I still am painting every day. I decided to do a still life, and the original idea was to paint bananas in a bowl, but wow, just like how bananas are super bland, so was the composition! Bland! Dare I say BORING! I couldn’t get excited about it. So with a little Gamsol and a paper towel, I wiped it off my canvas board and started over.

I’m not a huge fan of still life, but it has its place in painting practice. You can control all the variables, which you definitely can not when painting outside.

I was always intrigued by the Tropicana commercials, where they just jammed a straw into an orange and drank it. It doesn’t translate as easily into real life, (yeah, I tried it as a kid), but I had oranges, this cool glass, and a striped straw. Why not?

So, full disclosure: getting the drawing right was an exercise in patience. Then I used an app called “See Value,” which is super helpful, then spent time painting in the values with a thin mixture of burnt umber and OMS (I use Gamsol). I then spent a fair amount of time determining color, and between that and my value map, I was good to go. I used a limited palette of permanent rose, lemon yellow, ultramarine blue, manganese blue hue, and permalba white.

This turned out well and I am definitely noticing my ability to control the brushes, the paints, and staying out of trouble are improving. Taking pics of my painting somehow gives me the ability to see it differently, so I take the time to take pics and make corrections til it enters what I call the “realm of acceptability.” So here it is:

“Orangeade,” oil on board, 5×7

Day 22, Freesia Study, take 2!

Day 22 of painting every day. This freesia study took 3 days to paint..not 3 full days, mind you, but still. It is one of my goals to paint faster, but I think that will come in time. I once again used a limited palette of permanent rose, lemon yellow, and ultramarine blue, but this time used a bit of Permalba white, along with the usual titanium.

Happy with the realization that it’s starting to get a tiny bit easier to know what to do. I attempted a mid value dominant study, with the lights as my secondary value, and just a smidge of darks. One of my reference books is “Daily Painting,” by Carol Marine, who not only is a fantastic (daily) painter, but a wonderful teacher as well. Her chapter on value (alluded to above with my value explanation) is really eye-opening. I have a way to go with value, (along with a lot of other things, lol), but I can definitively say I’m starting to move in the right direction.

This is not only a blog about my art journey, but my faith journey as well. One of the many reasons I love freesias is their delectable fragrance. It always reminds me of that part in the bible where it talks about how God diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. It says we are the fragrance of Christ to those who are saved and to those who are perishing. The fragrance of freesias, which pervades the atmosphere in the spring, if you happen to live around them (or plant them in the fall), reminds me how God has permeated the world with clues about Himself. Little love notes to those who understand what they are, and cherish them. (ref. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

Freesia study, take 2! Oil on board, 4×6

Day 19, Frolicking in the Lily Pond

“Lily Pond Frolic” marks the 19th day in a row that I’ve painted. I worked on this over several days, at one point getting a bit lost, but finding a way back. Yes, lily ponds are uber cliché (hat tip: Monet), yet I still love them nonetheless. I visit this particular lily pond every summer, and catching a glimpse of the resident frogs is always a treat. Koi live here, too, but they were quite skittish the day I snapped the photo.

Happily enjoyed playing with the color on the lily pads, and having a go at conveying the depth of the water, along with the waterfall

Ran into trouble with the original composition, lesson learned: always sketch the composition at the get go.

This was painted with a full palette, using a variety of brushes, on an 8″x10″ canvas board.

Lily Pond Frolic, oil on board, 8″x10″

Daffodil Study, Day 16

So these beautiful daffodils only bloom for a very short time, and now is the time! When little else is blooming, these cheery flowers put a smile on my face during a cold and wet March. These little beauties are only about 14″ high, so to paint them from life would involve contortions, probable back pain, and sitting in the dirt. So one daffodil was selected to be the star of today’s daily painting, complemented by a multi-faceted manganese blue glass vase.

Four colors were used today, along with titanium white: permanent rose, lemon yellow, manganese blue hue, and ultramarine blue. This was painted alla prima, shapes laid in with a large filbert using color along with medium, then strokes laid down and and not messed with (for the most part) with a long flat brush, thanks to the instruction of the wonderful artist and teacher Debra Huse,

I am pretty happy with the outcome! I followed the advice of Scott Naismith, the amazing Scottish landscape painter,, who explains how to use his version of the color wheel, which is easily found on Youtube: I used more saturated color for the daff and the vase, then knocked back the background, desaturating the violet, which I used to set off the daff.

Daffodil in Manganese Blue Vase, oil on board, 4×6

Day 1 of Daily Painting!

Starting on March 3, I’ve decided to paint in oils EVERY DAY for a year, in an effort to improve. So for Day 1, I hiked up the local mountain just a bit and found a view. I’m using Debra Huse’s color palette and attempted to match the values of what I saw. This was a good start. Not too detailed, massing in the big shapes, plus it was glorious to be outside.

Happy with: simplifying the composition, values

A Very Rough Block Study

In my effort to paint every day (started March 3, 2021), after a very long work day, I still managed to paint something..even if it was just a few blocks. This was a lesson from the great Charles Sovek in his book, “Oil Painting, Develop Your Natural Ability.” It was interesting to mix a bit of the complement of the main color for the shadow side of the blocks, and to mix the color of the light into the side facing the light, and it was fun to mix some complementary color into the highlights. Working on cheap canvas board means I find myself fighting to lay a stroke down..but hey! Practice is practice. Onward & upward!

Spring Greens

The second project in my new daily painting routine, started on March 3, 2021. I didn’t have time to drive to a location, so chose a view from my neighborhood. This took several days to complete. Started on location, most days painted at the same time, but not all.

Happy with: I felt like I matched values pretty well..and I was more aware of softening edges

Harsh realization: ended up too detailed, not to mention looking like it was overcast..surprised it looked darker and cooler after bringing it inside..?

Day 15: Freesia Study

I was listening to Mike Hernandez on the Plein Air Podcast ( last night, and he suggested the way to improve if you’re just starting out is to do small studies, no more than an hour (or 2, imo), limit your palette, and use the biggest brush you can. This is Day 15 of my daily painting, started on March 3, 2021. Painted on a 4×6 canvas board, using permanent rose, cad yellow medium, and ultramarine blue, along with titanium white. I found myself trying to get too detailed (with a size 12 brush!), so kinda started over, massing in the big shapes, then adding as much detail as I think it needed.

Discovery of the day: I was able to wipe out passages with my brush, adding a bit of highlight to petals.

Happy with: how much color I can mix from a limited palette.

Harsh realization: after I painted it (outside on location), I looked at it with my red plastic viewfinder and realized I’d ended up with mostly mid values dominating. Okay, then. Onward & upward!

2 hour plein air practice sesh