Watercolor Wednesday

Art, Ink & Watercolor, Watercolor Wednesday


Berries, ink and watercolor, 11 x 6 in.

My littler boy used to get a rash from strawberries. We stayed away from them for two long strawberry seasons, but we tested out the allergy this week. I figured it would eventually disappear and, to the whole family’s delight, it has! In celebration, I sketched my favorite fruit salad ingredients. Mmm. 

Weekend Sketch Ride

Art, Ink & Watercolor, Urban Sketches



Family Ride, ink and watercolor in Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook, 11 x 8.5 in.

We had an excellent weekend of bike rides, donuts, sushi, and kids-staying-with-grandparents. Somehow, though, I only got a couple quick sketches in. This is our family bike set up from early in the morning while the kids played ‘Bank Robber’ at an otherwise deserted playground. This was just after second breakfast at Blue Star donuts, so the sugar energy was high. I should’ve sketched the donut, but I know that if I take my hands off my scrumptious treat for one moment, it will be snatched right off my napkin with such stealth that before my eyelids can lift up to zero in on the thief, my kid will be licking his fingers.

February Sketchcrawl

Art, Ink & Watercolor, Urban Sketches


On Saturday morning, I loaded up my bike basket with art supplies and rode over the Tilikum Crossing down to the South Waterfront. There, I met the Portland Urban Sketchers for this month’s sketchcrawl. The intention was to draw everyone’s favorite new bridge, the shiny white Tilikum, but a very short ride from our meeting place was a sunny viewpoint showing the full expanse of the Ross Island Bridge- Portland’s most underrated of bridges. From the top, the RIB is not very fancy. Pedestrian traffic is not allowed or is at least dangerous and, while car passengers can enjoy striking views of the city, drivers best keep their eyes on the road to avoid head-on collisions or a lengthy drop down to the Willamette. Below the road, though, the bridge is as pretty as any of the other bridges in town. The steel supports are going to be repainted this year. In real life, the bridge is a much lighter faded color, but this here is me urging the city to go for a nice bright green.

As I finished up the ink of this painting, the sun shone and the air got warm enough for me to take off my coat. A sailboat floated by with 4 pirates on deck singing, “What will we do with a drunken sailor? What will we do with a drunken sailor? What will we do with a drunken sailor, early in the morning?” It was a bit late to be considered early in the morning, but by the sounds of it they had the drunken sailor part just right.


Watercolor Wednesday

Art, Ink & Watercolor, Sketches, Watercolor

Ink and watercolor in Stillman and Birn Zeta Sketchbook, 5.5 x 8.5

I haven’t been buying flowers lately but this small bouquet at Trader Joe’s was $3.99 and I figured it was a minor enough extravagance to indulge. I seem to always pick bouquets with something orange. Come to think of it, I pretty much always pick the same type of bouquet with the same type of flowers. Having any colorful flowers to look at is nice but maybe next time I’ll try for something different. I could really go for some red ranunculus.

Routine Inspection & Maintenance

Accountability Review, Advice Requested, Art, Ink & Watercolor, Pen & Ink


Each month, my planner ends with a number of questions to help recognize achievements, identify challenges, and assess progress. The idea being, that regular introspection will help keep us from veering too far down a path that won’t lead to our goal. The activity of writing this down, rather than leaving it to shower thoughts and disjointed moments of quiet, makes it much more useful. It sounds ridiculous, but sometimes it truly is hard to find time to think.

Here is one question from the planner:

Assess your priorities. Are you happy with how you spent your time? If not, what steps can you take next month to adjust them?

I spent a lot of time on the computer this month. Revamping this website, cleaning up my Etsy shop, scanning, posting, etc. It was a lot of screen time. Once I’m on the computer, I find it very easy to get off track, be underproductive and completely forget about the task I set out to accomplish. This month, much of the computer use was necessary, but in the future, I will need to figure out a way to prevent myself from getting lost in unnecessary details and mindless time sucks (Instagram, Facebook…). It’s true for everyone, but especially with small kids around: There is no time to waste. I need to do a better job of noticing when I’m wasting time and just stop.

More importantly, I need to focus on making art next month. I can’t enter a craft fair or ask for wall space in a cafe if I don’t have anything to show! I need to create a body of work that is cohesive. My flitting nature makes this very hard. I get an idea I like, make one, two or three, and then I’ve totally lost interest. How do people stay interested in one subject/medium/style? I need to give that some thought.




Friday Wrap Up

Accountability Review, Advice Requested, Art, Ink & Watercolor, Pen & Ink


Good things that happened:

A very cool stranger from Etsy bought a custom home portrait from me this week. I started it, nearly finished it, and I very much like how it’s turning out.

I have been searching for the right paper for a long, long time. Well, an alternate to the right paper, which is Stillman & Birn Zeta. But I can’t seem to be able to buy S&B Zeta in any other form than a sketchbook, so I’ve been experimenting. Finally, this week, I discovered that Bristol vellum is, in fact, an acceptable option! I had always thought it couldn’t take water, and it won’t take as much as S&B, but it works well most of the time. I used Bristol vellum for this new house portrait and it looks super fantastico.

A check arrived for my last commission job- with a bonus. Booyay!

I got the last 6-pack of Vinter Varmer from Sellwood’s Laurelwood Brewery before they sold out for the season. And it was on sale for $5.95!! A bit off topic, but so magical it must be shared. Magical, except for the loading-my-kids-in-the-van-for-a-4pm-beer-run part. I’m a good mother. I’m a good mother.


Things I learned:

Sometimes I make something fast and loose and when I’m done I think, “eh.” I share it anyway and get a crazy response. People love it.  Other times, I work for hours on something, feel great about it, and people silently, “eh” about it. I’m not sure if this means:

1. it’s all subjective so don’t worry about it too much, or

2. people don’t know what they’re talking about almost all of the time, or

3. I should stop trying because trying often leads to bOring! and not trying often leads to awesome.

Mystery. Looks like I didn’t actually learn anything here.



+Please feel free, feel requested, to use the comments section below if you have any advice or suggestions. Any advice is accepted. All suggestions will be considered.+

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Watercolor Wednesday

Art, Ink & Watercolor, Urban Sketches, Watercolor


Color wheels are so joyful. I have an indistinct plan to cover a wall somewhere in my house with framed color wheels. I think maybe the bathroom. Or the laundry room. Someplace that really needs a blast of cheer.

The view from the window right now is quite gray so the color wheels could help in any room of a winter Portland house. Though I will say, the houses in my neighborhood are practically a color wheel themselves- so these gray days usually fail to bum me out. Maybe we should all do ourselves and our communities a favor and paint our houses happy shades of Permanent Magenta, Gamboge, and Cobalt Blue.


Watercolor Wednesay & Urban Sketching

Advice Requested, Ink & Watercolor, Subject of Thought, Urban Sketches


I love Urban Sketching. Whether with an official group or on my own, I love spending 2-3 hours out of my house drawing from life. I leave a place with a much more complete sense of it. Not only do I have the visual ‘snapshot’ I’ve captured on my page, but looking at the complete sketch conjures the whole experience: the day’s weather, music or radio shows I listened to while sketching, people I saw walking by, and conversations I overheard.

For example, with this sketch, I recall an episode of Car Talk and an OPB show discussing David Bowie’s death. Which makes me sad. And I remember that buses came and went while I sketched, blocking and freeing my view. A man walked by wearing official-looking clothes, who I thought might tell me I needed to pay for parking if I was going to sit there all day (but didn’t). Which makes me feel a little anxious. Bus drivers took cigarette breaks and a woman wearing a coat over a very short skirt ran through the rain looking very cold.

The everyday moments of life are not usually interesting enough for people to document. A group of women returning to their car after getting off a train isn’t unusual or funny or touching. It’s nothing. But it’s a moment in time like a million others. Each Urban Sketch contains these moments like an invisible catalogue.


+Please feel free, feel requested, to use the comments section below if you have any advice or suggestions. Any advice is accepted. All suggestions will be considered.+

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New Year GOAL

Advice Requested, Ink & Watercolor
My favorite watercolor tubes, Winsor & Newton, M. Graham, and a Van Gogh that is now all used up.

My favorite watercolor tubes, Winsor & Newton, M. Graham, and a Van Gogh that is now all used up.

I think it all started last year when I decided to change my hair part.*  I went from right part to left part. This lead to examining all major components of my character because, obviously, if you can wear your part on the other side, the possibilities are endless. Then there were a few new Instagram followers (by strangers!), some Etsy sales, two illustration commissions. Nothing totally groundbreaking, but some encouragement. Then I applied for a job that I REALLY wanted and would have been great at. And did not even get an interview. Also, I must consider the ages of my kids, and the fact that I plan to buy a house soon, and money is sort of a necessity. The truth comes out: I need to get a job. Not today, but soon. It needs to pay well enough to cover child care, and I only have experience working in the construction industry. And I haven’t worked in 5 years. So, it’s not going to be easy.

New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure, so it is my GOAL that between now and the day I need to go back to a full time job in construction, I’m going to make the best attempt I can at making money from art.

I’m relaunching this blog into a more complete website, with an emphasis on my portfolio. I’m going to use the blog portion of the site to detail my plans, track my progress, and keep myself accountable. It may be super boring. It may be wordy. But I’m going to keep it organized and there will be a drawing on every post. Because I NEVER look at blog posts without pictures. I usually never read the words at all, so if the rest of y’all are like me, I may be talking to a brick wall. But it should be fine. You’ll get a pretty picture, I’ll pour my soul out to the ether.

I usually don’t make these sort of proclamations because I know myself: I’m easily distracted and I have a short attention span. Unless I have a job to do. Then, I am committed and hardworking. This is it. Let no poor attitude stand in my way!

Stay tuned for more.


*Truly, it all started with Sketchbook Skool, which I have posted about a number of times. It was the single instigation behind my current daily habit of drawing and making art. Even if a career in art is never a reality for me, I owe them a debt of gratitude for showing me that taking time everyday to make something -for the sole reason of enjoying the process- is perfectly acceptable and, even more, will make for a better life.

Always read the asterisks. It’s where you find the truth.