Happy Birthday, Leonardo!

Leonardo-da-Vinci-Public-domain-Wikimedia-CommonRemember how Schroeder (of the Peanuts gang) celebrated Beethoven’s birthday every year?  Well, if you are a  creative type you may want to celebrate DaVinci’s birthday today, April 15th.

We all learned about the Renaissance Man in school and so you know he was an artist/scientist who was a creative genius.  So that gives you plenty of options for celebrating!

  • Hike, climb a tree or watch a bird.
  • Sketch, paint, or journal.
  • Get out your old clarinet and play a tune.
  • Knit or sew something.
  • Write a few pages.
  • Sing boldy.
  • Mess around with beads and glitter.
  • Start a new project or finish an old one.
  • Hang a picture.
  • Try a new recipe.

Make sure it’s something active.  You can’t just read about it or watch a video.  You’ve got to do it and if you can do it outside, that’s even better.  When you’re finished you’ll feel great so you can raise a glass of your favorite beverage in toast to Leonardo!  If you are really inspired you can leave a comment below.



Once upon a time I worked for an office that moved into a new building.  The ladies room had an outer area with a counter and mirror that some of my colleagues decided needed “décor.”  Since we didn’t have a budget for “décor” staff members were asked to bring in suitable items.

Given the range of tastes and what staff members were willing to contribute, we ended up with quite a mishmash.  One tchochke stood out from the rest.  It was a glazed ceramic swan filled with plastic flowers.  I never knew who brought it.  I guess they must have liked it, but the rest of us just thought it was tacky.

So the swan took flight, showing up in someone’s cubicle and hanging out until the cubicle dweller “swanned” another unsuspecting soul. On and on it traveled for months until it either flew south or we lost interest.



Our Central Ohio Plein Air Group was “swanned” while we were painting at Creekside in Gahanna on March 5.  It was a great day to paint out, unexpected for early March.  A swan swam around our area  for most of the morning, so we took lots of cell phone shots.

This swan was way absolutely beautiful, gliding across the water.  Then it came out of the water for bread crumbs kids were tossing.  Suddenly it was no longer a thing of beauty.  At its full height with wings spread, it turned into one scary animal!  So you never know with swans.

I decided that I wanted to see what I could do with the swan photo so I played with it across several media,  working small – 5×7.  For the most part I went with warmer colors in the water and cooler mixes for the bird.  You can see the results below.


1.  Water color on 150 lb. cold-pressed Arches paper



2.  Colored Pencil on blue-gray Mi-Teintes paper



Oil on gessoed masonite

3.  Oil on gessoed masonite


Pastel on Uart 400 paper

4.  Pastel on Uart 400 paper


So vote for your favorite swan in the comment box below or a tacky/scary swan may be crossing your path soon!

Losing Even More


For three days after the watercolor workshop I mentioned in my last post I had to take care of other priorities so I didn’t paint.  I did think about how I could make my painting better.  That’s what the other side of the paper is for, right?

Here’s the old photo that I used as my source:IMG_4245

Here’s the painting I did at the workshop:IMG_2040

I realized that I needed to lose more of the original photo.  I needed less of the foreground and a bigger barn.  The barn was supposed to be the focal point but it got lost in the trees.  So I planned the new painting around the barn.


I wasn’t sure whether to include the bare trees on the left so I tried a trick from another great painting teacher, Jim Glover.  I sketched the trees with a marker on an old transparency (leftover from my overhead projector days).  Then I placed that where I would put the trees in the painting to see if it added anything interesting.  They seemed to lead the eye back across the painting and push the duller trees on the left into the background.



Here’s the second version of the painting including the bare trees:



I definitely like the second version much better. It’s closer to where I aim to be, but not there yet.   A third version?  We’ll see.