Oil or Water?

Painter’s Choice

Gloucester Harbor 9×12 oil

So we were going to Cape Ann for a ladies’ painting trip. After last spring’s trip to Brown County, Indiana, it was time for another pilgrimage to an art colony.

What to take? The online photos of rocky shorelines and fishing shacks shouted, ” Bring your oil paints!” But when you’re flying, that’s a royal pain. You have to check a bag and buy thinner when you get there. I knew if I didn’t take the oils I’d be so envious of my Marianne, who was definitely taking oils. (I’m always envious of her talent so adding envy of painting supplies would be just too much.)

My practical friends, Nancy and Wendy, were packing light with just some paper, pens and watercolors and maybe a few pastels. I’ve done that on our winter get-aways to Florida before and it does make life easy.

Indecisive as always, I took both a little watercolor sketch kit and a new Strada easel with a backpack tripod for my oils. All materials were chosen with the valued advice of Nancy, our painting gear expert.

I used the sketch gear and painting hear in about equal measures. Some locations were windy or involved too much effort for the easel. I sat on the ground with the Strada at Wingaersheek Beach. That was a huge mistake! Gritty sand in and on everything.)

Wingaersheek Beach (includes authentic sand) 9×12 oil

I sat on the ground again to paint the tulips. I wanted to get that low angle with the sun shining through.

Tulips Along the Annisquam River 9×12 oil

Our day at the old paint manufactory, (now The Ocean Alliance), was so windy that we used my backpack to weigh down Marianne’s easel! I didn’t even bother getting out the oils. I sat on a rock wearing all the layers I brought along my knit headband and sunhat.

Historic Tar and Wanson Paint Manufactory – 5×7 watercolor
Water soluble graphite 5×7

Most of the oil paintings needed touch-ups after the plein air sessions but I left the watercolors and pencil sketches “as is”.

Old Fishing Boats in Rockport 5×7 watercolor and ink

I pasted the sketches in a little travel journal that Nancy gave me. I included a few notes about our trip, mostly about the food I ate (especially the popovers at Passports in Gloucester). Sketching is more relaxing and I like having memory books of trips but I rarely go back and make a painting out of the little sketches. So in the end I’m glad I lugged the oils and paid for the checked bag.

Boats in Smith’s Cove on Rocky Neck in Gloucester 9×12 oil

Beach Designs

This post is going down a different path than my posts on painting. When the weather was frigid in Ohio, I was lucky enough to spend a week in Florida. Every morning I walked on the beach and created a design with whatever nature had to offer. I was awed by the intricate shapes and colors and thankful for the abundance. It’s good to slow down to just look and appreciate.

Beach Butterflies

So I gathered whatever interested me, usually two handfuls and sometimes a pocket. Tides and weather washed up new treasures every day. Near the dunes I found grasses and sticks.

A good morning catch

The first design incorporated broken pieces of dune fencing, probably damaged during hurricane Michael.

A special prayer

Some days I focused on shapes and some on color.


I even made a design near the camellias at Eden State Park.

Star of Eden

The designs were inspired by the book, Morning Altars by Day Schildkret. In the spring I am offering a workshop at Shepherd’s Corner in Blacklick for anyone who wants to see spend some time to appreciating the variety and beauty of nature in Ohio.

Venus on a Half Shell

Being Creative with a Traditional Theme

When I saw the announcement from the Martin De Porres Center for a show titled, “Sacred Images of Jesus and Mary” I wasn’t sure I wanted to enter.  The theme brought to mind the religious art of centuries past that you see in museums or on Christmas cards.  The show was an opportunity to show art that might not be accepted in secular spaces and for the De Porres Center to obtain art for their annual Christmas card. There were no prizes.  Although the venue is beautiful, the events held there are not likely to result in sales.



I waited to see when and if inspiration might strike and I can’t say that I did a lot to encourage it until about a week before the September 14th deadline.  Then  I went through a stash of old Christmas cards and a few books looking for a concept.  I happened upon a doodle in my sketchbook for a very stylized Christmas card that I made for my family a few years ago.  I decided on a square canvas and began to refine it.

It’s pretty traditional.  I thought the heart-shaped window made of stone was a little creative and I wanted to make sure the people looked at least somewhat Middle Eastern.

When I went to the show’s opening I was really impressed by the creativity, especially by the artists from the group, Creative Women of Color.  The photos below include some of their work.

“The Guardian II” by Kenya Davis

“Chosen” by Janet George











This was a large painting done on plywood with charcoal.




Here is my painting hanging with some of the more traditional ones. 


This is the painting by artist Patricia Howard that was chosen for the Christmas card.

It wasn’t until I wrote this blog that I realized that I’ve entered three shows with a spiritual theme in the last few years and all three entries included faces of women.  Something to think about??