I do love to watch the birds and am often inspired to try to capture their beauty in a painting. The painting to the left with the bigger background was painted ten years ago, while the close up was just completed as a demo in a class.

The close up painting may never be finished. Like other artists, I start a painting, full steam ahead, then other things capture my attention, making it hard later to revive my interest in the first one.

Looking back in the archives can be frightening - to think I had some of that stuff framed! YIKES! I see a marked difference in the sureness of stroke in the newer painting compared to the older one, but the flowers and twigs were executed better in the old painting, in my opinion, probably because then I cared more how realistic they looked. The same exact photo reference was used for both, with the image reversed for the second one.

Top Painting "CAROLINA WREN" Transparent Watercolor on 140# CP Arches 15 x 11" COLLECTED



Here's a painting done from the same photo reference as the last post, but the surface I painted on was slick plastic called YUPO instead of cotton paper. The textures that can be created on YUPO are unending.

I loved the textures on the walls and steps in Italy. They were yummy, and I've often said I could've crawled inside them. Next summer, if you want to paint there, Janet and Steve Rogers will be teaching a watercolor workshop in Varenna. Their website is on the sidebar here on my blog. Janet will be here at my studio teaching again in April, 2009. Carol Carter will be here this August, and life is full of ART!

This fall I'll post some more paintings done on location in Varenna, Venice, and near Lake Maggiorie, all in gorgeous northern Italy.

"CHURCH SPIRE IN VARENNA" Transparent Watercolor on YUPO 13 x 20"



Staying on Lake Como in the delightful village of Varenna was my favorite part of the first trip I took to Europe. This painting is from one of over five hundred photos I took in Varenna, and the scene was near our hotel, Olivedo, right on the lake.

In September, seven of my friends and I will be there painting, laughing, eating, and totally enjoying the beauty of this well kept but ancient little town. I can't wait to hear the school kids gather after school and break into beautiful, impromptu melodies like they did when we were there two years ago.

It's an artist's paradise, and we will be painting outdoors some of the time. Varenna's built on the side of a mountain, and all the steps lead down to spectacular Lake Como. I wonder how many thousands of well worn steps are in Varenna.....

This painting actually has a vibrant orange color on the spire, but the color doesn't read very well in this post. I used my masking tape technique to create the painting and have another one done on YUPO of the same scene that I'll post next.

We'll see you in a few months, Laura! CIAO!

"STEPS & SPIRES" Transparent Watercolor on 140#HP Arches 14 x 21" COLLECTED



This is the last archived painting from my black and white series done almost ten years ago. So many artists say they paint in a series, but I certainly never intended to be 'painting in a series' when this black and white phase hit.

Carla O'Conner stated in a workshop I took that a series should just happen and not be planned. I totally agree with her. That's what happened here, as well as when I got interested in painting openings - like windows and doors. The black and white was as much of a series as was the melding of the shapes together into one value area in these past few posts.

I do not seem to know that I'm painting in a series of related paintings until I'm well into the third or fourth one. Then I can see the relationships between them, and realize that I'm painting what's important to me at the time. That's what a series should be all about.

"CHORES" Transparent Watercolor on 140#CP Arches or Fabriano (can't remember) 12 x 20"



Another 'black and white' theme from the archives here... of a friend clogging at a Fourth of July festival about 10 years ago, right about the time the sun was setting. I liked that his partner's foot showed and just the edge of her head, but she's hidden for the most part.

There was such spirited energy in this group of cloggers, and everyone's toes were tapping while we watched. Dave's wife, Connie, is the teacher of this particular group, and Dave's a super watercolorist and artist, too, besides being an accomplished dancer.

Once again, I loved connecting as many dark values as I could, subtly changing colors as I painted them in. I used multi colored shadows to help add a feeling of festivity to the painting.

The fireworks that went off over the Ohio River soon after their dancing ended were spectacular, but I've never been able to paint fireworks effectively. I'm not sure anything, even photos, can ever do justice to the glory of a good fireworks show.

"DAVE DANCING" Transparent Watercolor on 140#CP Arches 12 x 20" COLLECTED