This painting would not come together enough to suit me. Finally I realized that I'm a value painter who likes specific edges for most of my paintings, and this one doesn't have that. It's sloppy looking (which I love but don't usually paint) and looked too half hazard to me (which is how I planned, or didn't, plan it.)

Done fairly quickly as a class demo a week ago, it didn't quite capture the essence I felt about the scene. The point of the lesson was to be flexible and let the painting lead, rather than have each area preplanned. I had miskited in the clothesline ahead of time and sketched in the upper window and roof line, but the laundry area was very ambiguous to start with.

After living with it for a while, I find that the painting's growing on me. Critiques please.

Painted on 140#HP Arches using fluid acrylics with gesso flowed into the wet acrylics in several areas. Probably not quite completed..... full sheet 30 x 22"



Here's another view painted from the coastline of Lake Como in northern Italy. You can see how Varenna's promenade extends out over the water, but what's really amazing is how the village is built right up the hill. There's also another smaller village just five minutes above via hairpin turns up the side of the mountain. One day while we were there, the Alps in the distance got a good dusting of snow. Beautiful!

"ITALIAN PROMENADE" Transparent Watercolor on 140#CP Fabriano Artistico, 7 x 5" COLLECTED



Painting with watercolors outside, without any easel or table, presents some unique challenges. Before deciding what to paint, I look for a good place to perch that has room to place my painting gear beside me. Holding my paper or pad of paper in front of me with my paints off to the left, I usually try not to face my subject matter, preferring to have it off to the side.

See the Winsor Newton palette that went overseas with me? It's shown closed up with my two extra brushes, then partially open, then, below, fully opened with every bit of my gear around it. It has a sealed container for water which is covered by a couple of lids that serve as water holders, a small round brush, and 12 Cotman colors.

First thing I did was pry out the Cotmans and fill each remaining plastic square with my favorite colors, letting them dry out completely before topping them off again. Before closing it to pack, I make sure the colors were dry so they wouldn't slop out of their squares.

There are two side trays that pull out, so one was kept for mixing and the other made into space for MORE colors. Using some hot glue to build up an edge to separate the colors, I made sure the rim of hot glue was low enough to let the tray slide back where it belonged later. Now the palette holds 20 colors, not 12. It's good to have ample granulating colors and extra greens for a travel palette.

A Cheap Joes half inch flat travel brush and a Daniel Smith #8 round travel brush give me a range of brushes to use, although the flat's used the most. Thanks, Jude, for giving me the brush. It's great for travel.

Along with a 5x7 pad of 140#CP Fabriano or Arches paper, there are tissues, an automatic pencil, a permanent marker for pen and ink, and a cut in half credit card, all placed inside a heavy duty ziplock baggy. That's it, and it all fits inside my purse, not adding much weight at all. Have paint, will travel!

Posted below is the same painting as my last post but showing very slight adjustments to the sky and some walls. I had some trouble getting a good photo to post that showed the subtle changes, though, but on our monitor it looks much more accurate than the previous post.

After the whole painting was wet, a little raw sienna was added to the upper part of the sky but not allowed to travel down onto the sunlit buildings. Although I liked the pure white sky, after trying a little color on a piece of wettable acetate over the painting, it was obvious that the slight tint in the sky pushed the viewer down into the painting better. Raw sienna was also glazed onto the wet paper over parts of the buildings to help unify and darken them, and a small amount was added to the foreground water area.

Being able to re-wet a whole painting and not have it bleed is great. Fluid Acrylics and Transparent Watercolors, made of the same exact pigments but with different binders, are virtually impossible to tell apart on the paper. I love how transparent they are - though that's certainly not true of tube acrylics.

I'm off to a new painting, actually two in the works right now. After sorting some of my photos, I realized I better get busy. There are more that MUST be painted than I ever imagined.



Venice was incredibly beautiful. The light changed constantly and mesmerized me.

I quickly snapped a photo of this scene while we were hurrying to catch the water taxi again. It's my favorite picture I took on the whole trip and reinforces Linda's three second rule about taking pictures.

The lightest parts of this painting are pure white paper - no paint. I liked how the sunlit walls fasten into the sky area and decided not to define the sky with any color at all. Gosh, Venice glows!

This is painted with fluid acrylics, which are as transparent as regular watercolor when used like Nicholas Simmons uses them. Thanks, Nick, for teaching us!

"GOLDEN VENICE" Fluid Acrylics on 140#CP Arches, 24 x 19"



There's a promenade from the public boat dock around to the main part of the village of Varenna, and this tunneled area along the promenade was ideal to sit in on a windy day and paint. The far sighted city fathers of this Italian town built the promenade almost eighty years ago in order to make it easier for the town people to move along the shore of Lake Como. It's literally fastened to the side of the rock in places, hanging out over the lake.

Hydrangeas and roses line some of the walkway, along with wysteria. It's evident that the town enjoys the beauty around it and enhances it with numerous, colorful plantings.

Taking photos there can be wear down a photographer's shutter finger. There are pictures EVERYWHERE you look, every way you turn. The town's built on the side of a mountain with few roads but lots of walkways and steps that wind up and down.

This was my second visit to Varenna and posted is a picture of Villa Torretta where we stayed this time. I could see the villa from where I sat when I painted Maria's painting. (Another cousin, Maria, ended up with this painting on Friday when we met for lunch. She's been to Lake Como, too.)

Four of our group stayed in the main house, and Carol, Chris and I stayed in the 'gardener's house' off to the right. We painted on the veranda above the entry, overlooking the lake. An artist's paradise! Happy Birthday, Chris!

"MARIA'S" Transparent Watercolor on 140#CP Arches, 9 x 12" COLLECTED