My Mother-in-Law, who turned 90 in September, is a fantastic and diverse woman who has lived through many, many changes throughout her lifetime. She tells about her childhood Christmases and the memories of her dad always waiting until Christmas eve to cut down an evergreen. None of the kids would see the decorated tree until Christmas morning, and she recalls that each holiday the tree was tied to the ceiling fan so that the cats wouldn't knock it over!

This year our Daughter-in-Law is making a very special dinner for Grandma GeeGee (my Mother-in-Law) the day after Christmas when we'll all gather to celebrate. My husband has the car packed with gifts to take, but the best part will be being with the whole family.

This painting was done as a commission almost two decades ago and certainly has the sentimental overtones for this time of year. May your holidays be blessed with peace, joy, and love. See you after the new year.....



Finally, my younger brother and sister-in-law's Christmas present is ready to wrap. What fun it's been to paint eleven bottles of wine in full color, actually twelve if you count the smidgen of one on the lower right. For that last whole bottle on the right, step by step detailed photos are posted below. What follows is an attempt to describe the process.

This first smaller photo shows the bottle with gray miskit preserving the whiter shapes/reflections on the bottle. The bottles seen to the right, with Kroger's prices below them, are my photo reference, with the middle bottle being the one to focus on for this drawing.

You can see a pale warm wash that was previously applied over the whole paper after the miskit was in place. Notice the pencil detail of the shapes, based on the light, medium, and dark value shapes of the surface of the bottle.

This photo shows the medium light to medium values painted in the appropriate shapes. Using lifting pigments like cobalts as well as earth pigments makes blending easier to do later. Cobalt Violet Deep along with Transparent Pyrrol Orange and Lunar Earth were the main colors for these light to medium value shapes.

The neck of the bottle shows the dark values just painted but not yet blended in. All the edges are crisp and sharp at this point and won't be softened or blended until the entire connected dark area is painted. Even if the paint dries, it'll be easy enough to blend colors that are this dark into those medium shapes that were previously painted.

This shows the pattern of darks from the neck of the bottle down to the label, still with mostly hard edges. Check the photo reference right next to the bottle to 'see' why shapes were painted as they are. Though the painting's not completely accurate, the shapes are close enough to work.

Colors used to create the darks include puddles of Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Quin Magenta, Indanthrone, and Ultramarine Turquoise, all from Daniel Smith in Seattle. The mixture is not just one puddle, but several that may be a bit bluer on one edge or more magenta on another edge. (Is bluer a word?)

I mix the colors together very little in the palette, preferring that most of the mixing happens as they meet on the paper surface. Also, my brush is not rinsed between colors to avoid lightening the puddles with water.

As soon as I took this photo, I could see in the small screen on my camera that the darks were way too light in many areas. At this point, most of the shapes have been blended, softened or left sharp, according to what's observed in the photo reference.

The miskit is still on the paper but will be removed soon to reveal whites and lights. This is when I often think the painting is lost. Nothing has any snap, and it looks pretty messy.

Although the wine bottle was brownish, I choose to use several colors to create that dark brown. Certainly one brown color could have been used and lightened and darkened as needed. But by using several colors mingled together, a bit more excitement is created in the painting than if the bottle had been only one brown.

More darks have been added now to help give the bottle a lot more dimension. Often it's the lack of strong darks that cause paintings with reflections to lack any luster. Observation of where those darks are located and just how dark they are compared to other shapes is critical, as is whether they have sharp, soft or lost edges.

It's been said that the most important tool that any artist can have is eyes to see. Being able to observe and notice shapes and values and edges makes painting glass and reflective surfaces a whole lot easier. It's almost like putting a puzzle together, piece by piece. Just making each specific shape have the correct value with the correct edges will get the job done for sure.

Finally the miskit's off. It's important to wait until you're sure that you won't have to paint in that area again, and of course, the paper must be completely dry before the miskit is removed. Miskit is about like using WhiteOut. It leaves a sharp, defined, non blended edge that must be dealt with.

For this painting, the miskit shapes were softened with a thirsty, but damp, flat brush, and color was lifted from those edges into part of the white shape. Care was taken to keep paint off of the center of the shapes. Adding even a little bit darker values to those whites would lessen the impact of the dimension of the bottle. A few spots needed to be even softer, so I used a stiff scrubber brush along with a drop of clean water to gently loosen or ''erase'' the paint where necessary. Blotting each spot with a white tissue took care of the excess water and loosened paint - see next photo.

Finished. After stepping away from the painting and seeing it reversed in my overhead mirror, I decided that the whites on this particular bottle were too white. A gentle swoosh of clean water over the whites took care of the starkness of those whites.

White is the first thing we see, especially on watercolor paper, so the whites need to be in important areas. These whites on this particular bottle were close to the edge of the paper and pulled the eye almost out of the picture. Until they were toned down with mostly clear water, they were strong enough to rob the focal area. The three thin, gentle curved lines were lifted with a thirsty flat brush, since I goofed and painted over them earlier.

Reflections are not hard to do - as long as you use your observation skills. This whole painting was painted with my favorite 1" flat brush, except for when I applied the miskit. Careful application of miskit is crucial so that the white shapes have fluid edges, not scratchy ones. I use a rigger 00 size and rinse it in Goof Off when I'm done. After the Goof Off dissolves the miskit, the brush is rinsed in Dawn Liquid Detergent then rinsed in hot water.

Now to get the gifts wrapped and ready to go........ The title of the painting is Kevin's Domain, and it's bigger than the last bottle painting - about 20 x 14", on 140# Arches cold pressed. I think he and Gail will love it!



Painting reflections is a lot like doing a jigsaw puzzle. The picture finally comes together when all the pieces are in the right places. Each shape must be the correct value with the appropriate edges around it, and VIOLA! Reflections emerge.

This wine bottle is nearly complete and the next one is started. An overall wash of mostly warm colors was painted on wet paper after all the white shapes were miskited. My miskit is gray - Pebeo Drawing Gum, my favorite miskit because -
* it flows on easily
* it's visible once it's on the paper so I can see where I've already applied it
* the jar has a concave lid to pour a small quantity of miskit into so that the bottle can be closed up quickly, preventing it from going bad too soon
The next photo shows another wine bottle only partially done. Two Sundays ago before I had surgery, I was sneaking around our grocery store trying to get good pictures of wine bottles. I should've asked permission, I suppose, but 'Thank You, Krogers,' anyway.

Now for an afternoon of painting... and watching the wildlife on the deck...



This 15 x 11" painting could have been painted much bigger and on YUPO. It was finished just before I had my left knee replaced two days ago. The next painting will be of wine bottles.

During my classes' Christmas parties, I usually paint demos for them as entertainment of sorts. Last week, Thursday night's class wanted to see how to paint glass, so this is what caught my eye to paint. The photo was taken a couple of summers ago at Lynne and Jamie's house on the lake and shows the wonderful shapes of their window reflections in several areas on the bottles.

Painting glass is really so very easy. It's all about the shapes and value changes on the surface of the glass container. Creating the right edge with the correct value on each shape on the glass will get you there every time. It's almost like paint by number. The hard part is to NOT paint the glass bottles, but to just paint the shapes on them, with the right edges, the right values. You never really paint the bottle, only the shapes on it. Hope that makes some kind of sense:-)

Update: Surgery went incredibly well, and we were back home 35 hours later. This morning while making my way over to the computer with coffee in hand, I dragged the walker with my other hand. I guess I need the walker in order to be safe... and I do keep using it, but I can amazingly walk without it already. The hard part is taking it slow and easy. This surgery/recovery is just incredible, and I'm so very thankful for God's blessing of not having any pain today and recovering this fast. Dr. Michael Swank is an awesome surgeon, who warned me repeatedly that this total knee replacement would not go as well as my the one in August 'cause my body wasn't really totally ready for another surgery. But it's going even better! Thank you so much, God, and thank you, Dr. Swank.

"KASEY'S CACHE" Transparent Watercolor on 140# Fabriano Artistico 15 x 11" COLLECTED



Almost all my YUPO paintings are collected in one post here, together. They are more or less in chronological order, starting with the most recent all the way back to the ancient ones.

After they were time line organized, it was interesting to see the changes in color use, technique, and style. It's pretty obvious to see just when experimenting and trying new things happened. Almost two years ago, I was able to take a great workshop taught by YUPO master, George James, but before that, I was on my own to figure out ways of managing paint on this fantastically slick surface. Many times, the paint managed me instead.

Some are a lot better than others for sure, and the look of the most recent YUPOs - the 3 bird pictures - isn't one that I will stay with. Nevertheless, painting on this slick plastic is soooooooo much fun... brings out the six year old in me. Several of these have even won some nice awards.

A half a dozen of my YUPO paintings were never photographed - no record of them but in my memory. During my ten year span of painting on YUPO, there was about a two year time lapse when I did not even paint on YUPO at all. What was I thinking?

Almost all of these were painted with transparent watercolors, but a couple have gouache and regular acrylics on them too, even some acrylic ink. There are several recent ones which have been created using fluid acrylics to look like watercolor. Fluid acrylics and YUPO are my FAVORITE materials to make art with right now.

Two more YUPO paintings are in progress, to be posted when they are completed. One is a watercolor, and the other, a 26 x 40" sheet, is being painted, ever so slowly, with fluid acrylics. If you're an artist who likes to take workshops, check out the January YUPO workshop I'm offering - coming up the weekend before the Super Bowl - see the side bar on the right.

THE End of Sandy's YUPO paintings from the late '90's to 2009. Many more to come in the future!