Commissions often require boundaries that can stifle creativity. . . boundaries like 'matching the couch' or looking 'exactly' like the photograph. Commissions can also put limits in my head, like 'they won't like that color' or 'this is too intense for their taste.'

Commissions can make it tough for me to actually want to paint, especially when it's of a subject that I'm not really interested in. Plus, my focus can easily shift from creating to selling the creation. That shift kills all creativity in me.

When I used to seek commissions, I always thought they were like having a baby. The idea for the commissioned painting had to grow inside me until I really WANTED to paint it. Otherwise, I was just going through the motions of moving the paint with a brush, and that lack of involvement would always show in the finished painting.

This painting had to match a bedspread. Other than that, I was given free reign as long as it was floral. It was fun to paint, but the whole time a little voice in the back of my head kept reminding me that SHE had to like it. Terrifying!

She did like it. Whew. It's so freeing to paint what I want to paint, a luxury for sure. Commissions still tempt me at times, but the only ones I'll do are the ones I'd have to paint anyway.

"DORIE'S DELS" Transparent Watercolor on 140#CP Arches 21 x 30" COLLECTED



When I started painting in watercolor, we owned a landscaping business, so naturally painting plants became a high interest of mine. These delphiniums were one of my first commissions, from one of our landscape customers.

Dorie said that as a landscape designer, I had "painted" her yard on the outside with real trees, flowers and shrubs, and now she wanted to hire me to add flowers to walls on the inside of her house. I was intimidated but loved the challenge, too.

My next post will be the other painting completed for her home, which was again, delphiniums, but with a different feel. I rarely take on commissions anymore but enjoyed doing these for Dorie. She also seemed genuinely pleased with them.

"DORIE'S GARDEN" Transparent Watercolor on 140#CP Arches 17 x 30" COLLECTED



This blog began as a record for my family, specifically our grandkids, of the awesome art journey I've traveled. It's become a teaching tool, a means to share and receive input from others, and a special way to 'meet' very special people.

This painting was the very first watercolor that I did by myself, no teacher. And it's on a full sheet of Arches. My first teacher, Suzanne Mayes Wentzell, taught our aspiring group of beginners each Wednesday evening for three hours. Those three hours became the highlight of each week for me, and I did everything I could to not miss class, no matter how tired I was after work, etc.

I remember edging those petunias with Sepia to accent them. The flowers were a combination of Rose Madder Genuine and Alizaron Crimson, both by Winsor Newton. Later I learned the hard way that those two colors would fade to a dirty pink. Both colors were eventually pitched even though I dearly loved them.

When I took this painting into class to show Suzanne, I was SO PROUD and happy with how well I thought it turned out. She was kind and not brutal with her critique, and her encouragement was a positive force in my early watercolor days. It's not in my nature to paint high key like this painting, but back then I was pleased as can be with the soft approach.

That was twenty one years ago. That passion that was ignited in me for watercolor has never left, and I am continually amazed at how many possibilities there are in this wonderful art world. Now I enjoy exploring any and all water media on any surface that will hold paint. What an adventure!

UPDATE - great news. Visited the doctor's office last Friday, 18 days after my knee replacement - I was given the go ahead to drive, swim, dance, work, stop medicines, and even stop physical therapy. I'm doing good, no - GREAT!

I'm going up and down steps like a champ, not like a crippled grandma. My surgeon was tops, and I truly would rather go through this surgery again than have a bad cold! Blessings abound beyond anything I could've hoped for. Thank you for your concern, your caring. I so appreciate it.



In 1991, a little over two years after signing up for beginning watercolor classes, I took a workshop near our hometown with Catherine Wilson Smith, from the Chicago area. The first day, she strongly emphasized the importance of value studies. . .

For all three days of the workshop, I muddled my way though understanding what a value study was, how to make them, and most importantly, how to make them be effective. It's the only workshop I've ever been in where I didn't paint at all.

It was worth the effort that long weekend to begin a journey of understanding composition better. Although I'd earned a degree in Art Education years earlier, I realized that there was a vast world of art design to digest.

This picture (study) was painted soon after the workshop, based directly on one of the value studies I'd slaved over in Catherine's workshop. Just yesterday I discovered a stash of photos of some really early watercolors, so 'look out!' They'll be posted very soon. This was one of them.

"DIANTHUS AND DELPHINIUM" Transparent Watercolor on 140# CP Arches, 10 x 14" COLLECTED