This little lady, now almost six and a half, will be dressed up tomorrow evening as Tinker Bell's helper and her sister will be Tinker Bell. The little fellow below, who is also six, will be none other than Peter Pan! Their older brother will be wielding Captain Hook's sword as they trick or treat throughout the neighborhood.

In two weeks, I'll be teaching a portrait class here in my studio focused on capturing the innocence of children with watercolor. Each artist will work from their own resources to capture the likeness of their favorite little ones. Join us if you can. See the side bar for more details.

I have a feeling that I'll have just as much fun (probably even more fun) trick or treating with these kids as I will teaching the portrait workshop.

"PAIGE" and "TY GUY" Both painted on 140#CP Fabriano COLLECTED



Everyone has different ideas about how to know when a painting is finished. Here's what seems to work best for me...

A painting is completed when it's no longer in my possession. Until then, it's open for adjustments and changes, even if it's in a frame under glass (just ask Deb Ward, who so expertly framed, and unframed, for me for several years.) While it may not be good advice to give others, it works for me.

This second photo shows the ORIGINAL PAINTING as it was completed tttt(before any changes were made) and posted this past January. Occasionally it would sneak out of storage and let me consider making adjustments to it. Finally it was matted and displayed in the studio.

Then Lydia returned to class from her travels and commented that this particular painting was not one of my best ones. It made me think long and hard about what could be done to make it better.

Because this was my first attempt at using masking tape on YUPO with fluid acrylics, I'd fallen in love with the possibilities of the process and set aside the importance of tweaking a good composition. Finally it was time to make amends and find a solution to make this a more dynamite painting that would compel the viewer to enjoy my impressions of the antiquity of Venice.

By comparing the earlier version with the 'finished' one, you can see that stronger oranges were added to parts of the wall and that the upper part of the painting was muted and darkened, thereby allowing the pure vibrancy of colors to stand out stronger in the focal area. The street light and its post also have more value changes to help add more interest there, especially as the iron 'arm' work moves across the dark of the window and in front of the dark doorway. The flatness of the white wall was darkened in the foreground to lend more depth, and the doorway was enriched with deep colors. The value contrast between the white wall and the brick was minimized at the bottom edge of the painting, too, by softening the edge of the white wall. In a few select areas, a pale wash of teal was touched in for a cool temperature surprise and to help make the oranges vibrate more.

There's a bit more drama and sense of atmosphere now in the painting with places that say 'look at me' and places to rest. Both excitement and quietness dance together, and the painting shows more about how I felt when I was there. The earlier painting let my eye float out of the top of the picture, but now my eye moves through the whole painting, finding more surprises along the way.

There's certainly a time to stop and step away from the painting. Going back into a completed painting can be tricky. In the past, for me, it was a tough lesson that took years to learn --- that trying to make it perfect with just one more brush stroke would simply kill the life of the painting. Many of my pretty good paintings ended up in the trash because of trying for that perfection. Yet, this painting needed help. Thank you, Lydia, for your 'wake up' comment. It made a wonderful difference.

"JOURNEY" Fluid Acrylics on YUPO 14 x 25"

One of my favorite quotes comes from Michael J. Fox. "We can strive for excellence, but perfection is God's business." Great advice for any painter. It's an art not a science!



Today is a spectacularly beautiful fall day here in the Midwest, with Sugar Maples at their peak. Rain from the last couple of days caused all the Ash and Walnut Trees to defoliate, but the Sweet Gums, Oaks, Pears and most Maples are in full glory.

This little painting was created nearly two decades ago using lots of carefully painted miskit to preserve the whites of the Beech Tree so that the background could be painted with a spontaneous fresh and loose look. I do love trees. Enjoy the week, everyone:-)

"BEECHED" Transparent Watercolor on 140#CP Arches 15 x 11" COLLECTED