No Brush Left Behind #5 – A Foray into Abstract

fullsizeoutput_c4dI love art challenges.  The people who have the vision to create them and keep them going are an inspiration.  They always push and pull me along a journey I would not have taken.  Preferring, instead, to stay in my safe zone…where all good passion goes to die.

This month’s Paint My Photo Challenge was an abstract.  I have never enjoyed abstract painting.  Don’t understand it, and the word that crosses my mind most when viewing it is: “Why?”  You can try to explain it to me, and I may get some of it, but I will probably will still be thinking “Why?” in my head.

Wasn’t even going to participate.  But experimenting with my brushes and had some paint left over.  So I originally messed around with some shapes, colors, etc.  It is in the recycle bin.  Then I tried the bird abstract that I blogged about in No Brush Left Behind #2.  That looked like a child did it. And the best thing I can say about it is that I used some of my brushes for the challenge.

From the Paint My Photo Site, I picked a photo by John Warren of a canal with dappled sunlight which can be found here.  And another 6 brushes from the unused yet bin.

While I am still not crazy about abstract.  There are parts of this that I really like.  Like the part where I got so frustrated I took a razor blade and scratched through the paint down to the paper.  It created a texture that simulated the windows in the reference photo.

Most abstracts I see are dark paintings with random splotches of color to grab your eye.  The palette I used (my normal) gave this a light and whimsical feel….not my association with abstracts. Maybe I’d like them more if they were all bright and happy.

All-in-all, a frustrating but fun experience.  Frankly, this will probably become part of a collage, but I am not totally unpleased with it overall.


White Sable Goliath.   Sure did cover a lot of ground.  Soft and pliable.. Holds lots of water and paint and made those great green splatters (when tapped on my finger) in the top right hand side of the painting.

White Sable Skyscraper (Big Flat)  Also covered a lot of paper.  But the best part was using the handle to smear out some watercolor ground to get some texture in the white space.

Long handled cat’s tongue – All the markings came off with the top layer of the veneer. Very stiff bristles.  Used it to scrub out and soften sections.  Did a great job!

Liquitex 8 Kolinsky Plus Round 590.  Dropped lovely puddles of color, and despite it’s fat looking tip, came to a decent point.

Rafael 8802 made in France Rigger – One of my “go to” brushes.  Not just used for expressive lines, but pushed on and jiggled can make some wonderful shapes.  Love this brush.  It holds a place of honor on my art desk.

Loew-Cornell 7050C Script Liner – Another “go to” brush with similar properties of the Rafael….just not as fine pointed and doesn’t bend quite as easily.

Used: 6 Brushes

Remaining brushes to use: 148 (So happy to be under 150 at last!)

“Did You Art Today?”


No Brush Left Behind #4 – Polo Sketch

Didn’t even get to finish my sketch at the polo field on Sunday. Too much fun going on.

But, in addition to my travel brushes, take an extra to try. A Robert Simmons E85 round. Used it for the grassy area. Not a fan. Nice flexibility, held water, no point. Are we seeing a trend here.

NOTE TO SELF: Try with acrylics.

BRUSH REPORT 1/15/19 – Thankfully no new brushes found,

Used: 1 Brush

Remaining brushes to use: 154

“Did You Art Today?”

Here We Go Again

My first foray into the local art scene in Florida.

When we lived in NJ, I would quite often participate in the local art shows. A chance to get your work seen, enjoy the camaraderie of other artists, and perhaps win some prize money. Schlepping paintings, paying entry fees and banged up frames were the downside to these shows.

As our life is such a whirlwind of events, visitors and the beautiful spontaneity of retirement, I had not entered any shows in Florida yet. We never knew when we were going to be home to pick up non-accepted paintings or we weren’t here to pick paintings up at the end of the show. . Also, the wealth of talent here is extremely impressive…..and a bit intimidating. But, as far as I know, no one ever died because they weren’t juried into an art show.

For 2019, one of my other art goals (besides the No Brush Left Behind” challenge) is to get back to spending more time with my art. Experimenting, playing, painting what and when I want. Today I dropped off two paintings to the Suncoast Florida Watercolor Society’s Aqueous exhibition which will be held at the Manatee Art Center until the end of February. One was accepted.

Considering it’s inclusion in this show a good omen.

“Did You Art Today?’

No Brush Left Behind #3


Least Bittern – Watercolor 4″ x 6″

We tried to level the playing field today.  Painting small, (4″ x 6″, my standard size for making greeting cards) and using Arches paper and some small brushes.  The reeds in the painting were done with the large flat.  It separated quite a bit, but could make some nice texture if that’s what you’re after.  Not sure you could get a good wash from this brush.  Considering I’ve never been adept at washes, it wouldn’t matter.   The round was a handy brush holding lots of water, but not coming to a point the way I like.  The Ultra Mini liner came in great for the smaller details.  Like putting eyelashes on seagulls…..something I try to avoid, but needed for this piece.

I did make a big puddle of watercolor and tried the big brush from No Brush Behind #2  It basically made pale lines on the scrap piece of paper,   You’d have to squeeze half a tube on the palette and plaster that brush in there.  Then I think you’d get some strong lines on a scrap piece of paper.  I’ll try it again the next time I have the acrylics out.

Today’s Cast of Characters:


Round Brush – markings rubbed off, but a number 70000-8 and Japan visible on the end

1 Delta Sablon #554 Dominican Rep.

20/0 Silver Ultra Mini liner 24225 Japan


BRUSH REPORT  1/11/19  – Update – Sadly, or maybe excitedly, I found another lot of lost and lonely brushes in the drawers next to my desk.  Fifteen more.  So the total brushes to be used:  165.  For the first painting,  I used 7, bringing the total down to 158.  Higher than when I started.  It’s going to be a long project!


Used 3

Remaining Brushes to use: 155

Hopefully, I don’t find any more brushes!


“Did You Art Today?”







No Brush Left Behind #2

Painted in Acrylics.  Repeat after me:  They are not all masterpieces.  Experimenting is practice.  Stretching is scary.  Showing the bad ones is daunting.  I don’t really care for the painting and may wind up collaging over it.  However, it was an interesting day and definitely added to my painting knowledge

Starting with the Big Brush, thinking I was going to work on an abstract for the December/January monthly challenge on Paint My Photo.  Using Linda Anderson’s Gold Finch photo that can be found here.   That’s how it started anyway. I even had a small value sketch to work from.

Here’s today’s cast of characters:

Big Brush is marked Harrison’s pure bristle XL Master Fitch 1 1/2

Flat Brush is marked Signet by Robert Simmons 40 F NYC

Round is marked Sienna Robert Simmons SN85 Round

Small Brush is marked Escoda Reserva Kolinsky Tajmyr

What I learned today…..

Big brushes need big piles of spread out paint.  Otherwise you wind up with them all mingled together!  Perhaps if I had gone to art school I would have learned this simple, but important lesson!.  Some brown, yellow and white. That big stiff brush made some interesting marks as it drug the paint across the paper.  NOTE TO SELF – Try that big brush with a puddle of watercolor.

After the background dried, I thought I was adding the suggestion of dried coneflowers using the small round.  They felt like blobs, so I hit them with the flat brush.  Already not enjoying this.  The bird was supposed to be an abstract shape but just turned back into a strange bird..

A few more squiggles with the small brush and I was already down the rabbit hole of not liking what was coming out.  So I added some Schmincke gold powder thinking a bit of bling would help.  Yeah, I think they are some sayings about that sow’s ears and silk purses that might be applicable here.

Because I had paint left on the palette, I pulled some semi-used Yupo paper and experimented a bit more. Who knows. Might use that piece as the basis for an abstract. Stay tuned.


Starting Inventory 150

Used 7

Remaining Brushes to use:  143

“Did You Art Today?”


Polo Sketch – No Brush Left Behind #1

Polo Report – Watercolor Sketch: I made sure to use all three of my travel brushes today and consciously used a heavier paint application than usual. While my reference photo was very blurry, I love the arched neck and momentum of the pony’s back legs. Still moving while the front legs have stopped. A gorgeous day for polo, and a fast-paced, and an exciting match. Once again, we met nothing but fun and happy people.

No Brush Left Behind Report #1 – 3 down, about 147 to go.

These are my trusty travel brushes. Sunday is polo day. A photo taken previously is sketched and painted during “tailgate time.” If there were markings on two of the brushes, they’ve been rubbed off. But the middle is marked Isabey S201.06. Not sure of the size either. But I love them and they are three of my go-to brushes…and not just used while traveling. The little fabric holder I made. It visibly shares it’s travel history with well-loved remnants of paint.

“Did You Art Today?”

No Brush Left Behind

Announcing my 2019 Goal.   No Brush Left Behind is my attempt to use every brush in the Studio.  Here’s my first YouTube video (and my first video) for this year’s project.

Stay tuned for info on bushes used and the paintings that come out of them.  I figure if I use three a week, I can get through them all!

“Did You Art Today?”



My watercolor sketch from yesterday’s polo match at Sarasota Polo Club.

Friends from NJ were in town and we met them at the polo field yesterday. We certainly got great use of the picnic backpack and portable table we got from family as Christmas presents. Our little area became party central, as we shared munchies, wine and conversation with both old friends and new. Part of the charm of the Sarasota Polo Club.

And, I got to see one of the sketches I did at the polo field framed and hanging in it’s new home. Don’t always get that privilege.

It was a great reminder of how we’re all connected….the players and their ponies, those of you who read my blog, people from our past, and people we may never see again. Sometimes we just forget how much alike we are….all of us enjoying a beautiful day watching an exciting game.

Wishing you all the spirit of connectivity in the New Year. May your New Year be bright, healthy and happy.

Thanks for following along this year.

“Did You Art Today?”

Connecting Creatively at Christmas

Years ago I participated in a Plein Air event in our town in Medford, NJ. My choice of building to paint was the Medford Florist. It was always the best dressed window in our historic town. Before starting my painting, I stopped in the shop and introduced myself to the owner, a charming British gent.

Fast forward; the painting took first place, he purchased the painting. And since that time, I have painted flower arrangements he designed in the bay window of the shop during the town’s Art & Music Festival, painted my impression of the downtown buildings using red and green during the town’s Dickens Festival. These paintings were then used as part of his Holiday window decorations. We are still connecting, even though we moved from Medford to Sarasota, Florida almost three years ago.

This past year I asked his permission to paint from his photos of the beautiful floral creations he makes. He graciously agreed. When I recently posted an older painting of one of his Christmas arrangements, he posted another recent, very beautiful arrangement, suggesting it might be a good candidate for a painting.

So this one’s for you Simon….I have enjoyed our creative connection over the years.

“Did You Art Today?” I know Simon did!