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?”







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!

Cardinals Appear

“Cardinals Appear When Angels are Near”. Watercolor, 8″…10″ $75.00 + shipping

So happy to get some painting time yesterday. The studio has been quiet for far too long.

Painted this for the Paint My Photo Monthly Painting Challenge. The challenge was to paint something using mostly a primary color. Rodney Campbell’s bird photos are always outstanding, so I took his Winter Cardinal Photo ( which can be found here) and adapted it to the Primary Color Challenge, adding the suggestion of fall red leaves in the background. A reminder that as artists, we don’t need to be a slave to our references. We need to add a piece of ourselves to our work.

Using some Arches Hot Press paper, which I don’t normally mess with, I painted the bird realistically, then added the softer background using a wet-into-wet process. The HP paper allows the paint to lay on top and pool at bit. Not fun for the detailed part and did definitely not spread the way it does with Cold Press. But I had a big piece sitting around and decided that these monthly challenges are just that….a challenge. The paper reminds me a bit of the reactions you get with the synthetic “paper” Yupo.

Last month the monthly challenge on Paint My Photo was for items that had been decorated. My Arabian piece “All Decked Out” with the tasseled bridle took a second place.

I can definitely see those new palette colors influencing my paintings. Who’da thunk I’d use red and orange so much!

Hoping to keep the brushes dirty this month.

“Did You Art Today?”

It’s Funny

All Decked Out” Watercolor 8″ x 11″ $50.

How things work. I am on a mission in the studio. Pulling apart closets, drawers, paper storage, etc. even starting setting the timer so I don’t make more of a mess than I can handle. All inspired by seeing a fellow artist’s wall of paintings. Go figure.

Recently another artist friend posted some work she’d done on her iPad. I’ve had the Procreate app and an ipencil for ages. It’s always kind of baffled me. A little past my technical skills.

But I had done a small painting for a Monthly Challenge on Paint My Photo. The challenge was to paint something decorated. Immediately an Arabian Costume class popped into my head. These elegant creatures galloping around with tassels, tinkling chains twinkling in the light, manes and tails flowing beneath velvet. Very dramatic.

I found a great reference photo by Ainslie-Gilles-Patel which can be found here. Love those tassels.

It’s funny. There are artists who won’t use others’ photos, there are shows that won’t allow you to use others’ photos. There are some who believe you shouldn’t even paint from a photo at all.

I think that’s all very funny. Frankly, this was what I wanted to paint. Closing my eyes I could visualize the scene, the sounds, the hoof beats. I got so carried away I forgot about my background.

Usually my background is part of my painting process. But in these days painting for fun and pleasure, I hadn’t considered it. I liked what I had done and would normally put a green or blue background on it…..but I do have these new colors on my palette.

Bingo……enter Procreate. That was pretty funny too. It wasn’t pretty, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. But being able to change the background color over and over was a a riot….like having a big new box of crayons.

Settled on one of the new colors. Let’s hear it for fun.

“Did You Art Today?”

It Doesn’t Always Work

New colors, old colors, I will repeat a phrase I used often while teaching.  They are not always masterpieces.  In some cases, you don’t even like them.

Still using my new colors, and the lovely journal with the handmade paper.  I decided to try a painting today that included water drops.  Inspired by Nitamp’s photo on Paint My Photo, a morning glory reference shot seemed like a good choice.

The supposed water drops morphed into some sort of grey white bug. The more I messed, the worse it got.  Lesson learned.  Practice water drops…..maybe on paper that is a bit smoother.

What lessons have you learned lately?

“Did You Art Today?”

National Bikini Day

While I didn’t participate, we did go to Coquina Beach so I could watch others enjoy this important holiday.

Inspired by Dory Kanter’s book, “Art Escapes”. There are wonderful daily exercises in this book to inspire one’s creativity.

“Did You Art Today?”