Bucket of Berries

Blackberry and Strawberry Bucket 06A Bucket of Berries is the subject of my next watercolor. While looking through pictures taken in the garden last year I ran across this photograph. A bucket of blackberries and strawberries turned on its side on the dining table.  Every morning I pick the berries that are ripe in the garden. They are so very colorful and juicy. The photo just looks yummy to me. The berries are coming back to life in the garden and do not seem to mind the fire at all.

Blackberry and Strawberry Bucket 01

Drawing out the shapes I give the darkest background a light blue wash to separate it from where I will need to be careful to keep whites for the bucket.

Blackberry and Strawberry Bucket 02Next more light washes sort out the blackberries from the strawberries and the tabletop gets a light shade in front.

Blackberry and Strawberry Bucket 03The darkest surfaces are carefully painted while saving the highlights on their shiny surfaces.

Blackberry and Strawberry Bucket 05The blackberries are rendered one-by-one on the left side as they lay on the table. It is a gradual berry-by-berry painting, with darkening on the bucket parts to give us a hint of the depths. The darkest shadows on the berries are painted, and with a little water added the bright medium shades are applied. If you are careful enough, the saved highlight will show well.

Blackberry and Strawberry Bucket 06Reds are added to the foreground area to give a warmer more lively wood texture. The same red tint goes up over the left side of the bucket. Darkening the background alongside the right gives enough depth to show the bucket.


Charming Traveller

Charming Traveler Hummingbird 09A Charming Traveller visited me in the garden. I heard him arrive with those fast wings and watched as he screeched to a stop and hovered right in front of me. Luckily, I had a camera locked and loaded and got a great picture of him. Hummingbirds are a favorite subject of mine.


Charming Traveler Hummingbird 01Hummingbirds are such expert aviators. It is utterly amazing how fast and accurate their flying is

Charming Traveler Hummingbird 02Beginning with the hummingbird’s main subject, I then drew the most important flowers behind and below him. I used his photograph to draw him entering the stage from up and to the right. Putting a pastel kind of wash in the background helps me to see the bird outline better.

Charming Traveler Hummingbird 03I faithfully render the hummingbird main star.

Charming Traveler Hummingbird 04To show how he quickly arrived and froze, the only thing I could think of was to put those cartoon movement curves on him. He was repeatedly drawn. The first image was very light and getting darker till he arrived in full color.

Charming Traveler Hummingbird 05The patch of sunflowers I sat in is pretty thick, full of flowers and leaves.  With a complicated puzzle of background requiring a little bit of simplification. Finally, becoming a continuous melody of nature.

Charming Traveler Hummingbird 06Slowly finishing the background and adjusting the hummingbird shapes to allow transparency was kind of tricky.

Charming Traveler Hummingbird 07The gradual darkening, and adjusting transparency of the bird were completed in many steps.

Charming Traveler Hummingbird 08The painting was almost complete. But as I gazed at it, there was something wrong. It was the background that competed with the main character.

Charming Traveler Hummingbird 09Wa Lah! I added a rose wash over the entire background and it darkened and dulled it, allowing Mr. Hummingbird to shine in the front. He is done! I did avoid the front sunflower face to keep it at the same level as the hummer. Now, the test will be to see how many people notice him flying into the frame.

Elk Hideaway

Elk HideawayElk Hideaway was our home lost in the Oregon Road Fire of August 18, 2023.  This is a watercolor painting of it from what pictures I could find. The finished painting reminds me of the peace surrounding our forest home, before.

Step one painting Elk HideawayOur hideaway was a DIY house that we designed and built, my husband and myself. We did most of the work ourselves over 5-years, which is probably why the loss is so hard to settle. Painting this portrait begins with a light wash background and the structure surfaces placed in light yellows.

Step two painting Elk Hideaway Next, the shadows and brown pigment are added to the structure along with a little foreground highlighting in the painting.

Step three painting Elk HideawayMore darkening on the structure begins to show more of the detail.

Step four painting Elk HideawayI add light wash coats to the foreground and background which seem to start to bring it to life.

Step five painting Elk HideawayThe final touch is dropping a beautiful blue skyline over the rooftop. Fini! I get a feeling that everything will be alright.

Our new house is almost ready for the basement slab to be poured. So, we look forward to having a home by the end of summer, hopefully. All of the trees are gone now so we now have wide-open views of all the neighbors and the far-away mountain ranges. But, the neighborhood consensus is, that we all feel kind of naked without our trees. Their beautiful shapes and colors with all of the wildlife were daily inspirations. We miss the trees so very much, but maybe it is the privacy they gave us that we miss the most.

Wildfire Destroys

house fire debris 2023A wildfire destroys everything you are familiar with so fast. On August 18th of 2023, a home full of lifetime accomplishments and accumulation disappeared. We had 20 minutes to get out. See a more detailed description of that day at this post.

Home before the fireMoving On

This beautiful house was gone. Grief over loss can get you down, making it hard to move forward. Or, it can inspire you to search for what’s left that is good today. The only thing you can do is stay in the present to keep your sanity.
Kubota Tractor melted Here is a picture of our melted Kubota tractor parked in front of the house. Wildfires (Oregon Road Wildfire in Elk) quickly simplify your life. Reducing to an overnight bag, suitcases, and a few boxes is a lesson in humility. It is peculiar how the missing “stuff” begins to matter less and less as time goes by. The sting of the loss decreases with time.caterpillar in front of garage debris

It is a journey we slowly walk, towards an unknown destination. Having much less is fine after all. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when my memory shows me…  Grandpa’s clock ticking and announcing the hours. I can see it in the dining room and notice a tear leaving my eye. Look at this picture of the garage debris with the old caterpillar parked in front.

1872 Apple PressMemories pop up randomly. My piano. and my Mom’s music book that we played duets together so long ago. The many photographs of our family, children as babies, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are all gone. Trophies, ribbons, heirloom linens, and that wonderful apple cider press. Okay, I am sure you get the picture.


I have quit sharing my stories and thoughts on these blogs during the past nine months. What could I say? I don’t want to share negativity with no solutions. Many survivors after the fire have taken to airing daily frustrations and publicly comparing notes on who did what to whom. It doesn’t help anyone. If I don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all. Remember those sayings?

Wildfire destroys, but it may also have some good effects too. I don’t think I will collect as much stuff this time and maybe I will appreciate more. There is now a light at the end of the tunnel, so, buckle your seatbelts and hold on for a ride. The writer is back and so is the artist.


Rose Trio

A rose trio is the next blossom subject for me in watercolor. The question is, can I realistically render three different colored roses?

Rose Trio 02After rendering a “Sharon” rose, I felt inspired. The next morning I did a search and rescue mission for photographic images to work with on my computer and phone.  Finding 3 separate pictures that I liked from my garden last year, I sketched a layout for them and here we go. A multi-colored one, a white, and one yellow blossom. You can see from the image above how I begin by applying a dark wash to where I see the shadows on each of the petal surfaces.  Then, I can add some of the gorgeous colors, layer after layer.
Rose Trio 03

The multi-colored one on the top left gets yellow, then Opera Pink, some alizarine crimson, and darkened more with dioxin purple. Purple also shows me where shadows are darkest in the background.

Rose Trio 04

The white is a long-lasting blossom named, “Abraham Lincoln”.  Each Presidential petal base has a slight touch of tan shade at the base. A tiny touch of Azo yellow is added to show this subtle color change. The yellow rose is brought to life with more yellow and small touches of burnt amber.

Rose Trio 05The yellow beauty in the front is from my spice garden. It may have survived the fire, but we won’t know until things warm up in spring. The name tag for the yellow rose is long gone. I darken the background using blues, greens, and splashes of alizaron crimson with purple.

Rose Trio 06

The colors used as a background are purposely not boring and rendered in a fun wet-on-wet texture. I only want to hint at the dense foliage behind. Remember that, roses are one thing that always brings joy. If I am holding them, smelling them, looking at them in person, or painting/drawing them there is most likely a smile on my face.


Single Rose Demo

Rose Demo with Lisa Hill

This single rose reminds me of one I had in my garden named, “Sharon”. It was a bright character with a wonderful fragrance.  I will be replacing some of my roses this year, and this multi-color one is high on the list.

While attending a Spokane Watercolor meeting at Spokane Art Supply on Saturday, we painted with Lisa Hill. She had this picture of a beautiful rose that we all painted as she demoed her style of mixing colors. It was a fun morning full of painting with other artists.

There were so many curves, shadows, and highlights when I began working on this. I had to be careful not to let the challenge overwhelm me. It is a real challenge to get the values right so that the three-dimensional effects become apparent. I have to just take it one petal at a time, it is the best way for me to work it for these types of paintings.

The dark background was added later and turned out to be a fun and dramatic ending. I like the way it reveals the silhouette of the rose. I plan to dig out my photographs from my garden last year and keep practicing roses for awhile.


Dahlia Beauty

A Dahlia beauty in pink experience right after our home burned down August 13, 2023. Our neighbor, Jennifer, is an absolute green thumb who regularly does magic in her garden every year.
dahlia Pink Two 10
Her garden (it survived) after the fire, was still beautiful and abundant. Jerry made sure to bring their generator out, to be able to keep watering it. Jen shared all the tomatoes and flowers we could pick from her garden, it was a real blessing. It made me feel as though we would be okay.

dahlia Pink Two 03This painting is from one of those dinner plate Dahlia’s that we picked and I took many many pictures of. So, I could paint them later on. I hope to someday be able to produce the beauty she does every year.
dahlia Pink Two 02

Nighttime at the Cathedral

Night time at the Cathedral
Night time at the Cathedral oil

Nighttime at the Cathedral. This is an oil painting completed while attending the week of painting in Eagle Idaho, just north of Boise. It was a great time for artists and full of adventures in plein air.

Night time painting of cathedral

I have never tried to paint at night so this was an unfamiliar setup and subject. Outside in the dark, downtown Boise all alone in a parking lot across from a cathedral that had lighting that caught my eye.Cathedral of the Rockies10Cathedral of the Rockies10

Progressive stage. I will be painting at night again… it is a challenge. It feels like an opposite approach, rendering the highlights on a dark background. Drawing is usually rendering shadows on a light background.

Arbor Crest Plein Air

Arbor Crest Wine Cellar View 01

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars is a beautiful historic estate on top of the hill, just north of the Spokane River in the Inland Northwest. It is an absolutely perfect place to have a plein air paint out. A fun group of friends from the Spokane Watercolor Society met up here for an artist’s day out. This place is full of surprises that catch your eye. There are so many beautiful settings, gardens and views that it is hard to choose the best one to paint.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellar 2This view captured me, and as I settled down to paint, I wondered about that brave soul who selected this amazing location to settle and and admire the view. What a daring free spirited individual that must have been.

Can you imaging sitting here with your morning coffee? I can.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellar 3Here is one of those unfinished paintings (7) on my desk that is now part of the ash where our house used to be. Since I do have pictures to work from I may recreate this one.  Maybe even spend another day at the Arbor Crest Wine Celler grounds to get the colors right.

August 18th 2023

Home we built
A watercolor study of our home that was burned 08/13/2023.

August 18th 2023 was a date that will stay in my memory. The day began normally with a trip into town for a chiropractor appointment for Pete and I. Afterwards, we did grocery shopping followed by getting other supplies at North 40 on the way home. When you live out-of-town you tend to get all of the errands done in one trip.

Pete got a new pair of slippers at North 40 taking a little while talking and it was making me nervous about making it home in time. I had a 3:30 Zoom Board Meeting for the Spokane Watercolor Society. When we got home I rushed and turned the computer on and was only about 5 minutes late. The meeting was short maybe 30 minutes.

As I was getting ready to shut down the computer, there was a pounding on our front door. It was our neighbor Travis G. from just above us on the hill. He was saying did we see the fire

Then Everything Changed

What fire? Then all of our cell phones started beeping that spooky evacuation alert. A spooky incessant sound. Looking off of the front deck with Travis there was a great big cloud of smoke going high into the sky. Travis saw 200 ft high flames from his house. The smoke was going away from us, when suddenly, the wind changed and it started to come straight at us.

Another neighbor, Brian C. came up our driveway saying the same thing and asking if we had notified everyone. He had let his next door neighbor know, and she had already evacuated. He said he would make sure the Eastmans knew on his way back.

I went inside and notified all of the people in our neighborhood watch group via email, and we all started making calls to whoever we already had on our phones. Just then, I noticed a folder of pictures on my desktop that I had taken for the insurance company after our last wildfire scare a few years prior. It was 150 pictures and I opened Google Drive and started an “upload” saying a little prayer, it could send it in time.

I  found backpacks and bags and begin dumping medicines, medical gear, and bathroom drawers, just dumping them in. Packed a weekend backpack with clothes like I was going on a weekend trip. And Pete grabbed his suitcases and put clothes and stuff in them.

Pete grabbed the box of our important papers, and then started carrying loads of guns and ammo upstairs into the back of the truck. Every time I made a trip into the car, I watched for small electronic devices that could fit in and charger plugs and anything else along the way. I got Max’s dog food bag, his brushes, and his leash but forgot his dish. I grabbed the cooler off of the deck and pulled the soups out of the pantry that were ready to eat thinking, I did not do all that work for nothing. Someone was going to be hungry. The car was getting full fast. Then, the electricity went out.

No More

My next load from inside was going to be computers, keepsakes, and treasures. I paused for a second to look at the pictures, Grandpa’s clock, and the piano OMG! Then, a pound on the door revealed the sheriff returning yelling, EVACUATE NOW! We followed him out and as I was heading to the car I noticed the chainsaw and gas weedeater with a blade hanging on the back of our Kubota tractor. I stepped over there and started unwiring them. Pete came and helped me, grabbing them and putting them in the back of the truck. We gotta go!

We followed the sheriff out with all our neighbors behind, Guy was driving his tractor and as we turned the corner where the mailboxes were, the flames were crossing the road around us. Just a little too close for comfort. We all just kept going through a thick curtain of smoke.

The Oregon Road Wildfire on August 18th, 2023 was a day forever impressed into our memories. Peter, myself, and Max made it out alive and uninjured.