Spokane in Bloom

Spokane in Bloom 2023Spokane in Bloom 2023 is this Saturday from 10am-5pm. This year’s theme is, “Journey Through the Senses“. Come and experience 6 truly beautiful gardens on the south side of Spokane. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online (PayPal) and at multiple locations listed on the flyer. A map is available on the Inland Empire Gardeners’ website.

The last time we did this invitational art show was in 2019 (before COVID). We are looking forward to seeing the art, food, and gorgeous gardens full of wonderful like-minded “garden lovers” to enjoy the day with. It is so much fun to talk with people who love to garden just like you do.

The Spokane in Bloom Garden Tour is an annual event along with the Garden Expo presented by the local garden club, “The Inland Empire Gardeners“. We want you to have a good time as you get to visit with other gardeners, artists, and craft vendors. Between 600-800 are anticipated to attend the garden tour throughout Saturday.

Come see us at the “Hear the Wind Garden” which is the creation of Jody & Todd Hechtman at 2020 E 23rd Ave, Spokane, WA 99203. Directions to the “Hear the Wind Garden“, starting at 29th & Regal, right on E 29th Ave. Right on S Southeast Blvd. Left on E Rockwood Blvd. Left on S Crestline St. Right on E 23rd Ave.

Our booth will be exhibiting art originals and prints for sale by myself, Valerie Woelk. There are colorful watercolors, oil paintings, and drawings of a wide range of subjects. There are a lot of unframed originals, that are economical since we didn’t frame them. The last time we did the show in 2019, every bagged watercolor original sold.

Actually, the very best part of our day then was the conversations we had with others who love to garden just as much as we do. Hummingbirds were a frequent subject, and every kind of flower was fully described and discussed.

Bluejay Fireman

Bluejay Fireman SketchThis was a design for a unit called the Bluejay Firemen in California (T-shirts). I used to work as an artist for copyartwork.com, that was a site that would contact me with small jobs in the $25-50 range. They needed me to draw up a quickly sketched design. Which they would approve or ask for changes.

Bluejay Fireman

Then, I would create a vectorized digital art file using Adobe Illustrator. It was one of the ways I paid bills between other jobs.

Fireman Helmet Fireman NozzleThe only info I received about this design was a picture of their helmet and the firehose nozzle. The rest of the information like pictures of bluejays and firemen were found on the internet. You would not believe the pictures that come up on the internet when you search for “firemen”. I had no problem finding muscular men in fireman outfits for this project. Whew.

Raising an Artist

Portrait Surprise SketchRaising an artist is a challenge. We got kudos for individual creativity in art, teaching ourselves, and entrepreneur-type creative ideas always. If my folks had not been encouraging in these ways, I would never have been able to follow this direction in life. They noticed the signs of artist tendencies in me from the beginning and encouraged me to practice and explore. Thank God our family tends to encourage creativity and guide us to educate ourselves in an entrepreneurial sort of way.


I was one of those kids that lay on the ground looking up into the sky, seeing images in the clouds. I still like to do this. My earliest memories are of loving fishing on weekends with beautiful mountain walks. Discovering wonderful panoramic views with warm sun and bright mountain skies. Evenings spent coloring on a fold-up card table at my Grandma and Grandpa’s home. Skiing with my family and seeing some of the most gorgeous views in the snow from a very young age.

Have always doodled, consequently, getting in trouble in school for drawing horses in the margin of the test papers. There are many many scrap pieces of paper with eyes drawn in every position in my wastepaper packages. Noticing beauty around me, shadows and shapes, coloring, drawing and painting has always been a large part of my life. A pen or brush has always felt natural in my hand. The other stuff in life squeezes in to fit around the edges.


As you go through this blog, you will notice that the “art” articles are divided up into different categories (listed on the right), allowing you the ability to search for a specific category of blog articles that may interest you.

I hope that this division into categories will make it easier for you to find the art subjects that you are most interested in reading about. Additionally, if you want a complete picture of the art I do please feel free to visit my traditional website.

There are also the categories covered in my Blog about things I like to do Outdoors and Needlework. Outside activities include hiking, sports, and gardening. My inside needlework hobbies of sewing or embroidery fill my spare time. All of these are now on separate Blogs.


Jazz Step 1

Jazz step 1, making a jazz music collage.

Jazz01Using my reference images I sketch in a collage, changing what I want and keeping the rest. Most of the changes made are because of the desire to show movement in the collage. The way I’m approaching this is changing the singer’s face in a more Hispanic flavor, with  hair flowing up and twisting around. Another is to make the piano keyboard dance in a curve around the guitar. I use resist white areas like on the piano keys that I want to reserve. After lightly applying a wash for some of the shapes I am happy with the layout.
jazz progressive #2The next step for me is to wet all of the background very carefully so I can start to apply a loose bright background. I love to drop large bright drops of color in my backgrounds. As long as I keep the wetness to specifically where I want the color to spread, this technique works great.jazz backgroundI love to drop large bright drops of color into my backgrounds. As long as I keep the wetness to specifically where I want the color to spread this “Wet on Wet” technique works fabulously.music collageSlowly and carefully adding more of the background details brings out the outlines of the main figures. I am pleased with the promise of the layout. It is getting more interesting as it comes to life.
jazz musicI tend to keep reference images right next to where I am working. You can see the first sketch of this idea original painting resting next to my current painting. I really enjoy the bright colors in this original sketch idea so it sits here to remind me.


Jazz Keeps Showing Up

This Jazz keeps showing up and I can’t get it out of my head. I want to enter a Spokane Watercolor Society Show with it.  I decided to give it my best effort to render this scene then possibly it would not keep coming back.

I begin with finding great reference material to work from, showing  characters and instruments well, placing them in PhotoShop and printing it out. The print sits right next to me as I paint this musical collage in watercolor, my ipod singing in the background with all my favorite tunes.

reference images for jazz music collage

Recurring Inspirations

About recurring inspirations. Have you ever had an image that kept coming back for another round? I sure have. I had a vision of music being played on various instruments by a singer, sax player, trumpeter and hearing piano going all at once. A very brightly colored dream set in Florida tones. The first time I painted this inspiration was with a quick sketch in watercolor.

medley of jazz musicians in watercolorAn 8×11 framed original.

Donkey Jesus Said

The name of this painting is, “Donkey, Then Jesus Said”. What would the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem have to say? See dream inspiration below. I begin by drawing up a few sketches and arriving at one with the little donkey talking to me up close and personal, like in the dream.

pencil layout of donkey
pencil layout of donkey

The first part of the painting process for me is blocking in light washes showing where the background areas are. It is easier to see if my main character is positioned how I want then. With this donkey, it was important to see the sky, with a desert background but I also wanted some palm fronds because that is an integral part of the story in my dream. Once the location of the main figure is in I can then start to add the darkest areas on him to see if the figure is still working when it starts to look 3D.

donkey watercolor light washes
donkey watercolor light washes

I almost always have reference photography on the desktop with me as I paint or draw. I don’t have to follow the references exactly, because I am not trying to make a photograph. I use photography to check my sizes and where the light is casting.

different reference materials
different reference materials

I am adding darkness and detail at this point to the watercolor.

Donkey details left
Donkey details left

Here is the donkey finished, I am happy with him because I can almost hear him talking.

the donkey Je suis fini!
the donkey Je suis fini!

This Donkey, then Jesus Said watercolor painting made it into the juried charitable benefit for Lavender Dreams Farm & Donkey Rescue. These are truly wonderful people who rescue livestock, donkeys in northeastern Washington. North of Newport WA. Please take a second to check them out. If this painting wins in the show, I get some and they get some.

Jesus Dream Inspiration

Donkeys are quite important characters and have been friends with some pretty significant people. Really.  After I had heard about this benefit, I was thinking about what I would paint just before I went to sleep at night.

A dream about a donkey appeared in my sleep, a talking donkey just like the old show I used to watch when I was real little. Did you ever see it? It was, “Mr. Ed the Talking Horse and it started with a Palamino horse looking over his stall gate saying…

Hello I’m Mr Ed…

A horse is a horse
of course, of course
and no one can talk to a horse
of course, that is of course
unless the horse
is the
famous Mr. Ed!

Well, this dream had a talkative donkey standing on a dirt road telling me about life as he chewed on some grass. He was telling me about the cool people he knew and the great things he had done.

He started to talk about a really neat guy that he gave a ride into a town once. He was brought to this guy that he didn’t know, who talked to him and patted his head, making all the nervous worry go away instantly. It was great to have a human pay some attention to him, instead of just ignoring him and expecting unquestioned perfect servitude.

This guy was on a mission and there were lots of people all around, so they headed out right away. This man did not hit him with a stick to get going but instead simply asked him to go as he sat comfortably on his back. There were crowds around and people lining the road yelling, it was a scene like he had never seen before or since, but the man on his back was calm.

The people were throwing palm fronds on the road in front of him, making the donkey afraid that he might trip so he had to look down and be careful with each step. They did finally arrive safely in the town and then this man named Jesus got off and came up to him saying, Thank you!

Isn’t that amazing?