Wildlife Waterhole

Waterhole Sketch F3003A Northwest Wildlife Waterhole mural was up for bid at a local adult family home. I called and got what information I could over the phone about the desired subject, asking about the surface type and dimensions so I could estimate costs. The next step was to sketch an idea to use as a visual aid while discussing the project with the owner. After meeting with the owner the next day, the mural project eventually died due to a lack of funding. How many times does that particular scenario occur when you are a self-employed artist? Mucho! All is not lost.


Back at the studio, the pencil sketch lies on the drawing table catching my attention. I really like the whole idea and it says, “Paint me!” every time I notice it. This simple pencil sketch becomes an inspiration to render the scene in watercolor. So, I get out a sheet of 300lb WC paper and begin to place the animals in altered positions across the landscape.

Waterhole 01Setting up the paints, brushes, and pallets begins the watercolor journey for this wildlife waterhole creation. I put a brilliant sunrise sky over a snowcapped mountain top in the distance. The reflection of this sky is next on the water surface. The scene comes to life as layers of watercolor are applied to the meadow and waterhole shoreline.

Waterhole 02More washes are applied to each animal character and I begin to see a 3-dimensional quality begin to appear with the values as they develop.

Waterhole I6604The final painting is pleasing to the nature lover’s eye. Okay, my husband points out multiple times that you would never see that scene in real life. Killjoy, of course! I know that bears are not friends with moose, elk, fish, or anyone for that matter. Elk and deer are not buddies either, but all of that wildlife is beautiful to this artist so they are together in this painting. Logic does not always have to be present in an artistic adventure, silly boy. Both the originals sold.

Online Fearless Painting Class

Monochromatic Assignments
Monochromatic Assignments


I have not been known to be very fearful as far as my art is concerned, but I recently signed up for a class called Fearless Painting. What are my worst fears? Being an artist is what I am and always will be, but…

How do I sell the art that I am always creating?

After facing some “real” health issues, a lot of activities have had to be re-learned. It was noticeable that my creativity felt stymied. I really needed a little boost. This &#(@^$% quarantine is still in effect, so getting a weekly in-person class becomes impossible. I noticed that a friend of mine named Elise Beattie, from Spokane Watercolor Society was offering a two-hour online class on Tuesday nights through the Spokane Community College which I signed up for.

Fearless Painting with Elise Beattie

I am not quite finished with the acrylic “abstract” & a landscape of a “mountain view” that were started in last Tuesday night’s online Fearless Painting Class. We are using a primary color pallet allowing tinted MONOCHROMATIC values. Fun, fun, fun!  I love value studies.

Finishing Details on the Mural


Adding finishing details and final touches to this winter scene interior mural at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington. My scaffold gets packed up and I use the ladders to work on the last parts of this project. With my smallest brushes, I paint, then backup to see how the whole wall looks to me. This little step-back-and-look habit, always really helps me to change my perspective making it possible to see things I do not notice when I am close to the wall. After repositioning myself, I usually see missing items better.


Watch Out

Mountaintops in the winter can easily become an addictive thing. This whole project is quite an enjoyable one for me as I am painting from my own memories on the hill. There is absolutely nothing like spending the day speeding down a powdery hill feeling the cold wind kissing your face. Your eyes take in some of the best views on the planet as your heart races similar to being on a rollercoaster. If you have not tried skiing yet, don’t miss out on this wonderful experience in your life. You may find that winter will become your favorite time of year!

I tell you the truth, skiing is just about as much fun as you can have without breaking any laws.


Finishing Touches

I carefully add scattered groups of detail in larch and birch between the evergreens bringing a little realism into the whole impressionistic view. Stepping back, lets me notice that I am missing majestic tamarack trees both in the background and upfront. Next, some shrubbery is added at the tree bases using a rigger brush with dark browns and then adding snow on some of them. Some of the closest snow mounds receive a stroke of white to finish them up.


Standing back to get a better look, another missing ingredient comes to mind. I can’t forget to add little clumps of snow resting on the branches of the trees. If you knew our family, you’d know why that snow is important! Especially Patrick, who is known for sharing those clumps of snow with unsuspecting fellows on the slope. Okay, remember now that payback is the patient dude!

Wall “A” is a twenty-foot-long space and all details are complete now.

Finished 49 Mural Wall A first half Finished 49 Mural Wall A second half

Wall “B” is a forty-foot wide wall in three sections, having 2 columns and a doorway in it. It also has a rather large storage cabinet built into the corner behind the cash register. It was kind of tricky to figure out where to put the finishing details and not cause confusion or competition with the door or columns, and use of the benches. People tend to hang out and examine the details in a mural, so I try not to interfere with the business by drawing attention to the placement of details to areas away from traffic patterns if possible.

finished 49 Mural Wall B1 Finished 49 Mural Wall B2 Finished 49 Mural Wall B3

Wall “C” is now finished as the shortest twelve-foot wall that divides the nursery from the children’s club. The cash register counter is on the right where parents check-in with their children dropping them off for lessons on the hill.



When you are all finished with something, then you are “all pau” with it in Hawaii. This is simply a scrap of trivia information for those of you who enjoy collecting those little bits of trivia. I can’t wait to start skiing this season! Hope you can come up to 49 Degrees North to see the mural and let me know what you think. Time to pray for snow everyone!

Cape Disappointment Finished

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disap 10Finishing with the final steps on the cliff left side which needs more earth tones and detailing. I need to darken all the way down to where the water is splashing up onto the rocks. It is probably the highest contrast area of the painting. Cape Disap 11The lighthouse and other exterior buildings at the top of the cliff are rendered using grays and black for shadow and shape. Final adjustments throughout the rest of the painting are completed using red tones on the cliffside, and darker tones along each wave crest and the shoreline. All small touches are so important to give it that final “Zing” of movement and shape.

Commission is Finished

The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse on the cliff ridge alongside the mouth of the Columbia River (view taken from Waikiki Beach, Oregon).

Cape Disappoinment Lighthouse
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse I1717 22″w x 15.25″h watercolor on 300lb WC paper

Cape Disappointment 5

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse 5

Cape Disap 08To finish up this commission, my approach is to systematically address any blaring problems as I see them. From this point on, I typically add details to the most blaring areas first then proceed onto the next blaring area.

Cape Disap 09The first areas catching my attention are the two areas on the cliff where the mastic was applied. They are way too bright and have the wrong shapes. I apply a light wash of earth tones to both of those areas to bring both of their values more into line. Okay, now they seem less blaring.

Now, I carefully check and add shapes and colors as I see them from my reference images beginning with the middle areas and working my way out to the edges.

Cape Disappointment 4

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse 4

Cape Disap 06It is time to remove the mastic so I can get down to the details in painting this view. I start on the left side of the image. Do you see the crisp whites appear where the yellow once was in the wave breaking in the foreground?

Cape Disap 07Then we proceed to the right side till all of the mastics are removed. Not all areas that I am removing the watercolor resist from, were totally white when I applied the mastic. But, the stark white is especially noticeable in the cliff further away, but where some of the original light wash shows through in the front area it is not so bright.


Cape Disappointment 3

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse 3

Cape Disap 04The cliffs at the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse in Oregon are highlighted first with one of my favorite colors, Quinacridone Gold by Daniel Smith. I am replacing the colors I run out of with this brand whenever possible because the colors are so vibrant. To darken the cliffside in the areas that are recessed along the shore I use an earth tone created by mixing greens and reds. This color combo creates the best blacks, a great array of darkness.

The same blues used in the sky are then added to the ocean swells along with greens and purples to mark the darkest areas in the waves. Water always seems to reflect the sky so well.

Cape Disap 04The trees and shrubbery are next. I begin by drawing trees with a thin wash of light gray to show the furthest fading into the distance. Then, I add greens and browns in various amounts to brighten the trees and shrubs as they come closer. Closer is always brighter. If it is where the light is shining it becomes even brighter there.


Cape Disappointment 2

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse 2

Cape Disap 02Here is what the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse painting looks like with the mastic applied to all the areas I want to reserve. The resist is yellow, so don’t forget and think that the yellow is actually a paint that is on your paper. Now I will be able to wash colors into larger areas without worrying about ruining all the white areas for later.

Cape Disap 03I begin with a wet wash in the sky above the cliffs using mainly Cerulean blue real wet with swipes and drops of Ultramarine Blue. I want a clear blue sky with a couple of light clouds.

Cape Disappointment Commission


A watercolor of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is what my client wanted for their parents at Christmas. Here are some of the steps taken to create this painting. I received an example showing what they were thinking of but they wanted a warmer-looking day maybe with some sun.

rec'd from clientHere is a sunnier shot of the same area that had a great array of sunny colors in it.

sunnier shot Taking a look through my own photographs to find a shot taken of that same bay while we were on vacation on the coast of Oregon. This just so happened to be a beautiful sunny day when my husband and I hiked up to the lighthouse a few years ago with a couple of friends.

my own photographI began with a sketch made from my own photograph of the area, liking the wave layout much better. It seemed sunnier and welcoming with its pattern of currents.

Cape Disapp 01I quickly realized that I would not be able to preserve all the little areas of white without using some mastic (watercolor resist) to reserve the many areas and foam in the surf. I let the surface fully dry and then applied this mastic resist before I am able to proceed.

Ski Lift View

The Ski Lift view always takes my breath away. This is an oil rub-out painting entitled, SunThruSnowyTreesL804, which focuses on the sun rays shooting through trees early in the morning up at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington.

Sun Thru Snowy TreesOne of the most entertaining parts of skiing is the ski lift ride back up to the top of the hill. After putting some real effort out speeding through whatever terrain you are doing, you quickly slip into the lift entry gate to catch your breath. Then as you take your seat you experience a take-off into the tree heights. Up to a level where you can observe pristine quiet mountain views as you float over and through the treetops. It is a real meditation time with soft breezes and nature to the max. Some of the most peaceful and extravagantly beautiful skies and mountain scenes I have ever seen were from my seat on a ski lift. It never gets old.