Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sunrise - 8/30/08

We had our third sunrise photo jaunt this morning. As long as the Monsoon season is lasting it affords us the pleasure of sunrises that have been just spectacular so we have wanted to take advantage of them with the cameras. This morning saw us packing my tripod and a breakfast picnic and we headed out at 5:15 for our favorite nearby spot on the desert. No signs, no street lights, no rooftops, just sunrise on the desert horizon. Super!

These are just three of the 163 photos I took this morning. I also processed four new panorama shots which are on my Flickr site. They are the last four photos on this link: Stop by for a peek if you want to see some sunrise panoramic photos.

I shared these links Tuesday with one of my online groups and one of the artists stated "if God had wanted us to see the sunrise She would have scheduled it for later in the day"! I have to disagree with that notion. At sunrise, even on the desert, there is no dust or heat, all is fresh and renewed. It has been wonderful getting to take these jaunts this week.

I have to add, also, that we realized this morning that it was 39 years ago in July that as an engaged couple we sat on a cliff in LaJolla, overlooking the Pacific, and took sunset photos together. Of course this was with my little Instamatic heavy tripods, cameras, extra lenses, etc. But, the memory of doing that has not faded, nor has the appreciation of being together then as well as today....39 years later!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fishing Shack - Final!

After reading some extremely helpful critiques from the WcW on this, I made a few suggested changes to make those pesky reflections read more true to the scene and I noticed a post that should not have been in front of the deck and sent it to the back. Those extra sets of eyes are so invaluable to us all!

So, I am done with this and hope that it will stand on its own now. I like it and am proud of myself for finishing this challenging painting.

Fishing Shack - Possibly Final

I am pondering making one small change to this, but otherwise am awaiting critiques. I am in danger of "tweaking" it to death so will ponder awhile with this.

Whadya think?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Flickr Photos - 8/28/08

If you would be interested in seeing any of the other photos I entered into the Flickr site from this morning, just go to: to see the slideshow. The views this morining were even more spectacular than Tuesday's show, which I enjoyed so much! Stay tuned, because on Saturday, if conditions (clouds at the right place at the right time!) persist at sunrise, we will take a picnic breakfast and be out "there" again! The desert at sunrise at this time of the year can be so dramatic, so let's hope for the best. I have my camera, tripod and hopes all ready!

If you would like to see the panoramas I took this morning and have had the time to process, please go to: and choose the last two of this collection. I am trying to get good at these, trying is the operative word here! At least I am having a ball trying to get these right and I think I am inching toward that!

Sunrise - August 28, 2008

We too another sunrise photo jaunt this morning to take advantage of the partly cloudy sky when the sun is rising. This rosy color is spectacular. We had a great time again, this could be habit-forming!

I am working on two panoramas and will post the Flickr link to those later, be watching for them!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Prickly Pear in Burgundy

Barring any needed changes to this following critique by WcW, this is the final. It seems I have been working on this for so long, but it is only about nine days. Now, on to the fishing shack, from one challenge to another!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sunrise - August 26, 2008

Both my husband and I awoke early this morning. We enjoyed listening to the gentle rain that was still falling and also enjoyed having the doors open to let in such fresh, although humid air. About 5:15 my husband suggested we grab our cameras and head out to a good viewpoint in our community to take some sunrise photos since the clouds would make that more interesting. From there, we drove about a mile northwest and tried some other vistas. These are a few of the many photos I took this morning. I also tried out some panoramic shots but the files are too large to include here on the blog. If you would be interested in seeing them, they are the last two entries in my Panorama Set on the Flickr site: On my Flickr site are also a few more photos from this morning's desert jaunt. These have not been Photoshopped, though, so bear in mind that they were taken in low light! They are at:

We had such a nice time enjoying the freshly dampened desert, wish that temperature and freshness could continue through the day, but it will get hot and muggy shortly.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Prickly Pear Burgundy - WIP 3

I am at a stopping point with this so I can consider/reconsider the value shifts on this one so thought I'd do another WIP of it. After making a few adjustments (mainly at the lower left quadrant) I will remove all the masking and start modeling all those (gasp) sticker clumps. Then I will scratch out the biggest of the thorns that come from the fruit and sides of the cactus pads. If anyone sees anything bothersome at this point, that can't be assumed to be fixed next, please holler!

What I like so far is the extreme sunshine-y look to it, as all cactus should have. Goodness knows this cactus gets enough sunshine!

Bayou Shack - WIP 1

My friend, Carol Kennedy, provided me with this photo from her brother, who has given permission for me to paint from his photos. Since she is such a good friend and her brother is such a good photographer and gracious with his permission, I cannot refuse her request (comment below) to show the WIPs of this painting. I have misgivings showing it at this messy stage, however! It is also at the stage where I have to force myself to go forward since it doesn't look like it will amount to much, but I usually just need to let it mature a bit and keep working on it and they eventually do turn out fine. I just don't like these early stages.

Carol's brother, Fred Reed, lives on his boat and travels around all the navigable waterways both foreign and domestic, and takes great out-of-the-way photos. This one just blew me away. I have not drawn on any of the wonderful cast shadows from the slatted deck cover and the great value shifts in the photo, so hopefully this will come alive when I can start adding those. This is my change of pace painting from the Prickly Pear painting I am working on at the same time.

Next, I will fine tune the foliage a bit and make the shoreline and waterline more like the photo than it is now. Then, I can get rid of that distracting masking tape and start working on the shack - great weathered wood and cast shadows!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Prickly Pear Burgundy WIP 2

I have the masking applied for the eventual sticker clumps on all of these pads and fruit. Whew! While they look rather "measly" right now I think that once the clumps are modeled properly they will look better, the masking is all one color so that makes everything look so one-dimensional. The light green color you see on the pads will be the lightest of the lights in this painting.
I will next paint all the glazes of the burgundy-colored fruit. I want these to be the center of focus so want to establish those completely so I can judge better how dark to go with the cast shadows and modeling shadows of the pads.
I received a wonderful, totally different-than-cactus reference photo from artist buddy Carol Kennedy that just is calling me to paint it RIGHT NOW! So, in an effort to slow down on this cactus painting and allow complete drying between glazes, I will start that one and see how well my brain will shift gears from a Southwest cactus to painting a Bayou shack on the water...both at the same time! Sometimes I wonder about myself, but if we never challenge ourselves we will never realize our potential, huh? Makes sense to me....I can't claim this idea of working on more than one painting at one time as being an original one of mine, but during a demo by my cactus-painting-hero Vicki Reed she said she always has three or more paintings going at once in her studio because she applies so many glazes to each shape and having more than one to work on allows her to let them all dry properly between glazes. Her cactus colors are so vivid, yet pure, that I have to adopt her method of getting the gusto of the colors without the mud you get if you don't let them dry between glazes. So, we move forward.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Prickly Pear Burgundy - WIP 1

I've started my larger version of the Prickly Pears I did the study for last week. As usual, when I do a study I often do an about-face and change my mind about how I want the finished version to appear, but then I guess that is the beauty of doing a smaller study first. The critiques I received for the small study convinced me to change the placement of the fruit for better composition so I did that. Also, these fruit change color from the pink to a deep burgundy as they ripen in the hot sun so I decided to do the fruit in the more current color of burgundy than when I took the ref photo. I chose a purple underpainting to set the values of this since it seems to be a more natural shadow color.

The image size of this painting is 18x30, which will go into an existing 24x36 frame. Watercolor on Arches 140-lb paper.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Susan in the Bushes!

After hearing all about the flood early Sunday morning in the Supai part of the canyon, I thought I would show you the rapidly- moving water behind me. I worked my way to the river side of these bushes, stood on a rock that was not 6-inches away from that water and tried to get a better angle upriver. Tom snapped my photo. Just so you know, that was one of my "Alaska" shirts!
I really do feel badly for all those people who had to be evacuated from the canyon, as narrow and deep as this was in this canyon, I can readily see how dangerous that could get when a flash flood happens. So, I am thankful this is a photo of me in the bushes instead of hanging from a rope, being carried up by a helicopter!

Grand Canyon Adventure - August 16, 2008

Several years ago my husband read a newspaper article about a road to drive down to the Colorado River through part of the Grand Canyon. He more recently researched this and found the road which can be accessed through the small town of Peach Springs, AZ. We stayed in a great RV park near Kingman, and drove to Peach Springs, found the road and started our adventure. This is a primitive road that is on the Hualapi Reservation, and we were not aware that this meant one needs a Special Use Permit to drive over this road, but were told of this by a tour group driver who was in the area with a group. We were soon surprised by a member of the tribe who offered to issue a permit to us when she found we did not have one. This matter was accomplished, to the tune of $32.10 (don't ask me where they came up with that extra 10 cents when the price was already exorbitant!) and we were again on our way toward the river. From the moment we found this road, our trip was punctuated by my exclamations of "oh wow!" every time we rounded a curve. The vistas were magnificent, the weather and lighting perfect for photos, and the scenery was majestic to see in all directions. We decided that the photos we took (over 450) as well as the wonderful day we had all helped to assuage the high price of driving on this road and we are so glad we went.
We arrived back to our RV park at 3:00 PM, but the clouds were rolling in to the canyon as we were leaving. Unfortunately, upriver from where we were a dam burst early the next morning and caused evacuations of another part of the canyon. This was on the Havasupai Reservation, we had been on the Hualapai Reservation, but it was the same Grand Canyon and same Colorado River, chilling thought! In seeing how the part of the river was where we were, I can see how this would happen as the water was running swiftly and deeply as it was, with an earthen dam bursting and the water being 8-feet above flood level it must have been frightening for sure.

I will include some teaser photos here on the blog, but if you would like to see many more from this trip I have created a set in my Flickr site. The link to this album is: The burros are some wild burros living in the area. They were the only wildlife we saw, other than many hawks, on this jaunt. But, seeing the terrain and underbrush we were in made me thankful that we did not see some of what I am sure are present as wildlife in this area, i.e. mountain lions and rattlesnakes to be specific!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Prickly Pear Study - Final

I finished this study at the watercolor session at the Art Club yesterday. I wanted to model all the patches of stickers on the cactus pads as well as try out Vicki Reed's method of adding those long, lethal thorns that grow from the Prickly Pear fruit. I like a lot of things about this painting so will proceed with the larger version already drawn onto paper. I especially like the cast shadows, those always add so much to a painting.
This was a study to work out any problems and try some techniques before starting on the large one. So far, so good!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Prickly Pear Study - WIP 2

I am at my stopping point for today. I darkened the cast shadows on the cactus pads (chromium oxide green with a little sap green here and there and some Royal Amethyst [dioxazine purple] dropped in just for the fun of it).

Not being much of a "detail" person this one is going to be a bit much for me to properly cast all those sticker shadows to show where they are in all those clusters on the cactus pads, but I want to do it to add to the realism a bit and I love the dark colors against that sunlit green. I've already done a few of those in some of the fruit stickers and think what I am doing will work. I also need to soften a few of the modeling shadow edges and continue adding modeling shadows to the fruit. This one and the large one it is a study for should keep me occupied for quite awhile!

Prickly Pear Study - WIP 1

Since I like to update my blog more frequently than I have this past week I will add my current WIP. This is a quarter-sheet study for a larger (14x30) painting I already have drawn onto paper and waiting for me to work out the problems in this study, first.

I have the lighter colors of the underpainting done so I can establish location of everything and now I get to do the fun part; making it more alive by the addition of the darker modeling shadows and the even more exciting cast shadows. Now, we can all have something different to look at than the Supai Falls, enough already!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Supai Falls - Revisited

Every time I pass this painting, still on the painting board, I think it needs something so today I went in and added a few more darks here and there as well as lifted out some lights in a few places. Now that I see them near each other on the blog, I will probably see that I didn't do enough to make much difference. But, I am weary of this one so will put it away and continue on with my rose still life. That one is less exciting to me, also. Must be the dog days of summer, where it is hard to get excited about painting anything. Maybe I could paint something I really like if I were sitting under a pine tree somewhere where it was cool! Yeah, that's the ticket. We will be venturing out in the motorhome in another week or so for a short trip to a slightly cooler, higher elevation place so I'll let you know if that helps! In the meantime, I will keep painting on this rose that is looking suspiciously muddy to me already.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Supai Falls

This is another of my entries submitted for the Watercolor Workshop monthly project, this month's is waterfalls. These have been difficult for me but the more I do, the better I get, so will keep on keepin' on.

Supai Falls is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and this photo was provided by Marvelous Marvin, a guide there who has trekked the canyon many times. He and his wife, Magnificent Maggie, shared a CD of canyon photos with me so I could paint from them. Cool, huh?