Monday, December 28, 2020

This is a painting from a few years ago that is a test to see how to insert a photo into my blog again. Its been so long since I have done it I'm a bit rusty.

This was the last painting I did that I actually felt good about.
 

 As I revisit this blog, I am ashamed to see how many YEARS it has been since I last posted here. This is my effort to restart my badly interrupted art journey and reconnect with my former passion for watercolor. 

As a short recap, following the caregiving of my husband and eventual loss, I tried to get back into painting once again. In the following years I had hand surgery, knee replacement surgery and the caregiving/loss of my brother, all of which precluded my physical ability to do art, to say nothing of the emotional hits to my motivation and inspiration.

I made several attempts to restart my watercolors, but felt I had lost so many of my skills and instincts for it that I got discouraged and didn't pour much effort into it for a long time. Then in late 2018 I had a failure of my mitral valve which put me into heart failure and on the list for valve replacement surgery. Unfortunately, at that time I also had double pneumonia, so had to get cleared of that before surgery. Delays were many, and on March 16, 2019, the valve ruptured. Fortunately, I was in the emergency room with severe fatigue and shoulder pain at the time and emergency care was rendered to help me survive the night and the following night I had open heart valve replacement surgery. After 24 days in ICU and three weeks in a rehab facility, I was able to come home. I had to have help for weeks and weeks, but finally began to be able to live independently. I am sharing this much detail with you in order to explain the REASONS I have not been painting. From here on out these reasons should only be considered to be EXCUSES, as I have recovered as much as I will and should be physically able to get back to my paintings. Then, the Covid situation started early this year and I had more excuses for not painting, at a time when I have all the time in the world, isolated in my home. 

How does one get the passion for art fires burning when it has been so long? I have started by cleaning both my watercolor and artisan jewelry studios and revisiting what I have accomplished in the past. The cleaning brought me great satisfaction, the revisiting the accomplishments not so much. Very discouraging to see what I accomplished in the past versus what I feel I an capable of currently!

I plan to drag out my Yupo paper, which in the past has been a forgiving and inspiring medium in the past. I will post whatever I produce, with the hopes of kicking my artistic butt to learn again the joys of watercolor. I have accepted that I will never be 100 percent back my former physical self, but I feel I should be able to muster the strength to achieve that for my artistic and emotional status?! If you are a former follower of my blog and get notifications of my entries, please comment that you are still with me and offer any insights into my current, sad, unmotivated situation. 

I hope you all found some joy in this different holiday season and will stay healthy. Living in Arizona means I am living in one of  the nation's hot spots for the virus and plan to stay safe as much as possible, so should use this alone time more wisely and productively than I have so far.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hooray!

I met with my hand surgeon, who knows how long I have needed but been unable to have this surgery. He is ready to go, and has scheduled my surgery for this coming Thursday, July 24th! I am so looking forward to getting this hand to be less painful and more functional! I know it will be very painful post-surgery, but then I can look forward to a more happy hand and get back to doing what I love...my art! Updates will be posted, one-handed, as I can!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I see it has been six months since I last posted here. It has been such a  mementous six months in our lives. My Tom was hospitalized and rehospitalized for a total of 50 days after my last post. He passed away on May 9th. I have spent the months since in a whirl of business/estate details and lots of soul-searching. As for the past two years, I did very little painting, even less now as I handle all of these details involved when one's spouse dies. I am nearing the end of these estate issues and have been very proud of the fact that I have done everything correctly, it seems, and can get on with my life as it is to be from now on.

I feel that I am in a good place now, over the numbness, disbelief and worst of the painful grieving. I still have my moments, for sure, but they are becoming more bearable. I have to thank all of my faithful friends, of which I have been blessed with many, for helping me through this. Most especially, I thank my twin sister, Sandy, who has been with me so often when I needed her presence. My brother, sister and I took a one-week roadtrip to Texas to visit with oour many cousins there, and that trip provided a wonderful break from all I had been dealing with at home. It was a great rebonding time for we siblings.

I have to have hand surgery soon on my right (dominant) hand, so will probably not be able to paint for awhile once that happens, but do want to return to my more prolific times when I was increasing my painting skills more rapidly. Now, I feel I have lost a lot of skills and instincts after over two years of not painting very much at all.

Please hang in there with me as I work to recover what I have lost in my art. I promise to work on this blog more often, even if it is to show what I am working on, finished or not. Maybe that will allow me to be mroe disciplined?

Blessings to you all...Susan

Friday, January 31, 2014

Maryann's Sunset


This is a painiting for which I used Maryann Watkins special photograph taken at sunset at the Desert Botanical Gardens. I exercised my "artistic license" quite a bit with this since there was no path such as this in the photo, nor was the horizon this shape. What I tried to do was to capture, instead, the moody colors of this particular sunset. I also liked the shadowy blues in the cholla in her photo, so I accented those here. Thanks again to Maryann for her permission to paint from another of her excellent photos.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

ArtChix Sale Yesterday



Yesterday I participated in my art group's (ArtChix) art show/sale. It was well-attended, I was especially honored to have an old high school friend attend. It was great touching bases with each other again. An added bonus was my twin sister, Sandy, was there to spend the day with me while we "sat the show". So, Maryann Watkins, Sandy and I had a reunion of sorts. I sold three paintings and enjoyed meeting so many people who appreciated our group's art work.

Maryann was taking photos of my display while there and posted some of them on Facebook. We had a great day.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

New Book Review - #365slowcooker

As you can see on my sidebar, I find interesting, non-art related sites that I visit regularly. While anything slow-cooking related has nothing to do with painting, I have learned so much from Setphanie O'Dea's series of slowcooker cookbooks and recipes on her blog, which allows me to prepare dinner at the same time I am painting!

Stephanie's latest cookbook is 365 Slow Cooker Suppers and is chocked full of exciting recipes. One of the many things I appreciate is that she covers just about any specific ethnicities you could think of in this book, from Mexican to Chinese and beyond. I love cooking with recipes from other cultures, it makes our every-day meals more exciting, for sure. Tonight, we will have slow cooker Chiles Rellenos!

It is available at Amazon and other bookstores. I ordered it for my Kindle since I like to take all of my cookbooks with me when we travel in our motorhome. I definately endorse this book, but fair warning here...when reading it you will have to deal with salivating over the recipes and excellent photos!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Maryann's Butterfly

A big thank you to Maryann Watkins for sharing her excellent photo from her trip to a butterfly refuge.

This is a small (7 x 5) painting in watercolor. I would not want any entomologist to check the butterfly out for anatomical correctness, for the reason I wanted to paint this was to use the wonderful complementary colors in the photo in a painting. Still trying to find my groove again!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Red Cabbage


I must be in a purple phase or something. This is the first in a series of small (5x7) paintings I am doing to get ready for our first ArtChix sale of the year in November. I want to do some vegetables and fruits since I think small ones would fit nicely into a kitchen corner and add some color. I also am doing some sweet 5x7 paintings of flowers, etc. Good to be painting for a goal again. Might keep me painting more.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Funky Cactus

 
I have been working on this one for a couple of weeks; got it to the point where I can see if there is anything else I want to do before removing it from the painting board and matting it. I was in the mood to paint something with funky colors and chose this subject. I am trying to get my painting groove back after not painting very much for so long, I sure was more confidant in my painting before I took my "sabbatical" from it, a lot of my instincts have not come back yet. But, I am enjoying it and will keep on keepin' on with it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Finally, a painting!

So far this summer I have been working on ATCs (Artists Trading Cards) for a group I was invited to join. I have now completed them, and wanted to do a larger painting again. I am helping a friend learn to paint in watercolors so used this demo painting for my first larger-than-cards painting.

I have also started on a funky cactus painting, which I like so far. I'll post a WIP when I get just a bit further along.

Saturday, May 25, 2013





We have our neighbors' flag here, amidst the sunset contrails of jets from Luke Air Force Base which trains those who protect us all. I wish peace and comfort to all those who have lost those in the trials of our freedom. I will be forever grateful and blessed to live in a free country, made possible by those who have given so much. God bless America!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cowgirl Up! Visit






 These nine art friends and I visited the "Cowgirls Up!  exhibit.

We carpooled to Wickenburg, AZ for this exhibit, which left all of us "artists" both inspired and intimidated" for our work! But, we all enjoyed the integrity of the art at this Los Caballeros Museum exhibit, so we all went away happy. Then, on to Anita's, a wonderful and traditional lunch stop for our museum visit for Cowgirl's Up exhibits through the years.  We always love the camaraderie and food there after a very inspiring tour through the Cowgirl Up exhibit. Personally, I can only refer anyone visiting there to the "Chiles Rellenos" there, as they are "to die for"! Many of these women are my therapy "every-Thursday-watercolor-group" which I meet with so these are my main choice of friends with whom to visit these exhibits with whenever possible. They are the best, and the main sources of my laughter/fun/therapy and support!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ocotilla - 2013

Every year our huge Ocotilla gets prettier and prettier. This year I am taking a photo as most of the blooms have opened up now. We had a tremendous windstorm last week which blew quite a few of the blooming spikes off, but we still have lots. Love it!

I have painted this once when it was a lot younger, may need to do that again, I just love the colors of the blooms.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A-Z Visit

 Aubrey and Zane came to visit last Thursday and we had such fun! Aubrey was in her princess dress when they arrived, and very much looked the part.

Aubrey had been given a pair of flip-flops that had blingy peace signs on them. When the shoes broke her Mom suggested they cut them off and bring them for Aubrey and Grandma to make jewelry from when they visited. The results were quite stunning, or at least Aubrey and I thought so!

We made jewelry and we painted. Zane was not so impressed with his first painting session with Grandma as his sister was at hers, but he tolerated it just fine. He was too busy running around our patio and sinking baskets with his ball.

Being a Grandma is such a hoot!





Friday, March 22, 2013

Taos Shadows






This is a painting I finished (?) yesterday at the Thursday afternoon watercolor group painting session/therapy session/comedy club. My reference was an excellent photo by Terry Dekker at Paint my Photo. I loved those shadows! I need to paint more, I lost my passion for this project because I took so long between painting sessions on it.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Colorado Barn - WIP 3

I am calling this WIP 3 since I haven't completely decided if it is finished yet, or not. I like it the way it is, but maybe I have missed something?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Colorado Barn - WIP 2


In the interest of maintaining some artistic integrity here, I am posting the WIP 2 of this painting, although I am hardly proud of this stage. It was not until I took a photo of this that I saw the wonkiness (new word) of the barn roof line and the one window. Why can we not see these things in our own paintings IRL that we see in a photo or in others'?! This is yet another example of why we should paint every day instead of just once a week. You lose your skills! While I haven't managed painting every day this week, I have taken two opportunities to work on this one, and will take it to my art group this afternoon and paint for my weekly painting that I always try to accomplish.

I have added the darkest darks and have started adding more darks to the depths of the background. I will next try to correct that roof line of the barn and window. Grrr!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Colorado Barn - WIP 1

I decided to add some more WIPs to my blog, so here goes with my current one. This is from a photo I took from the highway traveling from Pagosa Springs, CO to Chama, NM two years ago. I have been wanting to get back into more sepia paintings since I enjoy those so much; so this is a quarter-sheet study for what I hope will be a larger painting, maybe half-sheet at least. I did this totally wet-in-wet and like to set the lights and mid tones first, then go back and refine those tones once I get the darkest darks added. This barn has some very dark areas in it so I will work on those next, before doing anything else with the rest of the painting. I like the looseness of this so far.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Painting Left-Handed

I am placing this painting on the left side of the blog since I painted it left-handed. The January project for the Watercolor Workshop was to paint this photo with your non-dominant hand. I decided to try this, and was it ever a challenge! I didn't realize how right-handed I was! To add to the challenge, this was painted on stretched canvas which was treated with Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground. This has such an abstract look to it, really doesn't look much like the reference photo.

I did like the photo a lot, so I think I will try it with my RIGHT hand, on watercolor paper and a larger size.

Friday, January 04, 2013

New Year's Eve Surprise

 Our son, Ben and his longtime fiance surprised everyone with the announcement they were getting married on New Year's Eve. We found this out the Saturday night before New Year's Eve Monday! It all turned out well, the ceremony was nice and we are all happy. We welcome Deb and her two daughters into our family officially, although they have been one with us all along.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Remember Our Freedom Fighters

While checking out some of my fav blogs this morning, I found a wonderful poem on Coni Kornell's blog. It truly says a lot that we should all think of more often than we do in my opinion.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas




This painting from the past is for all my cyber friends and family...I send best wishes for a blessed Christmas and blessings for 2013.

Many of us have endured less than perfect health and prosperity in 2012, so please join me in prayers and positive thoughts for the best of new years.

Giverney - WIP 1


Thanks to Joan Hahn-Widman for sharing this photo of Monet's garden and allowing me to paint from it. I still have lots to do, clean up, etc. with this. I didn't have my reference photo with me last Thursday so I didn't dare go too far on my own and there is still much to do. I am painting this on Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground over regular canvas, the first attempt to use this ground. So far, it acts very much like cold press watercolor paper and I am enjoying it so far. Those odd things that look like green and blue ducks, will actually become (hope, hope) lily pads, but I needed my reference photo to get the shading and highlights correctly done. This watercolor ground allows you to lift back to almost white in most cases.

Thursday, December 13, 2012






I received this e-mail joke in the mail this morning and thought it so funny that I will share it here. This may not be so much of a joke for me, though, since I have done no decorating at all and may not do any this year. Since our kids won't be coming and there won't be any little ones to miss a tree, I may skip that part of the holidays.

I hope that you and yours have the best of holidays and a safe and prosperous new year.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I finished this painting of Lin Frye's excellent photo during the watercolor session Thursday afternoon. I just love to go in, drawing-less, and splash and dab paint! I used a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for lifting the sunbeams. Might have overdone this just a tad, but it worked!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Lin's Sunrise - WIP

I have chosen, with her permission, another of Lin Frye's wonderful photos. She took several sunrise photos recently and I was impressed with the rich sunbeams she captured.

I didn't draw any of this, choosing instead to just go in with my bristly brush and add layers of blobs as the first wash began to dry a bit. I love how it granulated in all the right areas.

Next, I will add the suggestions of tree trunks here and there and then start lifting to try to re-create those sunbeams.

We had such a fun time at our art session yesterday, where I started this painting. We actually do accomplish some artwork during these sessions; but more than anything we have FUN!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cairo Rose

This is yet another attempt to develop a negative painting skills set. I think this is the closest I have come in achieving this goal I have set for myself. Having said that, I know I have so very far to go before I can make this appear as I have it in my head.

This is a Cairo Rose Hibiscus, I had two of these wonderfully colorful blossoms before the frost damaged it beyond resuscitation, so I am glad I captured the photo while I could.

Watercolor, 11 x 15, Arches 140-lb

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Negative Sunflowers

Negative Sunflowers, a study of Lin Frye's inimitable negative painting techniques. I say inimitable because I can come nowhere  near her wonderful paintings. But, I am showing it here to show I am still painting, just not as much or as often as I would like.

I find it so difficult to wrap my brain around this technique; I find it time-consuming and often frustrating. I am wondering why it is so important to me to "get" this technique? Maybe I will add some negative painting techniques in a positive painting, not try to do a whole painting with this technique...yeah, that's what I'll do.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Ruth Knowles

I was saddened this morning to hear of the sudden passing of Ruth Knowles. She was a very good artist who served as President of the Arizona Artists Guild for several years recently. Ruth faithfully led the AAG through the turbulent years of struggling to get our permanent building built, and saw it through its first year of existence.

If you would like to see some of her work, click here, she painted many pears in many different media and compositions. She called herself "The Pear Lady". 

Ruth, you will be missed.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Vicki's Lotus - WIP 3

Well, I got to add the yellow blossom colors yesterday, and now will try to finish this by nitpicking it a bit here and there. I need to define the leaves a bit more as well as do some edge control here and there. But, I was very happy to see some yellow in this!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vicki's Lotus - WIP 2

I still have more to do with the background, but decided to show another WIP before I continue. So far, so good; but I am still hoping to see some of the yellow lotus blossom emerge, soon!