May 31, 2012

Rainy day watercolours

Beltie gathering place, 7x9½" watercolor
I lived in England 1952-1956. Years passed and in 1985, en route to London, I began laughing as the plane I was on landed at Gatwick. My travel companion asked, “What’s so funny?”

“It’s still raining,” I replied.

One nice thing about painting watercolors en plein air on damp days and in high humidity is that the paint stays wet. Both of these paintings stayed damp long enough for me to lay down saturated grounds before later going in with the calligraphy that defines everything. Wanting to get some fuzziness to the cows, I laid in some calligraphy for them when the paper was only partially dry. Because there is drying time in this style watercolor between the soft ground coat and the hard-edge calligraphy, I rarely include in these paintings people, animals, motor vehicles; anything that moves.
Click to see the third calligraphic watercolor I did outside The Belted Goat (also at Fearrington Village).

p.s. Do you think Prince Charles would accept a plein air invitation? :-) I know he paints in watercolour.
The Roost at Fearrington Village, 7x9½" watercolor

May 30, 2012

Strength in numbers

Beltline 1, 3x9" watercolor

When I look at just one of these, I see mostly black and green marks. When I look at all of them, I see a herd of cows; specifically, Belted Galloway cows, otherwise known as “Oreo Cows.” I drove all the way up to Fearrington Village near Pittsboro, NC yesterday, not only to participate in a paint out, but to deliver to a customer what may be the last of my Old Well watercolors. I had my oils with me, but with a thunderstorm threatening, the sun couldn’t stay out from behind a cloud for more than minutes at a time. Oh well, scratch the oils, I love painting the “Belties” at Fearrington Village.

When I say strength in numbers, I am often reminded of something photographer Annie Leibovitz once said.  She felt the strength of her photos lie not in any one photo she’s taken, but in her collection of photos.

Down and Up, 4x6" watercolor

A Pepto Bismol™ moment, 4x6" watercolor

Facing West, 4x6" watercolor

Heads and Tail, 4x6" watercolor

Ring Around the Rosie, 4x6" watercolor

Shakin’ Tail, 4x6" watercolor

The Lone Oreo, 3x3" watercolor

Two down, one to go, 4x6" watercolor

Playing doubles, 4x6" watercolor

Two’s company, three’s a crowd, 4x6" watercolor

Wide belts are in, 4x6" watercolor
Beltline 2, 3x9" watercolor

May 22, 2012

Raleigh stops

Sarah Charlotte and Taylor, 16x12" oil on canvas
Monday was a made-to-order day for plein air painting. It was not, however, my intention to paint yesterday. First on my agenda was delivering a freshly painted informal portrait [commission] to dear friend Ed Davis, who tonight will gift the painting to his wife Pam for their 30th wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary Ed and Pam!!

Ed and I grabbed a quick lunch at my favorite, The Roast Grill, then I was off to drop new works off at The Little Art Gallery. Mentioning I might just go to a movie before a commitment that evening, gallery owner Rosanne reminded me of some Raleigh hot spots I might consider painting.

I’ve painted Hayes Barton Pharmacy and other haunts in the Five Points neighborhood before, but this may be my favorite of the ones I’ve done. I love the prettiness of the pastel colors. The painting will soon join the other works I have at Raleigh’s Little Art Gallery.
Hayes Barton at Five Points, 7x9½" watercolor

May 16, 2012

Genteel Garden Party

Garden Party, 7x9½" watercolor (sold)

Garden Party 2, 8½x5½ watercolor
I’m currently listening to the audiobook, Luncheon of the Boating Party, written about the painting of the same name by French impressionist painter Auguste Renoir. This has inspired me to want to do a large oil painting that has this same festive quality. So when milliner Jewel Sauls mentioned an upcoming garden party that would take place next door to her here in Goldsboro, I all but invited myself (with camera) to attend. The party was in honor of soon-to-be-man-and-wife, couple Charles Parson Gaylor, IV and Sarah Jane Powers. Jewel and her daughter Emily, being milliners as well as the co-owners of Chapeau Chateau, gave me reason to believe that ladies in fabulous hats and gentlemen in their finest garb would be in attendance. This was pretty much what I found when I attended the black tie engagement party that Jewel and husband Randy plus twenty or so other couples hosted at parents of the groom, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Parson Gaylor, III.
Wow!  This kind of writing of possibly Goldsboro’s social event of the year takes me back to the days of “Teen Topics”, a weekly column in our Goldsboro New Argus where we as teenagers could read who was at what party the week prior. Youch! The angst of growing up in Debutante Land!

May 15, 2012


Two cows walking, 4x6" watercolor
Guinea hens on the run, 4x6" watercolor
Someday, I’m going to wake up and say, “Today, I will create a masterpiece.” Today is not that day. Most days are spent practicing my craft. Painting barn animals on the loose is practicing my craft. It’s important to look at shapes, particularly when your subject matter is moving. These guinea hens, for instance, are nothing but round shapes with tiny little heads and sticks for legs. How many times do I hear, “I can’t even draw a stick figure”? A stick figure is the essence of a figure, so in my most humble opinion, there’s much to be said for drawing stick figures.

May 8, 2012

It’s [more than] the cows

Mug shots, 3 ½ x 3 ½" watercolor
Of course, it is the nature of women to nurture. So no doubt this has much to do with not being the first time in my painting escapades that I’ve come across a woman caring for animals. The first time, you may recall, was a year ago when I visited Mary Ellen’s Sea Biscuit Animal Shelter on Oak Island. Click “Pelican Pause” to review.

The color made her blush, 4x6" watercolor
Last Tuesday a paint out with PAINT NC led me to Genesis Farm near Chapel Hill, where Trudy Matheny runs a farm as well as a non-profit organization called NC WOLAN, acronym for NC Women of the Land Agricultural Network. If you’re interested in reading more about women in agriculture, do visit their website.

Those who know me know how much I love animals. Trudy’s animals, many of which were rescued, include three cows named Sister, Moozart, and Charlie, a miniature horse, Patches, a goose named Touilly and scores of chickens. Picturesque as the farmland was, it wasn’t difficult for me to prioritize painting the animals over doing a landscape here. I'll be sharing more of my barnyard animal paintings in future blog posts. I’ve already shared three of them on my Hot Off the Easel blog. Just click here to see.
One tail wagging, 4x6" watercolor

May 6, 2012

View of the torri from the sunroom

Alouise’s sunroom, 7 x 9½" watercolor
Loved this view of the torii in the garden outside friend Alouise’s sunroom. It wasn’t raining; those are my calligraphic marks to indicate glass. Notice the bamboo vase on the table at left. There are touches of Japanese influence throughout Alouise’s charming home (and garden).

May 2, 2012


Alpha Chi Omega, 7x9.5" watercolor
Both currently sorority houses in North Carolina. Alpha Chi Omega, is connected to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Sigma Kappa Sorority, to North Carolina State University. These are the sixth and seventh Greek houses I’ve painted. The former TKE at NC State, plus Chi Psi, Phi Gam, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Alpha Delta Pi in Chapel Hill are the others.

I’ve actually painted Greek to Me twice. TKE at NC State now houses Sigma Kappa sorority. The painting will receive whatever Greek letters are requested by the buyer of this painting.
Greek to Me, 7x9.5" watercolor