Art Mistake #2: Washing it all wrong

If you’re going to go wet in wet, do it at once, on crisp, virgin watercolor paper. Or, wait until your first color is dry and then go at it again.

If you are impatient, like me always, and you decide to blend in another color, don’t be wimpy about it…use enough pigment. If you’re like me, you’ll tend to add a wash that has too much water to pigment ratio. And the result will be mud. A wimpy mud.

Look how  my wimpy, impatient wash in the background ruined the luminosity of this painting I did of yet another cherry blossom leaf thing.

You can successfuly blend two complimentary colors (colors that across from each other on the color wheel) without it turning it to mud. You can get amazing shades of grey. Or, you can get awesome blends of one color that is subdued and enhanced by the compliment. But be patient and bold.

It’s been a long time since I played with a watercolor style in oil painting- using lots of gamsol solvent. Somehow I think oil paint will be more forgiving – as it always is- when you’re doing your washes. I think if anything, if you go too aggressive with your solvent, you’ll just end up wiping off what you put down but you won’t end up with this awful mud stain thing.

And acrylic, man. That one is a tough cookie. I know people say you can use it like watercolor or like oils. But I think it’s very, very easy to do the wash thing wrong with acrylics, which is why acrylic has this bad reputation with me for being difficult and not looking as good as oil and watercolor. You best wait till that layer is dry before going again with another glaze in acrylics.

Design I Like: Alice McCall

This is my dream dress: pink and floraly and frilly.

Those dusty pink ruffles…💞 @alicemccallptyltd

A photo posted by Kerrie Hess Illustrator (@kerriehessillustration) on

Not sure who the designers are in these last few but I love the pattern and colors in all of them!

Le petit princess @mackenziefoy

A photo posted by @jillandjordan on

Saturday dress flicks 💃💃#saturday #weekendfun

A photo posted by Jaase Designs 🌵 (@jaase_au) on

Art Mistake #1: Getting ahead of yourself

Art Mistake #1: Getting too attached to one section of a painting. This is happens when you start working on one part of a painting and you get “ahead” of the rest of the painting. Like I did when I started going overboard and painting in all the details of the petals- I ended up making the blossoms too dark and too strong for the overall composition.

This also commonly happens when your foreground is really detailed and fully modeled, and the background doesn’t really feel cohesive and fully integrated with the foreground. You get so excited that you leave the background behind.

Ways to avoid it:

Don’t get too attached. I do this all the time. I fall in love with one color, or one texture, or the certain way the something looks. Be bold and willing to paint over something if needed to make the whole thing work.

Keep squinting and zoom in and out. This helps you check the overall relationships.

Early on, use a large brush and paint general areas of light and dark rather than trying to get so precise about the lines and shapes. Think of paint as stains at this point, so you’re not going too heavy on the paint.

Girl with Pigtails and Roses (and a Pearl Earring)


Have you seen Girl with a Pearl Earring, based on the famous Vermeer painting?

Oh man, I thought Colin Firth, was at his best as my movie Husband, Mr Darcy, in Pride and Prejudice, but he has never looked better than when he portrayed the artist Vermeer in this movie. Scarlett Johansson is great in this movie too.

There’s several interesting scenes for artists.

The way that they make paint with ground powder of different pigments.

Contemporary artist Anna Valdez also uses pigments to create her custom oil paints. I think this is a bit too messy and potentially environmentally unfriendly for me to risk:

Raw pigments – Ultramarine Violet, Ultramarine Red and Titanium Grey. @sinopia_pigments

A photo posted by Anna Valdez (@missannavaldez) on

The beautiful, beautiful northern facing window lighting that is evident in all of Vermeer’s work. It also makes the perfect lighting for photography. My house has no northern facing windows. Sad face.

The camera obscura tool that Vermeer uses to help him draw accurate compositions. I’d like one too!


Pink Bougainvillea


Generally I think that Portland has some of the best flowers in all of the United States. There’s a reason it is nicknamed the Rose City- and Portland’s great not just roses. From the early hellebores, to the brilliant camellias, to the spring peonies, there’s a flower for all my heart’s desire in nearly all seasons. One thing that I am missing out on are the perfectly PINK bougainvillea that grows in California. The pink is so vibrant, it almost seems artificial.


Here I tried to take some pictures with a won’t sit still for the camera three year old.



These are taken with my brother in law’s Canon 5d Mark II and Sigma 80MM 1.4f lens. Add both to my wish list. I normally would say digital is inferior to film, but it’s like every shot is freaking brilliant on that combo. OK time to buy a Megabucks ticket.

Oregon Coast: Lincoln City and Fogarty Creek

About a year ago, my friend Rachel from Pittsburgh visited and we took her to the Central Oregon Coast, near Lincoln City.


Lincoln City is awesome and has lots of commerce to appeal to tourists but for whatever reason is not as crowded as Seaside – and I like it that way. On that stretch of 101, there are so many great beaches to choose from. Where I grew up, on the East Coast, getting familiar with your neighbors is an inevitable part of beachgoing (unless you’re rich and own a waterfront property). But here in Oregon, it’s fabulous. I mean such wide expansive views of sea and sand, and enough space for everyone.  I love the beaches here.


Fogarty Creek wasn’t even on my radar when researching beaches and state parks on the beach. I think we randomly found it one time after driving back from the grocery store.




Fogarty Creek is special because of the mossy green rocks that you can play near. Depending on the tide, the waves will come crashing up and create little waterfalls.

Fogarty Creek

Also there’s this view of some kind of hotel or condo complex, which by the way are usually tucked back away from the coast.


It feels European, but what do I know, maybe that’s just me because I really want to go to Croatia so bad.


Art I Like: Randall David Tipton

I actually found Randall, a Portland area artist, through his blog, Painter’s Process. I seriously consider him one of the top contemporary landscape painters, I mean why isn’t this dude in MoMA?

Randall David Tipton

He graciously has shared some of his tips and wisdom with me. My favorite piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to ruin it (artwork). It reminds me of what Elizabeth Gilbert says in her book, Big Magic, to take art seriously but not seriously. He also inspired me to start writing this blog!

Randall David Tipton

I absolutely adore the colors in this one: the cold, dark maroons and greys. He so wonderfully captures the quality of light in winter. It’s muted without being muddy, and somehow glowing. Incredible!

It’s all a matter of pushing the paint, scrapping, pouring, tilting, blotting, and wiping as I try to build my idea. The studies are where I can try something out in a manageable space, but I take them seriously as paintings. My goals are the same for any size. I want a rich, painterly image which represents my view, my regard, my understanding of paint and nature. For myself. I`m trying to paint the paintings I want to see.

Interview with Randall David Tipton The second to last sentence is so good- maybe the best artist statement I’ve read in a long while. Don’t get me started about artist statements…

It’s crazy that he paints largely from memory. Look how keenly he observes the subtleties of nature. He so convincingly captures the reflection of clouds and the movement of grassy wetlands.

Look at that cloud reflection! And this one is a watercolor. People it’s incredibly difficult to have both that freedom and control in watercolor. He is a master!

He has elevated Yupo, a plastic watercolor paper, as an artist medium. If you google or go on Pinterest, most of the stuff you’ll see painted on Yupo is amateurish and features extremely garish, saturated colors. It’s not surprising- Yupo is slick and even more difficult to control than normal watercolor paper. You can see how he takes the unique pooling and puddling texture that paint forms on Yupo and makes it work wonderfully to depict water and sky. I love the transition from the blue sky into the ambiguous forms of the tree. Lovely.

Randall David Tipton

More free flowing textures on Yupo. This is all very, very difficult to do well.

Randall David Tipton

He is wonderfully irreverent of “proper” art techniques- no underpainting or drawing, he’ll use black straight from the tube, he’ll use white watercolor, he won’t clean his brushes after use, he’ll use cheap brushes, he’ll use non-brushes as brushes.  He’ll paint right over an older painting without second thought. I asked if he sands it first before painting over it. He said he supposes he should. He asked me, “What’s gouache?” He normally purchases canvases that have been pre primed with gesso, explaining that he doesn’t have the time for it. I like it! That is a very good lesson (I mean I’m already lazy and messy enough so I guess I am extremely biased here) but I think it is true that we all have so limited time, if we can afford to take shortcuts, why not outsource the awful, boring parts?

He credits his tenacity for pulling many pieces together. Hopefully I can be just as tenacious and keep working through paintings that are a struggle and that I’m down on.

More from my Seattle trip: Food and Shopping

Seattle’s Pioneer Square is so charming. Look at all the ivy-covered brick buildings.

Like Portland, Seattle has so many cute shops and cafes. We stopped so I could get my coffee fix at this one shop (The London Plane) with an amazing floral selection.

Look at this teeny anemone by the register – so perfect I almost thought it was fake.

The market at Pike’s Place had rows and rows of tulips, every variety you could imagine. If I hadn’t been concentrating so hard on my artisan greek yogurt (Ellenos), I would have more pictures of them.

West Seattle is like being at a beach town on the coast, except you’re still in the city. On one side you can see Puget Sound and from other view you can see Mount Rainier and the Space Needle.

The ‘downtown’ area of West Seattle near California Ave was super cute. I had the best lunch (Pellegrini Market) of handmade lamb meatballs on a pizza crust sandwich thing and I devoured it. There were also cute little shops with more flowers.


Today’s Oil still life progress

betsyness still life in progress

I was able to fill in some of the gaps from the last session and also work on the tricky leaf section.

For the shadows on the ranunculus I used a mixture of ultramarine, burnt umber, and alizarin. For the lighter but still cool shadow areas I added cobalt blue.

One thing that I am learning is to make the target tone and then the lighter and darker value to each side.

For the dark green, I mixed ultramarine, burnt umber , and sap green. The lighter green shade was mixed from sap green with yellow ochre and cerulean blue. Cerulean blue is a great way to add a cool lighter tone without using naples yellow or white.

I spent a lot of time painting upside down. It helped me to just see shapes and look at the negative spaces like puzzle pieces.

And once you turn the canvas back around…a pleasant surprise!

betsyness still life in progress

Library of Flowers

I have thought about coming up with a less lame name for this blog, but I haven’t thought of anything good. Which is why I am so jealous of this brand with the best name ever, Library of Flowers. It combines my love of flowers and books and art. So easy. Would have been a great name for this blog, too bad it’s taken.

Anyways here are some of their delightfully vibrant packaging- pretty floral watercolors: WANT!

Library of Flowers
Library of Flowers

They’re selling a bunch of items on One Kings Lane. It’s not cheap but candles and perfume are pretty pricey even at Target.