Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Leaf Test . . .

leaftestI had seen Cathy Johnson use a water soluble pencil line in her watercolor sketching a few times, and Jane LaFazio using a water soluble marker in her recent Sketchbook Skool lesson.

The idea is to outline your drawing with the soluble lines, and then paint inside the shape with a wet brush or water brush to dissolve some of the line into a sort of automatic shading.

I had tried this a few times before, but had not given the idea a real workout.

No time like the present . . .

I like the look in black & white, but I was more interested in how this trick would work as an underpainting for watercolor.

The tricky part would be to add a wash or glaze over the shading without moving it around too much or polluting the glaze color.

So, I thought of Inktense pencils, because once wet and dried, they are supposed to be permanent. This is a relative thing of course, because if you haven’t actually wet the Inktense thoroughly, it is still soluble.

(I learned more than I ever even wanted to know about Inktense when writing my Inktense Soup to Nuts Workshop, and you can too. If you are intrigued by these pencils, check it out.)

It turned out that in a smaller space, if the whole area got wet, the Inktense would dry into a flat wash, but if you left a white area in the middle of a larger space, you could get nice modeling.

inktenseleaf1And it turned out that my favorite result came from painting a watercolor glaze over the dried Inktense shading . . .

inktenseleaf2But, I did make some other interesting discoveries, and I will give you a close look at them here.

My least favorite leaf resulted from outlining with a Koi Brush marker. They are rich and juicy, and very hard to control once you wet them. Over painting then made a real mess . . .

koileafThis isn’t horrible or anything, but not subtle either!

Because graphite is somewhat water soluble, I tried a #2 pencil with this technique and then overpainted with a watercolor wash.

Subtle, but I think a little too subtle . . .

no2leafFinally, I discovered something really interesting about some inexpensive markers I had been using to paint some wildflower illustrations last summer.

They are called Fibracolor, come from Italy and cost only about $22 for 100 at Amazon.

I think I like them the best of any water soluble marker for this painting technique.

Anyway, we all know black is made up of many colors (all colors if you’re talking pigment).

This shading technique brought out the colors in the black marker and made things very interesting . . .

fibracolorLook even closer . . .

fibradetailI just love that!

This test was done in my Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbook.

I hope you have learned something useful from my little leaf test. I certainly did!

Spring Cleaning – YIKES!

manitouchairsThese chairs have nothing to do with Spring Cleaning except that I found this cool photo while cleaning and sorting my shots from Manitou Springs, CO. I took this in the yard of a cabin we stayed at back in 2011. Those chairs are sitting along the river bank, and they spoke to me. More about Manitou Springs in a minute.

All things change – and things go right ahead and change without you if you are not looking. Somehow, my website just grew all these parts until even I couldn’t tell what was going on there. This is not the nicely organized home page I  had a couple years ago. In fact, it’s a mess . . . cre8itsiteoldSo . . . I had to clean it. The idea is to be SIMPLE and make it easy to find things. So, I did this . . . cre8itnewPlease tell me if you think this home page makes it easier to know what is there – at a glance?

Also, please tell me if you think anything is awfully wrong with it.

It is not totally functional, but I am showing you anyway.

I am also cleaning out my mind, and you will hear plenty about that as we go along.

I’m changing lots of things that I do. One of those things is that I think something has to be all perfect and finished before I share it. Things never get all finished, so I don’t post as much as I want to.

So, I am showing you my new home page before it’s perfect. I, personally, am really interested in artist’s processes – the way they slog through whatever they have to do, to do what they do.

I even like to hear about failures – lessons learned by doing things the wrong way. If we all weren’t pretending to be perfect, we would all learn a lot more.

But, I digress.

What about Manitou Springs?

Well, as I think I have mentioned before (like in this post), Manitou Springs, Colorado is one of my favorite places on earth. And I like to take my art journal and my art-journaling friends to my favorite places on earth. I have therefore added a new art and travel journaling retreat to the roster . . . Retreat CO I found some lovely affordable lodging, and ALL the details (plus pictures) are on the description page here:

Mindful Moments in the Mountains

I am very excited, and know this will be one more of those magic times like the other retreats have been.

In all my life-cleaning, I am dropping lots of things, so the things I love can have my time. I LOVE these retreats – because they are so much fun for me, and because of what they do for other people as well.

Art Journaling can change your life, and that’s no joke.

I am playing with the idea of blogging a lot for the next month.

Do you think you could stand it?

Drawing and Painting on Your iPad . . .

ipadartstudio600It really is fun taking apart the workshop I spent a year putting together.

That sounds very strange, I know, but all things change and the changes around here are actually causing the wind to blow. Or maybe that is just Spring in Santa Fe doing that?

I decided some time back to take apart the iPad Studio and offer the workbooks individually, so iPad users could choose their areas of interest. The original plan was to just update the books, but that has only worked out on a couple of them. Some have been completely rewritten (iPad Photo Arts), and some are brand new workbooks that were never part of the Studio (iTangle and iPad Printing).

Choosing which workbook comes next has sometimes been a bit serendipitous . . .

We have been having wonderfully warm Spring weather, and amazing things have been happening – like the Santa Fe River actually having water in it . . .


 I cross this footbridge on the walk to the gallery from the parking lot.

OK, OK, I can show you at least one picture of this mysterious gallery. Vesta took this one when she was here . . .


 Two interesting things:

That’s the Santa Fe Plaza at the end of the block.

Our name (WOW!) reads the same backwards as forwards – good for when the door is open. We won’t know whether we are coming or going – which is not unusual.

There will be much more gallery to come. but back to the next iPad Workbook . . .

Or at least to the Hummingbird part of the story . . .

My friend, Betsy, spotted the first Hummingbird last Saturday, so I got the feeders out.

But then, we had this really weird late freeze come through on Monday (yesterday). I was very worried about my Lilac buds, and about the Hummingbird feeders freezing – and I was reminded of the time (2011) when my “pet” Hummingbird would not leave me and I had to heat the feeders with clip-on lamps.

I thought I painted a picture of that. Did I? Couldn’t find it.

Then I remembered my iPad. I was painting a lot in the Art Studio app then . . . and sure enough, that’s where it was – not even finished, but there.


I was working in layers – a pencil sketch, ink layer, and paint layer. Here’s how it looked with the pencil sketch layer visible . . .

warmfeeder2So great to be able to turn those layers on and off! Messiest pencil sketch ever!

And it started me thinking how much I LOVE the Art Studio app.

I actually call it my “Photoshop killer”. If I could have only one art app, this would be it.

I wrote a book about it.

That should be the next Workbook I release, I thought!

Luckily, that book required very little updating, even though this app gets updated all the time. It is the greatest art app ever. It has everything the other high-end art app have, and most of what Photoshop has as well. And it only cost $4.99! Your can create art AND do image-editing AND combine it all together.

This workbook teaches you how to draw and paint on your iPad just like you do in real life. And how to bring photos “into the picture” so to speak (like for collage). It’s a must-have if you really want to “do art” on your iPad.

It’s a 50 page PDF Workbook again, and the cost is $15 (again).

Here’s the link:

iPad Art Studio Workbook, Drawing & Painting on the iPad

All download issues from last time have been fixed. Just put the long, hyphenated Order Code (NOT the Order Number) into the box provided and the book is yours.

NOTE: If you are a student of the iPad Studio Workshop, you already own this book (Workbook# 10).

Begin Again. . .

beginagainThere is so much to say.

As you know, the change to Daylight Savings Time lights up my life in so many ways.

And the first warmth of Spring causes my Corona clippers (a really good brand) to leap into my hands, which are now protected by Rose gardening gloves, and pushes me (quite literally) into the yard.

Those of you who take my workshops know that I consistently show up in the videos with cuts and bruises EVERY Spring. Well, this Spring, I am going to try to skip the bloody part.

Rose gloves are great and if you don’t know about them, listen up.

They reach all the way to your elbows. This means total protection from cuts and scratches unless you are prone to wearing sleeveless shirts or your Russian Sage is a lot taller than mine.

Anyway, here is a link where you can see these gloves, and even get you some.

Rose Gardening Gloves

Sketchbook Skool

Huh? How did I make THAT segue?

(I love that word because who would think it would be pronounced “seg-way”? It’s like, if somebody doesn’t clue you in, you are certainly going to make a fool of yourself by saying it. But more than that, I love that it means to jump to another subject without interruption, because I do that all the time. You are supposed to do it with some finesse, however. I haven’t caught on to that part yet.)

Anyway, I am taking the Sketchbook Skool workshop.

If you haven’t heard of it, you need to come up for s breath.

Danny Gregory (Everyday Matters), has hooked up with Koosje Koene (a sketchbook artist from the Netherlands) and some other hyper-famous sketchbookers to offer an online workshop on sketchbooking.

At our recent art journaling retreat in Tubac, I was asked whether I had heard of Sketchbook Skool.

I had, but I took a closer look. To be honest, since I have kept sketchbooks throughout my career (since I was 12 actually), I did not think I would find much of interest.

But then, I thought three thoughts . . .

Thought 1: I LOVE to look at other peoples’ sketchbook or art journal pages. Where would I ever find more of those?

Thought 2: I LOVE to get a peak at other artists’ processes. How do they do what they do, why do they do it, and what are they thinking when they are doing it?

There is hardly a more fascinating topic on earth to me, unless it would be how they make Aquafresh toothpaste come out of the tube with perfect, colored stripes. Don’t get me started on that one.

Thought 3: I would LOVE to see some new ways of running an online workshop and they were using a venue I had never heard of. I wanted to see how it worked.

So, I paid my $99 and signed up with about 1200 other people. (Hyper fame is a good thing financially, I guess.)

One week later, I have had the pleasure of seeing bijillions of art journal pages posted to Facebook, gained some wonderful insight into what makes people shy about sketching. learned about Bower Birds (worth the $99 right there), enjoyed Danny Gregory’s sense of humor, registered a visual protest about the idea of not using a pencil and eraser, actually done my homework, and even an extra credit page.

The page at the beginning of this post is one that I would have done anyway, but the assignment was to sketch about our week – once each day – and post one of the sketches.

The day I “begin again” with the garden each year is a sacred day for me – and well worth a journal page.

And the other page I will share is my extra credit page – paint your breakfast – which turned out to be a less than relaxing experience for me.

We were not supposed to use pencil – and we ALL know how I feel about that. I just didn’t know how strongly my 3H pencils felt about that.

They rebelled. They stabbed my eggs. punctured my toast, poisoned my coffee, and kidnapped my fork . . .


I had to give in!

A Garden Collage – Tubac

gardencollageThis page was done 2/3 from memory, and 1/3 from a reference photo (the Red Yucca).

On my last afternoon at the Tubac Country Inn, I sat on the veranda and quickly sketched a couple of little scenes along the adobe wall of the garden. I didn’t have time to finish and for some reason, I forgot to shoot reference photos to work from later.

This past Saturday, I sat down with that journal again to finish the page. It had been a week and already, my memory was forgetting a lot of detail. I almost made that Red Yucca upper right into a green leafed plant!

Some details are very different, but the feeling is there.

I call this style of journal page a “collage” even though there is nothing glued on it.

The elements of the collage in this case are the separate little paintings that are combined on the page, but not in their real spatial relationship to each other. Notice the blue sky appears again through the nicho below the tiled area – not so real.

But the elements work well in this new relationship because they have a harmony of color palette, theme, and style.

I did work from a reference photo for the flower detail . . .

redyuccaWhen working from a reference photo, it is not only ok to simplify things, it is desirable. I dropped the background for a simple green wash, and moved some buds completely to a new location.

I love Red Yucca and am hoping for the success of two new plants I put in last Fall.

I promised last time to show you some photos from the Tumacacori Mission site near Tubac, that you can sketch from.

When making a sketch from a photo, the most important thing is to simplify the photo right down to the basics. At that point, you can “see the forest for the trees” and draw the subject more easily.

I have simplified these photos for you, and I give you permission to draw and paint them to your heart’s content.

Pretend you are sitting on a camp stool or park bench at Tumacacori and one of these beautiful, Southwestern scenes is right in front of you. The sun is shining and the weather is balmy. Your journal is open in your lap, and your pencil is in your hand . . .

tucbell tucstair tucdoor tucnicho tucpotsGo for it . . . and have fun.

P.S. Because our Tubac Retreat was SOOOOOOO amazing, I am working on setting up two more – one in the third week of October this year, and one the third week of March in 2015.

Because it’s the most fun to stay at the Tubac Country Inn, and because there are only 4 rooms available there besides mine (3 of those can accommodate 2 people), these retreats fill really quickly. If you think you would be interested in either date, please email me ( and I will put your name on a “first notify” list. This last Tubac Retreat filled by rumor (word of mouth) and I never even had time to get a details page up!

Also, the Santa Fe Art Journaling Retreat in September is close to full, but there are still a few spaces left. Tubac is absolutely wonderful, but there is no place like Santa Fe!