Monthly Archives: June 2014

Sorta-Like Flowers . . .


I decided I don’t like my new website design, so I am changing it again – all in the name of simplifying.

There was not enough white space and I love white space.

So back to square one – what IS my website about now days anyhow?

It has to be about Sheer Heaven, of course, because of it being the most awesome art paper in the known universe.

People are still emailing me and calling me with brand new things they have discovered (many are their “trade” secrets so I can’t share). And I am always doing something new with it – like cutting stencils for glass work lately.

Sheer Heaven is the best stencil film ever,  because it can be cut so easily with a scissors. AND you can make the stencils out of the leftovers from your inkjet transfers.

But back to the website – what is the other big thing?

The other big thing is TEACHING.

I “retired” from formal teaching after just a few years, because I really really hated the politics of institutions. I was a hippie way back then and pretty free-form with my ideas. I also had a big case of BSIS (bullshit-intolerance syndrome), and I found more of that in the education system, even in liberal northern California, than you would find at a rodeo.

Long story short, I moved on to other things.

But somehow, the teaching kept creeping back in.

After being on the internet a few years, it became obvious to me that this was a natural place to teach.

So I did.

It was a pretty unusual thing then – to teach online.

Now, online classes and workshops are ubiquitous.

I don’t think I have been to any arts blog or website that does NOT offer a list of workshops and classes.

So, do I just dump all mine because of the competition?

I have done some looking at that competition – much more than I have let you know about – because I have found the experiences mostly playschool and have learned very little, and cannot find much positive to say. Better to say nothing.

Ironically, with all the classes going on, there is VERY little skill-building in the arts. There are a few good workshops, but they are the exception, not the rule.

I even get a little peeved now and then when I see a watercolor “lesson” that results in the kind of mess that every watercolorist tries to avoid. If you have no clue how to do something, don’t TEACH that, for heaven sake.

Like I said, I get a little bunched up about it sometimes.

The skills of drawing, painting, and design underlie everything in art.

Whether you are talking clay or stone or fiber or quilting or collage or card making or photography, or WHATEVER, the quality of what you turn out, is going to be dependent on your SKILLS in drawing, painting, and design. Period. There is nothing to be argued about here.

Better skills in this area make you a better artist – more satisfied and fulfilled with what you produce.

Everybody has to start somewhere.

As a beginner, you will not be great, and you will know it.

But, rather than join the absolute cacophony of whining about inner critics, just decide to WORK to get better. Your inner critic will shut right up, because she is actually an inner “guide” and that’s what she wants you to do – WORK at it.

UNDERSTAND that it is not easy to get really good at anything. DECIDE that you will get better at it by learning how to do it, preferably from somebody who KNOWS how to do it and how to TEACH it, and then go DO IT over and over until you get better and better.

I promise you will see the progress, and you will see your own style emerge - in whatever media you love.

OK – shoving the soapbox out of the way, and getting back to what my website is about.

It’s about teaching and learning those critical skills.

That’s at the core of my workshops, workbooks, and retreats.

I show you how to draw, paint, and design in a way that you “get”, so you can go off and practice until you are really good.

My intention is that you GROW your talents because there is great delight to be had in a garden of delightful things created by you.

So, I changed the Cre8it byline to:

A Place to Grow Your Talent.

And decided to use a LOT of white space and some potted flower illustrations.

They turned out to be fantasy flowers – almost looking like something familiar, but not quite, so I am calling them “Sorta-Like” Flowers, and I thought I would also use them for a line of greeting cards, and add a quote to each card – about flowers, gardens, or growth.

Can you help me out here?

If you have a favorite quote along these lines, would you please share it in Comments – along with the author if available?

I would really appreciate it.

The website work is not done yet, but you can see my little sorta-like flowers below, because I finished them.

I love to paint very realistic flowers, but that didn’t seem like the right feeling for this – too formal.

So, it’s fun to make flowers up. Not just random squiggles (that’s fun too), but flowers that have some suggestion of the real thing. It’s interesting how just a couple details can remind you of a specific blossom.

This one is sorta like an African Daisy . . .


Sorta-like a Sunflower . . .

sortasunflowerSorta like a Coneflower . . .

sortaconeflowerSorta like an Aster . . .

sortaasterSorta like a Tulip . . .

sortatulipAnd sorta like a Marigold . . .

sortamarigoldThese will be the new pictures for my home page – and they all need quotes because they also want to be greeting cards.


The $20 discount on this fabulous workshop lasts only through Monday, so now’s the time to grab it if you want to know *everything* you can do with these amazing pencils.

Here’s the link:


Prints Charming . . .

Casita-Studio “Santa Fe Studio with Picture Window” © 2014 Jessica Wesolek

I didn’t quite meet my challenge to create six paintings this week. I only made it to four so far, but so many good things have come of the effort, that I’m not even disappointed about it.

I have gotten my garden room cleaned up and set up as a working watercolor studio.

I have unearthed all the wonderful tubes of paint that have been waiting such a long time for me to come back to them, and I have spent a LOT of time painting.

Because of a puppy dog tummy ache, we got up at 5am yesterday, and I painted for 4 hours before going down to the gallery.

Found out that early morning is a wonderful time to make art – putting it first before anything else but coffee (and dog walking, of course).

I love the studio in the painting above and wish mine was that pristine.

One of the really fun things is incorporating some of the style details that are so unique to Santa Fe, like saltilllo (sal-tee-o) tile floors and vigas (vee-ga) and latillas (la-tee-ya).

The vigas are the large telephone pole-like beams that go through the walls and hold up the ceiling.

Latillas are the smaller sapling logs that cover the ceiling on top of the vigas.

When I have my Santa Fe Retreats, this is the stuff that charms the chile (yes – spelled with an “e”) out of my students because it is so “arty” and fun to sketch. I can still fit a couple people into the September Retreat if anybody else wants to come see for themselves.

Here is a little “reading room” I painted with a Kiva (kee-va) fireplace in it . . .

Casita-Kiva-Fireplace“Casita with Kiva Fireplace” © 2014 Jessica Wesolek

Kiva fireplaces are patterned after horno ovens (orno) which are adobe brick ovens, usually outside, in which the Pueblo people bake bread. They look something like this . . .hornooven

First, you build a fire in the oven in the early morning. When the kindling burns away, you clean out the ashes, put your loaves of bread inside on pieces of stone (so they don’t get sooty) and the retained heat in the adobe bricks bakes the bread. Makes you appreciate our oven’s pre-heat feature, doesn’t it?

I have eaten bread freshly baked in an horno when visiting a friend at one of the local pueblos. It was really delicious and different.

I have never seen a fireplace like this in any kiva (ceremonial room), so who knows how that name came about.

And my fourth painting this week was an outside view . . .

The-Note“The Note” © 2014 Jessica Wesolek

Many exterior patios and porches are flagstone or brick. This time, you see the ends of the vigas sticking out through the adobe wall.

And we also have a chile ristra (ree-stra). Fresh picked chiles are bound together and hung on an outside wall or portal (porch) to dry. The cook then grabs one from the ristra whenever needed.

Blue doors and gates are considered good luck and they are thought to ward off evil.

This morning, I built a web page for my prints, and put them in the Shopping Cart . . .

You can see all four paintings together, and you can purchase the prints.

Thank you so much to those who purchased the first print last time.

It is really fun to share the style and culture of Santa Fe with you – and it’s REALLY fun to be painting again!

Someday, My Prints Will Come

Casita-with-Blue-Window“Casita with Blue Window” ©2014, Jessica Wesolek

Do you know how it is when seventy hundred people have told you for 10+ years to do something, and then one day, you finally do it?

Weird. That’s how it is.

I have never actually offered my art for sale online – despite 10+ years of cajoling.

Well, now I am going to. Here’s how it happened . . .

Our tourist season here in Santa Fe is just around the corner. Our gallery has a wonderful selection of high color, whimsical artwork hung all over the place.

Looks great.

Except it’s not MY wonderful, high color, whimsical art.

Why not?

Because I don’t DO IT!

I do everything else instead, thinking I will get around to painting as soon as I am done with all that.

Ha! I’m NEVER going to be done with all that - who am I kidding?

So I set myself a “job” this week – to create a painting a day. There will be 6 altogether because I already completed this one yesterday.

AND, I am going to offer prints for sale both in the gallery and online (with free shipping!).

Prints are the same size as the originals this time (6″x6″) printed with archival inks on my very special inkjet vinyl which is waterproof and tear proof.

The sheet size is 8.5″x11″ so a variety of trims are possible for matting and printing, but the cool thing is that it can just be tacked to the wall or even hung on a clipboard because the print can’t be torn or damaged by moisture.

I used to make printed pinwheels on this vinyl and keep them in the garden!

Prints are hand-signed by me after they are printed, which is why there is no signature on the one above. That signature makes the print more valuable.

Prints are $20 and ship free within the US by regular mail.

I will have a webpage for these when they are done, but right now, if you want this one, here is a direct purchase link

Casita with Blue Window

A casita is a tiny house and this series will be cozy casita scenes and maybe some Entradas (entrances – gates and doors).


As you all know, I have been easy with usage of my images over the years, but this is a little different.

Because this is part of keeping me in paint (and pet food), it is NOT okay to print this image for personal or any other use. I.E. it is not ok to print it from the blog and hang on the wall, like you do with a lot of my other stuff. I’m fine with that a lot of the time, but this art is for creating income. Everybody needs a little of that!

Brilliant Watercolor

A reader left a comment on the watercolor post (thanks, Ernie) about yet ANOTHER brand of watercolor paint I have not tried, called Mission Gold, which she said is the Inktense of watercolor – super brilliant.

Oh dear.

But I must not get distracted right now, I must not get distracted.

Also, if my work got *more* bright and brilliant and color saturated, would it actually explode in a sunspot?


Wonderful Watercolor

4wellsEverybody loves watercolor.

Now, before you start thinking that you don’t because of how difficult it is, and what a mess you can make if you don’t know what you are doing, here’s more what I am thinking.

Everybody at least loves to look at watercolor.

There is something so wonderful about all those brilliant colors tucked in a box like candy – eye candy for sure.

And watercolor is the most portable of paint mediums so it is very popular with sketchbook and journal people.

And it’s transparent so any white page is going to backlight it and make the color even more beautiful.

But watercolor is fickle.

It is not something you can throw around casually like you can some other types of paint because it has a mind of its own, because it demands respect.

Watercolor is NOT too difficult if you just take the time to understand it. Because it has a mind of its own, it demands that you give it the respect it deserves, or it will punish you by making a nice mess.

Brand and Quality Really Matter

With acrylic paints, and even oils, you can go a long way with student brands and not get in too much trouble. With little exception, even inexpensive brands behave well enough. They may not last or hold their color over a long period of time, but when you are painting with them, you pretty much get what you expect.

Not so with watercolor.

The pigment load (how much color is in it), staining and lifting qualities, flow and blending results vary tremendously between cheap student brands and more expensive professional brands.

For this reason, when learning watercolor, you are much better off with just a few tubes or pans of good quality paint than lots of colors of a cheap brand. You can mix most colors from just red, blue, and yellow, in fact.

And even among high end brands, there are very noticeable differences in behavior. These are not good and bad differences, however, because all the big brands are great, and only someone with lots of experience would notice the differences.

Most practicing watercolorists have favorite brands based on how the paint behaves in their own working style.

These are some very good brands, and the difference between them is a matter of personal preference (what works best for the way you do things).

Winsor-Newton, Daniel Smith, Schmincke-Horadam, Maimeri Blu, Holbein, Old Holland, Sennelier, and M. Graham.

Most artists have one or two favorite brands, and a few tubes of other brands in special colors that are not available in their favorite brand.

All brands can be used together in the same painting and mixed together on your palette.

After 40+ years of being a professional watercolorist, my favorite brands were Schmincke, Winsor & Newton, and some Daniel Smith.

When we were in Tubac for the retreat in March, I realized I had forgotten my tube of Yellow Ochre, which was absolutely necessary for painting adobe walls.

There is just one small art supply store in Tubac, and they carry just one brand of paint – one I had never tried – M. Graham. Their claim to fame is using blackberry honey as a binder.

Because I had no choice, I bought a tube.

After that, it was a good thing that art supply store was only a half block away from the inn, because I bought five more tubes.

I could not believe that a watercolor brand could be that different!

2greenwellsThe paint is ultra creamy and stays moist so it wets instantly.

There is so much pigment that you need to use very little paint.

It blends like heaven, and lifts beautifully.

LUSCIOUS  is the best word I can think of.

I came home from the retreat and starting filling out my palette – 33 tubes so far . . . and counting.

I got the best pricing by buying sets on Amazon:

M. Graham Watercolor Sets

This is hands-down my favorite, and because it is so different, it makes my “Most Amazing Art Supplies of the 21st Century” list. So far, we have Inktense and M.Graham Watercolors on the list.

I needed a new palette, so I got this one from Amazon

closedpaletteThey have 6 left in stock, more on order . . . ($23.39 – Prime Shipping)

Martin Mijello  33 Well Palette

Open, it looks like this . . .

openpaintboxThe trays lift out, so you have three big mixing palettes if you need them.

I keep my watercolors this neat by doing all my mixing on a separate palette. Some folks like a big messy, muddy palette, but I much prefer pure color – to look at and to use!

Looking at a box of color like this makes my heart leap.

But, it takes more than a beautiful paintbox to make beautiful watercolor paintings.

You also have to know what you are doing. You know what you are doing by learning all about what to expect from this medium and adjusting for it. Because watercolor is doing its own thing while you are trying to make it do your thing, it’s a lot like trying to herd kittens.

There is VERY LITTLE adequate watercolor instruction available for beginners, although there are hundreds of books and workshops on the subject.

Many of those books and workshops have great tips and techniques and sample paintings. Some even have step-by-step, but they are more like “leap-by-leap” instead, leaving the beginner wondering how on earth step B got to Step C. And forget about Step D!

And half of every book is devoted to introducing supplies and materials, providing a bunch of information the beginner is not ready for until they get their brush wet, so to speak.

What you really need is something that tells you to “do this” and then “do that” and “here’s what happens” when you do.

I wrote a workshop like that, and I think it’s the best beginner workshop there is.

You learn how the paint behaves and why, and exactly what you need to do – and why. And even how your own studio environment affects what you can expect from your watercolor.

If I had to rank my workshops according to progress made by the students who have taken it so far, this would be right up at the top.

Read lots more about it here:

Watercolor for the Journal and Sketchbook

Summer is an awesome time for learning watercolor and painting in your little Nature Sanctuary.

I Want to Make You Jealous . . .

paintflowersBecause I want you to feel this happy.

This was in my lap as I sat on my swing last evening. I am doing new illustrations for my Cre8it Home page (again!)

If I looked down to my right . . .

skysleepMy girl Sky, who is feeling great again after hurting her back last week. She had a bad landing from one of her amazing leaps into the sky (from which she got her name).

Huskies are not normally jumpers. But, since she was a puppy, this one leaps about three feet straight up when she is excited. I would make a video, but I discourage her from doing it. Someday, she might land wrong and pull something.

Well, she did that last Monday, and we babied her all week until she felt normal again. I’m still not taking my eyes off her. which is easy since she is velcro-ed to me, it seems.

And if I looked left . . .

sidetableTwo of the beautiful Begonias from AJ’s Nursery in Durango – and my favorite Chardonnay (Woodbridge by Mondavi). Not expensive, just light and delicious.

And if I looked straight ahead . . .

garden6-9I am so filled with gratitude because who could ask for more?

This little piece of paradise does so many things – it soothes my soul, makes me feel the spirit in Nature, overwhelms me with beauty, and totally inspires my art.

I work myself to pieces reestablishing this space every year, but it occurs to me, when I see and ponder the elements, that anyone could make themselves a little space like this – a tiny piece of heaven.

Here’s a little story.

A few years back, my brother lived in a high rise in Houston called Bayou Bend. It was a pretty ritzy place with doormen and all that (they always got a kick out of me and my flip flops), and very beautiful.

But, each condo had only a postage stamp size balcony. My brother never went out there, but there was a small chair and table set and a dead plant.

As beautiful as the building and the condo were, it lacked something essential to anyone with a soul because there was zero connection to Nature.

I couldn’t stand it and I sat out there with my coffee each morning. Eventually, he joined me. The view was beautiful – overlooking Memorial Park and the green of the bayou.

“We need to do something with this,” we both agreed.

It only took a day, some beautiful plants in two containers, cushions to make the chairs comfy, and a small fountain.

Combined with the beautiful view, we had turned a concrete ledge into a little piece of heaven where he could meditate and soothe the stresses of his high powered executive days.

This soon convinced him to sell the condo, by the way, and move to a beautiful home on the bayou with a BIG yard.

The point of this story is that no matter what your circumstances, there is probably some small spot that you can turn into your sacred nature space.

It does not cost much and you do not have to be a gardener.

Here’s all you need:

A comfy outdoor chair, and a little side table for your wine, tea, or art supplies.

As many containers as you can fit, filled with annuals from the nursery, or from Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Your pots do not have to be expensive or large. Plain terra cotta pots are beautiful with greenery and flowers.

Gardening skills needed:

Pour in some potting soil, dampen with water, and set the plants in it.

Pour water from a pitcher or pretty watering can into your containers as often as necessary. This is part of the lovely ritual of being in your Nature sanctuary.

Cut off dead flowers, so your plants will keep on flowering. Use some cute little scissors that you keep right there with your pretty watering can.

Your water feature:

I know of an instant fountain that sounds great and looks great.

All you need is a bowl big enough to hold 1-1/2 inches of water and the pump below. A birdbath works perfectly, but any container will do.

You don;t need to go hunt up the right pump and rocks, because they come all in one, and look like this . . .


This is how it looks out of the box.

Here’s a shot of one of mine with a little patina from use. I have this one in one of those plastic pot saucers.

rockwaterfallThe sound is wonderful and attracts birds.

You do need an electric outlet, but it uses only about 4 watts of electricity. There is a solar version available, but it is three times as expensive. Figure out some extension cord trick instead. I even put one out a window once.

Amazon has this fountain for $38 and change with Prime free shipping.

However, when searching for the best price online, I discovered a Lowes company I had never heard of – which carries *everything* at great prices and with free shipping. Their cost is only $32 and change.

Layered Rock Waterfall at ATG

You could also add a Hummingbird feeder and/or use Hummingbird-friendly flowers. (Remember, never use commercial red dye Hummingbird food – make your own instead – 1 part sugar to 4 parts very warm water. Stir to dissolve and allow to cool.)

So, for very little money and time, you could have a magical outdoor space that calms you, inspires you (draw some of your flowers – and their leaves and buds etc.) and connects you to the nurturing power of Nature.

Try it. It’s the kind of thing that grows on you (so to speak) and you may find yourself expanding your sanctuary as the Summer goes on.

Sorry I can’t figure out how to share my view of the Rockies or my dog. I would if I could.

Art Journal, Sheer Heaven Transfer, Inktense, and Toilet Paper!

canvastransfersIn all of my art journal workshops and retreats, I stress the idea that you don’t have to finish any page before moving on and starting another one. Same with finishing one book before starting another. I currently have SIX volumes in action. I like it that way.

I find this permission valuable because you have to be able to be spontaneous to enjoy art journaling in the first place, and because I personally find unfinished pages to be the best creative kick-starters there are.

You may be feeling like working in your journal, but nothing interesting seems to be going on at the moment – or something VERY interesting is going on but you can’t think of how you could possibly portray it (see my amazing toilet paper caper below).

ANYWAY, if you sit down and page through one or two of your journals, you are bound to come up with some page that still needs color or some lettering added, or some inking and erasing to finish up.

Easy to start on because it’s already started and waiting for you.

I always find that once I start finishing up an older page, the ideas start coming, and who knows where I might go from there. Might not finish that page this time either. But that’s ok.

Unfinished pages – the key that unlocks journaling blocks.

This time, I found a spread I did over a year ago. It was about a couple of things, and I hadn’t finished lettering the title.

The illustrations were done on raw canvas with Inktense pencils and they were samples for my Inktense Soup-to-Nuts Workshop.

This started me thinking about Inktense because it was the third “reminder” in two days. Do you ever have that happen? Something reminds you of something you have not been thinking about – like Inktense Pencils for example. And then someone emails you a question about that same thing. And then you run into a YouTube video or magazine article about that same thing.

Makes you think that thing wants some attention.

I have a list I have been thinking about – The Five Most Incredible Art Supplies of the 21st Century. I intend to post this list and explain what I put on it.

AHA – Inktense Pencils need to be on it – for lots of reasons.

Then, I started thinking how everybody I know has Inktense pencils.

But not everyone is using them because they don’t know all the wonderful things they can do.

And that led to the thought that my Inktense Workshop was really popular and got a lot of people going.

To celebrate that and because I had to SOMETHING about Inktense popping up all the time lately), I put that workshop on sale for the month of June. Lowered the tuition by $20, so now’s the time if you have been wanting to take those pencils for a spin.

Inktense Workshop Sale

Now, look more closely at this journal spread . . .



I had discovered that Sheer Heaven transfers don’t work very well in my Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook. Pages have a cold press surface and the transfer is difficult. Can be done, but difficult. We don’t like difficult.

So I ordered the Zeta sketchbook because it has paper with a hot press surface – very smooth.

The transfers were amazing as you can see. I took photos close up with my iPad, printed them in reverse on Sheer Heaven and transferred them into the new Zeta book. Both the excellent detail of the iPad photo AND the quality of the transfer blew me away. . .


Isn’t that incredible? You can see every stitch and every pencil mark. You are looking at the transferred image – NOT the original!

So, Inktense was talking to me off that unfinished page, but so was something else – this tree. . .

canvastreeIt was saying “I look famiiar. Can you tell where I came from?”

When this happens, I have to go on a wild search until I find the answer. Like a hyped-up dog trying to find the bone she knows she buried somewhere around here.

One time I found that an enameled light switch cover had inspired a whole series of paintings. You don’t know these things when they are happening, of course. You are only allowed to find out later – through obscure clues and mysterious whispers. Makes it all more interesting.

Where WAS this tree??

I finally found it hiding in my studio . . .


I picked this up at a flea market  2 or 3 years ago because it spoke to me at that time too. I loved the lines. I don’t know if it’s bronze, but it is certainly heavy enough.

And now it was speaking to me again – this time saying “I am the perfect display for those new wrap bracelets you are making!”

And the tree is right. It IS perfect.

Now, how about THAT winding path?!?

You see why I’m crazy and confused, right?

And now for . . .

The Amazing Toilet Paper Caper

We have a group of artist friends who meet at a local coffee shop/bakery on Friday afternoons to sketch and chat and show and tell (and eat delicious, fattening things).

And we try to come up with the most interesting thing that happened in our lives the past week.

Sometimes, my interesting things get those cross-eyed looks that DH is so fond of bestowing – like when I microwaved the ant. (By ACCIDENT!! You know I am not like that! Anyway, he walked away just fine, but probably won’t hide on my coffee cup again.)

So, about the toilet paper. I just don’t know if this kind of stuff happens to everybody, but this is my most interesting thing for next Friday.

It is VERY windy today. And breeze cools things off, so I opened a lot of windows, and went outside to trim my Butterfly Bush.

The other thing the wind does is carry pollen, so when I came in, I went into the guest bath to sneeze and de-pollinate.

Reached for a piece of toilet paper from the roll I had just put on this morning – and there was just a cardboard tube. Huh?

Yes, I have cats, so I looked on the floor. Not there. (Plus, if you remember, I told you my cats roll the toilet paper back UP after they unroll it – not neatly, mind you, but they roll it back up).

Besides, they were both sitting there looking as puzzled as I was.

The toilet is white, and the toilet paper is white, so at first, the three of us did not see the tail end of the roll hanging over the seat – or the rest of the roll lying neatly stacked and soaked in the toilet bowl.


The wind – yes, the WIND – had unfurled a WHOLE roll of toilet paper into the toilet bowl.

“We shouldn’t flush this, right?” I asked the cats.

“No,” said I.

“Meow.” said Angel.

“Quack!”, said Bunnie. That’s what Bunnie always says instead of Meow. She thinks it makes her more interesting, She’s a Cat who looks like a Rabbit and sounds like a Duck. It does make her more interesting.

An ingenious solution was needed for this toilet paper thing, and I did come up with one which involved some plastic bags and a garden claw, and I would share except that this kind of thing will never happen to you.