Born Different

Born Different (521x800)I love doing small collage pieces. Often I have random pieces of watercolor paper used to experiment with a color or technique. Parts of it may be beautiful or intriguing to me. A blend of colors that defy description or a splatter of interesting shapes can start the creative process and send me on the road to developing more.

As many of you know I enjoy being one of the artists who is featured in Artomat machines. These machines are refurbished vintage candy and cigarette machines that now dispense art the size of a pack of cigarettes. It is a perfect way for me to enjoy making use of experimental watercolors.

Born Different was inspired by the unique shape and beautiful blend of colors I saw on a scrap piece of watercolor paper. From these colors I found words that would blend nicely with the colors of the paint and be appropriate in size and content. After the words comes the fun of releasing the images from the shape of color. I keep the word theme in mind and nearly always see something fun to draw. The image reflects the words and a collage is born.  Each piece is original  and the themes and colors vary.

Imagination is key to having fun with these small pieces of art. Each has a way of making me smile, and sometimes even laugh. It is my hope you will have the same response when you view the art. Check out Artomat machines in your area and have a little bit of art fun. Find out more about Artomat at

The Gift of a Portrait

IMG_0592 (767x1024)It’s always nice to have repeat clients. This year I enjoyed doing this watercolor for a former client. Although this client moved and now lives far from me, the internet makes it easy to email a photo. Deadlines and particulars can be discussed and then the fun begins.

Planning is essential before a watercolor portrait is started. I work out the values, colors and design on a trial piece of paper. Once decisions are made, I transfer my image onto the watercolor paper. Each member of this family has a different skin tone. It was a good challenge to capture the difference without disturbing the harmony of the painting. I softened the beautiful dark hair of the woman so it would not overwhelm the others in the painting. The same with the stripes of her shirt. Each was softened to be enough to give the shape and design of the shirt without dominating the painting with the high contrast of the black and white stripes.

The bald head was allowed to fade out in areas so there was not a hard distinct shape. The child’s dark hair was keep lighter, like the mother’s to keep the father from being too washed out with his light complexion.

This painting was to be a gift. Portraits are unique gifts that often turn into heirlooms as people grow and change. It is my hope the recipients of this painting will enjoy owning it as much as I did painting it.

Be Delicious

Be DeliciousI have been having lots of fun in the past few months working on small pieces of art. These 2 1/8″x 3 1/4″ watercolors are  mounted on wooden blocks and sent off to an art endeavor called Artomat. The Artomat art is placed in vintage cigarette machines and distributed throughout the United States and Canada. Each is sold for $5 and gives information about the artist. It is like handing out a business card and introducing others to my art and website.

It is the fun to see the places my small art has sold. Florida, Tennessee and Canada are a few of the locations. Delicious indeed!

These small pieces of art sprang from left over watercolor technique lessons. I had quite a collection of various beautiful pages of unique shapes and colors  after teaching students some of the fun ways to manipulate watercolor. My creativity lead me to this style, a blend of two of my passions, words and drawing. Finding words to match the colors in the art is often a humorous process as I try different phrases. Once the words are in place I look for the image. I’m amazed at how often the image directly illustrates the words. A nice happening.

In this Be Delicious piece, I loved the blending of the colors. Watercolor makes such amazingly beautiful blends, subtle and gradual from one color to another.

As for the meaning, well each of us has an idea of how we want to be delicious. I’ll make the art and let you decide what it means for you.

Thanks, Artomat, for giving me an outlet to send out a little fun, a little art and a little information about myself. Look for Artomat machines in your area and have a little art fun yourself or go to their website and learn more at Have some fun and be delicious!

I’m Zentangled!

Guillaume-Connie-1  (914x1200) It’s always fun to try something new. Zentangle is a form of doodling that has become popular. There is no real wrong way to do it and the process itself is relaxing and fun. This portrait was done in a traditional way, then I had fun adding the hair in the zentangle style.

I love to draw. The simplicity of building an object and seeing it come to life on paper is a basic to most artists. Often it is learned before one journeys into color. Some leave it behind once they start painting, but I find myself returning to it often. In my fun and fantasy style the ink images satisfy my desire to draw, but sometimes I need more. I gave myself the treat of drawing in pencil and playing with the zentangle style.

This self portrait was done from a photograph. I was clearly amused at something and the image reflects my suppressed grin. As you can see, I did not spend my time on the face, but the hair. I have very thick, curly hair and it seemed a perfect subject to replace with zentangle. The curves and curls are represented by various patterns. As long as they followed the flow of my hair it didn’t really matter what the form was in reality. It said “hair”.

I enjoy the marriage of realism and fantasy. This play project certainly met those needs and gave me an afternoon of fun. Art gives many roads to travel, many amazing sites to see. I’m glad I wandered down this path and discovered the fun of zentangle. I’m pretty sure I want to return and visit again in the future. A different subject, a new challenge but with the promise of adventure and learning in the land of zentangle.

Apples Are Good For You

IMG_0567 (1024x269)It’s fun for me to paint this striped cloth. I love the challenge of making the cloth roll and keeping the stripes believable. I painted this piece to hang in a certain place in my kitchen. Apples are a favorite subject to paint. There are so many varieties and colors. Because they are a simple shape it allows me to play in other ways. I painted this image three times. Each time I made the apples a different color and enjoyed a different challenge in the painting. I this one I included some granulation.

Granulation is when the paints mix and form sand-like areas.Granulation of a watercolor paint occurs only with specific pigments. These paints contain one or more inorganic pigments containing metal. The granulation effect increases with the addition distilled water. The pigment drops out of the water solution and settles into the watercolor paper. Heavier (denser) pigments usually create granulation.

It’s fun to add some texture and interest to the common apple. Nature gives artists plenty of opportunity to experiment and still represent it. It is true, apples really are good for you. A good source of learning as well as a great snack!

Happy Up!

Happy Up

I recently was accepted as an Art-o-mat artist. This is a venue where artists sell small art through vintage machines made originally to sell candy or cigarettes. Happy Up was one of the 50 pieces sent off in my first order. Each of the 50 were original pieces of art made at a specific size just for Art-o-mat. I had so much fun sitting hour after hour finding words, then images to complete each small piece.

Imagination is a wonderful gift! It takes me into silly places where anything is possible. I often found myself smiling at word combinations. Like a puzzle, I tried to fit the words to the watercolor background. Once I was satisfied with the words I settled in with a black ink pen to pull out the images. You would think it may be difficult to match images to the words, but somehow the right image always seemed to float up for me to see.

This one is a happy group featuring a passion that certainly makes me happy – reading. The book image seems to be enjoyed by all in this scenario. Makes me think of reading to children at bedtime.

I intentionally left the book blank so it did not become too important. I wanted the viewer to look and enjoy the movement from one element to the next without one being too important.

It is my desire to have this piece, and all my Art-o-mat pieces, bring a little smile to the buyer, to let them “Happy Up” as I did when I created this piece of art. Check out the art-o-mat website at and look for Art-o-mat machines in your area. The art is little, but the effect it can have is large and far reaching. Let’s Happy Up together!

For Emily

 I love puzzles. This piece of art was much like working a puzzle. To keep my stripes in the correct place took concentration on one area only. It’s fun to see it evolve as each area works with the next. Not only did I need to place the stripes in the right place, but each one needed to tell the story of value – light placement – making it darker or lighter. Yes, to look at the cloth the strips all look black, but to paint the cloth the stripes must tell the story of the folds, shadows and reflections. Those stripes are hard workers!

The oranges were fun to paint also. On the whole one I used Saran Wrap pushed onto the surface while it was still wet to create texture. It’s like opening a gift when the wrap is taken off. One never really knows what will be revealed. This time it gave me enough texture to say a rough skin but not enough visual power to compete with the stripes.

The peeled orange was a study in discipline. The membrane remaining on the surface of the orange was important to keep the pure white of the paper. No masking fluid was used, just an intuitive approach. I did not try to exactly replicate the orange I had in front of me, but instead wanted to keep the spirit of this area. Sometimes I just look at an area, analyze it with my eyes and then let my hand, experience, and intuitive side go to work. The reward is a fresh, realistic look.

I do not often paint and then just give away the effort, but sometimes my passion of art crosses paths with my passion for other things. This piece was painted for donation to a worthy cause. It will be part of a silent auction during an event aimed at eating disorders. It is something close to my heart. I donate this art in memory of Emily.

5 Rabbits, A Favorite

Art is like children. Each piece is unique. Some are older, some deeper and some more colorful. As a parent I appreciate each one of my children and have no favorites. I see their strengths and their weaker areas. My art is the same except for the fact, here I do have favorites. Some pieces just delight me and hold a special place for me. This fun and fantasy piece is one of these favorites.

The name of it is 5 Rabbits. If you look long enough you, like a magician, will pull out 5 rabbits, not from a top hat, but from an abundance of images found within this piece of art. It takes some patience to create art such as this one. It takes patience to enjoy it also. The more the viewer looks, the more is found. The rabbits reside side by side with birds, dinosaurs, and fantasy creatures. Sometimes a face will appear or an entire figure.

What I especially love about this piece and my fun and fantasy style is the fact many images are rather open to interpretation by the viewer. It certainly looks like something, but what exactly, is hard to define. Life has too many rules. It’s fun for me as an artist to create things that are, and are not, the usual and recognizable.

This style lets me combine my love of drawing in a realistic manner with the fun of  watercolor techniques. I begin by playing in the watercolor. Dripping it, blowing on it, and sometimes even throwing in salt or dragging a string through it. Anything goes! I have no set idea in mind when I start.

After the watercolor is dry, I turn the paper in various directions until something steps forward, waiting to be released by my pen. Then the next step of fun begins. I start in one place and as I draw somehow the next image seems to appear for me. As I work, there often seems to be more of one kind of image. In this one it was rabbits. They just kept hopping out! Each different in size and shape, but all rabbits in form.

Maybe this one is a favorite because it is rich in texture. Maybe it is the images that occurred or the beautiful mixing of the watercolor. Maybe it was the ease this one flowed out of me. Some days it does seem magic the way my art seems to pour out easily. Whatever the reason, 5 Rabbits is a personal favorite. Hope you’ll take a look at it and enjoy searching for the rabbits. If you do I guarantee it will make you hoppy. (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist!)

Black Magic

Sometimes it is fun to just paint something familiar. I have three cats. Two of them are totally black, the third black and white. They roam the studio, knock things off and walk on art. Still their presence brings company and fun to my days.

This is a watercolor of Sim, one of the black cats. I painted it not with any black paint, but with a mix of hooker’s green and  alizarin  crimson, a deep red. These colors are opposite on the color wheel and both are dark, intense colors. When mixed they produce a rich black. This color is infinitely more interesting than just black out of the tube.

I did some accent work with the red in areas where the light would hit and green in the shadows. Because of the colors repeat the mix in the black, harmony is created.

The light golden eyes give a final touch of interest. A new color for the painting draws the focus to the eyes.

This piece was recently entered and accepted into the Iowa State Fair show along with another watercolor of mine. It’s always fun to paint a subject you love and wonderful to have it accepted in a show.

There are times in art when things align and the piece comes together easily. This portrait of Sim happened just that way. Other times it seems you paint, lift, paint more and still it is not what you want. In watercolor it is easy to loose the freshness by overworking.  It’s experiences like painting this black cat that cause me to continue to reach for magic moments when everything flows easily and comes together seemingly without effort. Tomorrow’s another day to paint. I am hoping for another day of magic. It might happen.  For now, I just want that black cat to get off my watercolor paper!


Going Green

 This is a recent small watercolor I did to enter the Iowa Watercolor Society’s miniature show. It’s fun to work on this scale. An artist can produce the work and have it in a frame all in one day. Who doesn’t love immediate gratification?

I love how the black stripe of the cloth reflects in the green apples. The stripes break the shadow area and makes it more interesting. Of course my favorite part of the painting is the striped cloth. It is like a puzzle to paint. Each stripe and area needs to fit together to look correct. You might notice I let some of the intensity of the stripes fade on the left side. This keeps the viewer focused on the apples and the side of the cloth with more interest. I also did not connect every stripe. Those in front are disconnected.  Too many stripes creates a busy peice and make the eyes want to leave the painting. With some stripes softer, and some not connected, the viewer can enjoy looking at the the piece without becoming overwhelmed by the stripes.

To see this piece and many other fine miniatures, stop by the show. It runs from May 17 through June 13 at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 1105 Grand Avenue, West Des Moines, Iowa. The gallery hours are Monday through Friday 8a.m. – 4pm. The opening reception, open to all, is May 17 from 6:30-8pm. There will be refreshments and some fun small art to experience. Hope I see you there!