Painting – Sophie’s Auntie

Sophie’s Auntie – Copyright 2018 K A Drissel

Last year, while enjoying Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica, we bought fruit from a beautiful island woman. This lady wore her basket of fruit like a crown and was dressed as if she was going to church. In a word, she was regal. We didn’t ask her name, but when the next vendor came by, selling necklaces made out of bead and shell, she told us the fruit vendor was her ‘Auntie.’ This time I remembered to ask a name, the necklace vendor said, “My name is Sophie.” So, the title of the painting was ordained before I even put brush to paper, “Sophie’s Auntie.”

At 24 x 24 inches, the painting is larger than I usually attempt in my watercolor painting. It is painted on Arches 300 lb Cold Press paper with Winsor & Newton watercolors. My palette had a mother color, this is a shade that I mix in varying degrees into all the other colors. The mother color in this palette was Burnt Umber. Additional colors were Winsor Blue Red Shade, Winsor Blue Green Shade, Quinacridone Magenta, Winsor Yellow, Olive Green, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. I also used my Derwent Inktense Pencils to create the flecks of color in the sand. The tip can be found here: Creating Texture with Colored Pencils. I hope you like “Sophie’s Auntie.” I relived the beautiful sunny day while I painted her and felt like I was on vacation again.

Painting – Throwback Thursday/Bob Ross & Sepia

Today’s Throwback Thursday is a tribute to Bob Ross and his ‘Happy Little Trees.’ Bob Ross had a magnetic, upbeat personality that came right out of the television and touched your heart. I watched his show many times, and my youngest son, in his pre-teen years, painted using Bob’s techniques a few times too.

Robert Norman “Bob” Ross (October 29, 1942 – July 4, 1995) was an American painter, art instructor, and television host. He was widely known as the creator and host of The Joy of Painting, an instructional television program that aired from 1983 to 1994 on PBS in the United States, and also aired in Canada, Latin America and Europe. With a soft voice and a permed afro, Ross went from being a television personality in the ’80s and ’90s to an Internet celebrity popular with fans on YouTube and many other websites. ~ Wikipedia

Many of Bob’s videos can still be viewed on YouTube. During these long winter days and snowed-in weekends, break out some old paints and try his technique. You might amaze yourself at what you can do.
* Thanks to a comment on this post I can also add Netflix and Amazon Prime as two sources of Bob Ross Videos.

Sepia is today’s Crayola color in Color Your World – 120 Days of Crayola.

“Sepia is a reddish-brown color, named after the rich brown pigment derived from the ink sac of the common cuttlefish Sepia. The word sepia is the Latinized form of the Greek σηπία, sēpía, cuttlefish.” ~ Wikipedia


I have a few Sepia tones in this unfinished watercolor. The watercolor, a painting of the creek that runs near my home, has been untouched for months. Why? This might sound strange, or perhaps you can totally relate, but I am so pleased with the form and colors to this point, I am terrified to touch it again in case I mess it up. This came about because the last thing I attempted to paint, or should I say, fix in the painting, was the reflections of the tree trunks in the water, and they gave me a devil of a time. Now, I am afraid to go back into it with my brushes because I don’t want to risk losing what I have done thus far. How silly you are probably saying, and I am saying it too. Perhaps this confession will lift the fear, I’ll laugh at myself and continue on. I wonder if this is why some paintings in museums tend to look not quite finished. Perhaps the artist was afraid he was going to mess it up if he continued. I’ll update…one of these days…when the painting is finished. Sigh….

Painting – WetCanvas November Painting Challenges

It’s been awhile since I’ve included a painting challenge in a blog post. These two challenges are posted on the WetCanvas Website. If you love art of any type, take a look at the many forums on this site.


The first challenge I might attempt is in the Watercolor Studio. The reference photograph, posted by Yorky, is of Baddesly Clinton Manor, in Warwickshire, UK. This challenge is limited to the medium of watercolor. If you have a set of watercolors gathering dust, break them out and attempt this challenge. Follow along, or comment in the forum. The Wetcanvas website is free. Register to post art or comment in the threads. When you finish your painting, post it in the forum for others to see. There is not a set date for posting or a deadline for this challenge.

Lily by Stalksthedawn
Lily by Stalksthedawn

The second challenge is offered through the Floral/Botanicals forum on Wetcanvas. This month’s WetCanvas Plant Parade/November 2015 Challenge is the beautiful Lily. There are many reference photographs included, or you can use a reference of your own. All art mediums are permitted. This challenge has a posting/reveal date of November 25th.

Hopefully, I will get my brushes busy and be able to show a step-by-step example of how I attempt these challenges.

Painting – Floral Parade Challenge – Magnolias

Photo Courtesy of WetCanvas Library and Duhvinci
Photo Courtesy of WetCanvas Library and Duhvinci

The WetCanvas Plant Parade Challenge for March 2015 is the Magnolia.

Photo Courtesy of WetCanvas and Macdragon
Photo Courtesy of WetCanvas and Macdragon

These are a few of the reference photographs available for the challenge. You are also free to use one of your own. Any media can be used for the challenge. Please visit WetCanvas and the Floral and Botanical forum for the rules and more information. WetCanvas Plant Parade March 2015

Photo courtesy of WetCanvas and Lady Carol
Photo courtesy of WetCanvas and Lady Carol

Product & Pressed Flowers


I found a new set of pearlescent watercolors this weekend. They are made by Yasutomo and available in craft stores and online. The set was less than ten dollars, and with the added benefit of a 40% off coupon, quite a bargain. I use Winsor & Newton watercolors, but am enchanted by the idea of adding a little touch of shimmer to a few of my more creative watercolor attempts.


The first thing I did was number the paints and make a chart to see how the watercolors reacted on paper. They are very pearly and quite sheer. The permanent marker is easily seen through all the colors.

I also experimented with a scrap of torn painting. The pearlescent pink added shimmer to the petals, but still let the detail come through.



Another plus is the watercolors perk up the faded colors of old pressed flowers. These johnny-jump-ups were very drab, but the pearlescent paint added a bit of gleam and color. I can’t wait to experiment with this effect and will probably create a few greeting cards to have on hand.



If you like to paint give these lovely watercolors a try.

PostScript: I found these to be very hard in texture. Before using, add a bit of water to each pan. Allow the water to sit and loosen up the paint for a few minutes before you begin to paint.

Painting – Aquabord and November Plant Parade


I recently took part in the WetCanvas Plant Parade for November. The category was rainbows and I chose the rosebud reference photograph to watercolor.

large rosebud

I used a piece of 5×7 Aquabord for this painting.  I love Aquabord’s sturdy, non-warping background. I also am impressed by Aquabord’s easy release of watercolor. I “lift” paint quite a bit when I watercolor, and the Aquabord lets the paint loosen and lift like a dream. Unfortunately, this same asset can quickly become a nightmare. I never use Aquabord without a struggle to get my washes smooth. Often when I lift the paint, more is removed than necessary.

I enjoyed creating the background for this watercolor. The Aquabord stayed very wet and allowed the watercolors to blend beautifully. The same wet into wet blending also caused a bit of a problem…the paint ran over the outer edges of the rosebud.


No worries about losing edges when painting with Aquabord. A stiff brush, a little water, and I wiped and dabbed the watercolor off the rosebuds petals and stem.


One day, I hope to use Aquabord for a large watercolor, but right now I’m content to learn on smaller versions of this interesting watercolor board.


The best news of all about Aquabord is that it does not need to framed under glass. A light spray of clear matte acrylic and your painting can be hung without the glare of glass to distort its shape and colors.

Painting & Quick Tip – Two on Tuesday/Tracing with Ease

I know “How to Grid a Photo”. I have used the technique many times to enlarge a photo to a larger-sized canvas or paper. The finished results are usually acceptable and contain a lot of detail. The drawback is this method is tedious and chews up a lot of time. I work in watercolors and often don’t need a lot of detail in the initial sketch. For me, a quicker way to get results is to enlarge a reference photograph in a photo editor, remove the color, and filter with a “find edges” application. After I print this out, it becomes easy to trace over the found edges by taping the print to a window allowing the light to reveal the outline for tracing. A lightbox also works, but they can be expensive, and become one more piece of equipment I must store.


This method provides me with a basic sketch, saving hours of time, and allows me to add any detail or adjustment I need. This technique will work for journaling, poster making, lettering, any type of artwork that needs to be traced.

Painting – Faux Botanical/Zinnia


I love botanical watercolors, but I don’t have enough minutes in the day to attempt painting one. If truth be told, even if I had the time, I’m not sure I would have the inclination; botanical watercolors are painstaking and precise. I like having a bit more freedom and fun when I paint. Instead of following the traditional route I paint “faux” botanicals, or maybe a better term would be a floral portrait. At first glance my watercolors appear to be botanicals, but on closer inspection a professional would see there are many flower details left out.

Step by Step Slideshow


Watercolor Tip – To remove a finished painting from a watercolor block, use a piece of an old credit card and slide between sheets. Gently work the card around until the paper completely lifts away from the block.

Thanks for looking! 😀

Of course, I had to include the inchworm.


I’m pleased with the new addition to my “faux” botanicals in the hallway.


Painting – “An Iris with Words” / July’s WetCanvas Plant Parade Challenge

Iris / Plant Parade Challenge July

I am delighted when I find the time to take part in the WetCanvas Challenges. In July I painted an Iris in watercolor in the Plant Parade Challenge. I went outside my comfort zone and added a bit of word collage to the watercolor. The purist within screamed, “NO! The brave soul in me won and shouted, “Onward!”

The painting, 5 x 7, Winsor & Newton watercolors,  is not my best floral, nor is it my worst. It is a watercolor floral I will remember always though…why…because I DID step out of my comfort zone. Hallelujah!

Iris with Words

You can follow the whole thread here:
July WetCanvas Plant Parade July 2014 Thread

The August Plant Parade Challenge/Daisies/Hosted by Just Jean
You  can find the link here:
August Plant Parade Challenge




Painting – Watercolor Tip


I think I’ve mentioned one of my favorite watercolor tips in the past, but it is worth repeating. When mixing colors it is best to let them pool beside each other, just touching, instead of mixing them together with your brush. By laying them side by side on your palette you will get a more natural blending of the colors. Load your watercolor brush with the color that has swirled together to create the shade you are seeking. The samples below are my attempts to create natural looking greens. The watercolor shades I used are: Prussian Blue, Winsor Yellow, New Gamboge, Quinacridone Gold & Burnt Sienna.





Painting – Rocks on Tioga Road/WetCanvas Challenge

I finally finished my attempt at the WetCanvas Watercolor Studio Challenge for April. You can find the finished work of all the participants in the challenge at: WetCanvas April Challenge

Rocks on Tioga Road near Tenaya Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California.

Winsor and Newton Watercolors: Prussian Blue, Burnt Sienna, New Gamboge, Winsor Yellow, Quinacridone Gold & Neutral Tint/Arches Cold Press Watercolor Block 140 lb  Size: 12 x 16

painting 009

Paintings – WetCanvas March Group Challenge


tulips 001

Tulips – 8×8

I love taking part in the WetCanvas Watercolor Studio Group Challenges. Each month a new reference photo is chosen, and then it is so interesting to see everyone’s interpretation. I am sometimes disappointed by my paintings, because…well…they look like mine! Other painters would know exactly what I mean by that. The longer I paint it seems the more firmly ingrained my style.  No matter if I try new techniques…the watercolors shout out who painted them. I guess this can be considered a good thing, but I sure wish I could learn how to be looser and have a less heavy hand.

Check out all the beautiful paintings of the tulips at this link: WetCanvas March Challenge

The challenge does not close at the end of the month…try your hand at the tulips too.

The April challenge is proving harder for me…a landscape with beautiful rock formations in the foreground. You can see the reference photo here: WetCanvas April Challenge
Please pick up your watercolors and brushes and take part. It’s so much fun!

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Painting – Hibiscus/WetCanvas February Challenge

hibiscus wet canvas february 2013

I had a great time taking part in the WetCanvas February Watercolor Challenge. I love watercolor flowers and enjoyed painting my rendition of the reference photograph. Thanks to Yorky for the photograph and the opportunity. Take a look here at the challenge: WetCanvas February Challenge. There is still plenty of time to break out the watercolors and take part. A link to the WetCanvas website is at the top right hand corner of this blog. Happy Painting!

WetCanvas February Challenge – Hibiscus

8 x 10

Winsor and Newton Watercolors

Arches 300 lb Cold Press Paper

Paintings – Treasured Antique Watercolors

daisy mccormack

A few years ago while browsing a local yard sale I found this sweet little watercolor of a campanula/harebell. On the back was this inscription:

daisy mccormack back

The little picture is doubly precious to me because of the signature and inscription.It is one of my treasures and hangs on my bedroom wall. I have often wondered who Daisy was, and if she lived in this area. My one regret is that she did not date the back of the back of the painting. I am reminded by this to always date the back of my own work, and as a lesson from Daisy, always title and give an explanation of the work if possible.

postal stamp picture

Another small treasure I have had in my possession for even longer is this small watercolor and stamp art painting that is signed “Souvenir Quebec.” On the back is a stamped address:

stamp picture back

I searched the Internet and came up with the history of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

Franciscan Missionaries of Mary