Three Day


Three Day Notes

Day three started with no wind, so it was bright, cheery and perfect for a day of adventure. We started with breakfast at the Lemon Tree, always delicious and with a wonderful wait staff, willing to change orders with a smile. After a great breakfast, we headed out route 60 to the conservation areas near Yehaw Junction. I have always loved that name.

We found a lovely dirt road at Fort Drum Conservation area with beautiful fields of rust colored grasses and large palm hammocks throughout. There was a canal with inky black water along one side of the road. Mary Jane was in heaven! She loves to paint water and the jungle of mangroves and underbrush along the way. It was quite peaceful there and we spent some time enjoying the scenery and the many birds flitting from tree to tree. The songs they sang were lovely.

We headed back to Blue Cypress Preserve road and my interest picked up. There were miles of citrus groves and cattle ranch land, my favorite subjects. The painting on the blog today is of one of the ranches we saw. We arrived at Blue Cypress Lake Fish Camp. It was an impressive camp, very clean and well organized. Lots of boats, cabins for rent and a small store with snacks and fishing gear. The host was very nice to us, answering our many questions about boats , cabins and about the huge lake. We discovered that it is the headwaters to the St John’s River. There was a tall bridge for viewing the lake and the large cypress  trees were beautiful.

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We stopped at a ranch on our way back down the road to visit with the beautiful cattle and Mary Jane took great photos of them. We continued to another area of the preserve where large airboat tours were in progress. It was pretty but very commercial, so we skedaddled on along the highway, seeing palms canals and Cypress trees.

We rounded out our adventure at the Sebastian Conservation Center, where we will take a pontoon boat ride, thanks to our wonderful host Judy, tomorrow afternoon.

We had lunch, siesta, and finished off our day doing another small painting.

More to come…..

Two Day


Two Day Notes

Day two was excellent in our adventure in Vero Beach. We started out watching several manatees off the dock, then headed to the beach pavilion down the road from the condo. It was a delightful place with beautiful palms and sea grapes. The pavilion was large and covered,with a nice Boardwalk down to the beach. The color of the waves was blue and emerald as the crashed to shore. We will go back there  t orrow morning for a walk on the  beach.

We headed to the Lemon Tree restaurant for breakfast. It is my favorite breakfast spot in Vero Beach. Mary Jane had bacon and eggs with potatoes and I had corned beef hash, eggs and grits. It was delicious.

Mary Jane realized that the coffee pot was left on, so we headed back to turn it off. We then headed north to Sebastian Inlet, a nice camping and fishing spot. We then headed back south to Pelican Island, my favorite wildlife preserve in Vero. It is a small preserve but very beautiful. It is wild coastal Florida at its best. There is a paved walk that takes you to a boardwalk that rises to a beautiful platform at the Inlet. The boards are ingraved with all of the national wildlife preserves in the USA. We learned that the Pelican Island preserve is the oldest in the USA, opened in 1903. What a wonderful place! Mary Jane took great photos of an Anhinga sunning himself on a limb.

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We stopped at the local craft store and Fresh Market on our way home. We had a tasty lunch and then sacked out for afternoon siesta. At 4:30 we set up our paint boxes and painted a small painting.

We watched the sunset from the back porch and relaxed over a dinner of good left overs.


More to come……


One Day Vero

One Day Vero Notes

We have arrived at Judy’s condo after an adventurous day. We headed to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge first. We started with lunch at the Camelot Diner on US one, not far from the park. It was my kind of place. Plastic booths and Formica tables. The food and service was excellent. I had the tuna melt on rye with Swiss cheese and Mary Jane had the burger. Both came with two excellent sides. We were stuffed. A swell place to eat.

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We enjoyed the wildlife and the beautiful hammocks of tall cabbage palms, old twisted cedars and cypress along the way. We have been there several times and it is different each time we go. There were lots of Mallard ducks, Coots, Herons, Cormorants, Anhingas, Egrets and Ibis. We saw one Roseate Spoonbill.

The preserve is one of the best in Florida. The birding is top notch and the diversity of trees and vegetation are remarkable. The vegetation seemed very dry this time with a parched look in the pines, and even the mangroves, though they were standing in water. Unfortunately, our favorite trail in the park was closed due to the road conditions. I sure hope that is not a permanent closure.

We finally arrived in Vero and enjoyed a nice walk through the neighborhood, looking at Queen palms and Banyan trees before supper. Mary Jane took chef duty tonight. I will wash dishes.

The condo is wonderful, beautiful parquet floors, comfy chairs, and a lovely covered porch right on the water. We are very lucky to be here, and so grateful to Judy for the opportunity.

Tomorrow we begin to explore the areas of parks and nature preserves in the area. We will get a nice boat ride later this week, thanks to our beautiful hostess. I could get very used to this place quickly. We are being spoiled.

More to come…

Today is the Day


Today Notes

Today started busy and kept going. Today is the day to finish cleaning up my studio, do my sales taxes, pack my painting gear, and finish packing my suitcase. Thanks to my sister for going to the grocery store for me, so I can have a bit of food to take with me to Vero Beach.

It took the better part of the morning to finish the sales tax report and send in the payment, always a pain. Naturally I forgot my password and sign-in info, so I had to dig out my certificate and go through hoops on the web site to finally get it done. I fill face my federal taxes as soon as I get back from Vero, ugh.

Happily, my studio wasn’t too bad. I just had to clean up coffee cups, and clean off tables, the bird cage and the fish bowl. I also spent a fair amount of time picking painting panels, 8×10, paint box and the usual stuff that goes with it. I fit it all into one tote bag. I fit my clothes into another tote bag, and my food into a cardboard box. I basically have two totes and a box for a trip. I am a light packer.

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Sadly, I am leaving my office in shambles this week. I’m one of those people who like to leave my home world tidy, so I come home with the world under control. I won’t get my tables back until I return so that will be a project waiting for me to face. I also have several unfinished paintings in stages around the studio, but they will wait patiently for me until I’m home.

The painting residency will be quite busy, with several wild spaces, parks, etc. to visit in 5 days. We have a boat ride, curtesy of my dear friend and hostess Judy, at the Pelican Island Nature Preserve. A biologist will lead the tour and I’m very excited about that. I’ll be blogging from Vero Beach as I can during next week.

More to come…..








Hoot Notes

What a hoot! You are going to love this! This morning I’ve been working on my Facebook professional page, trying to get rid of some tabs on the page. Somehow, I switched the language I use into Chinese or another Asian language. Now I don’t know how I did it or how to get English back. All of FB is now in that language. Since I can’t read it , I don’t know how to fix it. What a hoot! I do crazy computer stuff like that all the time. We all know the old saying that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. This is so true in my case. I always think I can figure out everything and then get myself in a computer nightmare before I know it. I have certainly done that with this web site many times. I had a professional designer make the initial site for me and set it up. Then I started fiddling with it, little by little until I got to where I could manage it myself. I have done ok for the most part, but have made some doozy mistakes as well. I can’t read code so I am a simpleton at this. I may have to hire somebody who manages FB pages to sort it all out.

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I’m off to my town studio today. I have had such a busy January that I can barely keep up. I leave Monday for my residency in Vero Beach and am desperately trying to get packed, clean up the studio, help my sis with her estate sale, etc.,etc. I have a bunch of stuff in the back of my car I have yet to unload into the studio. I’ve only gotten half of the post cards sent out for my Chili Party on February 11th, I am way behind as usual.

It’s time for me to learn Chinese.

More to come……






Glazing Fun


Glazing Fun Notes

Today I had a great time with my oil painting class. I introduced them to the fun of glazing with transparent paints. They did a swell job and caught on right away.  We prepainted a still life with four colors and had it dry before the class. We used some glazing mediums with opaque colors, and I showed them my collections of transparent oil colors, and used them to glaze over my pears without medium. I love glazing with both oils and acrylics. The oils have such a lovely luminosity and have wonderful lost edges and soft edges as well.  I hope they had as much fun as I did. We will continue this next month to have another practice session before moving on to a new topic.

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Sunday I want to set the studio back to rights  and get in a little painting time before I leave for my Vero Beach residency. I’m working on a 12×16 painting in oils, and hope to get pretty far along on it by Sunday night. I’m playing around with a limited palette for this new painting, sap green, ultramarine blue, red iron oxide, Paynes gray, yellow ochre, titanium white.  It is a palette I put to a chart some years ago. I have always liked it, especially for winter in Florida.  The oxide and ultramarine make wonderful browns and grays for the tree trunks.

I usually mix all of my greens, but now and then I like to use sap for a palette. I can cool it off with blue or warm it up with orange or yellow. It is quite versatile. It is a great black, mixed with blue and oxide. It is also fairly transparent for glazing.

I love residencies and always have a swell time, but at the same time, I hate leaving my studio and my routine. I’m happy to go and happy to get back to my easel again on my return.

Pack and Prepare


Pack and Prepare Notes

I’m in the process of preparing for my oil painting class and pack up for my painting residency trip to Vero Beach. I pack minimally for residencies, a few pair of shorts, t shirts, bathroom stuff, and a couple of around town unpainted slacks and shirts. My Ipad, I phone, a charger and a few grubs and I’m ready. I also have to pack up a paint box and a few panels to paint a little on the trip, since that is supposed to be my purpose there. Truth to tell, I enjoy exploring the most and getting a few reference photos while there. It is a chance to get a little rest for a few days out of my busy schedule. My painter pal, Mary Jane Volkmann will be joining me on this trip. We take many trips together and always have a great time talking shop every day and hanging around the wild places. I’ll be blogging about it every day as time permits.

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I spent this afternoon preparing for my new oil painting class who will arrive tomorrow. We are going to be doing some glazing techniques tomorrow on still life objects. We all did an underpainting in the same four colors to bring to class, where we will be using transparent glazing techniques on those paintings. Good times in the studio. I ordered new glazing oils this afternoon, as mine are running out and getting pretty old. They should be here by the time I get back from Vero Beach.  I’ve always enjoyed this process and I don’t know why I got out of the habit. That is one thing teaching does for me. I remember things I studied at one time and come back to them to share with my students. Glazing transparent oils is a wonderful technique, adding luminous and rich color to a painting.

More to come…

Sprucing up


Sprucing Up Notes

It’s time for sprucing up my town studio. Today I’ve been rehanging some paintings and taking some home.  I brought in the Paul Kalb Abstract series and they are all framed alike. Our store designer Cathy, hung them on a small wall together. They are colorful and fun and at a very nice price point for buyers. I will see if they sell. If they don’t in 6 months I will know it wasn’t a great plan.


I packed up all of my little flower paintings  to take to my Country Studio  for my Chili Party in February. I really need to get the rest of those post cards sent out for the party. I’m so far behind that I think I’m ahead all the time. When I get back next Saturday from my residency in Vero Beach, I’m going to have to get busy on my plan for the party.

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My studio parties are simple affairs. I do a post card mail out, clean the studio up, get the student tables out, all my painting materials put away, hang paintings from floor to ceiling, set up my signs, put easels in the yard with paintings on them, set up my Chili with toppings, bowls and cutlery, set up a sales table with my square reader, and my fridge full of non-alcoholic drinks.

I got rid of booze at my parties about 10 years ago. It was the smartest thing I ever did. I used to get dozens of people who only came to drink free booze, with no interest in art at all. There are also liability issues for drinking at my studio, as well as significant cost to provide booze, which cuts your profits greatly.

I always serve real food for my parties, always the same three foods for my 3 parties a year. People know they are going to have food, not snacks. They seem to enjoy not having wine and cheese.

I usually have someone at the party to handle the sales, and wrapping the paintings in craft paper so I can enjoy my guests who are the real reason I have the party. I consider my studio parties to be a thank you Tom all of the friends who support me each year.

Trail Plein Air


Trail Plein Air Notes

Today was Trail Plein Air class for my Blondheim Study Group. It was the first time for several students to paint outside. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well they adapted to the great outdoors. There were very few complaints, save one from a painter who couldn’t seem to find anything she thought interesting. I, being a life long woods woman who paints trees, could spend a hundred years and never paint everything I want to on the trail. Different strokes and all that.

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We started today with “starts”, for about thirty minutes for each painting. We got from two to three starts done and will bring them back next month to finish them. After the painting session, we relaxed in my studio for beverages, snacks, and shop talk. I really enjoyed the lesson and I hope they did too.  I had two guests today from Australia and New Zealand, who came with one of my students. It was marvelous to have them and they were super nice, fitting right into the group seamlessly. I so love all of my students. We have a wonderful time together. Next month we will do the finishes on our paintings and then study foreshortening of limbs and canopies of trees.

I started this plein air class to make myself go back out on location a few times a month. When I lost my long time painting residency in Evinston, I lost the will to paint outside any more. I have rheumatoid arthritis and it is more difficult for me to drag the equipment around. I had a golf cart to use at my residency and so it was easy there. Now that I am teaching plein air, I have to do it so it is good for me to get back to it again. It’s not really the painting that is important outside, it is the time I spend observing and feeling the out door experience. Truth to tell, I’ve always been a better studio painter than plein air and most of my studio work out sells plein air by 5 to 1. There is nothing magical about painting en plein air. I’ve done it for 30 years and did it long before I ever heard the French name for painting outside. I consider plein air to be study work.

Goofing Around


Goofing Around Notes

Sometimes I like goofing around in my studio, first with acrylics in the morning and then oils in the afternoon. It is a lot of fun switching up mediums and I really recommend that artists use more than one medium. I learn so much by using two. If not for oils, I never would have been able to conquer acrylics and make them look like a painting instead of a flat cartoon. It actually took me about 8 years to learn how to make acrylics look good. It was so exasperating. I gave up about 50 times, but I was determined not to let them defeat me. I ended up putting my oils away for 18 months and painted only with acrylics during that time. I did eventually learn how to paint with them. When I got my oils back out to use, I had to start over with them entirely.  At that point, I knew I would need to paint with both regularly to keep my skill set good. Now I love painting with both.

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I also love goofing around the studio with frames, my tools, sorting through painting and rehanging, and sometimes just listening to podcasts while I clean brushes or tidy up.  I just love my country studio. It was my Daddy’s workshop and so it means a great deal to me. My Paddiwhack studio is fine for retail sales, but too small to teach in or paint in. I’ve had many studios over my long career and I have loved all of them, from closet size to huge warehouse size. I am always looking for a larger retail studio, where I can teach too. I’ve not found it yet, but eventually I’ll luck into one. These days prices are high, even in the warehouse district. Perhaps it will come along when I least expect it.

More to come….