So I participated in my first workshop…

In mid November I took part in a 3 day plein air watercolor workshop with renown painter Steve Rogers. He specializes in paintings of boats and reflections in water, along with other landscapes and abstractions. Boats aren’t really my ideal subject matter, but I’m always willing to learn from others. I have never attempted to work in plein air so I wanted to try.

The supply list was a little overwhelming considering I had already purchased 95% of my watercolor materials and supplies in the past nine months, and that was quite an expenditure. Ah well, what’s a few more tubes of paint and one more  sable brush? I was crafty enough to create a plein air easel out of an old camera tripod (a hand-me-down from my dad) and a beat up masonite board. I still possessed my Office Depot rolling cart from my English teacher days; it held all my supplies nicely and acted as a table with the lid in place.


Old Aluminum tripod with old masonite clipboard attached via block with screw receptor
Attachment detail — I glued a piece of scrap wood onto masonite board, and inserted screw receptor. It may be easier if one has a tripod with a quick release foot, but this one did not.
Office Depot rolling box along with folding stool I found on Amazon — gotta keep supplies small and light as possible

The first day of the workshop we were stuck working inside due to inclement weather. I’m not even going to post what I worked on, as it was a spectacular failure. I worked too small, included too much detail, tried to replicate a photograph instead of create a painting. Fortunately we had presentations to watch. Steve demonstrated his technique and preferred materials for our group, and I picked up quite a few tips. I’ve been struggling with skies, and it was enlightening to watch him create visual interest in the sky by using cobalt and cerulean blue with yellow ochre and a little quinacridone gold. Of course the more varied a sky the more leeway one has with color, but I had some paintings in progress with clear blue skies that were just boring. After this lesson I went home and reworked one of these paintings to much better effect.

The flat cerulean sky was so boring. I went back in with cobalt and yellow ochre to create visual interest.

The next day was sunny and calm so we carpooled to a local marina and set up our easels. I was glad my easel went up easily and remained stable in the breezes that came up around lunchtime. I discovered that several of the other painters were well versed with sailboats and knew what all the bits and bobs were on these vessels. I drew what I saw the best I could, but boy it gets confusing looking at all that information. I chose a close up view of a boat that I thought was particularly charming.

I was attracted to the warm teak wood and the green accents at the waterline, around the ports, and the tie-off rope

The process of painting outdoors went smoothly. A bee or two showed interest in my honey-based paint (M.Graham), but otherwise I worked for most of the morning with no problems. I took breaks and walked around to see what others were creating. It was fun to see the different viewpoints and applications. There were also some cool old boats at this marina; wooden boats with character are getting harder to find, as is access to places like this without a membership. It was a lovely morning, until the shade I was sitting in gave way to hot Florida sunshine. I endured it a little while longer, then we packed up and headed back to our indoor studio. I wasn’t totally in love with my painting, but I think for a first effort I did all right.

Things got a little muddy, but not a bad first effort

I might try to paint it again from my photo. I find my phone takes better pictures sometimes than I see in front of me IRL.

The third day we were stuck inside again. Frustrated with my lack of personal boat pictures, I went online and found a photo with bright color, nice reflections, and strong lines. I can’t use my final painting for anything except a demo or a gift, as I have no idea of the source of my image and I am sensitive to using uncredited imagery. But it was a challenging exercise to apply some of the workshop techniques into final form.

Fishing boats moored in Malta, from an unsourced online photograph. I practiced creating a varied sky and strong contrasts within the image.

I have a looooong way to go learning watercolor. I love working with it so much, however, that the journey should be fun and rewarding. Just no more boats with oodles of rigging…


Making a Joyful Mess Since 1991

I am a painter, printmaker, photographer, and general mess-maker working and playing in Florida and Tennessee. My artwork is inspired by my observations during walks on the beach or in the woods, backroads drives through the rural South, and readings on ancient history and mythology. When I am not making art, I am spending time with my husband, visiting my adult children, and dealing with my silly dog and whiny cat. I also enjoy birdwatching, catching the occasional fish, riding my bike, tending a messy garden, and drinking craft beer. We bought an RV this year and hope to go on many adventures.

(yes they match)

I am a graduate of the University of Central Florida and the University of Georgia, earning degrees in their respective visual arts programs. After years of working as a graphic designer, raising children, and working in education, I have finally reached the point where I can work exclusively on my creative endeavors. I am currently a member of the Titusville (soon to be North Brevard) Art League, the Central Brevard Art Association, the Brevard Watercolor Society, and the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). 

All artwork posted in the galleries is for sale unless noted.