So many decision points along the way

The one thing about being retired is that there are so many fewer decisions to make during a day, which is a good thing!  I sleep a bit better than I used to when I worked in part because the weight of those decisions doesn’t keep me up.

Or does it?  Lately I’ve been keeping track of the decisions that I make during an unscheduled day.  Watercolor or mixed media?  Clean the art space or just clear a spot to make more art?  Journal or make a piece of art?  Make art or watch videos of making art?   Work on updating my Etsy site or work to complete pieces to sell on my site?  Draw or paint?  Exercise or paint?  Garden or paint?  I’ve found that I’m waking up early with so many decisions on my mind it just can’t shut down.  How to corral and control those decisions so they don’t control me?

Sometimes it’s easy.  I’m taking an on-line class and there is a finite amount of time to get things done for the lesson.  Recently that’s been a watercolor class so I’ve spent lots of time sketching and painting to keep up with the class.  I have a few real classes coming up in a few weeks so some time has been taken gathering supplies and preparing for those so I can make the most out of that real time experience.

blue woman

But sometimes I get antsy – do you too?  I’m not very disciplined so that when I’m working in one media, I’m often thinking of what I would do in the other mediums I enjoy.  I also am easily sidetracked by new information and pretty pictures so if one of the bloggers I follow has some new product or new technique that fits in my wheelhouse, I find that I want to take off and try it right away!

I have tried some solutions – taking time to write down ideas that I have to save for later so that I don’t forget them while also allowing me to continue on my current path.  And that works sometimes.  What I find, though, is that I’m anxious to move on from one thing to another probably too fast so that in the end, I’m not doing justice to any of my work!  I’ve decided to focus and do better on this – but does anyone have good suggestions for what works best for you?


Right now I’m trying to revive my Etsy site since I’ve let it languish a bit.  I really enjoy the conversations and interactions I have with folks who have purchased my work – it brings good vibes and I truly enjoy moving things on to new homes.  As part of the reinvigoration, I decided to change my shop name to MKJartworks.  The old name came from one of the first email addresses we had way back when email first started – and made sense for John and I, but never made sense as my shop name.  The link on the side still works but you’ll note a new name when you visit, which I hope you will!

Enjoy the weekend!




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It’s September – time for new things

Does it feel the same way to you – there is something about the chill in the air and the calendar turning to September that instills a sense that it’s time to learn new things?  I know Spring is supposed to be the time of renewal but for me that sense most often comes in September.  I think it must be that the many years of starting school at the end of the summer became so ingrained in us that we never quite enter Fall without feeling like we should be in school no matter how old we get!photo 1

My September has included learning new things about art – mainly watercolor but with a healthy dose of sketching.    It’s a new thing for me to feel like I’m able to capture what’s in front of me on paper in a way that pleases me and looks reasonably like how I meant it to look!  Thanks to my continuing class with Jane LaFazio my comfort zone is being expanded just a bit – and I think the daily practice helps too!

photoOne of the things I am most enjoying is actually using my blank journals!  I don’t know about you but I’m a collector of really great watercolor and sketching journals – and have a number of them with absolutely no used pages.  As a recovering perfectionist it’s been hard to think about ruining that really great journal by making a mess in it.  But that’s what they’re for and it’s been feeling really good to mess up some pages, but in a good way.

photo 2I’m certainly enjoying working on my art and moving the needle forward on my ability to paint and draw.  I hope that I’m creating good art discipline habits since that’s what school was all about, right?  Learning good habits including the habit of life long learning!  And I’m hoping to take a semester break abroad to put my skills to good use capturing my travels in an art journal.  More on that later…

What about you – does Fall bring you new learning opportunities?


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Where’d you go, Bernadette?

Okay, I know my name is not Bernadette but that title had such a nice ring to it. And I have been gone for a while.  Seems like my posting stopped about the time Summer of Color went away.  I think that was just a coincidence – I think that life just got in the fast lane and before I realized it, weeks have gone by since my last post!

photo 4Life and art are moving forward.  I’ve been mostly dabbling in watercolor – taking on-line classes from Jacqueline Newbold, Diana Gessler and I just started an art journaling class with Jane LaFazio.

photo 3

Just when I think I have something down, I try something new and it doesn’t work quite as well as I’d like, but that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  I’m trying to get used to using brushes that have a water reservoir after using standard brushes dipped in water and finding them harder to manage, but they are also the best tool to take along to sketch.

And that’s what I’m working toward – becoming a better watercolor sketcher.  Feeling confident enough to pull out my sketchbook to record a moment in time, whether it is in my hood or when I’m halfway across the world.  I so admire folks who can do that and have sketchbooks of their trips.

photo 5

The above sketch isn’t perfect, but it is me and in “my style” which is beginning to emerge. The proportions aren’t perfect but in Jane’s course I’m learning to look and take the time to “see” the object I’m drawing and get all the lines and nuances captured.  I’m excited because I have an in-person journaling class with Jacqueline Newbold when CREATE comes to Seattle in October. It will be just before we take off for a two-week vacation where I hope to spend time journaling each day.  I have high hopes.

photo 2

What have you all been up to?


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Continuing on a colorful journey

So maybe it all started with Summer of Color and the foray into new and interesting color combinations.  Or maybe it was the cover of the newest issue of Uppercase with its beautiful color wheel on front.  Or it could have been the trip to Island Quilter and their wonderful array of Kaffe Fassett fabric.  Or maybe it was the trip to Daniel Smith yesterday for their factory tour followed by playing with watercolor paints!  Whatever it was, I’m still on a color kick!

thread blog

I’m going to break in to my stash of Aurifil threads soon but couldn’t help noticing how pretty this Laurel Burch array of thread is all together – doesn’t it just make you want to dive in?

color chart blogAnd the color chart is ALMOST done….just need to get that Permanent Magenta into my palette so that I can make all the color mixed.  I had the hardest time cleaning out my mixing palette each time…all the color mixes on that white enamel were so pretty.  I almost took a photo each time before I cleaned but then thought that got silly….but all that yummy color all over and just not enough time to find something new to paint each time.

backyeard blogAnd I have tried to draw something each day, my personal mission I set up to test whether I can be trusted with a travel journal!  This isn’t great, but it is better than it might have been two weeks ago.  There should be a chair to the right…..but it needs work.  There should be more dark to the right of the tree.  But working fast and working to finish are a couple of goals, knowing that when I finish this one, I can try to draw another.  This also gave me a good excuse to try out some of my color mixes that I learned from making my color chart.  AND gave me a place to use the new Daniel Smith Green Apatite Genuine!  Can’t wait to use that one more.

I’m seeing color all around right now and working to take it all in as well as capture some of it.  I need to get back to my fantasy journal class where there is lots of color, too….and I have some new ideas for some mixed media pieces running around in my head.  And a fun thing – I just ordered a Nuvango  iPad cover of my newest art piece (the original is over on Etsy).  I can’t wait to use some of my art to protect my iPad!

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A gray day – PERFECT for making colors!

We’re getting some much needed rain here in the Pac NW – coming down really hard and it is pretty dark outside!  But my plants are loving it and it is the perfect excuse not to be working in the yard but instead inside playing with watercolors!

And what’s not to like with all the rainbow of colors available?  To tell you the truth, I had NO IDEA about watercolor paints – I thought they all came in those hard palettes we had as kids, little cakes that you activate with a wet brush when you want to mush color around.  I had no idea about the tubes and the rare earths and supplies necessary to make paint.  I’m really excited – my step-daughter and I are going to tour the Daniel Smith factory on Saturday and at the end, we get to experiment a bit with their colors!  I have a reasonable starter set now, but after a lecture last week and the tour this week, I’m betting I’ll come home with colors that granulate (I hope to learn what that means!).

photo 2

Jacqueline Newbold gave us instructions last year in her Artful Gathering class for making a color chart using all of our colors and mixing them across to see what kinds of colors we could achieve using our palette.  I’ve expanded my palette a bit since the original set and I’m seeing new colors all the time but I thought it was really worth taking some time to see what colors I could achieve with what I have.  It’s time consuming but I think I’ll be really happy in the end that I took some time out to make this color key.

photo 3

I don’t know about you but do you notice sometimes that when you are paying attention to something, it seems to show up everywhere?  That’s what seems to be going on with me and color and in particular color wheels. I’ve been tripping around on the internet and discovered Jane Blundell (a link to her color wheels here.)  In here wheel she mixes colors across the wheel so I decided, since my paper has two sides, I would do that too.  And I swooned over the cover of this quarter’s Uppercase magazine (I’ve put a link here.)  So much so that I subscribed this year – this color issue looks AWEsome and I can’t wait to get my copy!  

photo 4

And of course I can’t seen to quite let go of my little quilting detour I seem to take now and then.  Maybe it’s the rain but I started playing with some new and old fabrics today too.  After all, I had to have something colorful to do while the paints dried!

Hope you are having a colorful day wherever you are!


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Serious reorganization required!

Take a class, add some new materials.  Watch a demo, add some new materials.  Talk to a friend about their art materials, add some new material.  All those material have just been floating into the art space with no general direction.  But since I’ve now added watercolor sketching and journaling and the associated tools to all my other mixed media mayhem, it was time today to try to take control!

I’m not totally disorganized – I can’t be creative if there is too much chaos – but I’ve gotten to the point that I can’t put my hands on the materials that I need when I need them and so I take too much time away from creating when I have to move into search and rescue mode.  So today was about bringing a bit more order.

photo 3

I now have some special pens particular to sketching and I needed a place for those.  I want to do some ATCs on watercolor paper and I need to have a place to store those.  I have a lot of plastic vegetable bags for providing texture in my mixed media journal pages that show up in 4 different drawers – they just need to find one home together, probably with the other household texture materials.  Stuff like that.

photo 6

I have some cool ways to store my materials – nice places to store my brushes and pencils and pens – but with so many different kinds of media I’m finding that I really need to find particular places for particular tools….not all brushes are created equal!

In part I hope the reorganization will also help me see how to dabble in multiple art disciplines at the same time.  I’m enjoying the learning and new methods for watercolor sketching and painting but I also want to keep my mixed media art going because I have a LOT of ideas running around in my head.


In line with my mixed media, I wanted to let you know about a new place that I’ve uploaded some of my art in ways that you can make it your own!  I’ve purchased iPad skins and phone cases from Gela skins in the past – I think they are the best product out there to protect your stuff and I did not take my newest iPad around without my Gela skin.  I got a notice this weekend that they have changed their name to Nuvango and invited artists to upload art so others may buy it!  So, I uploaded a few of my favorite pieces onto the site – can’t decide yet which iPad skin I want to order, but hopefully you’ll go take a look at my page at Nuvango.  It would be GREAT if you could favorite a couple of my pieces you like.  I’d LOVE to have some of my art running around on someone else’s iPhone – how cool would that be?  And what incentive to stay organized and to keep making art!


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Its All Over Now

No, summer isn’t over – far from it here in the sunny Pacific Northwest.  But Summer of Color is.  Like so many other participants, I can’t believe it is gone already.  Such a quick 6 weeks!  Again, a big shout out to Kristin Van V over at Twinkle, Twinkle for bringing together this online art community once a year to play around with color in all our many mediums.  It’s been a blast, it’s been good for my art and it’s been fun to connect with so many other bloggers!

My husband and I have been going to our neighborhood farmer’s market every Wednesday afternoon this summer, in theory for the vegetables but mostly for the fruit and I’ve been so enjoying the Tomcot Apricots in particular.  This week’s color choices were a good excuse to try to capture those colors in a watercolor sketch since they are a deep golden with a swath of raspberry color.  And I had a stamp that was a perfect match.  And since I’d drawn a spoon the week before, thought I’d try a lemon yellow fork.


Okay, so it’s true I have a ways to go.  Perspective and proper dimensions still elude me just a bit, but today I’ll sign up for a class over at Artful Gathering to help me with sketching…hopefully I can show you all improvement next year when we meet again for Summer of Color!

Thanks so much to all my new visitors – I hope to keep up with many of your blogs and your artistic ventures this year!

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Too soon, it’s all over. But I’ve learned a bit

I can’t believe it – already we are on week 6, the final week, of Summer of Color!  The colors are sumptuous, tangerine, raspberry with a hint of yellow and my piece is started.  Well, okay, started, completed and rejected and a new piece begun.



This has been a great 6 weeks for me.  I’ve been more artistic and more active in my art in part due to all the energy of so many artists and the interesting prompts from Kristin over on Twinkle, Twinkle.  I’ve used colors that I love, like the combination above, and colors that I don’t use often, like last week’s red, blue and light blue or week 3’s Purple, Gray and a hint of white.  But in all of them, I’ve ultimately liked the results.

As I do every year, I learned a LOT, not just about my own art, but also about what other folks are creating.  And I found a few more blogs to follow that will take time every day but also instill in me the energy to create each day.  Thanks, All!

I often evaluate what I’m doing with my own art and which directions I’d like to pursue this time of year.  Some of it I attribute to what I see done by all these many talented people who participate and some of it is because there are a few on-line classes that take place in the Summer.  I will sign up for more watercolor classes, I think, because I want to go beyond pears.  I like the looks that can be achieved, mostly by others, but at times even I am producing things I like in watercolor.

I also discovered that I missed using my portraits in my mixed media.  I do like nature and use it a lot in what I produce, but I missed having my women come out and make their voices heard.  So I pulled out the pencils again, learned that Copic marker on hardboard mixed media is easier to manage than acrylic paint and know that I need to draw a few more faces since many of my ladies are tired of being used all the time!

I also continue on that journey to find my voice – why do I do what I do and how am I different from other folks?  I’m working to be more inventive and let me be me.  I’ll let you know how that goes!

I’ll have one more post this week with my final piece for Summer of Color.  Can’t believe it’s final, but I’m also hoping that I’ve learned how to keep motivated and how to keep interested in tackling new things.

photo 5


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Red, Blue and light blue redux

So – I couldn’t sleep last night, thinking that maybe my piece wasn’t done.  I love how folks do some mixed media with watercolor and I had this idea….that luckily I remembered  this morning once I got up.

final red blue

NOW it’s done!  And it was a lot more fun than I thought it might be….and I like that I went JUST a bit more creative for the final.  This is a new watercolor journal I’m using into which I’m trying to do some sketching in a way that might be useful in doing a travel journal.  I don’t still trust myself that I can follow through since I’ve traveled with a number of journals that are pretty pristine when they arrive back home.  I love the looks of watercolor travel journals that folks do that also include a bit of ephemera….so I’m trying to just capture some summer thoughts and sights.  The first page is the rocks I painted a few Fridays ago…I’m feeling a bit proud that I have two pages completed!  It’s almost a habit!

I am also working on some mixed media, trying to get a few of those ideas that have been calling to me out on canvas and out of my head…and into my Etsy site.  I finished this one this week and it is now up in my site.  Can you see the trend?  Yes, I’m also working on drawing more portraits since this one is getting pretty tired of showing up EVERYwhere!

thinking full for blog

Can’t believe next week will be the final week of Summer of Color – can’t believe 6 weeks has gone by that fast!  I look forward to the final prompt that Kristin provides for us.

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Lets Cheer for the Red, Blue….and light blue

Okay, it doesn’t really have a ring to it but this week’s Summer of Color choices felt kind of patriotic – Red, Blue and a dash of light blue.  Not exactly patriotic but many of us from many countries have flags that include red, white and blue.  I didn’t really want to create anything flag-like even though that’s the first thing my mind thought of.  And it was clear that even I could not go so far as to make a pear in these colors – teal and coral, yep, that could work, but these colors would not.  So I pulled out some materials in the color schemes and prepared a foundation for a journal page in my usual way and set it out to dry.

But last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I thought maybe I could use watercolors – just not use my usual fruit.  We have a farmer’s market in our neighborhood every Wednesday evening and they have been bringing in beautiful raspberries and blueberries and as I was lying awake I had the confidence to think that I could try other fruits in the color selection.

Oh that I could have brought that early morning confidence to the art table tonight.  My sketching is REALLY a work in progress and in the end I never COULD get the slope of the raspberry right so I decided to just bring out the paints and try a combination of painting and sketching to get it right.  Not exactly what I was hoping for, but also not as bad as it started out….again, trying to just work it out, be positive about the results and move on.  Luckily for me I was not somewhere where I needed to get the sketch down fast or lose the subject.  And with these, I got to eat my subjects in the end, so all good!

red blue aqua

Thanks again, Kristin Van V, for putting together some great colors, and for helping me stretch my artistic skills a bit more!


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