Watercolor Brushes

The Doodlewash prompt for today is “Good Hair Day” and since I didn’t want to do a self-portrait, I decided to concentrate on the other important “hair” that I want to have a good hair day everyday: my watercolor brushes.  The criteria for a good watercolor brush is that is should carry/hold a large amount of water (or paint) and that it should come to a sharp point (for round brushes) or a fine ridge (for flat brushes). The very best watercolor brushes are made with the hairs from the tail of the sable martin from Kolinski, Russia.  No wonder they are expensive!  Most watercolorists today use brushes that have some or all synthetic bristles in them.  They are affordable, available, and easily replaced if one wears the point off.

Watercolor Brushes
Watercolor Brushes, 9″ x 4″

Although I have a coffee mug full of brushes, these are the ones that I turn to every day.  From left to right they are: a Silver “Black Velvet” round 8, a Connoisseur 1″ oval wash (also known as a “Cat’s Tongue”), a Silver “Black Velvet” round 12, and an Escoda “Versatil” rigger size 10.

In order for brushes to have “good hair days” they need some basic care.  They should be kept clean and dry when not in use.  They should not be left standing in a container of water.  This can loosen the glue holding the bristles in the ferrule and cause the bristles to take the same shape that hair does on a pillow overnight, especially when one wakes up with the hair going in every direction!  If this happens, sometimes the bristles can be reshaped with the help of some bar soap, with the suds worked into the bristles fairly dry so that the soap helps hold the bristles in the correct shape and allowed to dry.  The soap washes out once the brush can hold its shape again.

Fresh (but Awful)

The World Watercolor Group prompt for today is “Fresh” and my first thought was of freshly squeezed orange juice, but I painted oranges yesterday so I went in the opposite direction and thought of the worst thing that I have ever tasted fresh: an olive.

My family and I were in Italy and were on the Amalfi Coast, walking down from Atrani to Amalfi when we passed some olive trees in the verge between switchbacks on the trail.  There were some nice ripe purple-black olives hanging there.  My husband wondered aloud what a fresh olive would taste like.  He reached up an plucked one and then gallantly handed it to me.  Without thinking much, I popped it into my mouth.  Oh! Bitter! Bitter! This walk was less than a mile long, so we weren’t carrying water and I had to go the rest of the way with the nasty taste in my mouth.  Who ever thought of eating olives in the first place if they taste like this fresh?  I do like olives, especially the ones we bought in the Italian markets, all brined and spiced, oily and tasty, both black and green. But from now on, I will not eat fresh olives!

Fresh Olives, watercolor, 7″ x 5″

Is there anything that you don’t like when it is fresh?


We were introduced to Panetone, a sweet yeast bread with fruit baked in, when we lived in Italy. I’m not a big fan of fruitcake, unless this qualifies. Yesterday’s prompt on Doodlewash was “fruitcake” but I couldn’t paint this until after I finished baking it today. My sons and husband patiently waited until it was cool enough to cut. Hopefully we will have some left to eat on Christmas!

Violin or Flamenco Dancer?

It is my pleasure to introduce “Camilla Serafina” who is here to dance for you.  Can you hear the haunting flamenco music?

While we are digging out after this weekend’s blizzard, she is on her way to Florida, to dance in the New Score Chamber Orchestra’s auction fundraiser.

Many thanks to my husband for his help in completing this project!

What Would You Do?

When a long-time friend helped start the New Score Chamber Orchestra, I was privileged to provide the cover art for their programs, a collaboration that has continued for several years now (see Summer Nights Passing and Brand New Score ).

As a fundraiser, the orchestra has purchased several violins and has asked several artists to each turn one into a piece of art to be auctioned off.  So I have this “canvas” in my studio, waiting for its alter ego to appear:


What would you do?  How would you repurpose this falling apart instrument as a piece of art?


Little Reminders of the Seashore

I’ve recently been painting a number of little pieces.  Here are the ones with a seashore theme.

Scallop in the Sand, watercolor, 3" x 3"
Scallop in the Sand, watercolor, 3″ x 3″

I have a collection of sea shells that we’ve picked up from our visits to different beaches.  It was fun to imagine this scallop shell back on the sand.

Getting Wet Feet, watercolor on canvas, 4" x 5"
Getting Wet Feet, watercolor on canvas, 4″ x 5″

Getting a reference photo for this picture was difficult.  Ever notice that when one walks towards the birds to get close enough for a photo, the birds turn and start to walk away, resorting to flying to another spot if the photographer gets too close?

Washed Ashore, watercolor on canvas, 4" x 4"
Washed Ashore, watercolor on canvas, 4″ x 4″

Oyster shells are made up of many overlapping layers.  Getting the texture and form for this one was a challenge for me.

Look What I Found at the Farmers’ Market!

Lothian Produce had a mouth-watering display this week at the Greenstreet Farmer’s Market:  neon eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, and modern tomatoes of all colors, and a sweet, orange-fleshed melon called a sugar-cube, to name a few.  It was hot and I was painting in the shade, so this one-hour study doesn’t do the vegetables justice, and I think I may try again.

Veggies from Lothian Produce, watercolor, 7" x 5"
Veggies from Lothian Produce, watercolor, 7″ x 5″

I came home and made a wonderful sandwich with the tomatoes, so full of flavor!

What would you make from these vegetables?

Sometimes I Paint on Something Other than Paper!


The benefits of being married to an artist! Without Ruth, I’d have resorted to buying the stick-on letters from the hardware store to put the name on the transom. With respect to handwriting, or any eye-hand coordination that involves writing of any sort, I’m a hopeless klutz. And drawing something that you can recognize? Forget it. Ruth, on the other hand, does this sort of thing as easy as breathing.  Here are a few photos of her talent in action.

Hmmm. . . drawing a straight line.  That skill alone would eliminate me. Hmmm. . . drawing a straight line. That skill alone would eliminate me.

She lightly penciled a grid for the letters – about 3 inches high – and marked spacing for them with a ruler. After that, she sketched the letters in pencil, then picked up a paint brush and free-hand filled in the letter outlines. She used the same one-part polyurethane paint that’s on the sheer stripe.

I got distracted pulling weeds in the garden. Next thing I knew, she was nearly done. I got…

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