Saturday, March 16, 2013


I recently finished another watercolor to be sold in my internet Etsy shop.

"Free Rein" 11x14 inches transparent watercolor by Eileen Black

I call it, "Free Rein."  References for it were gathered from several places but mostly from a summer evening when I was out photographing farms.  In the next field two riders were taking advantage of the late sunlight and the cool air.

I’m happy with the way it turned out; still I never feel a painting meets all my expectations. Sometimes I find myself working too hard on details which are probably not necessary to tell the story.

My April 2013 issue of Watercolor Artist Magazine features a creativity workshop by Bev Jozwiak.  She says in general she likes to stray out of the lines when creating a piece without a background.

This is her painting, “Still Waters” from the article.  She points out how she allows her paint to drip and run and, even though she hasn’t put in every detail, the unfinished portions help make for a more interesting piece.

Another artist whose book I was studying pointed out how important it is to simplify shapes and build flow through a composition. He called those who put up a lot of hard edges “terminal literalists.”  A lot of us learned art through coloring books where we were encouraged and even chastised by some to “stay inside the lines.”

 Here is a study I did from his book, Painting Light and Shade The simplification of detail and the flow of color are engaging and fun.

 Here’s another sketch I did while going through his book. There is no line to define the top of the roof of the house on the left, or on the right side of the steeple yet we understand it is there.

When I find my work getting too tight I sometimes return to this book for inspiration.  You may note I’ve not mentioned the author. This is because I’m still more than annoyed with him.  I drove across two large states to take a workshop from him only to discover he’d radically changed styles and had gone from transparent watercolor landscapes to opaque impressionism.  I’m just glad I still have his book and video to inspire me in the direction I wish to go.

Sometimes when you find the footsteps you are following are heading down a crappy path you have to be your own pioneer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Way back when the world was still black and white, DH and I got married.

Then we got a cat. I don’t know why, we just did.  She was a Siamese and we called her Bippy as in, “You bet your sweet bippy.”  Well, we called her that but, although she had amazingly keen hearing, she never answered to her name.

We lived in a cinder-brick duplex on a very busy street so we didn’t dare let our cat outside.  We got the great idea of putting a little dog harness on her so we could take her for walks.  Her reaction was to immediately lie down in the gutter and stay there.  Even when we dragged her she wouldn’t get up.  This was great entertainment for our neighbors.  DH said it was too bad the couple in the other side of the duplex didn’t have a cat too so we could have drag races.

No, our neighbors had a scruffy little dog named Muffin.  They let him run around in our back yard.  When we turned Bippy loose back there she beat up Muffin.  So we had put on her harness and tie her leash on to the clothesline so she could run up and down but not beat up the dog.

Sometimes she escaped out the front door.  She would only do this when we were in our pajamas so we would have to chase her across the busy street and all over the nearby golf course.  She loved watching DH running around wearing his plaid p.j. pants on the driving range in the dark screaming, “Bippy! Bippy!”  She was evil but she had a sense of humor.

Anything on the floor was her cat toy.  Anything not on the floor yet would soon be there.  I had a fish bowl terrarium filled with cactus we got as a souvenir from the Grand Canyon.  While we were at work she would paw out the little round cactus and roll them all over the carpet making certain to leave them where bare feet could find them

She expected to be fed as soon as the eastern sky began to get light.  She had no snooze button. When we went to the bathroom she’d poke her paws under the door.  Since I had nothing better to do while I was sitting there I’d unroll a hunk of toilet paper and let her grab for it.  Sometimes this game went on long after I’d flushed.  We were both easily entertained. 

She never let us to forget she was a descendant of Egyptian gods. She allowed us to amuse her as long as we kept her water clean and her food fresh. She only used her litter box when we sat down to eat. When DH was drafted into the army during the Vietnam War and I was finally able to join him at Ft. Lewis, Washington, Bippy became queen in residence on my parents’ dairy farm.  Their barn cats never forgave me.