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Watercolor poppy

Watercolor poppy LRThe journey this small watercolor postcard has enjoyed!

I don’t mean it’s left my confines, but as a very small work, I have misplaced it on several occasions. I love this little painting and in general love painting poppies. I used India Ink and watercolor to create the stark contrast between the delicate, paper-thin blossom and the stark black seed center.

Though this original is tiny, as a print it packs a giant graphic punch as in this mockup of what it might look like as living room decor:

watercolor poppy

Fun, huh? With a little imagination, and a click on one of these two links, you can purchase a fine art print or canvas print in sizes up to 40″ wide.

Saatchi – highest quality fine art paper or canvas prints in limited sizes.

Fine Art America – more size options and soft goods too (i.e. shower curtains, throw pillows, notecards, cellphone cases, weekender tote bags, journals, zippered carryall pouches, beach towels, etc.

The 4 x 6″ postcard original is for sale (now that I’ve found it). If interested in it or another unique but similar original in a different size, contact me!

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Acadia Morning

LR AcadiaIf you’ve ever been to Acadia National Park in the early morning, or overlooked the Penobscot Bay at the edge of Bar Harbor, Maine, you’ll know the feeling… unspoiled beauty, nature, serenity. Above all, beauty and clarity. This pristine area, along the New England Coast, is exquisite and breathtaking in its natural, unspoiled beauty.

I was there not long ago, staying at Wave Walker Bed & Breakfast, treated to some of the finest cuisine and lodgings Surry, Maine has to offer. Hosts Donna and Phil were great and, well, I’ve come away with this little beauty of a watercolor painting I call Acadia Morning. The foreground depicts my artist’s take on their property as it overlooks the bay and Cadillac Mountain in the distance.

The 9 inch by 12 inch original on Arches 140 GSM paper is available via Saatchi Art along with a few other high quality giclee options. Alternatively, you may purchase any number of licensed iterations of the painting, from notecards to duvet covers via Fine Art America and Pixels here. They make great gifts for the Acadia fan in your life!

Like my stuff? You can also connect with me on Instagram – @MauraSatchell and Facebook  too.

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A coupla florals

Sunflower and Bromelaid (not necessarily in that order) were the subjects for these two floral paintings I did recently. As a self-taught artist, I’ve always been advised to pick a subject.  I love painting citiscapes, but if there’s one subject I find the most flow in creating, it’s big, bold, beautiful blossoms!

Enjoy these two?  Click the respective link to be taken to the site selling prints, canvas, throw pillows, notecards, tote bags, heck, even duvet covers of these and some of the other images I’ve created over the years.

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Jackson the cat

Jackson the cat watercolor painting by Maura SatchellI did this watercolor for a colleague at work. This is Jackson, her cat and he was a stray she brought home one day after getting beyond the grief over the loss of her previous cat.

I find watercolor a serious challenge and that it requires a far gentler touch than acrylics or oils which, as my long ago teacher Miss Hazel used to say you can “just slap some more paint over it” and cover up the flaws.  The thing is, with their gentler touch, translucent qualities, I love watercolors.

What’s your preference?

PS:  If you really love this, you can by it in various forms, including print, canvas, notecard, even as a throw pillow here at this link.

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Labor Day = Vacation Time

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At least this year in our house. We’d planned a road trip to my sister Patty’s weekend place near Berkeley Springs, W.V. with our dog but life happened and we ended up going further up north as well.  We started Thursday with an all-day drive to New Jersey to visit my BFF who was recently diagnosed with a fast growing skin condition/ cancer.  Though I’d seen her not long ago, hearing the “C” word in relation to my BFF is a game changer.  We also planned to very reluctantly relinquish our rights to Baxter, my son’s beautiful and soulful part Lab part who-knows-what-big brindle type dog with the most soulful eyes on four feet.

The drive up was on its way to being fun until some construction/traffic-from-hell in Pennsylvania added 2-1/2 hours to our already 14 hour drive.  The dogs were wonderful though and it broke our hear to say goodbye — for now at least — to Baxter.  Instead of the usual trip to NY, we stayed close to Bindy’s for some great quality time on her deck. The seashore picture above was painted there on a crisp late-Summer morning on the deck, based on a photo of her lovely daughter Jordy.  A surprise birthday reunion dinner party with some very old friends (fellow members of the Cold Ass Ski Club — a story for another day) topped off the brief visit before we headed to the wilderness of West Virginia Sunday morning.   I did feel reassured leaving Bindy, though, confident she is in capable hands and will come out of this relatively unscathed.

The 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid wasn’t eager to cooperate and what should have taken us 4-1/2 hours took more than 8 and meant riding backroads for safety reasons.  A safety switch on the car would shut the engine down once it heated up to a certain temp.  We discovered the backroads were both safer and made the car less prone to shutting down, and by the last 2 hours of the trip, the car didn’t stall once, even when we went back on the highway.  Still, it was an incredibly stressful ride and we were ready for the cool beers handed us when we got there.  And the beautiful nieces my brother Kev and his wife Les brought along to join us for the day.  Great food, glorious vistas from their deck looking outward at the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the purest river in West Virginia meant a wonderful, soul-healing visit.  We forgot all about the car and David fished, I kayaked and swam, Smokey sniffed and paraded around like she owned the mountains, and I broke out my watercolors for an early morning painting session as the fog eased its veil from over the mountains.

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Tom Jones’ Workshop: Fantabulous!

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Based on a Tom Jones painting and workshop

Never having been to a workshop before, I didn’t know what to expect.  I thought it would be a great learning experience but had no idea just how great it would be!

Tom Jones is a fabulous nature landscape artist who represents and is representative of some of the finest producers of art supplies in the art world – Arches paper, Rembrandt paints, and Jerrys Artarama.  So when I heard he was coming to our local Jerry’s to put on this workshop, of course, I signed up and put down the names of my fellow C.A.N.* girls.  The only one who was unable to join us was Barbara, but since we’ve got miles to go to catch up to her caliber of painting, we figured it was only right.

Tom was a great and inspiring teacher.  He had a gentle, matter of fact style that didn’t pull punches but showed me (on more than one occasion) how to fix some major goofs in my work.  The painting he chose to have us do was challenging and really pushed us out of our comfort zones, but I watched with relief and joy as Lynne, Lucilla and Margot moved from frustration to anxiety to pleasure at learning the new process.  Safe to say we all got a lot out of it.  My painting (I brought it home and doctored it up slightly after all the gaffs), is above.

We also got to meet Tom’s lovely wife Bonnie, a strong watercolor artist herself, and she showed us some batik paintings she has done recently that are beyond exquisite.  We are hoping to encourage either Jerry’s or our Centennial Arts Center to enlist her to teach a batik class in the future.  And of course, we want Tom back.  Again and again.

I learned so much in the class I came home, spent and exhausted but dying to try more.  But I’m willing to share a few of my strongest impressions here:  Arches 300# paper kicks a$$ when it comes to durability, workability, presentation quality, etc.  You know when you are working on it that it is just.well.golden!  And at $10 and change, it wasn’t nearly as expensive as I thought it would be for a full sheet since you can split it into smaller sheets.  Lush.

Several lessons I got from the workshop:

  1. Tom taught us to lighten the palette.  By that I mean don’t use a huge number of different colors, but few and mix between them to maintain unity in the painting.  
  2. When laying in a stand of trees, you want to do just that — lay in the color in a freeform block and don’t worry about trunks and branches until you’ve got the basic shape.  Then go in and lay in a few here and there.  
  3. Let the watercolors do the job, don’t you do it by brushing.  Just shape it, smooth it, etc. within 15 seconds if you can.  
  4. The detail work, which means the difference between a good and great painting, is accomplished in the last 15 minutes of any painting, no matter if you work on it for 30 minutes, five days, two years, whatever.  It is absolutely that last 15 minutes that makes the painting.  
  5. Use tissue instead of paper towels to blot and blend and smooth areas out, and if you need to go back to white paper, a stiff toothbrush and tissue and water are your best friends.  
  6. If you, like me, go way overboard with the paint and need to take off even more, a spray bottle with a strong stream is your even better friend.  Spray and let the water and paint run off the paper and start over. 

There were loads more things to learn and I filled a couple of pages of notes, but you’ll just have to take a class yourself! 

I loved the rockwork!  It is much like painting large flower petals.  Lay color at one edge, use a clean (water only) brush and sweep that color across the remainder of the area to be covered, ensuring one edge has strong definition.  Tom noted that I had too many rocks and it made the painting look too busy.  He suggested I merge a couple here and there into larger boulders and I may well do that later, but honestly, I’m kinda proud of the rockwork, I kept them as they were this time to show my hubby and show off on my blog.

On the waterfall, I am ashamed to say I cheated.  It was a mess to begin with but he used a new product offered at Jerry’s called “Aqua Cover” that did a great job on leveling off the water, creating a better spill area below and such.  But with 20 students and limited time, he could only do so much, and I wanted to wow my husband when he got home later last night so, after resting when I got home, I got out my (dare I say it) acrylic white paint to complete the fix. I rationalize that now I can effectively call it a mixed media work and honestly, it looks pretty good, I think. The Aqua Cover is a great, amazing product though and would have done the job but I didn’t purchase it and figured the acrylic application was next best thing.  So sue me for cheating! 

Final note on the painting: Tom’s painting did not include, but I did, a tree stump sticking through the edge of the waterfall and another area where water spills over a giant rock.  I am kinda proud of that improvisation and the overall work, even if the rocks are too busy.  I will be making a few minor changes to this work sometime when I get a chance, and thankfully, because of the great paper, I can.  But I wanted to get the near-finished painting up here with the workshop review while it was all fresh in my mind. 

Tom, if you ever grace my blog with a visit to read this, know that I got a tremendous out of you workshop and really appreciate your painting style, teaching style and the generous, genuine and decent person you appear to be.  Keep up the great work and hopefully, we Nashvillians’ll catch another of your workshops before too long.   Bonnie, we’ll be working on yours too, OK?

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The perfect Sunday morning, the perfect Watercolor Inspiration Book

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For Practicing:  dual pallets AND a set of cheap old pan paints too!

The day started hot and humid as it has this summer (a verdant August is unheard of here in Middle Tennessee, but it’s true this year …) so I grabbed the happy tails duo and we headed to the park for a pre-sweltering distance walk.  Once home, I thankfully grabbed my coffee, and laid out my stuff to paint with Pandora playing random tunes in the background to inspire me.  I didn’t need it however, because I found the perfect inspiration in The Tao of Watercolor:  A revolutionary approach to the practice of painting by Jeanne Carbonetti.

One of the several library books I checked out yesterday, this one beckoned me. The thing I’ve learned over the past year is that you have to give up control in watercolor more than any other medium.  You have to relinquish planning and organization, for the most part, in order to achieve the most breathtaking works.  Carbonetti’s book illustrates this beautifully as she explains washes that go far beyond the flat, graduated, etc. and gives you room to breathe, play, and explore.    I would elaborate but want to get back to my work now the paint layer’s dry.  You’ll have to check it out yourself.  One final note, though, I noticed she has several other books entwining eastern philosophy and painting.

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A stupendous day painting with the girls

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As you may recall, Lynne, Lucilla, Margot and I have been meeting weekly at one another’s homes although today was Barbara Rembert’s first day joining us.  It definitely won’t be her last as we’re piling in on her next week. But back to today – it was held at Margot’s lovely place in Green Hills, and I was treated to some of her fine homemade Gazpacho (she’s promised to share the recipe with me and if I get any comments to my post, I may just be nice enough and share it here later, too.)  And since Barbara had a birthday recently, Lynne surprised her with a little cake in her honor.

It was a wonderful day of watercolor painting and I worked on a pair of waterfalls from the same photo that would never have occurred to me to break them up into two separate paintings, but with Barbara there, coaching me on, I saw the composition would be that much better for doing it.  I decided on those paintings since Barbara showed us all a pair of beautiful watercolors she had done on paper that she had gessoed over to protect the integrity of the paper and make it easier to lift off paint later.  Mine were poor stepchildren compared to her gorgeous works, but it was good practice all the same.  I did a sweet little birch forest painting too, but the hubby is working to upgrade my Iphone right now so sharing a photo of my effort will have to wait.

The big news from today’s session was that we have decided on a name for our group and intend to codify it, first with website, then see about some funding sources, and more.  Pretty exciting when you think it all started just a few weeks ago.  Wish us luck!

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>Four artists, my house = a great day of painting

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Can I just say I was in my element today?  I mean, there I was, painting, in my home, with three of my dearest friends painting along with me!  Oooh!  Heaven! 

Lucilla, Margot, and Lynne that I paint with at the Centennial Park Gallery and Art Center joined me for the day since it’s “Summer vacation” there in that program. 
We spread out on the dining room table and all worked on watercolors together.  At the start, Lynne gave Lucilla and I a lesson in loosey goosey watercolor work on sunflowers.  You can see her gorgeous rendition in the photo above.  After we picked her brain clean, we started in on Margot who shared with us her style of painting mountain landscapes.  I’ll post a photo of that at the bottom after I’ve finished working mine to publishable status in the next day or two.  But it was just a grand time with the girls.  While Margot was teaching us, Lynne moved her stuff to the floor.  She says she finds it more comfortable spreading out that way.  In the lower left of the photo you can see another fabulous – I mean truly grand – floral watercolor she did right there in about 2 hours time.

At lunchtime, we dined, perversely, in my studio on a card table set up there so we didn’t have to move a thing.  I had prepared a Chicken Broccoli Braid (and putting the link here is a test to see if Lynne really does read my blog since she’s been after me for the recipe).  We also had some great watermelon and a fantastic roasted stone fruit and rosemary dessert that was to die for. 

There, together, both painting and dining, we all discussed the merits of certain paint colors, the different manufacturers (Lynne is a huge fan of and exclusively uses American Journey by Cheap Joes now with the exception of one – Shadow Green, produced by  Holbein), our favorite brushes and even paper too.  Ironically, for not having to pay a workshop or class fee, I got far more out of our day of “studio time” than many other times.  And it occurred to me, Lynne would be a tremendous spokesperson for American Journeys. 

I am whipped now, though, so, as Lucilla would say (and squeeze her fingers together and spread them out), Caiou! 

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>My first creature attempt

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I decided I had gotten into this class to be able to illustrate a children’s story book based on my dog and my son Pete’s dog so, this being the last class of the session, I better darn well take a stab at canines. Here’s Smokey. I realize her eyes look evil and scary and hollow and I’ll have to do something about that, but I am sort of pleased with the overall shape and stance and all that. What do you think?

And on the other picture — remember, I work in pairs at least, since it takes them time to dry — I still had another seascape in me, as illustrated here. It is from a scene on one of the travel brochures from the Panhandle region of Florida. I murked up the water something bad, but did an OK job on the seashells, sandollars and bird prints, I think.