Sketchbook Sunday & A Paddle on the Pond

Hi friends, Today for sketchbook Sunday I have a beachy (kind of) themed sketch. A mason jar of seashells:


I really didn’t know what I was going to work on. I’ve been in a funk but I had this jar of shells on a shelf in my studio for years and I thought that this is as good as anything and I also wanted to use my PanPastels so I decided to use them both.

I hope you enjoyed the time lapse video. The real-time tutorial is available in Critique Club right now. Critique club is a monthly membership group ($5/month) that allows you to submit 2 paintings a month for customized feedback from me. You also get 2 real-time tutorials each month from my Sketchbook Sunday series explained step by step.


If you want to learn more about pastels check out my comprehensive online course Soft Pastels for Beginners. *Save 20% with coupon code TRYME Working with pastels is so fun, if you ever wanted to give it a try but you don’t know where to start this is the class for you! You learn the basics and create 4 complete paintings utilizing the skills and techniques I teach you. It’s a lot of fun too! I hope to see you in class!

I went for my first paddle of the season today…

Wait, let me back up a bit.  I ordered a stand-up paddleboard a month ago because I always wanted one and I thought it would be easier to take that out than a kayak when I want to get on the water. I don’t like to inconvenience anyone to go with me because I often want to stop and paint and it can be boring for others. I knew the paddleboard was heavy (53 lbs) so I started doing some resistance training to build muscle so I would be able to lift it on and off my van to get it to the water. I knew I had plenty of time to “muscle up” before the weather was warm enough because we have been living in perpetual winter since October. I was sitting on the couch drinking my coffee this morning and decided I wanted to go kayaking. Much to my surprise I could now lift, load and manage the kayak all by myself! Also to my surprize, I could shove it in my minivan diagonally! I grabbed a paddle, my life jacket and off I went. It was so peaceful, I was the only person on the pond. I paddled out to an island that is uninhabited as far as I know and took some photos.


I was thinking about pulling up the kayak and getting out to paint when I spotted this:


So many questions! Whos is it, how long has it been there, why is it there? As curious as I was I have watched too many horror movies to know better than to hang around to find out so I high-tailed it out of there as fast as my arms could paddle! After feeling that I had narrowly escaped The Island of Dr Moreau I paused to watch a pair of fishing loons and paint the view towards a marsh that opens up to a larger lake.  I kept drifting and my view kept changing but all in all, I am happy with my sketch.


I used the Meeden watercolor fan palette that I hadn’t used since last summer and the water in that waterbrush sure was musty! I had just put it in the van because I wanted to make sure I always have something handy, I guess I should give that a good clean LOL! That’s all for me today. It’s been a rough winter so I don’t want to waste a single decent day. Don’t take your time on this earth for granted. Do something good today! Happy crafting!




Yesterday’s Painting Adventure inspired Today’s Live Stream Project!

Hi friends! Yesterday I found myself in a town I have never really explored before with a few hours on my hands…


I was up early to drop my daughter Maizy off at a team building exercise with her high school basketball team (high school? I can’t even!) and I debated whether or not to drive back home to work and then come back to Orono to pick her up. Originally I thought the ropes course they were doing was 2 hours so I grabbed my travel painting gear and took her to the course.


When I got there I found out it was a 4 hour program so I was at a loss of what to do. When it was a 2 hour program spending an extra hour on the road (driving home then driving back) was wasting 50% of that time but with a 4 hour course I was only wasting 25% so I probably should go home and work. I’m so glad I didn’t “should” all over myself, instead I decided to drive around and see if I could find a nice spot to paint by the river.


I sat here for 2 hours and did 3 sketches!


I attempted the whole scene at first but was quickly overwhelmed by green so I decided to focus in on the rocks in the water. I love to paint rocks. Rocks are like the mason jars of nature, I can’t get enough. I zoomed in on these rocks with my phone. Believe me when I say your eyes can see way more details than your phone’s camera. Plus I love the sense of urgency you get when painting on location!


I love the way the rocks came out and rocks are something people always mention having a hard time with so I thought we would tackle them today! So bring your rock questions and your watercolors and let’s rock those rocks! Be sure to tune in at 12:30pm ET today (Friday 6/22/18) on YouTube to ask your questions to me and chat live with fellow painters.

Supplies: You can come as you are for this lesson but if you want the exact supplies I used or recommend see below:)

  • Watercolor: I’m using a Portable painter travel palette and Qor Watercolors in colors Quin Magenta, Cobalt Teal, Ultramarine, Diox. Violet, Sap Green, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna *I’m going to use my travel palette so you can see what I use when I am painting outdoors.
  • Brushes: 1″ flat wash, #12 round, this Mimik set as all you need *The round set I have is the Pseudo Sable travel set which is out of stock but this set looks good and is half the price
  • Watercolor Paper: For the painting I did in the field I used my Hahnemuhle sketchbook. It is a wood-based paper. It is pricey in the USA but cheap in Europe Mine is about 8″x11″ but I could not find that size on Amazon, only a smaller one.  I suggest using any decent paper you have, it does not have to be top quality although I’ll be trying a cotton paper for the live show just to see how it compares:)
  • Black waterproof pen: (medium point PITT)
  • White Gel Pen or fine tip acrylic paint pen (optional)

I am so excited to paint rocks with you! I truly think rocks are beautiful and we have such lovely ones here in Maine so I am proud to share a slice of out beautiful state with you:) I hope you enjoy it and it erases and rock anxiety you may have:)

So after spending 2 hours painting by the river it seemed silly to drive home just to drive back so I decided to treat myself to Thai food…


And I sketched the mason jar lemon water they served as I waited for my meal. It was my first ever cafe sketch LOL! What a lovely way to pass the time when dining alone, it sure beats checking my phone which would make me feel a little guilty that I should be home working and not out having a lovely day but as I mentioned before I was not going to “should” all over myself today:) I strolled around downtown Orono after lunch but since I really didn’t want to shop I went back to the park for one more quick sketch before returning to pick up my daughter.


My alarm to pick her up went off before I totally completed the sketch but luckily I got all of the details I needed in with black pen. I hope this post inspires you to paint rocks, or mason jars, or treat yourself to Thai food once in a while! Do something nice for yourself today!

Oh! one more thing I wanted to mention there is just about a week left to save 50% on my new Watercolor Flower Workshop so if you are interested you might want to grab it before the price goes up on July 1st. Use coupon code FLOWERPOWER if the discount does not appear automatically.

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Did you catch my 15 Watercolor Hacks (Cheap Supply Tips) Video this week? If not there was a coupon code to save 30% on any other class you have had your eye on. Use coupon code 15HACKS to save 30% on any course in my Teachable school!Classes (1)

I hope to see you at 12:30pm Eastern Time for rocks in watercolor! Til then happy crafting!

Back from Vacation & World Watercolor Month!

Hi friends! I spent the last week in a cabin on the lake and it was wonderful. I had a leisurely time of relaxing, painting and spending time with my family. Here is the first sketch I did over coffee on the deck:)


As usual I brought some art supplies for me and the kids. Most of it got used too! See what I brought in today’s video!

I really LOVE the palette I brought, it is a Portable Painter and it has 2 small water containers that attach to each end of the palette which can sit on the ground or table or over your leg (see photo below) making it great for plein air painting, urban sketching or even painting in a kayak! I will be reviewing the Portable Painter palette soon (spoiler alert: I LOVE it!) and they have me a discount code to share for 10% off: FRUGAL


Here are the other supplies I brought:

Well, we did not run out of things to do! The kids got the most use out of the coloring books, they loved have the choice between pencils, pens and markers. I had no takers on the embroidery kits so I tried one and after a frustrating tangle on the first word of the design I went rogue and make some whimsical flowers and used the rest of the thread to make a friendship bracelet. Man, I forgot how much I loved making friendship bracelets, I spent summers making them as a kid! My kids did not see the appeal LOL.

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The following photos are some plein air sketches I did on the trip. I figured since July is world watercolor month it is appropriate to share!


Here is the list of prompts for world watercolor month created by my friend Angela Fehr. Angela is also offering a free monthly watercolor challenge, and she has a fabulous prize giveaway worth over $500 of watercolor supplies!  You can sign up here.


You can find out more about World Watercolor Month on the Doodlewash website and join in on the challenge on their facebook page or by tagging #worldwatercolormonth on your favorite social media:) If you need a jumpstart on your watercolor journey consider checking out my Essential Tools and Technique for Watercolor painting course, it will get you started off on the right foot with 5+ hours of in-depth watercolor instruction for beginners to build your skills and confidence in the medium. I want to share one more painting from my vacation, it is a quick sketch of my daughter Lila I painted when she was coloring. Just a reminder you can sketch anything and everything and it will make you a better artist! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!


Take Your Paints on Vacation!

Hi friends!The other day when I shared how to make a DIY watercolor block I demonstrated removing a painting from the block and many of you asked for a tutorial on it so I made one just for you:)


I often feel like I lose the “freshness” of a painting when I try to paint it again back in my studio but I really liked the quick ease of this composition. I even decided to teach this painting at my free library painting class last week and the students did so well which was good because I had twice as many students than I usually get, I had to hop between 2 rooms to teach, it was crazy but a lot of fun!


I used my Koi travel paint set for this, I really enjoy using this set for travel, it has more than enough colors but it is inexpensive enough so I don’t have to worry if I lose or damage anything. I must remember to bring a couple extra water brushes though because my girls always want to paint too! Speaking of painting on the go, we spent the day on the coast and managed to paint two quick sketches while my kids splashed in the waves. The one on the left was done at Sandy Point in Stockton Springs and the one on the right was painted in Belfast, Maine, such a  pretty town.


I hope you enjoyed todays free painting tutorial and if you would like a more in-depth lesson on sketching landscapes on location please check out the class Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor available at Craftsy. This class takes you on location to sketch and shows you how to further develop a scene in the studio. It is a great reference for anyone wanting to know more and it is currently 25% off! And it is much better than anything I could film on location:)


Disclaimer, this post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on products or classes you buy after clicking on them (at no additional cost to you) this helps to keep content on my blog & YouTube free and I thank you for your support! I hope you take your paints on a vacation soon and til next time happy crafting!

How to Make a Watercolor Block! Save $$$!

Hi friends! I was struck by an idea the other day that had me running down to my studio to try it! I wanted to make my own watercolor blocks but I did not have the special glue called “padding compound” that manufacturers use to make blocks and pads. I thought about trying mod-podge or one of my thicker white glues but in the end decided I was too lazy to build a device to clamp the block or wait for it to dry. But then I thought of another way!


I used hot glue! And it was perfect! I even took my block to the beach with me and did a little painting on it to test it out. I am so impressed with this that I plan on making many more! Watch the video to see how you can make one too!

Another idea is to buy a pad of watercolor paper and simply seal the other 3 unbound edges of the pad, just be sure to leave a notch for removing the sheets.

Watercolor paper
Regular paper or decorative/scrapbook paper
Hot glue gun & hot glue sticks
Silicone spatula
paper trimmer, knife or scissors
Clothespins or binder clips


  1. Cut papers and cardboard to size and secure with clips.
  2. Apply a bead of hot glue to one edge and smooth with a silicone spatula. For longer paper you might have to do half a side at a time. Make sure all paper edges are coated. Repeat for all 4 sides but make sure to leave an inch unglued on the pad somewhere so you can remove your sheets.
  3. Make a wrap around cover using scrapbook paper.
  4. Insert a palette knife(or butter knife) into the notch and slice off the sacrificial sheet and you are ready to paint!

Will you make one of these? I hope so, they are great for painting on the go this summer! Happy crafting!

I didn’t fall out of the canoe!

Hi Friends! I’m back from vacation! We had a wonderful time. It was the first time we ever took a week off as a family. We rented a cabin on a pond. It was tranquil and relaxing with lots of swimming, canoeing and just enjoying life! I made sure to bring some art supplies (you can see what I packed at the end of this post) so I could do some nature sketches because this vacation was all about downtime. I really needed to relax and I think my kids did too because we all had a great time and I did not hear “I’m bored” once! That say’s a lot because there was no internet or cell phone service there…I was surprised at how easily I could do without the internet…I just might become a recluse one of these days LOL! So, do you want to see what I painted? Have a look at the video:

Here are close ups of a few of my favorite vacation paintings:

This painting was done from the canoe, I really like how the rock turned out thanks to my credit-card scraper!

This painting was done from the canoe, I really like how the rock turned out thanks to my credit-card scraper!

This is a quick colored pencil sketch on blue paper of the view from our deck.

This is a quick colored pencil sketch on blue paper of the view from our deck.

A watercolor postcard painting of the view from our dock.

A watercolor postcard painting of the view from our dock.

Waterlily in pastel the day it bloomed.

Waterlily in pastel the day it bloomed.

Waterlilies in watercolor the day after the first waterlily painting, another one bloomed! The flowers only opened in the morning. I sat on the dock with my coffee and paints. My dog shook all over this painting after she went for a swim, I think she helped it LOL!

Waterlilies in watercolor the day after the first waterlily painting, another one bloomed! The flowers only opened in the morning. I sat on the dock with my coffee and paints. My dog shook all over this painting after she went for a swim, I think she helped it LOL!

I'm calling this the "moonlight paddle painting" because I painted it from the canoe in the middle of the pond.

I’m calling this the “moonlight paddle painting” because I painted it from the canoe in the middle of the pond.

And here is what I packed for creativity:

Thanks for keeping everything running while I was away. I was happy to see folks helping one another out with their crafty questions here, on facebook and on youtube. I really appreciate that! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!




Life’s a Beach!

Hi Friends! What a gorgeous day! It was 88 with a breeze at the lake and I spent the day with friends and their kids. Well, in the sense that the kids played merrily in the water as the moms chit-chatted on the shore;) I love beach days, probably too much because I hate to leave, the only people who have a harder time leaving the beach is my kids. I guess we need to soak up enough sun to get us through the long Maine winter…that is if sun can get through SPF 50 (in case you are wondering, it can.) We all came home a little pink (even with 3 coats of sunscreen) which made me feel guilty but also made me remember slathering up with the SPF 4 dark tanning oil with the lovely coconut fragrance I used to lay out with as a teenager, I can’t imaging doing that now, but there is something about that Hawaiian Tropic coconut fragrance that will always take me back. I think I ought to buy a bottle of it and crack it open in January when I need a boost LOL! I brought my KOI travel watercolor set with me and decided to paint. I chose to be inspired by my surroundings. I painted birch trees, beach roses, clouds and the lake.


I used the water brush that came with the kit, I refilled it 3 times from my water bottle to do these small paintings. I used the lid of the palette as a paper easel and it worked great. There is a finger hole on the bottom of the palette I just noticed today too, great for painting in the field. Next time I will bring 2 kits in case someone wants to paint with me. I offered to share with curious onlookers but they all declined, huh. I’m sure they just didn’t want to use my only set I had. I was able to put a stack of watercolor papers and the KOI palette in a quart freezer bag and put that in my beach bag as easy as pie! I think I will bring it every time! Yesterday I filmed a tutorial for painting a tropical beach (not Maine obviously) and I thought since I am feeling beachy I’d share it with you today!

It is fun to paint from memory or reference photos, you can’t beat the convenience, but I urge you to take your paints outside and be inspired by your surroundings. Don’t worry about people watching you or how it will turn out (notice, no masterpieces here) just observe and paint. I got to the beach early so I claimed the shady spot (right next to the birch tree I painted in fact) so I could easily watch my kids swimming while painting and that might be an option if you are shy about painting in public. I actually thought the clouds I painted were rubbish until I peeked at the photo I took all all the sketches and I thought, “hey, they look like clouds!” when before at the beach I thought “good grief, what a mess, I guess it’s time to quit!”  Paintings always look better with fresh eyes.


We are supposed to have great weather this week so I know there will be more swimming in our future! When you head out to the water make sure you bring your watercolors, you will be glad you did! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

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