Monday, July 21, 2008


I returned Saturday from a trip to Sitka and a trip to Kruzof Island with 3 friends where we climbed the dormant volcano, Mt. Edgecumbe. We stayed in a Forest Service cabin for 3 nights on the beach at the base of the trail. Yesterday, I painted it in gouache from a photo I took last year, earlier in the summer than now and from the opposite side we climbed.

There was a lot less snow than is in my painting, though I only got a short glimpse of the mountain from afar as I arrived at Sitka on the ferry on Sunday. I didn't get much of a view of it from the top either, though we climbed to the summit of the crater.

Most of the hike to the top was very easy through muskeg with good views of Sitka Sound as we gradually gained altitude. Lots of wild flowers to photograph and enjoy, and even a few blueberries to eat. The clouds were low on the mountain. We kept hoping that they would blow off. Here you can see some snow beneath the cloud.

These are my friends and fellow hikers: Aimee, Sue and Judy

The distance to the top was 7 miles. The last mile was hard, first with these steep stone steps,

and then just above the tree-line the last .6 miles torturous, in scree and what seemed straight up in the wet cloud and was hard to get a foot hold. There were 32 posts to mark the trail, which was a good thing.

Here's Aimee, first on the top. Cold and windy; we didn't stay long. Behind her the crater, full of snow, I presume.

The rain was heavier on the way down the scree. I thought about sliding on the snow chute beside us, but was afraid I'd not be able to stop when I wanted to. It took us 11 hours for the round trip. We weren't really planning to go the whole way when we left, as we know we probably wouldn't see anything, but the first part was so easy and we were so close.

The next day was partly sunny.... should have waited. Our muscles too sore to go again. We did yoga on the beach, sketched (I did this with my gouache, but somewhat thinned out like watercolor), and walked on the beach picking up pumice and driftwood.

Did some walking on the beach. Brought home a bag of drift wood and pumice and other rocks. Here I am in camouflage

Aimee made this on the beach with driftwood. It may still be there for others to enjoy unless the tide took it away.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


This cool, wet summer continues. I don't seem to have accomplished much in the way of art in the last week or so. I've worked quite a bit on a gouache painting that just isn't going anywhere. And then I did this small one (about 6" x 6") from a photo I took up bay in front of McBride Glaicer late last summer. I had a lot of trouble with the ice.... would have looked so much better done with transparent watercolor. I'm still liking learning how to use these, but wish the weather would cooperate so I could go paint outside.

Here are some other things I've been working on. I started these last year.... or maybe it was the year before. Anyway, they are going to be little accordion books. They are all painted with watercolor.

The weather was pretty nice on the 4th. Harrison Ford, who was staying in one of the lodges, came to the parade and festivities.

I've been keeping up with the garden better this year than last, finally got my kayak in the water last Monday in terrible weather, but it was good to get out.

I'll be going out of town tomorrow and will be gone for a week. I've been packing for 2 days and I'm still not ready.

Friday, July 4, 2008


On Tuesday evening, I rode my bike down to the
beach and enjoyed an hour of walking in the beautiful light.

There was a rainbow when I got there.

This isn't a very good composition, but I loved the way the light came through and made the lupines glow.

The sun went down at 10 pm, still north of the Fairweathers.

One last look back as I biked home.

The next morning, I stopped at the lupine field which I had painted last week to go see these rare white ones that someone had told me about.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I am quite excited about painting in a new media..... gouache, pronounced "ga- wash". Actually its not new to me as I've used it for years in the back grounds in my watercolor still-life paintings. But now I am using it much as one would use oil or acrylic. paints in a more "painterly" way. I've ventured into other media off and on but always go back to watercolor. Probably because they are so easy to clean up after, don't take up much space, and don't use noxious chemicals. For the same reasons, I gravitated towards the waterbase moku hanga woodblock printing after some years doing etchings and a some relief with oil base ink.

Gouache is sometimes referred to as opaque watercolor. Watercolor is transparent; the whites in a watercolor is the paper showing through, and colors are lightened by diluting the paint with water. With gouache, the colors are lightened by adding white paint. I've got a long way to go on the learning curve as its quite different than painting in watercolor. I'm having a lot of trouble with values. Some of the paints seem to dry lighter and some dry darker. And the same pigments that give a hue in watercolor don't seem to do the same when mixed with white paint. I'm especially having trouble with greens.... maybe thats has something to do with the fact that greens are mostly what I've been working on and there are so many different hues and values out there.

Before trying to paint anything, I did some pages of mixtures of each of my paints with white. I learned a lot by doing these and started doing some testing with mixtures of different pigments, but didn't get too far. I decided to just start painting. Here are the first I've done. The first 3 are fairly small, about 4 or 5 inches high.

This is the view out my studio window done on gray matboard. I thought I wouldn't have to get so picky and tight with detail to get the trees looking like trees. I did a lot of working over. What is so great about an opaque media compared to transparent watercolor is that you can paint light colors over dark.

I went out and took a picture of this mountain and painted it on a piece of watercolor paper, a gray toned one, though the gray doesn't show through. I was happier with my greens and trees in this one.

This is a field of lupine that everyone is commenting on this year. I still felt the need to put a lot of work into the spruce trees to get them to look like spruce trees. I made some changes after this scan.... one thing the white spots in the middle tree.

I must be doing something right, because I sold all three of these pieces to people who stopped into the gallery over the weekend. Encouraging!

I was planning to go camping this weekend, but it seemed too much trouble to get everything ready for just one overnight and I really wanted to stay home and keep painting and work in the garden, so I did.

I worked on this piece on Sunday and yesterday with a few corrections this morning. I did the gouache on top of one of the "beautiful papers" that I did in Anne Bagby's class in April which was done with acrylic on watercolor paper. Anne had said to bring different papers to try and several of the pieces are on heavier papers, not too good for collage and this seemed like a good thing to do with it. The top layer of the acrylic is an acrylic glaze media and the gouache will completely wash off with water which made corrections easier. I don't know if that is a bad thing. There is a bit of tooth in the surface and it's not flaky so it should be OK.

Today I cleaned up the studio and did a couple of little collages. I almost signed up for another print exchange, but I think the painting is going to hold my interest for the rest of the summer.

I stopped my writing at about 9 when I saw that the sun was out and rode my bike down to the beach. It was well worth the trip. there was a rainbow and the sun set at just about 10 and it was a beauty. I took a bunch of pictures and will put some on the next time I post.