Journey to Italy for Tuscany Watercolor Workshop

Somehow when I went to board the airplane in Paris in order to fly to Florence, my seat on the flight had gotten canceled.

I saw this beautiful cart from the Laduree Bakery and stopped worrying about starving if I had to wait overnight in the Paris airport because I knew I would not starve and I would have a subject to sketch.

It all worked out cause they found me a flight in first class. 



Aurora Borealis Watercolor

A student suggested I paint aurora borealis in the night sky behind the cottage we were painting. I asked the students who were watching my demo for sugestions about how I could paint the sky.  Students always give me new ideas for my paintings. 


Desparate for Cookies Watercolor Recipe

Last week we dug out this recipe when we needed some cookies asap and had no patience to make some from scratch.  A harried mother had divulged this recipe to me years ago. 



Muses & a Watercolor Recipe 4 U

I woke up this morning determined to follow my muse where ever it takes me. In the kitchen I saw some extremely ripe bananas. My instincts told me to make banana bread. Are my instincts the same as my muse? Is my muse, my instincts? Readers of this blog, please give me your opinion.

If there is such a thing as a muse, where do you get one? You know I am all about trying to find solutions to your problem of discovering ways to paint often. Maybe you can get a muse. Or maybe even better, I can sell muses from my website. I am going to work on this.

Anyway, after I had made 2 loaves of banana bread (which is quite easy to make and low fat, I think), I was again directed by my muse, I think…. She/he/it pushed me into my studio where I picked up my pencil, pen and brush and made you an illustrated recipe.

Banana Bread recipe.jpeg

Playing with Color and Pumpkin Painting

This painting is the result of a demo I started in my Thursday class. I was trying to show my students how to not be afraid of trying painting color shapes, different textures and colors to use for shading. I like to ask the students for suggestions as I go along and paint using their suggestions. It makes the process of creating a painting more collaborative. 


Envelope Painting

We are almost knee deep in the holiday season and I found something that you might enjoy doing for your holiday cards, gifts and presents, perhaps.

I follow the blog, The Postmans Knock written by this very organized , talented calligrapher named Lindsey. She posts her beautifully addressed and painted envelopes and offered an envelop template  (might have been free!) that I printed out and then traced onto 90lb. watercolor paper. See the results of my 1st painted envelop below.



Why Would You Take My Art Class?

Have you been thinking about signing up for an art class? These days you have many choices if you want to learn how to paint. You can find a class online, watch free Youtube instructional videos, google painting and drawing instruction and find websites, books and dvds that will teach you art skills.

Or you can attend a good old fashioned art class where you leave your house, tote your art supplies to a place where you sit down with other actual people and watch and listen to a live teacher.  

Speaking from my experience of learning to paint, finding a live teacher who knows not only their subject but also how to teach it to you, is the best and quickest way to learn.  Attending a class in the flesh gives you a chance to learn from the students in the class and the teacher.  Plus once a skill has been explained and demonstrated to you so you can see exactly how the teacher moves their brush, how wet their paper is and lots of other details, you need to get feedback from your teacher on how you are practicing the skill in class.  

Sometimes an instructor can study what you’ve practiced and give you a correction or tip that helps you paint better. I try to circulate around the class and look at everyone’s work and make helpful comments.   

I often remind students to tilt their paper up if there washes are lumpy. This simple correction improves a wash right away.  I am not being picky or critical, I’m just trying to point out a correction to improve your painting.

Sometimes if I sense a student is frustrated and tense I make a joke to relax them and remind them, “Watercolor is not rocket science, anyone can learn if they practice their skills. I may add a story about an unnamed student who started painting with me and now sells lots of paintings where ever she goes.  You need to find a teacher that you enjoy learning from and see improvement in your work from taking their class. 

Here are two of my favorite evaluations from a recent class I taught that made me happy because I think I am helping my students. 



I have 3 different classes starting in September. 


Sept. 6th at Escondido Adult School, Sept. 8th at MiraCosta College/San Elijo and Sunday, Sept. 9th at Artist&Craftsman Shop in Hillcrest. See my class page for more details. 

Time Problem Solution

You and I are busy people with lists, goals and activities.  We are always trying to find some time for painting.  I’ve been listening to books about time management as I drive around doing errands. I’ve learned some strategies that may help us find time to paint.


Today I have set the timer on my phone for 40 minutes. My plan is to paint until the timer buzzes.  Fortunately, an elephant who models in her spare time, is available to pose for me.  I’d write more, but my 40 minutes is running out.  Tell me what happens with you if you try this timing solution to get some painting time.

The Pursuit of Watercolor IMperfection

I just watched a video made by Winsor Newton on adding gum arabic to your watercolor paint when painting outside.  It was a very educational video. I think I might try adding some gum arabic to my watercolor water jar or my paint mixes when I paint outside. Gum arabic slows down the drying time of your paints.

At the end of the video along with the credits the sentence appeared that said, “ Winsor Newton, the pursuit of excellence.”

Its alright for the Winsor Newton people to go for excellence, we need good paints and brushes etc.  BUT,  I don’t think its a good idea for us watercolorists to pursue excellence. I think excellence stresses us out and ties our brushes in a twist (mentally). I find it much better to pursue something 1/2 way between mediocraty and very good. Plus if I can remind myself to focus on the painting process and concentrate on what I am learning and try out new ideas my paintings are a success whether they look like it or not. In the classes I teach, I talk about not expecting perfect paintings.

This Summer I’ve been teaching a class at MiraCosta College called “Developing the Habit of Watercolor Sketchbook Practice.” 

Everyone in the class does their paintings in  an Aquabee mixed media ( a few have other brands) sketchbook. I give out assignments that can be done several different ways so the students can practice lots of different ways to approach painting the subject. I think its working, (the evaluations haven’t been done yet). 

 unfinished painting for this weeks assignment, beach and ocean painting.

unfinished painting for this weeks assignment, beach and ocean painting.

Paint A Cool Painting to Stay Cool

It occurred to me that there might be a body mind connection involved when we watercolor. We might be able to utilize this connection to cool ourselves down during this hot spell. 

Do me a favor and experiment on yourselves today. Select some cool colors from your paint box (think blues, lavenders, greys or anything that reminds you of the ocean.). I have no idea if the subject you paint will effect your body temperature or make you feel cooler. Report your finds to me as soon as you complete your research (painting).

 Painted this scene from the Isle of Skye using thalo blue and burnt sienna. 

Painted this scene from the Isle of Skye using thalo blue and burnt sienna. 

De-Stress Painting

Are you busy today? Are you staying cool? Are you on vacation? Or are you at home or work dreaming of being on vacation?  Did you know that if you can unearth some photos you took on your last vacation now, you can de-stress and relive some of your memories by doing a little painting from your photo?

You can print out your photo on printer paper and fold it into quarters. Draw the same size quarters on your painting paper. Now, draw what you see only in the top, left hand corner, then the top right hand quarter, etc. Draw only what you like in the photo and cut out what you don't like.  IMPORTANT! Once you get your drawing done on your paper, erase your lines that divided the paper into quarters. If you paint over your quarter marking lines, you are toast and the lines are there to stay.  However, you can always paint the quarter shapes as a clever background and claim you meant to do that. (I've done this many times.)

If you like using apps on your phone or ipad you can get the GRID# app for free and figure out how to put a digital grid over your digital image.

Once you have your drawing on your paper and at this stage if you want to go over your pencil lines with ink, go for it. Ink adds lots to watercolor paintings.

When you are ready to paint if you are befuddled as to what colors to mix and use for your vacation location, just look up at my page header above and click on the shop button.  That will take you over to my newly opened shop where I am selling custom paint sets for painting anywhere and to teach you the fun da mentals of color mixing.  *** Ollie the beagle has insisted I give the first 5 shoppers who order a kit a free mini sketchbook filled with watercolor and sketching paper.


Beginning Beach Painting 101

Friends and I sat at the beach yesterday and painted. I shared my beach painting tips with them and they shared their paint colors and more. Jamie had the perfect color for San Diego sand,  French Ochre Extra Light which she bought at A Case for Making in S.F. The good news is they have an online store and the color is already in my cart. 

The results from the first beach painting class of the season were very good. 



Painting Whatever, Whenever.....

you have a spare moment. Yesterday was one of those days, no one attended my specialy designed paint at the beach class and the college computer mistakenly terminated me when they switched systems. *Disclaimer, it was no big deal compared with the tramas happening in the rest of the world, but I was entitled to feel frustrated.

So this morning I had to administer some art therapy to myself. The dogs were fed and snoring, the house mess could wait and I made 10 minutes to paint. The paints were on the kitchen counter where I’d tossed them last night. I looked around for a quicky painting subject, the tomatoes volunteered. 

The results are below. 


 A “Paint Whatever, Whenever” painting, it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be done. 

A “Paint Whatever, Whenever” painting, it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be done. 

A Girl and Her Zebra Plus Making Mistakes = ?

the opportunity to make better paintings.  I’ve discovered scientific studies that back up my theory that practice painting increases your painting skills.

I mentioned last week that my muse had texted me to paint subjects from my plastic animal and families collection. I am following the muses instructions and choosing subjects from the suitcase of plastic people and animals. I arrange them on my desk and draw and paint them in my Aquabee sketchbook.  Painting in the sketchbook which sells for around $14.98 on is less stressful than painting on a piece of watercolor paper that costs around $5 or $6 for a 22”x30” sheet. The less expensive paper = a willingness on my part to try out new ideas, different brushes, unusual color combos and concepts I haven’t mastered yet.

Did you know if a teacher says to you, “You are a good painter,” you probably will not want to try out any new methods or ideas that don’t guarrantee you decent painting.  If a teacher says something like “ You are working very hard at improving your skill at color mixing,( or some other painting skill),  you will continue to practice and improve your painting. 

What do you think? Have you ever had an experience of improvement or unimprovement after a teacher’s comment? 

*If you want to do some sketchbook practice painting, attend my Miracosta Community Ed Sat. Class that starts on July 14. Its called “Develop the Habit of Watercolor Practice Painting”.  See info on  class page on this website for instructions on how to register.



 This painting is available for purchase, email me to negotiate the price, at

This painting is available for purchase, email me to negotiate the price, at

Do You Know...

that I have one of the largest collections of miniature plastic animals and people in Northern San Diego? 



You may want to know how I acquired this menagerie?  I discovered bins filled with these plastic creature at a low budget party shop over 20 years ago.  I used most of these critters as models for my watercolor children’s book illustrations.  I also have an extra large number of pink plastic pigs that I use to teach drawing fundamentals. 

This morning I climbed up to the top of my step ladder to get the pigs out of their suitcase to take them to San Clemente Art Supply where I will be teaching a workshop this weekend.  I had forgotten how glorious my plastic animal (I have a few multi cultural plastic families too) collection is.   

Inspiration struck me, and I chose several paintable animals from my collection and arranged them on my shelf to see their artistic possibilities.   I think as soon as I am finished with my English countryside painting series of cottages, cups and teapots: my England period, I am going to begin my plastic animal painting period. 



San Clemente + Watercolor Class = ?

Want a crash course in watercolor plus some sand and sea this weekend?  Why not take advantage of combining learning watercolor and spending sometime strolling around the beachown of San Clemente. I’ll be at San Clemente Art Supply Shop Saturday and Sunday teaching a class called Low Stress Watercolor. My approach to teaching art is that anyone can learn to paint and draw.  Talent not required, you just need to practice your painting strokes. If you already know how to paint you can improve your skills in this class.  

During class time we’ll dip, dab and discuss the watercolor secret methds I will show you. You’ll also learn about mixing colors, fixing mistakes and how to create light hearted paintings.  Plus during breaktime you can work on your tan or your surfing skills or eat a seafood salad on the pier. Sign up online at San Clemente Art Supply.


The Embrassing Thing About Being an Artist...

I met a lovely artist a few weeks ago who shared with me some important artist advice. 

”Don’t be afraid of trying to sell your paintings,” she said.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel embarrassed that I want sell my paintings.  “Why?” You ask.  What if you don’t want one of my paintings?  What if they aren’t good enough? What if you think I’m greedy?  What if I’ve put you in an awkward position and you don’t know how to say no.  What if you don’t have enough money for essentials and do you really want to buy my art?  I probably can come up with a hundred more reasons if I try, but here’s just one more, what if I’m not dead yet, so my work hasn’t gone up in value?

Another thought just came to me.  What if you don’t know how to ask me if my painting is for sale?  Just say, “Is your painting for sale?  How much?” Hint; you can even try to negotiate with me if you think my price is too high. 

Which brings me to another difficult topic, taking photos of my paintings. If you ask me if you can take a photo and I answer yes, then go ahead and take a photo. 

This week, I plan to talk more about selling one’s artwork.  If any of you have any thoughts or advice on this topic, leave a comment in the comment box below or email me  



Home for Artists: Tired, Retired, Pre-Tired and Runaways

I found us artists a home yesterday and purchased it. It is suitable  as is, no remodeling needed.  I believe it has 14 bedrooms and quarters for our staff.  The plan is to fill the library with art supplies, good lighting and individual desks with storage and to fill the kitchen with Victoria Sponge cake, bloomer bread, peanut butter and jelly.  If you come by for a long or short stay, we’ll make art all day, plus we won’t have to cook lunch as we can have pb and j sandwiches. Every night we can go to a local pub for dinner.


I’ve also purchased a car so we can all get around. We’ll take it to explore, find painting sites, mystical standing stones and car-boot sales.  Anyone want to move in or come for a stay? 


Anywhere Artists Visit Oxford, England

Monday, the Anywhere Artists boarded the bus for one last day of exploring.  Our destination was Oxford and it did not disappoint. 

 Our bus fit all 12 of us comfortably and was small enough to navigate narrow English country roads.

Our bus fit all 12 of us comfortably and was small enough to navigate narrow English country roads.

We were guided around Oxford by a wonderfully knowledgeable guide named Bella. She walked us around to Trinity College and we were fortunate enough to be able to go inside  to see the inner workings.  We were familiar with some of the scenery from Harry Potter movies and the Inspector Morse BBC tv series.

 Debbie Allen shows her painting of Oxford in the bottom row.

Debbie Allen shows her painting of Oxford in the bottom row.

We parted at 2pm with some of the group returning home, some (including me) staying on and 2 of the members going off to Paris.

Parting is always bittersweet since we enjoyed each others company for 10 days, shared meals, conversations  and art making. Friendships are formed because of our like mindedness and shared interests. This trip, Katherine named us the Traveling Baggallini Sisters because almost all of us were carrying versions of Baggallini travel purses. 

The very good news is, we did not get enough of England and Wales and have decided to plan another Anywhere Art trip to see more of South Wales, the Lake district and the Cotswolds next year!