Art Class Changes It’s Date

Just in case you’ve planned your social calendar around my art classes, you may want to mark March 24th on your calendar as the new date of my class at Artist & Craftsman Supply.

The class will be about all the fun da mental skills and supplies you need to watercolor sketch anywhere, from your backyard to Bombay. If you’ve taken a class with me before on this topic, you will learn new stratagies, new ways to paint + get lots of ideas on how to be an organized and more productive artist. 

You’ll also leave class with a fully assembled grab & go art tote or cigar box. 

Email me to register at



Italian Vacation in Your Plans?

I’ve been all over the map lately planning the itinerary for the Fall Anywhere Art Tour to Italy. It will be our 31st tour! 


We will be visiting a variety of locations around North Western, Central and Southern Tuscany with a touch of the Lazio province thrown in because we must visit the UNESCO World heritage site of Tarquinia and learn more about the Etruscans, their customs, and their fabulous murals. We’ll also taste wine in the Chianti region, visit the Festival of the Thrush (which promises dancing in the streets), dip our toes in a thermal spa, ride bikes or stroll in the wall park in Lucca, visit a shoe factory, see the Cinque Terre and spend a Sunday at an Antiques Faire in the heart of Lucca.



In fact, I am so excited about the Fall Italian adventure that I got the vapors and our rescue Aussie had to revive me.



How to Not Do Any Artwork or A Guide to Procrastination

Lest you think I am perfect, (lol, just ask any family member), I must let you know that I sometimes avoid doing artwork. Why? I don't know. I could give you some deep psychological reasons, but I won't and let's just chalk it up to" sometimes I just don't feel like it" mixed with a bit of immaturity. 

Take today for example, I spent time straightening the kitchen and then had a burning desire to sweep my office floor. After the office, I just had to sweep the dining room and the laundry room.  "Stop!" I yelled at myself, "Go to your office and paint!" Don't touch anything else, don't do anything else, just paint." So I went into my office and saw a package I needed to return to Amazon. Suddenly, I had this burning desire to return that box immediately.  What's with this procrastination? 

Pro crastination? What does it mean? It must mean its a good thing because it starts with pro.  Crast? I could maybe understand if it was pro crash ination, it would mean in favor of a crash of some kind, but that doesn't make any sense. 

Merriam-Webster defines procrastinate as "to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it, because you are lazy, etc.  Well, I am insulted by Merriam W.  I don't think I am lazy..................So I need to make up my own definition.  I think my procrastination is much more complicated then simple laziness. It's situational procrastination due to possible painting issues.  I wonder if there is a drug to treat this problem? 

Finally I sat down and did some pencil sketches for a painting using red and green paint since I’d been teaching color theory in my Thursday class and red was our color for the session. 

This morphed into a Valentine’ theme painting with images combined from different reference material so the perspective is a bit wonky. The background was done with doillies used as stencils. The result is one I either love or hate or something in between. The goal I have with my paintings these days is to see them as practice not to create madterpieces. This helps me to feel freer to experiment and try different new thing without fear of making a mistake.  

Best of all, my husband said he really liked the painting so I will use the painting to make him a card for Valentines Day.



How to Organize Your Art Supplies Or How Often Do You Lose Your Favorite Pen?

Did I ever tell you that I met my husband on a blind date? Now you are thinking, "What does that have to do with organizing art supplies?".  My friend who introduced us, worked  in the same department with him. It seems their job was to organize things so they ran more efficiently. My friend had an immaculate apartment and her canned goods were organized by the alphabet in her closet. 

I couldn't believe that anyone whose business was organizing and efficiency would like me. I was a scruffy, hippy artist with art supplies falling out of my purse.  We met, we liked each other, and it turned out that my soon to be husband wasn't too organized at home, just at the office and he  know a lot  about how to function efficiently in the workplace.

Fast forward after being married 31 years. I have become less scruffy, less hippy and more of a business artist. I realize that artists need both creativity and logic to survive. I am always asking my husband for tips on how to be more efficient. Recently when I was drowning in a mess of art supplies in my office, I asked him for help. He looked around my office and made one suggestion that I found extremely helpful. Put your most import tools and supplies that you use regularly next to your workspace.  

Okay, you may think, duh, I know that. However, when I looked around my office I discovered most of the stuff near my desk was stuff I rarely used.  I moved 50 cigar boxes out of my office and onto a shelf in our garage, plus a lot more stuff and put my paper and canvas in their spot.

I urge you to try this at home. Move all your extraneous stuff out of your workspace and store your supplies you use most often very close to you.  Then let me know if this works for you. If not, I have other ideas for organizing and more.

 Ollie, above left corner has asked me to create a space for her bed close to where I work so she can be petted more often.

Ollie, above left corner has asked me to create a space for her bed close to where I work so she can be petted more often.

Paint Your Own Cottage

Imagine you and I sitting in front of a charming cottage getting ready to paint.  We have just finished a lunch or tea and are comfortably full with dark tea, sandwiches and perhaps a slice of cake.  

We open a our paint boxes, pick up our pencils and sketch a few lines. I lean over your shoulder to see your sketch and offer a supportive comment and a tidbit of advice. You dip your brush into your paint and begin to record your version of the cottage in front of you.  

We sit companionably for close to an hour and then, close our painting journals, pack up our minimal supplies (because we always travel lite), and head off to explore the village. We may visit the local community garden or sip something in the local pub, tour the village museum or browse in the antique shops. Whatever we do, we have a very good time and return to our b&b in time for cocktail/snack hour, painting discussions or maybe take a nap before dinner.  

We have a very good day and will repeat another good relaxing day tomorrow with nothing to worry about except what color scarf to buy. 

If you like this senario and you enjoy traveling, England and a little watercolor painting then please come along on my Anywhere Art England Tour May 14-22. I have only  2 spots left open. Email me to sign up or for more info at



Watercolor Art Class Lesson

Yesterday in my Escondido Adult School class our topic was butterflies, bees, bugs and flowers. It was up to the students to make a painting with some, all or none of these objects.  


 This was my example

This was my example

Watercolor Teaching 101

Do you remember a time when you were in 2nd or 3rd grade and you saw your teacher in the grocery store? Were you shocked? Didn’t you think they lived in their classroom, slept in the coat closet and if they ate, they dined in the cafeteria alone at midnight? I know I did.

I am preparing to teach a 2 day workshop at San Clemente Art Store this weekend and besides making a special notebook printed on paintable paper, I’ve been squeezing out paint, cutting paper, figuring out how to explain shadows in a new way and wondering who my students will be.  Sometimes I try to imagine what they will look like and I am almost always way off base.

Getting to know students is one of the things I like best about teaching art. I also like watching students begin or continue to develop skill in painting. I feel very fortunate to get to pass along art techniques that have been used for hundreds of years (things like mixing colors, drawing, and brush stroke techniques.) I didn’t invent any of these techniques but I have renamed some of them. I call the drip of watercolor paint you guide with your brush to paint a wash, a blob.

After teaching students drawing and painting for a zillion years, I know from observation that anyone can learn to paint and draw if they do their homework and practice their skills. I also have discovered recently that to paint well you need to see each and every painting as practice and not want to hang your first painting in the Louvre. 




Want to Take an Art Class with Me in Beautiful San Clemente?

No Stress Watercolor Painting

This coming  Sat.& Sun. Jan. 13-14, 10-4

This is a good time of year to start or continuing learning watercolor and enjoy San Clemente too. The studio at San Clemente Art Supply is cozy and warm.  You can walk out of the class and right into "art supply heaven" otherwise known as San Clemente Art Supply.  This shop is filled with tons of supplies and goodies that are difficult to find elsewhere. The help is helpful and the art class teacher (me) is very nice and supportive and won't send you to the principals office.  So contact them right now to register at


 In class you will learn all the basics so you can paint what you see around you where ever you are! I painted this in my kitchen late one night.

In class you will learn all the basics so you can paint what you see around you where ever you are! I painted this in my kitchen late one night.

Learn or brush up your watercolor techniques + get lots of tips, secrets and tricks to paint with watercolor with lots of success and no stress. You will see step by step demonstrations and learn how and when to use each technique.  I will give you a booklet with all the top secrets that you will add to in class and bring home so you can refer to it when you are painting at home.  You will leave class with the skill to paint a variety of subject matter + the confidence that you can paint with watercolor happily.

Pep Talking Yourself into Painting

This weekend I tried a new technique to get myself to my desk to watercolor.  You may have used this technique before with a friend or family member. Maybe you’ve said to them  “You can do it! You’re smart, you have a good head on your shoulders, just try,”

Pep talks are not to be cnfused with affirmations. I think an affirmation is something you repeat to yourself that you want to be or happen. You could say, “I am a successful painter, I am creating all the time, even if these things aren’t true I think the theory is that if you repeat them often enough you will believe them. Affirmations don’t work for me. I tried saying to myself, “I am 20 lbs thinner,” then I reached for a cookie.

Today I said to myself something I had been mulling over for a while. “Barbara, you need to practice the painting concepts you have been studying, you don’t need to create a perfect painting.” I also threw in, when you finish you can have a cookie, ooops I said carrot”. 


 Here is my practice. Going into the kitchen to get my carrot now.  

Here is my practice. Going into the kitchen to get my carrot now.  

Moonlite English Cottage

This version of the cottage painting is the one I originally set out to do a few days ago that accidentally became colorful instead of moonlite. 

I am rereading The Confident Creative by Cat Bennett. This book has a lot of ideas about how to merge drawing, painting and creativity, plus remove your roadblocks to making art. On page 56 under the heading of Experiment she writes about some ideas that may apply to you and me. Basically, she suggests we need to explore and experiment and not do things only one way. She says there’s always discomfort when we do the unfamiliar, but do your artwork anyway. She even suggests that if you think of new ways to be more creative and try them, that it will change everything......

Maybe, this is what got me over my hump of trying to paint the creativity cottage in the moonlight. Any thoughts from you? Do you think I should cheerlead for you to try new ways of painting and drawing? 

I once tried out for cheerleader in junior high school but didn’t get the job because I was always out of step or in the library when I should have been at practice. 



Colorful Creativity Cottage

Today the sun shone on the creativity cottage and somehow I painted it again with a carousel of colors. I really started out the painting this morning with the intent of painting the cottage in dark moonlight. I think I have heard of this color intent changing phenomena before, it’s called the Color Intent Changing Sydrome. Has this sydrome ever struck you?


Do More Artwork Stratagies

I've been thinking of more strategies for you to try out and see if they help you do more painting and drawing. I need you to read them over and tell me what you think. 

1.  Would a list of weekly painting topics help you? Maybe one topic per week for 4 or 6 weeks? You can use it as a guide if you can't think of what to paint.

2. What if I developed a strict teacher attitude that would motivate you to rush to do your artwork because you don't want me to give you a bad grade or call your mother, spouse, significant other or get called into the principal's office?

3. What if you could get rewarded with candy, a gold star or? If you finished a painting assignment? 

4. What if I wrote notes for you to excuse you from some activity so you could not attend and use that time to paint instead? 

I am still thinking up more motivational ideas for you, what do you think so far? 



I tried to paint the creative cottage in the moonlight, inspired by tonight’s full moon. 

Do You Think We Want to Make Any New Year's Resolutions to Help Us With Our Painting?

As I type this post my hand is jiggling a bit because I am on the treadmill.  I might be trying to get a jumpstart on losing the 20 lbs I might be making a new year's resolution to lose.

Do new year's resolutions work for you?  I never follow through on my resolutions.  I prefer problem solving thinking stratagies to help me accomplish my goals. Once I understand what I think is in the way of me working toward my desire, I try to work or chip away at my roadblock(s).

To recap some of the approaches I've talked about to get more artwork done this year:

1. Finding a spot and a desk to leave set up with your art supplies so you can begin painting whenever you have a spare moment

2. Downsizing your art supplies so you can keep them in a small pouch and grab them when you want to paint somewhere besides your house. 

3. Changing your thinking about your making art from something you do as an after thought to something its necessary and legitimate  to sit down and do often.

4. Getting yourself to understand that drawing and watercolor painting are skills you need to practice to improve and that being a good painter is NOT only for "talented" artists. 

5. Join a group or sign up for a class you can attend often can motivate you to paint more often because you have like minded people to show your work to. 

Have you discovered anything this year that helped you make more artwork? Please share it with me and my blog readers. 


 Here is an English thatched cottage for you to print out and customize with your choice of paints and color.  

Here is an English thatched cottage for you to print out and customize with your choice of paints and color.  

I wish you a very happy, healthy, colorful 2018 with lots of painting time for you!

Last Minute Gift Customized Cow Painting

Did you forget to pick up something for Uncle Fred? Aunt Frieda or Cousin It?  Never fear, you won't be embarrassed, I have a gift you make in less time then it takes you to run to the mall or the market.

Just print out the cow drawing below on watercolor paper in your home printer. You probably can use cardstock if thats all you have around the house to print on.  Paint, color or crayon the cow in Uncle Fred's, Aunt Frieda's or Cousin It's favorite colors.  If you don't know their favorite colors, use yours or mine (see my watercolor painted cow below.).  Then on the blank paper the cow is stenciling on, write a personalized message.

Wrap it up in holiday wrapping and you are set with a personalized present.  


If Uncle Fred is flashy paint with bright colors. 


If Aunt Bertha just started meditating use calming colors. 


What Do Thatched Cottages, Dark Tea, Watercolor Paint and Jane Austen Have in Common?

If you answered they are all novels, you are wrong.  If you answered they are all names of trendy cocktails, you are wrong. If you anwered that they all have to do with visiting England with me, you are correct.  

Next May 14-22 we will hop on a bus outside of the Manchester airport and drive along the coastline and arrive at the coastal village of Conwy in Wales, We will spend time exploring Conwy and its local castle  and learning about the culture of Wales (warning, this may involve visiting a pub or two and of course a local tea shop).

After many 29 or so watercolor painting workshops, we have learned not to rush from here to there. Instead we savor what we see and we relax. In the spirit of slow relaxed travel we will spend 8 days in the village of Slaugther in the heart of the Cotswolds. We will spend relaxed days in the village, walking, painting, and exploring and we will travel to neighboring villages to do more of the same. Our big excursions will be a day in Bath and a day in Oxford where local walking guides will show us around town.

If this trip sounds good to you, email me for more info or to reserve your spot. I only have 3 spots left open. 

If you want to drop a big hint to a generous loved one, to gift you this this workshop, I am happy to prepare a handlettered gift certificate for them to surprise you with on Christmas morning.

coorected date English cottage.jpg

Ask Yourself More Questions to Improve Your Creative Thinking

What do you SEE in the painting below?  Blue doors, old bricks, # 1 above the door? 


Now ask yourself what you don't see in the painting? There isn't a right answer.  You could NOT SEE the old couple that might live behind these doors who shuffle to the market everyday.  Or you might NOT SEE the young man who lives alone in one of the apartments inside the building with the blue door.  He rides his bicycle to and from work but we don't see his bicycle because he parks it inside.  You don't see the Opera singer who lives with the writer behind the blue door either.  

What do you NOT HEAR in the painting? The sound the writer makes when he types away on the old typewriter he prefers to use for his first drafts instead of his computer.  The old couple could be having a discussion about the rising price of coffee but we can't hear that either. The young man who lives in apartment 5 is on the phone speaking animatedly to his mother in Chinese.  We can't hear his conversation even if we like to easedrop. 

What do you feel about the painting? Does the blue door make you feel calm and serene? Or does it remind you of an argument you once had in front of a blue door and bring back a feeling of dispair? 

What questions come to your mind when you look at the painting of the blue door? 

DIY Watercolor Sketchbook From a Vintage Book Cover

It's easy to make a book filled with watercolor or other paper of your choice. My friend, Debbie Reid taught a group of us how to bind our papers to the book spine using a phamphlet stitch. 

If you go out to purchase a hard cover book filled with Arches watercolor paper it costs quite a lot. About the price of a small yurt in La Canada. This is one of the reasons I make my own books. The other reason is I like to have several different kinds of paper in one book. Also I love having a vintage book cover on my sketchbook.

Please let me know if you'd like to make a sketchbook and I'll post directions here. 

I made this book with some friends on Saturday. I showed them how and they whipped out their own books quickly! 



I'm bringing this book with me on my May workshop trip to England to fill with watercolors of cottages, teapots and more.  I still have a few spots open if you'd like to come along to paint in North Wales, Bath, Oxford and the Cotswolds.