Saturday, February 28, 2015

Iced In

Due to the extreme cold that has lasted so long many of the local marinas are all iced in. Boats like the one at the Land's End Marina in Sayville won't be going anywhere for a while since they are iced in.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Snowy Scenes

I am still trying most days to get out and paint the snow and ice somewhere locally, since it doesn't seem to be leaving us any time soon. Yes, there is a little less of the snow from the warmth of the sun, but then it just refreezes as ice.

This first one was painted down at the West Islip Marina. The day I was there it was so windy that the  snow on the ground was blowing like it was just falling...but sideways. I liked the lonely bench looking out at the mostly frozen Great South Bay.

When I don't want to travel far I just drive about 5 minutes to a park down the street in Sayville and look for a new view from the parking lot. I haven't braved it and ventured out of my car to paint any of these.

If you have had snow where you live I hope you are enjoying it like me.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sketching on Toned Paper II

I'm a bit behind in posting my pieces, but since I showed you one on toned paper yesterday, I figured I should show the one I did yesterday. I've been wanted to sketch the snow from this spot, but for days I kept contemplating the parking lot trying to decide if I could drive in and get back out. lol Yesterday it looked like it was solid enough to not have a problem. This was done from the San Souci parking lot in Sayville.

I used the Strathmore Toned Paper for this one again. I did most of it on site but finished it with the watercolor pencils at home because I ran out of time because I had a hair appointment.

I know many of you across the USA experiences snow and ice yesterday, and for some of you that was rare. I hope everyone is safe and that things are back to normal for you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sketching on Toned Paper

A few weeks ago I went to Dick Blick with friends and while roaming around and talking with my friend who has been using this paper I bought a sketchbook. It is Strathmore Toned Gray sketch paper. That was followed by another of our snowstorms and I was trapped indoors for a while, so I gave it a try for a snowscape. This is the view from every window in my apartment. All our windows face a bit of woods, a fence and then the houses on the next street. I would prefer a little variety, but I go with what is there. Since I knew this paper wouldn't handle paint I just used ink, dry watercolor pencils, and a white colored pencil. I like the effect and should do more of these. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snowy Park Scenes

As most of you know we have had days of really cold weather here. With all the snow we had in the last two weeks it looked like a wonderland, so even though it was cold I headed out and sat in my car to paint. That meant finding spots where I could pull over and that was hard because the big snow piles were (and still are) blocking the parking areas along most of the roads. I found that our local park was the best place to sketch. They did somewhat plow the parking lots so people could go walking in the snow (not me) or take their kids sledding. Both of these were sketched from my car (on different days) and I finished just about the time I started feeling cold and would have had to put the heat back on.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ice Boat

LuAnn Thompson, the president of the South Bay Art Association, posted a photo to paint on our group's Facebook page as a challenge to the members during our long, cold winter. I took the challenge but left out a few of the other was difficult enough to draw. The Great South Bay does freeze over during really cold spells here, and this was the first time since 2010. The ice boaters must be having a great time because the wind we've had lately must make them fly across the ice. Here is my painting of her photo.

I did head down to dock in Bellport yesterday to see if there were any boats out, but I didn't see any....maybe because yesterday it was about 40 degrees (our first day over freezing in a while) and everyone was enjoying the warmth elsewhere. lol

Here is a quickie self portrait I did for something else.
Here's lookin' at you!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Macy's Sketching

Last week I made one of my seasonal trips to look at winter boots (which I never seem to buy anyway) and found myself in Macy's. I am a bargain hunter so unless something is really discounted I don't buy it. lol I've been looking for dress boots, snow boots, and boots to just keep my feet warm. I did find warm boots but they still weren't reduced enough, so I tried them on in Macy's and checked on-line. I found them on clearance in one of the department stores in the south and ordered them for 1/3 of what they were selling here. Yay!! Of course they haven't arrived yet and we had so many days of freezing cold weather when my toes really would have appreciated their furry lining. Hopefully they will arrive at the beginning of this week because it is going to get very cold again.

Anyway after checking out the boots I found that when they renovated this Macy's they tucked a Starbucks in one of the corners. Who knew? One Starbucks counter looks pretty much the same as another so at first I was going to sketch the shoe display that I could see from my table. But then I noticed the red star (Macy's logo) and the mannequins at the entrance to the store...perfect! I sat and sipped and sketched.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Walking in the Snow

Somehow I forgot to post anything yesterday...where was my mind?

 I headed over to the arboretum the other day and sat in my car to sketch. It was only about 20 degrees out but there were people walking and enjoying the cold...not me!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Library Sketches

With our bitterly cold days I've been spending a bit more time indoors. The other day I visited the public library and did a few sketches directly in pen.

This is a cozy spot for reading.

This lady was engrossed in her book.

These ladies come every week and play mahjong in one of the small rooms.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Baked With Love

This was sketched in the same grocery store where I sketched the seafood counter a few days back.
I tried to sketch the cake displays, but it was Valentine's Day and too many people kept getting in the way. LOL

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Last Tuesday my sketch group from Wet Paints in Sayville had Max as a model. This young man was so good and didn't move at all. If someone asked him a question he answered without moving his lips. He even kept his arms raised in this pose. Looking at this now, I see that I made his glove too small.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Can't Beet This

Last summer I took some photos at a farm stand in Maine when I was visiting my sister. I really liked these beets and am glad I finally had the opportunity to do some indoor studio work. This is 8 x 10.

Last week I needed to have my car inspected and have some work done on it. Most people hate sitting around the waiting room at the dealership, but of course I bring along my art supplies and sketch the other people waiting. So I am very content. Some of the people are very good models and sit still for a while, others keep getting up and walking around. lol These were done in about 3 hours, some in pencil, some in ink. I did a collage of them using pic I needed practice with making a collage on that site before I forgot how to do it. The 2nd sketch down on the right was where all the activity was in the waiting room. Apparently they got a new coffee machine and it was giving them problems. I think everyone who worked at that Nissan dealership spent some time with the front of the machine open tweaking the workings. I did get a cup of coffee before all of this started, and by the time I left they had a sign saying "Out of Order" on the machine. lol

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hollyhocks on Yupo

As a challenge for myself in February I wanted to work on two materials I have tried in the past, but haven't touched in a while...yupo and masa papers. I posted the steps and the painting of the sunflower on masa paper the other day. Today I am going to show you some of the steps in my yupo painting. For those of you who don't know what yupo paper is this is what the Dick Blick website says about it.

Yupo is a compelling and unique alternative to traditional art papers. It's a synthetic paper, machine-made in the USA of 100% polypropylene. It is waterproof, stain-resistant, and extremely strong and durable.
This extraordinary, non-absorbent surface resists tearing and buckling and remains perfectly flat, eliminating the need for soaking, stretching, or taping.
Watercolor professionals have found Yupo to be receptive to a variety of aqueous techniques, but it is also ideal for offset printing, silkscreen, debossing, drawing, acrylic painting, and more.
Yupo isn't easy to work with because it is so slick. Paint has a hard time adhering to it, but the good thing is you can wash off all or part of anything you do...unfortunately that sometimes happens to the painting you are working on even though you are not aiming to do that. LOL
I taped down my yupo paper by putting a small rolled piece of masking paper under each corner and then attaching it to my board. You have to be careful about getting fingerprints on the yupo because the oils from your fingers can keep the paint from staying in those spots. I read that the best thing is to wipe down the paper with rubbing alcohol, so I did that to the paper after it was taped down. Then I drew my design lightly in pencil and started with light washes of pink for the hollyhocks. You can see that the paint puddles and sort of sits on the paper. It causes a very loose look.

My design is hollyhocks in front of a window. I used a reference photo I took at Wesbury Gardens last year. Here I have painted a bit more of the flowers and the leaves, and have started painting in the windows. I'm sorry the painting is on a slant in the photo but the paper was too wet at this point to move it around without disturbing the paint.

I took a closeup of one section. Look how the paint puddles. Sometimes that is a good thing because you can turn the paper to make the colors mingle as you move it back and forth. You just have to be careful.

Here is the status of the painting at the end of day 1. If you look closely at the top left section of the window you can see that the wet paint shifted when I moved it and created drippy marks. Not to worry...I can just wipe them off with a clean, damp brush.  I put the painting aside to let all the paint dry. Hopefully I will not disturb what I already have when I work on it again.

Day 2 - I continued working on the hollyhocks and the window. I added a bit more definition and shading to the flowers especially the one that I turned into the focal area. When the paint dried yesterday it looked like some of the windows needed to have darker color in them. However, once you disturb the paint that is already there you have little or no control over what happens. As soon as you touch a wet brush to the paint that is already there it lifts some of the color. I repainted some sections of the windows with a very dark mixture of paint. I think I am finished...or finished for the time being. lol What do you think?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sketching at Roast

On Wednesday night the Patchogue Sketch Club headed over to Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Company in Patchogue. We have so few choices of places to sketch at night that we return to the same places quite often in the winter. I always try to find a slightly different view so I am not doing the same thing over again. This time I focused on a small part of the counter.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sunflower on Masa

One of the materials I wanted to work with this month was masa paper. It is an oriental paper that gets strange crinkled results. This is my finished 8 x 10 painting.

Here is a description of how to work with masa. This is basically what I did to get the effect above.

A popular technique with watercolor painters is to scrumple up a sheet of masa paper, pop it into a container of clean water for half-a-minute or so, carefully straighten it out again, and then drop some paint onto it while it's still wet. This turns the sheet of paper into one with a textured, wrinkled surface with random color. You can then flatten the sheet out completely using a brayer, and leave it to dry. Mark which is the shiny side before you crumple the paper, so you can tell which side you want to use when you flatten the sheet out. Once it's dried, you may want to glue the crumpled sheet of masa to another piece of paper to give it more support.

If you are interested in the process I used I took a few photos along the way. First I did a rough sketch of the sunflower and then I followed the instructions above. After flattening the paper out I added some color to the back (rough side) of my paper. The paper was still wet and the color was deep and rich. What I was looking for was some color in the folds of the masa paper to make that detail more prominent. This is the back of the masa paper. I read everything I could find that artists posted about using masa paper. Some prefer working on the smooth side and some prefer to work on the rough side. I remember that the last time the rough side started pilling after a while and I didn't want that to happen.

When the paper was dry I used matte medium mixed with a little bit of water to glue it to a piece of watercolor paper. Notice that on this side you can see some color in the folds but it is nowhere near what it was on the other side. I had some blotches from the color running under the paper, but I figured I would just try and make those work in the background around the sunflower. I darkened the lines of the drawing a little so I could see them better, and then I started painting.

I painted the petals and stem first and then the inside of the sunflower. I wanted there to be impressions of other sunflowers in the background so I lightly put in some yellowish greens.

Next I added the blues around the sunflower adding yellows and greens for the other foliage. I'm sorry I didn't take a photo as I started the blue of the sky, but I didn't want to get hard edges in the sky area. The next photo I took was the one of the finished painting above.

Here is a photo of the sunset painting I had done on masa paper at the end of the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge back in January. For this one I felt I didn't get enough of the crumpled lines. It came out much too soft looking. For this one I painted it on the rough side of the paper unlike the sunflower. I liked the painting but it didn't get the effect I was after. 

I hope to experiment on masa paper at least once more before the month is over. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Seafood Counter

During this cold spell I'm looking everywhere for inspiration. I had to go food shopping the other day and took along my sketchbook. Right by the seafood counter at Best Market in Patchogue there is a small table where you can sit and have tea or coffee (free). I sat there to sketch and may go back and sketch another view from that same spot. You can see the bread bins and the showcase with the fancy cakes.  This cold weather is getting annoying, and tomorrow is supposed to be in the teens. More snow is forecast for the weekend. Grrrrr........

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

At the Beach

Even though it has been really cold and we still have a lot of snow on the ground, I had that urge to go down by the beach. First I painted a bit of the dunes with some fencing. Of course there were a few piles of snow up against the fencing and on the dunes. It really mixes in with the sand so you can't tell where one ends and the other starts.

Then I did a painting of some closer beach grasses with the touches of snow between the clusters of grass. I tried to do this one holding the tip of the brush handle to make looser marks.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sketching at the Met

The NYC Urban Sketchers met at the Met on Saturday. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has so much to sketch that it was like being a kid in a candy store. I think we could have sketched there for a week and not run out of subjects. Except for lunch, I never left the first floor and barely touched on the collections there.

My first stop was the Roman and Greek collection on the 1st floor. The drama of the high ceilings and the light of the room stopped me in my tracks. All those tall columns with their straight lines contrasted so well with the rounded sculptures of the figures. I wanted to include it all but as you can see it didn't all fit on the page which was only 5.5 x 8.5. Luckily a woman and her little girl sat and posed for a few minutes while they checked out the map. I used watercolor pencils and my Lamy pen to sketch this, and then added water when we were in the cafeteria.

Lunch was next and although I was busy eating and talking I did get a very quick "mandatory Jim" sketch done.

Heading back upstairs a few of us went into the exhibit with the armor. I started with a sketch of the knight on horseback from the side, but loved the view from the rear so I sketched that too on the same page. This time I used my waterbrush on site to finish the sketches.

My final sketch at the museum was in the room with the Temple of Dendur. I tried to include the temple, the windows to the outside, some of the gallery visitors and the Statue of Amenhotep III in front of it all.

It was a really great day but time flew by much too quickly. I hope we visit again soon.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Frozen Lake

This was sketched at Artists Lake in Middle Island. The lake luckily still had a few openings in the ice for the birds.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Snowy View at the Grange

I have painted this view of the road leading into the Grange in Sayville several times in different seasons. Here is the link to it when I painted it in the fall.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

View Up Summit Street

On Thursday I went over to visit my sister, Mickey, in NJ. I had to pick up paintings of hers to take up to a gallery for the New England Watercolor Society Show. Usually we spend the day out doing some sketching but she was waiting for a call from the auto mechanic about her car so we stayed at her house. I did this painting from her living room looking up her street.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dino and Sally

We had a very snow morning on Tuesday for our portrait group and a poor turnout. It ended up there was the model, Sally, and me. Dino has posed for us before and I find him a bit difficult to paint. He has a very square face and no character lines. Looking at this on the screen I see I didn't make his shoulders wide enough. Usually he models for college art classes (nude) not for portraits. Maybe his body is more exciting to sketch. lol

When I knew I had to stop putting paint on Deano's portrait I did a quick sketch of Sally sketching Dino. Now her face has character! 

Again if you haven't seen my art presentation the link is here and also at the top of the sidebar.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Snowy Farm

I enjoy driving around and seeing farmland that is still being used for farms on Long Island. So much  is gone due to residential developments. The other day I wanted to sketch something with snow so I took a ride out near Wading River about 25 minutes northeast of me. There were a lot of good views...but with no place to park my car due to the banks of snow. Finally I spotted this. I loved that the green was showing a little where some vehicle had driven through or maybe the wind and sun had just worked their magic to let it peek through.

If you've seen the link below please ignore the following message. I know some people only get to check blogs once a week or less.

Back in my post for Nov. 18, 2014 I had posted a photo of myself doing my presentation for the Wet Paints Studio Group in Sayville. I spoke about art and my life and brought along examples of my drawings, collage, paintings, and sketchbooks. I promised all of you that when the video of my presentation was available I would post a link to it. has been on youTube for a while, but I had been posting so much here that I didn't want to overwhelm the pages. Now that things are a little quieter I am posting it. It is a little over an hour long so if you want to watch it you may want to do it in more than one sitting. lol Enjoy and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Frozen Lake

The other day I was looking for a winter view to sketch and headed up to Middle Island. It was mostly frozen with small openings of water, which I'm sure made the birds very happy. This is Artists Lake, aptly named. lol The sketch is about 4 x 6.

For those of you who didn't see my video link yesterday here it is again.
Back in my post for Nov. 18, 2014 I had posted a photo of myself doing my presentation for the Wet Paints Studio Group in Sayville. I spoke about art and my life and brought along examples of my drawings, collage, paintings, and sketchbooks. I promised all of you that when the video of my presentation was available I would post a link to it. has been on youTube for a while, but I had been posting so much here that I didn't want to overwhelm the pages. Now that things are a little quieter I am posting it. It is a little over an hour long so if you want to watch it you may want to do it in more than one sitting. lol Enjoy and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Citarella View & Video Link to My Presentation

Last Friday my friend had to go out to East Hampton to drop off something for a client and take care of a few things. I went along for company and to help her get the end tables into the client's house. I must say that mostly I closed and opened doors while she carried the pieces. When she was finished we went to Citarella on Main Street in East Hampton to have lunch and do a quick sketch. I had enough time to sketch this and just began adding color when we had to leave, so the rest of it I finished at home.

Back in my post for Nov. 18, 2014 I had posted a photo of myself doing my presentation for the Wet Paints Studio Group in Sayville. I spoke about art and my life and brought along examples of my drawings, collage, paintings, and sketchbooks. I promised all of you that when the video of my presentation was available I would post a link to it. has been on youTube for a while, but I had been posting so much here that I didn't want to overwhelm the pages. Now that things are a little quieter I am posting it. It is a little over an hour long so if you want to watch it you may want to do it in more than one sitting. lol Enjoy and tell me what you think.

(If for some reason the link doesn't work, please let me know. You can also find it by going to Wet Paints Studio Group's website: All the way at the bottom of the page there is a link to the Wet Paints Video Archive and when that opens I am the next to last one on the list...Joan Tavolott. They are in order by date.)

Monday, February 2, 2015

World Wide SketchCrawl #46 at the Planting Fields Arboretum

The NYC Urban Sketchers somehow missed scheduling a crawl on Saturday for the WW SketchCrawl #46 on Saturday. So my friend, Susan, and I decided to do a Long Island version. She suggested going to the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay. Go to an arboretum with the frigid temps we had on Saturday??? Yes!!! Aside from walking from the car to the main greenhouse and out of the building to use the restrooms, we were in a beautiful, tropical wonderland. The only thing missing was someone delivering tropical drinks to us. The sun was shining and we took off our down jackets, hats, gloves, scarves, and heavy sweaters and settled in to sketch. We even thought ahead to bring our lunches (my idea) because heaven forbid we starve. lol

I started with a flowering bromeliad.

Then I moved on to sketch the anthuriums.

I liked the view down the length of the greenhouse.

There were more bromeliads to sketch....

lots of orchids...

and other tropical plants.

Susan took a photo of me sketching. It looks like I'm in a tropical forest.
Photo by Susan Toplitz
At 4:00 they came and told us they were closing the greenhouse for the day, or we would have kept sketching until it got too dark. We were in a magical, special world and oblivious to the weather conditions outside until we had to put on all our winter gear for the walk back to the car.