Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Shore Birds

"Shore Birds" by Sue Johnston

This painting, 'Shore Birds' (so named by fellow Thurzdy Painter, Maggee Metcalf) is one of those magical moments in watercolor when everything comes together in the snap of the brush. I took the subject from a photo I took of my grandson Finn, (left) on his 5th birthday, at Santa Cruz. There were a number of challenges in this painting. The water, the reflections, the skin tones on young boys. When I began painting it was as though my brush knew the way and before very much time had passed I was finished. It was showing in Gallery Concord, and recently sold to a man who purchased it as a surprise for his wife. He said the boys reminded them so much of their two sons as they grew up in Southern California. It brought back so many happy memories they just had to have it. It makes me happy to know they are enjoying it in their home.

Friday, February 13, 2009


"Pilar" by Maggie Metcalf

I don't have a dog and consider myself more of a cat person. My dear friend Leslie Graham. is a guide dog raiser and a renaissance sort of person in that she can do a lot of things well. Photography is one of those talents. I admired this photo of hers on which the painting is based. It was also featured in a calendar. She graciously gave me permission to use it. She is also the source of a number of guide dog paintings I have done. The volunteers raise puppies who ultimately graduate and are matched to a visually impaired person. Pilar was in training, hence the green vest. She seems to be in an odd position but these animals are trained to be in specific positions and locations. It was really quite fun to paint her golden fur in the bright sun, the shadows and her expressive eyes.

July Fourth

"July Fourth" by Marylin Miller

This painting won 3rd place in California Watercolor Association's Gallery Concord show! Congratulations Marylin!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Zebra, Zebra

"Zebra, Zebra" by Maggie Metcalf

I went to the San Diego Zoo with the primary intention of getting 'people' photos to work on my portrait skills after a workshop with Myrna Wacknov. That I did, but the animals did a great job of putting their best faces forward. I found that zebra stripes are individual, like fingerprints and that the contour of the stripes defines the equine contours. Keeping the image representational was important to convey the relationship between the two affectionate creatures. It feels rather bold but apparently zebra patterns are a hot fashion statement. I have ventured into retail establishments to do my share to bolster the economy and find myself drifting towards this engaging motif.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


"Legs" 20" x 14" by Marilyn Miller

I have recently been painting people a lot. I like to capture them interacting, and I also love the patterns that arms and legs and bodies make. This painting especially shows these patterns, complemented by the furniture. Painting people is great fun!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

4 Fishin' Fool

"4 Fishin' Fool" 15" x 22" by Maggie Metcalf

This painting, "4 Fishin' Fool" is a surprise Christmas gift for my husband who loves salt water fishing. One day, the afternoon sun was streaming into the room where they were casually placed on the floor, having received the routine maintenance that preserves their function and beauty. The shadows and light were perfect so I shot the photo. As I drew the images, I realized just how complex these reels are. I originally thought it was 3 reels and as I drew, realized it was 5!

I really like the golden gleam of the metal contrasting with the blue shades of the storage bags. This, to me, is the last leg of a fishing trip. Everything is cleaned up and ready to be stored until the next fishing trip. On that day, though, it was a still life asking to be captured. And yes, it is a surprise, so don't tell.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Railroad Crossing

"Railroad Crossing" 22" x 30" by Sue Johnston CWA

This piece, 'Railroad Crossing' is the third in a series of paintings inspired by experiences on train trips over the past few years. In this painting two ladies cross the tracks to catch the train leaving Reno. I like to think that the basket held by the lead woman, is filled with her big win at the slots. I love the way their coats and the brown felt hat remind me of an earlier time in the world. Their stories and the light surrounding them were my inspiration in creating this painting.