Don’t be Koi… #1

Don’t Play Koi With Me #01

11”w x 11”h watercolor on 140lb WC paper


This little watercolor was a challenge from the Spokane Watercolor Society (SWS), which is a club that I love being part of. It is great to be able to see fellow artists every month throughout the year and be able to learn from and inspire each other.

At these meetings each month we are asked to paint something and then bring it to the next meeting for show and tell. This challenge was to paint something “Fishy”.

When I thought of what to paint, I immediately thought “koi” because of the great techniques discovered while watching Vicki A. West for an evening as we both showed people how-to-paint at the SWS art show opening the month before. Vicki is quite a talented artist, and it was an eye opener to see her quick and decisive strokes blossom into beautiful koi images. My brain immediately took this koi idea to another kind of comical path envisioning a talking fish saying, “Don’t you play koi with me!”. The old time movie that I thought of was “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” where Don Knotts plays a mild-mannered bookkeeper who falls into the water and becomes a fish.


The painting begins with a quick pencil sketch showing a fish with mouth open and eyes wide-open, standing with its left fin pointing up and out and it’s right fin reaching down to it’s hip. The character I saw was a sassy woman putting her right hand on her hip and her left hand up in the air pointing as she declares her powerful statement to the world.


I reserved fin areas with transparent yellow and then proceeded with putting a real light wash of shadowed scale pattern on her body. My main goal was just being able to see the roundness of her form before putting her colors on.


This artist married a man who grew up on a farm. Ex-farmers are who you pair up with when you need to get stuff done without any bureaucracy. My husband Pete is a double green thumb man with knowledge on how to test soil, plant rotate crops etc etc etc, a great garden guy coming from quite a family of gardening geniuses. The combination of an artistic love for growing bright flowers and seeing bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds come and enjoy them, along with really yummy home grown vegetables and fruit that are healthy is a win-win situation for our family.

Over the years we have cleared land to expand and fenced to keep out the deer. We planted what we could each year by either visiting family and friends to take starts or just buy seed & roots to start things on our own whenever we could. Our best partners in gardening were our brother and sister in-laws who moved down south to Arkansas so now we are kind of on our own. Boo Hoo! Each year I save seeds to start over again the next year.

Here is a video I took of Pete clearing the second half of our garden where we planted an orchard in 2016. It looks like now we will be getting our first fruits on those trees and bushes this year, apples, blackberries, choke cherries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, peach, apricot but we will see what happens.

We have just finished planting the majority of our vegetable garden and have cleared another section to move all the berries uphill into their own section permanently. During the summer, I look forward to enjoying each afternoon working in the garden afterwork, which gets me out of the studio. My dog loves to cruise to the garden with me so he can play in the water. The fresh air is great, and the physical work of weeding and caring for the plants is refreshing. No blue screens at all. At the peak of the harvest season with all the work of canning, the garden can be a challenge but the food produced tastes so much better and the health benefits are great that it is worth it to us.




What do artists do?

Artists tend to pursue more than one creative venue.

Outside: I do a lot of outside things including walking, hiking and dog walking. Gardening because we grow the majority of our own food. Fishing, bike riding, swimming and skiing. We love the outdoors in the Inland Northwest.

Inside: I do needlework and have been since I was quite young, mostly Embroidery and Sewing. In the evening, I wind-down while watching TV with family by embroidering. There is an ulterior motive for this, I don’t have to watch commercials when I hold something in my hands to stitch.  I sew many other things in my sewing room – like blankets, aprons, bags, quilts and clothes, seat covers or anything else we may need as a family. Sometimes I give away my work, donate to church fundraisers for my tithe, or charities, sell them or just keep for myself.

My Grandma taught me how to do all the embroidery stitches on small things and then gave me a Bucilla printed tablecloth kit for Christmas when I was in high school. It took me a whole year to finish, and a lifelong hobby was born. As an artist I draw my own patterns on the material to stitch now.

Grandma is responsible for many of the best recipes in my kitchen and craft skills in my household and studio. Her name was Opal Evelyn Kilpatrick. She was half Scottish and half Indian and she had that beautiful white hair just like her Mother did. As I snapped this photograph with one of those old Kodak camera, little did I know this would be the last time I would see her in-person before she passed away. She paused for a photo for me at the Lihue, Kauai airport parking lot before we walked over to the gate for her to catch her flight. She had come to visit me and my kids before moving away to the mainland to live with her sister in Oklahoma. I carry this picture in my wallet still.

Here are some pictures of that first tablecloth project. I still remember Grandma’s voice, whenever I spread it on the table to use on a special occasion.


Art Collectors are a blessing

Last Friday night (4/6/2018) I was downtown Spokane WA for First Friday at the Spokane Watercolor Society Membership Show 2018 opening receptionThe host of our show is the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy, which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that helps willing landowners place conservation easements on their properties to protect land in watershed areas. The show location is their Community Building lobby, at 35 West Main Avenue, (corner Browne and Main) all hanging art will be on display from April 6th through April 27th 2018.

During the reception I was helping teach watercolor techniques at a table we had there. A great thing for me as I find it difficult to mingle with large crowds of people I don’t know, exchanging meaningless pleasantries. Public events can make me feel down, hearing careless comments about “starving artists” and the general low rumblings from fellow artists about low sales and other struggles of the industry.

There was a bin setup on the side that I had placed some small pieces of unframed art (I did not want to keep anymore).  They were not marked with a price, and I was fine with them being free giveaways.  I am trying to clear out excess inventory in the studio with a goal being to find a nice home for my art children if possible.

A beautiful lady went through the pictures and prints that were in the bin, Quickly picking up a small watercolor that I had entitled, “Chocolate Delight”.  She asked how much it was and who painted it at the front desk so they came over to me asking if it was me, and how much etc.

When I saw the absolute love on her face as she held the piece close to her chest I felt instant joy all over . I said, “Yes, it was me,” and asked her “You like it?”

“Definitely, it is emotion and…”

I shared with her that I remembered painting it as a testimony to how I feel when eating a piece of Dove chocolate. She absolutely got it, loving the way that the facial features showed the rapture of chocolate flavor almost to the pint of having tears come from her eyes.

In my mind I thought, “The illusion of the tears on the piece were more a watercolor lucky imperfection than a planned process by me. I love how watercolors give me those surprises.” A comforting envelope of relief came over me as I signed the back and endorsed it with her name, Darlene. Next I was telling her the price was free, and she immediately replied, “No, I insist to pay for it.” It is funny that I was worried about not making sales and should I keep making art earlier and her love of my work just blew that worry away. The emotional connection is what is important, not the money. I collected the funds she offered, thanking her with another hug. An angel just when I needed it. She and her husband enjoyed the rest of the show and left shortly after.

A daily art creation routine is really a creative venture or experiment where the artist tries to share their innermost soul with the world, our feelings and emotions that touch us so very very deeply. It is always my hope that my art will be able to give the same depth of feelings to any collector feeling drawn to purchase it.

I was given a gift from Darlene worth more than money. She gave me undeniable assurance that my work does touch hearts and is worthwhile. I may need to offer it up for discounted amounts to clear the inventory in my studio, but that does not mean that it then becomes worthless art to the people that receive the gift.

An absolute must read

This book is instrumental in my success at pursuing a profession I love  in art,

Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want

by Barbara Sher and Annie Gottlieb published in 1979.

  • It is hilarious how many people want to judge this book by it’s title or cover, which is truely a mistake. If you read the first page of the Intro you would know that it has absolutely nothing to do with that very similar word of “Witchcraft”. Yet, I don’t know how many people I have told about it, who refused to even take a look assuming it has something to do with witches and black magic. LOL.

I have read it myself (more than once). It is probably the most profound and helpful “self get-to-knower” I have ever ran into. It is easy to read and leads you onto an investigative journey of the truths within yourself, with easy questions. Showing simple logical paths to take to be able to proceed wherever it is that you find that you really want to go. The little tests and the explanations are quite revealing to find out what things are important. Often I was discovering dreams I that I had ignored because I assumed they were totally impossible, ridiculous, or childish but they were actually very very important to my soul.
I was getting the book out of the bookcase to loan to my son-in-law to read because they are starting a new business venture. But, I read the first page of the introduction again which made my interest get piqued so….

Unfortunately he’ll have to wait till I actually read it again before I take it to their house for them to borrow. Sorry.

Found a title YAY!

In an earlier post I asked for help to name a new painting. But I think I got it figured out. What do you think?


14″w x 18.5″h
watercolor on 140lb wc paper
White tail deer outside on a frosty morning.

This will be on exhibit at…

The Spokane Watercolor Society Membership Show 2018, has a show theme of, “Nature” this year. There is an opening reception as part of Spokane’s First Friday Art celebration on April 6th from 5-8pm. All of the hanging watercolor paintings by our members will be for sale and will be on display from April 6th through April 27th 2018. The Inland Northwest Land Conservancy Lobby hours are weekdays 9AM-4PM (no weekend days).

The host is the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy
Community Building lobby

which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that helps willing landowners place conservation easements on their properties. They are focused on protecting land in watershed areas. The show location is in their Community Building lobby, at 35 West Main Avenue, in downtown Spokane WA 99201 (corner Browne and Main).

We invite you to come meet the artist’s and enjoy refreshments or even learn to paint at our teaching table. Artistic fun at the opening reception and raffle on First Friday 5-8pm. That night there will be additional small works and cards for sale.


Now I am thinking it will go a lot easier and faster when I start to sew it on the machine.


The first seam goes off without a hitch. Easy & fast! I mistakenly comment to myself that this isn’t going to be that bad after all. Ummmmm.

BUT as I work my way to the interior, it becomes apparent that that is not going to be the case for all of it! Take a quick look at this normal sewing machine space allowance. It looks quite adequate, doesn’t it?

However, getting the material to the right place in the center and then navigating it to sew a straight seam becomes an impossible challenge right away. It is a real test of logistics and physics when trying to fit all the outer edges under that little space to the right of the needle. It is crazy! Involving rolling the sides up tightly then using both hands, in multiple positions, as I sew. I am now a professional contortionist who can pull, tug, center and line-up all at once.

I get it! I understand now, why the price for “long arm” sewing machines is so high. I used to wonder why anyone would pay such a ridiculous price (thousands of dollars) just for a sewing machine. How silly. Now I see why, cause they CAN with any people who end up sewing upholstery. It is so tempting to just say screw it, and buy a machine that will make it easier. Imagine quilting without the hassle of Climbing Mount Everest.

Oh, don’t forget the necessity to own stock in needle manufacturing and Bandaids. The number of EXTRA NEEDLES required as I break them on multiple inconvenient occasions is amazing. I have become a professional needle changer on my machine, thanks to this car seat project. Maybe I should time myself to impress you.

I don’t plan to give up, as my middle name is stubborn. I manage to actually succeed in getting the pad connected to the sitting surfaces of the upholstery.

Ever seen, “The Croods”?… Da, Da, Da!!!