Deb Ward, GWS, OWS, PWS, WSI - WATERCOLOR/WATER MEDIA - My passion is teaching adult “beginners”. Weekly classes in my home; workshops; classes for Cincinnati Recreation Commission. My work is nationally recognized and published - see “Featured” on my sidebar. I’m a Signature Member of Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana state Watercolor Societies, Cincinnati Art Club, past-President of Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society. Contact info below under “Class Information”

Monday, December 22, 2008


Spent today running errands and going to the eye doctor (where I’m told that no, my eyes aren’t going bad – I just need to WEAR MY GLASSES!). Tomorrow will be spent with my daughter doing some shopping and visiting my mother-in-law who is 97 and getting to be quite frail (I’m worried about her). Then it’s Christmas (at my daughter’s) and then New Year’s (I’ll be cooking turkey, etc.) – so this will be my final blog of 2008.

I’m planning on doing some painting, getting myself more organized and doing some research in the rest of these final days of 2008.


Thursday, December 18, 2008


When I decided to teach “kids” – middle school through high school age – I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. Well, turns out the kids were a lot of fun to be around. They take learning seriously, asking intelligent questions and trying very hard to “get it right”.

I was invited to come to their fall program on the final evening of classes, so that was “date night” for my husband and me. There were two choirs – elementary and jr/sr high. I expected the older kids to do well and they did (most of my art students were also in the choir) but we couldn’t believe the fantastic job the younger kids did – not only learning the songs but putting choreography with them!

After the program it was off to see what all of the classes had been up to. Each class had a display area and the watercolors looked pretty good, having been “matted” on construction paper and hung on a display board. Then over to the food line for some home made desserts. It made for a different but really fun evening.

Here are some of the students hard at work (or hardly working!)

Friday, December 12, 2008


This is my first street scene – and I don’t think John Salminen has anything to worry about yet!!!

There was a bistro on the sidewalk and so many people walking along the street, but the brilliant orange of this woman’s sari caught my eye. I left out all the extraneous details and focused on her and her companion. My goal was to keep the eye focused on her and/or the flags, while the buildings faded into the background – just the way they did that day – it was slightly overcast and things in the distance were hazy.

Orange is not my favorite color, but when I began this painting I discovered that I have 3 tubes of various vermillion colors, as well as a couple more oranges I didn’t realize I had! (It’s amazing how much paint you accumulate over the years). The orange of the sari is a combination of various layers and blends of quinacridone gold, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange and the 3 vermillions.

Also, I have never done a thin, tall painting before, so it was interesting.

I think it’s done, but your comments, suggestions, critiques are welcome.

“Showing Their Stripes”, watercolor on Fabriano Artistico

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Well, they finally did!

(Normally my posts are art related, but not this one).

Last week my husband and son drove to Massachusetts and New York to pick up four Devon cattle heifers. He’s been preparing for their arrival for months, installing water taps, perimeter and electric fencing, planting pasture and building a corral. He’s embarking on his second career – Cattle Rancher!!
I couldn’t resist purchasing the appropriate cattleman’s hat and embellishing it with a purple feather puff – purple for the Cincinnati Elder Panthers (for you Cincinnatians who might be reading this) - he does truly bleed purple!!! That was his surprise when he got home from the trip. Another surprise was dangling from his key chain – a cute little cow with a button on its head that, when pushed, lights up its nose and makes it go “moooooooooooooooo”. (Took him a while to figure out that it was on his key chain, too!!!). (There will be another surprise for him some time in the future – Mike, if you read this be afraid, be very afraid!)
The “girls” should be with us for some time as our brood cows. I was going to name them, and turns out that at least two of them already have names – Sunshine and Erin!! Either the other two have no name, or I just haven’t gotten close enough to them to read their “earrings”. They are pretty docile so far (but I’m not planning on getting close enough to test this theory since, even though not full grown, they are mighty big). And, so far, I have not had a shocking experience with the electric fence, but I’m sure it will happen one of these days (lucky me).
Meet Erin (or is it Sunshine???)

Some day, in the far distant future, after calves are born and raised, we will be involved in Grassfed Beef Farming (we hope). But for now we are all (including the dog) just getting to know one another.
From time to time I’m sure that some odd or bizarre event will occur with these bovines (or husband) especially if they prove to be as brilliant as chickens. (In re-reading that sentence it appears that I’m referring to both the cows and husband as not Mensa members – you be the judge!).

I’ll keep you posted!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Last week I was out with my daughter and we went to the local Old Tyme Pottery so she could pick up some inexpensive glassware. I should have known . . . (you know where this is going!!!)

She spent probably $12 total, if that. I, on the other hand, found numerous items for still life set ups. I’m really enjoying doing still life (never would have thought it!) but never can find interesting enough items. Well, about $60 later, I had many neat items to work with. I was so excited that I stopped at the grocery on the way home and picked up a couple bouquets to utilize, too. The plan was to take many photos the next day. However . . . The next day the sun never came out. Ditto for the next several days. But the flowers hung on for dear life.

Finally, though, the sun came out and I took almost 200 photos of many set ups. (I told you I was excited!). Now to edit them and get some new paintings started . . .

Soon I hope to have some new and awesome still lifes to show you – just don’t hold your breath!

Just so I'd have a photo with my post, here is a tray of glass ornaments (I was thinking reflections though, not Christmas!)

Friday, November 21, 2008


This is the first time I’ve done a painting to the specifications of a “challenge”. This one was to include one or more of the following: wood, a shoe, a sphere, something yellow and something from the refrigerator. Got all but the frig item. It did not win an award, but overall I’m pretty happy with it.

“Quick Change”, 16x16 Ampersand aquabord with casein.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I’ve been painting with fluid acrylics for well over two years, but I’m hearing more and more about them now in the art magazines. I do enjoy using them, on watercolor paper or board or on canvas. (Just can’t seem to get the hang of tube acrylics, tho.)

In any event, most of you have probably heard of Nicholas Simmons by now. Seems that he discovered a painting technique that involves painting with the fluid acrylics and then, just before the paint is dry, spraying it off so that some of the paint lifts off with the water which creates a splotchy look reminiscent of batik.

This painting, done in fluid acrylics and watercolor, utilizes the “Nicholas Simmons” technique in a few areas. It seems a bit darker than I usually paint, but I’m pretty happy with the results!

This painting is also in the Queen City Art Club’s show at Baker-Hunt in Covington, KY.

Enjoy the process!

Blocks”, ½ sheet hot pressed Arches paper with watercolors and fluid acrylics.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Queen City Art Club Show Opening

Friday evening was the opening of the Queen City Art Club show at Baker-Hunt in Covington, KY. One of my paintings was featured on the postcard for the show, which was an honor, since I'm one of the newest members of the club.

We had a good turn out - I got to talk to several people I don't get to see enough of, and my husband got to gorge on some delicious snacks and talk to some interesting people, too.

They had a "bazaar" table with small items on it, and some of those items sold. I'm not aware that any of the large paintings have sold, though. Sadly, people will spend money on so many things that they won't even use, but not spend any money on artwork which they can enjoy every day of their lives.

This is the painting on the postcard - "Roses on Grandma's Quilt", watercolor.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It’s been quite a week, both personally and artistically.

Last Wednesday I started the day with a colonoscopy (yippee!). While the outcome was fine, I seem to always have a problem with anesthesia, so the rest of that day was a write off, which meant that I missed a funeral visitation that evening. Ordinarily that wouldn’t bother me, but the deceased was a good friend of my husband who had died quite suddenly and I was sad that I was unable to attend. However, once Wednesday was over, my week got better!

Friday evening I attended Viewpoint, a national competition sponsored by The Cincinnati Art Club, of which I am a member. Unfortunately, the painting I had entered was not accepted; however, my friend Sharon had a painting in the exhibit. It is the painting on top left – African boys in a circle – entitled “Circle of Friends” (watercolor). She won a magazine award for it!

There were quite a few more gorgeous paintings (and hopefully these two artists will not mind their paintings being shown here - I have purposely kept them small).

Here is Ray Hassard’s “West Meets East” (pastel) for which he won a one year gallery representation. He does wonderful work, so much detail - this was framed as though you were actually looking into the window of the shop!Another painting that caught my eye was Cindy Brabec-King’s “Belonging Unto Him" (watercolor). I have admired her work in magazines and books for years - this painting has so much going on and is quite beautiful up close and personal! Sadly, it did not win an award.
I tried to get more photos, but by the time I had walked around the exhibit and began my second go around with camera at the ready it was getting too crowded to get good pictures. So I must make a “memo to self” for future exhibits – get there early and take my photos right away!
Then on Saturday morning I taught a class at the local library – sunflowers in watercolor. Wow – they all did such a great job – either there were lots of talented people there, or they had a great teacher (ha, ha!). Once again, I meant to get some photos of the class, but we had more people attend than we thought and it was kind of a whirlwind to get everything completed in 3 hours – maybe next time.

This week I have two art club meetings and two art openings this weekend! I always enjoy art openings – such a pleasant way to spend an evening! Now if my paintings would just sell . . .

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tennessee Barn

We passed this barn by the side of the road each time we came and went from Norris Lake this summer. One day the cows were there so I snapped a photo. Just had to – my husband is in the process of purchasing beef cattle! (Can't wait????)

Enjoy the painting process!

Watercolor, Arches 140 CP, 11x15

Friday, October 31, 2008


Here are more bricks for this year’s auction from my friends. (I’m hoping they won’t be mad at me for putting their bricks on here, since I didn’t ask for permission from them).

We Can! - My friend Nancy did this one – it’s her first time and I think she did a super job! My son was curious about how she created the rocks and girl – and so am I! Hmmmmmmm . . . . .
Reaching Out - My friend Sharon did this one. She constantly amazes and impresses me with her artistic abilities. The hand is that of her daughter, Eleanor. Way too cool!
Yoga brick - Linda is a yoga teacher, so here are two views of her Yoga brick so you can see all of the wording – Ommmmmmm!

Here is a photo of the day of the auction – there was a good crowd all afternoon. Sadly, before I left, neither of my bricks had been bid on – but two of the others had! We were told that following the auction, some people just buy the brick for the stated opening bid. Starting bids (set by the organizers of the event) for mine were $50 for Birdbrain Lane and $75 for Memo Brick – perhaps that was too high? Some of the bricks started bidding at $25, others as high as $125-$150! But it's all for a great cause.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

BRICK AUCTION, October 26, 2008

Through a friend of mine, I found out about a brick auction which raises funds for breast cancer. This event has been going on for several years. You can read more about it at

The bricks can be simply painted or items can be added to them (mosaics, cloth, beads, etc.). The main criteria is that each brick must have the pink cancer ribbon displayed on it somewhere. I think it’s a novel idea and always wonder if my brick will “sell”. They have a silent auction with the bricks set up on tables and then they usually also have a live auction at some point with a local newsman officiating. Various sponsors have raffles and of course there is food and wine, so it makes for a pleasant afternoon or evening.

The first time I entered a brick, several years ago, my first brick was “Gina Lola Brickada”, based on Gina Lola Brigida (of course!) I had read somewhere that she is an artist and I thought that she would get a kick out of finding herself the basis of a “sexy brick” (never would have thought you would hear those two words together!). Here are photos of that one. Be aware that this is a digital photo of actual photos – they were taken long before I purchased a digital camera. Gina has been painted from all sides – she’s just headless! Also legless and armless, but, hey, she’s a brick after all!

Gina Lola Brickada

Next there was “Racing for the Cure” – below is another digital photo of my photos – and when I painted this one my son was impressed! He said I pretty much got the muffler, etc. correct on the bottom of the brick. If you cannot see it well, I tried to paint it as though you were looking at each side of a race car (both sides, top, bottom, front and back) so that all sides of the brick were painted.

Racing for the Cure It is interesting here to note that there was a brick with the title “Race for the Cure” this year! It involved little toy cars on a race track around the brick! There was also a Marilyn Monroe brick and “Brick Jagger” – jagged brick with big lips painted on – too cute!

The following year I painted “Checkmate” – you can view this one at the above website on the “Contact us” page! I must not have taken photos of this one myself.

This year I’ve done two more – “Monday on Birdbrain Lane” which was prompted by my locating tiny clothes pins at the Michael’s store and then some little bitty birdhouses! Once the idea was formed I searched throughout the store for something to use as “grass” and found some sort of plant cover that worked great, as well as the little tiny birds.

Monday on Birdbrain Lane And, last but not least, the one I’m most happy with – the “Memo Brick”. This one was a couple of years in the making since I wanted to do it last year, but they canceled the event then. So this brick languished in my studio for almost two years! I had the idea bouncing around in my head but couldn’t figure out how to make it look like a blackboard, etc. I finally borrowed a really neat tool from my husband so I could cut the wood and miter it for the frame around each side. This one took a long time, since I had to paint each strip of wood, then cut the miter and glue them together so they had a tight fit - not that easy on a brick! – and let them sit overnight to make sure they were solid before moving on to the next side – and there are 6 sides to a brick!!! The “blackboard” was made by spraying Krylon blackboard paint and the magnetic board by spraying Krylon magnetic paint. My daughter and I searched for small office items and happened upon a cute little kit at the dollar store! So that’s where the little stapler, tape dispenser, pencil and scissors came from! Then to get a piece of “chalk” I was forced to purchase a small set of pastels! In order to keep them all attached I used Velcro tabs. To keep the paper clips in the container I glued a small piece of magnet in the bottom. I think it would make a cool gift for a teacher, or actually anyone with a desk (which is pretty much everyone!).

Memo Brick

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

St. Leon, IN Pole Raising - October 25, 2008

Here’s a little history lesson for you! Once upon a time in our country a hickory pole was raised prior to the presidential election. Well, here in our little corner of the world, it still is. St. Leon, Indiana is the only place in the country that still adheres to the tradition and I’ll give you the run down according to our local paper:

“The pole raising is the centerpiece of an all-day celebration that includes a parade, political and patriotic oratory . . . and plenty of food and old-fashioned fun. . . On the morning of St. Leon’s pole raising residents will go to the woods with a crosscut saw to cut the hickory pole. The pole will be draped across two or three hay wagons . . . then the pole is raised to standing by rope-tugging, heave-ho man (and woman) power . . . the pole remains until after a new president is elected.”

It’s always a democrat who locates the hickory tree, and a group of local democrats who cut it down and it’s all very hush, hush as to where the tree is growing until it’s cut. The side branches are all cut off, thus the reference to the hickory “pole” but a few small branches are left at the top. Now a painted chicken is attached to the pole, but in the past (and to this day on a small tree) a caged rooster was attached to the top of the tree. In the past there have been some vandalism incidents dealing with the pole but hopefully that won’t happen this year. I’m told that one year someone found out where the pole was to be cut and a group from the opposing political party cut it down first!

Anyway . . . I got there before the parade began and got a great spot at the side of the road by the fire house from which to take pictures. Except for the “gentlemen” behind me, the brisk wind blowing, the candy pelting me, the fire engines blasting their horns and the steam engine tooting, it was a perfect place to stand!!!

The local high school marching band, flag bearers and dancers along with the American Legion color guard, several old cars and tractors, the aforementioned steam engine and fire vehicles, horse-drawn wagon, lawn mowers and political candidates made up the parade. Lots of candy made it into (or onto!) the crowd (it's a tradition for all of the parade participants to throw candy to the crowd). Following the parade we all walked to the field behind the church. Again the band played and patriotic songs were sung while the pole was prepared for raising. However, I didn’t stay for the main event since the politicos began their speeches prior thereto! I did go back the next day to take a photo of the raised pole which will remain until after the election.

There is such a sense of community here and it makes me happy to know that I’m on a first name basis with people in a 20-mile radius and even know a couple of the local candidates personally - in the city I didn’t know my neighbors! Here are a few photos of the day. Hope you enjoy this little slice of Americana!

The plaque

The crowd gathers before the parade

American Legion Post 464 Color Guard.

St. Leon, IN Volunteer Fire Department fire engine.

That "blasted" steam engine - driven by a woman! - towing the hickory "pole".

East Central High School, St. Leon, IN, marching band

East Central High School, St. Leon, IN flag corps

Bill Yelton and his locally famous flag painted truck

The little pole - with caged chicken attached! In case I didn't make this clear (!) this chicken was for "show purposes" only and was taken home the same day. The wooden picture of a chicken attached to the tall pole remains until after the election.

St. Joseph Church, St. Leon, IN - circa 1840!

The pole laying sideways, being propped up prior to raising it.

The crowd pulls the large ropes to raise the pole.

The pole raised - it will stand until a president is elected.
NOTE: Since I’ve been trying to keep my posts related to art, you may be wondering “How does this relate to art?” Well, I got lots of pictures, some of which may turn into paintings some day!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Painting with Humor

I began my artistic endeavors by painting in watercolor, which I have been told is “the hardest medium to master”. I don’t know if that is really true, but I did quickly find that, if I didn’t laugh, I would cry! So I laughed (at myself and others!).

As I go through life I realize that the ability to laugh is a wonderful thing. And the ability to laugh at myself may be my greatest gift. I don’t understand those people who take everything so seriously (although, sadly, in my earlier years I was one of them).

Nothing in life is perfect. So, when things go wrong (you don’t make it into that art show, you didn’t win a prize) don’t take yourself or your art too seriously – laugh it off – there will be more opportunities.

So my advice to you is to have fun with the process of making your art, and anything more is icing on the cake!

For instance, I get together once a year with a group of artist friends. While painting (and eating) is our primary concern for that week, our real job seems to be to laugh – sometimes we laugh until we cry, sometimes we cry until we laugh. We have a ball (or bawl??). Sure, we have all had our ups and downs, our successes and our failures, in both our personal and artistic lives, but we muddle on through, supporting each other with respect, love and humor.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Painting Figures in Watercolor

Some years ago I was at a friend’s lake house, when the grandpa next door came out with his two grandchildren and they proceeded to go fishing. I took a photo through the window, so it came out rather blurry and very dark, due to the bright sun that day. But the image stayed in the back of my mind and recently I decided to give it a try, using the pouring technique.

The children were both done via contour drawing – that and the pouring technique make the images more stylized.

It was a fun process to do an entire poured painting. Quite often when I begin a painting, I wet the entire sheet and do a modified paint pour as my initial entry into the painting, and then I may re-pour some specific areas, but I don’t normally do this entire detailed process for the whole painting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

American Watercolor Society Show

Every two years the American Watercolor Society traveling show comes to the Middletown Arts Center in Middletown, Ohio, about an hour and a half from me. With it that close, how can I not go???

This year’s show was very good, I thought. Lots of realism, which I like. And the paintings, for the most part, did not duplicate each other "style-wise".

A few stood out for me. There is a John Salminen which is his usual city street scene, but this one is more pastel in tone. Dana Brown paints a lot of machinery and she has a great one titled “Cummins One.” There were some names I did not recognize, or cannot remember, but there is another beautiful machinery piece, and a knockout of the front of an old car, I think by Dave Maxwell (my apologies if that is wrong). I had to study that one for a while – Wow! There is a Steve Rogers colorful boat, a Stephen Quiller mountain scene and Cheng-Khee Chee koi.

It was neat to see “Travelers” by Carla O’Connor after seeing it in magazines. Ditto for Mark Mehaffey’s “Blue Monolith”. I think that’s what I like most about going to the show – by the time I get there I’ve seen some of the winners in the art magazines, obviously very small, and then to see them in real life can be astonishing. I always feel fortunate to be able to see such beautiful art.

If you live in the Greater Cincinnati area it’s worth the drive, but better call first for times they are open! And I’m pretty sure it’s only there through October 18.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another Peony

Yep, another Peony. Pretty straightforward - not done on the top and then done on the bottom!

This was a class project for my Dunham group - and it was a great stretch for them, I know, but they did a good job without TOO MUCH complaining!
This may not be "frameworthy" - I have to live with it a while.
I'm working on something that is NOT a peony now (I promise!) and will have that coming up soon.