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”

Saturday, February 27, 2010


My thanks to Christiane Kingsley who presented this blog award to me a few days ago.  And, I'll go along with Ann Buckner's idea - to see who else I would pass this along to - it would be those artists I keep on my blog roll! 
Thanks again, Christiane!

And - thanks to Rhonda who also gave me this award a couple of days later!

Last but not least:
My painting "Blue Pitcher and Pears on Lace" was chosen from 317 entries by juror, Judy Morris, to hang in the Georgia Watercolor Society 2010 Exhibition in Dawsonville, GA.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Well, this post has nothing to do with art. So, if it’s a painting you want to see here today, move along! But if it’s a funny story you need to start your day, here goes:

Late last year there was a bank robbery in Brookville, Indiana. At that time, the story caught my eye. In the latest edition of the paper, a short article stated that the robber was just sentenced to 8 years, but with credit for good behavior he could be out in four years (presumably to do it all over again with skills more finely honed during his time in the pokey!)

You are probably thinking “Big deal, what’s so funny about that?”

I’m going to let the newspaper story tell itself – picture it in your mind and enjoy! When I first read it, I was totally charmed by small town news reporting at its finest! See what you think.

Excerpt from the Brookville Democrat, Tuesday, December 22, 2009
 If there were a class for bank robbers, the first chapter in the accompanying text might contain instructions in how not to put on one’s mask and walk in front of the police station before entering the bank.
That is what police said Jody Selby did before they took him into custody less than two minutes after they said he robbed the First Financial Bank on Main Street in Brookville.
Brookville Police Department Administrative Assistant Linda Ballman said Monday morning started out kind of dull. At about 9:30 that changed.
There is a large picture window in the front of the Brookville Police Department. Ballman’s desk faces the window.
She said she saw a man in a yellow hoodie with a blue-green towel wrapped around his face walk by on Main Street heading south.
Ballman turned to Sgt. Jim Adams and said “I believe that man is going to rob the bank.”
At first, Adams thought Ballman was kidding, but he caught a glimpse of the man and had the same thought.
“It was cold outside, but not that cold,” Ballman said.
Adams went running out the front door and looked south. The man was no longer in sight. Next door to the police station is a laundromat that is closed for remodeling. Next to that is the bank..
Adams made sure the door to the laundromat was still secure and went on to the bank. When he opened the door, he saw the man with the hoodie and towel, raking money off the counter.
According to Joyce A. Ratliff, a customer at the bank, Selby walked up to the counter, put one hand on the counter, left the other in his pocket and said “Give me all your money and nobody will be shot.”
Ratliff, who stands 5 feet tall, tips the scales at 130 and will turn 56 on Saturday, zippered her purse, walked up behind Selby and struck him over the head. He turned from her, and she hit him again.
Adams remained outside with the door open. He told the man he was under arrest.
The man tried to get past Adams, and they scuffled. . . . . .
At first Ratliff, who has lived in Franklin County for four years, gave chase but she saw there were men after Selby. She then turned her attention to the money on Main Street.
Along with Ballman, Ratliff picked up the money on Main Street. Vehicular traffic came to a stand still. . . . . .
Rick Gill owns The Jewelry Inn that just relocated to its present location near the intersection of Sixth and Main, two doors south of First Financial Bank.
He stepped out of his store to walk down to the police station in order to talk to Brookville Police Chief Phil Wietholter about a matter.
Gill is a retired Indiana State Police trooper.
When he emerged from his business, he saw Adams running after Selby and the money flying.
Tim Ripperger, a former Brookville Police officer who now works for the town’s Utilities Department, happened to be in the Rosenberger’s Market parking lot.
He immediately joined the chase.
“I felt like I had two fellow officers with me,” Adams said.
Gill said he looked up and saw Ripperger in the middle of Seventh Street pointing toward a loading dock leading down to a lower level in the Firestone building.
Selby was under the front of the truck parked in the bay.
Adams walked up one side of the truck and Gill the other. With Adams’ gun drawn, Selby was ordered not to move. Handcuffs were placed on him, and he was taken to the Brookville Police Department.
From there, he was booked at the Franklin County Security Center on a charge of Robbery, as a class C felony.
According to Adams, no gun was shown during the crime, and no weapon was found on Selby. More money from the robbery was found in Selby’s pocket . . . . . .
Ratliff said she was not scared during the episode. There were two babies in the bank, and she was scared for their safety. A native of Hazard, Kentucky, she has 19 brothers (emphasis added!!!). Her mother is a retired police officer in North Ft. Myers, Fla.
“I consider this my hometown,” she said. “If people don’t get the riff raff out of town, we won’t have a town to be proud of.”
“I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” she continued.
“We caught the guy, and no one was injured,” Adams said. “That was the important thing.”

Some morals of this story:
Only in a small town can you get ALL the information relating to the police chases.
Apparently our local town is loaded with police, both current and former!
Talk about “Hoosier Hospitality” - it’s nice to know that traffic will politely stop in BOTH DIRECTIONS for anyone scooping up money from the street – I’m sure in New York or somewhere like that not all traffic would stop, and someone would jump in to grab that money and run!
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep my purse zipped and ready at all times – just in case I need a deadly weapon. (Left unzipped, mine would become shrapnel!)

And, I’m wondering how many of those 19 brothers survived to adulthood!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Just when you thought it was safe to visit this blog – here’s that dratted peony again!

Brought some of the darks back in; redid some of the masked petal edges; more green, more white; fixed a few petals; added a couple darks in the middle.  (A gentleman who was at the house asked me what kind of psychodelic drugs I was on when I painted it!)

After some bickering, contemplation and compromises, I am considering this finished (for now).

It will be placed in “the pile” – (you know the one)! Hopefully, the next time I see it, it will have magically transformed into a masterpiece!

Snowblind Peony???, 22x30, fluid acrylics on Crescent board

And you get a bonus just for being good little girls and boys - the beginning of sunset over our snow and ice covered hills and lake!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED. Looking at the following painting for too long may result in sudden onset screaming. If you have previously looked outside at the sunshine on snow, temporary snow blindness may also result. Additional symptoms may include sudden nausea or headache. If any of these symptoms occur, seek alcoholic counsel and lay down immediately. If symptoms persist, click out of this post and consult another immediately.
* * * * *
As I took the last step off the staircase this morning, I found myself looking directly at the piano, with my “white” peony painting sitting there. 
I was suddenly rendered motionless, as my internal voice began screaming:“Man, oh man, that is one of the worst paintings you have ever done. It looks like a flying saucer suspended over a green background. We gotta do something about that. We need a plan of attack – a knife should do the trick! – but first, we need coffee.”

Later, fortified with caffeine and realizing that (a) it’s acrylic, I can change anything! and (b) a (palette) knife should do the trick (hey, I bought a set, may as well try them out!) - I was ready to tackle the beast. (Even my camera was a little afraid of the real thing - trust me – these photos don’t even begin to do it justice!).

I circled warily - a quick grab! - hold on tight - grab the white acrylic paint and go for it!

Here is the internal dialog as it occurred:
“Careful, it’s getting away again – Needs color – Rhonda said purple – Spray! Now! – Too much – More paint – Step back – Again! – Teresa said “high key” – More white . . .”
And then the Paint Police arrived: “Ma’am, put down that brush and step away from the painting”.
After some time passed and I didn’t think I could possibly do any more damage, once again I propped it on the piano for review. I have a friend who is a great (and honest) critique-er, but since she’s nowhere around today, I’ll have to settle for the next best thing – The Husband.

After 32 years of marriage, I really don’t need my husband in the room in order to have a conversation with him – I pretty much know what he will say!  In this case I'm predicting something like this:  he will stand about 10 ft. or less from the painting, give a heavy sigh, stare, then say something like "it's too fuzzy" and "I don't like the colors."

And now, here is the actual conversation that took place as he viewed the painting:
Him:  standing about 5 -10 ft. from the painting, taking a long and heavy sigh.  "I don't know what that is on the right.  You have green over there but not down here, I don't know what this color is supposed to be.  It's too fuzzy."
Me:  "So you think I should change it?"
Him:  "It's probably too late to change it now.  You had it with the green background, I liked that.  And you had the petals, now you lost them down here.  Over here (pointing) you have the petals defiined, and here (pointing) and here (pointing).  You don't have the petals all defined down here (pointing)."

I wasn't too far off the mark!  And now, it's your turn - critique away!!!!!
* * * * * 
Well, what can I say (especially after my big lecture on “high key” paintings!!!) – sometimes the best of intentions fall far short of the goal.
This one will be a do over (some day).

My apologies to Nick Simmons for even mentioning his techniques in these last couple of posts!

But I’m taking full credit for the creation of the newest painting technique sweeping the country – masking tape petal edges (although I’ll need a catchier phrase – I’ll have to give that some thought)**.

In the meantime, I’ll be sitting quietly, sipping some form of (maybe alcoholic??) beverage, perusing some magazines for good art while my mind slowly erases the horrors it has seen today.

** So far I’m thinking: ruffling petal technique or ruffled edge technique. Any thoughts on this??
* * * * *
Later in the day:
P.S.  This thing is beginning to grow on me!  Am I coming down with the dreaded "cabin fever" ?  Or is it SNOWMAGEDDON (a term being used by one of our local weathermen) - the constant and non-stop falling of snow for 24 hours or longer which causes lack of sunlight which causes Vitamin A and D definiciency which thereby affects eyesight so that we think everything white(ish) looks normal?
P.P.S  Maybe I'll call it "Snow Peony" or "Olympic Peony" or "Crap".

Monday, February 15, 2010


Throughout my background, I have used Nick Simmons’s technique of spraying off some of the paint just before it dries. This is one of those techniques that depends on timing (and luck!). I am pleased with how it worked in some areas, not in others. But since I used several layers, it wasn’t a problem – if I didn’t like it the first time, there were a couple more chances to get it right.

To introduce the background into the flower (to avoid that pasted on look) I used another of Nick’s techniques – the “sewing machine stitch”!!! I have to laugh at that one – it’s something I’m sure we have all done many times – I call it a broken line or running line!

I needed to eliminate what a friend said was a “pinwheel” look in the center of the flower. I did that by adding some cobalt and French ultramarine on the petals above and to the right of the center.

Additionally, since I had gotten some spots onto the flower during the spraying off process, I intentionally splattered a few edges and the background to tie it all together. (Also, a little sewing machine stitch).
Well, now it’s time to let it sit again and evaluate.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Here I have begun my darks. They look a bit too green for me so I’ll be working on pulling in some more dark color to offset the “green-y-ness”!

Since I have a habit – a bad habit – of too many hard edges, I decided to incorporate tape on the edges of some of my petals for some softer edges. I really like how it has worked, even though it’s a pain – very time consuming to tear it, and then you are left with little pieces to dispose of.

I should have taken a picture of my table – there were dozens of little pieces of torn tape stuck to the oil cloth I use to cover the dining room table when I paint there. I was able to use some of them on the paper, but the rest were disposed of – mostly after I accidentally set my arm down on them, thereby attaching them to me!

And, I think I’ve got too many hard edges on the petals.

P.S.  It may take me a few days to get back to this - got "office work" stuff to do - don't you hate it when life interferes with your painting time!!!

Also - has anyone noticed that Blogger seems a bit "jumpy" when going from post to comment - or is it just my computer here in the frozen wasteland (aka "The Midwest"!!!)

Monday, February 8, 2010


Here’s another peony – only this time “white”.

For me, “white” and “black” are relative terms.

“White” is usually the “white of the paper” – and as you know, that, too, is a relative term! Compare the “white” of Arches to the “white” of Lanaquarelle! And, sometimes, “white” is just the lightest value on my paper after a thin wash of color.

“Black” is also relative. Generally speaking, if you add black to a high key painting, it will look oddly stark – it’s just too much of a value shift. In a high key painting, anything in a mid value range will read as black. But, if you already have some pretty dark values in your painting, you may have to go very black for your darkest darks.

When I began painting, and got to the point when colors started to mean something to me, I would look at paintings that seemed a bit dull to me. That is when I became aware of people using black in a mix to darken a color. I didn’t care for that; to me it looks a bit dirty. Now, in reading through some blogs, it seems that “black is back” and more painters are beginning to use true blacks again. Generally I do mix my blacks, although I do have an ivory black somewhere in my paint stash.  I would still rather mix blacks – that way I can incorporate some of the colors in my painting into my blacks and I think it adds some unity to the painting. 

That doesn’t mean I disagree with using black! That’s your choice as the artist!  Anyway (climbing off the soap box!) . . . this is a “white” peony.

This painting is fluid acrylic, and I began by painting the flower area with a light wash of white. Then I began laying in shadows.

TIP: “High key” refers to a light value painting; think sunshine. “Low key” refers to a darker value painting; think rainy day with dark clouds. I also remember which is which by thinking of a piano! The “high keys” give us a light “plink” of sound, very light, high tones. The “low keys” give us that deep, somber bass that resounds for several seconds.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Just a quick snapshot of the reason my workshop was cancelled this weekend!

On the left is part of our driveway - my husband wanted me to take this photo, since he thought it was especially pretty - and told me to "blog it"!

Once again I've got several winter scenes; now if I could just paint some of them!

Gary - if you see these - how does this compare to Wyoming?????

Thursday, February 4, 2010


This is definitely the most intricate painting I’ve ever done (way more than my lace, but probably less than Rhonda’s “Stranded”) – and I did really enjoy painting it!  And, believe it or not – NO MISKIT. Zero, zilch, nada!

For all of you who want to know how long it took – several hours over several days to get it all drawn out and ready for paint. Then poured and dried at least twice. Then painted over several weeks, some small sections, some larger, as long as I had patience that day!  And I did add a few small touches of acrylic here and there at the end.  I think it's done.

Does it look like corn to you, or just an abstract??? I think it might be one of those paintings that you look at a while and then all of a sudden you realize what it is you are looking at.

Corny, ½ sheet, Fabriano Artistico 140, w/c and acrylic

Monday, February 1, 2010


Now that there is paint over all I have begun lifting some and adding some

I will be putting my acetate over this to decide where it needs to be darker or lighter. I figure a few more hours work at this point.

-or - should I just title this "How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Piece of Watercolor Paper!"?  It just looks dull, muddy, old, tired, dead.  NOT what I had in mind when I started.  I'm thinking of using some acrylics to spiff it up - if that is possible!
TIP! When I tape my paintings down, after I wet the paper and pour the paint, I will leave it sit overnight. All of those hills and valleys that occur when the water is applied to the paper will dry and smooth away overnight. In effect I am stretching my paper, but I’ve also got some paint down – it’s a “two-fer”!