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”

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.
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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!!!!!
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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??
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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".


RHCarpenter said...

Well, shoot, Deb, I'm liking it more every time I look at it. I'll come back again and look at it again - it's growing on me. I like the ruffled edge technique - patent that now! - and this was too funny with you knowing what Mike was going to say - you two have been married too long?!? ha ha
Snowblind Peony :) due to the idea that this much snow has turned us all into lunatics and ruined our eyes for anything that isn't white white white.

laura said...

And people say I'm hard on myself! Must be the cabin fever--it's going around!
I identify with your feelings: when I feel that way, I remember what my mother--an excellent home cook (who raised two chefs)--would say when a dish turned out not-so-great: Every day can't be a winner! It works for me and my paintings.
That said, I think what you've done with the background has improved the painting immensely, totally eliminating the "flying saucer" outline. The upper left background seems just right to me!
There's a lot of very nice painting here in the the shadows of the petals.
I like it now, but when all else fails, crop! ;-)

Christiane Kingsley said...

Oh, Deb, your post is just too funny. And you told me that I was too critical of my work:-)

I see nothing wrong with your painting- I really like it and your post gave me the best laugh I had all day.

Cindi said...

silly lady.. you have me almost in tears, laughing so hard...i hear your pain.. but i also so see alot of wonderful colors and a really nice painting.. i think you are just tired of it.. maybe put it far way for a week or so and take another look see. i really like the soft area that replaced the green... its lacy and fun..!!!!

debwardart said...

Rhonda - I like that "Snowblind Peony"! How crazy are we becoming??
Laura - did you say "crop" or "crAp"!!! It actually looks better in the tiny blog post format!
Christiane and Cindi - if I have made one other person laugh today then my work is done!!! Thanks for your kind words - and Cindi, it does look a little lacy doesn't it??? Maybe "Crappy Lacy White Peony" for the title!!!

Vicki Greene said...

Oh my Deb, this is way too many questions for this time of morning. I think I will get another cup of coffee, check and make sure that my DH is still here (from many of your post I would swear that you and I are married to the same guy - lol) and look outside and be thankful that there is NO SNOW. Now, the answer is, I don't know but I enjoyed the read. I like the edges and lacy effect too.

Teresa said...

Well Deb, maybe you'll want to kill me after I say this but I think that the background is my favorite area now, I would zoom into it if I could, I love that fresh effect you achieved, wanted or not, and wish the whole painting had that look, hey maybe the next one? ;)
You did very well even if it's definitely not what you wanted to achieve.

Barbra Joan said...

I've done a few 'flying saucers' myself but never knew thats what they're called. LOL! Trust me this is a 'good flying saucer' ..I have a last resort critiquer husband too. Mine looks and just goes "Hmmmmmm!Well, I don't know, maybe it's the eyes, or maybe the tree, something is just not right." Really? He's a Libra.

debwardart said...

Vicki - I think that after a certain number of years we are all married to the same guy!!! Lucky you - no snow - gee, I think I might remember those olden days . . .
Barbra - what would we do without those "last resort critiquers"!!!
Teresa - maybe the next painting will be all fuzzy then! After a while it started to be fun!
And to all of you - thank you for your kind references. I have actually worked on it a bit more and will have to get some photos - if we ever get sun again!!!

Mary Sonya Conti said...

Am laughing, not sure weather it was your comments about taking the knife and attacking it and that the camera was afraid or the conversation you had with yourself that would be the opinion of the husband. Deb, have been there many a morn (walking down the steps -coffee in HAND to rest my eyes on a piece that flatly said you spent how long on this yesterday and into the night and thought what) Acrylics are our defense. Give it a rest (do agree loved the green background work prior to changes) The art changes with our "interpretation" down the road. Sometimes we just need to wait for "warmer" weather! Your an inspiration as always that's why so relate to you on a one to one basis; thank you for being a "real" artist!

debwardart said...

Hey Sonya - Thanks for thinking I'm an inspiration - for what, I'm not sure!!! And I'm glad I made you laugh - if we don't laugh we'll cry (and get all that snot in our throat) so I'd rather laugh!

Jocelyn T. Bichard said...

I love your sense of humour!!
I will enjoy your site not just for your beautiful artwork but for your wit!!!

debwardart said...

Jocelyn - thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoy my "humor" and "wit"!!! And my "boo-tee-ful" artwork (some if it, anyway!) Come back often - I need the encouragement!