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, December 18, 2013


CAUTION:  The following post is not art related.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

2014  Ford Mustang

I recently saw the unveiling of the 50th Anniversary Ford Mustang.  
Wow – 50 years and still going strong.  Makes me reminisce - - - -
I’m somewhat of a “car gal”.  I’ve always prided myself on being able to discern various makes and models as they came up or passed me on the roadways.  Nowadays that’s getting harder to do, since so many of the car bodies resemble each other.  Oh, how I long for the old “muscle car” days – radios blaring Beach Boys, Righteous Brothers and the Mamas and Papas - long hoods with something to brag about underneath them - big, shiny cars with lots of character.  They just don’t make ‘em like they used to!  Well, not quite, anyway - Kudos to Ford for the newer Mustangs that replicate the look of my beloved ’67 beauty, and to Chrysler for reviving the ‘Cuda and Charger!

I’ve always appreciated the roar of a revved up 8-cylinder engine (remember those!), the purr of a fast car passing me on the highway.  My all time favorite car was a 1967 289 engine, 3-speed stick shift Mustang convertible, which I wish I still had.  I actually sometimes have a dream (always the same) that I just realize the car is still in a building on our property and I hop in.  He starts, I’m thrilled, and off we go.  Then I wake up.  (I’ll be in a blue funk for a while on those days). 
Picture a raven haired 18 year old beauty behind the wheel!
While he was still in high school, my son purchased a mid-90’s edition of a Mustang 5.0 which he still has, although he only enjoys it on occasion.  I like that car.  As he comes home I can track his progress (within about a 3 mile range) on a summer night with the windows open! 

His problem, you see, is that he got it TOO revved up and it’s a loud and bumpy ride. 

Mine, however, was just perfect!  And the hasp on the convertible lock could be used to open soft drink bottles.

For those of you too old to know what this means:  soft drinks (pop, soda) used to come in glass bottles with crimped on tops (think beer bottle) and the metal parts of the car that came together when you clamped shut the convertible top worked perfectly to open the Coke bottles when we went to the drive-in movies.  (Oh dear, now I guess I have to explain what a “drive-in movie” is – and no, it does not involve someone forgetting to set their brake and their car rolling through the Cineplex lobby!)

Anyway . . . . sometimes, on a perfect blue sky day, when a favorite song comes on the “oldies” station, I suddenly become 18 again, driving my beloved Mustang.

Now, the car I currently drive is a fine piece of German automotive engineering - except for the placement of the CD player/radio/drink holder combo – which I think is the Germans’ way of getting even for WWII. 
Note that the drink holder is (in)conveniently located just above the disc slot.  You push on that little image of a cup in the center and it pops out.
You put your drink in it.  THEN - when you want to put in a CD - you can't!!!
Well, you can if you have extra hands on board to help - someone to hold the drink while you push in
the drink holder and insert the CD into the slot.  Or, if you have 3 hands, it's quite convenient!
It's also hard to dial in the radio when the cup holder is in use.
But if you crane your neck "just so" and look in between where the cup is just below the cup holder
you can see maybe 2 digits of the current radio station!
Yep, those Germans got even with us with their design of the dashboard of the 2002 Jetta!!!
She’s a 5 on the console stick shift.   Automatics are for sissies – anyone can drive an automatic.  That includes young children who decide to take Mom’s van for a spin in the driveway and end up demolishing the garage or running over their siblings.  Think how much safer our world would be if all cars had to be stick shifts – little tykes couldn’t press the clutch in and shift at the same time, now, could they.  And old people (i.e., those at least a generation older than me) wouldn’t be able to accidentally stomp on the gas pedal and plow through innocent crowds during parades and fairs.
A beautiful blue 2002 Jetta TDI Diesel - quirky little thing - but with over 135,000 miles on her, she's still going strong!
Any hoo . . . . She (yes, she’s definitely a “She”) and I get along just fine.  We are both quirky and somewhat temperamental.  Neither of us likes the cold, and even though she’s parked in a semi-heated garage, she gets a bit cranky when the temperature drops below freezing.  She’s not showing her age much, although she’s got a few blemishes on her.  She’s also a diesel, which means she may, or may not, oblige me when I step on the accelerator.  Some days she zips along - others not so much.  (I get it – I have my up and down days, too).  But, she’s (usually) speedy enough for me – reaching 75 mph from the top of the ramp to the interstate – seriously, how much faster do I need to go??  She gets me from one place to another on time, if not in great style and she’s generally reliable (we all have our days now and then!)  She can stop on a dime, make a U-turn without hitting a curb and fit through small spaces others dare not go.

And, sometimes, on one of those perfect blue sky days, when a favorite song comes on the “oldies” station, and I become 18 again, She turns into my beloved ’67 Mustang. 

Then, together She and I navigate the highways in top form.  Speed limits become mere suggestions, lanes are made to be changed, and radios are meant to be turned up.

“Cruisin’ along in my automobile . . . . with no particular place to go” (thank you Chuck Berry!)
1967 Mustang 289 Convertible - Best Car Ever Made - hands down!
(And I still wish I had it)

Saturday, December 14, 2013


My friend gave me a book on Zentangles.  I’m slowly going through it and the one I had previously purchased, and have made a small foray into some of the Zentangle blogs.

I enjoy the process, just not sure I’m understanding the “string” concept. 

Last year we had a program at our watercolor society and the demonstrator showed us a book about Gustav Klimt that she uses as an inspiration.  Lo and behold, I believe I saw some Zentangle-like designs in his work. Guess there really is nothing new under the sun!
The Kiss - this one also makes me think of the Gee's Bend quilts

An assortment of Zentangle patterns combines both of these Klimt paintings
Tree of Life

This clearly resembles the Klimt painting above
As artists, I think we all "discover" something, only to find that it has already been done before.  But it is exciting to discover that certain thing on our own, even if we do find out later we aren't quite as smart as we thought we were!

Now, excuse me while I return to my chair, book, pens and thought process!!!!!!!!!!

Images from the internet - Google image search, Zentangle patterns

Monday, December 9, 2013


This is the back of the manor from a garden view - the front is even more impressive
On the way home from Youngstown, we toured the F.A. Sieberling (Goodyear Tire) estate in Akron, Ohio – Stan Hywet Hall - pronounced Stan HEE-wit - Old English for "stone quarry".  The home was named for the stone quarry which was a prominent natural feature of the original estate grounds (originally 3,000 acres, now just 70).

I had toured the home several years ago on a trip with my husband, and remembered some of the rooms and stories, but it was wonderful to go again with a friend and take our time (you know how husband’s can rush you sometimes!)  I re-learned about the Sieberling family and the home - 65 rooms, 23 fireplaces and 23 bathrooms! The home was one of the first in the area to have running water and electricity, and the unheard of luxury of a private bathroom for each bedroom!  They lavishly entertained prominent political figures and celebrities in their Music Room (2,700 square feet - larger than most of today's homes!) hosting balls and galas.  Today it is possible to reserve the room for weddings and other gatherings. 

The Sieberlings imported much of the flooring and furniture from Europe. Just as William Randolph Hearst did at San Simeon, they imported an entire room from an English manor house - including the fireplace! - that was being torn down and used it to create their master bedroom (with his and hers bathrooms and dressing rooms!). They spared no expense in building and furnishing the home and grounds which were designed by landscape architect Warren Manning.

We learned that the Harvey Firestone home had been in this same area, but it was torn down after his death in compliance with Mr. Firestone's will; he believed that it would fall into ruin since it would prove too costly to maintain.  Sadly, that would probably have been true.  We were told that the Firestone mansion was even larger than Stan Hywet!  I love history and old homes, so I find it extremely sad that such a magnificent place no longer exists, even though I understand the economics involved.  Stan Hywet survives due to Frederick Sieberling, the youngest son, who was instrumental in creating a non-profit organization so that the public could enjoy this amazing home.
Birch tree allee
The day was windy and dreary, fortunate for us since there were not many tourists.  My friend and I had our own tour guide and so were able to ask lots of questions and take our time meandering through the house.  Later we walked around the gardens – not a very pretty sight in mid-November – where the staff was busily stringing lights and putting up Christmas decorations.

After lunch in the Carriage House – yes, we really did eat in an old stable! – and a quick stop in the gift shop, we headed back to Cincinnati – and the weather kept getting worse and worse. 

I managed to drive through gale force winds in northern Ohio – as I watched semi trucks being blown sideways – and then through pitch dark with wind gusts and driving rain the rest of the way home.  Fortunately, I didn’t know about all of the tornadoes which were touching down to our west, or I would have been a basket case.  By the time we got close to home the worst was over and we pulled into our local Cracker Barrel for a hearty dinner.

Despite the gloom and bad weather, our trip was fun and entertaining and educational – a great time was had by all!

If you are ever in northeastern Ohio near Akron – be sure to stop in and tour Stan Hywet Hall.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


A couple of weeks ago I took a trip up to Youngstown, Ohio to the Butler Institute of American Art –  to see the Mary Whyte exhibit.  It was a long drive, with a “detour” through Columbus that was just too much fun (yeah, riiiiiight). 

Sadly, we were not allowed to take any photos in the galleries – but you can probably find all of her paintings online.

While I enjoyed viewing these paintings, many of which I had seen in magazines or books - the detail she is able to capture is amazing – I must admit to being just a little bit disappointed.  I didn’t realize that she is not a purist in watercolor; she uses whatever it takes to get the job done, which may include gouache or Chinese white watercolor, pastel, crayon, electric eraser, etc. 

I was also surprised by the size of the heads (portraits) in some of the paintings in relation to the size of the actual painting.  Some of the portraits are quite small.

Another thing that amazed me was how we focus on that detail and don’t realize that many of the backgrounds and/or clothing surrounding the figures are just simple shapes or swipes of color.

Until we stand before an original painting and discover how it was created, we really cannot totally appreciate it. 

Viewing these paintings leads me to ponder my own work. 
Should I make changes to the way I paint?  Maybe. 
Will I ever be able to create a portrait with the delicacy and detail that Mary does?  Probably not! 
Can I hope to someday create passable portraits, looking back to Mary’s work as my inspiration?  Hopefully.

I’m glad I took the time and effort to see these paintings, they are exquisite, and their impression will stay with me for a long time.

If you live in northeastern Ohio, the trip to the Butler is well worth it.  If you ever see that a Mary Whyte exhibit is coming to your area – GO TO VIEW IT!