Category Archives: For Sale on Etsy


I haven’t written much since I’ve arrived in Asheville. Getting accustomed to a new place pulls attention in many directions. I wanted to give an update, though, since my last post was in December, and I’ve been up to a lot.

Since it’s spring (though really chilly today) I have been working on planting a garden.

Snap peas and kale are doing great so far. It feels so great to be growing things.

I’ve been making new friends, an important part of embracing my new community. Some of my friends have goats:

Goats with babies.

I have been working on making a dairy-free almond-based yogurt. Making yogurt is on my Life List, and I’m so happy to have come up with something I like! I had originally intended to make traditional dairy yogurt, but I have found that without dairy, my sinus headaches have all but vanished. I tried almond and coconut yogurt from the store, but they just didn’t have the tang that I feel a good yogurt should. Also, the texture was… icky. So, I decided to make my own. I use a crock pot, and I’ve done a few batches now. Next time I make it, I’ll take photographs and write about my method.

I’ve also been working on a gluten-free bread. I tried many variations and had many failures. Failures of the sort where the bread is not even good for bread crumbs. Not even the birds would touch it. Ouch. My stomach can’t handle a lot of xanthan gum, and I searched for a long time for a recipe that would work for me. I discovered a recipe on another blog, which uses psyllium husk and ground chia seed for the binders. And you can knead it! I’ve even made it into bagels:

I’ve made some adjustments to the recipe so that the flours used are more to my liking, and measured by weight instead of volume. It made a GREAT thin-crispy-chewy pizza crust too. I’ll write about my recipe soon. Also on my Life List is to make 100 sourdough recipes. I started the life list while still using wheat flour, and this bread recipe gives me hope that I’ll be able to make great gluten-free sourdough breads and other goodies. I’m excited to start with sourdough, but I feel that I have some little things to work out with the yeast recipe before I add another challenge.

I’ve been enjoying the spring weather here, including the rain:

And last, but certainly not least, I’ve got printed greeting cards of my paintings!

They are for sale in my Etsy shop, and they’re available in a few local shops (Asheville Art Supply, Hickory Nut Gap Farm Store, and Thyme in the Garden)! I’m also taking part in an up-coming exhibition at Asheville Art Supply, starting in early May. I bought a lot of frames yesterday for my paintings, and will be matting and framing this week! More details to come soon.

I have been perfecting making homemade refried beans in bulk (they are great for freezing!), and I have a pot on the stove right now. Once you make homemade, you won’t bother with the cans anymore! I use a method that one of my sisters told me about. Boil/simmer beans (I like a combination of black beans and pinto beans) as you would to cook dried beans, but when you get to the simmering stage, add bay leaf, garlic cloves, salt, and chili pepper flakes, and any other spices you like. Let it all stew together and add more hot water if it gets too low. When the beans are very soft, mash them in the pot (don’t drain the water out). Super easy, and delicious. Don’t leave out the bay leaf – it adds a lot of wonderful flavor. I don’t use measurements for any of it, I just go by eye and add more salt or spices if I need to near the end. These will go great with the cilantro that’s in the fridge (can’t wait for the cilantro in the garden to be ready)!

I’m off to stir the beans again. If I’m lucky they’ll be ready for lunch time.


Proud Cardinal

I began my “Proud Cardinal” painting with a detailed pencil drawing. Many of my watercolors are started with a watery wash of color over blank paper, then a general pencil sketch, and then I dive right in to the first stages of painting. However, after drawing several sketches of cardinals, I felt like creating something more substantial in pencil as a beginning to a watercolor. (I love to draw with a mechanical pencil. No time sharpening = more time drawing.)

Next I added just a hint of cerulean sky. Here you can see my dreadful palette. Well, it would be shocking to some, but as my space is limited, so is the size of my palette. One of my favorite attributes of watercolor is its ability to be reconstituted and used again once dried. Once my palette becomes too crowded, I wipe down a section of the palette if I need to create a specific space for a color (like I did here, for the blue of the sky).

I added more color to the sky, and I added the first layer of red on the cardinal and brown on the branch. To the right of the painting in the photo, you can see a scrap of some junk mail from a collage I was creating at the same time, about which I will write later. Notice the texture in the sky, formed by the natural way that watercolor dries when I paint with lots of water. It will help form the shape of the clouds later, though at this point I was planning on leaving the sky as-is.

Atmospheric layers of yellow and blue were painted onto the branch for light and shade, and I painted another layer of red on the cardinal, in which I added more details to the feathers and got closer to the saturation of color I wanted to achieve.

I worked a lot of details into the clouds next because I felt that the painting lacked unity between the sky and the cardinal. The clouds have lots of detail over the top of the painting, fading to areas of less definition and color saturation at the bottom, giving depth to the painting’s background.

Next I started adding details to the cardinal in dark navy blue. Most of the details in dark blue were painted over the heaviest pencil details, emphasizing their shape and tone. At this point, I felt like the painting was really coming together.

Here you can see the painting in its penultimate stage, along with my palette again, in case you are interested in its evolution. I finished painting the navy details on the cardinal, and I added lots of bright red details to the feathers, particularly on the chest and back of the head. I saturated the red on the wings and tail, creating more contrast between the bird and the sky.

Although the cardinal was a bright, striking red, I felt a lack of atmospheric light in the painting. It appeared a little too flat and needed a delicate burst of warmth. I added a few areas of faint but bright yellow washes over the branch, the cardinal’s feathers, and his toes. Tiny dots of yellow and red followed the curves of the feathers for a final flourish.

proud cardinal bird original watercolor painting red

This painting is for sale in my Etsy shop.

Step by Step for “Rainbow Owl”

“Rainbow Owl” is a flatly patterned, colorful painting with a limited palette, created as part of my bird series of watercolors. It started with a wash of bright, loose stripes in orange, lilac, and pale green. I studied several photographs of owls and made various sketches to refresh my hand with the basic proportions, posture, and shape of an owl. After that, I made a simple outline drawing of an owl in pencil over the striped painting, and traced over it in ink.

I painted the background a dark grey,

and when it dried I drew leaf and berry shapes across the painting in ink.

I painted around these shapes with a very dark forest green.

Then, to bring more color unity to the painting, I painted the berries bright orange while the green was still slightly wet, so the brightness of the orange berries would vary over the painting and give it a little artificial depth.

After it dried, I signed it, and I thought I was done. Then I noticed three small dots of grey paint which had splashed into the body of the owl, marring the broad green stripe across the owl’s wings.

Removing watercolor from paper can be risky. I could end up with scuffed paper, which can happen if it is rubbed vigorously while wet, which would rather ruin my little painting. It would also be possible that I would remove, along with the dots, the color underneath, wrecking the soft wash of color. Replacing it can’t produce just the same effect as a fresh wash of paint. I considered adding more lines in ink to the back of the owl, as a fix, but I wanted to keep the simplicity of the painting intact. My choice then, was to try and remove the dots with a slightly damp mop brush. I think I ended up with great results, removing only a trivial amount of the color behind them. Here is the finished result:

I had great fun playing with these colors and shapes, adding little details of feathers in the outline of the owl and letting the watercolor swirl amongst itself to create variations over flatly painted areas of the composition. This painting is for sale on Etsy, along with many more of my paintings and drawings.

Edit: I’ve painted another owl and have written about it here.

Black Friday Weekend + Birds!

I just wanted to give a little shout about my shop on Etsy ( This extended weekend (now through 11/29/10) I’m offering FREE worldwide shipping on all my paintings! I’ve added several new paintings recently, and I’ll be adding more every day, so keep checking back! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Some of the paintings for sale in my shop:

watercolor painting abstract yellow blue lavender

painting autumn trees leaves red orange yellow

watercolor painting fish jumping ocean blue green red orange

Additionally, I’ve got a new “making of” blog entry planned soon — for one of my owl paintings I’ve been working on! I’ve really been enjoying the little bird series I’ve started, and I plan to paint even more. I’ve got peacock, raven, and flamingo on my list, and I’m working on a couple of cardinals right now. Have any birds you’d like to see me paint or draw? Post in comments, and I’ll add them to my list!

My Process for Autumn Landscape

I’ve decided to share the basic process that I went through to create “Autumn Landscape.”

painting artwork clouds trees autumn landscape

I was inspired to paint by the light shining against a line of trees outside my kitchen window. It was early evening, and as the sun shone in straight from the opposite horizon, the orange-leafed trees glowed with a neon effervescence. I decided I must paint this glowing landscape.

I started the painting by blocking in a base of medium orange against a cloudy grey sky.

I was aiming for a strong contrast between the sun-washed orange trees and the dull sky, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not arrive at the bright orange from my memory of the scene. To combat the problem and create more contrast, I experimented with various colors across the sky and trees, but nothing brought the specific results I wanted. I also created more textured, slightly violet clouds. Finally, attempting a fresh brightness, I wiped a strong yellow glaze over the entire painting.

After the yellow glaze, I decided to take a break from the act of painting and spent a few days simply looking, in order to make a focused decision. The yellow had not solved any of the problems with which I had been struggling, and in fact, I hated it.

I decided that since I couldn’t get the brightness I wanted out of the orange (even with all that yellow), I would focus more on the textures of the trees and sky than getting the precise color of orange I wanted.

I added thick, fluffy white clouds against a bright cerulean sky, which peeks through the clouds more and more towards the horizon. In doing so, the painting’s time of day was changed from early evening to mid-afternoon. Tiny areas of yellow and violet, from my earlier sky, still show between the clouds, but instead of dominating the scene, they add intrigue and color unity.

I was now left with a broad orange area in the lower left quarter as well as along the bottom of the painting, which I considered filling with the houses which are in actuality in front of the trees in my neighborhood. However, houses would interrupt the flow of organic forms too much for what I wanted to achieve with this painting. I took a little break from actively painting and spent a couple more days looking at the painting, imagining the possibilities. Something was missing, but I couldn’t think of just what it was.

I receive artist Robert Genn’s twice-weekly newsletter, which I highly recommend. On one of my “looking” days spent with my painting, I received this letter on light and shade, and I had a little “AHA! (duh)” moment. My painting already had plenty of light and medium tones; what it needed was shade. The dark areas you see in the finished painting are a very deep shade of violet, though it started as the warm brown you see pictured here (I was at first too timid to go too dark).

I layered in lots of fun details – scallops of yellow leaves, bits of sky and shadow peering between the leaves of the trees, and finally, thin trunks, branches, and twigs. This is my favorite part of painting. After all the main areas are blocked in, and the colors worked out, I get to bring my tiny brushes into play. And, once this stage is in progress, I know I am nearly finished, and I love to see a work come together.

This painting is for sale in my Etsy shop, Jem’s Imajes.


rowers watercolor painting ink blue brown








This painting is for sale in my Etsy shop.

Autumn Magic