Building Confidence

I almost never throw away any of my drawings or paintings, even if I hate them. This painting is an example why.

As I recall, I was at the coast when I painted this – can’t remember where or what paper or paint I used. What I do remember is that I felt it sucked. I really disliked it.

Recently, I was going through some old work, looking for something else entirely, and found this. And I thought “Hmmmm. Not half bad.” Not a ringing endorsement, and I still don’t think it’s one of my best. But it’s not half bad, which is a long way from the ‘sucks’ I originally felt.

I doubt it will go up further in my estimation, but I’ll keep it to remind myself – again – that my first reaction to a painting isn’t always valid. Some works just need time to grow on you.

The Dreaded Fossa – Postcards for the Lunch Bag

Artwork- Zebra Zensations Technical pens and Miya Watercolors on Hahnemuhle Watercolor Postcard Rough.

What looks like a cross between a cat, a dog, and a mongoose and where might you find it? It’s a fossa (pronounced Foo-sa) and, of course, it’s on Madagascar where wild and wacky animals abound! The fossa is the largest carnivorous mammal on the island, running about six feet in length (though half of that is tail).

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Artwork-Miya Gouache & Van Gogh Interference Watercolor in a Saint Armand Canal Pad.

Saint Armand paper is rag paper made of leftovers from the fabric industry. Their paper in the Canal Pad isn’t necessarily formulated for watercolor. I haven’t tried it with watercolor yet because I’m playing with gouache at the moment (which, yes, it actually is watercolor too, but made a bit differently).

Since I’ve also been playing around with black paper, I decided I would use one of the black pages in the pad. I was very pleased with the way the gouache handled. A touch of interference white watercolor over the gouache white gave my moon an extremely silvery look.

Miya Himi Gouache Paint Set, 18 Colors 

Van Gogh Speciality Palette 

Saint Armand Canal Pad 6×6″ 60 sheets Mixed Colors

Ceremonial Elephant – Postcards for the Lunch Bag

Artwork- Zebra Zensations Technical pens and Miya Gouache & Van Gogh Interference on Hahnemuhle Watercolor Postcard Rough.

My hubby asked me to paint a ceremonial elephant for one of his co-workers who was leaving. Normally, I don’t do commissions but this guy has me wrapped around his finger, lol.


And Where You Can Buy Them

Miya Himi Gouache Paint Set, 18 Colors 

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Van Gogh Speciality Palette 

MIYA Solid Water Colors Palette-18 Colors   (review)

Forest Fire in Abstract

Artwork- Miya Gouache & Van Gogh Interference on Adirondack Alcohol Ink paper

A friend of mine gave me a piece of Ranger’s black cardstock that is formulated for alcohol ink. It has a strange surface – almost rubbery to the feel. I used gouache and my friend used watercolor. The color showed up pretty well, but I did have trouble with streaks and my sunset turned into a more of a forest fire, lol. And that strange manlike creature. He must be a firefighter!


And Where You Can Buy Them

Miya Himi Gouache Paint Set, 18 Colors 

Adirondack Alcohol Ink paper

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

MIYA Solid Water Colors Palette-18 Colors   (review)

Princeton Aqua Elite Series 4850 Synthetic Kolinsky Sable Round, Size 10


Unicorn Hill

Artwork – Cuttlelola Electric Dotspen and White Uniball Signo Gel Pens in a Hahnemühle Cappuccino Book.

I love the rich tones in the Cappuccino Book and it’s perfect for the subtle textures made with a Cuttlelola dotspen. Add a little Uniball Signo white pen and magic happens – or it could just be the unicorn causing that!

This is one of those drawings where I just started with no plan beyond drawing a landscape. It’s always fun to do those.

Hahnemühle Cappuccino Book ( review)

Cuttlelola Electric Dotspen (review)

Manatee – Pencil to Paint Tutorial

Artwork- Zebra Zensations Technical pens and Miya Gouache & Van Gogh Interference on Hahnemühle Burgund Watercolor Postcard Rough. Photo reference from extrabrandt on Pixabay.

Did you know that the Manatee is also known as a sea cow, but is more closely related to the elephant? Doesn’t it seem sometimes, that every strange looking animal is related to the elephant?

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

Sunlight streaming through water evokes such a serene feeling and it’s something that I love to paint. By human standards of beauty, the manatee is an ugly beast, but in the ocean surrounds they have poetry. I wanted to capture a bit of that.

The manatee has a textured skin, and water ripples, so I chose one of Hahnemühle’s rough textured postcards.


(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

The shape of the manatee’s head is very simple, so I drew it freehand, mostly to make sure it fit the postcard, and to capture placement of the eye nose, mouth and some of the shadows.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.


After inking the outlines, eye, nose and mouth, I used a masking fluid pen to reserve the white of the postcard.

Sometimes, I use a white gel pen after painting to add white, because it can be difficult to reserve it in a painting this size. But the white of the paper gives you a softer, yet more vibrant white. I chose to go this route because the light in this painting is important.


It only took a few moments to paint this, possibly because I had a strong idea of what I wanted.

Timing was important. I painted the manatee by dropping watery mixes of Ultramarine Blue and Purple onto the page letting the colors run together. When they had dried for a few minutes, but were still wet, I dropped in the creamier darker mix of Ultramarine Blue for the shadows. I wanted the darker color to run into the lighter color, but not enough to lose intensity.

I used Tehran (Cerulean Blue) to paint the water and after a few seconds, I dabbed at it with a kleenex to get texture.

Once it was all completely dry, I removed the masking fluid. Sometimes, I use a damp brush to soften the edges of the white or to pull color into it. Not this time. I felt the hard edges suited the feeling of light catching the texture of the manatee’s skin.


And Where You Can Buy Them

Miya Himi Gouache Paint Set, 18 Colors 

Van Gogh Speciality Palette 

Hahnemuhle Burgund Watercolor Postcard Rough 120lb  (review)

Molotow GRAFX Masking Fluid Pump Marker, 2mm

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)