Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Feature: Annie Strack

#92 original watercolor by Annie Strack
Hi Everyone,

It's Friday!!!  WooooHooooo!  Today I'm introducing another fabulous Friday Feature, Annie Strack.  I have not met Annie in person but if I ever come across her I might just talk her ear off.  She has accomplished so many things that I want to be doing with my career.  Her paintings are beautiful, her studio is super organized (I didn't think artists could be organized), and  she writes for art magazines and has her own DVD series.  So enjoy Annie's interview, I think you will all be inspired.

To see more of Annie's work  Check out her website, her blog,
You can read articles by Annie at Art Calendar Magazine
She's also on twitter and facebook

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?
I had a pretty typical start. I studied art in school, and then I went out and got a “real” job in hotel and restaurant management. Painting was my hobby for a few decades, and then I changed careers in the late 90’s and became a full time professional artist. I had great sales from galleries right off the bat, and I supplemented that by doing commercial artwork for a while. Between selling originals and prints, teaching classes and workshops, writing for art magazines, and royalties from my DVDs, I manage to eke out a comfortable living and have fun while I’m at it.

Bali Beach original watercolor by Annie Strack
Where were you born? I’m originally from Naples, Florida, and I grew up on the beach. My husband is with the National Park Service, so we’ve lived in and traveled to National Parks all over the United States and it’s territories.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?
I feel most at home when I’m in the South Pacific or the Caribbean. Any of the tropical islands will do.
Woody original watercolor by Annie Strack

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
I love to paint seascapes. Anything with water – it’s my ‘happy place,’ so when I’ painting a beach scene or a seascape, I’m taking a little vacation trip to my happy place. I really need it now because I’m currently living in Philadelphia, and it’s not exactly Tahiti up here!

Could you talk about your painting techniques? 
I paint in the studio using reference photos that I shoot during my travels, and I also paint en plein air. For watercolors, I employ the value method of painting, which is to paint in layers starting with all the lightest values first, then layer on the middle values, and then layer the darker values on top of that, and so on. It’s a series of layered washes and glazes to get to the colors and values that make up my finished paintings. I often post my step-by-step painting process with photos and descriptions on my blog to demonstrate my how my paintings evolve. It’s a very traditional process for painting with watercolors, and it’s a lot easier than it sounds. For oils and acrylics, my method is alla prima when I’m painting en plein air, but if I’m using them in the studio then I tend to take more time and paint a complimentary underpainting, first.
Day Star original watercolor by Annie Strack
 Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
I have to have a warm and a cool of each primary. I’m not real picky about the yellows and the reds, but when it comes to blues, I start to lose control. I have to have payne’s grey, indigo, cobalt, cerulean, and ultramarine blue. And I can’t resist adding turquoise, helio, viridian, and prussian blue to my palette – even when I don’t need them! I also can’t resist buying new tubes of blue that I haven’t tried before. Right now I have all Rembrandt brand paints on my palette – and I love them!

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My friends are my biggest inspiration. Don’t get me wrong – I love strolling through museums and thumbing through thick coffee table books filled with the paintings of the masters.  But I get more inspiration from seeing what new and exciting trends are being set by the artists living and working around me.

What have been some of your crowning achievements?
I’ve earned Signature Status in several societies including the prestigious International Society of Marine Painters, but the one that means the most to me is the designation I received as an official authorized artist in the Coast Guard Artist Program. I’m also honored to have been invited by Canson and Royal Talens to participate in their Art Ambassador program, which is an elite team made up of the most influential master artists in North America. I’m currently working on a series of instructional DVDs, and I’m pleased that my first one has been picked up for broadcast by 115 television stations around the world.
Red Dingy original watercolor by Annie Strack
 What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
I want to finish remodeling the house I’m currently living in, start construction on my retirement home, take another trip around Asia, finish my writing my second book about art business and marketing, and prepare the groundwork for a small foundation that I want to create to fund continuing education scholarships for art teachers.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
You don’t have to personally do every single business related job or task. Do your art, and hire other people to do the other stuff.

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
Don’t skimp on art supplies - Only use the best materials in your art.

Sailboats at Sundown original watercolor by Annie Strack

Chocolate or vanilla?  Chocolate AND vanilla

Your dream vacation spot?  I love the beaches and resorts on the island of St John the most.

Book or movie? Movie.

Favorite author?  Jane Austin.

Favorite movie?   I haven’t seen it yet, but heard great reviews for ‘Abe Lincoln – Vampire Hunter’ – looking forward to seeing that one!

Romance or comedy?  Comedy

Favorite dessert?  Marie Calendar’s Chocolate Satin Pie.

Night owl or morning person? Night owl.

Thank you Annie for your wonderful interview.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things

Thought I'd share some favorite things of mine:)

Favorite Fall Painting:

I love this painting of Heide Presse's "Oliver's Porch".  Heide paints with watercolor, casein and oils.  After seeing her works I bought casein paints, I didn't have much success with them, I may have to give it another go sometime.

Favorite Paints

 It was love at first sight with Daniel Smith's quinacridone paints.  Couldn't live with out them.

Favorite Candle

I love candles and this is what I'm burning this month.  Smells so good!

Favorite Fall Candy

I hate to admit this but our family has already been through 2 bags of candy corn and it's not even October yet.

Favorite Artsy Flick
Watched this documentary while painting this month.  It's fascinating.  I was thrilled when I found out that the Arkansas Art's Center just had the opening for an exhibit "50 for Arkansas: the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection." The couple's gift to Arkansas is part of the Vogels' "50X50" donation of 50 works to all 50 states, to institutions of their choice, making the Arts Center lucky as well. The remainder of the Vogel collection went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.  Can't wait to see it.

Favorite Project Around the House
I decided to spruce up the front door of our house.  Left is the before picture it was pretty bland so I decided to paint it, Right shows the after.  We have a lot of stone work on our house so I wanted to pull some of that color for the door.  I was thrilled to find the perfect shade of paint in the Oops section at Home Depot for $2.  Pretty great improvement , money well spent:)

What are some of your favorite things?


Monday, September 24, 2012

Thank You!

Hi Everyone,

I want to start out by telling you all a heart felt thank you for your messages, e-mails and fb comments about the loss of our sweet kitty.  It was very comforting! It was a bit of a rough weekend since this was the first experience with loss our little boys have experienced.  Sam our 3 year old was immediately sad but our 6 yr old Steven had a delayed reaction and was sobbing into the mid night hours.

Due to our emotional weekend I didn't get a whole lot of painting done.  I couldn't keep my mind on painting and opted to spend a family weekend.  I have progressed some but it feels like the painting that will never be done:)

I'm sharing with you my work in progress pics so far.

wip original watercolor on260lb Arches 18" x 24" by Carrie Waller
wip original watercolor on260lb Arches 18" x 24" by Carrie Waller
wip original watercolor on260lb Arches 18" x 24" by Carrie Waller

wip original watercolor on260lb Arches 18" x 24" by Carrie Waller
Have a great week everyone, see you on Wednesday:)


Friday, September 21, 2012

Sweet Ella Bella

 Our sweet girl Ella Bella passed away last night, she was 10 years old.  I feel bad because she passed away at the vet's office and not at home.  She was one of my first "kids".  We got her right after we got married while living in Germany.  She was just as sweet as she could be and the only other female in our house.  It is a sad day at our house, I will have a Friday Feature back up next week.

Here she is helping me paint not to long ago!

Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm suffering from NITAM

Hi Everyone,
Progressing slowly:) original watercolor by Carrie Waller
 As you can see I have not progressed to much with my ball jars.  Between everyone being sick for most of last week and stopping this painting mid painting to do my Hopper series I am just Not In The Artistic Mood:))  And why is it this happens when I just wrote out the list of shows I want to participate in and it's going to be challenging at best to squeeze all that painting in.   Instead of putting brush to paper the boys and I decorated for Halloween and Fall.  Well we started anyway, we'll have more pics to share with you on Wednesday.

This is our upstairs living area.  I guess I should take a close up of the mantle.  The first time I've had to get a ladder out to decorate a fireplace mantle.  We have 20' ceilings our Christmas tree is going to look rinky dink:)

Downstairs living area.  We went much more Halloween than Fall downstairs.  Do you see my witchy helper:)

It's spooktacular:)
More of the downstairs.
 I'll see you on Wednesday.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Feature: Jane Freeman

"Made In Poland" original watercolor by Jane Freeman
Hi Everyone,

I'm so excited about today's feature.  I have been following Jane on fb for a long time.  Her work is extraordinary and I had the hardest time picking images for this feature because I wanted to include them all.  She has a book available on Amazon called "Celebration of Light" and has been featured in magazines and North Light Books Splash 12 and 13.  

Please visit her website and blog to see more of her amazing works!

"Draped Grapes" original watercolor by Jane Freeman

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

My first introduction to the arts was through a teacher I had in Alamo, North Dakota. This was a small school in a small farming community and he was fresh out of college when he came. He had us put on plays all the time and took our band to Estes Park where we received an award for best marching band. Every student played an instrument. Then in my Junior year he offered an oil painting class after school at his apartment. I was lucky to be one of the students. It was the first time I realized one could be an artist. From that I went to college at the University of North Dakota and received my BFA and a teaching degree. I am still on the journey and hope I am until my last breath.

Where were you born?

I was born in Williston, North Dakota where I lived for about 6 years and then raised on a farm near Alamo, North Dakota.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

 I suspect there are millions of places that would be wonderful. I need wildlife, beautiful scenery, privacy and beautiful light. But none of this would matter if I did not have my friends there. I suspect I would choose exactly where I am as here in the north woods of Minnesota I am surrounded by beauty. I do not have galleries and opportunities like so many others but I surely have everything else.

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

Finding ones passion can be a struggle for many but I have learned over the years what mine is. I love so many things and had always thought I would be a landscape painter or more figurative as I studied medical illustration in college and loved the human shape. But what I have discovered is that if I walk into a room with a beautiful still life set up…even a furniture store where the lamp and vases are arranged beautifully or a candy store with a perfect arrangement, then that is where you will find me. I gravitate to that like butter to beans. I was in an antique store in Oregon some years ago and walked into a room where it was all white objects beautifully arranged into perfect still life setups. Everything was a painting. I could hardly leave the room. I was breathless. I knew then that anything that excited me that much had to be my passion. We can paint anything but finding what gives you joy is most important. I always say,” If you paint what you love you will love what you paint”.
"Lean On Me" original watercolor by Jane Freeman

Could you talk about your painting techniques? 

When I wrote my book, A Celebration of Light,  I was stumped as to what to say about my technique as I did not have a word for it. Then I saw what Susan Harrison-Tustain said and it made perfect sense. I asked her to use that word in my book. It really is priming. By using water in  areas where I want to portray smoothness or shine, I wet that area and let the water begin to soak in and it opens up the fibers and draws the paint in deeper. It allows me to layer up about 40 light layers before it really begins to lift the paint below if I do it right. It allows me to shift values very gradually and play with what I want rather than being stuck with what I laid down. I began to work this way immediately because in the beginning I did not have the paper to waste or the paint. It was a luxury in those first years of learning watercolor to ever have 5 sheets of paper so my style came out of the need to make everything count. I rarely have thrown a painting away with this method. That is what I try to teach to my students as there are a lot of artists trying to save a few dollars from their grocery money to buy paint supplies.
"A Slice of Summer" original watercolor by Jane Freeman

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

Every artist that paints a lot has favorites. I had the Jane Freeman palette with Daniel Smith back when I taught more. That has evolved some but those tried and true favorites remain. I have 5 that will remain on my palette forever I guess and they are New Gamboge, Indanthrone Blue, Quinachridone Rose, Sap Green and Transparent Brown Oxide.  That said, I own every color I think but some colors you just use over and over and you know them like your own children and know exactly what they will do.

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

I studied art history in college for 2 years but lost most of that information after a brain injury. What I found was I began turning more to contemporary artists for inspiration because it was so disheartening to go back and try to relearn everything I had lost. I just moved on instead. In the 70’s I was writing letters to Robert Bateman begging to let me apprentice under him. As far as I know he never did such a thing with anyone but I was willing to keep asking. I am sure he laughed but I was very serious. Then I found Carl Brenders and fell in love with his detailed work. Up to this point I had been an abstract artist in most things except my drawing which was detailed human forms from all my medical illustration training. Over the years I have loved Stephen Lyman for his night paintings and Jack Hendershot for his night work. When I saw John Stuart Ingle’s work is when I fell in love with still life. He used everyday objects in his home and I just loved what he did. I began to arrange what I had in my home and remember so clearly when I saw those first photos how excited I became. I knew these things well as they had been in my family for years. That began my journey to where I am now but it was never one artist who inspired me. Each day I am inspired by artists I see in the art magazines and books and on Facebook. Who could not love Alvaro Castagnet! I love the work of Chris Krupinski and the lovely washes of Chris Beck.What a time we live in. I know if Turner or Wyeth were here they would be in awe of what is being achieved with watercolor now. It has really taken on a life of its own and I am so tickled to be a part of that.
"Every Day's a Celebration" original watercolor by Jane Freeman
 What have been some of your crowning achievements?

I think my first national show entries that were juried in was the highlight because it was those first moments of knowing I was being accepted into the art community. Since then each achievement has been a blessing. Writing my book was more than I ever expected and to be in American Artist magazine and International Artist magazine and all the others. Each time was a blessing. Perhaps above all is just being somewhere and someone will come up to me and say, “Are you Jane Freeman the artist?” and I will be in total awe to be recognized. All I ever wanted to be was an artist so to be recognized as that is my most wonderful achievement.

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

1)      I would love for my work to take a leap in a wonderful new direction. Maybe become a painter of clouds and skies!
2)      I would love to have a group of 4-5 artists go somewhere together every year to learn from each other and share and paint the places that they are. I am not around a lot of artists like myself and I would enjoy that so much. In fact, if we can dream big…we have a name and are known for what we do as a group and are envied for all the fun we have!
3)      I would like to live somewhere totally inspirational for a year and absorb the culture.
4)      I would love to write for one of the art magazines and inspire people to become the best artist they can be.
5)      I want to become comfortable with who I am as an artist and have confidence in that I can do whatever I put my mind to and be accepted for being that person and acknowledged by my peers as a friend and artist of value.

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
I am speaking to those who run a household and family and do the cleaning and groceries and mow the yard and do the wash. These artists have a full life just doing the daily stuff and it is hard to find time to paint. I was told unless I spent 4-6 hours a day painting I would never be a great artist. Well I learned that some days I could only get in one wash but that worked. I could study my work more carefully. One year I only managed one painting but it was the one that got into AWS. One great painting is worth it and so do whatever you can and if it is only one wash in a small area a day, it is enough. It will help you achieve your goals and one day you will be able to paint more and you will have all the skills already developed to go for your dreams.
"Musical Pears" original watercolor by Jane Freeman
 What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

In 1972 an artist told me not to join any local art groups. In my area they were little ladies who painted together and really they all painted alike it seemed. I have a BA in art but I decided to work in watercolor so I stayed to myself and worked on learning this new medium through books and magazines. I think it made me more of an individual and made me a stronger person. It made me learn how to dedicate time to my craft and how to work on my own to achieve my dreams. It kept me focused. I do not think I would be where I am today if I had not gone this route.

"Pear Tea" original watercolor by Jane Freeman
Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate with fresh raspberries and almonds

Your dream vacation spot?
Norway or a small town in northern Italy with friends and paints

Book or movie?

Favorite artist?
Robert Bateman because of his art and also because of who he is as a person. He is a conservationist and lover of the earth which I greatly admire.

Favorite Famous painting?
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent because it was the first time I saw something that glowed in a painting and I was so struck by that.

Favorite author?
Diane Ackerman

Favorite movie?
Oh l have no real favorite. I just love anything that makes me laugh or feel happy.

Romance or comedy?
Romantic comedy

Favorite dessert?
Good homemade fresh fruit pie……and maybe more pie!

Night owl or morning person?
Definitely it is morning.  Raised on a farm I was up early to do chores and I still get up around 5am. That is when the world comes alive and birds sing their first songs and the light is so amazing!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Emerson--The third in my Hopper Series

Hi Everyone,
"Emerson" original watercolor on 260lb Arches by Carrie Waller 6" x 6"

Hope you had a great weekend.  Our weekend started well and then everyone got sick:(((  In fact I've not had a voice for 2 days now.  Brian's (my hubby) theory is that we're given a life word allotment and when you've used to many up you have to make up for the overage.  As you can tell from that statement I'm the chatterbox of this relationship:)  Anyway I'm hoping we'll be on the mend soon and back to life as we know it.

I'm sharing my 3rd painting in my Hopper series.  Hopper read Ralph Waldo Emerson a lot and was influenced by his writing.  So for this painting I have some Emerson books, a poem by Emerson written in a journal and some wildflowers in a very simple jelly jar sitting on a Hopper painting that was influenced by Emerson.  I think the 3 paintings work well together.  I kept a similar color story running through the pieces. 

Thought I'd share all 3 paintings so you can see them together.
"Hemingway" original watercolor on 260lb Arches by Carrie Waller 6"x 6"

"Hopper" original watercolor on 260lb Arches by Carrie Waller 6"x 6"

"Emerson" original watercolor on 260lb Arches by Carrie Waller 6"x 6"
 See you Wednesday,


Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Feature Heidi Willis

Hi Everyone,
"Wattlebirds and Sophora microphylla" original watercolor by Heidi Willis

It's Friday again!!!  I'm thrilled to bring you a phenomenal Feature this week, Ms. Heidi Willis.  Heidi and I met through fb.  Her art is astounding.  The detail work is amazing!  She was most recently featured in International Artists Magazine.

To see more of her work visit her website. 

 How did you get your start? 

I started when I was 19 whilst helping my young brother in law with his art homework at the time. ‘Come on’ I said, ‘I will paint with you… It will be great!’ before thinking, oh wow… how do you paint?! Curiosity and enthusiasm ran through my mind as I rummaged through my belongings to find a few stray tubes of gouache and the very a small set of W&N watercolours that had been given to me by my father as a gift many years before. As I sat there looking them intensely, I brushed the dust off them and thought… hmmmm, now what! I decided on a possum and away we went painting together. Some weeks later I took it to the framers, and that’s where I met my first agent. A week later he sold that painting for me for more than I earned in a week at the time, and I found myself thinking oh! Well maybe I could do that again? That’s where it started, and I am still thinking today, oh! Well maybe I could do that again!
"Eastern Rosellas" original watercolor by Heidi Willis

What’s your artist journey so far?

I have worked as a professional artist for over 20 years now. I have taught and painted since my late teens and there hasn’t been any other path for me, only to paint. I started in wildlife and move quite naturally into the area of Botanical Art around the age of 24. From there my path has been an unfolding of botanical and bird subjects that marry in together very nicely. The Botany is a more scientific base with quite specific challenges, whilst the birds allow me to return to a more organic structure with softer boundaries and rules to bounce around in. It is a wonderful balance for me.

Where were you born?

I was born in Queensland, Australia and moved to Sydney as a child.

If you could live anywhere where would you live?

If I could live anywhere, Id instinctively say Sydney. It’s a beautiful city and an amazing country and I know that its a place that I will always call home, but the nomadic part of my spirit always meddles with my imagination and for the love of adventure, the list of places to be expands endlessly! Live? Many places…! Home? That probably has to be Sydney.  

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

I am a Natural History artist. I have a great love of the natural world around us. That’s my focus and what I am drawn to every time and I don’t see that changing. Nature is never anything less than endlessly beautiful, fascinating and astounding. As a subject for painting, its irresistible.

"Lotus and Moorhens" original watercolor by Heidi Willis

Could you talk about your painting techniques? 

I work exclusively in watercolours and use many techniques to produce my work. Perhaps most significantly, I seem to naturally gravitate towards the use of glazing and dry brushing techniques to achieve luxurious, rich results in my work. The process itself is complex and time consuming to produce, but it is also an extremely satisfying process and result in the end. My work is fairly detailed and intricate, so these techniques, and of course the crossing over of these techniques work very well for me.

Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

I definitely have a select few favourites when it comes to colours, but how can you really choose! Those that instantly come to mind are Perm. Rose, Windsor Red, Windsor Violet, Raw Sienna and Indigo. My palette is fairly broad and the colour use usually quite complex, so it is not often that I use a colour in its pure form. Many are muddied up with one, two, or even several others added to it.
watercolor by Heidi Willis

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

I do not have a favourite artist. It would be impossible to choose! However, seeing the Van Gogh Gallery in Amsterdam certainly was an awe-inspiring place to see.

What have been some of your crowning achievements?

As a self-taught artist, I have had a number of achievements that I have been quite proud of over my career. I was pleased to sell my very first Botanical painting to Dr Shirley Sherwood for inclusion in the prestigious Shirley Sherwood Collection of international contemporary botanical artists. My work is also held in the universities permanent collection of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation USA, I have been a finalist several times over in the highly prestigious Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize held by the South Australian Natural History Museum, and three of my works were accepted as a finalist in the Focus on Nature exhibition, NY State Museum. I have also taken part in Botanica and the Margaret Flockton Awards, Sydney Botanic Gardens, Australia.
"Pomegranates" watercolor by Heidi Willis

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)

I would like to be able to re establish a working studio space for myself where I am able to paint to my hearts content. I would like to travel. I would like to have a home where I can plant a magnolia garden again! I would like to sit in my magnolia garden and look at it for very long periods of time and smile at it. Id like a gardener! :)

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Don’t wash your brushes in your tea… Its not a very good idea. When using double sided tape, don’t put it between your lips to free up your hands. Don’t sniff your masking fluid, its really yucky! Don’t forget to eat. Don’t eat pasta while you work. Never leave your red paint, brushes and artwork or your turps where your toddlers can reach them… But most of all, my advice is to paint what you love and to paint it with love, often.
watercolor Heidi Willis

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

Accept that being an artist isn’t about what you do, its about who you are.

Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla

Your dream vacation spot? Somewhere a little bit off the beaten track, something Earthy and a little bit wild but with amazing cocktails and a good bed.

Book or movie? Movie

Favorite movie? Forrest Gump

Romance or comedy? Comedy

Favorite dessert? Cheesecake or Crème Caramel

Night owl or morning person? Definitely morning

 Thank you very much Heidi,

See everyone on Monday,