Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My Free Online Art Course On Using Tracing Paper

How to transfer drawings using tracing paper

I created my first online course at Skillshare. It's a very cool site where you can sign up for free and take some of their classes free, too. If you subscribe, you can take ALL of the courses they offer.

Mine is free. It shows you how and why using tracing paper is cost efficient and easy. You can also see it free on YouTube (below).

Click Art With Karen to see a list of all my courses.

My next class on Skillshare is also free and it's online there right now. It's a treasure hunt project. The objective is to find and draw a treasured object.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Firehouse Turned BBQ Restaurant

As I was looking for project ideas for my watercolor students, I pulled out a set of old, printed photos a friend of mine gave me back in the 1990's. 

Amongst the photos I found a picture of the front of this cute, little firehouse. Unfortunately, the top of the building was cut off in the picture so I went online to find a reference photo I could use to complete the facade.

I couldn't find any.

With a little more digging I uncovered the sad story:

The H.W. Rogers Hose Co. No. 2 began operation in 1794. A home for the retired volunteer firefighters was built in 1892 on the same grounds. The firehouse was turned into a museum along with six others. Back in 1998 they were still considered an asset to the history and civic pride of the downtown area.

In 2002 the old firehouse became a barbeque restaurant.

It was the second oldest volunteer firehouse in New York State.



New York Times, "Our Towns; A Tradition Of Firefighting Put to the Test"
By JANE GROSS, Published: September 24, 1998

Website, American Glory BBQ Restaurant:

Website, Good Morning Gloucester:

Image of restaurant:

Friday, July 01, 2016

Alexander Art: The Birch Trees Project

The first project in the basic course is a beautiful scene with two birch trees and a mountain in the background.

Step 1

After adding the Magic White to the canvas was to paint highlighting yellow in the sky.

I love this highlighting yellow! I goes on nice and bright and stays that way.

The brush I was using to apply both the Magic White and the yellow was a 1 1/2" bristle provided with the kit for this class.

I always expect some loose bristles but I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time plucking them from the surface of the canvas.

Step 2

Next, I applied Alizarin Crimson around the yellow.

The use of the white helps mediate the effect of getting too much orange when the red was brushed into the yellow. I've used a similar technique with acrylics that Jerry Yarnell teaches.

In this picture you can also see something that happened to my brush. This is great for painting foliage but not for any kind of edge work that requires a fine line.

I found myself getting annoyed at having to constantly stop and pluck bristles from the canvas.

So, I switched to a 3/4 inch synthetic filbert just to avoid the annoying bristle-loss issue.

Step 3

I've added Pthalo Blue in the sky and after only wiping my brush clean with a moist towlette, I painted in the mountains.

With the same brush I added the snow using Magic White with some yellow. As I brought the yellow downward it naturally turned to a nice green in the lower part of the mountains to represent grass.

Step 4

In the next to last step, I added the foreground.

The two birch trees were added with a fan brush and the limbs are fun to paint with a liner brush.

For the grassy area I went back to using the 1 1/2" bristle brush. This is an area where this brush shines!

After wiping the excess paint off of the fan brush I once again used it to add the yellow, red and orange leaves to the trees and a patch of sunshine to the grass with the highlighting yellow.

And with a few more swipes of the liner brush I added some longer blades of grass along with a leafless bush.

You can see the end result in the final photograph.

For my first oil painting in several years (that wasn't a horse) I am quite pleased with my accomplishment!

I am especially liking how the highlighting yellow goes over the darker color. It's very dramatic and it's an effect I've had a lot of trouble getting with acrylics.

So, one of the first things I did was "fix" one of my acrylic paintings of a giant cypress tree. I took the original photo years ago while on a trail ride near the Ocala National Forest.

I can't seem to get a quality photo of the end result, but I uploaded a side-by-side comparison below.

The painting on the left is the re-do. The one on the right is the original.

You can see a lot more detail in the vine growing up the one tree. And I was able to add a lot of detail to the grassy area at the end of the water.

I enhanced the highlights on the tree trunks, too.

I like it.

And I have at least one more acrylic painting that I've already tried to "fix" once but I can't get any result that I like.

So, expect to see that in a future blog post!

In the meantime, Keep Painting!


Sunday, June 05, 2016

Alexander Art Course - The Journey Begins

I recently embarked on a new journey in oils. After switching from regular oil paints to water miscible several years ago, I am once again about to learn how to paint.

The decision to use water miscibles instead of regular oil paints was made due to the fumes created by the turps and thinners one must use. Recently, I found out that Alexander Art has a method of using regular oil paints, but you no longer need to use turpentine or paint thinner to clean your brushes!

I am ready to begin the painting projects in the first course. All of my supplies have arrived and I've purchased everything else I need to do the first six paintings.

The course fee included six (6) canvases, two brushes with a palette knife, the reformulated Magic White and Highlighting Yellow, four (4) basic colors, and a cute little bottle of clear oil called Magic Clear. Teehee!

I had to purchase some other basic items like some interior water-based household paints. I already had some other items necessary for cleaning the "practice board" (included in the class fee) and brushes.

Again, there are no toxic products! I will be cleaning my brushes with painting wipes (or baby wipes) and a mixture of water, vegetable oil with a clear dish washing detergent.

I spent a couple of hours one afternoon preparing all my canvases and practice board.

The environmentally friendly cleanup concoction has also been prepared. I made it in my kitchen with absolutely no worries about contaminating any food surfaces. And it smells wonderful!

If you are curious about this non-toxic method of oil painting see the site and join for free.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Wendover Place Open House

For my students and friends:

If you couldn't make it to the horse barn open house in April 2016, I thought I'd share some pictures, a link to a video and some words.

Wendy Trocano, the owner of Wendover Place, hosted the open house. It was the first one. There's no date set yet for the next one.

Wendy is one of my trainers at Wendover Place. She teaches anyone who is 6-years-old and above.

The open house was designed for children and adults. There was a face painter and an exercise trainer, Sean, who brought a fun exercise. I got to try it out. You had to balance on a board that was round on the bottom. I managed not to fall. The kids were having fun leaping onto it. I didn't get a chance to try that but I wanted to!

There were several groups of barn tours where some of the horses got treats from the visitors. Pictured above is Gaston gently taking a treat from the hand of a visitor.

Leslie, Gaston's owner, is also a trainer along with her sister Wendy. She's in the picture on the right leading a tour group. Leslie is my other trainer. She is also the coach for the UCF Hunter/Jumper IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) team.

The IHSA team trains at Wendover Place. In addition, Wendy is the coach for the IEA (Interscholastic Equestrian Association) team for students in grades 6-12. You don't need a horse to be on either team! I wish I was in school again.

There was food and popcorn. I was supposed to be in charge of the popcorn, but once old "Blue" arrived I was completely distracted.

She arrived in a horse trailer. I can't imagine what other drivers were thinking when they saw this on the road.

Daryl, the farrier, brought the life-size real horse skeleton that she built. She said it is the second one she has ever made from real horse bones. She takes Blue out for demonstrations and lectures.

I did some sketches and one of my students also took the rare opportunity to do a sketch. She did an excellent job on her first sketch-from-life of a horse skeleton. You can see a picture of her working on her drawing below.
Then later, her husband Mark brought out his video and sound equipment. He wanted to do some recording while at the open house. I helped as much as I could and learned a lot just by watching him work.

The result is a wonderful video where he interviewed Wendy and one of her students. He also got a chance to record Alicia, the newest addition to the Trainer team at Wendover with one of her ponies named Archer. The video is called "Horse Show".

By the end of the day Donnegal (aka Donnie) was giving pony rides while the event wound down.

I hope you can all come to the next open house. Bring a chair and just enjoy the time to sit and relax. Make plans to spend some time in the fresh, clean air and make some new four-legged friends.

Keep in touch and I'll post information about the next open house as soon as there is a date set.


Sunday, May 01, 2016

St. Augustine Suggestions

I was recently asked for suggestions on where to go and what to do in St. Augustine, Florida. Following is the result. As you can see I like to write!

On King Street, The Brilliance in Color gallery is a must. When we were there they had works by Dali, Miro, Picasso and Degas on display (and for sale haha like I could ever afford one!) It’s sad to say it’s a  better collection by sheer numbers than anything ever seen in Orlando.  And a walk through the Grand Bohemian off the lobby of the Casa Monica  Hotel is always nice.

Other galleries to make sure you visit are on Aviles Street. It’s off the main path but much more charming. There are many restaurants there, too. I had time to visit the Georgia Nick Gallery in particular. She is very nice and if you are there at the  right time, that’s when Chief or one of the other carriage horses stop  by for a treat.

Aviles Street

A street away on Charlotte is the P.A.ST.A.  (Professional Artists of St. Augustine) gallery. It’s another with work  by local artists. The St. Augustine Art Assoc. also has a gallery another street over on Marine.

We ate at several restaurants, but  of particular note we’d recommend Pizza Time on St. George. They also  have ice cream and gelato right next door! Of course, the Columbia  restaurant is always good. But if you’d like to visit some others I  recommend the Athena restaurant where they serve breakfast, lunch and  dinner. They serve Greek dishes but there are regular breakfast offerings as well.

In addition, there’s another nice restaurant called Gaufre's on the corner of Artillery Ln. and Charlotte St. (picture right) that serves both Greek  and Polish dishes. Plus, they sell imported chocolate!

And if you  have a refrigerator in your hotel room and need some milk, you don’t have to go  all the way down King St. to the gas station. We found a mini-store inside the place where you can buy tickets to the Black Raven Pirate  Ship! On our next visit, we are going to purchase tickets to this  attraction and ride on the ship while they carry on and fire their cannons.

"Otto" at the Lightner Museum
Take the Flagler College tour, visit the Castillo de San  Marcos (fort), tour the Pena-Peck house and when you purchase entry to  the Colonial Spanish Quarter they put a wrist band on you. This band  means you can go inside at any time while you have the band on! And the  Lightner Museum is fantastic but is only open 11-3 p.m. so schedule accordingly.

Pictured is "Otto" (a semi-resident of the Lightner Museum). He sometimes poses in wedding photos taken in the central garden. (picture left)

Another great museum is the Villa Zorayda. It's a house built in the fashion of a 12th century moorish alhambra palace in Granada, Spain. We didn't get a chance to visit this museum on our last visit but I've been there several times.

There’s also the oldest school house and  drugstore with a wax museum inside. And if you get a Trolley pass make  sure to stop at the Old Jail and go through the History Museum.

There’s lots more to do in St. Augustine than in this small list. Have fun!

Oldest Store and Wax Museum
Matanzas River

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Figures Are Not Scary

Well, math figures are scary – to me. But figures in a painting are not. I’m not talking about detailed portraits of people. Just a few brushstrokes and voila you’ve got a person.
In a recent workshop with professional artist Tom Jones, the first day and the first thing we did was practice painting figures to put in our paintings.
One of Tom’s other students showed us how he does his figures. He practices at home while relaxed in front of his TV.
In addition, we had fun painting little chickens and roosters. We used our new-found skills in our next project: a wooden chicken coop.
Here’s a comparison of my finished painting to the one Tom Jones did.
Tom told us there has to be a WOW in your painting. Look for the WOW when someone looks at it. I had trouble in our next project even getting an, “Oh, that’s nice” from myself!
The project was a desert scene with two adorable donkeys. I did so poorly on my first try that Tom made me start over. I think we both agreed that a lack of quality paper wasn’t helping me on this one.
I haven’t finished my re-do of this project yet, but here’s Tom’s so you can see an example of the WOW we were going for.
In my version (not pictured) my first mistake was I started making too many symmetrical details in my far-off mountains. So many, in fact, that Tom made me use his toothbrush (not one he brushes his teeth with!) and scrub out most of those lines.
The next project went much better as I began to relax into the flow of the class. It was a picture of a little building in Mexico.
Then we painted a simple potted plant. Here's Tom's. It's simple yet elegant.
And then we began our final project. Unfortunately, we were only able to finish half of it because all of a sudden it was Friday afternoon and the workshop was over.

If you’ve never taken a 1 to 5 day workshop I highly recommend you try at least one time. Start by looking for a local artist that you admire and find out if they do any workshops.
When you take the workshop make plenty of mistakes and learn from them. You’ll always do a better job the next time around.
For example, here’s a painting I did before the Tom Jones workshop.The horses are nice but that landscape! OMG!

And here’s a better version I did after his workshop. I think this one has a little more WOW to it.

Thanks for reading!
Keep painting.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Horse Barn Open House April 30

April 30, 2016, there's going to be an Open House at Wendover Place! Admission is free. There'll be food, fun and horses.

Don't ride? Bring your camera or sketchbook. Watch veterinary and horse grooming demonstrations and more.

I'll post more info as it becomes available.

Day: Saturday, April 30, 2016
Times: 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Place: Wendover Place (

Saturday, February 27, 2016

There are lots of other things going on in Orlando, Florida, today, 2/27, but if you have a few minutes to stop by the Hobby Lobby on East Colonial, I am doing a brief demonstration of what I learned at the Janet King workshop. The demo will begin at 1:30 before an open studio watercolor class.