Free Range Poppies

This year is off to a fast start!  Shortly after my arrival in Florida for the winter,  the online educational project of Artists Network, WATERCOLOR LIVE!, aired for a week.  I was one of the 20 demonstrating artists.  “Free Range Poppies II” is similar to the painting I demonstrated online and is available in my “Hot off the Easel” gallery.

Next was a trip to the lovely Big Arts and Culture Center in Sanibel for a friend’s painting exhibition.  It’s heartening to see a lot of progress happening in the recovery from Hurricane Ian, though it will still be years for many to put their lives back together.  The following weekend I participated in artists’ demonstrations to attract visitors to the recovering community of Matlacha.  It was a big success for reopening businesses, restaurants, and artists!

Now I’m on the plane returning to Florida after teaching and judging the annual international competition for the Missouri Watercolor Society (MOWS).  The entries were wonderful, the task of selecting the award winners daunting, and the artists in class were great!  It’s always a lot of fun to work with other artists who are as excited about the Watermedia world as I am!

Soon I’ll pack my bags for New York to judge the awards for the Annual American Watercolor Society (AWS) exhibition.  This is such an honor it’s hardly a “job” at all, yet the responsibility is, again ….. daunting.  Now it’s time to care for and spend time with a few of those I love … home sweet home.    Kathleen

No New Year’s Resolutions here! But I enter this new year with hopes, plans, projects and most important – gratitude!  I am so very appreciative of the many wonderful people in my life.  It reminds me of an African saying I learned, “If you want to travel fast, go alone.  If you want to travel far, go with others”.  I love this life-of-Art that I work in:  It’s a dream come true.  But I would not/could not have made it here alone.  It is the wonderful “others” I get to travel with in my life that have made it possible for me to go far.

Because “others” have recommended me, my first new experience of the year will be as a participant in the online educational program, WATERCOLOR LIVE!   http://watercolorlive.com/    On January 24-26 I will be one of 30 artists giving demonstrations of our painting methods and techniques.

If you have ever wondered how I approach my paintings like “Sunset Poppies” you can find on my website here .  My 50-hour process is simplified and condensed to one hour in this online workshop seminar.  I’ve painted my favorite flowers….poppies!   No surprise there!

Happy New Year to you all!  Kathleen

I love this quote from Kurt Vonnegut, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow.  So, do it.”

Whether working on the “art” or making memories during this special season, creating gifts, or practicing our usual usual art forms, let’s just get out there and do it because … it’s all good.  We’re growing our souls!

With little time to reminisce or assimilate my African Safari inspiration into my paintings, I’m back in teaching mode through the online program, WatercolorLive! (http://watercolorlive.com/).  I am one of 25 artists to be featured next January 23-26, 2024.  I’ve just finished taping the raw footage for a one hour demo of a start-t0-finish painting “Free Range Poppies”.  If you are interested in signing up for any one of their offerings over the 4 days and use the code CONOVER they promise a 10% discount.  If you do sign up/sign in, I’d love to know what you think.  I know I’ll be there watching and thoroughly enjoying 24 of those 25 artists!   Maybe I’ll see you online.

Happy Holidays, Kathleen

Oh my goodness, the Tanzanian safari and Zanzibar was a trip of a lifetime, for me.  From our Jeep, which the animals are totally indifferent to, we saw 25 different animals and uncountable numbers of elephants, wildebeests, zebra, giraffe, Cape buffalo and antelope in the migrating herds (some so close we could almost touch them).

Colors! There is unexpected beauty in the landscape even at the end of the dry season.  Colors so vivid in common birds (starlings) they were a “carnival” in flight.  And the most intense color is the clothing and art work of the beautiful people.

In the vastness between villages are goats, or maybe a few cows, herded by their very young shepherds, but always a male’s job  Like our Native Americans the women are the water-keepers so containers of water or stick for hut building is often seen on the traveling women, again in gorgeous fabric of color, pattern and tradition.

In contrast to this vast land, and a quick flight later, was the bustling Indian Ocean shore of the island of Zanzibar with a congestion of ships, boats, and rafts of every size and shape.

How to incorporate all or any of this in my artwork?  But the challenge is what I love!  To be continued, my friends…..Kathleen


As we dip into autumn I hope everyone is well and will seek some of the gorgeous show of color nature provides us, front row seats, free of  charge!  We, in northern Michigan, will be at peak season soon and I will miss it …. I’ll be in Tanzania, painting on a safari!  I’m so excited I can hardly stay calm and focused enough to get my bags packed.  I leave tomorrow at 5:00 a.m.

I have one image and wonderful news to share:  I am thrilled to have received the XIX Malcolm B Bird Award at the National Watercolor Society (NWS) International Exhibition 2023 for “Storm Warning”.  It will come back from the exhibit in November and then will be available for sale on my Website.

Award Winner

Please take care, my friends.  That Covid bug is rearing its ugly head again.  I have my N95 masks and was informed they will be mandatory in most places we travel.  Happy painting!   Kathleen










A fellow artist shared with me her quote, “There is no comfort in a growth zone and no growth in a comfort zone.”  Taking this to heart I’m trying something new.

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a workshop, so I signed up for not one, but two, in acrylic painting En Plein Air (French term for painting outdoors on location).  The goal is to stretch my skills beyond watercolor, which is oh-so-comfortable for me!

First, was a Plein Air class in acrylic by Mark Mehaffey (excellent artist as well as teacher).  Was this out of my watercolor comfort zone?  Yes!  Feeling uncomfortable?  Definitely! Did I bomb?  of course, at first.  Did I learn anything?  I must have because by day 3 I was starting to get the hang of it.  But my ultimate hope is to find my more distinct “voice” in acrylic landscapes and that takes time at the easel and miles on the brush.

Next month is class #2, “The Tonalists” at the lovely Franciscan Center in Lowell, MI.  This class is taught by three painters and I’ll have instruction from each.  They are primarily oil painters but I’m bringing acrylics and my watercolors.  (I don’t want to go crazy with this “getting-out-of-my-comfort-zone-thing!  I’m happy taking little steps into “uncomfortable”).  Besides, I don’t think my small, home studio can hold one more tube of paint.

So, let’s give a salute to the beauty of mid-summer and capture a moment in time, using whatever materials you’re comfortable with (hah! or not.)  And don’t forget to have fun!  Kathleen

Shadow Play - acrylic on Gatorboard

Shadow Play, and other acrylics will soon be available on my website in the “Hot off the Easel” Gallery!

I’ve just returned from a wonderful Plein Air painting opportunity at Lake Tahoe, CA.  Besides the stunning landscapes (I could paint from for the rest of my life!) I realized that just as inspirational were the 9 other artists in the group!  Each artist with their own vision, perspective, palette of color, handling of the brushes, etc., painted from the same location.  At the end of the week we shared our work and what an exciting collection of paintings it was!   Included were watercolors, acrylics and drawings, some totally abstracted, some very location-specific, 8″ x 10″ to full sheets 22″ x 30″.  But each one was wonderful and created from its unique spark of inspiration.

Here is one of my favorite views that inspired me to paint and, actually, I painted a few times before I could capture the feeling I wanted.  But, as inspiring as the landscape was, more so were my fellow artists.  Once again, I learned the lesson of a little quote hanging on my wall:   “Hearts can inspire other hearts with their fire!”   I hope you all have an inspired rest of your summer.  Kathleen

Oh, the wonderful distractions of summer!  It’s difficult to get to all the paintings that rattle around in my head in the quiet seasons.  It’s even more difficult in this busy season of glorious sunshine and long days.  There is a garden to be planted, friends to visit, places to explore, home repairs to conquer, flowers to admire, lakes to fish and parks to camp in.  But I try to keep up!

The best way to “keep the brushes wet”, I find, is to keep the sketch book and a few basic tools close and just do something – anything – often.  Below is a half-hour sketch done late evening, when we camped at Pentoga County Park, MI.  Not spectacular, but I captured a moment in time.  I can revisit the feeling and inspiration at any time in the future by viewing this sketch.  I did this with one pencil, one pen (“Script Writer” that runs and separates into grays, blue and pink when hit with water), one brush and water.

My art is always a reflection of my life.  Its many “distractions” is the richness from which I draw my inspiration.  I encourage all my fellow artists to keep a sketchbook and pencil with them and capture those moments!  Kathleen

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”   Joseph Chilton Pierce

This quote is the perfect sentiment for the brave artists in the Colorado Watercolor Society (CWS) who attended my workshop in April.

They weren’t afraid to risk being wrong, to try something else and to try something new.  As a result, wonderful and exciting works were created!  It was a great week when new friendships were formed and Fun was had by all!

Let’s lose our fear of making mistakes as we venture forward in our Art Journey.  Kathleen

Colorado Workshop 2023 – Pictured (left to right):  Beatrice Trainman, CWS President, myself, Sandy Day Selbert, Workshop Director

The month of March holds all the promise of Spring (officially, at least, even though so many are still battling the effects of winter).  I found, and bring to you, a little bit of Spring from Charleston, where I was painting with art friends last week.  I had a chance to practice my En Plein Air technique on the prevalent live-oak trees and blooming azaleas. It was the perfect week!

Under the Live-Oak trees



Back in the studio, I’m wrapping up my accepted painting, “Locomotion”, to go to the Georgia Watercolor Society National Exhibition.  I send it off with a kiss…always hopeful of getting a “nod” from such a respected judge/artist as John Salminen.


I’m most thrilled to learn I’ve earned the National Watercolor Society (NWS) Master Artist (MA) Status because I’ve been accepted in 6 of their international competitions over many years of competing!  MA are a couple more initials to add to my “alphabet soup” that while silly to some, still mean a great deal to me.  I see those letters as my credentials, my higher degree and steps in my life-long career as an artist.  Paint on, my friends!!