Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2013

Happy Holidays!

Nature's Hope
watercolor on paper
26 cm x 18 cm
Legend has it if you hang a red Cardinal on your Christmas tree it will bring good luck to you and your family throughout the year. I have a few on mine... and on a wreath, I can always use "extra" luck. It is my favorite bird. What I love the most is how it cheers up a cold wintry day even once the holidays are past.

As always the month of December just flies by. I can't believe Christmas is already next week: as usual, I still have lots to do. I promise myself every year to be more organized. I wish all of you peaceful and happy Holidays!

-thank you to Paint My Photo for providing the photo reference

Inspired Serenity

Inspired Serenity watercolor on paper 9".5 x 9".5/ 25 x 25 cm.

Water lilies give a sense of serenity sitting on the water … of course you can't think of them and not think of Monet. I thought of him often while I painted this. I used a photo I took as reference of a water lily from a visit to a botanical garden. I love the play of light on the water, the contrast between the leaves and pale yellow flower.

I had a bad cold last week and didn't feel like painting. When I don't have time to devote to painting, I love to draw “one line contour” drawings. It is a great way to learn to focus on observing a subject without getting caught up with a lot of rendering. They turn out rather funny but in a charming sort of way. I used some student grade Canson sheets and then added watercolor...well I couldn't keep away completely.

I wish everyone a wonderful weekend!

Country Impressions

Down the Road 7".5 x 11"/ 18.5 x 28cm. watercolor on paper
I painted two separate plein air paintings over the last two weekends. The first was a sketch of a country road. As I was sitting nearby, an old Fiat 500 came out of nowhere and drove into my painting view. I always have my camera at an arm's reach, I managed to get a couple shots of the car driving into the distance. I love the retro feel of the image. I used my plein air sketch as a color guide, combined it with my photo reference and took various things from both.

plein air sketch 5"x 7" watercolor on paper

I wanted to keep the energy I feel I have in my sketch by working in one sitting, mostly wet into wet. I have been looking at Joseph Zbukvic's work lately and loved what he says "painting precise locations is irrelevant; simply keep the character."

plein air sketch 5" x 7" watercolor on paper

My second plein air sketch was painted a different day in the same vicinity. It i…

10 Minute Challenge


I followed the 10 minute painting exercise from the weekly Daily Paintworks Challenge. The challenge is to set a timer for 10 minutes, paint and then stop. I feel like I did improve after the fourth sketch. It especially helped in judging the water ratio, as my first sketch is very washed out compared to my last. 

Into the Fall

Autumn Still life watercolor painted on Strathmore paper 11" X 15"/ 27.9 X 38.1cm.

Now that we put our clocks back an hour I am more in autumn mode. That means shorter days, but there is something cozy about fall as well. I welcome slowing down a bit after the busy days of  summer.

 I bought the squash and pumpkin for Halloween decor. I love to bake and will use the pulp for pies and other baked goods typical of this period.  This pumpkin is a different variety than the one's we use in the U.S. for Halloween. They sell them by the slice or whole at the market and it has a delicious flavor for anyone who enjoys eating pumpkin. 

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and find fruits and vegetables are always providing me with inspiration. Not only do I take many reference photos at my local market, I like the "kitchen counter feel" to things I bring home. I set up this composition on my kitchen counter with the hope of transforming it into a painting that could ex…

Sycamore Leaf

Sycamore Leaf  watercolor painted on Daler Rowney paper 10" x 7"/  25 x 17cm.
 Fall is coming slowly but I loved this dead leaf I found lying by the river bank surrounded by moss. 

 I started this painting plein air and finished working on it at home.I build up the layers over my wet into wet sketch. I used salt in the background  and negative painting in order to try and recreate the effect of the moss.

 Work in progress drying in the sun.  I like to work from life as much as possible, the colors are always more vibrant.
My photo reference, I love the bright moss color against the earth tones.
Thank you for stopping by!

One Year Blog Anniversary!

Sweet Treat watercolor on Daler Rowney paper 10" x 7" / 26 x 18 cm.
My blog is celebrating its first year. I  never dreamed of finding so much support, generosity, friendship, inspiration and encouragement. I am still overwhelmed when strangers take the time to wish me well and follow my progress. I have found I have received more than I have given and I am truly grateful!

To celebrate, I thought I would share some cake ... what better cake  than "Confetti Cake." I've already taken a bite, as you can see. How can I resist it!


Sunflowers watercolor on cold pressed Daler Rowney paper 10" x 10" / 25 x 25 cm.
I always wanted to paint sunflowers, it's funny how we put certain things off... Well, these sunflowers were growing as high as a house, screaming to be noticed.

I wish everyone a great weekend, thank you for stopping by!

For a girl that likes blue...

Glossy Leopard watercolor on "Fabriano Artistico" paper 5"x7" / 12 x 18 cm

My oldest daughter, Sabrina, turned 17 this weekend. She had asked me to paint something for her room a while back. I thought her birthday would be a great time to make good on my promise. Blue has always been her favorite color even when she was a little girl. She also loves leopard print and make-up is her creative side. I combined all these things into a painting for her and surprised her on her birthday. She recognized the items I used. It's hard to please a 16 year old... a 17 year old maybe is worse!

A Room with a View PLUS Figs!

A Room with a View watercolor on paper (Daler Rowney cold pressed) 18 x 13 cm/ 5 x7 in. 
“One doesn't come to Italy for niceness," was the retort; "one comes for life. Buon giorno! Buon giorno!”
E.M. Forster, A Room with a View

Sunday morning a fishing competition forced my husband and I up river to kayak. There was no place for me to sit nearby so I ventured into the town of Subiaco to plein air paint. I have always wanted to paint a portion of this house which I have been infatuated with for years. I was also very attracted to the old style street lamp and the flowers blooming on the sill. This home looks over the Aniene River and has a beautiful mountain view. The owner of the house is very kind and came out to see what I was doing as did many of the friendly folk walking by. Being accustomed to the colder ways of the big city, I appreciate smaller towns where people take the time to  greet each other, even strangers. "Buon giorno"  is all I hea…

My weekly art update...

I have little to show for, this week. I dedicated a good amount of time to a painting that I just ended up tearing to pieces. It  feels good when you know it's not working. I get a little upset but I also move on.
I began working on a sunflower painting yesterday. I have never painted one and hope the sunny colors will bring me better results! This time I've gone back to my normal cold press paper, I'm taking a break from hot press for a while.
The lesson I learned this week: when trying new things, don't try too many new things at once or it will lead to frustration. When trying new paper, buy the smallest size available so you are not stuck with too much unwanted paper like I did.


It has been a beautiful day to be outdoors. Tomorrow it will probably rain, I wanted to do a plein air painting of the grass that has gotten high because of all the precipitation we are having. It is fun to watch the grass grow! Incidentally, the Daily Paintworks Challenge this week is to paint grass, so I will enter it there. Thank you for stopping by!              

By the river banks ...two different ways

Sometimes I'm not sure whether or not to show certain works on my blog. They are not intended as definte works but as studies through which I try to progress and improve. I started this blog with this purpose in mind.

I did two plein air studies by the river this week. The first being a value study because I wanted to try and elimanate all the colors and see if I can work on getting a nice midtone in my paintings. The second sketch, has the same vantage point, with color. I wish I hadn't included the kayaker, I need to simplify when I'm out there. I feel there are a thousand things I should include: the beautiful light, the glistening colors on the water, the dreamy all only leads to mental overload. Something to keep in mind.

Another note, I have a nice tip that was passed on from reading  Julie Ford Oliver's blog. I have word verification in my comments installed. I know how time consuming it is and I appreciate even more anyone that takes the time to …

Plein air painting

I was able to paint plein air this weekend in the countryside by the Aniene River. The very first signs of Fall are starting to show in the landscape. The best thing is, of course, all the fresh water to paint with.

Thanks for stopping by!

Geraniums and some new supplies...

In the first months of summer, the light is very strong at dawn and into the early morning hours. It's a great time for taking reference photos because of the abstract shadow patterns that objects create. In this painting I tried to push the idea and work with the shadows being formed against the building. The brightly colored petals are being warmed by the rise of the early July sun. For lack of better ideas, the title to this watercolor is... "Summer Morning Geraniums".

I started this painting as a sketch to test paper I recently purchased and in order to play with some new colors in my palette. There are many mistakes in the painting but I managed to finally achieve strong darks. Hooray!! I need to work on my leaf painting skills, they never come out looking right. Indigo blue, Winsor Green and  new Gamboge are my new colors from Winsor and Newton.  I hopefully didn't go overboard with them. I am redoing my palette and ordered another six tubes, I can hardly wait…

Citrus Garden

I found the inspiration for this painting in Greece, walking by an orange juice bar. Baskets, beautifully filled, a lemon tree planted in a little garden and grapes growing on a vine. It is both an invitation to stop and smell the sweetness of the citrus and walk in and quench your thirst with freshly squeezed juices. The person who thought of this was trying to attract our senses: it worked … the bar was packed with tourists.

The background being rather busy, I tried to eliminate as many details as possible to highlight the baskets. I also simplified my palette in the hope of tying the painting together at the cost of digressing from the photo reference.

I wish everyone a wonderful weekend, thank you for stopping by!

Work in Progress

I would like to update you on my art endeavors for this week. I am painting a still life from a photograph taken during my recent vacation to Crete. It represents an orange juice bar. I love the lemon tree, the grapevine planted behind it and the citrus leaves in the orange filled basket. It is citrus heaven! I was only able to get one shot because I needed to keep up with the group. Otherwise I would have exploited various angles and lighting situations. It is hard to conciliate keeping up with a schedule and photography.

I am slowly building up the layers but don't have much to show for. I am reading an excellent book, Making Color Sing, by Jeanne Dobie. I am trying to put into practice some of the numerous suggestions in the book about mixing color and making them work well against each other. I finally ended up working from a black and white reference photo I made because I wanted to make my own color choices. I'm worried about making everything too busy. I want the focus…

Warming up...

We are having hot weather, 100 degrees in the shade! It's normal for August in Rome but not ideal for painting watercolors. I drew two big compositions last week. I will show you once I have something more concrete evolving. For now I am afraid to start on something complex and not have it work out, I feel as I have forgotten things along the way. I will contrast this feeling by just throwing some paint on a piece of paper, play around and know I will rip up the end product. I did that, in  the sweltering heat of my balcony. The water evaporates almost immediately. I gave it another go with a painting of a plastic bottle that I saved. It's of the French water Badoit. Good water and cool bottle! I think red for a water bottle is unusual. Clear, green or blue bottles are more common. This time I'm a little happier, although I was hoping for better results. I wasn't able to get all the nuances the way I was hoping for and maybe I should have avoided copying the letters. …
Hi everyone! I feel energized, I am looking forward to painting again. We visited beautiful Crete on vacation. I took many photos, there is inspiration lurking in every corner! I did a lot of snorkeling, swimming and soaking up the sun. I ate a lot of yogurt and feta cheese (gained some weight ... oh, well) ! We visited the Palace of Minos at Knossos. We had a wonderful guide (the lady holding the yellow umbrella in my collage) who gave us a fascinating tour of the site. We also visited Chryssi Island on the Libyan Sea, a protected uninhabited island.I have never seen such incredible blues and turquoise. I thought it funny that amidst all of this ancient rich history there is even a Starbucks!

My husband and I have been doing some maintenance work around the house this past week. We repainted the kitchen and some of the living room. With weather in the 100's we feel slow. I am hopeful to at least have prepared some paper and bought extra gator board panels to be able to work on v…

Blog Vacation

I am going on vacation and will not be posting for the rest of the month. I wish everyone a happy summer and thank you for the undeserved encouragement and support you give to my artistic endeavors!

Just Peachy

I find the DPW painting challenge a good place to turn to when you feel you are lacking a direction in what to paint. This week, the focus is on composition. There are a lot of excellent points on things to keep in mind which I tried to incorporate. You can check that out by clicking here. It's a delicious time of year as fas as fruit is concerned. I'm always attracted by the colors of fruit and it is difficult to try and present it in a unique way. I worked larger than life in order to play with the washes more. And the best part is eating my still life once it is all over!

I've included the full size images of the paintings from Master artists from last weeks hand "quiz". Have a great weekend!


Put your hands up...

I have been unable to post in a while. My kids are on summer break and there is a lot of activity in my house. Finding the time to paint in the summer is always close to impossible. My posts will be sporadic until September.

 I recently bought some paper from a local art store that only carried Cartiera Magnani paper. It is made in Florence and it is called "Portofino Acquerello". They have been making paper since 1404! The odd thing is, on the internet you can't find much information about this paper and the little I found were bad reviews. I thought the  DPW Painting challenge  would be a good way to try it out and see how it handles. I have never worked with hot press before so this is also new to me. This paper soaks up the pigment immediately no chance for any mistakes! A nice thing is I can achieve very dark darks which I have had a hard time with other papers, I always thought it was the paint. You can't rub any of the paint off the paper , no getting back t…

Flying Colors

I love the color of this blue jay's feathers and its stance, so graceful ... the various blues were hard to imitate. I am working on leaving more white areas in my painting and loosening up a bit.

Thank you to Mim White for allowing me to use her photo! When I saw her photograph, I immediately imagined it as a watercolor painting.

Spring Cleaning Painting Giveaway winner!

Thank you so much for all the nice comments and participation in my Spring cleaning painting giveaway! The winner is Debbie Nolan from View from Harmony Hills blog!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Value study of an Indian Youth

This is a step-by-step demonstration done in values of gray from Painting Watercolor Portraits that Glow  by Jan Kunz. This young man looks so beautiful and proud in his ceremonial dress. I wish I could match the ideas in my head with more skill in my hand.
 I will try and do more studies like these in the future. I liked illiminating color and just focusing on the values and light.

It's not easy being green-Plein Air sketch

More often than not, you can find me in the proximity of rivers and other bodies of water, if you haven't noti
ced already. Thanks to my kayak loving husband, this is where I spend many afternoons. Coming from the city, I crave solitude and being able to get lost in a watercolor with just the sounds of birds chirping and a running brook...well, Italians call this a river. This is the Aniene River, as it flows through the medievel town of Subiaco. It is about an hour's drive from Rome and a delightful place to paint. 
I'm trying to focus more on a single subject when plein air painting and less on detail, hopefully I'll improve with practice. Being surrounded by green is somewhat overwhelming, and the fly fisherman, naturally, came after I had gotten my drawing down: if I would have known, I would have changed my composition to include him for sure!

I hope everyone is having a nice Sunday!

Spring Cleaning Painting Giveaway!

I've been spring cleaning this week and would like to donate the community a painting. I have been reaping the benefits offered by technology and by the outstanding people I have discovered through it, I should have already given back long ago  ... For those who are interested, you should indicate it in the comment section. The deadline is May 31st. I will then proceed to have a drawing, the winner will then indicate the mailing address (I offer the mailing fees). I would prefer for it to go to a loving home where it will be appreciated. I put a lot of love into my paintings and would not want that feeling to get lost! Thank you for visiting my blog!

Happy Mother's Day

The Dandelion Vase
© Jennifer L. Holte

This vase may be quite tiny,
but its importance is monumental and grand!
For the love that went into each picked 'flower,'
was carefully chosen by your child's small hand.

How important these pesky 'flowers' become'
and how great they will make your day,
when your child comes running across your lawn'
'I picked these just for you,' they'll say!

No other flower can show your child's love,
than that of the dandelion in bloom!
For sometimes in the thicket of weeds,
God's love is revealed to you!

So each time you use this vase,
remember how great the reason!
For nothing can compare to the love of a child,
when the dandelions are in season!
Source: The Dandelion Vase, Children Poem

It is a painting of my youngest daughter, Luisa, when she was six. I wanted to capture the excitment, energy and wonder chi…