How to paint with kids at home (Part 2)

I feel superior to people who have less than three kids. It's just what it is. Having three kids, for example, gives me a legitimate reason to not go to events I don't want to attend. On the flip side, of course, it also makes it a lot more difficult to attend events I want to. But I digress.


Today's post was prompted by my discovery of Marissa Huber and her series of interviews with artist moms. I often feel alone in my daily struggle to 'make it' - both as an artist and as a mom. I know that on the outside, I look successful in both - but it does not come easy. And it seems that there are so many successful artists who either have no family or are retired from 'real jobs,' with their kids by now independent. And that the really good moms devote their every waking hour to raising kids and keeping the house, with no time or energy left for any pursuits of their own.

So it was very exciting to read Marissa's interviews with real-life women artists who have real-life small children.

How do they do it, then? Well, here are some tips based on my own experience and some I'd like to borrow from Marissa's guests:

1. Adjust your expectations. I still occasionally get frustrated when I count on an hour of uninterrupted creating time and it doesn't happen. So, don't set yourself up with unrealistic expectations. If 5 minutes at a time is all you can get, get it!

2. Have a schedule. Kids respond well to having a structure to their day. And you will, too. Right now, for example, we have nap time for Katia (3.5) and Ella (2), around 12-2 pm. This gives me a block of time to work (or take a nap, whichever seems more pressing at the time :)

3. Learn to say 'No' to some things. No, you don't have to be the PTA president, remodel your bedroom and make art for a show all at the same time. Pick what is most important to you, based on your values and goals, and go for it.

4. Adjust your process. This may be working smaller, switching to a more kid-friendly medium, and moving your art headquarters to the kitchen island. Some stolen creating time in your living room is better than no creating time in your studio.

5. Make art with (or alongside) your kids. This one looks better 'on paper' than in real life, but I hear it is an option. Unless I'm just sketching, I need to be in a state of mind that is completely different from 'OMG, is she about to fall out of the chair?' and 'Oh no, too much mess!' So, it works better with older kids who may possibly allow you to dip your toes in your 'zone.'

6. Do the sketchbook. That sketching I mentioned above, it can be a mom-saver. Just do it.

7. Go hang out with other artists once in a while. Attend a meetup, go draw a nude or paint some plein air. You don't even have to talk. Just being in company of other creative souls will recharge your batteries. And get you out of the house!

8. Take the kid(s) with you. Yes you can!

9. Hire a babysitter, if you can, or get another family member to watch the little ones while you work. This, of course, really depends on your situation, but is so worth it!

10. Stop comparing yourself to others. This is really the same as my first point. Do what is right for you at this point in your life and hang in there.

That's all. Go forth and create now :)

More gorgeous flowers!

Here's what I've been up to. After a short break from September's 30 paintings in 30 days project, I took up another 30x30 marathon, this time with a show at a local art gallery at the finish line. I continued my theme of flowers on Yupo and refined my process to a point where I became very comfortable with it. I feel like the next step should be growing these florals larger and abstract-er. Maybe sometime soon.

Closeup of a watercolor on Yupo in progress.

It was fun playing with water and paint and fine-tuning this series. I get so dorky-excited when I watch the paint ooze and mix on the surface and create amazing organic textures. It makes me happy every single time :)

Working on this many panels in a short time created some logistical challenges. This last move left me without a studio and I get to be all kinds of creative around the dining room and living area. So, these ledge shelves from Crate & Barrel were my solution to the drying and storage issues. Well, not so much drying, since I usually keep watercolors on Yupo flat until they are dry, but these shelves do keep them all nice and away from forces of nature (like my kids).

I got six of these, three on each side of my dining room window.

And they are great at forcing me to step away and evaluate, hence the fact that some of the paintings above do not exist anymore. Or, rather, exist in a more metaphysical way, underneath something else. This should make the job of x-raying my paintings after I'm dead more interesting :)

Another curious part of this project was mounting it on a 41x41" board (the gallery's idea). I wasn't so sure about it at first but loved how it turned out. If nothing sells, I will welcome the whole panel back with joy. It is beautiful.

The show runs through Jan. 9, 2016 at Blue Line Arts Gallery (405 Vernon Street, Suite 100 Roseville, CA). Reception is on December 19, 7-9 pm.

Zinnia Color Pallete

Miss me yet? I've been taking a break from painting walls, hanging shelves, and in general being a DIY star. I have to say that a painted wall is so much more satisfying than a temporarily clean floor.

(This is sort of the color of my kitchen walls now. It's a bit less saturated and peachy, more of a cool terra cotta, which Katia insists on calling "pink")

I'm also taking the time between the challenges and shows to work on an ongoing book illustration project and...well, to hang out with my kids :)

On the wave of my renewed interest in interior design and decorating, I am happy to share with you the next image in the series of color palettes based on my paintings:

A striking floral built around reds and pinks with an exciting accent of light blue and chocolate brown! How about that?

(The original painting above can be found here, and a print of it here)

Does beauty make you happy?

I picked up another bunch of flowers yesterday. This time, I went with white tulips! As I was unwrapping them at home, I read something on the packaging about how having flowers in your home generates happy-feeling vibes. Duh! Of course it does :) I am sure there is something about surrounding yourself with beauty that makes you happy. How can it not?

Beauty is the promise of happiness. Isn't this why we buy flowers and collect art?

And so, the beautiful September and its 30-paintings-in-30-days are over. I have a few paintings to show for it, which, along with some cool, fall-worthy weather, makes me happy!

Here they all are...Colorful memories of summer. Sunlight and breeze condensed into small square jewels. See all of these original paintings here or, if you prefer a more affordable option, surround yourself with beauty with a little help of my flower prints!

Stop and smell the (yellow) roses

Things may have gone a little wild here. I had a plan. I covered the whole surface with yellow at first, and went ahead wiping out highlights and adding shadows. Which resulted in a rose-looking yellow flower. But it lacked something. So I added splatter. Wrong move. I scraped some areas. Eeek, even worse. I got frustrated and put the painting away for a while.

When I came back to it, it still looked bad. So I wiped most of the painting off and reworked it completely, with bold brushstrokes and exaggerated color. This is the beauty of a failed painting: it's already bad. You are unlikely to make it worse, and you might just make it better!

And hey, from a few feet away, it does look like a rose :)

Purple Iris, courtesy of Trader Joe's

And I'm back! All better and ready to make some more fabulous art :) The 30-in-30 challenge is about over but I'll give it an honest effort until it is. Today, I have for you a very much abstracted close-up of an iris:

I picked these lovelies up last week at a Trader Joe's, which is currently my favorite place to get flowers. Apparently, this is a "beardless" iris, as opposed to a "bearded" one. The bearded irises are the ones with nice big ruffles. These are more plain and it was actually a bit of a challenge to find an interesting angle and crop - but I am pleased with the way it turned out.

On a whim, or maybe guided by the mysterious internal artist-sense, I added some gold leaf to the focal point.

Purple and gold, after all, are perfect together!

In other news, I recently received an Honorable Mention in the Watercolor Artists of Sacramento annual show (judged by Michael Reardon). Pretty happy about that. This is the painting that brought me another ribbon:

Let's Get Things A Little Bit Messed Up

There's been a lot of monkeywrenching going on here and I have not been able to paint since Friday. Katia, my 3-year-old, broke her leg two weeks ago and is now sporting a pink cast. Ella, the 1-year-old, caught a stomach flu over the weekend, then promptly gave it to Katia. So it's been a rough few days (and nights).

30 Paintings in 30 Days is, therefore, on hold. Instead, I'm posting something I found while going through my old sketchbooks. These are some notes I took while watching a Charles Reid DVD.

And to illustrate these points, a sketch of my living room that I 'messed up" by allowing the red paint from the other page bleed onto it. And how about the not-quite-correct perspective? Lines intersecting where they shouldn't? Embrace it all :)

Orange Zinnia, third try.

I think this one passes the quality inspection :) Same flower as yesterday, but I decided to go with a completely different view and composition. I like this a lot better.

As I do when I am stuck, I created a couple of thumbnail sketches with composition ideas. They help me think.

There really isn't a good reason to not do them before every painting (other than maybe being completely spontaneous). Each takes a couple of seconds (these are about 1.25" square) but has the potential to give you the clarity you are after.

I liked the bottom right one (which was the last sketch I did) and began the painting with it in mind. And then I turned the flower around and opened it towards the viewer. Nothing wrong with changing your mind :)

8x8" watercolor on Yupo mounted on panel. Click on the image to view more details and buy.

8x8" watercolor on Yupo mounted on panel. Click on the image to view more details and buy.

Speaking of changing minds, I did another Periscope today, painting this. And you can see me changing directions many times throughout the process. I put paint down, and a couple of minutes later, I wipe it off. I believe it's part of the process and it's important to allow yourself the freedom to change your mind. Painting is a form of thinking.

The Periscope replay is available for 24 hours, so until around 1 pm PST tomorrow (I am @YevgeniaWatts on Periscope). I will also include this one, in a high definition video, in my future online class.

Orange Zinnia, this will be.

So here are try #2 (top) and try #1 (bottom), and I'm not happy with it. The central composition that worked well in the Envy Zinnia, doesn't cut it here. I'm also not so keen on the flower and the background taking up roughly the same amount of space. So I'll give it another go later today or tomorrow, with a different composition. It's a good thing you can wipe Yupo (almost) clean.

Orange Zinnia watercolor on Yupo.

Painting on Yupo in progress.

I do feel that there is something in the combination of the dark blue, intense orange, and white/neutral areas. I like it. So the plan is: same color scheme, different composition. Verdict tomorrow :)

Envy Zinnia Watercolor on Yupo

First of all, I had no idea until today what this flower is called. Now I know! This flower that I took from my mom's garden, has a beautiful, indescribable green color. I'm sure there's a name for that, too. I thought it would look good against a dark, deep indigo and blues.

I liked painting this so much that I wanted to jump straight into another painting, when I discovered I don't have any more prepared panels! So that's my project for tonight.

Painting 10! And a bit about Turner

If you are following the 30 Paintings in 30 Days madness going on all over the artist world, you know we are right in the middle of the project (it's day 15). I decided at the very start that I would take the weekends and Labor day off, so I'm on painting 10. Which is still pretty cool! I'm enjoying all these florals, especially the ones on Yupo. The difficult ones, the ones that challenge me to change direction and take chances. The risky ones that bring me the most return.

6x6" Watercolor on Yupo mounted on board. Click on the image to view more details and buy.

6x6" Watercolor on Yupo mounted on board. Click on the image to view more details and buy.

In other news, my birthday is tomorrow (September 16). I am turning the very old and wise age of 34 :D . So, last weekend, in honor of this, and because I've been wanting to since spring, husband took me to San Francisco to see the J.M.W. Turner show at the De Young. It was good. Luminous and atmospheric. And sketching and sticking your nose too close to the painting was forbidden, and photographing was not.


It happens with a curious regularity: I make a bad painting, I wash it off, I make another painting on top. And that, the second, or even third, painting is good. This is one of those. I think it's curious because it proves the point that failure is just a part of the creative process. An integral part, at that. Would I have arrived at this image if there were not another, failed one, underneath it?

Zinnia. 6x6" Watercolor on Yupo mounted on board. Click on the image to view more details and buy.

Zinnia. 6x6" Watercolor on Yupo mounted on board. Click on the image to view more details and buy.

That's all for now. Maybe I will have time to pontificate more on this topic tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'd love to know what you think. How do you process your creative failures? How do they affect your outcome?

Until then,


Going Solar

Surely, not another sunflower! Oh yes, and this time, it's two (four, actually, but you have to look for the other two). This one is painting 8 in my 30x30 challenge.

11x6" Watercolor and Ink on Aquabord. Click on the image to buy.

11x6" Watercolor and Ink on Aquabord. Click on the image to buy.

If you're wondering, watercolor went on first, ink later. I used a dip pen and FW acrylic ink:

 I didn't exactly plan it this way, but I felt like my watercolor painting needed a little pizzaz and the red ink fit the bill (here's another painting with red ink lines, where ink went on first)

A couple of closeup details that show the layers of watercolor washes and variation in ink lines:

Tip: if you want to make your ink lines more lively, ditch the felt tip pens and try a dip or bamboo pen. A lot of people are afraid of dip pens because they might drip and leave a blob of ink where you don't want it. It happens, but as with anything, practice makes perfect.

I'm off for the next two days. Maybe I'll ponder changing the color scheme and subject matter a bit. Have a fabulous weekend!

A Splash of Sun! And a painting video

Have you heard of Periscope? If not, here's a summary: it is an odd combination of YouTube and Twitter and who knows what, but it's new and it's picking up speed like crazy. What you do on Periscope is broadcast video live and watch other people's broadcasts.

So this painting I'm posting today was painted during my first Periscope broadcast, a recording of which you can now see on YouTube:

I intend to do more broadcasts like these once in a while, so if you'd like to catch it live next time, follow me on Periscope (@YevgeniaWatts). One neat thing about watching a live periscope is that you can ask questions, and I can, hopefully, see them and answer them in real time.

This is the result:

Available here.

Fire Made With Water

It is curious how very wet these paintings are when I work on them and how, despite that, they evoke a feeling of moving fire. It must be the organic, free-flowing nature of the opposite elements that unites them. I think it's fascinating.

This is the new painting I have for you for today. It is another 6x6" Yupo mounted on panel. Here's a picture with my hands for scale:

It is available here.

My 3.5 year old daughter was around when I was painting these and she likes to paint, too. She also happened to watch an educational cartoon about Degas and pointillism that morning, so she wanted to do a pointillism flower painting. Here it goes:

Love it. She is currently my artist mentor :)

There will be another Yupo sunflower tomorrow...sorry, can't help myself! :) Yupo and sunflowers go exceptionally well together (here's a larger and older Yupo sunflower painting, available as print). I will also have a link to a Periscope video recording of me painting tomorrow's painting, don't miss it!

Note: I will be publishing a new blog post every weekday for the month of September. If you receive my posts via email and do not want to get them every day, update your subscription preferences to a once-a-week digest (link on the bottom).

And now, to Yupo! And Sunflowers!

You know it was only a matter of time before I go back to sunflowers. They must be my most paintable flowers. They inspire me every time.

And, like I promised at the beginning of this challenge, I am painting on Yupo. I like having it mounted on a panel, so that's what I'm doing. For an excellent tutorial on how to mount any paper on board using double-tack film, go here.

After these are varnished, they don't need a mat, a piece of glass, or even a frame. Here's what this painting looks like just sitting pretty on an easel:

Or even propped up on a book shelf:

See more of my available flower paintings here. Not ready to buy an original? Check out the prints here.

I am also recording the process of most of these flower paintings, with the idea of releasing it later as the material for an online course. If you are interested in my future course offerings, please make sure you are signed up for my updates (below).

Summer. Part 4 of 4

Note: I will be publishing a new blog post every weekday for the month of September. If you receive my posts via email and do not want to get them every day, update your subscription preferences to a once-a-week digest (link on the bottom).

This painting is small but it packs a lot of punch. I fully intend to offer it as a print very soon. Look at this mockup of it on the wall:

What do you think?

The original painting almost fits in the palm of my hand:

And it concludes the "Summer," a four panel mini-series that I think looks pretty good together:

You can view the individual paintings here.

The weekend starts tomorrow and I decided to take a break from businessing and enjoy my family. I will still paint, most likely, but you won't see a new post until Monday. I was reminded today of one of my priorities in life - and that is to have as little stress as possible. Which, ideally, directly translates into work-life balance.

Have a great Labor Day weekend! See you on Monday with some yummy Yupo sunflowers ;)

Summer Morning (Day 3)

I've been spending a considerable amount of time thinking of and feeling out color combinations that I'd like to use. Which is only natural, as I am leaning more and more towards abstraction. I remember leafing through a book on Van Gogh and having a revelation along the lines of "Oh, so he could draw pretty well in his earlier works. " Same thing with Picasso, except I don't think he was that good. But at some point, they made the choice to let go of accuracy in drawing in favor of expression and abstraction.

Now, before you start lamenting the death of traditional art and getting angry at me because you actually like the representational art, hold on. Do not worry. I intend to draw things as they are, albeit with a bit of my own flair, till the day I die. I just like abstracts, too :)

This painting today is number three in a mini-series I worked on this week. There is a total of four miniature 4x4" paintings, I will post the last one tomorrow. Click on either image to go to the listing and find out more about it (and buy! :) )

P.S. If you get my blog by email and you don't want to see me in your inbox every single day for the duration of the September 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge, you can easily update your subscription preferences to only send you a once-a-week digest (look for an "update profile" link on the bottom).

Summer Midday (30 paintings in 30 days)

Tada! Painting number two is here. And it goes so well with painting number one (and just between you and me, also with painting number three and four ;) )

I decided to make things a bit more fun and add a frame (you can see a couple more framing ideas in the listing for this painting). Here it is sans frame:

This one is also a 4x4" watercolor on Aquabord. And believe it or not, I used flowers (roses, to be specific) as a starting point for both of these first two paintings. What do you see?

My choice of frame here was guided partly by a curious discussion on I've been participating in. We got a little bit into watercolor vs oils debate after someone said that they prefer watercolor paintings for their bright and vivid color. Which is, apparently, not a common sentiment. So that watercolor painting in an oil-ish frame up there is my response to the watercolor nay-sayers. Bright and colorful it is.

Do you have a space in your house that needs some brightening- and coloring-up? Go here to buy this painting.

Day 1 - Summer Evening

Whew. I feel like I just had an intense workout. What did I do? I wrote a product description for this piece. It's not long, it's not fancy, but it takes so much of my mental energy to do this stuff! I don't know why it is so hard to detach myself from my work and not freeze up when it comes to painting titles and sales copy. Do you get like this?

It's like someone putting you in front of the class and saying, "Okay sweetie, now tell us why we should like you."

Anyway, here's the first painting of the 30-in-30 challenge! It's an abstracted flower (I'll let you see what you want to see) and it's watercolor on Aquabord.

I haven't used Aquabord in a while. I wanted to ease in to the daily painting and chose the smallest panels I had, which happened to be these 4x4" Aquabords.

They are tiny but, unlike a piece of paper (even Yupo) they feel solid. I think they are highly gift-able and show-off-able. And for those collectors complaining that they have no space on their walls left, this 1) doesn't have to go on a wall - it can be a feature element on a shelf or table and 2) surely, you can find a spot for a 4x4" panel?

For these in-home shots, I actually set it up on my nightstand, with enough room for books and a vase.

Do you think you have a perfect spot in your home for this little jewel? Buy here!