The Cat Waits

 This gentleman paused, without looking at us, along the stone path we were sharing in Portugal and appeared to be waiting for a pat. When he didn’t get one he flicked his tail a couple of times to show disdain or at least feigned indifference and continued on his journey – still without once giving us the courtesy of a glance. Fortunately he gave me a great reference photo to work from though. Obrigada gato!


The Fleet, Castletown Beara, County Cork

It’s been a couple of years since our trip to Ireland. I finally did this painting of the fishing fleet to use in a brief demonstration I agreed to put on for our group. It’s mixed media but mostly watercolour.  I chose a fairly monochromatic palette to accentuate the light. The boats are at rest but there is still so much going on. Can you feel the tension between busy and quiet?

Anticipation, Porto

Anticipation, Porto – 15×22 watercolour 140lb Arches cp

I painted this from a photo I took in Porto at one of the cafés on the banks of the Douro River.  I mainly wanted to practice painting a steamy kitchen scene though the steam was not in the original photo. I’m not a portrait painter either, but I liked the expression of anticipation, and also, the chefs hurrying to prepare our meal.  The colour, activity and combination of foreground, middle, and background all spoke to me. Let me know if you think it works.

Packing Paints

We’re off to Glasgow and Edinburgh tomorrow with a detour to Loch Lomand and Isle of Sky.  I’ll have a bit of time on my own so I hope to do some sketches of the scenery in those areas.

Taking all my gear was out of the question. We travel pretty light. With two day packs and small suitcase to share, I needed to think hard about what to take for paints.

The first step was to pare down my palette to two of each primary colour.  A big shout out to everyone who suggested doing this by the way!

test patches for warm and cool

After doing test patches with a few likely candidates, I chose a warm and a cool colour for each primary, then set up a test grid mixing simple colour combinations. I was looking for greens, oranges, browns, and purples that seemed to work together and that could be used for landscape or urban sketch.

mixing secondary colours

It would have been tempting to empty my original Windsor and Newton travel palette and just put new colours in (W&N include a Chinese white and Pthalo blue which I likely won’t use on the trip), but I wanted a fresh start, so, I repurposed a weekly pill keeper that had seven containers to fill.  Some one else’s idea — I’m grateful for the tip.

in mostly the right order

Somehow during the selection process, I picked eight colours including Burnt Sienna and Indigo. It was a tough decision to leave one out.  Both give me strong blacks but were outside the scope of the six primaries. I figured the BS gave more mixing options. In the end, the seven lucky winners were:

  • Burnt Sienna
  • New Gamboge
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Red
  • Permanent Rose
  • French Ultramarine Blue
  • Cerulean Blue

The Moleskine, sharpener, eraser, pill box, scraper (piece of credit card), pencil, small sponge, and colour chart fit neatly into a 6″ x 6″ zip-lock bag along with three travel brushes that have their own water reservoir. The Becel lid edge was awkward to fit so out it went; but the right half of the clear plastic board was easily cut down and will work for mixing paint.  That left just enough room for a six inch ruler and four small sheets of 140lb paper. (Note: I rounded the edge of the plastic mixed chart so it didn’t puncture the bag.

Nice and tight! And, I may still be able to slip in a small tube of Indigo!  Let me know how minimalistic you go when travelling with your art tools.


Just finished. This was recently commissioned by a close friend as a Xmas gift for her husband.  


After living on their boat for 15 years they recently moved onto dry land. Last winter they spent six months in the Caribean. She wanted a nice memory of their trip.


The watercolour is from a picture her friend took (credit pending). (Update: Shout out to Patricia Evans for permission to paint her photo) The rigging was a challenge but I think it turned out. She loves it and that’s what matters. 


I was lucky enough to spend part of a vacay aboard one year which makes the painting a little extra special. 


Boats and I don’t usually get along. I just don’t have sea legs but catamarans are super stable and this cat is aptly named Exhale.  A one hour sail in Toronto Harbour had me thinking seriously about committing to a week in the Bahamas. It’s something to put on my bucket list.