When Chocolate Is Not Enough

Posted in Acrylics, art, How to Paint, inspiration, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2017 by sebland

imageDo you like chocolate? So do I, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate with nuts, chocolate with coconut, coffee mocha, chocolate ice cream, you name it, chocolate is my favorite vegetable! However, if I could never have another lemon crisp cookie, or strawberry shortcake, or a pineapple upside down cake, I would not be happy.  When I took an art marketing course I was told: “Your work is  all over the place. Find one medium and one subject and stick with it! Paint a cohesive body of work and stick with it.” Well, I’m sorry, but that does not work for me! I want to do seascapes, landscapes, still life, portraits and when I grow up, people! I want to play with oils, watercolors, pastels, acrylics, chalk and pen and ink. Being creative means to try all of it. For me it means trying to learn something new all the time. I enjoy getting comfortable with one subject and one medium. Then I want to move on.  If you like honing your skills with oils, go for it. If you find more excitement in exploration, go for that! In our classroom we  may study color theory for a while, then move on to drawing, or composition, or watercolor. The wondrous thing about what we do is, we learn! We explore, we make messes, and we learn. I hope you do that too!


An Altar to the Ancients

Posted in Acrylics, art, How to Paint, inspiration, Painting, Southwest with tags , , , on September 21, 2017 by sebland


You just never know where a painting is going to take you! A few years ago, a group of artists were invited to turn little wooden boxes into altars  for a show benefiting a good cause. I had previously painted the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi of Frijoles Canyon, so decided to replicate that scene for my altar. The tiny ladder was made of twigs from my yard and I had woven the tiny basket just for fun a few years before. As I was laying out this little diorama, a friend found a hummingbird nest and egg in his yard and brought it to me. I still think it’s one of the finest pieces of work I ever did. Maybe I had more than a little help!

My Brother’s Keeper

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , on September 20, 2017 by sebland

imageWhen I started painting portraits a few weeks ago, I found images that seemed to tell a story. This photo, entitled “Homeless,” spoke to me. I can’t tell you why. I’ve always had a home, food, clothes and some degree of security. Maybe it’s my Southern Methodist upbringing, but I felt early on that if my neighbor was hungry, I was supposed to share my meal with him.  For a while I didn’t see a lot of that in my homeland. “If he’s hungry, let him get a job!””I worked hard for my money, why shouldn’t he?” Never mind the fact that many of our mentally ill are untreated, families torn apart by violence, old, sick and unable to care for themselves, many of us have turned a blind eye to these people. That has changed a little, I think, since the devastating storms  have rolled across our nation. More and more on the social media, I see offers to help one another, folks with a whole lot willing to give quite a chunk to see others taken care of. And I think that’s a mighty fine thing!

Feeling the Challenge

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , on September 19, 2017 by sebland

imageWhen challenged to post a painting every day, most of us would feel a wee bit intimidated. If you’ve been painting quite a while, you have a stash of work to fall back on. But when challenged to paint a new piece every day, then you begin to feel the challenge! Doing something in the studio every day requires showing up! It means you have to find a subject, make the time amid the meals, the laundry, the regular classes and chores that each day brings! There are benefits. You learn to budget your time. Maybe the dishes or the laundry can wait a little while.  You work a little faster, settle  for quick studies and learn a lot about the media you have chosen. For instance, pastels are very very messy and you learn to live with colorful fingernails. You learn your cat is very fast when she throws herself down on a pool of pastel dust, and she does not clean easily or willingly. You learn a watercolor floral can feel downright relaxing after trying to get eyeballs even in a pastel portrait.  Best of all, though, is you learn! And that is enough.

A Walk in the Woods

Posted in Acrylics, art, inspiration, Painting with tags , , , , on September 18, 2017 by sebland

imageAs much as I look forward to a cool autumn, it just hasn’t made an appearance. In fact, our deck is not at all appealing, with the temperature reaching ninety three degrees this afternoon. The joy of being an artist is that I can go to the beach, create a snow scene, or remember with fondness a special morning near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Driving down the mountain, I was caught up in the moment by the light shining through the brush beneath the trees. We stopped and took some photos, and I just couldn’t wait to capture this setting. It’s still one of my favorite memories. I hope you enjoy this one also. I like to remind my students  to hang onto those memories. They’ll come back to bless you when you need them the most!

Moody Musings

Posted in Acrylics, art, How to Paint, inspiration, Painting with tags , , , , on September 16, 2017 by sebland

imageIf you are a creative person you are going to experience moody days. Somebody cut you down, hurt your feelings, said something unfair, maybe unknowingly, and there you are, down in the dumps. I don’t know about you, but for me, it definitely affects my creativity. Like a child, I sulk, I withdraw, and suddenly self confidence disappears. To make art requires a certain amount of optimism: maybe this time I’ll make something good, or true, or beautiful. Over and over I tell myself and my students, when you are down, the only way to go is up. If your paintings are muddy, try drawing, or cutting and pasting, or even pouring the paint to see what happens when the colors run together. This little piece began on such a day. I was hurt by a comment a friend made. I wasn’t going to paint at all, but decided to pour some paints on the paper when slowly some figures emerged. Fascinated, I got out my gold acrylics and embellished them. I saw pilgrims walking along, the mother evidently pregnant. I called it “EXODUS” and proudly framed it. The moral to this little story is, just show up. Paint a while and if nothing happens paint some more. If you want to make art, you’ll just keep painting until you do. I promise!

Homeless is Not Hopeless

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , , on September 13, 2017 by sebland

imageMost of us have led fairly sheltered lives, and for that I am grateful. For some however life is much more challenging. Lost jobs, mental illness, domestic abuse, things happen. When I was painting this woman I saw the broken and grimy fingernails, the look of determination and the strong arms that will move mountains for her loved ones. I knew such a woman, and while her story is not mine to tell, I will share my deep admiration for a mother who hid her children away from danger and lived homeless for quite a while to keep them safe. Yes, she was homeless, but she never gave up and she never gave in. Her strength will not be forgotten. This  piece is  available through my gallery at http://www.dailyworks.com.

The Storyteller

Posted in art, How to Paint, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , , , , on September 12, 2017 by sebland

imageMost of us carry memories of someone special, perhaps an aunt, a neighbor or just some distant relative. They seemed ancient to us as children. At gatherings they loved to tell the stories of our people. They knew things, stories our parents had never heard or wanted to forget. Sometimes they buttoned their clothes in random order, or they may have lacked a bit of grooming, but as children we seemed to gravitate to them. My Aunt Ila was one of those. She wasn’t much for housecleaning, but the smell of fresh bread permeated my senses when I hit her back door. In all the time I knew her I never heard the word: “No.” Her life was hard but she and her husband took in my widowed Granny and five children, and helped them through the Depression with grace and love. This painting is in honor of Auntie, the Storyteller. I hope you have a memory of someone like that too!

The Eyes of a Child

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , , , , , on September 11, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegI have had children in my classroom from four to ninety four, and it’s the young ones I enjoy the most. They are not judgmental or hypercritical. They paint and draw, color, cut and paste, and just enjoy the journey. Nobody tells them that shade of green isn’t true to the color of the cat they just painted. In their eyes it’s a happy color and that’s what matters. I wish more of us would do that. Why not paint a tree with purple leaves, or a pink cow munching on blue grass? One of my adult students, painting plein aire on a beautiful spring day, decided to do her entire piece in oranges and purples. It was lovely! So the word today is look at the world through the eyes of a child. Being creative means to free up those rules that restrict us. Color that sky yellow and see what a day brightener that can be. Don’t forget to have fun along the way. Life is full of dark colors. Lighten it up a bit! By the way, this painting is available at http://www.dailypaintworks.com. Under artists, type S. E. Bland and you should be able to visit my gallery!Thank you for following me.

Still Waiting

Posted in Acrylics, art, How to Paint, inspiration, Painting with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2017 by sebland

BROKEN WING - WAITING STILL LOW RESSometimes if we’re lucky, good things happen. A couple of years ago I fell and broke my arm. In desperation I did a series with my left hand, called “Broken  Wing Series.” I’m pretty sure I posted this back then, and I apologize for bringing it up again. The reason I do is because like you, I need reminding that where we are today is not necessarily where we’ll be tomorrow. We may be discouraged or down in the dumps, but the morrow may yield better results.  Be  kind to that artist within.  Cut yourself some slack. Take a break.  Show up tomorrow with a fresh attitude. You may surprise yourself with some really good work and won’t that be fine!

Waiting For a Brighter Day

Posted in Acrylics, art, inspiration, Painting with tags , , , , , , on September 8, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegFor an artist, a bad mood can morph into a fair painting. I have been in a snit for a couple of days. Things have not gone my way and like a moody kid, I’ve wanted to crawl in the bed and pull the covers over my head. For a little while I’ve enjoyed my own pity party and wondered why nobody brought me presents. After a while it occurred to me things could have been much worse. In fact the things bothering me were largely in my head. I let problems grow much larger than they should have, and fertilized that garden of doubt with organic thoughts. Then I remembered a couple of years ago when I broke my arm in two places. Determined to paint anyway, I did a series called “The Broken Wing Series,” and I think some pretty neat work evolved. Maybe like me you have a tendency to make mountains out of molehills. If you tend to get down in the dumps and stay there, I recommend you find a quiet spot and start counting your blessings. Life’s not always a bed of roses, but there’s generally a bright spot to be found, if you look for it. And almost always a friend who cares. For that I am most grateful.

Grins and Groans

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , on September 7, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegDisclaimer: This is not a self portrait. “Granny” is an image I found and painting her toothless grin made me smile. I need to smile. In the life of an artist there are days, sometimes several in a row, when we wonder why are we doing this? We could be sitting under a palm tree somewhere sipping a mint julep. Instead we are huddled over an easel muttering insanely and accomplishing nothing! This has been one of those days. Despite my promise to publish a new painting every day, today’s work will never be proudly displayed. In fact it might be fuel for my chiminea and that mint julep sounds better all the time.
After running errands all morning I really looked forward to a little studio time. I put some Patsy Cline on the boom box, poured a nice iced coffee and set to work. Two hours later I have a painting of a blue eyed monster. One eye is bigger than it should be, her sweet smile has turned into a snarl and I’m pretty sure the demons of doubt are dancing gleefully. What’s an artist to do? I’ll share what I plan to do. I am burying today’s work face down, grabbing a good book and walking away. Tomorrow is another day. I’ll try again. And if it isn’t right, I’ll lay it aside and come back another day. There’s no use beating up on myself. I gave it a try. I just have to accept that there are days like this. The milk will spill, the cake will fall, the cat will throw up on the carpet. Get over it, I tell myself. Stomp off in a snit and come back tomorrow. See you then, maybe!

Never Too Late to Learn

Posted in art, How to Paint, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , , on September 6, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegA few years ago our local art guild started an art program in a local nursing home. For five years volunteers gathered in the facility’s dining room to mix paint, hold brushes and share love and laughter with folks who didn’t have a lot of color in their lives. Some of them couldn’t remember what they had for lunch but they surprised themselves with artwork that awed and thrilled their families. We had an annual art show for them and framed their best work. Some of these folks were in their 90’s!
I thought of that recently when a grandchild suggested we take a pastel workshop. I was not interested in pastels. I’ve worked in oils, acrylics and watercolor and felt sure I’d be wasting my time. A chance to spend time alone with someone I loved was irrestibible, however, so I found myself signing up and making supply lists. For twenty years I’ve told myself I couldn’t paint portraits, and I certainly was not comfortable with a new medium!
I’d also told my students for twenty years that they should be open to new experiences. So I backed into it with a bit of trepidation.
What I learned was, it’s never too late for an artist to grow, to explore and to learn new things. Opening ones self to new skills, new tools and techniques is a grand adventure. I highly recommend it. If you are five or ninety five, the world is full of a wonder of things. Go out and try some of them. You may surprise yourself!

Looking Back

Posted in art, inspiration, Painting, Pastels with tags , , , on September 5, 2017 by sebland

Some of my best evenings are spent sitting on my deck with my husband of sixty one years, playing “Remember when?” Because we grew up in the same town we share some common friends. He is older than I which I gleefully remind him, and we didn’t go to school together. Still, we have history. We remember the good teachers, the people who meant something to us, and we play at remembering Main Street, our old grade schools and common experiences. Looking back with fondness fills a void created when the former generation passes away. It softens the edges of grief and pain, and the happy memories cancel out the not so good ones. However, it seems to me that older people need to remember that there is tomorrow. The past is gone and tomorrow isn’t here yet, so maybe what is important is right now! That hummingbird at my feeder, the hibiscus which finally bloomed, the sunset after a shower, these are memories in the making! It’s good to pull open that drawer full of memories, and it’s good to look forward to the future, but let’s remember that we are here, now, and if we look for it, good is here too. Take the time to visit a friend, smell the flower blooming right outside your door, or hug somebody near you. Today belongs to you. Enjoy it!

Growing Old – Gracefully?

Posted in art, Painting, Pastels, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 4, 2017 by sebland

imageI’ve been told there are people who drift gracefully into old age. I won’t be one of those. It aggravates me deeply when I rise planning to do a dozen things and after half an hour my body says “How’s that working out for you?” The back aches, the knees grow weak, and I spend half the day resting up for the other half. I’m learning to paint portraits, something that has always intimidated me. I find as I look for images, I don’t seek out the youthful, pretty face. Although I admire healthy glowing skin and love the innocent face of my great grand baby, I want to paint the stories I see in every wrinkle, every lined face I paint. Why is that? I live in a neighborhood of mainly senior citizens. Most of us are retired and we adore the children who’ve moved into our church community, but it’s the friends who have been there, done that, that I hang out with. For one thing, we share experiences. Most of us have lost family, some have lost mates. A few unfortunates have buried a second spouse. Nevertheless, they go on. We laugh together, cry together, lift one another up when we fall, and we do fall. We have learned what is worth fighting for and what is not, we aren’t ashamed to call on one another when necessary, and we have learned to appreciate every sunrise, every loved one, and even every breath. Life is so precious. Go out and tell someone how much they mean to you. You’ll be glad you did.

Little Grains of Sand

Posted in Acrylics, art, Painting with tags , , , , , on September 3, 2017 by sebland

imageI believe at some point all of us have asked the question: “What difference does it make?” Maybe someone disagreed with that great idea you had. Or the opinion you just expressed was shouted down. There’s a lot of that going around. A writer may have just gotten the rejection slip on the novel that took months to write. Your dearest friend didn’t like the color of the sky on the painting you just finished. Like a deflated balloon, poof! You’ve been shot down. I believe that only those who never try will not share that experience. If you want to smell the sweet smell of success, you must surely inhale your share of failures. Just as little grains of sand wash out to sea, so also are they carried back in with the tide. And they make a difference. Maybe they become an island or a sandbar, or a castle for a happy child to build. Those little grains of sand have no idea which crab might build a house among them, but they have a reason for being. So do you. Whether you are growing okra or zucchini to share with your neighbors or teaching Sunday School, buying groceries for a neighbor or making a beautiful piece of art, your time and talents make the world a brighter place. Try to remember that. You are here for a reason. In some way, every day, you do make a difference . Enjoy that thought!

The Voices We Hear

Posted in Acrylics, art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 2, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegI am very sad to confess that despite painting for twenty years, I still worship at the feet of the God of Not Good Enough. Over and over I advise my students to trust their instincts, to listen to the positive thoughts encouraging them and to ignore others who throw out discouraging words. That is good advice and I wish I’d committed it to memory. I ran across this painting recently and I thought, “Wow!” “What happened to this one?” Then I remembered. I was in a dark place and someone made a remark that enforced my doubts. I reacted quickly and painted over this. Granted the painting that replaced it was a very nice one, and I’m proud of it. I may have never thought of this one if I hadn’t browsed through old photographs. For some reason when it popped up I regretted my decision to lose it. It might have been a really neat piece. Instead it fell victim to the NGE monster. I let my lack of self confidence make my decision for me. I hope that doesn’t happen to you. Whatever you are painting, singing, writing, thinking, it’s yours! It has value! Give yourself permission to appreciate your own work! It has value because it is yours! Don’t let someone else set your value. You are you and there is nobody else like you. That the plan. Own it.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Posted in Acrylics, art, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 1, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegHurricane Harvey has moved on and is now dealing misery to those folks over east of us. We on the dry side are wiping our brows, happy to have dodged the bullet. Many of our friends and loved ones are not so fortunate. Recovery will be a long time coming. We read stories of terrible losses, rescues, neighbor helping neighbor, and amazing deeds of courage. The stories coming out of the storm zone tell of unselfish acts of people of all races, colors, sexual orientations  and    faiths laying  aside their differences to help one another. .What is so amazing to me is that so many  of those who have lost so much are able to express their gratitude. They are grateful despite loss of homes, cars, treasures they have worked hard for. Still they find reasons to be grateful. Maybe we need to do the same. Grateful that another day will dawn. Grateful for loved ones still near us. Grateful for the clean fresh air we breathe. Just grateful!

A Place Apart

Posted in art, Painting, Watercolors with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegI believe we all at some time need to stop. Just quit working, quit thinking, quit trying and just stop. We’ve given it the best we have, we’ve worried and done everything we know how to fix the situation and we realize finally that there is nothing more we can do. That’s when we need to give it up and find that quiet place, that place apart, where we can be still and let the world revolve around us. It is in those still moments, those times of introspection and listening that we find our peace. The cacophony of our world, the anger and despair, the pushing and the shoving, that’s not what it’s all about! What really matters is how we care for one another, how we listen and respond to the needs of those around us. As I’ve seen the flood waters rise, I have seen human kindness rise higher. I know that we are tired, even those of us who are dry and safe. Because we’ve seen loved ones in danger, old friends lose everything, neighborhoods and memories wiped out, we grieve for them, and we’d like to go back a week and wipe out all that’s happened. We cannot. We can only go on, one day at a time. And we go on together. We see that color, race and religion no longer matter. Our concern for one another makes us stronger and we realize we are not alone. That’s the message. We can’t erase what has happened, but together we will face tomorrow. And the sun will rise. And so will we.


Posted in Acrylics, art, Painting with tags , , , , , , , on August 30, 2017 by sebland

imageThe storm has moved on, the sun is shining, and for most of us life will go back to normal. For all those unfortunate people affected by Hurricane Harvey, it will be a long tough struggle. For days we’ve been glued to the television screen, hoping and praying for loved ones and being amazed at the force of nature. Who would believe more than four feet of rain over a few days time? We’ve wept along with friends whose homes are so badly damaged they may never return. We’ve seen favorite vacation spots blown away and we’ve wondered would it ever end. What has been noted over and over, though, is the kindness, the sharing, the rescues and offers of food and shelter for people of all races and religions.

My son was in danger for a while, and we’ve been relieved to hear they are o.k., but I can’t help thinking of all those who are not all right. I’m seeing a wonderful outpouring of generosity from all over the country, and somehow I know our people will survive. They’ll do whatever it takes to help one another dry out, pick up and start again. Because that’s what we do. God bless us, every one!

Peace Be Still

Posted in Acrylics, art, Painting with tags , , , , on August 29, 2017 by sebland

Water is so refreshing. Standing on the shore smelling the salty air, feeling the spray hit your face, ah! There’s nothing like it! But muddy boiling flood waters in your home? Not so nice! I’ve been heart broken for friends and family in Houston this week, fighting desperately to protect home and pets from the rage that is Hurricane Harvey. I’m helpless to do anything from 200 miles away and the news reports are sickening. I lived in Houston for forty years, and I have many friends and family there. For that reason I want to do something to help. I’m putting “Peace Be Still” up for raffle. Every penny I raise goes to the Salvation Army. On October 1, I’ll draw a name and the lucky winner walks away with one of my favorite paintings. Tickets are $10, and there’s no limit to the number of tickets you can buy. Please join me in helping our neighbors in Houston!

When the Storms of Life are Raging, Stand by Me

Posted in art, Painting with tags , , , on August 28, 2017 by sebland


Hurricane Harvey has been hanging over Texas for three days and the devastation is unbelievable! We here in the Hill Country have had a lot of rain, but folks east of here are in real distress. We’ve been glued to the television and praying continually for those who’ve lost everything in this disaster. Nature can be merciless. To all our loved ones and friends , our prayers and love surround you. Be safe!

Mama’s Flowers

Posted in art, Painting, Watercolors with tags , , , , on August 27, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegMy mama loved flowers. Her irises, gladioli, zinnias, lilac, hollyhocks and dahlias were a source of joy and graced the altar at our little church many Sundays during my childhood. She was also a meticulous housekeeper. I’m afraid I inherited none of those genes! My friends won’t even let me near their silk flowers because I’ve caused even them to wilt. That’s why I’m grateful to be able to recreate these memories in watercolor. I’ve begun showing them on dailypaintworks.com. They are up for auction this week and next. Hope you enjoy them!

Another Day Another Flower

Posted in Painting on August 26, 2017 by sebland

The most exciting words an artist can hear are: “Is this for sale?” Appreciation is wonderful and we are delighted when someone admires our work, but the real shot of adrenaline comes when someone says “I want it!” There are long dry spells when the creative juices begin to sour and we wonder why we do this (as if we have any control over these muses!) We show up and we work through debilitating moments of doubt. We fight off the “never good enough” demons and we use our paintbrushes like weapons to overcome that lack of confidence. And then one day a miracle happens. Someone wants our work! I don’t believe an artist ever wants to sit down and create just to sell. We paint or draw or photograph primarily because we must. Good days or bad we feel the need to try new things, to explore and say “what if?” We never know if our work will languish in the attic and be sold in an estate sale when we’re gone, but we keep on showing up. And then that amazing moment comes! Someone, not a friend or relative helping out, but that amazing someone we never met, likes our work! And it feels so good! I tell my students to paint what makes them happy because they may be looking at it for a long time. Still, it’s really neat to tell my friend at the post office that I’ve sold another painting.

A Piece of Sunshine

Posted in art, Painting, Watercolors with tags , , on August 25, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegif one is lucky occasionally a painting will be sheer joy. When I accepted the “Painting a Day” challenge, I knew inspiration could be a problem. Not so on this day. Sunflowers seemed to beckon to me and this one was fun from beginning to end! Not only did it it seem to paint itself, it sold almost immediately after I finished it. Thanks to a lovely patron it is going to live in London! I’m happy to plant a sunflower on English soil.

Beside the Still Waters

Posted in art, Painting, Watercolors with tags , , , on August 24, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegAs I painted this one, I kept thinking of Psalm 23, where the phrase “He leadeth me beside the still waters” kept running through my mind. When we grow fearful, when the world spins out of control and the chaos threatens to overwhelm us, it is so comforting to know that there are still waters we can rest beside, if only in our hearts. I hope you find your still waters today.


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Watercolors with tags , , , on August 22, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegSometimes you just have to trust your intuition. I’ve been wanting to paint a rose up close and personal. When I began, I was afraid it wouldn’t work out. I had a beautiful blob but it did not resemble a rose! I tell my students to trust themselves and don’t give up, so decided to follow my own advice. After a while the petals began to reveal themselves little by little. I’m glad I stuck it out. A rose is a rose, after all!


Posted in Painting, Watercolors with tags , , , , on August 21, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegI have discovered that it is possible to paint every day! It isn’t easy, with classes scheduled, meals to prepare, a husband who needs a little nurturing, a very demanding old lady cat, and a few civic duties. It is doable, however, and the rewards are amazing. Not only did I become better acquainted with new techniques and media, I learned I am still capable of learning! After twenty years of painting I find I can’t wait to see what each new day will bring! I’m very grateful to those collectors who bought my work, and look forward to new growth in the future. My advice to my students: just show up. Something will happen. Learning will take place and you may surprise yourself!

Posted in Painting on August 20, 2017 by sebland

image.jpegIt’s Sunday morning in South Texas and already promising to be hot and dry. I dream of far away, cool lakes and mountain air. It’s not so easy to get there any more, but in my studio I can go anywhere. This piece, going  up tomorrow  for auction on dailypaintworks.com, cools and calms like a tall glass of iced tea. Enjoy!

New Beginnings

Posted in art, Painting, Watercolors with tags , , , , on August 19, 2017 by sebland

imageJuly in South Texas is, to say the least, hot as forty hells. It takes about five minutes outside to convince me there are better places to be – like a cool air conditioned studio. Looking for inspiration I accepted a 31 day watercolor challenge. Now watercolor is not my area of expertise. In fact for a long time I refused to teach it. Remaining in my comfort zone seemed the wisest course of action. Boredom pulled me out of that zone, and for the entire month I did a watercolor every day. Guess what? I grew to like the entire process, from sketching my subject to selecting the colors, seeing how easily they blended, posting them on social media, and selling a good number of paintings for the first time in months! It appears I should have followed my own advice and just shown up! More later about how much I am beginning to appreciate my own advice and why.


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 13, 2014 by sebland

LOBSTER BOAT As we drove through the park on our last day, I wondered what I would take away from this wonderful adventure. I believe first of all, the cliffs and trees:

ROCKY CLIFF COASTLINE CLIFFS AND TREES the beautiful colors of the water as the sun shone on it,

COASTLINE IV COASTLINE II the rose colored granite rocks and the amazing mansions hidden in the coves,


CADILLAC VIEWthe view from Cadillac Mountain, the neat little eateries hidden away in the tiny coastal towns:

BREAKFAST BREAKFAST III BREAKFAST II the eagles and the seals on the tiny islands offshore,

SEALS EAGLE II the lighthouses, still functioning.

LIGHTHOUSE and best of all the beautiful sunset on our last day.

SUNSET II SUNSET I As we packed up and headed home, I was so glad we took this opportunity to see a part of America we hadn’t seen. Now I have 689 images to inspire me. I hope I can paint a few of them and do justice by them. So long, Downeast Maine!

Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island

Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting with tags , , , , , , , on September 9, 2014 by sebland

ME VII You’d think as time goes by, the memories would begin to fade, but coming home just seems to help me look back with fondness to the beautiful places we saw. Bar Harbor is about 90 miles south of Lubec, and we drove down to spend our last four days exploring Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island.

Bar Harbor is very busy. In fact, other than eating there and buying a few groceries, I chose to avoid it as much as possible. One exception was an excellent brunch at Two Cats Restaurant. BAR HARBOR I BAR HARBOR II With a beautiful garden as the front lawn, they served one of the most generous and delicious breakfasts I found. In fact, it was at least twenty four hours before either of us could think of food. Mostly organic food, the presentation was beautiful, and it’s easy to see why the place was packed every time we drove by. Jordan’s, a well established restaurant up the street, is famous for its blueberry pancakes and muffins. We managed to weave our way through the masses (literally) of bicycles, cars, delivery trucks and zany pedestrians several times, just to sample the food there. Our waitress, a young woman from Kiev, held us spellbound with her description of life year round on the coast of Maine. But I suppose coming from the Ukraine, a Maine winter was a breeze to her. For a flat-lander from Oklahoma now living in South Texas, thoughts of cross country skiing and wearing snowshoes to go out for a walk really sparked my imagination!

Even though we much preferred the natural beauty of Acadia National Park, we did enjoy the harbor and the old inns and hotels clustered around the bay.

BAR HARBOR III This sailboat offered a view that I enjoyed, and I would have liked to take a short cruise, maybe all the way down to Boston, if they’d offered it. A half hour ride around the bay just wasn’t that appealing.BAR HARBOR IV

Most days, we preferred driving all over the island, pulling out at every vantage point and taking photos of the cliffs, the rocks, and the beautiful blue water. One of my favorite spots was Thunder Hole.
THUNDER HOLE During high tides the water rushes into this spot, and it roars and sounds like thunder. It merely gurgled when we were there, but I still found it beautiful. I also discovered I didn’t like tourists very much, even though I was one – there was this one man who popped up in every photo. I sort of wanted to throw a rock at him, but restrained myself. They frown on such things in our national parks.


Probably my favorite time of all was sitting on the rocks near Otter Cove, pulling out my little watercolor kit and just trying to capture the shadows on Otter Cliffs. I probably will never forget that hour sitting in the sun, hearing the roar of the surf and feeling at perfect peace.



We wanted to see the lighthouse at Bass Harbor and spent a pleasant morning driving up and across the island. Unfortunately, we saw a lot of fog!

LIGHTHOUSE FOGI LIGHTHOUSE FOG II I would have loved to climb down the rocks and take photos from below, but caution prevailed. The cool, the quiet and the sound of the foghorns did leave a really nice memory.

Next, the view from Cadillac Mountain and a Happy Hour Sunset Cruise. Lots of inspirations for paintings, for sure!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 6, 2014 by sebland


As all good things must come to an end, so our visit to New Brunswick and Campobello Island had to end. I think one of the most important things to take away from a cherished vacation is the sense of awe – the wonder that our land is so beautiful and so amazing! I encourage my students to seriously plan their dreams – to follow through on those things you’ve always wanted to do! As we grow older, God willing, we will have wonderful memories of parks we have visited, far away places we finally got to see, and those memories comfort us. Dream it and then scheme it, y’all! You’ll never regret it. So, as we drive across the Roosevelt Bridge and back into the United States, here are a few of my cherished memories.

BEACH ROSES IIBEACH ROSES II Beach Roses blooming everywhere.


New Friends: HELEN

 The lovely old churches with a cemetery up the hill, being mowed by a red headed teenager.


  The rocky shoreline and our time spent trying to capture it on canvas:

 SUGAR LOAF ROCK                                         LIGHTHOUSE ROCKS SUGAR LOAF ROCK                                          TEACHER The lovely trees and the amazing colors – try and match THAT green, artist…..

THREE TREES     ROCKY COAST and the lovely old town of Lubec, Maine, perched on the edge of the Bay of Fundy.





Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 3, 2014 by sebland

TOP OF THE WORLD ITOP OF THE WORLD IIIThe last day of our workshop dawned bright and clear. Michael took us to the overlook at Friar’s Head. It really felt like the top of the world. We could see across the bay to Lubec and Eastport, and island in between. He could not have chosen a better spot! TOP OF THE WORLD II Pointing out the lovely cloud formations, he chose as a demo to paint a pastel focusing on the fast moving clouds. He began sketching in the main shapes and worked up a value study. FRIARS HEAD I I have learned that this truly is the most valuable part of plein air painting – no pun intended.

Next, he sketched in the main shapes: FRIARS HEAD III All of us watched, enthralled, as he captured the movement of the clouds, almost as if by magic.

FRIARS HEAD V As his painting took shape, I looked around for my subject. There was plenty to choose from!


Liking the curve of the bay and the reflections on the water, I chose what should have been an easy subject, and began to lay in the masses. Michael said that it takes two people to make a painting. One is the painter and another is the friend with a gun to shoot that artist before they mess up the painting. I needed that second person on this day. I had a beautiful start and I kept on adding detail after detail until I totally messed it up.

FRIARS HEAD XIStill, it was a wonderfully beautiful day, lessons were learned and some good work was accomplished:

FRIARS HEAD VIMichael’s finished painting, Brian’s work in progress, FRIARS HEAD Xand Sue’s beautiful pastel:FRIARS HEAD IX

In such a beautiful spot, it’s easy to remember, it’s the journey!

FRIARS HEAD XII Tomorrow, goodbye to Canada.



Posted in Uncategorized on September 1, 2014 by sebland


On the third day of our workshop, a storm moved across the Northeast. Maryland, D.C., Long Island, Boston and Portland all had severe flooding. Our day was cool, wet and windy. The view from our cabin did not look promising.

The morning critique at Friar’s Bay Studio went well. Michael had several suggestions for my “Old Sparky” painting, which I have yet to try, then we donned ponchos and headed out to Herring Cove. He led us to a beautiful hillside with huge slabs of rocks leaning on the hillside. It was as though a mighty sea god had just lifted them out and rested them on the shore. Despite a windy rain blowing in on us, Michael set up his easel under the shelter and began his demo.

HERRING COVE This was probably the one new technique I will remember always. As he began painting in the main shapes, I was surprised as he blocked in huge triangles where the pine trees stood on the hill.HERRING COVE IV They looked so solid, I questioned him about it. He said that he would come by with the sky color and paint negatives spaces as he saw them.

Shivering as only a South Texas gal in Maine can do, I watched amazed as he transformed those masses into lovely, lacy trees.


The others gritted their teeth, found shelter as they could and began working. My mama didn’t raise no fool. I went home. Yup, skipped class, thanked Michael for the amazing demo and went to my cabin. John had the heat on! In August! I loved it.

This was a perfect day to visit FDR’s summer “cottage,” and also to enjoy lunch at the Fireside Inn. A side Note; August 9th, 2014, was the official celebration day for the 50th anniversary of the Roosevelt-Campobello International Park.To celebrate the Park in his own way, Michael recently painted fifty small paintings of scenes either within or from the Park. These small paintings were on the walls of the Fireside Inn, where we had a hot lunch. Each was a lovely little jewel, a moment captured forever. That’s what art does!

HERRING COVE XI By the way, Michael’s book: “Fifty Paintings: Roosevelt-Campobello International Park: Celebrating the Park’s 50th Anniversary,” is available both in paperback and Kindle versions through Amazon.com.

The rain was coming down pretty heavily by now, so I took refuge in FDR’s beautiful summer home. As a small child, I had seen FDR from my father’s shoulders when he was on the campaign trail. My father was so impressed with him and what he accomplished that I guess a little of this rubbed off. I hope I can feel the same about other presidents in my lifetime.


Here is a view of the beautiful flowers in the garden. I was delightfully surprised at the dahlias. I hadn’t seen them in many year and have fond memories of my Aunt Minnie’s dinner plate sized dahlias back in the 40’s in Oklahoma.
FDR GARDENS Walking into the parlor, it was neat to see the sailboat, FDR’s pipe and his hat, together with some children’s games from my childhood. It took me back to some wonderful times, and the entire house had the atmosphere of waiting for these folks to come back. By the way, Ken Burns has filmed a documentary on the Roosevelts, which will air on PBS September 14. I’ll enjoy revisiting some of those memories, I think. It’s neat to realize as one ages, one becomes a part of history. I’m beginning to feel like a dinosaur!

FDR IV Walking through the beautiful old house, I enjoyed the guest rooms, Harry’s room, FDR’s space, Eleanor’s room, the classrooms, kitchen and laundry room. Here are a few photos of these places.

FDR VIII FDR VII FDR VI FDR V FDR IV Tomorrow, our last class. What memories we have made!

The Sound of Fog Horns

Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 29, 2014 by sebland

FOGGY DAY ELEVENWhen we arrived at Cranberry Point on the second day of our workshop, the fog was rolling in. I really enjoyed standing and listening to “Old Sparkplug’s” horn every ten seconds. It was a lonely, mournful sound, and I could have listened to it all day long.

However, Michael, our teacher, had other ideas.

FOGGY DAY SIX              Choosing his spot, he began again with the value thumbnail. This is a most helpful way for plein air painters to find the large masses and shapes and locate their darks and lights.

Today, Michael is using pastels, and I have to say his work and Sue’s, one of the other students, has whetted my interest. Pastels may be my next learning experience!

FOGGY DAY SEVENAfter sketching in some locating lines, Michael began to work his magic.

FOGGY DAY NINE Within an hour, he would have a beautiful piece of art. I wandered around the beach, finally settling on the perfect spot.

FOGGY DAY SEVENTEENI had decided to paint the lighthouse, “Sparky,” and watch the fog roll away.

FOGGY DAY FOURTEENI did my thumbnail, then roughed in the values and the main shapes.

FOGGY DAY FIFTEENBecause I had primed my canvasboards, the painting already has a warm glow, as if I were painting at sunset.

FOGGY DAY EIGHTEENMeanwhile, Michael has painted an alcohol wash on his pastel. He goes to warn the others who are on the beach to watch out for the incoming tide. Compare these two photos: Note where Sue is standing on the beach, working on her painting, then look at the second photo. She would have been washed away! The tide rose that fast – two hours maximum!


Content that I had a good study, I signed off on my second workshop painting.


Back in the studio, we critiqued our work. Mine is a little pink – I’ll go back and mute the colors a little. Sue’s lovely pastel and Brian’s oils all are looking good!

Brian's oilsSue's Pastel

DSCN0345 Michael’s finished pastel is really lovely – Now we know why he is the teacher!

Thank you, Michael, for inspiring us all!




Posted in Painting with tags , , on August 27, 2014 by sebland

CAMPOBELLO SEVENTEENCrossing over into Canada, the FDR bridge rose high over the Bay of Fundy. This amazing area has one of the highest tides in the world. Every twelve hours, the tide will rise 27 feet! Islands appear and disappear every day! Painting plein air becomes even more challenging, because in addition to fighting weather conditions, bugs and changing shadows, the rock formation you are trying to capture becomes an underwater blob!

FDR BRIDGEThe little town of Lubec, Maine, shown in the distance, is beautiful! Clean, quaint, and very friendly. We arrived mid afternoon and found our cabin on the coast just what we were looking for. Here is the view from our front porch.

CAMPOBELLO TWO Note the sandbar in the midground – it will be gone soon, as will part of the island. Tomorrow, the workshop begins.

CAMPOBELLO THREEOn location at Raccoon Point, our teacher Michael Chesley Johnson with two of the four workshop participants. Michael keeps his classes small and is a wonderful teacher – his suggestions are to the point and he is very good at finding our strengths while trying to help us with any weaknesses. It was a beautiful clear, cool day, and after a short meeting at his studio, he took us on location and demonstrated some of the finer points of plein air painting.

First, he studies his subject and makes a small thumbnail value study.

CAMPOBELLO FOURNext, he uses a thin mixture of paint to block in the major masses.

CAMPOBELLO SEVENThen he begins applying the values. Next he begins to pull in colors and lighter values. Note his island appears to be disappearing – that’s because the tide is coming in!

CAMPOBELLO EIGHT I go to find a shady spot and set up to paint my own impression on this, my first day in New Brunswick.

CAMPOBELLO SIX AND A HALF After an hour or so, I’ve done all the damage I can do. Happily, all of us felt we had learned some of the techniques we needed. Tomorrow, we will meet in Michael’s studio for some critique and advice.

CAMPOBELLO TWELVEHere is Michael’s finished painting. Beautiful!

MY RACCOON POINTHere is mine. Suggestions were to lighten the trees in the background, so that the island is pushed back. End of day one, we are all pleased with our efforts. Tomorrow: Forward through the fog!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , on August 25, 2014 by sebland


I could not have asked for a more picture perfect day to return to the Schoodic Peninsula – the air was cool and clean, and as I searched for the perfect spot, I was relieved to find a parking place near enough to move my stuff. Parking was at a premium on this day, because of the races being held at the Point.

Finding a nice shady spot, I decided to try my hand at watercolor. I have to say I don’t care for my color choices, but it was a good exercise. I want to rent that house on the island next year!

DAY TWO THREE                                                          DAY TWO FOUR

Moving on around the point, I found such a beautiful, peaceful cove, I just knew it was calling to me.

DAY TWO FIVE Not only were the colors clear and beautiful, the rock formations were pretty amazing, too.

An added bonus was a shade tree. With my mosquito repellent safely applied, I was ready to set up and paint!


The clouds came and went, and I actually felt a few drops of rain, but I was in no hurry to leave. I was having way too much fun!


All good things must end, so I took a few more photos and said goodbye to a beautiful spot.


What did I learn today? That these small 9 x 12 oil studies and the watercolor sketches will be great reference material when I paint in my studio at home. I learned that people are friendly the world over. I visited with a lady from Virginia who had set up an art program in her home town, and a young man from Japan who brought his parents over to enjoy the beauty of Maine.

Tomorrow: Campobello Island and the beautiful city of Lubec, the eastern most city in America.

DREAM IT, THEN SCHEME IT – Dreams Can Come True!

Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , on August 24, 2014 by sebland


Schoodic Point, Winter Harbor, Me.

One of the joys of growing older is the realization that if you want to do something, you’d better do it now! Sometimes this means taking some risks, facing some challenges and knowing that today is the day you should follow through on those “somedays” you have dreamed about. A little bout with cancer makes you understand tomorrow is not promised!

I will confess, when I enrolled in a plein aire painting class with Michael Chesley Johnson, that my self confidence was a little lacking. And the thought of negotiating airports, baggage, driving on strange roads and being able to hold up my end of the painting assignment itself filled me with trepidation. At 76, you don’t get many chances to do these things, so I just decided to make some memories.

The people at Southwest Airlines could not have been more helpful. They brought wheelchairs for both my husband and me, handled our baggage, and saw that we got to our car rental with absolutely no problems. When both you and your husband are worriers, that’s a major blessing! Arriving in Portland in a driving rainstorm (you Texas folks don’t know what that looks like), we headed north for a 169 mile drive to Sullivan, Maine. We arrived at sunset, and the colors over Frenchman’s Bay were amazing. Of course my camera was in the trunk. The 200 year old house and its lovely bedroom suite was warm and inviting. There was even a light on in our window! The hostess, Lee Giardino, could not have been more welcoming. It felt like going home to my grandmother’s!


It really was hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact this house was already 32 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed! And over 100 years old when Texas became a state! Lee had some interesting history of the house and made us feel completely at home, even opening her kitchen for us and inviting us to raid her pantry and refrigerator. The Keurig coffee pot was always available, and all our doubts began to disappear. This was going to be fun!

Thursday morning, we slept in and John discovered an amazing old library full of books both current and from the past. He spent the next five days hanging out with an 1884 edition of “Life on the Mississippi,” by Mark Twain, while I went all over the area just enjoying the sights and scouting out painting locations.

Sullivan is half way between Bar Harbor and Schoodic Peninsula, and Lee advised that Schoodic Point was the place to go see wave action.

Lee was right – jutting out into the Atlantic near the town of Winter Harbor, this was one of the loveliest places I have ever seen! Sitting on these rocks at 7:00 in the morning, while the shadows are long, is an artist’s dream. I did wish I had paid attention to the advice someone gave me about bug spray. The mosquitoes were so large and so numerous, they were debating whether to carry me out to sea or eat me on the rocks. Still, I managed to get a pretty good study and learned a bit about the properties of painting in oils plein aire. For one thing, you can begin to muddy your painting after a short time. I decided this was a good time to go find some bug spray. Good old Walmart came through for me, and I went back to my room tired but happy. Maybe I can feel comfortable in the workshop, after all!


I’m pretty pleased with this one. Tomorrow, I’ll try again. Thank you Lord for this beautiful day!DAY ONE SCHOODIC POINT C


Posted in Painting on May 27, 2014 by sebland
Lovingly captioned "Squawk" by a couple of the artists.

Alice Stockton’s SINGING BIRD (also lovingly captioned “Squawk” by a couple of the artists.)

As the day progressed, so did the artwork. From the very first, it was obvious “Color” was the topic of the day.
step one apply paint low res
At this point, no one knew where this day was headed. Very few pieces at the end had any resemblance to the beginning. This one, especially, morphed into something entirely different. I had in mind a black, beige and red painting of some sort. But….
fearless leader step one low res                                 fearless leader II low res

I think I had already begun to feel this wasn’t working, so I painted over it, turning everything to gray.
fearless leader iii low res
Surprisingly, spirit figures began to appear:
And then, as the music mellowed, so did the mood of the painting. That does happen when one is finally in that place where intuitive painting begins.
I’m still not sure where this painting is going, but each time I look at it, I see something new. Is it finished? Maybe not. I haven’t signed it yet! I do feel it has a message, but the whole has not been revealed – to me, at least! I’m calling it CIRCLE OF LIFE. Who knows, it may reappear as something entirely different – that’s part of the joy of being a painter – you can hardly wait to see what you’re going to do next!
As the day ended, we had several colorful pieces of art – and we each vowed to do this again – it was indeed a joyful day!







and finally, Sherry Humphreys’ FRUIT SALAD. Not a bad way to end the day!





Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , on May 26, 2014 by sebland

Now and then, when we least expect it, the planets align and we find all kinds of good things going on! That happened to me this spring. A cousin in Oregon sent a website for a very talented artist that inspired me and several of my friends. My cousin’s daughter had taken an online class presented by Flora Bowley, http://braveintuitiveyou.com/, and her beautiful abstracts just blew us away! After talking it over for a while, we decided a deck party was definitely beckoning us. We chose a lovely day in April, covered my deck with dropclothes, took off our shoes, put some Harry Belafonte music on the CD, and went to work.
We could not possibly have chosen a more beautiful day. We bought a large quantity of paint, established ground rules: “YOU MUST HAVE FUN,” and began pouring, rubbing, brushing and applying the paints as our spirits moved us.
Surprisingly enough, no two paintings resembled one another – each had a beauty of its own. One painter was inspired by my deck cushions, another portrayed underwater creatures, a blue bird named “Squawk” emerged, and at the end of the day, we had some very nice pieces. Sherry Humphreys’ “ARABESQUE” so intrigued the judge at a local show that she won Best of Show! Later, I’ll post more of the work we did that day. It just goes to show that amazing things can happen when you Just Show Up!!!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting with tags , , , on May 4, 2014 by sebland



Part of the joy of teaching is the learning that comes along with it. For the past three years, I have been moving more and more into a teaching situation. I am now realizing that while I have less time at my own easel, I have grown to appreciate the joy in seeing others become caught up in this obsession called “art!” Deciding only yesterday on a name for my classes, workshops, retreats and arts encounters, I have decided that “S. E. BLAND’S JOY OF ART SCHOOL” might be a fine title! While weekly classes are wonderful for encouraging new students, I have found that one-day workshops are great ways to show rank beginners that they too can produce good results. In October, I offered a class for beginning artists, none of whom had worked with paints before.

My deck was inviting, we had a great breakfast with blueberry pancakes, cheesy eggs, fruit salad and drinks, so that everyone was relaxed when we began. deck low resI wrapped the art supplies in gift wrapping, to make each artist aware of the gift of time they were giving to themselves.


TREAT YOURSELF LOW RESHere are some of the beautiful paintings that emerged after only a few hours of painting!

ASHLYN HENSLEE LOW RESPainted by an eleven year old girl, I was amazed at how she loved mixing colors. Her mother had to drag her away at the end of the day!

My granddaughter, Cheryl, created this calm and placid scene:the birds low res


FIELD OF WHEAT LOW RESMy son in law, who had never held a brush, created textures and colors that I would not have expected. He also, on his own, captured his favorite fishing spot.



He had been painting for a total of three hours when he started this one, and I love the movement of the water.


John’s “Red Rock Country” just blew me away. To see four people, two young women under 16, and two men over 50, create such beauty on their first try, made me realize that making art really is a joyful process, for all concerned!

My next workshop, “DANCING (AND PAINTING) TO THE MUSIC” will be coming up soon. Look for it!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting with tags , , on July 22, 2013 by sebland

When you live in South Texas, in the summertime that cool Pacific air sounds really good. So, I crank up the a/c, turn on the ceiling fan and go back to work on this painting. With Raw Sienna and Burnt Sienna, I rough in the beach in the foreground.

BUILDING THE SAND That was too easy. Next, I mix Alizaron Crimson, Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna and rough in the rocks. It helps to mix a little of that lavender paint I used in the background to soften a little.


Blending all the colors I’ve used previously, I paint the horizon lines and with a lot of water in my brush, begin to paint over the reflections I roughed in with the rocks.

ADDING TEXTURE TO THE ROCKSI like to go back and forth between the rocks and the water, adding texture to the rocks with a bit of blue mixed with burnt sienna, then a bit of the background mix to soften the reflections in the water. Noticing the horizon slants downhill, I take time to measure again and mark the horizon with a pencil line to straighten it.

WARMING IT UPI think it’s time to add some life to the sky. Mixing Cadmium Red Medium, Alizaron Crimson and Titanium White, I paint the center and left side to warm the painting a bit. I mix Cobalt blue and white and brighten the sky on the right, to add interest.


This is a little more interesting. I played with the sand a little by adding Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna and white, added a few shadows to the rocks and began to wonder how will I get that glow on the wet sand that was my inspiration in the beginning. I think I see a little fog rising, but that may be my brain trying to visualize where I want to go with this. Refreshed with my little trip down memory lane, I think it’s time for a refreshing beverage. Tomorrow will be soon enough to wrestle with the next challenge. Enjoy!




Posted in Painting on July 17, 2013 by sebland

Oregon Memory
Sometimes a memory begs to be painted. As we approached the Oregon coast last year, we came around a curve to see the sun setting over the little town of Netarts. As luck would have it, the camera was locked in the trunk and we were racing darkness. A pale lavender fog was rolling in, and the scene haunted me ever since. I thought I had forgotten the beauty of that moment, but almost a year later, the memory is still there. Playing with my watercolors recently, I made a quick sketch from memory and loved the reflections in the water. Today, ten months later, it’s time to paint this scene.

Follow along with me as we try, step by step, to recreate that special moment.

STEP ONE: I have a canvas, 24 x 30, underpainted with a bright blue paint. I painted gesso rather loosely over the canvas to create a neutral background.

STEP TWO: With Cobalt Blue added to the gesso mixture, I began defining the sky. I selected a small patch in the lower right corner to bring the sky mixture in for reflection.


STEP THREE: Adding Alizaron Crimson, I began painting a lavender sky and water, reserving the lower edge for the sandy beach.


STEP FOUR: Using a soft paper towel, I scrubbed portions of the wet paint off the sky, creating the impression of clouds.

That was fun, but enough for today. We’ll see what tomorrow will bring!

DAY SIX – At the End of the Day

Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 25, 2013 by sebland


My students help put things into perspective, sometimes, and that happened this week. When we were critiquing this piece, I asked my student if she felt the painting was finished. Her reply was: “Where were the birds?” I realized that to give life to this moment, I did need some little fellows walking on the beach with me. Adding the birds and their shadows took only a few minutes. I washed over the gentle waves once again with warm and cool colors already used, and realized this painting is exactly what I wanted: a memory of a soft and gentle evening, alone on the beach and admiring the amazing colors the Master Painter had provided, just for me. That’s how I feel about every sunrise and sunset – Someone created all this beauty as a gift to us. I think I’m through with this one.


I’m looking forward to next week’s painting: Depoe Bay and the Roar of the Surf.


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 22, 2013 by sebland

gentle glow day five 1 low res

Life has a way of interfering in our plans. Painting for just a few minutes a day can still yield lots of results. I advise anyone who wants to make art – don’t be discouraged when your calendar fills up! You can use a half hour, an hour, even a few minutes a day, to create a piece of art. After an incredibly busy week, I took two hours and worked on this piece. I’m really beginning to be happy with it.

gentle glow day five 3 low res

The sand looked cold to me, so to warm it up, I mixed all the colors previously used: cadmium yellow, cadmium red, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, with lots of titanium white to make a warmer sand tone. I also painted over the large rock and dragged some burnt umber mixed with blue down through the dry water to make a reflection.
gentle glow day five  2 low res
Wanting to make the foreground still warmer, I painted over the sand with alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and some white. I used all my former colors and painted over the water, trying to make gentle waves and suggest the warmth of the sun on the right side of the painting.

gentle glow day five 4 low res

I felt the reflection was much too obvious, so painted over most of it with a cool blue and white mixture. I added some suggested reflections on the smaller rocks, made shadows under the driftwood and small rock in the foreground, and brought still more pink in the water on the right. It’s very hard to know when to stop, but I think this painting is almost finished. What do you think? Would you like to see the reflections more clearly, or do you like the sublety of this approach? Comments are always welcome!


Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 15, 2013 by sebland

DAY FOUR 1 low res
It’s really fun when I begin to see the painting resembling what I had in mind. Mixing the blue, yellow, red and burnt sienna, I create a sandy mix that I paint into the foreground.

Now I want to try to bring the tidepool in and show the reflection of the setting sun – something I haven’t tried before. Studying my reference photo, I realize I need to mix a light peach/brown color, so using cadmium red light, cadmium yellow medium, titanium white and lots of gel gloss medium, I paint the area where the waterline washes gently over the sand in the foreground.


DAY FOUR 2 low res

I like that. I use the same light color mixture on the right side of the water, showing the sunlight reflecting on that side.


DAY FOUR 4 3 low res

Mixing ultramarine blue, white and a little burnt sienna, I paint some cooler colors under the rock on the right side and working down, glaze more of the cool colors to blend with the warmer ones.


DAY FOUR 5 low resNow for the fun. Loading a 1″ watercolor brush with white, gloss medium and a little yellow, I drag the side of my brush across, creating some gentle wave action. I think the painting is beginning to take shape. Using the same white with a little blue and gloss medium I drag some cooler waves across from the left. This painting is easy and fun to do. Next time, we’ll work on the rocks. They look a little like sharks at the moment, but we’ll fix that. I think I’m going to like this picture!

DAY FOUR6 low res


DAY THREE: Going Over the Edge

Posted in art, How to Paint, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 15, 2013 by sebland

Warming up the sky

DAY THREE: I like to prepare my students for that inevitable day when you truly do not like your work. Now that I’ve passed over that plateau, the painting is beginning to help me along. It is impossible to describe the sensation that your work is speaking to you. People think you’ve gone over the edge, but it is true! There is a point when you know this is going to be something you love, and there are little voices in your head saying: “Warm this up,” or “Take that out.” It really is amazing and something I’ve heard from other artists. Soooooooooo, if I’m going crazy, I won’t get there alone!

Today, I felt the painting really needed to be warmed up, so I started adding more yellow, mixed with white, to brighten the sky.


Not bad, now let’s put some light in the water! Using the same color mix: yellow and white, with a little gel medium for shine, I began adding light strokes on the right side of the water.

DAY THREE 3 low res

The left side, under the rocks, should be darker for contrast, and I want more reflection in the water, so I mix ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, some white, and lightly add this mixture to make more reflection in the water on the left.


The colors really are beginning to captivate me. I want to begin to put more movement in the water, so I brush, over and over, streaks of yellow and white, then blue, yellow, red and white to make the waves slowly begin to appear.

I know I am far from finished, but I prop the painting up near my bed so I can study it and plan the next session. Hope you’re still enjoying watching paint dry!

DAY TWO – It’s Not All Bad

Posted in Painting on January 10, 2013 by sebland

Day Two 003 low res
DAY TWO: I thought about the composition a lot last night, and think the rock on the right is just too much. I am going to paint over it. That’s what I love about acrylics!
Day Two 006 low res

(Half of yesterday’s blog was lost somewhere in the black hole. Hopefully I can finish and save the rest of the work this time.)

Maybe I’ll leave the rock on the right hidden in the fog and accent the one on the left. Time to add some color to the water – using the same blue mixture, I add a little cad yellow medium to make it more interesting. I like the color mix.

Day Two 009 low res

I’ve lightened the sky and put more color in the clouds – I think this is working.

Now I feel brave enough to work on the rocks. I add several smaller rocks, using burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, nickel azo gold and a little alizarin crimson.

Day Two 014 low res

I think I’ve got a good start – the colors are pleasing, the reflections are beginning to work, and it’s wine time. Enough for this day!



Posted in art, Painting, Uncategorized with tags , , on January 10, 2013 by sebland


I try to tell my students not to be intimidated by a blank canvas. One of them, apparently not believing me, described the new, larger canvas she purchased in this way: “Help, Help I need guidance. This canvas has arms and legs and large teeth in my dreams.”
Then, I walked into my studio and was faced with this. Suddenly, I felt what my student felt – intimidated!

The cure for this malady is to leap in, so I mixed gesso with cadmium red light and cadmium yellow medium, and prepared to cover 1,728 square inches.

In less time than you would think, I was halfway through the underpainting.

Now I’m rocking and rolling and ready to rough in the horizon line. Using ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson and white, I mix a cool blue lavender, and paint the horizon line. Then I begin to rough in the clouds and add some color where the sea will be.

This is the point where I begin to love my painting.

I try to emphasize, when painting water, especially a lake or ocean, the line must be straight. If your horizon line goes up or down, the water will run off, right?

I notice in my reference photo, that the sky is much lighter near the horizon, so I brighten the sky and begin to add the sunlight colors low in the water, where I’ll put a sea glow later.


Ah, now I am really beginning to like my work!

But then……….I roughed in some rocks, as I remembered how massive they looked on the coast.

WITH ROCKS low res8

I am not happy with this composition. In fact, I really hate it! Time to go pour a glass of wine and decide what to do next. Maybe tomorrow will be better…

When the Spirit Moves You

Posted in Acrylics, art, How to Paint, inspiration, Painting with tags , , , , on September 24, 2017 by sebland


An interesting thing about artists, I have observed, is that they learn over time to go with the flow. When I began this painting as a demo at a workshop, I planned a Georgia O’Keefe type red blossom, sort of “in your face” with a black center and a beige background. I even blocked it in and stood back admiring my work. I didn’t like it even a little bit! So I painted over it with gesso and began to let my muse take over. First I felt the rolling waves, then the wind pushing the clouds around. Suddenly these little spirits appeared and I just relaxed and enjoyed the process. I don’t know where these figures come from or why. I just have learned to greet them with joy. I call this one “Rebirth” it appears on my daily works page at http://www.dailypaintworks.com, under my S. E. Bland paint name.

Where I Want to Be

Posted in Acrylics, art, inspiration, Painting, Southwest with tags , , , , , on September 17, 2017 by sebland

imageIt’s ninety plus degrees out on my deck, and much as I love my home, I’m spending this Sunday afternoon dreaming of far away places. The Rio Grande flows through some mighty pretty country, and I seem to recall some place north of Santa Fe where the river and rocks come together. I painted this a while back , just feeling nostalgic for a pretty place and time. Hope you are having a laid back day and maybe traveling someplace nice in your day dreams. I’m posting this for sale at my gallery, http://www.dailypaintworks.com if you are interested. Look for S. E. Bland. Thanks for stopping by!

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