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Day 31. Contradictions.

I'm not a huge fan of before and afters. When people finish a new exercise or diet program and post a split screen, I find myself yelling into the computer: you were also good and beautiful in the "before!" So when I share some before and afters of this month, please...

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Day 30. Try it, you might like it!

True confession: when I started this watercolor project on day 1, I was not expecting to actually like watercolor. I was just looking for a way to clean out my painting studio at the same time that I kept painting. I could paint watercolors at the coffee table or in...

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Day 29. Making do.

  I've been really inspired by some fellow 31ers doing figurative work this month. I haven't been able to get to a figure drawing group lately, so I've opted for some photographic resources online. Working from photographs isn't nearly as good as from life, but...

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Day 28. Aimless Love

Final stretch, the last mile.  When I was in college I had the pleasure of attending a literary conference where poet Billy Collins was the keynote speaker. I'll never forget his description of his writing routine: each morning he begins with a haiku as a warmup...

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Day 27. Finally.

Well, folks, this is my FIFTH cardinal watercolor this month but only the first I'm posting. The others are lovingly resting in the "no" pile. One of my favorite birds has turned my art nemesis, but in today's painting I breathed a little "finally." And it's not...

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Day 26. Taking up space and losing control

I love spotting these birds in my front yard where that little flash of red can be seen through the grey of the trees. I’m learning to use more water and let it lead instead of always trying to be in charge-- blurring more edges, washing away what I thought was...

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Day 25. Light a Fire

Years ago, I saw a painting of a tufted titmouse by an artist I admired. I'd like to try painting that little bird, I thought, and proceeded to file that thought away only to emerge again today when I finally actualized it.  One of the cutest of birds, this...

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Day 24. The Birds and the Brees

Yesterday I got a great suggestion for the name of this month’s watercolor series: Birds and the Brees. All of the original watercolors will be available on my site early February, and since so many of you have asked, there is a print series in the works for the...

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Day 22. Think about that time

  Yesterday my six year old asked me if the Saints had ever won the Superbowl. It’s a question I can honestly remember asking my own parents at his age, but where I got to say yes, they had to explain the playoff curse-- not only had we never gone to a Superbowl,...

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Day 21. Shouldn’t.

I really shouldn't be painting my favorite Saints players. I paint chickadees and pelicans and hummingbirds-- quiet little things that don't really care much for football or the community it creates. I don't have many words right now, so my truly gifted and wonderful...

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Day 20. Who Dat

Last night I painted at a French Quarter courtyard wedding that I very foolishly did not expect to be so cold. My hands shook with each stroke, and I found myself giving inner Saints-themed pep talks: What would Alvin Kamara do? Just give up? Would Drew Brees stop...

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Day 19. Good Omen

I've been working on that blasted cardinal still, but it's still a no go. I really want to do some more portrait and figure studies, but, well, those are more of a process, and today I only had a brief time to paint. So I turned to my most beloved bird, the pelican....

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Day 18. Kill your darlings

Yesterday I cleared out three bags of junk from the studio-- almost empty paint tubes, halfway finished paintings that, let’s be honest, I have no intention of working on, one million paint caps, markers I never use, random paper and photo references. It’s starting to...

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Day 17. Proud as a Peacock

You remember December me, right? The one who said January me would be cleaning out the studio, getting a fresh start, creating watercolors at my desk so as to leave the studio open for a major overall? Yesterday the date just stared at me. It had been sixteen days,...

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Day 16. You’ve got something on your face

As I was skimming through photographs looking for some good faces to practice portraits with, I came across a photo of my nephew Beau eating an ice cream cone in my backyard at my son’s sixth birthday party. I loved the expression on his face, so I sat down and got to...

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Day 15. Lesson Plans

This little one is an ultramarine flycatcher, a bird you can probably see in India but not so much Louisiana. I typically paint birds I’m more familiar with, the kind that fly into my backyard or wonder near the ditches on the highway en route to the grocery store...

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Day 14. Chasing Cardinals

Since day 1, I’ve painted three cardinals. It’s a subject matter I’m all too familiar with when it comes to oil painting-- a real crowd pleaser. But I’ve not (yet) posted any of the cardinals because for some reason I cannot seem to figure out, they just aren’t...

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Day 13. It Can’t Wait Till Monday

One of the reasons I do these painting a day challenges is because it forces me to fit painting into my life whether or not it is convenient. One painting every day no matter what.  I painted at a wedding in the French Quarter last night (photo coming soon), and...

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Day 12. Ballet vs. Power Lifting

For today's painting I referenced the photo I had taken at the Audubon zoo that has been the basis for nearly all my oil flamingo paintings. I wanted to see how the image translated into watercolor.  I realize I rely so much on texture. Big globs of paint can...

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Day 11. Baby Bird

Well, it was bound to happen-- I couldn’t quite find a way to sneak a bird into this one, but this little guy is my baby bird (don’t tell him, he despises the word baby). He is adventurous and smart, out-spoken, assertive, unafraid to tell you what he thinks. He asked...

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Day 10. My lost art— drawing

Just before Christmas I splurged and impulse bought myself an iPad with one of those little drawing pens. I’ve not much used it (though I am typing this post on it now despite the fact that even my tiny fingers find the keyboard I’ve attached a bit too small). For a...

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Day 9. Adding Square Footage to that Comfort Zone

Last Saturday I painted at my first wedding of the new year. The bride contacted me over a year ago to set it up. She told me that her grandmother, who lived in a French Quarter apartment, would not be able to attend the reception. She asked if I would be able to...

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Day 8. The other one

As promised, here’s the second whooping crane from the original painting (see day 7). I imagine the two being displayed together once they are framed, but I’m open to them going their separate ways. I like today’s painting better than yesterday’s. I was tempted to...

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Day 7. Dance with me

A few months ago, a bride-to-be whose wedding I will be painting, messaged me asking if I’d ever painted any whooping cranes. She explained that her fiancé has a special place for them in his heart because his grandfather once rescued one and nursed it back to...

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Day 6. Persistence

Pelicans-- the birds I used to watch before I watched birds. Persistent little things. I suppose all fishers have to be if they want to survive. Persistence is what 31 in 31 is all about after all-- getting after it whether or not the desire is there. Funny thing is...

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Day 5. Like hummingbirds’ wings

Day 5. Already? Just?  I typically move at the pace of a hummingbird's wings-- 70 flaps a second just to stay afloat. What is it about water that says, slow down, don't worry, be still? Last night I attempted two other little paintings that weren't quite right. I...

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Day 4. Procrastination

  This whole watercolor thing started because I wanted to give myself some time away from my studio to clean it out, declutter, reorganize. What’s actually transpired is that I’ve shut the door to the messy studio and settled into my desk in the sunroom. Out of...

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Day 3. It’s a Process

I used a pen this time which, I don’t know, feels too harsh. I was able to go outside the lines more with the actual paint (something I really want to do) but those black pen lines feel so precise, I can’t tell if the painting is free-spirited or completely rigid....

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Day 2. Hey There, Watercolor.

Hey there, Watercolor. I’m Denise. I know we don’t really hang out and it’s mostly because I’ve been so involved with my other friend oil. I hear you don’t mix (although I’ve got some ideas about how to get you together for a little soiree on the same canvas but more...

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