Monday, November 13, 2017

A Nod to Wyeth

A nod to Wyeth.
Sometimes as a way of doing preliminary studies I will make several versions of a painting as greeting card sketches. Often, that's all they will ever be, just explorations.

This 5x7 gives me an opportunity to play around with a bit of Wyeth metaphor in the imagery. Here's a list in case you haven't caught the implications on your own:
  1. A colonial wrought iron candle stick holder. Something that would have been common at Chad's Ford during the Revolutionary War.
  2. The candle is colonial style, too. 
  3. Eggs, as in egg tempera, the medium for which Wyeth became known.
  4. The jagged edges of the broken egg shells remind me of the jagged edges on a log of fire wood outside one of Wyeth's window compositions.
  5. There is the window, of course, with the windows of the building outside peering in as Andrew might have done.
  6. The autumn season was one of Wyeth's favorites as was the same limited palette I'm using here.
  7. Andrew used a bit of underlying drama to create a certain amount of unease in his compositions. I have alternated symmetry and asymmetry to leave the viewer slightly off balance. The candle flame, almost but not quite touching the window handle causes a bit of visual tension.
  8. And then there are the shadows reminiscent of the shadows on the ceiling at Kuerner's. This time they're on the tablecloth. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Painting the last of the Autumn Leaves

Here are the amazing leaves that my students painted in class today.
Congratulations, Margo L!
Not only did Margo's concentrated effort yield great results with her class project, she found my abandoned art for the day! See my countdown to #USKGlobal24hrSketchwalk
Margo allowed me to add a few autumn colors to the abandoned art she found in the gallery this morning.
Two days down and two to go with my Abandoned Art Project. Where will tomorrow's piece be hidden? Who will find it?

Egg Tempera and Autumn Leaves

We had so much fun at Skagit Valley College with our autumn leaves and our handmade egg tempera. Inspired by Andrew Wyeth and nature itself! SVC night class, YOU ROCK!
Class demonstration--trying out a few recipes for egg tempera

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Countdown to #USkGlobal24hrSketchwalk Four Days Left!

On Saturday, November 11, 2017, Urban Sketchers around the world will be participating in a 24 hour Sketch Walk to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Urban Sketchers. I'm going to start counting down today!

In addition, I am going to try something for the first time. I will abandon these 4 hand painted art prints, one a day, culminating with abandoning the last one on Saturday, Nov 11 at King Street station in Seattle!  Which one is your favorite?
See Art Abandonment Project here for more info. The image is fresh, printed from my original urban sketch drawn just a few hours ago and hand painted with watercolor! Please email me if you find one! Maybe with a photo of you finding it?

This morning I heard the street sweeper as he drove slowly around our neighborhood. Very rare on our street! I dropped my pen and lost a shoe in the rush to get the sketch before he was gone!
My original bona fide urban sketch, fresh off the sidewalk this morning!
See my Instagram feed for more photos of the excitement of urban sketching, posted in action!

Monday, November 6, 2017

TA DA! Finished 31 drawings, ink and watercolor in 31 Days, Inktober 2017

So, initially, I thought I would interpret "Mask", the prompt for the last day of Inktober, with a drawing of my masking fluid collection. I left it too late on Oct. 31 to post before midnight, so the pressure was off.

Life continued to interrupt until after having visited the Seattle Art Museum and the Andrew Wyeth Retrospective Exhibit; I glanced over at the light on this old abandoned house this afternoon. Filtered through my recent experience of Wyeth's metaphor, it seemed as though the house was looking out through mask-like windows at the world passing it by. In a way, the exterior of a house masks from the outside world the lives that are lived inside. Sometimes, we get a glimpse through the windows, but in this case all their secrets have disappeared along with those who formerly lived here.
Mask-Day 31
Inktober Days 24-31. See my Instagram feed for "United"-Day 29
Ship, Squeak, Climb, Fall
I couldn't resist giving an Acme Sketch Kit to the sketcher out on the precipice. :)
I love the soft, filtered light that comes through the pleated fabric blinds in our bedroom.
From my reading chair. Day 24. Coziest, most comfortable sketching spot yet!
And that's a wrap until next Inktober! Thanks for the inspiration, Jake!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Day with Andy

I spent most of the day with Andy (Andrew Wyeth) at the Seattle Art Museum today. The exhibit is a retrospective of over 100 paintings done throughout Andrew Wyeth's life of 91 years.
On the steps at Seattle Art Museum for the Andrew Wyeth Exhibit
Some of my students from north of Seattle carpooled to join me. What a wonderful group with whom to share such an inspirational experience! Not to mention a delicious lunch at the museum cafe, Taste.

And, at first, I thought Helga had stopped in for a visit as well!

On location with a palette like Wyeth's

Watercolor in my "Perfect Sketchbook" - on location on Camano Island, Feb 2015.
Whether it's intentional or not, certain paintings of mine will look Wyeth-influenced. I sat in my car on Russell road and painted this while rain pattered on the roof. The limited palette, both from nature and by choice from my watercolor palette, give this piece its somber mood. The texture comes from drybrush technique, easily achieved on the 140 lb. paper of my Perfect Sketchbook.

EXPLORED AGAIN! Wow! This one was picked by Explore from my Flickr Photostream. I am very pleased!

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Special Day to Catch Up

After a super busy week or two on our own projects, my husband and I took the day off to catch up......with each other and for me to catch up with my Inktober project. We took advantage of the beautiful autumn weather drive up to Anacortes.

The prompt for the 29th was "United". Since I was teaching a workshop yesterday, I took today's opportunity to "unite" all my sketching tools in a single sketch. I thought the idea of a ferry crossing that unites the mainland to Guemes Island was a nice little extra touch on the theme.
The quietude, time to listen to the waves, seagulls and wind soughing through the grasses......what a restorative time we had. AND I'm all caught up until the last day of Inktober tomorrow!

As I placed the rose hips I "Found" on the weathered picnic table, I also found that their round shapes were repeated in the round knothole and bolts. Inktober, Day 30, "Found"

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Annual Studio Open House

"Snow Bird" Art Lesson on DVD
Our 23rd Annual Studio Open House takes place on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. Hours: 10am-12:00 and 5:00-7pm

5-7pm: Wine, Cheese, Nibbles and a drawing for $100 worth of Art from Michele's NW Studio

We are excited to show new works and to welcome artists, students and friends. Enjoy some nibbles, conversation and perhaps take home a painting, DVD or just the experience of visiting a real working art studio.

Save a spot on your calendar and come on over! Please note the change in open hours this year: the studio will be closed between 12:00 noon and 5:00pm.
Hours: 10am-12:00 Noon and 5:00-7pm
Contact me for map and directions. Send email to michelec12 at gmail dot com

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Inktober 2017, Day 19-22

For some reason, I've been inspired lately by animals to represent the official Inktober prompts.
Day 20 - Deep (There are several pods of Orca here who swim the deep channels up the coast to the Canadian Pacific)
Day 21 - Furious (I have no idea why he is so upset, but it's hard to take infuriated squirrels seriously)
Day 22 - Trail (Ewwwww. We have snails AND slugs leaving lots of trails in this rainy season.)
Day 19- Cloud (You can hear the geese flying south above the clouds)
Although I am surrounded by glorious autumn color, it is still immensely satisfying to draw something with ink every day. Thanks, Jake Parker, for the inspiration!

Watercolor Workshop for Absolute Beginners, Sat and Sun Oct 28 & 29

Follow this link for more information or to register
Not sure if watercolor is for you? Tried watercolor but need a little help? Gotten rusty and want to revive some old skills in watercolor? Come on over to Kirkland Arts Center next weekend and have some fun discovering what an expressive medium it is with Michele Cooper, NWWS!

You don't even need to purchase an expensive collection of supplies! Get unlimited use of all supplies from the instructor for $10 per person per day. Take home the art you make.

Take home your own painting of Autumn leaves.
This hands-on workshop presents all the basics for the first-time watercolor painter or a great review of color mixing, brushwork, and painting techniques for the out-of-practice painter. You'll learn how to set up your work area and arrange your palette. We'll discuss different types of paint, brushes, and paper. You'll get to compare student and professional grade paint, cold and hot press paper, and different types of brushes. Learn how to do dry brush, wet in wet, flat washes, and graduated washes.
Discover how to mix and layer colors and how to mix a complete color wheel from just three colors. Continuous hands-on demonstrations will show techniques first hand.

Education Office
(425) 822-7161 x181
Sat, October 28, 2017
   10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sun, October 29, 2017
   10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Monday, October 16, 2017

Catching up with Posting Inktober, Days 10-14

Inktober Day 10-Gigantic (See my Instagram for caption)
Inktober Day 11-Run, that's what you do if you see this! My parents had a pair of geese that terrified our 4 year old son.
Day 12 - Shattered  (Condition of the cell phone and the owner who just realized the damage)
Day 13 - Teeming (The coral reef is teeming with life. May it ever be so.)
Day 14 - Fierce (Fang toothed Moray eels are truly fierce...the way they look, their fangs and the fact that they anchor themselves in the reef, latch on to their victim and don't let go!)

For high resolution photos of these and other work not shown here, please visit my Flickr photostream.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Walking with Andy

If you look carefully, you'll see a tiny figure walking at the top of the hill. In anticipation of the upcoming Retrospective Wyeth Exhibit at SAM, opening on October 19, my watercolor students are practicing some important aspects of watercolor. Wyeth is a prime example of the hard work involved in creating fine art.
Playing with drybrush, my preliminary value plan with water soluble graphite and initial inspiration.

Monday, October 9, 2017


Inktober 2017, Day 9-- Daily prompt "Screech"
"Screech!!!" Went the soles of my shoes as I stepped out onto the front porch and saw this awe inspiring lantern of a fall tree, lit up by the autumn sun.

 "Screech!!!" Went the brakes on the truck as it went around the sharp corner.

"Screech!!!" Went my paintbrush as I came to the decision that I had already said all I wanted about the beauty of the autumn color and light. I feel that if I add anything else at all, it would take away from the concept that I have so far.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Inktober Day 7--Shy

A rare semi self portrait
There could be a few reasons why I seldom, if ever, do selfies or draw/paint self portraits:
  1. I'm suddenly shy when too much attention is focused on me.
  2. There are so many more interesting things to document.
  3. It's just too exhausting to go to the trouble of hair, makeup and lighting.
  4. All of the above.
No filter, makeup, hair styling etc.
So I thought I would do one in my reading spot in the bedroom while lazing around this morning.
Reminds me of those "Killroy was here" drawings my Dad used to do when I was little. :)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Underwater x3

Above is my classroom demonstration of a wave crashing against a rock, depicting the concept of how much strength there is in ocean waves. Over time this action helps turn these rocks into the sand on the shoreline.
My demonstration for the beginners in the class.

Day 4 of  Inktober--the prompt is "Underwater"
I hated to leave my Cosmos #10 round kolinsky sable watercolor brush underwater in the jar for even the few minutes it took to draw this ink wash response to the day's prompt for Inktober.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Inktober Day 1

The official prompt for Day 1 of Inktober is swift.
"Spider-Man" on the sky bridge at the new Funko world headquarters in Everett, Wa.
What could be swifter than Spider-Man as he shoots out his web and swings from building to building?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Tomorrow it's Inktober! Are you in?

Want to get better at drawing? Want to have fun with other artists all over the world, drawing every day for the month of October? Jake Parker has just the thing for you!

See how it all started here on Jake's YouTube. Suggested materials are listed in the video itself and the video description.

If you can't think what to draw, here's the official prompt list from Jake Parker himself!
Scroll down some of my examples from previous years here.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

ARTbeat 2017: Cirque du Surreal

I am pleased to announce my contribution of the painting "Mystic Reflections ", to Kirkland Arts Center for the fantastic 9th annual ARTbeat Benefit Auction & Gala.
The evening includes a delicious 3-course meal and complimentary wine and cocktails.
Date: Saturday October 28, 2017

"Mystic Reflections"  Original watercolor by Michele 15"x22" (22x28" framed and matted)
About the painting:
Distant headlands float on a milky layer of fog as rocky peaks along the shoreline appear above the mist. Rhythmic waves can be heard beneath that silky blanket, coming to rest in shining tide pools at your feet.

About the artist:
I view my painting experience as a "conversation with the light". It's a constant give and take during the hour or so that I spend on location. My desire is that, even without words, the viewer sees that there is room in this dialog for them, too.

I am a professional fine artist, working mainly in watercolor and occasionally in oil in the Seattle, WA area. I have been teaching watercolor since 1979. My work is in corporate and private collections internationally and has been published by Northlight Books and various art periodicals. My sketches on Flickr have been featured in "Explore" numerous times.  I am a blog correspondent for Seattle Urban Sketchers, and recently attended the 8th Annual USK Symposium in Chicago and the 7th Annual USK Symposium at University of Manchester, UK.


  • Northwest Watercolor Society, Signature Member
  • Women Painters of Washington, Signature Member
  • National Collage Society, Signature and President Emeritus 
  • Blog Correspondent for Seattle Urban Sketchers
  • Teaching artist at Kirkland Arts Center, Skagit Valley College, North Cascades Institute and others

Saturday, September 9, 2017

After the Rain

Finally! After more than 50 days without rain, forest fires and smoky, hazy air with ashes from forest fires falling on our heads, we had measurable rain for a few hours today. What a relief!
The fields still look dry with our new record for most consecutive days without measurable precipitation (55 straight), the city’s combined rainfall tally the past two months of just 0.02 inches ties 1914 for the driest July-August on record.
I hopped into the "mobile studio" and drove to a spot across the road from an old barn, shoulder deep in dry grass and right on the flight path to the municipal airport. Here's my initial pencil line work, just one, in my Pentalic Aquajournal and my watercolor set up, using the new color dots from QoR, one of our generous sponsors from the Chicago Urbansketchers Symposium.
Here's my mobile studio setup, trying out the little QoR sample palette.

Rain at last! Some like it, some don't.

It finally rained after 55 straight days of dry weather. You tend to forget a few things about taking sunshine for granted:
  1. No matter how diligently you water your plants, they don't appreciate it as much as even a few drops of rain. (That's "Knucklehead" the potted pumpkin. Look at those big leaves reaching for the raindrops!)
  2. Not a good idea to  use water soluble ink, even if you're sketching under the eaves on a dry patch of the sidewalk. Instant specks!
  3. A cat can forget that its secret nap lair leaks in the rain.
Our neighbor cat emerged from her secret nap lair, VERY disgruntled and soaking wet.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Chicago Symposium, Day 1

That's me in a black top next to the bench, taking a panoramic photo of our huge group on our way to the first Sketch Walk at the USK 8th Annual Symposium 2017. We walked up Michigan Avenue to the South Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago. Eventually the approximately 200 sketchers strung out for three blocks and through several stoplights.
This was the sketch walk gathering point outside of the symposium venue on the first morning. Thanks to the volunteers who guided us to the best sketching spots in the city.  None of these photos can truly express the impact of  the entire crowd of around 200 sketchers walking together along the streets of  Chicago, stopping for a while to see the world one sketch at a time..
The reflecting pool and fountain at the south garden of the Chicago Art Institute was a tempting spot to try to stay cool while sketching an inspiring subject.

I decided to go on ahead of the group to the north garden of the Institute, our second stop on the sketchwalk. It's a smaller space and even without the fountain, provided a nice shady spot with benches, tables and chairs perfect for sketching. Outdoor sculpture, like Alexander Calder’s Flying Dragon, is carefully sited. I always enjoy viewing from different angles and chose this north facing profile because it seemed not at all like a dragon, but like some exotic tropical bloom, repeating the shapes of the surrounding foliage and other plantings.
Yesterday morning we went out on our own to see the Buckingham Fountain. Even at 8:00 am, it was hot enough out in the sun to appreciate the cooling windblown mist off the edge of the fountain.
Buckingham Fountain with Chicago skyline. 7/25/17