Sunday, August 28, 2022

"Secret Message"...can you find it?

Saint Michael's Mount

                                           Can you find my secret message?

This summer my family visited the United Kingdom. As guests of good friends from nearby Marazion, a tour of St Michael's Mount nearby was a favorite. I was inspired, and I hope you will be too, by this castle fortress, St Michael's Mount, off the coast of Cornwall. Not only is it isolated high on a cliff on an island but no doubt has a long history which I will be exploring. But for now, in a peaceful time period of its life, with tourists climbing its colorful landscaped rock path, it looks like it could last many more lifetimes and tell even more stories. I immediately wanted to paint it and, in keeping with the Medieval customs of secret passages, secret messengers and secret alliances, I have painted a secret message in my painting, too. Let me know if you can find it.

As for my techniques, I used a tablet sheet ( 24"x 18") of Strathmore 140# paper and designed the path in a lighter color to guide the viewer up to the top of the steep slope. The greens were also intended to be a secondary path. I love negative painting so used some of those shapes within shapes to describe shrubbery and grasses, especially in the foreground. With some creative license on the colors most of them transparents, I repeated them throughout the twisting landscape.
This painting titled "Secret Message" has been entered in the Waterloo Watercolor Fall Show which will take place in September. I also had 11"x15" prints made at Coastal Giclee. Contact me if you are interested or check my Etsy store, Watergirl Art

Some steps in the process:

If you are in the Austin metroplex and want to take an in person class, please consider this one day Saturday work shop on Oct 8th:

Print your own merchandise including note cards, prints and more from my Fine Art America website or visit my Etsy store, Watergirl Art. Coming 2022 Holiday card!

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

"Volunteers!" a summer surprise in my garden


 Imagine the hottest June on record and you might be in Austin, Texas. It easily reached 100 degrees well before summer arrived. And our normally wet May, was not at all wet.  Keeping our plants alive in this dry heat is a daily task. Imagine my surprise when a large front pot in full sun sprouted sturdy portulaca. aka purslane. These little darlings love the heat! And I love them...this is a perky and colorful, fun plant!

So, it was only natural that these blossoms and buds inspired a watercolor just in time for a demo I was doing for the CenterArt Club in Round Rock on June 15th. Many thanks to Cecelia Lankes for inviting me and to Darrell Hutchinson for promoting and introducing me. What a great group! This group meets at the Allen R. Baca Center, an enviable facility for residents in that area ages 50 and above. I stopped by the Downtowner Gallery to see their latest artwork while there. Make a point to stop by this well done art space in downtown Round Rock. Way to go Round Rock!!

I decided to paint this as a round image because the shape mimics the roundness of the leaves and blooms. I painted half of it beforehand and demonstrated, separately, the background, leaves and blooms. in the small time period.  Here is a little of that process:

First, my reference photos:

Always start with a color and B/W copy of my reference photo. The B/W is an easy value study which I emphasize as an important tool. At a minimum, you should strive for 5 values from lights to your darks in every painting. It gives. it depth, 3 dimensionality and interest for the viewer.

Have a view of these nearby to use as you paint ...

This was my half done painting prior to the demonstration. I painted on the other half while there with the aid of an overhead camera for attendees.  I used transparent watercolors such as Prussian Blue and Opera Pink for the wet on wet application of the background. The leaves are also done wet on wet with Hansa Yellow and Prussian Blue, leaving some of the white of the paper. Each petal was done separately either Hansa Yellow or a combination of Hansa with Opera Pink for my orange blooms. Mask was used on the petals for tiny water droplets.

I completed the painting later but sent it out to these painters. The center background needed to be a little different so I added Cobalt Turquoise, an opaque watercolor, as the last glaze in that area.

And, guess what, I decided to order a few tiles with this bright image on them...these are available at The Art Escape ot the Shops at the Oasis in Austin.

Thank you to the Center Art Club for having me. I knew a few of these artists ( Leslie, Cecelia, Janet and more)  and for my friends who showed up to support me, Becky and Dan. It was such a welcoming group!

Friday, April 29, 2022

Take a Workshop…you will be amazed!

 I know what you are thinking…how much more can anyone say to advance my understanding in watercolor? The answer is PLENTY! 

I just finished teaching 5 March Classes with some beginner to intermediate painters and watched them grow exponentially each week. We painted a still life, a landscape, a floral, an animal and a person. It was a great deal to cover. I always learn something when I teach ! The next week April 4-7, I attended an intense and rewarding Carol Carter ( internationally known, St.Louis based ) workshop along with 18 others held in Austin. Both teaching and attending made me grow as an artist but the deeper experience was to awaken from just doing what Carol does to making it a part of my own skill set. I hope my students got a little of that from me.

Here are some of my student’s paintings:

                                                                            Background for drama and dog fur lessons

And then I attended a very informative workshop taught by Carol Carter

Here we are at work with Carol Carter who simplified her technique into 10 simple “rules” that will make any painting better. We painted horses with a limited palette and zebras with a rainbow on all stripes followed by a wash. 

This is Carol looking at our horses and being quite complimentary!
Here is Carol during her instruction process which included a class display after each of the four paintings.

Jane was new to this medium!

Shevawn was deep in her thought process


Becky doing her wash

Rashmi working on zebra designs


                                                                         Me striping

Carol with her limited palette ponies

Class discussions were helpful and built a strong connection with Carol's philosophy

My next workshop is one I am teaching on May 14th based on my painting, "Nopaloosa". It's a full class and I'll be busy with this one. Stay tuned....cactus might be prickly but their blooms are delicate and beautiful!

Please visit my Etsy store, Watergirl Art or my store at Fine Art America for prints, note cards and more!

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Teaching is a passion!

hat a pleasure it is to introduce new artists to watercolors!

After almost two years of NOT meeting in person, and despite icy road conditions and...yes, our ongoing struggle with Covid, I taught a full class at Lost Pines Art Center in Bastrop on February 5th. It was a wonderful group of various ages and experience. We painted a winter scene of mine titled "Deer's Winter". We were all vaccinated and ready to test our immunity!

I selected this scene for several's winter and the colors are all cool in temperature except for the deer, who is the focal point. it also allows the painter to create sky, water, trees, rocks and an animal. My classes are always geared toward a beginner but many who have painted a long time are stuck in a routine that does not allow new exploration of shapes, colors and techniques. I often get a longtime painter who no longer enjoys their tried and true methods and can't think of anything inspiring to paint. That will not happen if you try a few new tricks. One is REALLY looking at things with an artistic eye. Try to capture with your phone camera ( they are really good photos) like a moment of sunlight or shattered glass, a cast shadow, a sunset on water. The other is to try underpainting and spraying, splattering and using your fingers to create textures before you even begin a scene. It is never the same.  In other words, you create your own inspiration. 

We work quickly to cover all the various sections but not everyone paints at the same speed so instructions are provided to finish at your own leisure after class. It is also better to take a break and come back to a painting when you are fresh rather than make some "tired" mistakes.

I have taught this workshop at two art centers so do not want to leave out all my winter painters...I'm proud of them all. And I am also happy to say some have repeated several one day work shops with me. 

This are a few of the images from this one day effort Marble Falls, TX

And here are my Bastrop painters ... Mike has a bold approach to color

Jean was like a sponge absorbing the information 

A delicate touch with a warm yellow sunrise

True use of our color selection. I love this sky!

Many thanks to the incredible Lost Pines Art Center that is supported in Bastrop by many patrons, artists and the City government. Don’t miss their First Saturday celebrations each month!

Contact me for Art classes. My next workshop is Saturday, May 14 th at St Matthews Episcopal Church in Austin. Sponsored by Waterloo Watercolor Group:

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Animal Art is Alive …and the animals need your help in 2022!

We all love animals! The popularity of circuses, zoos and aquariums has attracted humans of every age, size, color and country, for centuries. Who knew giant fish could be trained to perform?  I guess Sea World did!

But about the art surrounding this topic….paintings in all mediums have featured pets and exotic animals since kingdoms collected these treasures. They were hung in palaces in ornate frames, larger than life size and were stolen by conquering armies. In recent times, pet portraits have been a heart warming commission to honor a faithful pet. I know, I’ve done many of them. We LOVE our animals.

This one, one of my favorites, was of my niece, Joan and her adorable companion, a King Charles Spaniel. 

And Jeff's  adorable puppy who is now huge!....

  And our beloved Addie, smart and very sassy!

But there are those species who are endangered and in need of both awareness and fund raising to extend their future on this planet. It’s a cause I care about too.

One of my favorite art buddies, Ron Weidmann, gave me permission to show you some of his Artwork done on their behalf. Here are some of his pencil/pastel sketches of endangered species that deserve our attention:

                                        The capuchin and Tamarind

A recent calendar published by my friend Leslie Kjellstrand features her favorites and I particularly like this guy...

OMG, It's January!

There are so many more! We enjoy the sounds and flutter of birds but air pollution and drought are destroying their habitats and the sea creatures 

who are being strangled by plastics. Penguins as well as other animals deal with drastic climate change that is reducing populations from the north to south poles. Even our food supply is endangered by the careless attitude of many humans. Don't be one of them. Help in every way you can. And paint a few or..... ask me to do that!

Contact me to commission an animal portrait. I will donate 25% to your chosen animal shelter or cause.

Happy New Year!
Carol Sue

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Meet Me at the Fountain of Hope....July Workshop and Book preview

 Hello, artists,

We have somehow survived the pandemic...for me it has been through my artwork. My workbook "Paint With Me...watercolor my way" is almost completed. My goal is to have copies available in October. There are 10 guided painting lessons to complete, each with a different emphasis for design, color and complexity. Supplies, lessons learned and lots of color mixing approaches are covered.  Each page has room for your own notes. It is a beginner's book but many longtime painters may find this information useful. My goal is to keep the cost under $40. If you would like to pre-order, just let me know.

Meanwhile I am delighted to offer a watercolor workshop in July on 3 Watercolor Wednesdays, July 7,14 and 21. It will be a "mixed class" available on both zoom and in person with distancing at my home studio for 6 vaccinated Austin area artists. Contact me for pricing and a supply list:                   

I selected this scene for its beauty and also it's attention to architecture, cascading water and distant people. I'm calling it "The Fountain of Hope" for several reasons. I hope we will soon be able to travel to Europe again, I hope the old World colors and monuments will always be available and I hope you will try new experiences in your paintings. One of these new experiences might be adding people to your scenes. They may seem difficult but keep in mind, they are simply shapes and can be handled with relative ease. And , remember, they steal the show! I think you can see that in this sequence of painting episodes that shows I saved them for last.

The sketch was masked ( I use Pebeo which shows blue in this photo) to preserve any whites but very specifically to portray falling water and its wiggles and splashes. Can you hear it?
 I hope so.

Here is what the removed mask reveals...its very important

I will paint along with the students first focusing on the columns, then the fountain itself and lastly the foreground and people.
Here is my finished painting:

And eventually we will all have our own versions of this scene. Remember, it is not intended for all of ours to look the same. They won't and that is the beauty of artful expression, it has no defined preconception of a finished product. I encourage using other colors and your own ideas. The brand of paint, your brushes and paper do make a difference. For example, not all manufacturers have the same formula for burnt varies.

Happy painting and let's keep in touch!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021 to create an online store with Etsy



                     Steppin' Out in available as a notecard in my Etsy store, 

                                                                     Watergirl Art

Etsy is a very popular site for those who have small businesses. During Covid, it has become even more popular. The word "etsy" has no particular meaning but in Greek it is "just because" which might be all the reason you need. For me, I find my expenses could use a little help as this is an expensive craft. There's always something new I want to buy, shows I want to enter, custom framing or a class I want to take.  I fought the idea of it for several years because I thought it would be too technical, too time consuming and too costly. I really just want to paint. In January 2020, I made the decision to open my own store, Watergirl Art, and have been pleased with the ease in all of these areas. It is relatively inexpensive.

1. Create a catchy, meaningful name for your store. Watergirl works for me because watercolor is my medum and I also swim...I am a water girl! Don't worry about how many products you have. Etsy charges 20 cents per item every 3 months. You can make this an automatic renewal or cancel at that point.  I have approximately 40 items such as note cards and prints and a few original watercolors that are unframed. Each has an item number and a quantity of what is in stock. All of my items are in stock in my home studio so I can offer a quick turnaround when someone orders. You will have the opportunity to decide your turnaround time and whether or not you want to keep an inventory or order as someone orders.

2. Photos are key: Make them interesting and, if you can, show your inspiration or reference photos. Not all stores are selling the same products so the Etsy suggestions are generic. Here are the Etsy suggestions for your photos:

Use up to ten photos to show your item's most important qualities.


  • Use natural light and no flash.
  • Include a common object for scale.
  • Show the item being held, worn, or used.
  • Shoot against a clean, simple background.

3. About You and operating as a business: You will be asked to provide an image as a shopkeeper and to make a small statement describing yourself and your items. All favorited items ( shown with a heart image) and your comments from buyers are available to the public. They want to know who and what they are dealing with. I live in Texas and charge 8.25% state tax on my items. I also have a tax number to report my collected tax which I pay annually in January of each year. Since I offer free mailing within the US I do have to consider that in my pricing. For example, a 5"x7"note card with envelope is $6.00. That may seem high but I had to create the artwork, have the note card made, purchase an envelope and then mail it. 

4. Security and your banking: I keep my artwork income and expenses in a separate account. The main reason is security because you will be asked to provide an account for deposits and payments. I also use Quikbooks which costs only $4.95/month and keeps an accounting way better than I do. It even tracks your mileage. Remember, all of this is to make it easy. I just want to paint.

5. What does Etsy do:

     Storefront:  But let's discuss what Etsy does for its shop owners.  It provides a storefront that is connected globally to shoppers using your images of what you have for sale. You are also in charge of all the text as you enter an item, although they make suggestions that are very helpful. All communications to you regarding an item, questions, etc to the site are sent immediately to your email. When a purchase is made, you are sent reminders and they will reduce your inventory for you automatically. The way you collect your money is also up to you. You can use Venmo, PayPal or Square or the vehicle of your choice to get it in your bank account. A nice touch. You are encouraged to use up to 500 words to describe each item so a weekly check of your shop to update and refresh your items, add , rearrange and promote. I try to do this weekly.

    Statistics: Etsy keeps daily statistics of which items are being looked at and where the viewer came from. I usually check it daily. This is very helpful as you can determine your most popular item through these hits even though it may not be purchased as yet. Christmas cards are a fun seasonal item and I create one annually. I offer a matching envelope, most with an easy zip strip for sealing. If you can categorize your note cards within a group like Birthday, Anniversary, Best Wishes, etc. it will help circulate them. Competition is stiff.

    Promotions: So how does Etsy really make money? It has many opportunities for you to advertise or put your items on sale. Each comes with a fee. You can spend as little or as much as you wish and can connect to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Help is available if you have any questions. There is also a community of shop owners who have shared their successes.

Reach more buyers with Etsy Ads

Etsy Ads makes your items more prominent in Etsy search, on category pages—even on other listing pages. You’re in control of which listings you promote and how much you spend.

I will close with a few of my in stock items with the options shown. I also sell at an Austin storefront , The Art Escape, so that I have a local and worldwide market.

I hope this brief tutorial helps you. I started by following a fellow artist, Carlin Blahnik and I'm writing this to inspire you to showcase and sell your art...if that is your goal. Or maybe you just want to paint!
                               Please visit my store :

Zoom 2020

"Secret Message"...can you find it?

Saint Michael's Mount                                             Can you find my secret message? This summer my family visited the Uni...