Time Away. Who doesn’t like a little time away from the ordinary? I prepared a few canvas boards to bring up here to the lake for a week of painting. A little solitary time with the oils and brushes. The above painting  is based on finding a fishing bobber in the sand. I picked it up and brought it back to the cabin and painted this for my brother. Because walking along the lake reminds me of my Dad, and thinking of my Dad reminds me of fishing, and thinking of fishing with my Dad reminds me of fishing with my brother when we were kids.

A calm sky and a lone boat in the sand ~ not what it looks like at Donner Lake, but I’ve yet to practice the pines that surround me.

Big glowing persimmon on a wooden crate ~ just because I wanted to see if I could paint it.

The most “realistic” pear I’ve ever painted. I kept wanting to add “digital speckles” but nope.

Key on a string ~ I have many of these vintage keys. My plan is to frame it with a wide wooden frame and drill holes along the bottom piece, adding small hooks to hang keys on at the cabin.

Blue Bowl ~ I feel like I got the reflections in the right places at least.

I have done a small series of landscapes digitally and thought I’d give it a go in oils. Eventually I hope to “branch out” with larger trees.

Lunch ~ I was told it looks like some sort of hat from Harry Potter (?) A small mosquito landed on the background and is still stuck in the oils. . . the perils of painting at the lake!

A simple cherry ~ while the oils were still wet, I moved the highlight to the left where it should be. Sometimes you cannot see the forest through the trees. This will be going to my sister-in-law, probably for her cabin in Northern Michigan where the cherries grow best.

And lastly, the stack of coffee cups inspired by all the stacks of coffee cups I’ve seen on Pinterest. I had painted this prior to coming to the lake, but decided to add the blue cup at the top. Why not? One more cup of coffee never hurts.

A week at the lake and I will return with 10 paintings. It’s a start. We will see where it goes. . . I really must think about going home now. I won’t be able to keep up the pace I’ve had here but the easel will be up and the brushes will be out.

Thank you for following along on the journey.




Landscapes seem to be my thing lately. I’m working with traditional oils and with Corel Painter for what seems to have turned into a series of landscapes. I’ve learned a great deal by continuing down this path and am hoping that I begin to branch out into other landscape compositions soon. They all seem to have a steady horizon line punctuated by tiny trees. Cattail Pond above ended up with a few tiny trees, too. But, I may just embrace the straight horizons and little trees, why stress it? Here, the foreground was not working as well as I’d like so it was quickly decided to add the pond. Why not? It’s only pixel pushing.

Folsom Lake ~ Corel Painter ~ from a blank canvas

Between Seasons ~ Corel Painter ~ from a blank canvas

Stormy Skies ~ Corel Painter ~ from a blank canvas

Summer Field ~ Corel Painter ~ from a blank canvas

Field of Poppies ~ Corel Painter ~ from a blank canvas

Follow the River ~ Corel Painter ~ from a blank canvas

An Early Snow ~ Corel Painter ~ from a blank canvas

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are enjoying a lovely Spring.






I’ve been painting pears, looking at pears, really getting to know them. I can’t even begin to explain it. But pears have occupied my painterly efforts lately and it has been enjoyable having them in the studio. I look at them in the light, I look at the shadows they make, I stand them up, I lay them down. Occasionally I even eat one.

With these two painted images, above, please be impressed (if only just a little) that I have their faint shadow painted on the background. Go ahead, scroll back up and look at those nice shadows! Yes, I’ve probably obsessed just a bit about pears.

Painting the backgrounds has been just as entertaining as the pears, themselves. We’ll see how much farther this goes after a couple more days.

Warmer weather is beginning to hit giving us plenty of sunshine with all things blooming in wild abandon. Still a few snow flurries in the mountains and still some snow hanging around up there, but I’m already thinking ahead to when the kayaks come out. Hope your day includes a spring breeze, some sunshine, and perhaps even a pear.

Thanks for stopping by . . .


  • April 2, 2017 - 8:09 pm

    Lisa Gordon - These are absolutely beautiful, Karen!ReplyCancel

    • April 11, 2017 - 11:35 pm

      pwbykb - Thank you Lisa Gordon ~ my comments are not working well on my blog, my apologiesReplyCancel

These daisies were painted in Corel Painter using digital chalk pastel brushes. So many people have asked how I work, so I will share the work flow for this particular image. I build up a painting just as if I were painting with real media beginning with an underpainting. There are several “ugly” steps, but once you get past these it really comes to life with finishing touches.

It begins in Corel Painter with the canvas layer filled to a soft color. You don’t really want to work on a stark white canvas, do you? Here you can see my most basic sketch ~ just a few odd circles to indicate where I will place the flowers. As you can see, you really do not need to be able to draw 🙂

Next comes the laying in of basic colors. No need to worry, you can make any changes you wish along the way. I warned you, this is one of the “ugly” steps. I am working with paper textures chosen for some of the brush strokes to get the underpainting in place. I just want to get a few “ideas” in place.

Adding light and darks thinking about where some shadows would be:

Now think about what will be under the daisy petals ~ more shadows. Here I’ve added shadows for the petals.

A little more work on the flower centers:

Adding some underlying petals to begin the shapes:

Yes, still quite “ugly”, I know. Finally adding the top petals. I’ve not used the color white here at all. I’ve used pale blues, pale violets, pale yellows and trying to think about the light source.

Adding some stems. Remember you can go back down in the layer stack to do this so that all of the stems are not on top of your flowers. And you can adjust the blending modes and opacity of any layers as you work, too.

More work on the flower centers and adding the tiny petals to littlest flowers:

I’ve moved to Photoshop now and decided on a slight crop along with a brightness adjustment. This is personal preference.

Still in Photoshop, I’ve given the image a tone adjustment.

I love painting with paper textures. Here I’ve given this painting a more cohesive look with a bit of texture work:

I’m not happy with the upper right corner, so I did a little “repair”.

And the final touch, I’ve added some little seeds to the flower centers for a hint of added detail. Sometimes it is the smallest thing that tells you when an image is finished.

Yes, there are a few things I might want to change on this painting, but I’m happy with the work. And it takes time. Want a little tip? There are no shortcuts. I enjoyed giving these flowers a digital chalk pastel look. But I would not have been able to do it had I not taken some of the detours working in real media along the way. I’ve used all of these rainy, snowy, stormy, wet days of winter to push myself further. But I really am looking forward to spring when I can resume my daily walks outdoors instead of on the treadmill.

Not every image is approached in the same way nor would it require the same steps. This is just a very basic guide for this particular image. However, I have learned that beginning with the “ugly” steps of an underpainting gives me the results that I’m looking for.

Let me know what you think!



  • February 21, 2017 - 3:31 pm

    Joy - This is beautiful Karen! I love how you get so much texture into your paintings!!ReplyCancel

    • March 3, 2017 - 4:14 pm

      pwbykb - thank you Joy Hall, very much ~ReplyCancel

  • February 24, 2017 - 3:03 am

    sher falls - thanx for the lesson! . . . I do soooo love your work, Karen!ReplyCancel

    • March 2, 2017 - 1:36 am

      pwbykb - thank you Sher Falls for stopping by the blog!ReplyCancel

  • March 2, 2017 - 1:36 am

    pwbykb - thank you Joy Hall, very muchReplyCancel

Working away on new things, always testing, pushing, and learning. And why not? If I always work the way I’ve worked I’ll always have the same outcome. This artwork was created from imagination. No underlying photograph and no reference photo. It is titled An Early Snow. Which is kind of funny because the snows have really hit hard this winter. In January alone there has been 20 feet of snow in the Tahoe/Donner area. This just astounds me given the drought we have been in for so many years. I really do not mind the rain here in the “flats” and tomorrow I’ll find out just what it is like up in the mountains. It’s time to start digging out, shoveling, clearing the deck. The shoreline in this image was inspired by Donner Lake even if the snow is currently much deeper than illustrated here.

I’m at a point where I’m jumping off a bit and testing out what I know, or more accurately what I think I know. I always come back to Corel Painter, my favorite painting software for many reasons. But I have been on a few detours the past year working in real media, wet paints, chalk pastels, oils, and more. I really should have done this a long time ago because I can see how much it has helped. Now when I sit down and open Corel Painter I have a much better feel for what the digital brushes will do when used on a digital canvas. So, I’ll keep pushing forward even though I will probably take a few more detours this year.

Follow The River. I used a photo reference which means that the photo reference sits off to the side and is used as a mental guide. This allows you to make all the decisions ~ the composition, choosing colors, and much more. Very freeing and very frustrating at the same time. Some days it flows really well and other days I cannot paint anything worth saving. The digital trash can needs to be emptied frequently!

Baby Orchard was created with chalk pastels. It helped me understand how the chalks blend and sit on the textured paper. Now I can work with these ideas and concepts digitally.

Row of Trees (catchy title, right?) was created digitally using the same principles of chalk pastels. Again, this one was created from imagination ~ no photos were involved. I begin by filling the empty digital canvas with a color. The first brush strokes are to determine the horizon line. After that the ideas either come or they don’t.

Geraniums was painted in oils. Real, wet oils. Having experienced this groundwork I feel much better about tackling oils digitally.

Plums in the Orchard is digital oils. The classes helped me to better understand not only how the paints mix but how to apply them and how to use the brush strokes to advantage. And this has led me to creating more brushes to use in Corel Painter.

The Yellow Dress was painted in oils applied with a palette knife.  The entire image was done with one palette knife. But now, should I use a digital palette knife I will know what the surface should look like. I had a reference image for this one and I remember swearing a lot while working on it.

None of this has been easy for me. I really wanted my work to improve and stepping outside the box is never a bad idea. I am a life-long learner and hope to always keep learning.

And while I have your attention here (ha!) what is the big deal about painting with textures in Corel Painter lately? I have always painted with textures and used textures in my work. Just sayin’. All this texture stuff is not new to me.

Wherever you are on your journey think about where you want to go, where you want to be. Then decide what steps you might want to take to get there. I think you will enjoy the detours you set up for yourself.

And if you read all of my ramblings here, I sincerely thank you!