Patterson, Georgia Atlantic Coastline Depot

I surprise myself sometimes – I’ve been thinking of doing paintings of the Patterson, Georgia train depot for at least seven years. My grandmother, Mary Lydia Tabor Lewis, was Station agent there from 1918 til 1968. In 2020, I decided to see what I could do from multiple black and white photos. So here they are, three views: 1953 (reference photo taken by my mother), 1960 (taken by me), and 1970 (photographer unknown). I’m mostly happy with how they came out! An article on my grandmother written by my uncle, Walter Berg, can be found at

View 1 – Morning Excursion: Thanks to the folks at the Facebook group, Atlantic Coast Line/Seaboard Air Line Railroads Historical Society, for their help with the color of the railroad cars! Photo from 1953, probably taken by my mother on the morning I joined the kindergarten class for their train excursion to Blackshear. I was 4 1/2 and the teacher invited me to come along. The woman in the very back with the white hair and her hand shading her eyes was my grandmother, station agent for the depot.

View 2 – Walking to the Depot: This is from a 1960 photo I took with my brownie camera – the depot had recently been freshly painted with purple trim and I thought it looked particularly imposing. My grandmother, the station agent, was not happy about the purple.

View 3 – 4 O’Clock in Georgia: The first one I did! This is from a photo on the map of Patterson, probably around 1970. No credit was included for the photographer. I painted it for my aunt who sent me the map brochure, and suggested I paint it, but leave off the telephone pole and add the baggage cart that always sat on the platform. So that’s what I did! If I can locate the photographer, and get permission to use the photo for reference, I’ll repaint with the telephone pole for possible sale.

October 2020 Daily Sketching Challenge

2020 oct low res

For several years I’ve followed the daily prompts for October provided by Inktober. However, this year I was happier following my own ideas for Every Day in May, so I decided to do the same for the 10th month. Most of what I came up with was very seasonal and nature oriented. I tweaked them a bit as I moved thru the list, but overall most of them fit nicely into a natural scheme.

I worked in the third journal I described earlier this week, with the difference that eight of the pages were from a brown, kraft type paper. This presented it’s own challenges, as the watercolors I’m accustomed to didn’t show up well. I tried pastels, which were better, but rubbed off easily and weren’t easy for me to control. Water color pencils did a little better and I wound up with a combination of the three media on those pages. I added tracing paper interleaves as needed to keep the chalk from smearing on facing pages.

I’m very pleased with how these came out! It’s difficult to choose a favorite – maybe the squirrel, or the gourds? the cotton boll? The milkweed! Most were done freehand, and several have already done double duty as greeting cards. I learn so much from daily sketching – give it a try!

UK in May!

edim uk tour 2020 bordered small

For the past several years I’ve sketched in the Every Day in May challenge. Prompts are provided in the EDiM Facebook group and participants post their pieces daily. It’s great fun to see what everyone comes up with, and all skill levels are welcome. This year, as I mentioned in a previous post, I planned to be traveling in England and Scotland for a couple of weeks in May. By April it was clear this wasn’t going to happen.

I already had the lovely UK in May journal… so I sketched daily following our itinerary! For the first week or so I also incorporated the EDiM prompts, but I balked at ‘roll of toilet paper’. The reference images came from a friends’ photos, the web, and one from my last visit to London in 1970. It was an intriguing adventure. I was intrigued by the ancient bridges I discovered trolling the web – 17th century packhorse and midieval clapper versions. You’ll see quite a few of these above. I learned that the 12th century Yorkshire town of Knaresborough has talking crows at its castle. My favorite is of the Roman Baths, with our cat Ink Spot in the foreground!

This journal also contains a section of graph paper pages which were intended for daily notes of our travels. So for each daily sketch I included notes about the drawing, and references to what was happening that day. I’ve enjoyed reading back over these, and will incorporate that into future journals. There’s still lots of room left in this sketchbook, so I plan to use it when we reschedule our tour!

Daily Sketches During Quarantine

quarantine sketches small

Toward the end of February, once my sister and I had finished making all the reservations for our May independent tour of England and Scotland, I started sketching daily to pass the time. Then March 13th the Governor of Virginia, in response to the concerns regarding Covid-19, ordered stay-at-home quarantine for our state, similar to actions across the USA and global community. Hmmm.

I had joined the Facebook group, Urban Sketchers of London, in anticipation of our trip. That group sent out prompts for a 30-day ‘urban sketchers at home’ challenge. So March 20th I began using those suggestions for my daily sketches. That took me thru April 18th, and you can see the compilation of both in the photograph above. These were done in the Days journal you saw in my previous post. Each individual sketch page is 4 1/2″ by 6″.

Some of my favorites in this series are of the amaryllis lilies, from bulbs to blooms! I was amazed by the two self portraits I did for the Urban Sketcher prompts – I’d never tried doing one before and these weren’t completely obnoxious. Each of the sketches brings to mind a treasured experience and moment during this strange time.  

2020 Sketching

I’m back to my blog! It seems the editing function has been revamped since my last post in February, so I’m having a bit of a learning curve this morning. We’ll see how this goes!

One would think with all the time on my hands as a result of Covid-19 lock downs this spring and summer, I would have gotten caught up on all kinds of projects. That didn’t happen. Instead I made journals and did a lot of daily sketching. The sketchbooks included one for the trip my sister and I had just finished scheduling for May thru England and Scotland; one for the daily sketches, and a Smoky Mountain inspired bear journal! All three contained 90 lb. multi media paper.

I found a handy pen holder at our local craft store to hold my pigma pen and pencil that was a good fit for the UK journal. The other two nestle nicely inside another find from the craft store – a zippered pouch with additional room for pen, pencil, water brush and paints!

Stay tuned for more on sketch adventures!

Coastal Ruin – Development of a Painting

This is one of my favorite images from the trip my sister and I took to Ireland in 2018! I did a watercolor sketch of it early last year, but wasn’t happy with the way the rocks came out, so set it aside. Feeling more confident this winter, I decided to do two similar views of the ruin. However, when I had them sketched out, the By the Sea image was lacking; I tore it up and threw it away. What if I try it smaller, and add some sheep?! And my artistic younger daughter had given me a Fineline resist pen – I could try that out! So that’s what I did. Sheep worked well; the rocks came out OK.

For inspiration and technique tips for rocks, I turned to YouTube and found a very helpful video by Dave Usher titled ‘Using a plastic card to create rocks and texture in watercolour’.  Just what I needed! With renewed enthusiasm and new tricks up my sleeve, Coastal Ruin came together nicely!

This piece will be on view and available for purchase this weekend at the Bon Air Artists Annual Show and Fundraiser at the Independence Golf Club here in Midlothian, Virginia. Information shown below. Hope you can join us!

2020 annual show

Development of an Art Quilt

Back in October of last year, I decided I would make an art quilt from a photo for my quilt guild’s 2020 challenge, On the Road Again. All entries will go to the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival the end of February in Hampton Roads, Virginia. I’d recently come across a National Geographic from 1949 with a story on expeditions into Bryce Canyon National which included a photo of a woody station wagon among the arches of Utah. Which brought to mind some of my parents travels. So I went digging thru my father’s extensive collection of slides, prints and negatives. I found the three photos shown above!

I liked the one of my mother and the campfire, but felt the other two had more general appeal. Since there were in black and white, I needed to decide on appropriate colors. Since I also needed some watercolors for Bon Air Artists upcoming art show February 22 and 23, I did watercolor paintings for the two images. I love the grill of the Chevy, but was a bit nervous about rendering it in fabric, so for the quilt I went with the car and trailer.

And today I finished the quilt! I’m very pleased with how both watercolors and the quilt came out. If you’re in Virginia the end of February, come by the art show and/or the quilt festival and check them out! You’ll find details on the links highlighted above.

Apples to Oranges

The Bon Air Artists Association All Member Show opened last  Friday evening at the Crossroads Art Center here in Richmond, Virginia. Each exhibiting member may enter one piece, and this was my submission. Awards were given at the opening reception, and competition was fierce! I was honored to receive a second last year, but none this year. Which is fine with me. Our judge, Joey Burroughs, did a grand job and his talk was insightful. I’m pleased with my effort and in case you might be interested, here’s the back story of the watercolor shown above.

While I was still working in the IT field, in the late 90’s, one of the system engineers explained to me how the computer transmits different data formats using the same software. His example was that the system is set up for one format, transmitting oranges,.  If you have an apple to transmit, the software wraps it up so it looks like an orange; transmits it; then unwraps it on the other end. Viola! Your apple!

If that sounds a bit confusing to you, you get a feel for the difficulty I had understanding it. However, the image of an apple wrapped up as an orange was amusing and stuck with me. I staged a photo representing my understanding a year or so later,  then my sister made note cards from it, and distributed them to our family at Christmas. I forgot about it.

Last winter, now happily retired, I spent several months sorting the letters and papers my mother saved thru the 80’s and 90’s and came across some of those note cards. I tracked down my original photos, and contemplated a watercolor. I’m very fond of that particular tablecloth pattern, and tho I felt the stripes in the sketch worked, I wanted to see if I could capture the woven design. I wasn’t worried about being able to paint the fruit, but I did want to be sure I remembered the lighting highlights. I masked those and the centers of the tablecloth flowers. And took my time. A fine brush helped with the tablecloth. Not bad!

The All Member show will be up thru the last week of November – if you get a chance, stop by. It will be worth your time.


River Barrow Bridge

The River Barrow bridge, in Graiguenamanagh,”Village of the Monks”, in County Kilkenny, Ireland was one of my favorite vistas in Ireland. Two of the sights I was particularly looking forward to seeing on our tour were thatched cottages and stone bridges. Didn’t do so well on the first; seems insurance premiums for electrified thatched cottages have become exorbitant. But the bridges were awesome!

The first photo above is a sketch I did on site and captures the mountain looming over the bridge, which I liked. However, when I got home the photo I worked from for the second sketch didn’t show the hill. When I decided to do an 11×14 watercolor for the upcoming Gallery 54 show, I asked my sister and travel companion if I could use her photo, and she graciously agreed.

The studio shot and the final painting are based on her image, which shows the hillside peeking over the bridge. She’d also had me and our third travel buddy get the ducks to pose to her specifications, so I’ve done my best to include them!




Dingle Peninsula


One of my favorite areas in our tour around southern Ireland was the Dingle Peninsula. It was a misty day with fog rolling in and out as our bus of 14 intrepid travelers stepped out briefly at this pasture near the sea. When I got home last fall, I made the first sketch shown above. I was fascinated by the blue house, and the view thru the fence. I masked the fence wires until everything else had been painted, then rubbed of the mastic and did the wires with a rigger brush and water soluble pen. I wasn’t best pleased with the result, but comments on Instagram were favorable, so I gave it another try.

This time I didn’t mask the wires, although I did mask some of the white lichen on the rocks. As the last step I did the fence with permanent pen. Better.

Meanwhile, the paints I had didn’t quite capture the color of the blue house. I tried cobalt teal mixed with cobalt but wasn’t happy with the result. So I had to visit the local art supply store (“please don’t throw me in that briar patch”) and they were very helpful. I came home with a tube of Verditer Blue – just right!

I hope you enjoy this glimpse of the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. If you’d like to see it in person, come by the Gallery 54 at First Unitarian Universalist Church this coming week – hope to see you there!