Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Rose Jam

Many people were interested in my attempt to make rose jam, so I will take a little side road away from drawing and painting and focus on the art of making food instead.

My Rose Jam Experiment, Photo ©2019 Tina M.Welter
My Rose Jam Experiment, summer 2019

First of all, I did make some changes to the recipe that was in this YouTube link I referenced in my last post. It was too much sugar for my taste! I know you need enough sugar for jams to be safe to store, but there was also added lemon juice so I hoped that would be enough citric acid to do the job instead. I decided to be extra safe and keep my jar of jam in the fridge, just in case. The way I made the recipe, it only yielded one 8 ounce jar.

Here's how I made my jam:

Gather 12 large rose heads, trim and gently rinse in water and drain.

A tip on gathering the roses. The white bits where the rose petals attach to the center are supposed to be trimmed off. The recipe I followed said they make the jam bitter. Don't trim these off each petal individually, it's crazy making! :P  Grasp the entire rose head and trim the white bits off all at once.

Put your clean rose petals in a bowl and add
2 Tbsp of sugar 
1/4 tsp of citric acid OR 1 Tbsp of bottled lemon juice.
Do not use fresh lemon juice, the citric acid levels are too random to be safe. See note below***

Mix the petals and sugar and citric acid together gently with your hands until the rose petals wilt and reduce. Cover the bowl tightly or put them in a resealable plastic bag and let them rest in the fridge for a day or two, but not much longer or they may go brown.

On jam making day:

Sterilize 8 oz. canning jar and lid.

Bring to boil
1 and 3/4 cup water 
Add prepared rose petals from the fridge.
Cook about 10-11 minutes or until rose petals don't "squeak" when you chew one. Be careful not to over cook them.

Petals will look faded and pale. With a slotted spoon, remove them from the water and set aside.

To the water, add
1 and 1/3rd cup sugar...the original recipe called for TRIPLE  that amount. :O  Adjust to suit your taste.
Cook about 10 minutes more, stirring often. Test syrup on a plate by dripping small amounts and letting it cool to check it's consistency.

When it is honey like, re-add the rose petals and bring back to boil.

1/2 tsp. of citric acid OR 2 Tbsp lemon juice and cook for a minute or two more. The rose petals will turn red again. It's really cool to see.

Check consistency and turn off heat. Allow the jam to be a little thinner than you want, it will thicken more as it cools.

Originally, I left the rose petals in the jam, but I discovered I didn't like the texture. Eventually I re-heated the jam and strained the petals out from the syrup. My syrup was rather thin since I didn't use so much sugar. Next time I'll try using 2 cups of sugar. I may use the petals in a cake or something...I'm not sure what yet.

The syrup is really great on yogurt and ice-cream. I also like to add it to carbonated water for an interesting summer fizzy drink.

Here's the FYI I referenced about substituting bottled lemon juice for citric acid...

"Canned foods need to contain a certain amount of acidity or sugar to prevent food-borne illnesses, such as botulism.
Because the acidity of fresh lemon juice varies, it's best to use canned or bottled lemon juice in canning; it has a consistent acidity level.
 Use 2 tablespoons of lemon juice for each 1/2 teaspoon of crystalline citric acid, which is enough for a quart of canned tomatoes."

Happy creating!



The roses I used were blooming in front of our apartment. No pesticides have been used on them since we have lived here.

June Roses photo ©2018 TinaM.Welter

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Preserving the Moment

I wait all year for the roses. I want to admire all the varied colors, marvel at the intricate petal layers and soak in the lovely scent. I was so excited when we first saw the home we rented in 2017 had two types of beautiful roses growing around the house!

Pink Roses in Bud Vase, photo ©2019 Tina M.Welter
Roses from the backyard.

This year I'm going to add the sense of taste to that list and I hope it is another way to preserve all that fleeting beauty a little bit longer. Yes, I've watched those cooking shows where adding too much rose flavor to food can result in a soap-like disaster, :P but I recently watched a YouTube video on how to make rose jam and I am definitely going to give it a try. I have cleaned and trimmed rose petals waiting in my fridge as I type this. Here's the link if you are interested. How to Make Rose Jam
"Time Over Beauty" pencil and digital drawing of four pink roses ©2019 Tina M.Welter
Time Over Beauty

 This spring I had the opportunity to sketch out some designs for a book cover. I wanted to convey the idea of beauty in all the stages of life. Having observed rose blossoms bud, bloom and fade, often with all three stages happening at once on one stem, I feel they are one of the most naturally perfect illustrations of this concept.
"Young and Old" photo of four red roses ©2019 Tina M.Welter
Roses from the front yard.

Even though individual rose blooms may not last long, a rose plant can live much longer. I  hadn't really considered how long until I read about the "Thousand Year Rose" growing on a Catholic cathedral in Germany. 

The Rose of Hildesheim climbs on the wall of Hildesheim Cathedral, Wikipedia
The Rose of Hildesheim

 A long stemmed tea rose plant might live an average of 35-50 years and some antique roses for over 100 years, which is respectable, but the rose that grows on the walls of the Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany is verified to have been growing there for at least 700 years! 

Species: Rosa canina Family: Rosaceae Image No. 3, Wikipedia

It's a rosa canina, one of the simpler five petaled roses, but a rose still the same. It's an interesting story encompassing a king and surviving a world war if you would like to read it for yourself. Rose of Hildesheim

Perhaps they are stretching the story a bit for the "Thousand Year" title, but it is still a charming thought that someone living centuries ago may have stopped and admired this same rose. 

Happy creating and remember to stop and smell or taste the roses!


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Beauty of Translating Photos to Paintings

My favorite combination of elements is finally here, warmer weather plus longer daylight hours equals flowers to photograph! Here are some of this year's spring photographs from our backyard that served as the inspiration for three springtime paintings. 

First of all, crocus and daffodils, those bravest of early flowers daring to lift delicate blossoms out into the cold air.

Photo of first flowers to bloom this year, crocus and mini-daffodils ©2019 Tina M.Welter

Solid purple crocus blooms, photo ©2019 Tina M.Welter

Small 5x7 inch purple crocus painting ©2019 Tina M.Welter
"Little Gems" painting

 I followed their example and dared to try a different technique, printing my photo of the dark purple crocus onto watercolor paper instead of drawing it. I discovered that the moisture in my paint made the printer ink melt away and I would lose my place. It was ok to try, the color values were easy to match, but I think I will stick with drawing in the future because my pencil lines stay put!

In the front yard, female Western Tanagers stopped to snack on the crab-apple tree buds. I know now that these little birds will only stop by for a day or two so I don't hesitate to take a photo of them if I can. I felt really lucky this year to have these little birds visit on a sunny morning with no wind.

Female Western Tanager stops by for a snack of crab apple buds, photo ©2019 Tina M.Welter


Small 5x7 inch acrylic painting of a female Western Tanager ©2019 Tina M.Welter
"Golden Visitor" painting
One of the beauties of painting is being able to emphasize parts of the subject you like. For example, I could highlight the colors of the bird more in my painting than was captured in the photo.

The tall daffodil corner doubled this year with two lovely blooms per bulb instead last year's one bloom each.

Four tall single bloom daffodils, photo ©2019 Tina M.Welter

Small acrylic painting of three daffodils, ©2019 Tina M.Welter
"Heralds of Spring" painting
 Tall and stately, with their natural trumpet shape suggesting  that they are announcing it's officially springtime, I thought they were perfect subjects to paint for an Easter card.

A new landlord arrived this spring too and unfortunately, he wanted all of my flowers moved away from the house. :(

Flower bed with all my spring flower bulbs removed, photo ©2019 Tina M.Welter


Over several long days digging, I managed to get them all into containers, making my own Tina's Flower Ark on the patio. The next challenge will be figuring out how to arrange them into a smaller garden area. 

My rescued flowers in containers on the patio, photo ©2019 Tina M.Welter

One surprising silver lining did occur from moving all the flowers. I had only seen one faded bloom on this iris bed two years ago. I took two thirds of the bed apart in March, but ended up leaving the remaining third to remove later. I was so surprised when these iris formed dark purple buds and started blooming in April!

The last third of the iris bed remaining, photo ©2019 Tina M.Welter

Surprisingly early blooming purple iris I had to move in April, photo ©2019 Tina M.Welter

Here they are, still blooming even after moving them into this temporary pot made from a potting soil bag. Talk about blooming where you are planted! I learned that the iris bed had been too full of roots and needed to have some removed so that the plants would bloom again. So many good life lessons from an elegant iris plant!

Happy creating,


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Exploring, Art Nouveau Style

Triple challenge for February! Design a birthday card in Art Nouveau style featuring a yellow and purple color scheme...

Art Nouveau inspired kitten and hearts painting. ©2019 Tina M.Welter
"Little Bear Hug" 5x7 inches, acrylic on paper ©2019

What in the world would persuade me to attempt such a challenge? First of all, I'm learning that having limitations can be a great opportunity. Limitations push us to think more creatively by shaking us out of our usual way of making art. 

When my dear friend Gayle challenged her blog readers last month to try painting in an art style which inspires us, I knew exactly what I wanted to try. Pick Your Passion - The Full Circle Studio

I've admired the Art Nouveau movement for over 30 years. Pronounced [noo] + [voh] it simply means "new art" which is kind of funny since it seems like old art to us now, but I digress. This wonderfully decorative style flourished from around 1890 to 1910 and featured repetitive motifs, curved lines and celebrated nature. Favorite subjects were flowers, plants, dragonflies and the female form. If you have marveled at the famous stained glass lamps designed by the many artists employed at Louis Comfort Tiffany's glass-works, then you are acquainted with an American interpretation of this style. 

I suppose it is no surprise that an art form focused on flowers and curving lines would resonate with me, but it is one thing to appreciate something and quite another to figure out how to make it yourself. Of course I went straight to the artwork of the master himself, Alphonse Mucha, to see what I could learn. Scroll all the way down the page at the link above and you will see a small selection of his wonderful artwork.

Poster of Sara Bernhardt as Gismonda, 1895 Alphonse Mucha - public domain
 Gismonda poster 1895 

In 1890, Mucha began supporting himself as an illustrator in Paris. His dream as an artist was to create epic historical paintings, but illustrating for magazines paid the bills. An amazing opportunity knocked on his door in December 1894 when he was asked to create a poster on a super short deadline for Sara Bernhardt. The publisher wanted it to appear on the streets of Paris on January 1, 1895. Alphonse designed the poster above and it created a sensation, which pleased Miss Bernhardt so much that it lead to a nice six year contract for Mucha.

What I think is brilliant about this poster is how effectively it uses design to convey a hierarchy of information. What key information do we get at a glance? The name of the play, the actress and the theater where she is appearing. "Gismonda, Bernhardt, at the Theatre Renaissance" All the important facts, boom, done. Designers today would say that is an obvious visual strategy, but I don't think it was common to design that way back then.

If we have a few moments to look closer, we can gather even more information. The mosaic tiles at the top of the poster as well as the dress Miss Bernhardt is wearing suggests Byzantine style. The play is set in 1450 Athens, at the very end of the Byzantine era. The cross behind her head and the palm branch she holds reference Christian religious beliefs that are an important part in the play. Every visual element has something to communicate.

I also noticed the simplicity of the palette. Variations on the primary color blue with it's secondary compliment, orange. These choices may have had to do with printing cost limitations, I honestly don't know, but they certainly add to the visual style. 

Sara Bernhardt in Gismonde costume, 1896 photo by Theobold Chartran - public domain
1896 photo of Sara Bernhardt by Theobold Chartran

The inspiration for my Art Nouveau artwork came from my cousin Mary who adores her cats. She sent me this photo with the tag line "HAVE A HUG! And two hearts for you!! (Little Bear's and mine!)" 

Blackish brown kitten cuddled up contendedly with her owner.
"Little Bear" photo ©2019  Mary Goring

 Mary's birthday was coming up in February, so I wanted to send a hug back. I hoped to convey my message as clearly as Mucha did with his poster. I kept this in mind as I arranged the key design elements and squeezed in as many heart motifs as I comfortably could into the drawing. How many do you count? ;D

"Little Bear Hug" pencil drawing in my sketchbook ©2019 Tina M.Welter
"Little Bear Hug" drawing ©2019

Dark outlining of main design elements is another common feature of Art Nouveau, as well as the distinctive typography.  I was inspired by this one found on Link here.

Typeface Art Nouveau-Bistro ©2006 Gophmann A.L.,All rights reserved.
"Art Nouveau Bistro"©2006 A.L.Gophmann

For my limited palette, I chose primary yellow and it's secondary compliment, purple. The purple was created by mixing quinacridone magenta and pthaloblue. Combined with the yellow, it made the perfect warm brown for the kitten's fur.

Color palette: cadmium yellow light, quinacridone magenta, and pthaloblue.
Color palette.

I was going to be really strict about only using yellow and purple, but this mostly yellow & purple color themed illustration by Mucha influenced me to add another secondary color, green.

JOB cigarettes poster 1898 Alphonse Mucha
JOB cigarettes poster 1898 Alphonse Mucha

 I mixed my green from the same three palette colors I was already using. Cadmium yellow and pthaloblue makes a nice bright green which I thought needed a little touch of quinacridone magenta to grey that brightness down a bit.

Color Palette, figuring out the right shade of green.
Color Palette, mixing the right green.

I'm not certain if the way I used the green is as pleasing as Mucha's, but it certainly achieved my goal of making the yellow word "Hug" stand out. I actually wanted the letters to be in gold, which was another cool element often used in Art Nouveau style, but my gold paint didn't look right and I had to change the lettering back to plain yellow. 

All in all, I am happy with the way the artwork turned out. I really like the underlying design and I would like to move the colors around a little and paint it again. My friend Gayle is going to use it in her next blog and my dear cousin absolutely loved it, and that is the best praise of all.

I highly recommend making something in an art style that inspires you, what you discover on that journey may be a delightful surprise.

Happy creating!



Friday, December 28, 2018

Red and Green Only

Surrounded with the beautiful colors of red and green during the holiday season, I wondered what would happen if I mixed them. Could I make a whole painting with just the limited colors of red and green? Here is what I discovered.

Napthol Red and Pthalogreen Poinsettia leaves, ©2018 Tina M. Welter
"Red and Green Only" poinsettia

First I looked for some tips on the Golden Acrylics website. I found a whole page on the topic of mixing colors which was really helpful. Here is the link: Golden paints mix guide

The guide said that Napthol Red Light mixed with Pthalo-Green would make black. I was curious. I had those two acrylic colors in my paintbox, plus Napthol Crimson. I mixed them both with the Pthalo-Green to see what the color difference might be. It's subtle, but I could tell the Napthol Crimson was a bit towards the cooler blue side. I decided to use the Napthol Red Light since it's warmer tones were more like the poinsettia leaves I wanted to paint.

Color mixing Napthol Red and Pthalogreen acrylic paint ©2018 Tina M.Welter

I have to admit, it was hard for me to make a painting with just those two colors because I could see yellow and other warm browns in my reference photo. I normally paint what I see, so I had to fight against my instinct to add yellow or white to the mix! I pushed myself to stick with only red and green and the result was the poinsettia leaves painting above. It's kind of an odd painting, but also interesting at the same time. The missing primary yellow color seems to have created a puzzle my brain wants to keep solving. :D

I decided to try exercise number four listed in the mix guide, using the specific "organic" colors suggested of Hansa Yellow, Quinacridone Magenta and Pthalo-Blue. Note: "organic" in this sense means color pigments created in a lab using the principles of organic chemistry. These are not colors derived from minerals or ores found in nature.

I only had the Pthalo-Blue color as acrylic paint, but found the other two colors in an old set of watercolors and they worked just fine. The important part is that these three colors were all organic pigments in a water soluble form.

Color mixing Quinacridone Magenta, Hansa Yellow, and Pthaloblue ©2018 Tina M.Welter

You can see that the result was a gorgeous bright red and vivid green. Great, now what happens when I mix these two colors together plus a little white? The result was an interesting range of dull greens and earth brown tones. What could I make with these?

Red and Green make... ©2018 Tina M.Welter

I arranged them as a christmas tree...

Red and Green dots make a Christmas tree ©2018 Tina M.Welter

...then some holly berries and leaves as I tested out adding more or less of the vivid green to the bright red.

Red and Green make Holly Leaves ©2018 Tina M.Welter

Surprise, when I mixed equal parts of the red and the green I got a gorgeous red brown! A strange color for a holly leaf, but it made me think of the coat on a famous deer.

Red and Green make Rudolf's Coat. ©2018 Tina M.Welter

Well, that was really fun, I love being surprised when mixing colors. I took a look in my acrylic paint box and wondered what would happen if I mixed a generic red and green. These are not my professional paints, but a set given to me that I use in craft projects. The paint tubes were titled "Emerald Green" and "Cadmium Red hue." I mixed them together. The color dot to the left has more red than green and the dot on the right has more green than red. Next I added white to each of these.

Mixing Cadmium Red Hue and Emerald Green  ©2018 Tina M.Welter

Hmmm, what could I paint using these colors? The light purplish grey color made me think of angel wings and the dark red brown would make nice hair. So far, so good, but eventually I realized I had to add yellow to make the fair skin tone I wanted and the halo of course. Close, but not purely red and green only.

Green "Holly Angel" acrylic paint on paper ©2018 Tina M.Welter

What did I learn? It is possible to make a decent painting with only a primary color and it's secondary complement. Even a generic red and green will make a good brown and adding white will provide even more options. I could do a lot with those limitations. Choose your subject wisely though, I feel I got away with painting a poinsettia since it is already mostly green and red. With the angel, I seriously felt compelled to add another primary color, yellow, to give some warmth and enough contrast to balance out a really cold palette. I suppose I could have tried a very pale pink or green for a skin tone, my angel certainly would have looked "unearthly" all right!

After this experiment, I do feel inspired to test out the other primary colors and their complements. What paintings could I make with just yellow and purple or blue and orange? Hmmm...

Extremely basic artist color circle  ©Tina M.Welter

Happy creating!


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Little bits of color, Big impressions.

Season Finale painting, color and brush stroke detail ©2018 Tina M.Welter
Season Finale painting, color and brush stroke detail ©2018 
I've always been inspired by the impressionist painters. It's not just because they caused a big stir in the 1860's French art scene by going against the centuries old painting traditions of the Academy of Fine Arts. I didn't know anything about their painting "rebellion" until I went to college. I certainly wouldn't have guessed that using primary colors directly on the canvas, choosing to leave your brush strokes visible, and painting outside to record scenes from everyday life was controversial. I just loved the colors and the sense of light that sparkled across the canvases of Claude Monet. 
Claude Monet, Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son (Camille and Jean Monet), 1875, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Claude Monet, Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son
1875, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
images from Wikipedia

Claude Monet, Haystacks, (sunset), 1890–1891, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Claude Monet, Haystacks, (sunset), 1890–1891, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Of course, admiring a beautiful style of painting doesn't translate into being able to actually paint in that style. It's been years since I have tried, but I've decided to attempt it again. 

For me, part of the puzzle is learning how to break down the color I am seeing into little pieces and then having the restraint to paint those small bits as individual brush strokes. This has always seemed overwhelming to me, but I recently came up with a solution. I used an effect on my computer to "crystallize" my reference photo to help me focus on those little bits of color.
Season Finale photo "crystallized" ©2018 Tina M.Welter
Season Finale photo "crystallized" ©2018 Tina M.Welter

Perhaps some folks will think this is cheating, but for me, it feels like using training wheels on a bike. I know practicing this skill will alleviate my overwhelm now and hopefully make it possible for me to become more confident painting this way.

So far, this strategy is working quite well. I've been able to get the basic colors and shapes down a lot faster than usual. Compare my first day painting to what I accomplished only eight painting days later.

Season Finale, acrylic on canvas, first day painting ©2018 Tina M.Welter
Season Finale, 36x48 inches - first painting day ©2018
Season Finale, 36x48 inches, acrylic on canvas ©2018 Tina M.Welter - not completed
Season Finale, 36x48 inches - eighth painting day ©2018
About 1/4 of the right side isn't completely covered with the first layer of paint, you can still see the white canvas showing through. Once I get all of the canvas covered, I'm going to try refining the shapes with more complementary colors and smaller brush strokes. 

The Impressionists wanted to capture the effects of light by not blending and shading colors smoothly on the canvas. They experimented with placing small brush strokes of primary colors and their complements together in such a way that the eye of the viewer does the color mixing instead. It's an ambitious goal and I think of it as one of those beautifully creative ideas that was perhaps a first step towards making the technology of television and computer screen pixels that we are familiar with today.

If you are interested in reading more about how the Impressionism movement began, who was in it and what the painting techniques were, this Wikipedia entry is really helpful. Click here

Happy learning and creating!


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Happiness is a Big New Canvas

Crab apple leaves and fruit, ©2017  photo by Tina M. Welter
Crab apple leaves and fruit, November 2017

Oh the possibilities! It's always exciting to start a new project. None of the frustrations that will inevitably surface have arrived yet. That big canvas is one beautiful, wide open expanse ready for exploration. The best part is that I can envision the painting in my mind and it looks great. :D I savor that moment, because reality will surface soon enough and cause me plenty of creative anxiety! 

Roughing in basic design layout with thinned paint wash.
Roughing in basic design layout with thinned paint wash.

I learned a lot from my first large painting. These are the lessons I want to share and that I will be taking with me for this second try. 

1. It takes so much more paint that I expected. Plan on several layers of acrylic paint to get good coverage of the canvas and to add depth to the colors. Be patient!

2. Don't take the extra time to paint the under-grid, it's not necessary. Drawing it on the canvas lightly with pencil is fine.

3. Loosen up! Don't worry so much about getting the shapes and colors perfect on the first try. Acrylic paint dries fast and is super forgiving. Plus those layers add character. Warning: Do be cautious about putting the paint on too thick though, unless you want that texture. Edges from lines of thick paint will be visible even under several following coats of paint.

4. Thou shalt not dive into the details too soon! This only leads to frustration and wasted time, trust me. Focus on getting the large shapes and values right first. 

I hope those thoughts were helpful, especially if you have a large wall just begging for a painting. Here is our dining room wall that I have been pondering over for more than a year.

Photo of our dining room and wall, imagining the painting possibilities.

I imagined so many different images for this space. I tried several of my flower photos and they just didn't feel right. Finally, both Jeff and I felt this fall photo of the crab apple fruit and leaves from the tree in our front yard suited the color scheme and had the right mood. I remember taking the photo as kind of an afterthought. I happened to notice the light on the leaves when I was going in the front door after a walk and made myself go and get my camera. It just goes to show you never know when a great photo opportunity is going to happen.
Our dining room and wall with photo insert, imagining the painting possibilities.

Now begins the uphill climb of trying to capture something of that light and movement in paint. The adventure of exploring another lovely big canvas has begun.

Happy creating!


p.s. Photo of that little crab-apple tree from today. It's fall glory of golden leaves will be appearing soon.

Dwart crab apple tree in our front yard full of fruit.