Pinterest Peep #19, & The Painting After

Pinterest Peep # 19 Omo Valley Ethiopia. Watercolor Carolina Ellis 2016


This is "One Of Them"...what do I mean by that? This is one of the hardest paintings to paint...the one you paint after a major flop. I painted a flop the other day. Two in a row, in fact. It was devastating. It nearly killed me. I am not kidding. I have spent the past few days, walking around aimlessly, mindlessly doing what has to get done, while catching glimpses of the sky wondering what the hell made me think I could paint. I debated at least three other options to spend the rest of my life on. I have no idea what possesses me and makes me feel the need to learn how to paint when I was born with other skills. You know the saying of "getting back in the saddle again?" Nothing could be more applicable than in this learning-to-paint adventure. Today, I had the day off from work. We awoke to several new inches of snow. What this means is that everyone went skiing and I got to face my monsters in peace. This little painting was the result.

I present to you Pinterest Peep #19 of a beautiful woman from the southern parts of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia.

Wish me luck on the next one.





Little Belén

Belén  Watercolor Carolina Ellis


This is a watercolor painting I did of the daughter of a good friend of mine. As I understand it, Belén borrowed both the sunglasses and an iPhone, and took a most wonderful selfie. Her adorable smile and the strong sunlight falling on her was just begging me to paint this. I painted it on a 7"x10" piece of archival watercolor paper. I would love to paint this image in oils, on a very large canvas. Perhaps now, when I am without a studio, is not a good time to paint it large... so I will save this sketch for when the studio situation has improved! 

Until next time,


My Little Pinterest Peeps

Recently, I made a list of the places I want to visit, or revisit, from around the world. My kids are almost out of the house and I am just downright itchy to travel. The list, though, was difficult to remember... and frankly just plain boring to look at, so I decided to go to Pinterest and pin a few photos of the people from the places I want to go to. Then I took it a step further and used those photos as inspiration to make a few watercolor sketches in my sketchbook. These are just little sketches: I did not take the original photos...but it is a great exercise to get my brush skills going.

This is what I have painted thus far:

Pinterest Peep #1 Litang, Tibet

 Pinterest Peep #1 Litang, Tibet Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest Peep #2 Burkina Faso, Africa

Pinterest Peep #2 Burkina Faso, Afica Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest Peep #3 Bhutan

Pinterest Peep #3 Bhutan Watercolor Sketchbook Carollina Ellis


Pinterest Peep #4 Paris

Pinterest Peep #4 Paris Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest Peep #5 Jodhpur, The Blue City, India

Pinterest Peep #5 Jodhpur, The Blue City, India Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest peep #6 Marpha, Nepal

Pinterest Peep #6 Marpha Nepal. Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis

Pinterest peep #7 Mexico

Pinterest Peep #7 Mexico Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest peep #8 Tibet

Pinterest Peep #8 Tibet Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest Peep #9 Kichwa Woman, Ecuador

Pinterest Peep #9 Kichwa Woman, Ecuador Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis

Pinterest Peep #10 Langtang Region, Nepal

Pinterest Peep #10 Langtang Nepal Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest peep #11 Africa

Pinterest Peep #11 Africa Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest Peep #12 Alaska

Pinterest Peep #12 Alaska Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest Peep #13 Morocco ( Morocco)

Pinterest Peep #13 Morroco (Morocco) Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest Peep # 14 Bunad from Setesdalen, Norway

Pinterest Peep #14 Bunad from Setesdalen, Norway Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest peep #15 Tibet

Pinterest Peep # 15 Tibet Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest Peep #16 Madagascar

Pinterest Peep # 16 Madagascar Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest peep # 17 India

Pinterest Peep #17 India Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


Pinterest Peep #18 Norway

Pinterest Peep #18 Norway Watercolor Sketchbook Carolina Ellis


That is what I have done up until now. I don't know if I will do anymore. I hope you like them.





The Sky Is Something Else In Colorado

It does not matter what time of day it is...if I am up in the Vail Valley, the sky is something else. In the middle of the night, the amount of stars just blows me away. The sunshine at the middle of the day is a sure fire way to cure depression. The sunsets are on fire. My most favorite time, though, to notice the sky is either early morning, before the sun comes up, or after the sun has gone down... this is when I feel like the world belongs to me and me only. Here is a pastel painting I did of the Colorado sky.

Colorado Mountain Sky


Hope you like it,


Sally Said Three Months

In June I took my first pastel workshop. It was heaven...then the skies opened and all hell broke loose...I had not painted since. Life can behave that way sometimes - it just dictates your days. The workshop I took was with Sally Strand. Not only can she really paint well (in oils, pastel, watercolor, you name it) but she can also teach very well. That is a rare find. She told us the turning point in her abilities came after spending three months at her kitchen table painting whatever was in the fridge.

That is three whole months, every day, same time of day...without fail. How hard can that be??


Above is what I painted earlier today. It is 9x12 pastel on watercolor paper. I used my watercolor sketchbook (Strathmore Visual Journal, Watercolor 140 lb) for it. In order for the pastel to have a better chance of adhering to the paper, I coated it first with a clear grit "paint" from Art Spectrum called Supertooth Colourfix that I tinted with Yellow Oxide acrylic paint diluted with water. Then I used both pastel pencils (Derwent) and my new pastels from the French company, Girault. For those of you trying pastels, I must add that a few finishing touches were added with my soft pastels by Terry Ludwig.

The composition could use a bit more oomph, but it is is what is for today. in case my drafting skills are throwing you off - you are looking at a pepper, an onion and a lime. I gave myself forty seconds to just grab something and put it in front of me. I can't be dilly dallying on the perfect pic if I am going to get into this three month stint.


Until next time,


Painting Colored Snow

My friend, Mari, asked me the other day, via Facebook, if I had been painting snow. Yes, I have. I have been fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time out in the snow with my snowshoes on. But painting white snow is a whole different ball game. I have discovered that in translating the white snow I see all around me onto a two dimensional surface, it has to go through a transformation before it can make visual sense on the canvas. The snow can't be white on a two dimensional surface and look right. It won't have any sense of depth, or rather: you won't be able to tell what's in front, and what is in back. Your eye will swim about looking for clues that anchor it to what your brain knows to be "right." Below, you will see an exercise I did a few days ago.

I first made an ink wash to get the dark and light areas, aka the values, to look like the scene had some depth:


Doing an ink wash first, gives me clues as to how to go about the painting... kind of like a road map.

Then, so as not to get too hung up on the level of my skill set, I painted the scene in oils, but did not use a brush. I only used one pallet knife and the paints:


Using a pallet knife meant I couldn't get my panties in a bunch if the branch I put down didn't quite go in the direction I wanted it to. The surface, which was actually a gessoed board, was no bigger than 8 x 10 inches. The small size of the surface , in conjunction with the flat pallet knife, worked against perfection, but it also gave me the ability to only focus on color. This was when I realized that I was not painting white snow, but rather colored snow.

The next step I took was to do the same scene in pastel, on a sanded board that was no bigger than the oil painting.


Keeping all the variables to a minimum teaches me how to deal with things more methodically. Doing this step by step, allowed me to see that all those little snowflakes on the mountainside are like little mirrors, all bunched up together, reflecting the world around them. The snow in the far distance reflected the light that was blocked by the clouds. The snow in the closer distance was reflecting the blue sky, above. The snow closest to my right had the most direct sunlight on it, so i painted that snow pink. See what I mean? Although it seems like a slower method, it allows me to have a depth of learning that my get-to-it personality desperately benefits from.

The paintings are called The Tree That Greets Me. They are of the first tree I see when I turn into the McCoy Nordic Park for snowshoeing and cross country skiing up at Beaver Creek, here in Colorado. It is a wonderfully weird Aspen tree in that because it isn't in amongst a grove of other Aspens, it's branches seem to have more freedom and personality. Once I make a turn at this tree, the downhill ski trails are left behind and the mountain becomes mine.

There are some things in the pallet knife painting that I prefer... like the life of the light in the clouds. The pastel painting for me feels better in the branch area of the tree, and also all of the shadow areas. I may attempt this whole scene one more time with a pallet knife, again, but on a large canvas. We will see.

Hope you enjoyed the little lesson I gave myself on painting white snow that, as it turns out, is anything but white.

Until next time,