Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Queen for a Day


Last Friday I had an experience that will be with me until the day I die:  I attended a retirement party given in my honor at my university.  It was an incredible extravaganza (I have some very creative colleagues) that included not only speeches but songs with rewritten lyrics, a video of people talking about me, and . . . 

 The front of the crown

A crown!!! This amazing piece of art was made by my dear colleague Margaret, an artist as well as a university employee.  Margaret poured all her talent into crafting this beautiful memento.  I wore it for a minute, but didn't want it to fall off and break, so it sat on the pillow she also made.

It includes many things that are so meaningful to me -- the snakes represent my long interest in the Medusa; there's a griffon and a dragon, representing my overall interest in mythology, words related to my teaching and books, books, books all over it.
 The interior of the crown

 It was such a wonderful event -- I felt that I could hardly deserve all of the attention and affection.  Happily, my son and daughter were there, as well as my husband -- I wasn't sure my son would make it, but I browbeat him until he came.  His comment:  "I didn't know it was going to be this big of a deal!"

 The side of the crown

It was a big deal, seriously.  I was sure I would cry, but in fact I laughed all the way through it, it was so delightful.  The only time I choked up was when I had to give thanks for everything they'd done.

  Me, looking silly/happy in my crown
Here's a fuzzy cell phone pic of me wearing the crown.  It was a very, very happy day of my life. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Yikes! It's been too long --


I've been away far too long!  Ana Eugenio was kind enough to post a comment wondering if everything was fine with me.  It is!  Here's what I've been up to:

1.  I was sad for a while after my sister left -- it's so hard to say goodbye.  We live so far apart and get together so seldom, and the wonderful time we have together is always tinged by the knowing that it has to end.

2.  I've started on South Beach diet and have been enjoying myself so far.  No problems, and the scale is starting to go down.

3.  Still dealing with the aftermath of Open Studios, though my house is looking more normal than it did.  I have to take all the (many) pictures I didn't sell to the storage space, and that necessitates rearranging everything, but a friend and I are going to get that done on Thursday (I hope).

4.  Been working on my collage class, not sure I'm happy with anything yet.  I did a nice picture in watercolor class, though (!) and I'll post it soon.

 A collage -- does it make any sense to anyone?

5.  I got the results of my DNA analysis from Ancestry.com today -- more about that in another post!  It's soooo interesting.  And a gigantic sinkhole of time, as I'm sure some of you know --

6.  On Wednesday I have an appointment with someone from the Small Business center to talk about my small business!  I'm hoping to get some advice and guidance.

7.  It was 92 degrees today!  It's November!  And supposed to be in the 50's by Thursday -- I'm just confused . . .

8.  To my American friends -- tomorrow is the big day.  You're probably already planning to, but please:  vote, vote, vote!!  It doesn't matter whom you're voting for -- but the process is so important for us to participate in as citizens.* 

So that's a little bit of what I've been up to.  I'll write more details tomorrow, and visit to catch up!  Hope your week has started well.  

*and good luck, BHO -- :)    

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hey everyone --


I've had a great week with my sister.  The first time she came here, a couple of years ago, we did "big" things -- whale watching, Big Sur, the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.  But this time, we kind of hung out and did things close to home.  Of course, Saturday and Sunday were given over to Open Studios, but Sunday night we had friends and family over for a steak barbeque and that was a lot of fun.  

Sea lions at the wharf

We went to my watercolor class on Thursday, and yesterday we went to A Work of Heart to do a class called "Juicy Collage."  We all (including daughter) came out with collages we were happy with -- pics tomorrow, I hope.  It was big fun.  

Pelican outside Stagnaro's

Today we went down to the wharf, bought the requisite t-shirts, had lunch at Stagnaro Bros.  on the wharf, and stopped by Marini's, where they have every candy you've ever dreamed of, including chocolate covered bacon.

Then we took a drive down West Cliff, stopping to watch the surfers at Steamer Lane.  It was a nice relaxed day to end our time together. 

Steamer Lane surfer

We had a pizza dinner and then played cards, just us girls (my Loved One was playing in his darts league).  

We had a good time together.  I'm sad she's leaving tomorrow and even sadder that we live so far apart (me:  California; she:  Minnesota).  But at least we got to spend this week together.  There's something about people who have known you your whole life -- you never feel quite as comfortable with anyone else . . . 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A brief hiatus


Hi everyone -- I'm probably not going to be able to post again until the middle of next week.  My sis is here, Open Studios starts Saturday, so I have a full schedule for the next few days.  Hope you all are having a great time, and don't forget me!  :)  I'll see you soon. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Oh boo hoo - and other things.


My sister arrives tomorrow and I have so much to do and I hardly slept a wink last night.  Woke up about 2:30 and that was pretty much it for the night.  Must get myself going so everything is nice for her arrival!

Here's Buttercup, minding the Open Studios greeting table.  She's sitting on the bookmarks to make sure they all lie flat :)

Isn't she big now?  But she still looks sweet.  On the first day of Open Studios, we kept her in the bedroom with my Loved One, watching a football game.  But the second day, I allowed her to wander around and join in the fun -- and she was a big hit.  She is so darned sociable -- she'll go right over to greet people coming in, allow herself to be scratched, and so on.  And she only bit one person :p   That person started to scratch Buttercup's tummy and you know how cats are when you do that -- they can get kind of aggressive and scratch you with their hind feet and bite you.  It was just a little bite, and it was all in fun (I hope the lady thought so!).  In my experience, cats aren't that fond of strangers -- our other cat heads for the hills and hides whenever someone comes into the house.  But Miss B is as friendly as she can be.

     A planter in my garden with mission bells -- 

I have to wrap it up and get busy, but I did spend a nice time with a friend this morning, catching up -- she is an artist who does wonderful things with journals, makes purses, and so on -- you might visit her at Redwood Mountain Musings to see what she's up to.  And check out her Etsy store -- she has nice digital downloads but really, look at the purses.  They're gorgeous.  Great to see you, Chris!

A great Tuesday to you all -- 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Raindrops and 5 Fact Friday


It's been sprinkling here, so I went out in the garden to take a couple of pictures.  It's also 5 Fact Friday, and that's fun, so . . . 

1.  My favorite movie is Cinema Paradiso.  No matter how many times I watch it, I always wind up in a puddle of tears.  There's something that really speaks to me about the man's life, and then it's so sad at the end when the . . . well, maybe I shouldn't post a spoiler.  If you've seen it, you know what comes at the end.

2.   I love roses.  This is my little teeny tiny Tequila Sunrise rose -- it's about two years old and it's finally a little more than a foot tall.  It has two beautiful blooms.  I also have Hot Cocoa, Westerland, Blaze of Glory, and Joseph's Coat.  I have to give credit to the woman who tends my garden -- thanks, Jana.

3.   I love Shakespeare, ever since I was about 13.  I like so many of the plays -- but my favorites are the plays in the Henriad -- Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V.   What I like even better, though, is to teach Shakespeare to students who think they won't like it.  They most usually do.

  Here's the other bloom on the Tequila Sunrise.

4.   When we were little, my German grandma would make us spaghetti noodles sauteed with butter, sugar and cinnamon.  I've never know anybody else who's eaten this.  Anyone ever had it?

5.  The first dog I ever had was a Shetland Sheepdog named Bonnie Lassie.  She was a wonderful dog.  She was easily trained and very well behaved.  When my parents had parties, my brother would dress her up in pajamas (with her tail coming out the fly) and send her down to the living room.

 A single Westerland rose --

So those are my five facts for today -- what are your five facts?  :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Rare Occurrence --


We had thunder today!  If you've never lived in California, you don't know how rare that is -- once, maybe twice a year, here on the coast.  We had a sudden downpour and one beautiful clap of thunder, right overhead it seemed.

We always laugh when watching programs or movies that take place in San Francisco and they show thunder and lightening -- it's such a very rare occurrence, and we never have the kinds of storms you all have in the Midwest.

I finished another collage yesterday.  It was supposed to use the golden section/mean/ratio, whatever you want to call it.  Here it is:

There are some things I kind of don't get about this -- our teacher gave us some examples, and it's kind of hard sometimes to see how the composition follows the ratio.  But I dove in anyway.

Here are the components I used.  While I was searching around the web, I found the picture on the top left of the golden ratio, and it sure looked like an elephant's trunk to me.  So I gathered up a bunch of stuff and got to work.  Here's the end result, one I'm pretty happy with -- 

Linkup with AlphabeThursday

The text spiraling around the frame is from a description of elephants' behavior.  What do you think?  I like it.

So my next challenge is to replicate it in real life -- I love doing digital collages, but I'd also like to see them off the computer and be able to touch them.  So I went and got some silk fabric today that I'm going to try to print an image on, and see how that comes out.  Any ideas for me on how I might do this?

Hope you're having a great "hump day" -- 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Okay, I'm back --


As you can imagine, the last couple of weeks have been very hectic!  Now I have a breather until the 20th, when I do Open Studios again.

The people who came were lovely -- all very nice and interested in art.  I talked about my work for hours and hours, which is a very nice thing, I can tell you.  I sold some pieces, which is great, but they told us that the money isn't really an important thing -- it's nice, but there are other benefits, such as making contacts with people who can help you get to the next step.

So today was pretty much a day of rest, though I had to get going on the work for my new collage class.  I'm in the second quarter, so we're supposed to choose a theme; mine is "illuminated manuscripts."  The teacher told me to do three quick collages as a warm-up, and I decided to do them digitally.

This is the first one I did -- my idea is to combine my photography (the dahlia in the center) with other elements.  I want to include text and border elements that will give a nod to the decorations of illuminated manuscripts.  Other than that, I'm wingin' it.

This is the second one I did -- it combines a picture I took of cows, text, barbed wire looking like grasses, I think, a border of names of cattle breeds, a sunflower and cowbirds in the corners.  I'm happy with this one.

The third one is full of flowers -- for some odd reason, the very favorite post of all time on this blog is about Flora, the Goddess of Flowers.  Every week, people search for that term and wind up at my blog.  So here's my thanks to all those folks who have stopped by:

I'm not sure that this one has a real focal point, but I'm pretty happy with the energy in it.

Here's my question -- I did these digitally, which is great as far as it goes, but I'd like to do them non-digitally.  The thing is, what's cool about making it in Photoshop and you can vary the opacity and use the various blend modes.  How would I do that with paper?  I guess I could try using transparencies, and tissue paper and so on, but I'd have to do a lot of experimenting.

Anybody have ideas for me?  Who's done collage?  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day One -- Over!


Well, it was a pretty good day, Open-Studios-wise.  I had about 50 lovely people come through the exhibit, I got to have very nice conversations about my work (with folks who were very complimentary), and I sold a few things besides.  What could be bad?

I had the intention of taking pictures of all the activity but somehow forgot about that today -- I'll try to get a picture of the admiring crowds tomorrow :)

Here's what the dining room looked like this morning:

Pictures on all the walls, of course - and here is the decoration I made -- a pink pumpkin (!) with Peeps -- 

So now I can relax and enjoy tomorrow.  It's actually kind of quiet most of the time, and then people show up.  My favorites:  the six ladies who showed up together and exclaimed over my new floor as soon as they were in the door!  They liked the pictures, too.

Hope everyone's doing well -- 

Friday, October 5, 2012

T minus 24 to Open Studios!


I'm about as frazzled as a human being can be, what with Open Studios starting tomorrow.  I have soooo much yet to do, but it will all get done.  I'm hoping that tomorrow all I have to do is take a shower and do my nails, but we'll see about that.

I finished my demo board last night -- we're supposed to show how we produce our art somehow, but when you do photography on a computer, let's just say . . . it's not too enthralling.  So I made a board with screen captures and photos:

 Not a great pic, but you get the idea.  Also my front entryway is almost ready, with a new outdoor rug that was just delivered from Amazon:

Pay no attention to the Amazon box in the corner.  It won't be there.

So now all I have to do is make signs, buy crepe paper, go back to the storage place and get the A-frame stands I have there, get change from the bank, hit Trader Joe's to get some snacks . . . and then maybe I'm done for today.

More pictures tomorrow!  Sorry I haven't been posting!  It's been a little crazy around here!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Big Day for Open Studios


Today was the reception for artists in Open Studios, at the Art League gallery.  I learned a couple of things:

1)  Next year, I want to volunteer more, so when I go I know more people.  It's kind of no fun to be there alone.

See all the people?  I didn't know any of them.

2)  Next year, I will submit a larger piece.  Here's what mine looks like:

 The red arrow indicates the sad little piece I submitted.

3)  Next time, I will not leave the house, ever, without a stack of postcards (that have my dates, address, etc.).  I looked and looked  and couldn't see my cards on any of the three big racks they had for artists to put their cards on -- either all of mine have been picked up (unlikely) or somehow my cards didn't make the transition from inside the building to the display tables outside (in which case I'm bummed).  I meant to go over there yesterday to see if restocking was in order but never made it.  Next time, I'll know.

It was a nice event, nevertheless.  The artworks are fabulous -- mine looked pretty puny in comparison.  I was really struck by a gorgeous photograph of a cobblestone street -- it kind of took my breath away.  (It's the first one on this page of his website.) When I got close enough to read the tag, it was Tom Jacobs' picture -- my photography teacher.  Of course.

They had tents with food and drink outside and a marimba band, which was nice.  Lots of people!

On the home front, my friend Jana and I got most of the canvases hung yesterday -- and they look much better in my "studio"! The preview show is kind of overwhelming.

Hope you have a great week!

Friday, September 28, 2012



I'm delighted to report that Viv in the UK has signed up as my 100th follower!  

~~Thanks, Viv!~~ 

Stop by her blog, Desktop Dreams, to say hello!

Five Fact Friday


Five Fact Friday comes around again -- I love to play.

1.  It is a fact that I have 99 followers.  99, people!  Won't someone step up and make it 100?

2.  I once was a vocalist in a supper club show, when I was young (and slim); I've always appreciated great vocalists.  I came across this video of Luther VanDross singing at the NAACP Image Awards some years back, and it is stunning.

3.  I love macro photography, but I'm not very good at it (yet).  One problem:  my hands shake a bit, and I'm not one to have my tripod at hand in those situations.  Bugs or butterflies confound me. You have to have a lot of light.  But sometimes I get something that's okay.  These are quite small berries on a tree:

4.  I wish my name were Melisande or Maeve or Melanie -- anything but Elise.

5.  Our daughter wants a gecko.  Actually, she wants anything, a mouse, a lizard, a frog, something.  We keep reminding her that we have cats, one of whom is a mighty hunter (Buttercup) who would not rest until the mouse/lizard/frog/gecko was hers, for lunch.  Here's a gecko who posed for a picture at a Canon macro workshop I went to once:

Cute, right?  The only lens I will ever in my life want any more (seriously, Ed), is the Canon 180mm macro I used to take this picture.

Happy Friday!  Hope you have a great weekend planned.  Me, I'm putting books back on shelves.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Look what I made today!


Today was an absolute artsy day for me.  In the morning I went to my watercolor class, abandoned the paintings I had been working on and started working out of the "realistic abstracts" book.  My work wasn't great, but it was a) transparent and layered, instead of being worked over until it looks horrible, and b) not detailed, which is a big thing to me.  I have a long way to go to be able to paint in that way, but I'll plug away at it.

Then, I left class early to go to my favorite place to play in San Jose, A Work of Heart.  I've done a lot of workshops there, but this one was a lot of fun.  It's a "mixed media shadowbox," or "Spooky Shadowbox," as I would like to call it.  Here it is:

 Linkup to AlphabeThursday

It's a small canvas turned backwards and painted black.  Then we made a boatload of polymer clay tiles, which we stamped and embossed and baked and painted black and then highlighted with white and silver.  We also did two kinds of image transfer, on the right, and in the middle something really cool -- you paint the area with elmer's-type glue, and then when it has a skin on it, you put white paint over it and it all cracks to a nice effect.  Finally, I chose a "scaredy cat," a little metal thing, and glued it into the shadowbox area so it protrudes from the hole.  I think it came out great!  We stamped cobwebs on the edges, too.  A very fun project.

My sister's coming to visit in October, and I've arranged for her, me and my daughter to all go down for a "Juicy Collage" workshop.  I'm hoping she'll like it, but shhhh . . . don't tell her.  (I don't think she reads my blog.)

Have a great day tomorrow!  It's Friday! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting back to normal --


Today was a day of peace and quiet for me -- home all alone, no banging, no sawing -- just enjoying the stillness.  One more picture of my floor and I'll stop, I promise.  This is in the daylight, and I tried to get the color right -- 

It really has a lot of redness to it, which I love.  I just can't get over how beautiful it is, and I'm so happy that it's done!

So now that you're totally sick of my floor, let's move on to something else.  For Open Studios, if we can, we are to demonstrate our work.  I thought about making a video of screen shots and a voiceover and showing it on the tv, but the screen capture program I got is not all that easy to figure out, so I decided to abandon that as a means of reducing my overall stress.  Now I'm doing something like a science fair display -- I'm putting together three pieces of mat board and telling the story through prints made of screen captures and captions to explain what's going on in each part of it.

The mat board is a lovely shade of dusky purple, but you can't see that.

I am hoping to get around very soon to see all of you -- I've been remiss in that this week.  Oh and Buttercup initiated the new rugs today -- she had a visit to the vet for her annual vaccinations, deworming stuff, her anti-flea pill, and got her nails clipped, so of course she came home and up-chucked on both new rugs.   I guess it had to happen at some point.

Hoping your week is going great!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012



It's late, so this will be quick.  Here's where I've been living for the past two days:

Only one small area of the room I've been closed up in.  Tripping over everything, climbing over stuff to where I sat with my laptop on the bed.  But outside that door . . . magic was happening!!

Here's a very bad view of the living room.  No books back on the shelves, yet, the furniture's not in the right place and my walls are definitely not that yellow!  They're much lighter and warm, not garish.  But look at the floor!

Buttercup and October are having a ball -- well, Buttercup is, anyway; October's zonked out on the rug.  But Buttercup has discovered that her toys, especially the little mousies she loves, work *so* much better on the floor!  They roll and skitter all over the place!  Here she is taking a little breather before she starts running back and forth again.

I'm just thrilled.  I lived with that yucky, awful carpeting for so long and I was desperate to get it out of there before Open Studios.  So now it's done, and I have a whole gallery wall where I can put my pictures!  Yay!!! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Over halfway laid --


Day 1 of the floor installation -- they got over half the floor down. Yay!  

It was a long day, from 9AM to after 6 PM.  I  was supervising from behind the bedroom door, me and Buttercup.  They were very efficient, very focused, very skilled at what they did.

So I took a few pictures:

They were really fast about pulling up the carpeting -- it was gone in no time, at least in the part that wasn't underneath furniture that had to be moved from here to there.

Early on, they had some of the floor laid, and I was so excited!

And by the end of the day, they had more than half of it laid:

Terrible cell phone picture, but the dining room (from which I'm taking the picture) is done, as is most of the living room -- yippee!

They said it will be a whole day tomorrow, but once they're finished cutting and placing the  floor boards, it will be more quiet!  The job will require a lot of finishing, so that will be the rest of it, but I'm sure that part will be less stressful on the ears! 

I think it's turning out beautifully, and I'll be so happy when it's done!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chaos at the Homestead, Part Deux


It's day two of Chaos at Wormuth Manor -- our friends came over today and helped, and having a younger woman and her energetic 24-year-old-or-so son made everything go very quickly.  Within an hour, they had dealt with all of the big stuff (books, a cabinet of glassware that had to be boxed up and then the cabinet moved, all electronics unhooked and moved into the bedroom, the dining room furniture moved, on and on).  We were left with various piles of detritus to chip away at the rest of the day.  Here's where we are now:

And have a look at the yucky horrible carpet we're getting rid of!  We wanted laminate put in when we got the house, but had to cut back on expenses, so out that idea went.  If you have kids and animals, you know that a rug will not hold up under that assault for long, and particularly a lighter color. But here's where some of the stuff went:

A corner of the kitchen.  And if you look hard, you can see how I recovered the dining room chairs, although I'm pretty sure I posted a picture of that when I did it.

So, they are coming at 8 or 9 AM -- it wasn't clear to me which, but I'll be up at 6, moving the rest of the stuff. My fellow residents are escaping to school and work, while I get to supervise the installation, I guess.  I'll take pics.

Hoping you have a great week to come! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Crunch time at the old homestead --


Well, it's a busy weekend!  We have to clean everything out of the living room by 8 AM Monday morning.  I am blown away at just how much a living room can hold.  We are at the uproar stage at the moment, and I fear that it's going to go on all day tomorrow too.

My living room doesn't usually look like this.  Okay, maybe once in a while it looks kind of  like this, but not often.  You'll notice that my Loved One already has the shelves emptied of his books.  Obviously, I have not. On the other hand, I have filled two bags full of recycling and emptied out two huge sliding baskets that are in the very big coffee table -- what everything is piled on, right in front. 

A word to the wise: don't get a big coffee table that has storage built into it -- you won't believe what you can fit in there.

 This is the coffee table you don't want to get.  There's space in the middle, too, where we keep games and stuff.

Of course, the only person who's having a ball is Buttercup, who is busy "helping" by hopping into any box you're trying to fill, getting tangled up in your feet, etc.

This table is among the many things that have to be moved.  
It exhausts me just to look at it.  

On the other hand, my friend Jana (who is much younger and more energetic) is coming tomorrow morning at 11AM to help us.  She can get the stuff off the top of the bookcases, she's bringing more boxes, and everything will go much faster once she's here.  

On a happier note, I stopped by the art store where I'd put my postcards on the rack they have for Open Studios artists, and unless somebody stole them or threw them away, they've all been picked up by people.  I have to go tomorrow and put more in the rack.

So, my little break is over and I need to press on.  Hope you're having a better weekend than we are . . . 

Friday, September 21, 2012

5 Fact Friday


I'm going to pop into 5 Fact Friday today -- here are my five facts:

1.  I've been missing my mother a lot this week.  I don't know why; I just have.  She's been gone for 23 years and I still think about her every day, especially now that I'm doing art, as she did.  Here's a picture -- even though it's a crummy picture (not taken by me!), I love it.  This says "mom" to me:

 We laughed a lot at my house.

2.  After all this time, I finally learned how to copy a mask from one layer to another in Photoshop.  This is huge as far as I'm concerned, because before this I never would have taken on this picture:

Linkup to 5 Fact Friday

I spent way over an hour doing one layer mask of this complicated pic -- I never would have done it, if I'd had to do it over and over (which is what I've been doing).  Duh.

3)  I decided to give up the tiles I've been trying to make for Open Studios -- I just can't get them done to my satisfaction, and since I'm already waking up at 2AM, worrying, I decided to take that one bit of stress off me.  Maybe next year.

4)  I'm really excited to take on my next project, as soon as Open Studios is over -- I'm developing an e-course called "The 'G' Word," and I'm really looking forward to doing it.  More news to come!  I hope it will be offerable in January.  Okay, maybe February.

5)  A big surprise for me: I'm looking forward to teaching at the end of January.  When I left, I thought I'd never want to go back to work again, and I really have been trying to avoid being there, but I'm getting busy on my two classes for Spring, when Open Studios is over.  (Can you tell that my life is totally focused on that at this moment?  :P  )

So there you have it.  I enjoy this meme -- it means I have to stop and think for a second about what's up with me this week.  I like it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Agony of Watercolor


I'm frustrated.  I've been taking watercolor classes for a year and a half, and while I love the medium, I really feel that I'm not appreciably better than I was on Day 1.  I know it's not the teacher, because she's highly regarded and has a number of students who have been with her for years . . . it's me.

I think I have two basic problems.  First, watercolor is a devilishly difficult medium, and even after all this time, I don't feel I've "gotten it" yet.  I'm waiting for a miracle to happen, that magical moment when I can say, "Look Mom, I'm doing it!"  But so far, all I can say is "Mom, send a little of your talent down here, will ya?"  

Painted with a primary color triad

For the past couple of weeks, we've been doing "triad" paintings, where you do a painting with only three colors.  And then you vary the three colors and make one or more additional ones.  These are quite small.  The first one is a complementary triad using the primary colors.  I think the petals are stubby and misshapen; I need to smooth the background a bit and add more texture.

Here's the other one, using three contiguous colors (gold, burnt orange, and rose madder).  The background is most definitely not finished -- I need to blend the colors and then add some washes.

The other problem is what my teacher tells me almost every time:  Don't be so timid!  Be Bold!  I realize this is a problem because I get hung up on getting in every detail of whatever it is I'm painting, and I work it and rework it too much.  If I actually had any affinity for this, I think I would do botanical illustration; then I could indulge my desire to be very detailed.

Does anyone who is actually good at watercolor have any tips for me?  I'm trying this book in the hope that it will help me loosen up:

 You can find it on Amazon

In this book he shows you step by step how you create a "realistic abstract" -- a picture that you can see something in, but that is not finely detailed:

Painting by Kees van Aalst

I'd like to be able to do this kind of thing -- I think going through the process could be kind of freeing.  So I'll give it a go, though maybe not until after Open Studios.

What do you think?  (I'm not fishing for compliments -- to me, those pictures look as if they were done by a 2nd grader.)  Do you do watercolor?  Do you find it challenging?