Pretty AWESOME in Pink

The Mall, Washington D.C. during D. Drumpf’s inauguration:

The Mall, the next day, during the Women’s March on Washington, January 17, 2017:

Paige Carmichael, age 6, from Chadd’s Ford, PA, in Washington D.C. on January 21, 2017:

My neck of the woods, Grand Central Terminal, New York City, on January 21, 2017:

January 21, 2017: 19 million marchers, 60 countries around the world, including Antartica:

Were you, like me, taken by surprise how yuuuuge this thing was? Are you, like me, overwhelmed and almost heart-sick with gratitude to every person who showed up? Did you, like me, stay home because . . . well, there is no excuse why I stayed home: I should have been paying more attention, and roused myself from my routine, and bought me a hot pink “pussy hat” from Etsy, and gotten on a bus or a train and shown up.

As it happened, on the warm and sunny early afternoon of the march, I was driving through my sleepy woodsy neighborhood on my way to keep an appointment here in Nassau County, Long Island, and I passed a great number of ramblers, dog-walkers, and runners enjoying the Spring-like weather. Then in the distance I spotted a young couple walking together by the side of the road (no grubby suburban sidewalks in this bucolic scene in the area known as “The Estates”) and they were pushing a baby stroller and holding holding up a home made sign. When I got near enough to read it, the sign said: Love Trumps Hate.

Well, while I don’t entirely believe that that’s true (because I live in the real world), I appreciated the context of the sentiment and I admired their gumption to hold a one-family rally of solidarity here on the back roads of The Estates, so I honked my horn and gave them the thumb’s up, and that’s what I did for the Women’s March.

By the way, Long Island comprises two counties, Nassau and Suffolk. In Nassau County Hillary beat Trump by 5% (31,000 votes) on this Republican strong hold of Long Island. It was in Suffolk County where Trump won big: 8 points, or by 50,000 votes, in deep-blue New York State. Suffolk County is also where, starting from 1935, American Nazis had a summer camp for the indoctrination of their future storm troopers, until 1941 when it was forcibly closed. Forcibly closed. By the American government. Because even in 1941, the American Nazi supporters of Hitler had, otherwise, no intention of renouncing their hideous ideology for being, you know, like, wrong.

Yeah, I’m saying it: That’s who voted for D Drumpf in 2016.

Camp Siegfried. You can look it up.

So, Dear Readers and nasty women, shall we paint something Wintery today?

You remember this photo from last week:

Today we are going to see if/how we can paint that middle tree:

So let’s start :

I am painting over my tree’s penciled-in guide lines with broken lines of watercolor:

The thing, as I see it, is to make up a “tree” with more-or-less dotted lines in varying widths and in varying hues of gray and gray-blue and blue (because I’m whimsical that way):


On to the trunk:


So, from last week and the week before, I now have three “samplers” of three different Winter tree effects. . .

. . . which I am going to assemble into one scene, inspired by that photo that I got off the internet:

Are you ready? Because we’re doing it right now!

I only need to sketch in a few guide lines. . .

. . . and away we go:


I am working much faster here than I normally do, because I am still on the learning curve here and I don’t need this picture to look perfect to validate myself as an artist (hint, hint). But even having low expectations, I was not satisfied that (see above) those two trees were adequately differentiated in color and texture, so I added on a faintly greenish over-wash on the pine:

So now it looks like this:

Now I have to work wet-in-wet for the background:



I didn’t photograph the painting of this background bit because we already watched me do that in last week’s post and the week before, so we know how that goes. Let’s skip ahead to what this thing looks like when it’a all high and dry:

All we need to do is crop it and we are


OK, it’s a crap pic but now I get the gist.

No if’s and’s or but’s: I will have to do this again because, Ick (see above). And when I try this again, I will be more mindful of the compositional mistakes I made in trying to replicate my internet photo. Namely, I have placed that line of background trees too close to the same line as the threes in the foreground, which looks weird and is why there is no depth to this scene.

Also, this picture is just not painted all that well.

Even though I work exclusively from photos, I now realize that all photos are not equal: I am much better when I am using my own photos or photos from someone I really like,  of something I’m really invested in, such as a DoG or a cat or (as someone really had me do this for them) a favorite  teacup. That’s what I can get into. Painting from an internet photo, which represents a landscape that I have no personal connection to, is more challenging than I anticipated. So, there’s that.

It looks to me that next week, if you can stand it, I am going to sit down one more time and paint this scene again. Let’s see if I’m right, that by correcting the mistakes that I’ve observed above, I can come up with a pic that works.

This, you see, is how a self-taught watercolorist, such as myself, teaches herself.  You begin by taking a stab at something that you know you cat do but you do it any way, and the thing looks like crap but you don’t quit because it looks like crap, noooooo, not you, you observe what you did right and what you did wrong and you do it again, and again, and again, each time righting the wrongs of the previous crappy effort, and with each repeat you get slightly better and better and better, until you’re pretty damn good.

Get it?

So let’s take heart, my Wonder Ones, and march our nasty selves back to the watercolor table one more time and see if we can’t learn something worthwhile next week from the same-old-same-old. You in?


16 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan

    Great post. In our house he is called Drumpf also… I think he may argue you got the captions to the photos the wrong way around, wasn’t there the biggest turn out for his inauguration? Love Paige wonder what she’ll achieve in the future? I think the rallies were pretty awe inspiring. I am fighting the temptation to google Camp Siegfried, what will the authorities think when they look at my metadata?

  2. Yes to all the pink marchers!
    YES we must protest this lunacy
    Doing watercolors is a good peaceful way of avoiding going quite barking mad
    I am barking mad!
    Your tree is tranquil and splendid.

    Apparently 1984 is flying off the shelves – “ALTERNATIVE FACTS” being the order of the day

    off to Morocco on Feb 9th
    may never bother to come back……

  3. Really not my place to talk politics..but your news travels here of course and every day we get our daily newly elected dose..
    I hate politcs anyway.
    But I love your tuts..I did try the tree..but on a handbook journal..pages are beige and paper like..

    so the whites were beige..will do again on white..when I look out the back..I have your painting..not the back tree line..the rest.

    Thanks Vivian!

  4. Kirra

    I think the marches were amazing and brilliant. I even went to a small march in support in my small city of Adelaide, it was a nice sunny day and a good vibe.

    I like your three snowy paintings, they looked different when put all together – but I don’t think they’re bad! Will be interested to see how you paint them next week…..

  5. Carol S

    In my house, I have many other names for him as I am a nasty woman. Wanted so badly to march in Philadelphia or Washington, but recent shoulder surgery kept me home.
    Looking forward to next week’s trees. I am finally painting again and, finally, finally…DRIVING!

  6. Leslie

    Dearest Vivian, Here’s a little something we can all do when standing on line in the supermarket. I pick up the tabloid newspapers and People and Us magazines, and just return them to their display FACING BACKWARDS. I do this for Drumpfs, Kardashians, and Brangelina covers, and it does give me a measure of satisfaction to know that I have diminished their media exposure. Power to the people! Peace, Leslie

  7. Thea

    I marched, along with thousands of others, here in San Diego down by the harbor. Started in rain, ended in sun. Marched at the very front, and, two hours later from our perch on the top ferry deck we could still see marchers all the way back on Broadway still coming, rounding the corner onto Harbor Drive. My favorite video was taken by a tourist someone from the top deck of a docked cruise ship.
    Looking forward to next Friday’s attempt/tutorial.

  8. Judy Jennings

    Vivian, I had NO idea about the Nazi camp here, and I thought I’d read about everything on WWII.
    Did Beth write you about her Seattle march? She has great photos. It took them 6 hours to get to the Space Needle. She was very uplifted.
    I’m still wallowing in misery…..
    Thank you for painting for us again–it lifts us up.

  9. Becky

    I too did not attend a march, but was there in spirit. I cannot begin to say how proud I was that day of the enormous turnouts everywhere….and Antarctica…wow!! It’s too bad the groper in chief lives in fantasy land and does not see how hated he, his spineless stooges and hateful policies are. My friends and I are more determined than ever to make our voices heard. We have been calling representatives to let them know that they work for us….not the groper.thisis important….our voices must be heard.
    I did not know the info about camp Siegfried……scary
    Moving on….thank you for the tutorials. They are wonderful and keeps me focused on the beauty we are gifted with. I have tried the pine several times and it is a challenge but so much fun to do.

  10. I marched in Portsmouth, NH with a not-so -shabby crowd of 3,500 in this smallish town ! It was wonderful – peaceful, full of positive energy and some laughs at HWMNBN (he who must not be named) as I am now calling him.

    I had no idea about a Nazi camp on Long Island – holy guacamole, Need to research that one- thanks for the (sad) info. So many things in our current reality bring back stories of horrors we thought we well behind us.

    Love the winter trees and don’t think they are crap at all, but what do I know?! I love the bluish/green color.
    Can’t wait to see how you could possibly improve on it, but I have great faith in your ability to astound.

  11. I marched. Not from any conviction that my presence would make a meaningful difference, but from a fear that it is possible that my butterfly-wings waft of wind might be the energy that makes the difference. What if *I* might be the straw that would break the camel’s back, and I don’t participate?

    Whatever happens in the end, I need to be able to look myself in the eye and know that I tried. And tried and tried and tried and tried. I am upping my game in a lot of ways. I am giving more money to more organizations. I am writing more letters (on paper!, and mailing them with Wonder Woman stamps 🙂 ). I am signing more online petitions, and sending more email. On Friday, I made my first telephone call to a senator’s office, opposing a nomination. (I didn’t like that one bit, but I did it, and I expect I have to cowgirl up and do it more.) I am picking up plastic from the ground when I walk, as “the ocean is downhill from everywhere” and the sea turtles already have too much plastic in their bellies. I am laying more dollars on local businesses. I am looking people in the eye when I say “Thank you!” and am giving them a genuine smile. I say “hello” to pretty much everyone I see when I walk in my neighborhood, and give them a genuine smile, too. Lots more real smiles for people here and there and everywhere.

    Do I believe that I make a meaningful difference? No, I do not.

    But what if I do make a meaningful (if very small) difference? What if?

    What if I am the straw that might break the camel’s back?

    The badness is not going to roll unimpeded because I fail to take action.

    • Becky

      I also am doing all the things you are doing. Calling the representative was difficult…out of my comfort zone , but I did it. And have gone on to call several. Each action…..each kindness towards someone….each stand we take is like a ripple. It continues outward and I do believe it counts.

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