Watercolor Travel Kit ~ Preparing for Tuscany

watercolor travel kit
in Monet’s garden with my watermelon striped watercolor travel kit

It won’t be long now before I take off for my Tuscan painting adventure. I am updating my watercolor travel kit from the one I used in France two years ago. The simple watermelon-striped satchel I carried throughout France was terrific. It was stylish, light-weight and big!

Style aside, I couldn’t resist purchasing this artist’s satchel with all its wonderful pockets. I am still playing with how to arrange all my papers, paints, and brushes. In France, I simply threw two packs of watercolor postcards and a travel palette with two brushes in a plastic bag. I carried it everywhere, whipping it out in cafes, on park benches and picnic blankets. I hope this black one doesn’t tie me down. I’m throwing my watermelon one in just in case!

watercolor travel kit
watercolor travel kit

Watercolor Travel Kit

This bag has a stiffener built into the bag itself. I thought it was cardboard I could take out ~ NOT! I guess it will keep my papers from getting messed up.

watercolor travel kit
Several pockets hold various size papers

With all its pockets this watercolor travel kit is getting kind of heavy as I am loading up more and more supplies each day. I ordered some watercolor crayons and pencils which I will show you when the shipment arrives.

watercolor travel kit
watercolor palette slides in easily

Even my 9 x 12″ palette fits into this bag. Watercolors dry out on the palette and are easily reactivated with a little water. No wasted paint here. The large wells are for mixing. My colors are the same as my oil palette: from the bottom up, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, Phthalo Green, Yellow Ochre, Lemon Yellow (it’s got a smear of green on it), and Cadmium Yellow Medium.

I have laid them out in the sequence in which I would use them to mix specific colors. For example, Alizarin Crimson is beside Ultramarine Blue. This is coolest red beside warmest blue. Together they make a lovely purple.

If I were to mistake one color for another (which is easy to do as they are so dark in their full strength form), I might mistakenly mix Alizarin with Cerulean or Phthalo. Instead of lovely purple, I would be shocked to see muddy brown!

Like the keys on a  piano, it’s best to keep each color in a predictable position. This rigid structure frees me to paint spontaneously. Stopping to hunt for stuff is a great deterrent to creative inspiration. A predictable structure is a huge aid in painting loose and freely.

watercolor travel kit
this bag has lots of individual pockets for brushes and pencils.

It’s all about balance. If I control the structure; my paint, palette, brushes, papers ~ I am free to go with the flow.  I can throw paint on paper willy nilly if I feel like it.  The best watercolors have that sense of wild abandon ~ yet are crisp, clean and simple.

I am hoping my upgraded watercolor travel kit will have the same effect on my watercolors. In France I struggled for control of the medium. In Tuscany I am hoping to cut loose with  my watercolors and fly free. We’ll see if this kit helps me do that!

Pinch me! After 45 Years, a Printmaker Once Again

A Printmaking Studio?

Mary Jo visited my studio this weekend. She's like a magic fairy. I saw in her a youthful version of my self. If I could wind back the clock and tell my younger self that everything would be ok. To offer guidance, compassion and encouragement at a time when it matters so much ~ what a gift she allowed me to give and receive all at once. This is what true, pure Divine Creative energy is. What an honor to call her my daughter!
Mary Jo visited my studio this weekend. She’s like a magic fairy. I saw in her a youthful version of my self. If I could wind back the clock and tell my younger self that everything would be ok. To offer guidance, compassion and encouragement at a time when it matters so much ~ what a gift she allowed me to give and receive all at once. This is what Divine Creative energy is.

I haven’t been in a printmaking studio since college. Funny I spent Sunday with a young woman who reminds me of myself in my early twenties. What would you say to yourself if you could go back and offer yourself the guidance of your older, wiser self?

I met Mary Jo at the art show in Massachusetts this spring. Yesterday she gave me the opportunity to reconnect with a young vibrant soul sister. Before she left, she bought my Soul Sister painting.  We loaded it and Embrace of the Mountain into her car, lot of hugs and promises to stay in touch. She had embraced her mountain too.

A magic fairy? I don’t know.

But today ~ you could knock me over with a feather! Who would have thought I would suddenly be the printmaker I was 45 years ago? Yet here it is, my first limited edition handmade print with inspirational story to inspire the Creator within.

And as I sit here finishing up this story, Rod Stewart is on the radio singing, Forever Young!

The story ~ The Magic Connection Between Painting & Dreams ~ is my story. I hope you will see yourself when you read it. So many people tell me stories of how their dreams have suffered at the words of others. I truly believe that this story is for you. Why else would so many tell me this story ~ if it were not my calling to help you rewrite it with a different ending?

printmaking studio
Joy’s Garden Folio Book with Tuscan Sun dream painting, limited edition of 10

The cover looks like hand painted fabric. Maybe that’s because it kind of is ~ my fabric. I printed my oil painting, A Lily Pond of My Own, on a sheet of uncoated domestic etching paper. It’s so soft and absorbent, it drinks in my pigmented inks like fabric. You can see in the photo below, how each of the folios is a different piece of the fabric.

Inside in my story, The Magic Connection between Painting & Dreams ~ and of course, my hand printed limited edition of Tuscan Sun.

The story is the thing. Last week it started as a blog post. This week it’s expanded into this first edition folio book. It would make a fabulous gift. I think I will give my daughters-in-law each one. They have August birthdays. I think I will give them watercolor journals to go with it. If you want one of the other eight, you can purchase one here>

printmaking studio
Printmaking area is a clean white table with supplies for printing.

The whole studio is turned upside down. Now I have a ‘clean area’ right in front of the presses. The not so clean area is still set up on the other side. This is where I create the special surfaces to print on.


printmaking studio
Like paint, my pigment based inks look different depending on what kind of surface they are applied to. I have created a collage from several different textured papers. I painted it with gesso to make it white. I love the brush strokes showing in the final print.


Tuscan Sun has a hand painted gesso surface painted on Arches Watercolor Paper. This gives the finished prints a rich, vibrant feel. I mounted each in the folio with rag paper tabs so it can be easily removed for framing. The story could be mounted on the back of the frame or tucked into a special drawer.


printmaking studio
I hope you can see the texture of the collage and painted gesso in this photo.

I have been experimenting with the idea of creating a small edition of The Little Black Dress and Jack Russell. This is my last project before I leave for Tuscany. I finished up the Tuscan Sun folios today. They are ready to ship, so I am running a special sale of 20% Off with the code: JOYFUL. Expires Sunday August 23 at midnight.

Maybe The Little Black Dress with Jack Russell edition will come together tomorrow? I’ll put her in the shop feed if she does!


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Provence Sunrise

​Provence Sunrise is inspired by our last morning in Provence. The birds outside my balcony were singing again. Every morning of our stay they sang the moon and stars away. On the last morning I shot a short video clip and watched as they woke from their nests in the giant fig tree in the garden. ​ ​

​It’s 10 feet wide by 4 1/2 feet high. Painted on canvas, it can be rolled to ship and stretched and installed on location. ​
French landscape mural

This would look fabulous in a master bath or spa.
Maybe a master bedroom? ​
French landscape mural

Canvas giclees of this mural are also available.
Contact me with your specs.​