News & Tips

Each of us can carry tools to sketch wherever we find ourselves.  We should not have
doodle on napkins nor cafe tablecloths.  We can tuck a pencil or two into pocket,
purse, or briefcase, along with a small sketch pad. These can yield much pleasure,
and these small thumbnails sketches can create images or inspire ideas for more
serious drawings or
paintings.  Why not keep your expression of art close to your
hand as well as your heart. Then you can capture in a unique way those special
moments in your thoughts.

“Anyone who truly sees what they are looking at can draw or paint it.”
–Artist-Professor Juanita Little, Abilene Christian University

When we were kids we enjoyed making mud pies or “frog houses” when the soil was damp. But one of the frustrations of a beginner in watercolor painting  is suddenly realizing that your painting has little vibrancy in its color but instead is messy “mud.”  There are several reasons this phenomenon happens:
Using student grade pigments (Windsor Newton Cotman or
Grumbacher Academy, or some  “off-brand,”for example);
Failing to completely clean your brushes or accidentally
picking up a touch of “other” color on your brush;
Rushing your wet painting before it is really dry, before
it dries completely (Colors thus mix on the paper).
Use a hair dryer or a heat gun, if necessary, to aid in drying.
Using a staining pigment over other pigments, thus its mixing with the
staining color with the ones beneath it.

Don’t despair.  Usually there are fixes for a problem, including “washing”
the paper and letting it dry so that you can work on it later.
If the whites are lost, you can sometimes use a gouash white
later to recapture them.  Just don’t fuss with a painting trying to
fix it. Let it rest and come back to it later.  Never throw away
a painting!  Later it may become the basis of a great painting.

In our Basic Watercolor Class with beginners, I sometimes forgot to tell them all the ways NOT to lift unwanted color, but we all learned we NEVER use an eraser on a painting that is not COMPLETELY DRY–as in the next day or certainly fully dry. So right now we are practicing lifting color with a clean damp brush instead.  Remember then,  if you wish to remove any pencil drawing on a watercolor painting, to wait until the painting is completely dry before attempting to erase them.  Actually, most art lovers enjoy the light basic drawings that underly a watercolor painting. Be sure, therefore, to draw with light lines which will not take away from the painting.

We are also using permanent, archival ink pens with .05 or 005 points to create any very fine lines in our paintings, especially fine line cracks in rocks, etc.  We always remember that they cannot be removed as can watercolor pigments, nor even softened after a few seconds of  drying.

STUDIO NEWS !                                                                                                                      September 2010

As some of you know, I have been planning to convert my garage into a studio for a number of years. With the strong encouragement of my dear friends Chuck and Lori Bowen, that studio is beginning to come into being.  Last winter [2009] a number of family and friends gathered to remove all the stored items in that garage, either to save for future use in the studio for my work or to fill a large dumpster. Since that time my eldest nephew Brian Coffee and his dear wife Susan volunteered to tear down the sad old wall on the west side and now there is a lovely, strong wall standing with a full glass door included at one end, a door with a built in blind for privacy and to exclude the sun in the late afternoon.  Soon the matching front wall with it double French doors in the middle will rise by the exacting work of Brian and Susan.  What is wonderous is that Brian as a teen worked with my daddy (his beloved grandfather) and learned to be an exacting workman, as well as carpentry and electrical work. Paul Coffee was a licensed Master Electrician, the owner of Coffee Electric Company until he retired. And so even my dad has a part in this new undertaking of which he would have loved to be a part.

We selected  beadboard for the interior walls, which are very lovely and are being painted a peachy white to enhance the feeling of daylight in the room.  My vision of a restful, inspiring working studio and teaching studio is coming to fruition.  When we are ready for a grand opening, I will send all my friends and students (present and past) will be sent an invitation to an open house.  I can hardly wait to show you, thanks to all my family and friends, especially the San Pedro Church of Christ Youth who have done some awesome lifting and working to clear away unwanted and unusable “treasures” collected over many years.


I am a member of Alamo Decorative Artists who meet on first Fridays at Lions Field in San Antonio each month, and who paint after most meetings with a chapter member teaching,  who have Skills Day almost every month, and who contract to bring in nationally known teaching artists several times a year. AND many members travel to Society of Decorative Painters’ Conventions and the National Hobby Shows to study with other world famous artists and to discover the newest products and to discover the newest products and techniques.  You can find more information at this website:
Join us some first Friday to see how much fun,  learning, and comeraderie can accrue from the activities of this group.