As I reorganize my studio following the chaotic “get-everything-off-the-basement-floor” rush to prepare for Hurricane Irene, I am finally sorting some of the boxes of incomplete paintings from Betty Stroppel’s studio.  When Betty’s son and daughter moved her to the Mid-west last June I ended up with the choice of watching her sketchbooks, paintings, supplies and unfinished paintings left to be deposited into a dumpster or to make room for them in my studio until I could find homes for them.  I have been choked for space ever since.

Betty Stroppel's watercolor studies

I can’t keep everything of Betty’s any more than I can keep everything of my own.  It is difficult to pass judgement on another artist’s work, especially when you love and respect the artist as much as I do Betty.  These two studies are, for me, keepers.

Watercolor study by Betty Stroppel of Man Wearing Hat

Watercolor study of shadow on house by Betty Stroppel

Such simplicity.  I continue to learn from Betty through the scraps of paper, the notes, the sketchbooks and the clippings that fill the boxes in my studio.  I make note of the information that inspires me and instructs me.  The rest I must release along with my own sketches, drawing and paintings that no longer have a place in my life.  Too much baggage gets in the way of becoming a better painter.

Moving on……..

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Today is Betty Stroppel’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Betty!  This little sketch of my baby oxalis plant opening into the morning sun is for you!

Baby Oxalis Plant in the Morning Sun, watercolor sketch

Betty doesn’t use a computer, so she will not be able to read this post.  I will print a giclee of this little sketchbook painting and send it to her by way of snail mail, a post-birthday surprise package.  I spoke with her this morning and she had just finished a piece of Boston Lime Pie.  Hmmmmm. Never heard of that before.  A bit early in the day for pie, but it’s her birthday.  She can eat pie all day long if she wants to.  Her voice is weak, but her spirit is strong!  She continues to inspire me to paint each and every day and to become a much stronger painter.  I will not let her down.

Study of an oxalis plant: I began with a line drawing done with my Waterman Phileas fountain pen, followed by watercolor washes.   The inspiration for the color study was the shapes of the leaves and shadow.