"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for." - Georgia O'Keeffe

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"The Crowned Santos" 1 and 2

Two Christmases ago, a close friend of ours gave us a Santos*. She stands about 32" tall, is carved out of wood and has metal wings. She was bald so I had wrapped a sting of silver metal stars around her head. A few months ago I picked up a lovely crown at a wonderful Pasadena shop, "The Gold Bug" for her so now she indeed looks like a royal angel!

I decided I would do a portrait of her. As you probably know, I am not a portrait or figure painter but wanted to give it a try anyway. The first one, "Crowned Santos" wasn't too successful so I gave it another effort as "Crowned Santos 2". Either painting isn't one of my favorites but I'm happy to have given it a try anyway . . . twice!

*I Googled "Santos Angels" and found this link. This photo on the site is the exact angel that we have!


Left, "Crowned Santos", right, "Crowned Santos 2", 13"x13" each, watercolor,
(click on image to enlarge)

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I love to take photos on my early morning walks of the sky, roses or whatever image catches my eye with my iPhone. Other people's roses. I only have two rose bushes in our yard and they seem to be hanging on for dear life! My dream is to plant a rose garden of my own.

My watercolors of roses therefore develop from photos I take from my walks in the neighborhood or from one of the gardens I visit (with my digital SLR camera) in our area. There is the Los Angeles County Arboretum, Descanso Gardens, The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens and Arlington Gardens close by. I feel so lucky to have these wonderful gardens to enjoy and visit them often!

Since I paint from my photographs, the first step (after shooting the photos and choosing the ones that inspire me) is to edit them to make a, what I hope to be, an interesting and beautiful painting.

Here is an example of one of the ways I edit my photos to use as a reference for a watercolor:

I "steal" roses from this photograph

and "add" them to this photograph

This is the "final" compilation
I wanted lots of roses to be in this composition and love the way the light colored ones move through the picture. I also like the little piece of sky in the background and the light hitting the distant trees. More color adjustments will be made in the painting process. This will be a full sheet watercolor.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A New Painting: "White Roses"

I am happy to share my latest watercolor painting, "White Roses"! It was just finished yesterday, is 22 1/2"x30" and painted on Arches 300 lb. Cold Press Paper. I love roses but white roses are my favorite to paint!

"White Roses", 22 1/2"x30"                               Kathleen Ballard

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Art of Tyrus Wong

We are planning to visit The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco to see "Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong", exhibiting August 15th, 2013 to February 3rd, 2014.

Tyrus Wong, A Kiting Legend courtesy of the Drachen Foundation website

In 2007, the National Watercolor Society presented Tyrus Wong with the prestigious "Life Achievement Award". I was accepted in the exhibit, won an award and attended the awards luncheon where they honored Mr Wong. They exhibited some of his wonderful kites on the ceiling of the hotel where the luncheon was held. It was so nice to see this very, multi-talented man and hear him speak. He started his career with the Walt Disney Studios in their animation department then moved to Warner Brothers where he remained for the next twenty-six years as a production illustrator.

A film about Tyrus Wong, "Brushstrokes in Hollywood" is currently in post production in LA, Ca.

"Reclining Nude" by Tyrus Wong, Oil on Canvas

"The Red Fox" by Tyrus Wong for Disney's movie, "Bambi"

Thursday, July 4, 2013

New Work: "Koi Pair"

I am always happy and pleased when I finish a painting. It's almost as fun as starting one!
This watercolor, "Koi Pair" is 20"x28" and painted on Arches 140 Cold Press paper. The reference photo was from the Huntington Library I shot on a past visit there. The ponds at the Library Gardens are lovely and I feel fortunate to be able to visit such a beautiful place now and then!

"Koi Pair", watercolor, 20"x28"                        Kathleen Ballard

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tako Kichi

"Tako Kichi: Kite Crazy in Japan" is on exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, NM till March 23rd, 2014.

I read about this exhibition in this past Sunday's Los Angeles Times in the Arts and Books section, "Art, on the fly". There are over 200 kites from an inch to 12 feet in size, most dating 1960 to present and handmade using traditional, natural materials.

Japanese kite, circa 1925 insect design.

I always loved Japanese kites and even have a small, simple collection I've purchased over the years from kite shops and gift stores. This exhibit would be so much fun to see!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Koi watercolor on Twinrocker paper

I finished the painting on the Twinrocker watercolor paper that I had purchased from Daniel Smith. This paper is 14"x17 1/4" with four natural deckle edges and is cold press on one side and hot press on the other. "Koi in Aqua Water" is done on the hot press side (I had started it on the cold press side and was unhappy with it so restarted it on the other side). I must say that the hot press side is a bit soft so care must be taken if you choose to use a masking fluid but I still like it.

"Koi in Aqua Water", 14"x17 1/4", watercolor   Kathleen Ballard

This handmade paper is not perfectly straight on all sides (some of it may be due partly to my photograph) which I think is lovely.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Twinrocker Handmade Paper

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a few sheets of Twinrocker handmade watercolor paper from Daniel Smith and really liked it. Later on, I decided to check out Twinrocker Handmade Paper's site and discovered that they offer paper samples. I ordered a packet of 8"x10" watercolor paper assortment which included a sheet each of hot press, cold press and rough papers, each handmade one at a time with four deckle edges and their watermark.

This watercolor paper is made from 100% new cotton, is archival and acid free as well as being tub sized with gelatine allowing the paint to stay on the surface of the paper clear and bright.

I just received my sample in the mail which only cost ten dollars including shipping from the company in Brookston, Indiana. Also included is a descriptive page, watercolor paper price list, description page with codes, weight and thicknesses, and a certificate for a 25% discount on an order of WC paper.

This watercolor paper is beautiful and a pleasure to paint on. What is your favorite paper and surface?

Twinrocker Handmade Watercolor Paper sample packet

Twinrocker WC papers, hot press, cold press and rough

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Saturday in the Park with the Masters

The "Ninth Annual Saturday in the Park with the Masters" was so much fun and inspiring! It was held at the beautiful campus of the Maranatha High School in Pasadena. The weather was beautiful and there were fifteen artists demonstrating their unique painting styles portraying the landscape or painting one of the models posing there.

One of many beautiful views of the Maranatha High School campus

Maranatha High School campus, another beautiful view

Brenda Swenson's watercolor

Chris Van Winkle working on his watercolor

Chuck Kovacic painting model in oils

Debra Holladay painting model's portrait in oils

Artists gathered around pond painting

Frank Eber painting in watercolor

JoAnn Formia discussing her watercolor painting

Jose De Juan painting model in oils

Joseph Stoddard painting in watercolor

Nancy Shiershke painting in watercolor

Nancy Shiershke's oil painting

Pete Morris painting watercolor of model

Tom Fong and his watercolor

Al Setton joking with Tom Fong

Al Setton painting from model with acrylics

Saturday, March 30, 2013

2013 Peeps Challenge

I was invited by four artist friends to participate in the "Peeps Challenge" this year. There are five of us each painting five versions of the beloved Easter candy, Peeps. What fun!

(shown in alphabetical order by artist):

"Happy Hour Peeps", watercolor     Kathleen Ballard
Kathleen Ballard
"Happy Hour Peeps", watercolor on Arches hot press paper, 10"x10".

"I never knew that little Peeps had a dark secret. They are usually seen this time of year hanging out in Easter baskets or lined up in their little boxes. Drinking is so unbecoming of them and they never uttered a peep about loving cocktails!"

"Little Bo Peeps", watercolor                   Chris Beck                
Chris Beck
"Little Bo Peeps", watercolor, 6"x6"

The lovely Little Bo Peep ceramic figurine in Chris' painting is surrounded by sugar free Peeps candies and two little ceramic Peeps salt shakers. Chris Beck's blog

"OTB", oil on canvas, 4"x12"

Jelaine Faunce
Jelaine's internet was been down so her painting was revealed late.
Jelaine Faunce's blog

"A Fistful of Peeps", oil   Geraud Staton
Geraud Staton
"A Fistfull of Peeps", oil 14"x11"

This painting is an inventive take-off on the "A Fistful of Dollars" movie poster with Clint Eastwood. I mean, Clint Peepwood! Geraud Station's Blog

"Equality Peeps", watercolor        Pablo Villicana
Pablo Villican a
"Equality Peeps", watercolor, 6"x6"

Pablo's painting represents the sign of the times and his passion for equality for all to honor his friends and family. Pablo Villicana's blog

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The National Watercolor Society Traveling Exhibit

Hello Everyone!

The other day I received a nice email from a woman who attended the National Watercolor Society Traveling Exhibit, currently in Massachusetts, that she saw my painting, "Balboa Park Pond" and really enjoyed the exhibit. I thought I would share the schedule with you as it may be in or coming to your area.

February 23 to March 25, 2013
Cultural Center of Cape Cod
307 Old Main Street, South Yarmouth, MA 02664

April 2 to May 14, 2013
Southern Arts Society Inc.
301 N. Piedmont Ave, Kings Mountain. NC 28086

June 4 to July 16, 2013
Lansing Art Gallery
119 N. Washington Square, Lansing, MI 48933

July 30 to September 27, 2013
Grants Pass Museum of Art
229 Southwest G Street, Grants Pass, OR 97528

October 14 to December 6, 2013
West Valley Art Museum
P.O. Box 6777, Peoria, AZ 85385

"Balboa Park Pond", watercolor        Kathleen Ballard

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine Challenge

I was invited to join three artists for my first Valentine Painting Challenge by Pablo Villicana Lara along with Jelaine Faunce and Geraud Staton. What an honor to join these three super talented painters for a fun run of incorporating Sweethearts candies in our paintings.

After much thought of coming up with ideas for this challenge, I considered painting an unwrapped chocolate foil heart against a background of scattered Sweethearts candies. Crumpled foil is a subject matter I love to do. Once I proceeded with photography of the little still life I set up and drew it on my watercolor paper, it was so involved I thought for sure I would miss the deadline and abandoned that idea.

I choose a glass, heart shaped bottle with a cork stopper filled with Sweethearts and proceeded with a high key watercolor of it.

It sure delighted and amazed me when I saw the finished challenge paintings by Pablo, Geraud, and Jelaine! Wow!

"Heart Full of Hearts", watercolor 10"x8",  Kathleen Ballard

"XO", watercolor 8"x10" watercolor,  Pablo Viillicana Lara

"Candy Love", 6"x6" Oil on Canvas,  Geraud Staton

"Playing with the Queen of Hearts", 6"x6" oil, Jelaine Faunce

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The CWA Exhibit

My Husband and I drove up to Pleasanton, Ca to attend the California Watercolor Association's 43rd National Exhibition. It was held at the beautiful Harrington Gallery in the Firehouse Art's Center downtown Pleasanton on Saturday, January 19, 2013. What a wonderful show with a large turn out!

I was so proud to receive my CWA Signature Membership at the exhibit!

Kathleen Ballard receiving CWA Signature Membership

"Metal", Kathleen Ballard at California Watercolor Assoc. Exhibit 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New work: "Laguna Wave"

I finally finished this little painting! It was started in 2011 and I meant to get on it and get it done last year! It felt great to finish it but I think I liked it better before completion! But the bright colors and summer subject is a breath of fresh air during this winter!

I shot the reference photo during the time my Husband and I spent a few wonderful days at Monarch Bay in Laguna Beach, CA back in the summer of 2009.

"Laguna Wave" is 9 1/2"x14" and painted on Arches hot press paper.

"Laguna Wave", watercolor,  9 1/2'x14" Kathleen Ballard

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Celebrating the Holidays with the Traveling Chicken

The Traveling Chicken and her two friends arrived here in Altadena, California on December 8th, 2012. She and her flock flew in from Texas after spending a fun time with Darla having tea and getting her beautiful portrait painted.

The beautifully wrapped Traveling Chicken Package from sent from Darla

Inside the package: T.C. and her entourage

I was so busy getting ready for Christmas and having out of town guests staying with us that I wasn't able to paint Miss T. Chicken's portrait until after the Holidays.

T.C. was thrilled to spend Christmas with us! It was the first one that she could remember. She happily chose a spot on our Christmas tree amongst all the ornaments right next to one of our big red hearts. She loved how bright and shiny it was and spent hours gazing at it. (probably admiring her own reflection)! Miss T. Chicken celebrated the Holidays and was in her element with being an ornament herself!

"The Traveling Chicken with a big Heart", 8 3/4" x 10 1/2" watercolor
by Kathleen Ballard, 2013

After Christmas she watched her first Rose Parade on television and loved seeing all the floats, bands and horses on New Year's Day.

Now she is packing and getting ready for her next adventure flying to Elle's home in Colorado.

It was so much fun having Miss T. Chicken here for the Holidays and painting her portrait! For more information about the Traveling Chicken Blog, click here.

Love, Kathleen