Mermaid Warrior

Continuing in the Mermaid theme I’m getting ready to start a new painting. This is just a portion of the painting. I think it will be fun.



My Happy Valentine

Kehena Beach

When I think about all the places I’ve lived in my one and only life I must say I feel very fortunate to have landed here in Hawaii 12 years ago. I live in a very primal and remote part of the Big Island, near a volcano that is still forming new land. Hiking to the lava flow and seeing it going into the ocean at the break of dawn is a spectacular sight to behold. I also live within walking distance to this tiny black sand beach which is growing ever smaller. That is the nature of black sand beaches, as in most things in life, nothing is forever.

For my latest project, being so close to Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a good time to do a card.

Again I looked to the ocean for my inspiration. This time it came in the form of the Hawaiian State Fish. The Humuhumunukunukuapua’a or Humuhumu for short. It’s a type of trigger fish with a raccoonish kind of black mask. I swam close to the fish to study it’s markings.

I start with a piece of watercolor paper. I thought I’d do a drawing using Niji Pearlescent WatercolorsYasutomo Sumi Ink, and Niji Chinese Watercolors or any acrylic or watercolor with a bright red paint.

I quickly drew the basic shape of the fish. Not the accurate, but very loose, using the Sumi Ink and a simple pointed brush.


Then just kind of finish it off adding the eyes, striping, and little fins (it’s “wings”).


I also added the bubbles that become a heart and the message below. I love seeing the name of the fish. It’s so long and musical. I guess that’s why someone put it in a song (‘My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua Hawai`i). I painted the heart with the Niji Chinese Watercolors because they have a very bright red. I wanted to paint the rest with the Niji Pearlescent Watercolors but I knew from experimenting that the red wasn’t the brightness I wanted. Though to make the heart have the pearlescent shimmer, I went over it with the pearlescent red over it, once it dried.


Here’s a close up of the drawing to show you the shimmer of the pearlescent paint. And below is the finished card with a little coral added in the corners to complete the whole thing.


Have a wonderful day!

Peace, Love and Harmony

Here’s a simple project using Splash Inks and Oil Pastels, specifically the white pastel.

On some watercolor card stock I took the white pastel and drew a peace sign, then a heart, and last, a yin-yang symbol.


Next, using the Splash Ink formula guide I mixed some cool colors (again like in my previous post about glazing, I used the Niji Waterbrush as a water dropper). On the peace sign I wanted a kind of tye-dye effect, so I painted a swirl at first, then made splatters and took a softer watercolor brush and blended the colors. Because oil and water don’t mix the peace symbol came through and I really liked the effect.



To symbolize Harmony I took the yin-yang symbol and did the same process with purple tones and pale yellow to make the oil paster stand out on the paper.


Finally for Love, I know, it’s cliché but I had to use the heart. Simplicity is my middle name (okay, not literally).


And there you have it, my wish for the coming new year. Peace, Love and Harmony to all.

2014-Year of the Horse


I’m usually not so together that I can get out Christmas cards on time so I try to at least do a New Year design which gives me until mid January to get something out. So here is my process for the next New Year. It’s going to be the year of the horse in the Chinese zodiac calendar (the Japanese adopted this too).


I started with a scrap piece of Yuzen Origami Paper and a plain watercolor paper (card stock). I glued it onto the edge of the paper with Nori Paste.


I then drew a stylized horse using a PermaWriter Markers (07).


I added the numbers 2014 so that the horse is looking towards it.


To make it a little abstract I ink in shapes to divide the card into interesting spaces. Then with the ink pen I color in black every other space. Like so:



I even had the did it to the origami paper side.


After the inking was done I thought it was a little plain. It needed color. Originally I was going to use Splash Inks for today’s project but because of the yuzen origami paper with the bits of gold ink I thought I need to use something that would match the shimmer.


Niji Pearlescent Watercolors was the perfect solution. I love all the different colors.



After painting all the white spaces different colors using my Niji waterbrush I thought design still needed another element to make it look more finished.


My favorite, metallic Gel Xtreme Pens!

Happy New Year, but first… Mele Kalikimaka which is Merry Christmas in Hawaiian. Can you believe I had to learn that hula last week? I’m no dancer so it wasn’t pretty, but it was fun.

Underwater encounter


I have to admit this Thanksgiving week that I have a pretty incredible life. I live in paradise and I love what I do. I’m forever grateful for all the opportunities that come my way, including this one here where I can share a little bit of it.

I try to swim daily as part of my exercise routine. Saturdays I have life drawing in the morning and so I swam on my own in the afternoon. This is at our little beach near my home in Kehena, HI. I always wear a mask, snorkel and fins because the currents can be strong at times. This particular Saturday, which is yesterday as I write this blog, I saw the most beautiful eagle ray glide gently under me. At that moment I thought, I must share this for the blog. So here we are.

For this project you will need the following:

Yasutomo Sumi Ink

Pale Gold Sumi Watercolor

Gel Xtreme Pens, Gold and White

Paper, Pencil, an eraser, and a watercolor brush


I always start my project with a thumbnail sketch.


Then I redraw the image to the size I want the finished drawing on the paper I have chosen. Here, one made of hemp, I liked the speckles on the paper and the nice creamy color.


The main subject of my drawing is the eagle ray floating above stylized water. I paint the ray with the sumi ink.


Then it’s time to paint the water. I want it dramatic against the black so I go with the Pale Gold Sumi Watercolor. I take my time going around all the circles, kind of like my last project (the glazing technique one). When I finish, I take a Gel Xtreme gold pen and rule a line around the whole image. Then I erase all the pencil lines.


This is a photo of the back of an actual eagle ray. To do this on my black ray I needed the help of Yasutomo’s GelXTreme  pastel pen in white. It was way easier than trying to paint all the circles and dots!


Here’s a closeup of my version.

Thanks for letting me share my awesome experience! And I am truly thankful to all those who have touched my life. You have no idea how much you mean to me.


Glazing with Niji Splash Ink


Today  I want to show examples of a watercolor technique called glazing, which is basically painting in layers of color. The Niji Splash Ink is a very cool system. In a set you get the three primary colors, plus black. You also get a formula guide to make other colors. This is really a fantastic and easy system to get consistent colors instead of having to blindly mix colors and wasting a lot of paint.


What you need:

  • Niji Splash Ink
  • water dropper or a Yasutomo waterbrush
  • watercolor paper (I used watercolor postcards here)
  • watercolor brushes
  • brush cleaning water  and container (I used an old yogurt tub)

I started with two blank watercolor postcards. I mix up some colors using the handy chart. For a dropper I use the water brush.


With a wide flat brush I first lay down a wash of water. This is so the paint will go down more smoothly. Then on one I put down a wash of one color. On the other I decide to do a multicolored background.

greenbackgroundpaper colorfulbackgroundpaper

I let them dry and then on the single colored card I put down a swirl design in the same color.



Again, I let the paint dry and then I go back and add dashes with the same color again. Another “layer”.


While that one is drying I go back to the other painting with the multicolored background. Where I live there was an iconic ironwood tree that seemed to defy the natural elements and even though it was not living anymore it still stood tall on the beach. People would climb it and decorate it. I used to draw it almost daily, every time I went to the beach. I wrote about it on another blog when it finally did come crashing down in a severe storm a couple of years ago. You can read about it here and see some of my old sketches:  So I decided to paint the tree again on the multicolored background. I used an ink drawing I had done at the beach as my reference. I start again with the same green tone I had already mixed.


First I paint a line drawing, let it dry and go back for shading. Letting it dry after each application and painting over an area to make it darker and darker. We’re glazing.


Here are the finished paintings and original sketch of the tree.


Of course I was having too much fun experimenting with the  Splash Ink, so I decided to do more. This time playing with negative space. I took a card and after the water and color wash (and letting it dry) I drew different sized circles in pencil.


I then painted in the same color the negative space, that is, the space around the circles, not the circles themselves.


I went back and drew more circles, intersecting the existing circles and painted around them again.



I did this over and over until I ended up with this.


Then I thought what if I did paint just the dots, the “positive space” going through all the same steps, letting the paint dry at each step. The beauty of Splash Ink is if you run out of paint you can mix the same color again using the formulas already calculated. Here’s that version.


Neat effect, I think I prefer the negative version. I’m going on…


and now it’s your turn.