Figure painting

Different students' painting of the same sketch of walking figures to practice watercolor shading technique

An exercise in shading —
students’ painting using my outline
(photo courtesy of Mary D.)

Watercolor painting of pedestrians viewd from above by Jo Myers-Walker

View from the second floor

People bring a painting alive. My classes want to put people in their landscapes, so I painted different points of view as examples. Above left, since we didn’t have a live model, as a way to teach technique I sketched two figures using tracing paper over a painting of mine. Students copied the outline by holding up watercolor paper over the sketch in a bright window. With the outline to start from, they could focus on that lesson’s techniques of watercolor shading.

Above right, I was enjoying the shadows of people walking by. It feels kind of voyeuristic to paint people if they don’t know I’m painting them, so I try to be respectful of their privacy in the artwork. I have many journals full of people I’ve sketched and those same people end up in my paintings. I cut them out and start placing them in a watercolor to get the story going.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Shop for Lila Mae’s House (sticky post)

Now you can order Creating for a Cause products online at Shop to Shelter for Lila Mae’s House! (external website,

See my Creating for a Cause page for background on this special collection of notecards, scarves, and bags featuring images from my artwork, developed to promote awareness and to raise money for organizations working against human trafficking. The section Help us “Create for a Cause!” tells about workshops where we make the pouches to bundle the notecards.

(This post is “stickied” to remain at the top of the blog; newer blog posts may appear below.)

Posted in Uncategorized

Joyful flowers

Floral arrangements delivered to Jo's car by wagon and pedal power

Wagon delivery service

Watercolor images inspired by arrangements of spring flowers

Floral inspiration

For a recent family wedding the groom’s brother, an event florist, created wonderful floral arrangements for the reception tables. Afterward my grandson put some in his wagon and pedaled them out to my car to take with me. My watercolor class members brought them from the car for us to paint and enjoy their beauty.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Spring showers

Cotton watercolor paper hanging in a shower to wet it for pre-shrinking

Showering watercolor paper

Quality watercolor paper is made from cotton, and cotton shrinks. If it does that while you’re working on a painting, the paper will ripple and the paint will go into puddles and change the image. To keep that from happening, before I start I pre-shrink the paper — for a large sheet, by wetting both sides in the shower! Then I hang it up to dry, free hanging so it slowly shrinks down.

This keeps the paper from changing shape as much while painting, and makes framing much easier. I’ve been known to re-wet just the back of the paper after a painting is done and carefully iron it so it sits more nicely in the frame.

Posted in Art Tips


Image of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

The starting picture provides a vantage point

In-progress watercolor painting of vista including Holyrood Palace by Jo Myers-Walker

In progress: The painting with
foreground figures not yet completed

I painted this view of the Palace of Holyroodhouse (or Holyrood Palace) in Edinburgh, Scotland, for some friends who had been there on their travels and provided me a small picture to work from. It was such a small picture that first I had to blow it up larger, and I still wasn’t sure if some white things in the foreground were sheep. My friends thought they could be, and liked the idea, so in the painting there are sheep, along with the travelers themselves taking in the view.

The couple who commissioned the painting are both novelists and we talked about how we start the dialog of what’s going on so a story comes to life. They use adjectives to describe a scene, where I use color and texture. As a writer or a painter, it’s all about interpretation.

Watercolor painting of vista including Holyrood Palace by Jo Myers-Walker

Holyrood Palace painting completed

Watercolor painting of view of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh by Jo Myers-Walker

An earlier painting for the same friends, Edinburgh’s Royal Mile looking toward St. Giles’ Cathedral

Posted in Studio Snapshots

A road map for painting

Photograph of a back yard and the back of several buildings

A photo to start from

People bring in a photo to class of what they want to paint, and it can be scary to look at and try to figure out where to begin. Often a photo is way too busy. Select what’s important — what you want to say — and leave out the rest (maybe adding a few neighbors to the picture!).

We start with a black-and-white sketch, finding the big shapes first, developing a value scale and organizing so it has a focal point and story. After that we paint a small color study the same size as the sketch. Then we’re ready to enlarge and paint the final version. All of the preliminary composition work is done so we can just have fun.

Pencil sketch of house and back yard based on photo

Figuring out what to
leave in and what to add

Watercolor painting of back of a house and back yard by Jo Myers-Walker

The painting follows the “road map”
provided by the sketch and color study

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Watercolor for all seasons

Images illustrating watercolor concepts by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Some examples from day 1 of Landscape class

Watercolor sketch of sidewalk scene by Jo Myers-Walker

Composition gives the eye a path through the landscape

Despite the arctic weather we’ve been having, the new classes are going well because people are staying in and painting!

This session I divided my courses between Watercolor Landscape, and Watercolor Portrait Painting.

Pencil sketch of a young woman and selfie photo by artist Jo Myers-Walker, each with notes about proportion drawn in

Proportions illustrated on a sketch and selfie

View over the shoulder of an artist creating a watercolor portrait based on a photograph

A class member starting from a photo
to creat a watercolor portrait

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Graduation day

Jo Myers-Walker poses with physical therapists Brittany and Lori

My graduation photo. The slate reads: “Because of [Progressive Rehabilitation Associates], I can:
–Walk –Sleep –Get in/out of my car!”

Celebrating my graduation from Progressive Rehab! Physical therapists Lori and Brittany got me back on my feet after two knee surgeries, lower back and hamstring pain. They always made me feel like I could do it — it just hurts a little bit but then gets better.

This February is so much better than last year. Being able to walk to class and sit and stand when needed is awesome, I praise my body all the time. I will continue to do my exercises they taught me.

Posted in Uncategorized

With bells on

Group of ukulele players performs amid displays at an art show

The Johnson County Ukulele Social Club
performing last Sunday afternoon at
the East Side Artists Show and Sale

Two women dancing to ukulele music at the East Side Artists Show and Sale 2018

Dancing to the music with jingle bells, celebrating a very successful show.
We helped out Lila Mae, too!

Wishing you times of joy and celebration!

Posted in Studio Snapshots, Uncategorized

Crazy for cardinals

Postcard advertising Iowa City Eastside Artists 2018 show and sale, featuring watercolor painting of cardinal bird by Jo Myers-Walker

(click image to view larger)
The Annual Show & Sale postcard

Watercolor paintings of cardinal birds by several students in a variety of styles

A radiance of cardinals,
by watercolor class members

(Above left)  The postcard for this year’s Eastside Artists Annual Show & Sale features my cardinal painting. I sent them three to choose from, and they picked this slightly frumpy young bird with his feathers a little ruffled.

(Above right)  My watercolor students got in the spirit and painted this splendid array! According to, a group of cardinals may be called a “radiance.”

Posted in Studio Snapshots