Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Highlights

It is hard to believe that 2014 is almost over...just a few more hours. My thanks to all of you who have been visiting my blog throughout the year. I really appreciate all your support and comments. In return, I love having so many wonderful blogs to visit and so many wonderful blogging friends.
Thank you all!!!

I am lucky to belong to several very active painting and sketching groups...the NYC Urban Sketchers,  the PALS Plein Air Limner Society, and the Patchogue Sketch Club. I get to do a lot of sketching and painting with some great friends and artists. My thanks to them too!

To close out 2014 I would like to do a bit of a mini review of my year in art.

January was cold and snowy...a perfect opportunity to paint looking out from my living room and bedroom windows at the snow.

February brought more snow, and more snow. lol I went off to Longwood Estate in Ridge for a plein air painting session. It was cold but just warm enough to finish a small painting if I was dressed properly.

I found a frozen harbor up in Northport. That day I had to sit inside my car to capture the view.

In March I was lucky to take a stained paper collage class with Gerald Brommer down in Myrtle Beach. Here are two of the collages I did in his class.

April brought blooms to the trees in Union Square where I sketched before going to the American Watercolor Society's Show to see some outstanding art.

I also did the World Wide Sketchcrawl #43 in the gritty Gowanus Canal area of Brooklyn in April.

Here I am in "Newsday" one of the largest newspapers on Long Island. One of the staff photographers found me painting the forsythia in Setauket and took a photo for the newspaper.

In May I took part in "Every Day in May." The challenge on May 24th was to draw a cat, so I sketched my good friend, Susan's cat, Mocha. This was one of the last sketches of her cat before he died. 

Everything was in bloom in May at the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay.

And the SBAA Member's Show was held at the Phoenix Gallery in Bellport.

June was busting out all over with flowers, flowers, flowers.

I was one of the artists who painted during the Sayville Garden Tour and my painting was purchased by the homeowner. Yay!

The Fire Island Lighthouse held its annual show and my painting sold there too!

In July I took part in World Wide Sketchcrawl #44 with the NYC Urban Sketchers. 
We sketched right across the river in Hoboken, NJ.

I headed up to Maine to visit my sister and just had to go to my favorite place up there, 
the Pemaquid Lighthouse.

With the NYC Urban Sketchers I visited the Chinese Sculpture Garden in Staten Island...
a beautiful, relaxing spot that I loved.

August meant lots of time at the beach and lots of models to sketch.

I participated in the 3-day plein air paintout "Paint the Great South Bay."

Sketching with the NYC Urban Sketchers has made me fearless and now I'll sketch any bridge in front of me like this one located in DUMBO in Brooklyn.

In August I also had my first solo art show at the Comesquogue Library in Port Jefferson. I had 28 paintings hanging there.

September started with a dahlia painting at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum.

Then my husband and I headed off on a Mediterranean cruise for the rest of September stopping in several locations including Athens and Rome.

I sketched at the Acropolis among other places.

I also met up with my blogging friend, Celia Blanco, (who I had never met in person before) in Rome and we toured the city and painted together. Here we are at the Spanish Steps. We had such fun!

In October after the cruise ended we headed to Lake Como, Italy. I painted in many of the small towns along the lake. These sketches were done on the ferry that I took from town to town.

We stayed in the picturesque village of Varenna, my favorite of all the towns there.

When I got home in October it was time for the Wet Paints Studio Group's Member's Show. My collage "Sunset I" won first place in mixed media.

The colors on Long Island were really great this autumn.

At the PacMac Festival in Patchogue I sketched the Tri-County Brass Band while they played.

November was exciting because my niece, Beth, ran in the NYC Marathon. I did a sketch on location which I turned into a painting for her for Christmas. She loved it!

On one outing with the NYC Urban Sketchers we sketched inside the subway station which I've always wanted to do.

Some of the urban sketchers went to a "Dr. Sketchy" event and sketched models posing as opposite genders. It was a lot of much fun that we made a return visit in December.

For the Wet Paints Studio Group I was asked to do a "Meet Your Fellow Artist" and speak about my art and show examples of my work. Here I am talking to the crowd.

December started with the PALS Plein Air Show and Sale at the Gillette House in Sayville. It was a fun weekend with my fellow artists shown here and business was good! They are such a fun group and I am honored to be a part of them.

I sketched a few Christmas related subjects like Christmas tree lots.

I had to sketch the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree when I went into the city. 
It was freezing that day but I worked anyway!!!

My last stop outside of NY for December was a trip up to Maine right after Christmas to visit family. I did sneak in a plein air sketch of Damariscotta while I was there.

In December I also participated in the World Blog Hop. You can see that post here:

Wishing all of you a healthy, happy, prosperous 
and inspired New Year!!! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ferry Sketches & Blog Hop Part II

Today I would like to direct you to visit two of my friends who will continue the World Blog Hop which I did last week.  Please make sure you hop over and visit both of their blogs. I know Jeanne and Tina through the internet and I always enjoy visiting their blogs. 
Jeanne Grant (  and I have known each other for quite a few years and have participated in many exchanges on Wet Canvas. Jeanne does wonderful pet portraits as well as other subjects ranging from portraits to landscapes to items from her many collections. Jeanne favorite medium seems to be colored pencil but she also works in graphite, watercolors, and pen. I know you will love her colorful paintings and drawings.

Tina Koyama ( is a true Urban Sketcher. Tina goes out in almost any kind of weather to sketch in her neighborhood or while traveling. Her blog also includes reviews of art materials and books. If you look back through her posts you can learn how she makes and binds her own sketchbooks. I am sure you will enjoy seeing her work.

If you haven't seen my post from the World Blog Hop you can find it here:

On Friday my husband and I headed up to Maine to visit family. Part of the trip included taking the Cross Sound Ferry from Orient Point, NY to New London, CT. There are always people to sketch, especially at the concession stand.

There are also always a few unsuspecting souls who I can sketch while they read or nap or whatever they are doing on the trip across.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Choir at Church

We went to mass on Christmas Eve arriving early so we could get a seat since so many extra people come to church on Christmas Eve. We were there early enough to see the choir as they started to practice...take my word for it they needed a lot more practice. lol

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Well, by now most of the wrapping that I did is all undone!
Hope your post-Christmas is relaxing and fun. 
We are with family in Maine and enjoying our time!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas,
Happy Chanukah,
Happy Holidays!

Whatever you are celebrating I hope the season brings you peace, joy, and love!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Cookies

I have been getting in the spirit these last few days and did a lot of, I didn't do all the cookies I have listed, but I did enough. lol It seems the more I bake the more I eat so I have to be careful. Want some? I have plenty to share.

If you haven't seen my "Blog Hop" post from yesterday yet, please scroll down one day and see it. Also make sure you hop over and look at Jo Castillo's blog. The link is provided. I've been trying to follow the trail of blogs that led to Jo's and led to me. It is fun to visit different blogs don't you think?

I hope all your holiday preparations are done!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Blog Hop Around the World

I want to thank my friend, Jo Castillo, for inviting me to participate in the "Blog Hop Around the World."" (You can find Jo's blog here: Jo is a wonderful artist from Bastrop, Texas who works primarily in pastels but also works in oils and acrylics. She has traveled a lot and has lived in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. We met through the internet art group, Wet Canvas, in their sketching forum and have been following each other there and on our blogs for several years. Jo sketches in ink and in the past few years has worked sketching on her digital tablet. I admire that ability since I haven't tried it yet. Jo and I have never met in person (yet) but through the wonderful world of the internet we can enjoy each other's work easily. I'm sure you will enjoy visiting Jo's blog and seeing her paintings and sketches. Please hop over there.

Let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Joan Tavolott and I am a watercolor artist who works mainly en plein air. I belong to several groups that go out to paint or sketch locally or in NYC each week, and I try to go out on my own the other days. I am proud to say that I am an Urban Sketcher and I try to get together with the NYC Urban Sketchers as often as possible. When the weather is too cold or too rainy to be outdoors painting, you will find me in my "mobile studio" aka my car. I also do ink sketches and collages and sketch from time to time with two different portrait groups. It is rare for a day to pass by without my finding an opportunity to do at least a small sketch even if it is done in front of my tv at night.

What am I working on?
Presently due to preparations for Christmas and shopping there isn't much time for art, especially larger pieces. I have been mostly doing holiday themed, fairly small sketches usually from my car. I've sketched at a local nursery...
Wreath Shopping by Joan Tavolott

at Rockefeller Center when I went in with friends to see the decorations and the tree...
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
by Joan Tavolott

and most recently on Saturday I sketched with the NYC Urban Sketchers at the Essex Street Market.

Pain d' Avignon by Joan Tavolott

How is my work different from others in my genre?
I think each artist has an individual style. We all see things differently and interpret them differently. That was apparent at a show I did last weekend with my plein air group. We all painted en plein air at the same locations, but each painting hanging on the wall was so original and different.

I think because I work en plein air my work is a bit more spontaneous than most people who do not work outdoors. That does not mean it is better than someone else's...just different. Plein air painting means that the light and atmosphere change quickly while you are working, and if there are figures in the scene you have to put them in before they move out of the picture. Once I see a scene I want to paint I have to get busy. Depending on the day, I may work on an 8 x 10 scene or something smaller like a 4 x 6 or one of my sketchbooks. It depends on how much time I have...and at this time of year how cold it is outside. The pieces above are sketches but my larger paintings are usually done without adding ink like this one of a sunflower field with a rusty old truck.

Moriches Sunflower Field by Joan Tavolott

Why do I create what I do?
I love capturing the moment...the light and the life of what I am seeing. I love to travel with my husband and we usually do one big trip a year. This year we went on a Mediterranean cruise for 11 days and then spent 11 days in Lake Como, Italy. I did several small paintings or sketches every day. How could I not? I wanted to capture everything I saw! Yes, I could take photos and I did, but when I paint on location I am immersed in what I am seeing. This trip I filled an entire sketchbook of 32 pages as well as doing about 20 small individual paintings. When I look back at my pieces I can remember what the sun felt like, if there was a breeze, who I spoke with, what I was hearing...every sense is heightened...and I am taken back to that spot and that day. A photograph does not do that for me.

I love painting locally too and always have several local sketchbooks to work in. I live on Long Island about 1 1/4 hrs east of NYC. In 10 minutes I can be by the water and it is one of my favorite subjects to paint. The marshlands, the ocean, the lighthouses, and the boats all fascinate me. I am also close to some of the best farmland and vineyards on Long Island so that is often where I head to paint or sketch.

Marshland View by Joan Tavolott

On weekends I often join the NYC Urban Sketchers for a full day of sketching somewhere in the city, sometimes indoors and sometimes outdoors. I take every opportunity I can to sketch in different locations.
Central Park's Bethesda Fountain by Joan Tavolott
How does my creating process work?
People joke that I will sketch and paint anything and that is true. I can find something that attracts me in a landscape, a city, an object, or a finding a subject is easy. My day usually begins with a ride somewhere and as soon as something catches my eye I will stop. Sometimes I can do more than one painting in the same location just by turning my chair.

I have plein air equipment like a chair and an easel that are light enough to take along when I paint. I usually sketch in pencil first and then add watercolors and possibly ink. Lately when I have been sketching something that needs to be done quickly I will sketch directly with water-soluble markers and use a waterbrush to make them bleed for shading before I add the watercolors. That is how I started the sketch of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree above. I used that method with these sketches of people. Sometimes I do the sketch on location and add the watercolors later at home...or sometimes I leave it just in ink like these.
Sophia Sektching by Joan Tavolott
Train Passenger by Joan Tavolott

I rarely go anywhere without sketching supplies. I have a very handy small palette which is smaller than the palm of my hand that I tuck into my purse with a water brush, a pencil, an eraser, and a sketchbook. That way I am prepared to sketch at any moment. There is nothing more frustrating than to see something to sketch or paint and not have the materials to do it. If I travel to the city by train or subway I sketch while I am traveling.

I have also participated in several challenges like "Every Day in May" and "International Fake Journal Month" where we created blogs as imaginary characters.  I did one as Angelina who lives in Venice (, one called "The Magic Feather" ( and another called "The Chevy Road Trip" ( It was fun to sketch something and journal about it too. In January I will be participating in Leslie Saeta's "30 Paintings in 30 Days" (

Please feel free to browse through my blog. You can see more of my sketches, paintings, and travel sketches from my trip. I pretty much post everything I create, and post almost every day, so feel free to come back and visit any time.

Who is next?
Now I would like to direct you to visit two of my friends who will continue the blog hop. Their entries will be posted on their blogs next Monday, Dec. 29. Please make sure you hop over and visit both of them. I know both of these ladies through the internet, and we have never met in person. However, if I get back out to the west coast I would love to meet up with both of them.

Tina Koyama ( ) is a true Urban Sketcher living in Seattle. Although she has only been drawing for a few years, she has embraced urban sketching fully. Tina diligently posts her sketches daily and like me, goes out in almost any kind of weather to sketch in her neighborhood, sometimes with other urban sketchers but often solo. Since Seattle's weather is often rainy, Tina often sketches in coffee shops or from her car. Tina is a writer and does reviews of books and art materials on her blog that are wonderfully thorough and interesting. As if sketching and writing aren't enough, Tina actually makes most of her sketchbooks. If you look back through her posts you can learn how she does them. I am sure you will enjoy seeing her work, reading her stories, and learning from her reviews and tutorials.

Jeanne Grant ( and I also met through Wet Canvas in their "Artwork from Life" forum and have been blogging buddies for many years. Jeanne and I participated in many exchanges and it is always fun to get one of her paintings in the mail. Jeanne lives in California and does wonderful pet portraits. I thinks all the practice with her own animals has made her a pro. She doesn't hesitate to tackle other subjects from portraits to landscapes to items from her many collections. She also sometimes does plein air painting with a group of friends. Jeanne usually works in colored pencil but also works in graphite, watercolors, and pen. I know her colorful paintings and drawings will make you smile. Wait until you see the wonderful Christmas cards that she has done this year!

Enjoy your blog hopping!