Bizarre, widdershins, curious, fantastic, and strange: I love it. That is why, when my husband and I took an architectural watercolor course online, I soon realized drawing/painting buildings realistically is not my cup of tea. A) I stink at it, and B) I find it dreadfully dull. 

Instead, I did this! Completely throwing out all the lessons on perspective and realism, I referenced a Tatyana Murova painting {her work is marvelously zainy}, and I am so much happier with the result. Not every style is for everyone. Here’s to finding what you love and embracing it. 

Completing this painting took a long time, but it was enjoyable, rewarding, and I learned how to paint with gouache! Let me share my discoveries with you.

Here is a quick study of mediums to give you an idea of how watercolor and gouache behave.

If you use a good amount of gouache on dry paper, it almost looks like acrylic, and, as you can see in the middle right sector, if you add enough water to it, it behaves like watercolor. Best of both!

Here you can see my preliminary sketch, which I measured and gridded to get my ratios in the same ballpark. I began filling in with watercolor because it was what I was familiar with but knew immediately that I wanted more punch. My husband, Lynn, encouraged me to try my hand at the gouache he recently bought. I nervously took his advice, and this is the result:

Shoot, yes! Sign me up!

I began with the largest blocks of color, doing my best to get the texture right and leaving most of the details and highlights for later. I also did the insides of the windows because I wanted them to dry as much as possible before I did their trim. But let me tell you: though gouache can go on nice and thick, IT REACTIVATES WITH WATER! 

Sigh… so many splotches and unintentional blendings. It got a bit tricky sometimes, but with enough paint on my brush, I found I could cover my errors reasonably well.

Next came the fiddle-bits: trim, details, highlights, kitty cat, etc. Here’s where you need your inner Bob Ross on repeat saying, “Happy little accidents,” and Treebeard rumbling, “Hrum, Hroom… Do not be hasty.”

Regardless of the stress, I liked this stage; it brought a lot of personality. If you didn’t know, you might say the painting was done. Just wait… 

Ta-Da! Ah, what a bit of foliage can do. It just makes me so happy! 

*Sighs with relief and binge watches Netflix*

To be honest, that’s how I manage any creative endeavors as a chronically ill individual. Sitting upright sucks; it makes everything hurt, and if I do it too long, I pass out. So I set a timer and lay down when it goes off, and then come back later. Art is worth it. It makes the soul fly, knowing you brought something beautiful into being. Take the time, make it happen, try something new, and enjoy the results. You can do it!

If you enjoy peculiar things like me, I have a book series for you, the first of which is The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. Think Lewis Carroll but MORE vivid, clever, abstract, poetic, and plot-driven. I love them. I’ve read three now and will be reading the rest, as well as anything else Lady Catherynne puts to pen.

Without Further Ado:


 There lived a strange woman
In a strange house,
With ivy all over
Within and without.

She wore emerald green
And spoke only in rhyme.
From her ceiling hung
Lavender, ginger, and thyme. 

She toiled long hours
Oft into the night,
Granting honorable wishes
To others in plight. 

She twinkled with whimsy
Right down to her toes
And chittered with laughter
Whenever she chose. 

But people did not
Approve of her quirks,
They ostracized all
Unnatural works. 

It’s true, she was odd,
Though, not as they thought it.
She was celestial,
And oh! How they fought it!

 They stuck up their noses
All the day long,
Judging and chiding
And listing her wrongs. 

Yet the children did flock
To her flow’r painted door,
Begging stories and wishes
And magic galore. 

When asked how she stood it,
The judgments and lies,
She answered, ‘They simply
Haven’t opened their eyes.’

That is what happens
When you think you know all.
Conceit is a pit,
Awaiting your fall.

Give patience to those
Still struggling with pride
And pray that they’ll honor
Grace as their guide.

One thought on “Peculiar

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