Susan B. Boyles

I'm an Artist on a Journey

Focusing as an Artist in Today’s World.

As a child I’d look in my parents Encyclopedia or books at the library for Animals to draw or to get inspired. Now the world is at our finger tips. Not only are we overwhelmed by subjects but now we are literally exposed to all kinds of different Art,….and I love it all, fortunately/unfortunately.

Featured post

Pastel watercolor and ink under painting.

I’m relatively new to pastels, but after many years of jumping back and forth from medium to medium, my two favorites are ink, Watercolor and soft pastels! 

I should probably buy stock in Dick Blick, because of the embarrassing amount of different materials I’ve been buying. But I’ve discovered my favorites!

1.Uart sanded papers- love them even just for Watercolors! Beautiful effects! You’ll see what I mean.

2.Great American Art Works Pastels- soft, but not too soft and beautiful colors! My husband bought me a large landscape set that I can’t wait to use!

3.My other favorite pastel, I think it’s slightly softer, Terry Ludwig pastels.

I’ve created some beautiful portraits with Terry Ludwig pastels.

4.MaimeriBlu Watercolors- beautiful!

Sanded papers have a “tooth”, that is to say you depend on the tooth for layering. So any under painting should not lay on thick to take up your amount of tooth left. I prefer the 400 because, for me, it’s the perfect amount.

I took the 9 x 12″ Uart paper and cut it in half- I love small paintings! I first make my sketch with pencil and then start sketching with ink.

Higgins is another old stand by ( I think this is really old bottle). While it’s still wet I sometimes like to spritz it with water to create an ink wash. However when it’s dry it’s waterproof.

After I dry it gently with my hairdryer I start applying the Watercolors. * Focus on cool colors ( blue & purple) and warm ( yellow, orange and reds) areas!

I love painting landscapes because it gives me freedom to explore and create without borders.

This is my finished painting, I probably will keep trying new ways of doing things with color related to tones, but learning is a process so there’s no such thing as failure. As artists we strive and seek our whole lives. My favorite quote is by Van Gogh;

I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart. ~ Vincent Van Gogh 

Thanks for visiting!


Creating a Watercolor Painting of Poppies without Glass

As an Artist I attend local Art Festivals. One of the things I dislike is transporting frames. I’m mainly a Watercolor and Pastel artist, so it’s been an unfortunate necessity.

I tried a new method for selling and displaying my artwork. In addition I’m showing how I use masking fluid for some of my students who are interested.

I buy Arches paper blocks (140lb), because they’re easy to use and Arches is my favorite! 

This is a 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ block. I first mask off the poppies so I can start painting the background. I use Pebeo Drawing Gum and a stylus. 

I usually at least my colors two tones darker in between maskings.

I then create more poppies and grass with the masking fluid.

After it dries, I remove all the masking fluid.

Now I can start painting my poppies, petal by petal.

After I’m finished I let it dry thoroughly.

I’m using my 5 x 7″ wood blocks.

I sealed the sides of my wood block with a clear polyurethane and let dry. I also used an acrylic glazing medium cover the surface of the panel to adhere to the watercolor paper.

I turned over the the block with attached paper and placed something heavy on top to keep it flat and left it over night.

Using an exacto knife I carefully cut the paper to fit. I also lightly sanded the sides of the paper with fine sandpaper to keep it slightly from the edge, and then used the glazing medium and carefully touched the paper along the sides to seal it.

I let it dry over night and used wax to cover the surface of the paper. I repeated covering it with wax two more times every few hours.

The wax gave it a beautiful sheen! Love it!

Pastels on Black Mi-Teintes Paper

This is a painting I just started and I’m primarily using Terry Ludwig pastels which I adore!!! So rich and buttery!

Finding the Right Colors

When I started drawing as a child, I didn’t use color much. As I’ve gotten older and more experienced my new goal is finding the right colors in my paintings. I’ve spent so much money over the years buying books and DVD’s on Color theory. But I’ve come find out, it’s a lot about your own taste. Learning color theory is important, but practicing and experimenting on your own is really the key. You’ll find your favorite color combinations by putting it down, and if it feels great, you’re on your way. Trust yourself!

“Intrigue” Print is available on my Etsy Shop.

This is the first piece of Art I drew to help with a friend’s effort to raise money for the Children of Haiti.

I started a series of Art pieces to have prints made of, with 25% of the profit going to the Missionary group(s) who gave me the photos. The stories behind the photos touched my heart, the children’s expressions are so real and I am so inspired to help.

In a world with selfies and vast technology at our finger tips the images from Haiti seem surreal.

The prints of this and my second piece are available on my Etsy site.

My second piece;

Finally Finished with my Painting; “Bubbles of Hope” the Second Piece of Artwork in my Series, Faces of Haiti.

A Pastel Painting I Finished Today.

This is a 12 x 9 Pastel Painting on UArt Paper. It’s for sale in my Etsy Shop,  SusanBoylesStudio

How to Create Your Own Beautiful Watercolor Holiday Greeting Cards Step by Step For Thanksgiving or Whenever.

When the Holidays come around, I find myself looking in the stores for pretty Cards. I’m usually very discouraged! After the amount of time searching and the gas driving around, why not spend an hour making your own? I’ve decided I’m going to make my own Original works of Art, really, my friends and Family will love them because I made them specially for them.

You can purchase the in my Etsy Shop, Made to order.

I bought Strathmore Photo Frame Cards box of 40 Cards and Envelopes on Amazon for $23.96.  That’s like $1.70 a piece. I make my husband proud! Lol


I use Canson Watercolor Paper for my classes I teach, it’s relatively inexpensive $6-7.00, and you can find it at most Art supply stores. With 140lb paper I still like to tape down so it doesn’t get ripply.


I always use Drafting Tape to tape down paper because it almost never rips it when I lift it up. Again, you can usually find it at Hobby Lobby or Michaels. With these cards I just barely covered to ends with tape.


I found with these particular Greeting Cards it’s best to cut the 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches. They fit nice and snug in the cards so there’s not much movement in the window.

I then tape them down to a wood board or something sturdy and flat.


I used Folk Art Large Painting Stencils 30731 Leaf Variety, that were $5.98 on Amazon. I cut them carefully apart to place the where I want.

Tip- things in 3 create a lot of interest.


At this point you can clean up the outlines and using an eraser, gently softener your lines but not too much.


I usually, and I would suggest unless your seasoned with watercolors, to start with the lighter color (yellow) to see where you’re placing the water. Then you can add the darker colors wet into wet in your leaf.

Tip- For these I’d stick with Reds, Oranges and Yellows for your Watercolors in a single leaf or Greens and Yellows in a single leaf. You can’t go wrong! Just ease into it, start with small amounts of color and add till you like it. I always keep a rag or paper towel close so I can lift excess water or icky looking areas.


Let the Watercolors do their thing! Watercolors are beautiful because we are limited by the control we have using them. You can even let them spill over the lines and they’d still be beautiful.


I added green to my other piece to experiment, if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t.

I usually go back and forth with my cards to allow the Watercolors to mingle. But, those who know me, know I’m impatient, so I’ll use a hairdryer with a diffuser ( not to push the colors too much) to speed it up. If you don’t have a diffuser, I’d wait a little longer (10 min or so) then hold your hairdryer about 7 inches or so from the paper. Or go make some coffee and relax for a few.

Tip- try not to mess with areas that are drying by adding more watercolor. Once it’s not cool to the touch and is completely dry you can go over it again if you want to.



After I finished my cards I wanted to outline them with something. I chose Martha Stewart’s Gold shimmery acrylic paint.I usually can buy craft paint for between $1-3:00 a bottle.



I outlined the leaves and gave the veins in the leaves definition. I like to use Mat paints with Shiny paints or materials. It’s important to add interest to your work. You can use whatever color you want really, I think they’d be beautiful any way.



I lifted the tape carefully, not to rip the paper. And gently fit them into the card window.

I always like to add a special something on the Envelopes to. With these envelopes, I don’t feel they’d stand up too well with me using Watercolors, so I’ll use my Gold Acrylic Paint carefully to add something matching the card.



I gently took small amounts of paint and with the side of my brush dabbed it straight up and down.

Note- I did hold the stencil with my other hand, I just had to take the picture 🙂

………..And Viola! My very own hand painted Cards with matching Envelopes!



I hope my Mom doesn’t read this Blog post, or she’ll know what’s coming in the mail!

Happy Creating!!


Step by Step Painting of “August in Alabama”

I’ve been working with Soft Pastels and trying to come up with my own approaches to use them. After watching many tutorials and reading lots of books, I want to simplify my steps in painting.

I always, no matter what medium, print a Black and White photo so I can see Tonal Value.


Drawing a small thumbnail is very important for painting with soft pastels.Mapping out the Shapes and Tonal Value it gives you a chance to change things and allows you to know which tonal values you are trying to match with your colors.

  • Which areas are going to be pushed back (softened)?
  • Which areas are going to be the focal points?
  • What colors and medium are you going to use (if you do) for the under painting?
  • Should you add more interest or remove things?


Well, me being lazy and quite impatient, I’ve found a way and materials to help me with this. Instead of markers I picked up a small pack of Soft Pastels that would allow me to draw as many tonal values as I want in a Thumbnail.



I chose three tonal value pastels that were further apart to help me differentiate  them easier.


OK, now that I have my basic Shapes and Tonal Value figured out, I want to do an under painting. I’ve decided to use my Pastels with alcohol to paint it.


An under painting of the mid tones helps me so much in developing a painting.

  • Less use of your pastels.
  • Helps you choose the colors to coincide with the tonal values.
  • Creates more interest in your over all painting.


Again, I’m trying to simplify this step and used my cell phone to separate the values in my pastels I am going to use for the under painting.

By taking a picture on your phone, changing it to Black and White, allows you to see the values without the color tricking you.



I separated them in three tonal values (not exact, but close enough). And I’ll choose the colors which I think will be the best for my painting.


I use a small jar to keep my alcohol in and a brush to create the under painting. You do not need a lot of pastel, the pastel color gets darker when you get it wet and spreads well.

I like to use alcohol instead of water because it dries quicker.


I put down too much pastel I think.


I went with Orange for the field, next time I think I will use the complimentary of it, blue just to create a little more interest in the field.

Now I can start building with color!

I use my original photo for reference, but not to try and duplicate.


One of the many reasons I love Soft Pastel is it allows you to use creativity without fear. If you don’t like what you put down, wipe it off with a dry brush or cover it with a different color.

I personally struggle with my realism background, I always tend to gravitate back to detail work. But now that I’m older I want to tap into my more creative side and allow my self to create  more impressionistic artwork. The size of the pastels helps me, almost limiting my details, along with blending techniques using pipe insulation, yes, pipe insulation. It’s probably the only time I’ve been in a Home Depot in years! Lol



After I’m happy with my painting I usually give it a gentle tap to remove any excess pastel and I use a fixative very carefully to bind it to the painting a little better. I’ve used several different brands of fixative. My absolute favorite is-



It doesn’t darken the pigments nearly as much and really works well.

Happy Painting!!!

If your interested in purchasing some of my Artwork, please check out my Etsy Shop 🙂

I also do custom commissions.


Finding the Right Medium as an Artist

This is my Pastel Painting I call Pretty Pink Poppies. 11 x 14″ in a White 16 x 20″ matting. It’s available in my Etsy Shop. $75.00

I’ve recently decided to give it a go being a full time Artist, making money at what I love.

Over the years I’ve used so many mediums, Acrylics, Oils, Ink, Pencil, Airbrush, etc. etc…… I could spend all my time doing large Art pieces and have in the past, but not really selling much. The problem is the more time we spend, the more we have to charge.

I managed to get a job at our Michael’s store teaching classes, doing fun UV glow in the dark painting parties at a local business once a month and teaching mixed media at one of the Art centers. I also sell at some of the local Art festivals a few times a year, sometimes doing pretty well.

In order to try and supplement my income I need to come up with creative ideas that I can create relatively quickly but that sell. And most importantly I love to do!

I bought some pastels probably about 15 years ago that I unpacked and tried working with again. I love the rich pigments and the immediacy of them. Down side, they need to be behind glass and they’re relatively fragile until then. But the beauty of the colors and the possibilities they bring intrigue me. So I’m on a journey to create, enjoy and hopefully make some money in the process.


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