Tribute to Albert J. Russell

Maya Angelou wrote:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Simply put, my dad made me feel cherished.  Four years after his death this feeling remains.Watercolor painting of the word Cherished, adorned with flowers and hummingbirds

He treasured his family.  I think he actually thought all five of his children were perfect, or maybe he just treated us that way.  He lost his mother at age seven and learned early the power of family.  Shortly before his death he told my husband that life had turned out so much better than he expected.

I believe when he met and married my mom, in Japan of all places, life began again for him.

Pencil skectch of father and daughter, Artist:  Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarbI’ve included the drawing I did after his death.  As usual art helped me to cope.  The drawing was done from a snapshot taken at his surprise 82nd birthday party.  Normally there would have been lots of photos from my own camera.  Unfortunately I landed in the hospital the night before.  When I finally arrived at the party unshowered, exhausted, and bedraggled, he looked up at me with pure joy.  As always, even at age 82 and wheelchair-bound, his strength of spirit lifted me up.

Pencil sketch of old man walking away, carrying a flowerI’m so glad that I agreed to the photo because it captured how I felt toward a dad who was/is my hero.

I read this quote recently in a greeting card:

“You honor him by the way you live your life”

Dad, I’m still trying!!

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Transitions – oldsters and youngsters

sam-dance-costume340x600It’s been a bit more than a month since I turned 59.  As I consider my own transitions I’m also struck by those of my grandchildren.  Sam (5 years 9 months) is in his last week of Kindergarten.   We recently attended a show where he performed a Spanish dance with the entire class of Maxwell Elementary.  The children were in costume and paired up.  Sam looked so grown up!  It seems like just seconds since his birth made me a Grandma.  He and his 2 1/2 year old brother Gabriel have filled my heart.  They are more incredible than I could have imagined, and I have quite an imagination!

Sam teaches me about technology.  At age 2 he Skyped us early one morning from his bed, all by himself, using his mom’s iPad.   I myself didn’t know how to Skype without the help of my fellow grandparent (an engineer).  At age 3 1/2 Sam pointed out to me that my Nook could actually make sounds if you turned the volume up.  I didn’t know it had a volume control……

Sam and I teach each other.  He learns about nature from me as we go on long walks.  We often make no-bake cookies together,  and he says he’s lucky to have a grandma who’s an artist.  We’ve made many art “masterpieces” together.  Collaboration is a key word for us.  Here is some of Sam’s work in crayon and marker:

Clearly the best transition during my 50’s is the one involving grand kids!

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Love painting flowers???

Watercolor painting Pansy with Lettering by Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarbMay has always been a time of blooming flowers which I love to smell, look at, give and receive BUT, until recently, NOT PAINT. I slowly, slowly began to add them to my hummingbird paintings because hummers go to flowers for the nectar. Then, because I love to teach and students really like painting flowers, I had to add flowers as main subjects; I just can’t turn down a student request.

Finally, I grew to love the joy all those beautiful flower colors brought to me. I think aging has made me enjoy colorful things! Who knew!?

I have been rewarded in all of my work because, thanks to painting flowers, I am a better colorist.

Happy spring to you!

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Mini Lesson – Watercolor Pansy

This “mini-lesson” shows step-by-step how I painted a pansy in watercolor.

  1. I begin by sketching the pansy with an HB pencil.  Make sure your drawing is accurate.  Lighten the pencil lines by dabbing at them with a kneaded eraser.  Contrary to what most books say, once wet these lines can’t be erased completely.

Watercolor Pansy Painting by Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarb on

  1. Using liquid frisket and a cheap brush coated with standard bar soap, mask out small detail areas which you wish to remain white. When the frisket is dry it will look and feel a bit like dried rubber cement.
  2. Mix the following puddles (a puddle is paint mixed with enough water to dilute it to the desired value):
  • Cobalt blue + alizarin crimson (warm & cool mixtures)
  • Aureolin yellow
  • New Gamboge
  • Alizarin crimson + new gamboge
  • Permanent rose
  • French ultramarine + alizarin crimson (warm and cool mixtures)
    Sap green
  • Winsor green + Hooker’s green + new gamboge
  • Hooker’s green + cobalt blue
  1. Next paint the base washes of the flower petals.

Watercolor Pansy Painting by Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarb on

  1. Glaze water over a petal until it glistens evenly; drop in the following colors and combinations based on where they can be seen in the petal): cobalt blue+alizarin; permanent rose, alizarin + new gamboge, and aurelion.
  2. While the first petal is drying, follow the same process on a petal which does not touch it (remember we don’t want wet paint to touch an area that is drying).
  1. After the base washes are completed on all 4 petals paint the dark purple sections following these steps:
  1. Using a fully loaded brush paint the dark area
  2. Then pull color out from the center of the dark area using a rigger brush to create the veins.
    * Use thicker puddles of both cool and warm mixes of French ultramarine + alizarin crimson for this area.

Watercolor Pansy Painting by Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarb on

  1. Add highlights to the edges of the petals by glazing over the base washes with the same mixtures.
  2. Rub off the frisket and add a light tint of yellow below the center part of the flowers. Leave the two white areas on the center of the right and left petals.
  3. Paint the base washes of the stem and leaves.
  1. Glaze water over the leaves and stem until they glisten evenly; drop in the following colors: Sap green, hookers green _ cobalt blue, and Winsor green + Hooker’s + new gamboge
  2. Add highlights by rewetting each darker area and painting a second glaze over it using the same mixes as were used in the base.

Watercolor Pansy Painting by Barbara Bromley a.k.a. artfulbarb on

If you have any questions, please add a comment below or grab me via the contact form.


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A Grandma’s Legacy

Grandma grand daughter mothers dayIt’s been almost twenty years since my mother-in-law died and yet May, her month, still fills me with memories.  Her birthday was May 9 which seemed so appropriate with its proximity to Mother’s day.  She was the consummate mother.  She always remembered the little things that really are the big things.  Birthday cards were never late!!  Her journals were filled with positives;  not one critical word.  She saw only the best in people.

She and I shared a love of birds, flowers, family, and even the name Barbara Bromley.  She is missed by all who knew her, but the memories remain.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Grandma’s Kiss

When my son Nick was young we lived in Austin TX, often visiting family in Michigan for the summer.  Our first trip was a very long car ride, and Grandma Russell had been impatiently awaiting our arrival.   GrandmasKiss-For-Web-300x291She was so excited to see Nick that she planted a big, very visible lipstick kiss on his cheek!  It touched my heart so, I knew this was something I had to draw.  I wanted to make it special so I drew a heart of flowers around the portrait. Prior to that time I had not been an avid flower painter but this event got me started down a new path.  I hope you enjoy the drawing – to me it’s a golden oldy, loaded with sentiment!

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