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Virtual Paint-Out: Hawaii & Marathon Garage Clean Up Continued

Hawaii Virtual Paint-Out, Watercolor
Hawaii Virtual Paint-Out, Watercolor

I’m back on the blog after an intense week spent alternately deep in the bowels of a massive garage clean up/reorganization, and obsessively fighting the acrylic version of the watercolor sketch above. After finishing the garage on Saturday afternoon it was time to clean up in the house and studio and prep for my Sunday morning watercolor class (which went great with a terrific group of artists who left me feeling inspired).

Virtual Paintout: Hawaii

For the Virtual Paintout we went to Hawaii this month via the very cheap Google Air (just kidding—to participate you use Google Maps’ Street View feature to find your painting spot and all travels are virtual). Here’s the original scene:

Hawaii - near West Maui Forest Reserve
Hawaii - near West Maui Forest Reserve

The painting got off to a good start with Golden Open Acrylics. I was trying to work from both my watercolor sketch above in which I’d changed the colors, warming up the scene, and also from the Google photo which just has a blur for the foreground. I first painted the gate purple for fun, but nearing completion realized the gate was too prominent and acting as roadblock into the painting so I repainted it green.

Then I started fighting the foreground. Over and over I painted, repainted, scraped, repainted. Here it is in its current state with the foreground (and some of the fence) scraped off again .

Hawaii with Scraped Off Foreground
Hawaii with Scraped Off Foreground, Acrylic, 11x14"

Part of the problem may be the Utrecht Masters canvas panel that I was experimenting with. The canvas texture is too coarse and too absorbent so first I painted a layer of regular acrylic to smooth it out and reduce the absorbency (which is OK to do according to Golden). But then I had a paint adhesion problem, easily peeling off several layers where I’d painted thickly or repainted over not quite dry paint.

Since I wasted so much time messing with this painting and because I really love the top half of it I just didn’t want to give up. But to enjoy the second half of my vacation I’ve banished it to the closet and have gone back to working on a big watercolor of a tulip that is going great and makes me happy when I paint, not frustrated. I’m becoming convinced that I’m meant to be a watercolor painter and should forget about oils and acrylics.

The Garage

At the dump
Cody unloading and saying "Bye" to his junk at the dump

When I bought my house 10 years ago it had been a rental for many years before that and the standalone garage probably hadn’t been cleaned forever. Then for 9 years my son used it to dismantle and rebuild his 71 Firebird, leaving grease, car parts, tires, miscellaneous junk, and bondo dust on top of years of grime, cobwebs, and worse (we found a literal rats’ nest made of fluffy chewed up shop towels in one corner behind a piece of plywood but no sign of recent rodents).

After moving most of his stuff out and the initial trip to the dump above, the real clean up began. I hired the smart, hardworking 15-year old boy next door to help me clean and we worked together most of Friday and Saturday. He vacuumed the wood walls and concrete floors after cleaning out the Bondo-filled ShopVac, removed and cleaned all my storage bins from the shelving units and then cleaned the shelving too. Meanwhile I sorted my junk and took a carload to the recycling/donation center and made another pile for the dump.

Finally the garage is ready for its new life as studio annex and multipurpose room. And I’m ready for my last week of vacation which I will fill with art fun, rest and recreation!

15 replies on “Virtual Paint-Out: Hawaii & Marathon Garage Clean Up Continued”

Hi Jana I am a new reader of your your blog and I really like your work. I love your watercolour sketch here – it is so full of life and exuberance. Miles more exciting than the photo. What a great idea to use google street view – I must try that.
I like your acrylic too – your sky and upper half is just fabulous. If the gate weren’t so high you could easily crop the painting off just above the top rail and you would have a winning painting with stunning sky and beautiful light on the hills.
I look forward to more inspiration. Thank you


Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment Christine. And I liked your suggestion about cropping (which I still might do). Meanwhile I’ve taken a combination of the good advice people left in their comments and painted out the gate and repainted the roads. It’s still not right, and might still get cropped, but at least without the gate it will be possible. Thanks again, Jana


Girlfriend, you sure know how to have fun! My mind resists thinking too much about a garage cleaning session of that magnitude, though it looks like you are going to have oodles of space for a studio (or whatever).

I know what you are saying about canvas that is too coarse. I’ve been considering trying some acrylic or oil on wood panels for that very reason. Unlike you, I haven’t tackled a Virtual Paintout for two months. I thought Hawaii would inspire me, but couldn’t find a scene that appealed – and now June is running out!

Good luck with all your projects.


Thanks Sherry. I do have some regrets about spending so much vacation on the garage, but I’m glad it’s done. I have a wonderful studio in the house so the garage will be a place to work on messy or smelly stuff or big assembly line projects like gessoing or framing and a place to store paintings, etc.

It does seem tricky finding the right surface for acrylic — too slick and slides around, too coarse and it clogs up does the dry brush thing. Jana


Thanks for the encouragement. I couldn’t resist messing with it some more and got rid of the gate and repainted the road. I might still crop it but haven’t completely given up yet. Jana


I, too, love the upper part of your acrylic painting. Why not reframe it (mentally and physically) so that it’s DONE? Or is that a luxury that belongs only to people working on paper?

So where is the AFTER photo of the garage? We are in the midst of what feels like a permanent shell game with out belongings. Even my husband has come to terms [somewhat] with the ‘fact’ that things are going to continue to circulate from Diana’s bedroom (now known as the ‘sorting room’) to the basement to the garage to ???.

??? = Goodwill, VOA, local charity garage sale, recycling center, dump, back into the house in a PROPER place…

And that this recirculation is going to take a long time!

So, when I did two sketches last week, he was delighted. I think he’s tired of living with a perpetually tired and frustrated wife, who just doesn’t relax well when the house (my world) is out of kilter.

Initially I thought this process would be finished by last September, then by Christmas, then by the end of school…. now I’m hoping to be substantially done before the next snowfall!



As always your comments left me chuckling! Glad you’re sketching instead of recycling things around. It’s true that cropping for better compositions is a lot simpler on paper. This is on a canvas on MDF panel. I’ve cropped masonite panels before and if I can’t improve this one with paint I will try cutting off the bottom half and see what happens. Jana


oh gosh, I (and my husband and daughter) spent all day yesterday cleaning out my garage/studio space too! It is scary how quickly a studio can go back to the garage state when I don’t have the time to paint (sigh.) Good for you!


That’s so nice that your family helped you out and it’s back to a studio again. Fortunately I have a beautiful studio in the house so the garage is going to be a sort of studio-annex where I can store paintings and do big projects or messy or smelly things involving solvents or spraying. Jana


Good for you for knowing how to save the rest of your vacation from frustration over that painting! And having a new, cleaned out studio space……surely rat free. And one more week of vacation left! Have a blast!


Since my beautiful in-house studio is where I mostly work, having the garage back is like icing on the cake (and knowing it’s nice and clean now makes me want to use it even more!) Jana


Like Sherry I haven’t tackled Hawaii as I also couldn’t find an inspiring view. I like where you “visited” and both the resulting watercolour and acrylic, down to mid-gate. I think you are talented in both mediums, but if acrylics frustrate you then maybe a break from them will help.


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