Watercolor and Mixed Media Portrait | Wild Love

“Wild love dares to lose, seeks to refind, rethinks what was lost, and embraces transformation.”

Wild love 4

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Watercolor and Mixed Media Painting | Woman in Polka Dot Dress

For Christmas this year, I received a lovely tutorial by Jane Davenport from my wonderful in-laws, on figure drawing.  After watching several of her classes, I’ve determined that it will probably take some time to master the human shape. However, it looks like a fun process. Here is my first watercolor and mixed media painting (thank you card) from Jane Davenport’s I Heart Drawing class.

Woman in Polka Dot Dress

Marsha's Thankyou Card5

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Collage Girl

Mixed Media | Collage Girl

“Her skin holds the key
To a world of mystery.
Foretelling hidden secrets
And a life of beauty.”


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Watercolor Painting | Tulips in Blue Vase

My tulips are red
In this vase of blue
With petals so sweet
They blossom for you.

Tulips in Blue Vase(Click on thumbnail for full-resolution image)

Fairy Dust

Mixed Media Painting | Magical Girl

She breathed hope

like fairy dust

And danced

On the wind.

Fairy Dust

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Pray for Paris

Watercolor Eiffel Tower | Pray for Paris

As our prayers rise like incense
Let peace fall like rain
Saturating the hearts
Of all who ache and despair.
~ Janna

Pray for Paris (Click on thumbnail for full-resolution image)

Watercolor Illustration | Children's Book

I am having a fun time developing a new set of characters for another children’s book.

Sheep has a bad day and learns to use healthy language to express his feelings.

Bleep said the Sheep(Click on thumbnail for full-resolution image)

Watercolor Fairy

Watercolor Illustration | Fairy and Sprites

Rainbows and pearls

 Adorn fairies and sprites

Who dust imaginations

With magic and light.

~ Janna Vanderveen


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Watercolor Character | Halloween Hyacinth

Halloween Hyacinth

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Fancy Franny

Watercolor Illustration | Character Design

Fancy Franny has pizzazz. She dresses to the nines, wears her hair in elaborate styles, and lives the high life.

Over the last month, I completed an on-line course by Danielle Donaldson called Creative Girls. Since then, I’ve worked to develop my own characters using the techniques I’ve learned (creative practicing). I enjoy hiding heart shapes in my designs (hair, mouth, head shape, etc), a small tribute to my original “Sweetheart by Janna” business,

I’m sure my characters will develop more as time passes.

Sweetheart Girl(Click on thumbnail for full-resolution image)

Watercolor Heart Girl

Watercolor Illustration | Heart Girl

Watercolor Heart Girl

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Last night, I became God’s greatest cheerleader. I know that sounds cheesy, but if you’d been watching me in my backyard, you’d understand the statement, and probably have a good laugh at my expense.

Clouds hung heavy in the sky. snuffing out the stars and moon in a blanket of greyness.  Two of my children bounced on our trampoline, their eyes glued to the East as if their attention would convince the moon to show. Another one of my children lay in bed, fighting an upset stomach.  I stood on the deck, deep in conversation with God.  “You made the sands on the beach, you formed the stars in the sky, you parted the sea, and you designed the moon itself….surely you could move the clouds so we can see the magnificence of your hand.”

My son piped up from our trampoline. “What are you doing?”

“Talking to myself and God.” I answered back.

“Perhaps we should pray.”

“Sure. I’d like that.” I responded.

In the dark, his small voice rose. “God, please move the clouds so we can see the moon.”

It was a simple prayer. To the point. Missing the clutter of a mind which battles legalistic thoughts and guilt-filled thinking. A smile tugged on my heart. “Thank you.”

But an internal battle warred in my mind. and my thoughts grew fearful. I realize that asking to see the moon is a selfish prayer, especially when one of my children is lying in bed feeling sick. You know I’d rather you heal him. If you only answer one prayer tonight, please help him to feel better. I can do without the moon. And there are bigger issue in the world I should be praying about. People are dying. Families are grieving. Loved one’s are hurting. The guilt in my thoughts silenced my internal voice and I no longer spoke. It was true, the issues in the world did outweigh my simple desire to see the moon…if you viewed the issues from a human perspective. But to God, all things matter. For like the moon, he is beyond the world in which we live. He sees all things at once, holds everything in his hands, delights in the good, and sorrows with us in our pain.

The reminder brought me back to life, and my internal dialogue recovered. Heal my son. Provide peace for the suffering. Resurrect the dying. Hold us all in the palm of your hand. For you number the sand along the shore and the stars in the sky, you power the tide, and you renew the morning every day. 

For an hour and a half I watched and waited on my deck, searching overhead for a speck of light.

Below me, my son and daughter continued to jump, dunking hoops into our trampoline with much delight, glorying in their dark night play. At 10:00 PM, they decided they’d had enough, and went to bed.

In the dark, I stood alone. “I know you can do this.” My voice was not manipulative. It was not a name it and claim it response, for I don’t believe that’s how God works. Rather, it was me reveling in the understanding that I really did believe he could do it. Whether he chose to or not, remained to be seen.

At 10:30, I almost gave up. ALMOST. I moved the tripod into the house, took apart my camera, and locked the doors. Sitting down on the couch, I resigned myself to watching the eclipse on television.

My phone beeped. It was a text from my mother-in-law telling me to go outside and see the moon.

My Facebook page sent me an alert. My friends were posting, “Go outside and see the moon.”

So I stood up, unlocked the doors, and stepped outside. From one end of the house to the other I walked, studying the sky.

I saw nothing. Not even a hint of the moon.  But to the West, a huge swath of dark blue promised clarity. Excitement rose within me. My inner voice began to cheer. God, I know you can do this. You can sweep the clouds across the sky. They are but dust next to the power of your hand.

The full eclipse was promised to occur at 10:47.

It was 10:45.

“You can do it God. I know you can.” My excitement grew as I watched the clouds wear thin before my eyes. Patches of clear sky began to appear.

A hint of red oozed through a slit in the clouds. My heart jumped and a wide smile cracked my face.

Drifting further, the clouds shifted.

In one glorious moment, the moon shone forth. A full, red orb of beauty.




The moon reflected God’s glory.

Running into the house, I turned my back on the moon, hollering for my husband to get up out of bed to see the eclipse.

He staggered outside and blinked up at the cloudy sky. “Where is it?”

“Just wait,” I promised. “It will come back.”

The moon slipped out of its hiding place.

“You brought me out of bed for this?” He rolled his eyes.

To him the moon looked small, its red beauty but a dot in the sky, insignificant in the scheme of things. But he didn’t understand. The conversation. The timing. The gift. The beauty. The magnificence. For I hadn’t yet shared my story.

With an amused grin, he shook his head and reentered the house.

Alone again, I did a happy dance. I shook my hands above my head as I hurrahed the moment. I did another happy dance. And then I stared in awe, as I took it all in. The moon in its full glory.

God swept aside the clouds like dust. He revealed the workmanship of his hands. All for my pleasure and awe. And so I marveled at his creation, I pondered at its beauty, and I basked in the vastness of his great love.

Super Blood Moon September 2015

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Random Watercolor Painting of a Deep Sea Angler Fish

Random paintings occasionally appear out of nowhere.


 I found this deep-sea angler fish dried on the inside lid of my Winsor Newton watercolor paint set.

Winsor Newton Cotman Paint Set

I couldn’t resist adding some teeth.

Ha! Here it is…

Watercolor Deep Sea Angler Fish

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A Message of Hope | Psalm 23

When darkness encroaches and death overshadows the valley, have no fear, for I am with you. The shadows are lies and death an illusion. But take heart, for I’ve torn the veil giving sight to the blind, hope to the hurting, and truth to the deceived. My mercies are new every morning. Just as I am the dawn and the new day, so am I with you always.

Light in Darkness

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Watercolor Rhododendrons

Watercolor Rhododendrons

Glazing washes of watercolor (the art of grisaille) involves layering translucent colors to create a range of values that glow. If that sounds easy, guess again.  There are days that I feel blind, like a child trying to make sense of letters on a page while learning to read. In truth, I am training my brain to see beyond the obvious, in hopes of interpreting the shadows and tones to enhance the light.

Oh to attend a watercolor class by master artists like Arleta Pech, Susan Harrison-Tustain, Ron Hazell, Peter Woolley, or John Lovett.

In the meantime, I stumble on….

This is my first attempt at glazing. I completed this painting using only four colors: cobalt blue, permanent rose, quinacridone gold, and antwerp blue. Rhododendron Watercolor Flowers(Click on thumbnail for high-resolution image)

Watercolor Roses

Watercolor Painting of Roses in Vase

Dabbling with roses

With love and with light

This paintbrush of prose

Births color and life.

~ Janna Vanderveen

Watercolor Roses in Vase

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Watercolor of Open Window at Night with Two Moons

She rose from her bed,
Cobwebs in her head,
And studied the light in her room.
Through windows it played
Pale fingers that splayed
Dispelling the darkness and gloom.

Like a fairy it called
And she followed, enthralled
Ensnared by its enticing tune
She peered through her blinds
Astonished to find
Bright stars and the face of two moons.

Two moons glowing pale
As if hung on a scale
Yet tied to the earth like balloons
Both fighting to fly
To escape the sky
Their moment derived opportune

Blinking, she thought
“A dream, this is not.”
And lifted her fingers like knives.
She sliced through the clouds
And all that enshrouds
Entreating them both to survive.

They flew overhead
Up over her bed
And into the darkest of night
Awakening dawn
With its grouchy yawn
Espousing the tale of their plight.

From under a sheet
She pondered her feat
Considering what had occurred
Was it just a dream?
The light and moonbeams?
She knew what she saw, rest assured.

My daughter awoke one morning with a strange story. She claims that she climbed out of bed in the middle of the night,  peered between the blinds on her window, and saw two large moons shining down from the sky. She was convinced this was the truth and no amount of dissuading her would suffice.

This poem is a result of that conversation.

For my daughter, my muse.

Watercolor Open Window at Night with Moons

 ~ Janna Vanderveen

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Watercolor Hydrangea in Blue Vase

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You Lord
Through it all, through it all
It is well with me.

~ Kristene DiMarco

Hydrangea in Blue Vase

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Reference Photo Inspiration: Heidi from One Girl Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/onegirlphoto/4525231113/in/album-72157623382989087

Our desire to create is fueled by the power of our imagination.

We only need to observe a child playing to see that this is true.

Take my daughter’s artwork as an example.

Within this picture exists a story that only she can explain.

If she’d sit still long enough, I’d pick her brain and unravel it, just to share it with you all.

But she’s only five and wants to play outside.

As a fantasy writer, I think it’s beautiful!

As a mother, it makes me smile.

Chloe Watercolor Fantasy House

There is always light in darkness and beauty in imperfection. The key is perception….

I almost didn’t complete this watercolor painting.


I was tempted to rip it apart midway, but I had a hard time wedging it out of my perfect paper stretcher. So instead, I walked away.

I came back, begrudgingly, thirty minutes later, and decided to give it one more chance.

The dark mood of the painting measured my own.

But I also saw light.

I stopped trying for perfection.

I forced myself to finish it.

And now, I like it. It’s not perfect. But there is beauty in the light which shines out of its dark places.

This watercolor painting is of a cottage in Grasmere, in the English Lake District. It is the second assignment in Peter Woolley’s Watercolor For Beginners DVD: Tone and Composition.

Peter Woolley Watercolor Study: Tonal Values 2
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