drafting light & a big step

by | Nov 16, 2016 | Artistic Endeavors, Watercolors | 31 comments

Now that my major deadlines are past and I am home from my trip to Montana, I am catching up on some things that have been waiting for my attention.  I’m also looking forward to getting back into more sketching, painting, and product design.

I’ve gotten my creative space set up pretty well, but I realized I was lacking something for cloudy/rainy days – a work light.  Most of the time, we have gorgeous natural light in the studio, but there are days when it’s dark, even sitting right next to the large windows. So, I ordered a simple clamp-on drafting light from Amazon.  I looked for something a little more unique, like a cool antique brass lamp, but they were just more than I wanted to spend.


This white one is definitely more modern, but the white color makes it neutral enough that it works.  It even provides a cool juxtaposition against all of the antiques.


Now that I have a decent, although small, set of pastels, I decided to work with them a little bit more.  I bought a landscape painting book to give me some instruction.


After browsing through the book, I worked on a landscape…


I’ll say upfront that I was in a foul mood when I was working on this one.  I got so frustrated with the greens in my palette!  I was trying to use red to mute them and other tricks, but I just couldn’t get the color of the trees right and the shadows look muddy.  I like the sky, the grass, and the flowers, but I wish I could cut the trees out… the way a heartbroken teenage girl would cut the offending ex-boyfriend out of her pictures.


I resisted the urge to throw it in the trash, though.  It’s a learning tool every bit as valuable as a book, video tutorials, etc.


Creating this reminded me of something I heard Paul Baloche say about song writing.  You can put a lot of pressure on yourself if you schedule a time to sit and write a song.  The words and melody might not flow.  Inspiration may not strike.  So, he suggests taking time to just play and sing.  Don’t worry about trying to write a song.  Just record yourself playing and singing what comes into your heart a song might come out of it.

I need to work on painting and drawing that way.  Just let my heart spill onto the paper and if it’s worthy of sharing, great.  If it’s not, well, it’s just one of the many paintings that will collectively make me the artist I will be one day.


So, speaking of share-worthy…

I received something in the mail today.  It was a set of four art prints from Society 6, addressed to me, that I did not order.  There was no note or any information at all as to who sent them to me.  Well, whoever sent them, I was impressed with the quality and it gave me the push I needed.

I decided to take that big, scary step and make some of my paintings and sketches available for purchase.  So I don’t have to guess what customers may want, I am selling them through Society 6, which is a made-to-order site.


I’ve uploaded a mix of acrylic folk art, watercolors, pastel, and photography.  Here are some of my favorite pieces available in the collection


I told Jeff I was taking this step and he said, “Oh?  Are you ready?”

I laughed a little.

“No.  But I’m going to do it, anyway!”

I’ll upload more to my Society 6 as I finish pieces.  I did just upload the “redhead” and “colored pencils” for those who were interested!

You can shop the collection HERE.


  1. Kimberly

    OMG the blue sky and clouds painting is in your shop! That will have to be my Christmas present to myself this year. Congratulations on opening a Society6 shop, it’s a great idea and now readers are able to purchase your works.

    Question: is your work on that site protected? Would you consider putting a watermark on all your items? Reason I ask is that I work in the IP department of a rather large law firm and we do a lot of copyright infringement cases. If your work is not protected in some way, even with a watermark, you very well may find your stuff for sale by other people on other websites of which you’re not even a member. Just a thought …

  2. Valerie

    I just ordered myself a gift ? My star wars loving boys would love the watercolors you did for your son…hint, hint.

    • Kerry Sanders

      Mine too! Hint hint hint… 🙂

      • Kimberly

        While Marian’s Star Wars watercolors are beautifully done and certainly covetable, she’d be ill-advised to sell her renderings of George Lucas’s copyright protected works in her Society6 shop. That single set of watercolors she painted for her son’s bedroom fall within the doctrine of fair use, but the legal penalties she’d possibly face for copyright infringement should she opt to sell the paintings for profit could be steep (the law provides for penalties of up to $150,000 *per work infringed*, among additional penalties). The owner of the copyright (Lucas and/or Industrial Light and Magic and/or whomever else) is likely never going to be willing to discuss licensing rights to individuals, and even if they did, the cost for a license would probably be quite high.

  3. Alice

    I am a big MMS fan, not just because you’re so talented, but also because I share your faith, so it is uplifting for me on several levels to read your posts. Yesterday we got some difficult news that will have quite an impact on our financial picture, so I’m still feeling blue this morning– but your “fowl mood” remark cracked me up! (I think you meant “foul” ?.) Or maybe you were feeling a bit peckish?! (I know mood and tone doesn’t always translate through the keyboard: please know I’m only sharing a laugh, nothing else. I remain a devoted and admiring fan! And your paintings are just lovely. What can’t you do?!)

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      LOL! Even as I typed it I thought it didn’t look right, but it was late and I was tired. Yes, I was in a foul mood. 🙂

  4. Margo C Condon

    Just went off to your Studio 6 shop & ordered two of the “Hope Your Christmas Rocks” pillows. Got one for me & the other as a Christmas gift for a friend. Thank you so much for putting “Appaloosa spots” on the rump of this guy! We both have Appaloosas in our barns & now we’ll have one sitting on our sofas. Thank you.

  5. liz

    you are way too hard on yourself. you’ve got loads of natural talent and you are learning something new! my two cents.

  6. León

    The funny thing is, I think the trees look great! I love the mix of colors you used. It reminds me of early fall when the leaves are just beginning to turn.



  8. Stephanie

    Oh my word, that pillow is my favorite!!

  9. Victoria

    How did you upload such clear images of your work to sell? Did you have it professionally scanned?

    • marian

      I photograph it.

  10. Jeannie

    Love all of it! I think I need to order a tote to use as a gift bag for little girl who loves horses. The shape of the gift doesn’t lend itself to wrapping and the tote bag would be perfect!

  11. Debbie Applegate

    Hey Marion,

    Bravo on your Art Work ! If you don’t already know this, here is a small tip when you can’t seem to figure out what is bothering you about a piece of art you are working on : If it is transportable, take it to a mirror and look at it. It will reverse the image you have been looking at and open your eyes to a reversed view. That will often allow you to see things you weren’t able to before. This has helped me many times. I think what may have bothered you about your trees is that some of your trees didn’t narrow as much as they went up and some of the trunks were a little small for the girth of the tree as it rose upward. Your eye knew that but it wasn’t translating to your drawing. Drawing is really about seeing. When one can draw what one is looking at instead of the symbol in our heads for that object, that is the key to achieving accurate drawings…if that iswhat one is after in that particular work. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is an excellent book for helping our mind’s eye to see what we are looking at. Betty Edwards is one of the authors who has done a good job of helping anyone, with or without a particular talent for art, to be able to improve their work with certain exercises and information in her book. Keep on with the work. I am glad you don’t throw out the pieces you didn’t particularly like. We learn as we go and it is fun to compare our work as we grow in this area. Thank you for your transparency as an artist. You encourage us all with that gift.


    • Nicole

      These are great tips for artists, especially when working from a reference. I often turn my references and art on their sides and upside down when creating them in order to see angles or errors in what I am creating. THIS is truly key for most people: “When one can draw what one is looking at instead of the symbol in our heads for that object, that is the key to achieving accurate drawings…” .

    • Rose

      Ditto on what Debbie said.
      Kudos on your painting, and embracing the exploration of the journey. You have come a long way already! Give yourself some credit.
      It is very difficult to paint something realistically when we try to paint from our memory instead of real life.
      The book she mentions is a great one for any artist to read.
      I would just like to add, that perhaps it is the composition that is bugging you? The focal point is not really clear.
      Perhaps if you try making one of the trees larger or a different color or shape to draw the eye. Or maybe you just haven’t got to the focal point yet?
      I have been following you for years and love your work. Happy to see this new direction you’re exploring.

  12. Susie

    You beat yourself up too much. I wish I had half the talent you do. Most everyone who is creative and shares their talents rather it be in gifting or selling is hyper-critical. It’s the nature of the beast. You do lovely work whatever you do.

  13. Isabella

    The pop ups on your site drive me crazy! They cause everything to seize up while reading.

    • Paula Runyan

      Ad blocker works wonders.

  14. Carla

    I ordered the pencil pillow cover. It makes me smile. And free shipping today can’t be beat. I just heard of Society6 earlier this week.

  15. Krista Petersen

    I love your landscape, and that includes the trees. Seriously, you’re too hard on yourself. I looked at that landscape and thought, ‘i wish i could do that.’

  16. Cheryl

    I love your trees, I think they are great! Welcome to Society 6, love your work and happy to see we can all buy your art work.

  17. Annabelle

    All of your products are beautiful. I especially love the trees and the sheep pencil case.

    Welcome to Society6, Marian.

    I’m now one of your Followers on Society6 : )

  18. GinnyK

    Try mixing Paynes Gray and New Gambore for a nice green. Water it down or lighten or darken to the shade you need.

  19. GinnyK

    Sorry I’m a terrible typist it’s New Gamboge.

  20. Michelle

    I love the trees. You are way to hard on yourself. Congratulations on selling your art on Society 6. The horse is adorable.

  21. Amy r

    When I looked at this painting, I LOVED the trees, thought they were beautiful, so surprised to read you don’t think they turned out well. I think they are gorgeous! They are my favorite part of the painting.

  22. Wendy York

    I know what you and Paul B. mean about that. I’ve never thought I could do sketches freehand. When I started my artistic journey it was in tole painting using patterns. Then one day we were picnicking by the river in Yosemite Valley, my husband fell asleep, and I was alone with a sketch pad and pencil set. I started drawing what I saw — just for the joy of it, with no pressure attached and nobody watching. And it worked! I think what happened that day was that I was finally using the other side of my brain to do it. In the past I had always been using the side that tries to get things perfect — maybe more like a math problem than a piece of art or music. Thanks for the posts Marian. They are always a bright spot in my week, and so often something I can just then relate to or pass on to a friend who needs it. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your sweet family!

  23. Terrie from Atlanta, GA

    I love your little pastel of the meadow and trees, Marion! To our eyes, it is quite charming. Maybe it just turned out differently than the way you had it in your mind’s eye? It can be frustrating when trying to layer pastels, as they don’t quite “mix” like paint. In fact, when you buy the larger sets, they are usually marked either “Portrait” or “Landscape”. The latter might have a better variety of the woodsy colors you were trying to achieve. For example:

    Sennelier Set of 24, Landscape: White, Green, Yellow Deep, Naples Yellow, Red Deep, Venetian Red, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Cinnabar Green Deep, Cinnabar Green Yellow, Phthalo Green Light, Sap Green, Sap Green Light, Mars Black, Delft Blue, Cinnabar Yellow Brown, Violet Ochre, Mummy, Pine Green, Sky Blue, Charcoal Blue, Light English Red, and Chrome Brown.*

    After working with paint, I couldn’t see how titles would matter, so I bought the prettier, more cheerful-looking “portrait” palette. And every en plein air piece ended up looking like a cartoon! At least your trees don’t look like Gumby.

    Gobble! Gobble! (That’s the way my mom is answering the phone these days.)

    Terrie from Atlanta, GA

    *Sennelier Oil Pastel 24 Landscaping OR Portrait Set. About $50 (half the mfrp of $102) at Dick Blick Art Supplies. http://www.dickblick.com/products/sennelier-oil-pastel-sets

  24. Tori

    Hey, Marian! I was wondering if you might do a post explaining how Society6 works for the artist? I’ve looked at their website, but can’t find anything like that. (Maybe I’m just missing it.) I’d love to know the process of how you, and others, distribute your work through them; such as, do you provide the artwork and they print it, or what? Please help a struggling artist know how to get my work out through this venue! I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s interested in knowing.
    Thank you!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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