Coffee And Paint Drips Blog

Sketching at Clark Botanical Garden, NY

On one of the last nice days of autumn I revisited a beautiful place near me, Clark Botanical Garden in Albertson, NY. I’ve visited here many times to find some serene, calm moments.

It’s just such a lovely place for calm and meditation. A place to “bath in the forest” as I’ve read. This particular day I planned to paint in watercolors here instead of the other favorite place, the beach. That day the beach might have been a good choice, but I wasn’t sure if the weather was warm enough. At the Gardens the sun was really strong and hot. Maybe it was better that way.

First watercolor attempt

I found a bench at one of my favorite spots at this sunny, turtle filled pond with reeds and lily pads. Ate the lunch I brought with me and then got to work. The first attempt was a little tight. Another garden wanderer approached and we chatted. She loved this one.

Second attempt a little different

The next watercolor sketch was somewhat looser in style. I always start out getting down every detail and this time was no different. Deciding to paint the negative space instead of each item I saw was helpful to keeping my hand and brush free.



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At the Studio on the Last Beach Day

I know, I know. Where have I been? Especially since I said I’d be all over this blogging thing again, and I haven’t.

It’s all Resistance. The summer and the beach, house stuff, a little thing I did to my finger, everything and anything not to get work done. Then I do some good work and afterwards I crash.

Believe it or not, I get some of my best work done at the beach. I call the beach my studio, my office. It’s comfortable, no distractions, no phone, and work gets done!

I don’t bring a lot of stuff either. No rolling cart for me! A chair, my bag with art supplies, lunch, and iced coffee. This time of the year there are very few visitors at the beach. People are back at work and school.

It’s quite serene. In fact, it is heaven.

A couple hours is all I need to clear my head and regroup. I survey my surroundings, drink in the salty air, listen to the waves hit the shore, watch the seagulls carefully. Once they took my lunch right out of my bag.

Usually I take some photos, maybe search the sand for seashells I like to collect. Then I have my lunch, being mindful not to eat my apple so I could paint it with the seashells. There’s nothing like a colorful apple or peach popping up against the cool pastel colors of shells and beach pebbles.

When I feel I’ve soaking in enough of my scenery I get to work. This particular day I was able to get a couple of watercolor sketches in. The dunes behind my seat are calm with green and gold beach grass, fencing and blue sky. I remembered to save the apple for my still-life.

The weather has been strange here in New York. It’s almost mid October and the temperatures have been warmer than usual.

Could tomorrow really be the last beach day?

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Back in The Game

Back in the game. Something told me I need to return to the blog. Was it Mr. Resistance? The Muse? The Universe?

Does it matter? Probably doesn’t, but I’ve learned to listen to the wind and it’s whispers.

To welcome you back, as well as my brain, here’s an update from the Etsy shop that I’ve revived.

Ruffle Scarf in the Etsy Shop

Take a peek at the two items I’ve added to the shop. More are coming in the days ahead.

Thanks for hanging in there while I figure it all out.

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In The Studio With A New Idea

In the studio with a new idea

Now that I’ve recovered from a ghastly case of pneumonia, (which I totally did not need), I decided enough was enough. I headed to my in-home art studio to see what to work on next. Sometimes a little straightening up can give me direction.

I sharpened my color pencils, straightened out my watercolor and oil paint brushes, dropping them into some pretty jars, took a look at my oil mediums, and stacked up some stretched canvases.

Taking some photos to admire my neat supplies I had an idea: post to Instagram! Done. (One thing about Instagram is it’s readily available from a phone, like most social media these days. Which also makes it very dangerous if I want to get any work done.)

Then I had another idea: post some paintings to Instagram. OK!

Which led me to the next thought: Why not hold an online art gallery exhibit and sale on Instagram? I could upload a painting each day with the backstory, dimensions, medium, title, price and purchase information. While I’m at it, the Muse prodded me on, I’d post right here on my little old blog. Besides here, there’s all the other social stuff everyone is hooked up to.

Why not?

You will have to bear with me as I figure out how to link all these things together. In the meantime, I’m going to start by taking some photos and videos of a few pieces of artwork to show you.

Here we go!

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Grief and Hope in the New Year

©Dora Sislian Themelis, Pond Turtles, 4×6 Watercolor for Twitter Art Exhibit

As I contemplate the year that has just passed, and look forward to the new year ahead, I am both grateful and regretful. Full of hope, today I picked up my favorite book, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, my guru, and this quote was the first page I opened to.

It is one thing to study war and another to live the warrior’s life.

-Telamon of Arcadia, mercenary of the 5th century B.C.

What do you know?

New year’s resolutions are well and good for some, but I find that every time I make them, I break them soon enough. So why bother? It’s futile.

However, there has to be a strategy to mark the months ahead. Some grand plan to not just study “war,” but “live” it. I’ve been on the losing end, in a way.

The last year gave me a lot of grief, and plenty of hope. Early on I had my first solo art exhibit that went very well and taught me some valuable lessons. Selling some work gave me validation. No sooner was the big event over that I fell into a work slump. Dashed the blog, the painting, the creation, the Muse left my side and I let other things get in my way. Resistance at it’s worst.

Here and there I pushed through only to fall into more Resistance. Why bother was my mantra. Hence, the grief.

Then a ray of light, a commission came out of the exhibit and I got myself together to get the work done. Great! Once I finished and delivered the painting I felt a sense of accomplishment. Soon after the Twitter Art Exhibit info came out and I painted and sent off my postcard sized watercolor painting. Hurrah!

Since then the tumult of winter holidays and obligations began, and there went everything to the trash.


The hope is that I made it to the blog today to complain about it all. Spill it out, tell the story, stop studying the war and fight it.

I think it’s a good thing.

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Can’t Get Work Done

Sketching in watercolor at my favorite spot at Pt. Lookout Beach, NY
Working at my favorite spot at Pt. Lookout Beach, NY

As it turns out, saying I’m going to get work done and actually getting work done are two totally different things. I’m the kind of person who does what I say, but Resistance is in high gear and there’s nothing.

Since I “work” from home (art studio is in the basement) I am elected to get to the stuff that all the “working” people can’t do.

You name it and it’s been thrown my way: my stuff, family members’ stuff, house emergencies, husband’s stuff, kid’s stuff, errands, appointments, business stuff, car stuff, and everyone needs me to help in their stuff one way or another.

Hey, excuse me, I know I’m at home, but I have work to do over here.

Three weeks worth of everything but painting, has been way too long away from the easel. It becomes a bad habit. Promising myself I will ignore all forms of communication and start my work every day at a set time has not been fruitful.

Never mind blogging. Who has time for that?

An artist I follow on twitter wrote a tweet this week that read: “Hi I’m David. I haven’t painted in 24 hours.” I countered with, “Hi I’m Dora. I haven’t painted in 2 weeks.” Resistance is running high with other artists, too.

However, ending my 3 week dry spell by sending myself to the beach on a warm, sunny day with an open window of time proved just the thing I needed. Food, drink, travel watercolor equipment, sand chair, and I was golden.

After I plopped myself into my chair, I set up my supplies. I chose the shells I bring along in my bag and started sketching in the watercolors. Twenty minutes maybe, and I was done.

Let’s see how my week unfolds this time around. I’ll let you know.

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The Greece Dream is Over, Get Back to Work

A view of St. John Theologos Monastery on Patmos Island, Greece on the easel
Painting of Patmos, Greece on the easel today, 9×12 acrylic on stretched canvas

So the Greece dream visit is over. Wonderful as it was, it’s done. August is almost finished as well, and it is high time I get myself back to making art. Being in Greece for any length of time and one can lose themselves in the beauty, the deep blues, the ocean, the light and white, the weather, the music, the food, the people..

Yeah, it’s all that, and more.

Work has been a struggle this past year. More than once I let my head get in my way. Life happens, yes, but it shouldn’t mean work, the blog, the whole thing, needed to suffer. Soon as my solo show was over I was spent.

Now that I’m home from dreamy Greece, and feeling a little better, days are my own for right now, artwork just has to happen. This week I pushed Mr. Resistance aside more than once to make sure I painted something, anything, to get into the process again. He wasn’t happy either.

Yes, I worked a little while I was away. No, it wasn’t any big deal, just some sketching in my Moleskin with watercolors a couple of beautiful beach days. I’ll show you soon enough. It’s more than I’ve done on other visits to our Greek island home. The plein air palette I purchased specifically for travel painting never made the trip with me. I was too stressed about where it would go in my bags that I couldn’t handle it. Next time.

All that being said, I have made a pact with myself. Posting to the blog must become a habit again. Rededicating my inner child artist once again to working at the easel regularly is the direction. Work isn’t going to happen by itself and the hustle has to pay off in the long run. The next art show is my focus and goal.

As long as I can continue in this manner we’ll be okay!

Fingers crossed..

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Photos from the Art Exhibit Opening Night Event

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The Art Opening Was a Success

The opening reception for my first solo art exhibit and sale was a wonderful success, if I do say so myself.

@Dora Sislian Themelis Fall Pond, 18x24 Watercolor, Arches paper
@Dora Sislian Themelis, Fall Pond, 18×24 Watercolor, Arches paper SOLD

This painting is my favorite, but somehow I found the guts to offer it for sale. To my happy surprise a good friend snapped it up. Now I can visit my “baby” whenever I visit my friend. What a relief!

All together eight pieces were sold. One large work was purchased before I even arrived that night, which was another nice surprise.

©Dora Sislian Themelis Garden Afternoon, 18x24 Watercolor, Arches SOLD
©Dora Sislian Themelis Garden Afternoon, 18×24 Watercolor, Arches SOLD

Can you imagine how I felt to find out one of my paintings was sold before I even arrived for the event? Shocked to say the least. I really liked this one, too.

It was a wonderful party with friends, family, and art lovers. The appetizer platters were lovely, the wines and sodas flowed. People were happy and upbeat. Celebratory sentiments and congratulations were many. Attendees brought flowers, and notes of good luck, success, congrats.

It was all well worth the hard work of curating and preparing my own artwork. Certainly, I learned a lot about setting up the show, and about myself.

I can do it and it can be good.


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First Solo Art Exhibition March 1-31, 2016

I am proud and excited to announce my 1st real solo art exhibit/sale for the month of March 2016. This lovely gallery in my area, Barnes Gallery, has agreed to host my artwork at their location.

Postcard for my 1st Solo Art Exhibit
Postcard for my 1st Solo Art Exhibit

There’s going to be an opening reception with food, drink, and live jazz music.

It’s been a rough month of preparations, framing, getting mats and some custom frames done. I certainly can’t do it all myself. I am not a great mat cutter, but I get by.

It’s scary, though. Did you ever have a party and think that no one will come? That’s how I feel about this event.

Wish me luck. Better yet, come by and say hello. I’d love to meet you in person.


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