Copyright Notice

© Copyright 2023 Brenda Swenson retains copyrights to all images (artwork and reference photographs). All images on this site are property of Brenda Swenson and may not be used in any way for commercial, financial or personal use without written consent. Brenda Swenson retains all rights to republication (printed and digital) and anything but personal viewing of artworks.

Saturday, September 2, 2023


If you're checking into my blog for the first time - Welcome! 
You'll find a wealth of information, inspiration and tutorials in the pages to follow.

Over many, many years I built a wealth of instructional information for my followers. 
Sharing, inspiring and encouraging others has been a motivating force in my life. 
The community that came out of the blog was life changing. You walked beside me through some of life's toughest trials (son's cancer and the death of parents) and celebrated my achievements. Thank you! 

I'm no longer adding new content but I'm leaving my blog up. Why? This blog remains for the good people out there who appreciate and honor what this is - A teaching and sharing tool. 

Unfortunately, the increase of internet theft (and trolls) got out of control. Artwork was being lifted at a alarming speed and used to profit others. My lessons were used by "lazy teachers" for profit without permission. I got tired of filling copyright infringement reports and fighting to protect what was my intellectual content.

Going forward: New art tips, inspiration, instruction, material reviews will come in the form of a monthly newsletter. To sign up visit my website  At the top of my website you'll see Email Newsletter. Enter your information and click SUBMIT. You'll automatically receive my monthly newsletter. 

I can always reach me by email through my website.

Be kind and be creative,

© Copyright 2023 Brenda Swenson retains copyrights to all images (artwork and reference photographs). All images on this site are property of Brenda Swenson and may not be used in any way for commercial, financial or personal use without written consent.  Brenda Swenson retains all rights to republication (printed and digital) and anything but personal viewing of artworks.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Art of Letting Go

Again, I turn to my sketchbook as a tool for comfort and healing. I’m more comfortable
with writing then I use to be…but images are my first choice of communication. In my sketch I’m able to express myself in ways words won't do.

Last week my mother passed away suddenly in her home. She was 84 years and one day. The cutting reality is, I will never see her again on this earth. I worry my memory will fade. Sketching with pencil, pen or brush is a powerful tool. I find comfort. In a sketch I honor her act of love…time spent alone with her. My eyes carefully studying every angle and subtlety in her facial features. When I am done her image is forever burned into my mind...and then I find rest.

I found a photo of my mom that felt unposed and real. The photo was taken many years ago before illness and age left its mark and changed her (mentally and physically). Studying her face was comforting. About halfway into my sketch something was off. I tried to find the answer in the photo, but it wasn't there. I wasn't able to capture the essence that was her. Over many days I would glance at my sketch trying to see what I had missed. And then I realized, the answer was in my own face. So, I photographed my face at the same angle. Through my image I was able to finish the sketch. A piece of her is in me. My reflection, my mannerisms…my love of all things creative.

Trying to hang on to someone is like holding onto a rope that was slipping through my hands. The tighter I held on, the more painful it became… so I let go. The process of drawing my mother was healing. I grew in the process of understanding. The realization that part of her remains in me. 

Even during these never ending days and months (thanks to COVID-19) I am creative, productive and hopeful for tomorrow. Anything that stops growing begins to die and I'm still growing because I am alive!

Be well and creative,


Sunday, January 17, 2021


It's Finally Here!

.......VIDEO RELEASE!!!!!

Negative painting is the technique explored and demonstrated. It's just like being in one of my workshops...without traveling! 

Here’s some of what you’ll discover: 
  • Developing your composition with layers of color 
  • Unravel the mystery of paint
  • Painting around a subject to find definition
  • Apply transparent glazes to create shapes and depth of color
  • Develop your skills when painting wet into wet, under-paintings, and wet passages
  • Experience Brenda creating paintings that glow — now you’ll know how, too!
  • Demystify negative painting (and paint with more confidence!)
  • NEVER struggle with color again … you’ll know just what to do!
  • Proper design for this type of painting
  • Capture light like never before (yes, with watercolor!)
  • Create depth and interest (Brenda shows you how!)
  • Positively accentuate the negative (negative space that is!)
  • Uncover the characteristics of paint (you’ll be surprised at what you DON’T know!)
  • Ooops … oh well, find the humor in it and move on…

See a short video, in-depth video description, purchase options: Glowing Watercolors: Available in DVD or Download

Hope you enjoy!


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Pull the Plug or Continue

These are dark and troubling times for the human heart…we are a hurting nation and world. 

Before the horrid events of Wednesday I was formulating what was going to be my last blog post. Why? With the creation of Zoom, Facebook Live and other platforms people now have other ways to learn and be inspired. I wasn’t sure if you needed what I was sharing anymore and thought my blog had run its course. Since most people receive my posts via email I’m not getting the same kind of feedback on my blog in comments section. When an anonymous person (troll) wrote a personal attack in the comments. I thought, that's enough. 

Wednesday morning I was painting on location when the alert came over my phone… attack on the Capitol. I absolutely lost it. I started crying and I couldn’t stop. After an hour I still couldn’t regain my composure. I couldn’t paint so I packed up and went home. Everything built up inside came flowing out in tears that wouldn’t stop. After a day I ended up posting something on Facebook in an attempt to find hope. I said, “Hope deferred makes a heart sick…I don't have any answers I just know 2020 was a disaster and 2021 is off to a lousy start. Looking for hope in a sick world and society”.  I’m not alone in how I feel nor am I comfortable showing my vulnerable side to the world (trolls attack the weak underbelly). The pandemic has amplified the feeling of being alone. I struggled to reach out to say I hurt and need help to see a brighter day will come. More than ever we need each other. On that dark day Facebook became my lifeline with words of comfort, encouragement and a pep talk. We each have a gift. Some are: comforters, cheerleaders, listeners, prayer partner, a bakers, a writers…? We can’t be all things to all people but we can be something. 

So many people came through for me on that day and I’m extremely grateful. I’d like to highlight one comment in particular (though all touched my heart). 
Here’s what he wrote: 
“Never, ever let this happen. To allow the acts of some to influence your ability to want to make art. Art is the beauty of the world and it (the beauty) still exists. You suck it up cupcake and get back to work and post more. I did both yesterday and today. There are people out here in this electronic land that we are conversing on right now that depend on you and I to help them deal with stupidity. You have been given a gift by the good Lord. Use it for what it was intended. I love ya buddy. Go to work, now”. ~Tom 

I took Tom’s advice and got back to work. I finished the painting began that dreadful Wednesday morning…
I’ve also come to the understanding that my lessons (art and life lessons) on my blog does matter. I can’t be all things to all people but I can do this. 

Be well and creative, 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

His Teachings Changed My Life

Gerald “Jerry” Brommer, enthusiasm for painting and teaching changed my life.

I met him in the mid 90’s, early in my painting life. Many can attest to him as a loved teacher for 26 years, in the Lutheran schools, but I came to know him in the realm of a watercolor workshop instructor. His love of teaching, watercolor and nurturing style came together to create the man I knew. A kind, thoughtful person who loved God, Georgia and his students.  Always careful with his words and spoke kindly of others. He was a prolific painter, compassionate teacher, encourager and when needed…a gentle nudge.

Painting, art shows and students filled his life with joy and energy. Into his 80s he was
still teaching 18 workshops a year. A schedule people half his age couldn’t do. But with Georgia beside him he could do anything. In 2008 Jerry and Georgia decided it was time to stop teaching European workshops. He was 81 years old. But they wanted to visit Europe one more time. No teaching. Just a small group of art friends traveling, sketching and enjoying each others company. For two weeks we traveled from Prague to Berlin. One night during dinner he saw me playing with paper napkin rings fashioning an elaborate caterpillar. The next night he tossed a napkin ring my way and said “no more worms, make me something magnificent”. Never one to back down from a challenge. I proceeded to fashion him a crown of napkin rings and placed it on his head. It read,“ Sir Gerlad the Magnificent” (yes, Gerald is spelled wrong. Read my sketch to find out why).  He played along with a giggle and a smile and proceeded to wear the crown through dinner. He never took himself too seriously.

Jerry is one of the greatest people I have known. His contagious enthusiasm for life, teaching and painting guided me. I was a student beyond watercolor. I was a student of his teaching skills as well: how he handled a demo, a class, a person, a critique… his voice still guides me. We honor our teachers not by copying them but sharing their enthusiasm and carrying their message. In my workshops I always talk about him. I hope and pray my actions reflect this dear man: through my paintings, how I teach and in my life.

COVID-19 has taken Jerry from us. Rest well my friend. You have earned it. 



Here's a wonderful interview with Jerry on YouTube. Joe Miller (Cheap Joe's) and Jerry were good friends. Video

Friday, June 19, 2020


Who knew waiting would take soooooo long! For months we've been living in limbo complements of COVID-19. Waiting to see loved ones, waiting to work, waiting to get my hair cut. At first waiting sounded so easy.

The first month I had a few low down, miserable days. I lacked energy and focus. That unnerved me. Many artists' I've spoken to have expressed a very similar feeling. I was comforted in knowing I wasn't alone. I learned to be patient with myself and didn't force creativity. I still went to the studio every day and did something no matter how small. Little by little energy and focus returned. Being home for months has given me the opportunity to physically recharge and find new focus in my work. By not adding additional stress to my life I found a new rhythm and joy in the studio. And then the emails, messages and phone calls started coming. People asking, pleading and even telling me what I needed to do (to make confinement easier on them). I was overwhelmed with requests from individual and associations to teach on:, Zoom, Craftsy and Facebook Live. They'd say: It's easy. You can do it. We need you. You owe it to the art community. Gee whiz! That's a lot of pressure to put on somebody. Don't get me wrong. Teaching is one of the greatest joys in my life. But at this moment teaching online is not for me. I might feel differently down the road but right now, the answer is, no thank you.

Last year I taught 15 workshops in 10 months (nationwide and abroad). It was exciting, fast paced, rewarding and admittedly exhausting (at times). The last few months has given me time to recharge and focus. I've been painting more, walking a lot, writing, calling friends and family and cooking more (to my husbands delight). I've started painting outdoors again! I can't tell you how much this is done to lift my spirits. This week I painted the Lavender Fields of Highland Springs Ranch, Cherry Valley, CA.  It feels like a blessing and a privilege to be doing what I love. Masks are not required in the field but many people came close to watch me paint. I felt better wearing a mask.

In many ways it's been a busy time for me. I judged an international exhibition, wrote an article for Watercolor Artists' Magazine (June issue), participated in two major exhibitions: Transparent Watercolor Society of America and California Art Club Gold Medal Exhibition, completed numerous larger paintings and even sold three pieces. I also have a really big project in the works! I can't give  details, but it involves instructional videos with Creative Catalyst Productions. Pre-release sign up and interview

What does my workshop and show schedule look like in the future? Good question! I update my WEBSITE regularly. Please know my Blog (this site) and Website are two completely different sources of information.

What am I waiting for? To be with those I care about: family, friends, fellow artists' and students. I long to share meals together, attend shows & receptions, teach workshops and travel. But until I feel it's safe for everyone to be gathering again, I'll be waiting.

Be well, Be safe, Be creative,

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Use Your Words

What is the purpose of art? Ponder that question for a minute…

I communicate with images but sometimes words are needed to express the full range of emotions or experience. Most people are familiar with my travel journals but only a few have seen my personal illustrated journals. Why is that?  Within these journals I am vulnerable and emotionally raw. When life gets terribly mournful, cruel, full of hate, sorrow, grief, fear…I go to the books to paint and write what I can’t expressed fully otherwise. I use images and words as a tool to take the turmoil within me to unravel my feelings. The pages are not intended to be seen by others. 

If you've been in one of my illustrated journal workshops you'll recall I don’t pass around original books…EVER. I’m careful to tuck them away when I leave my desk.   However, I make copies of books that contain content that is appropriate for a workshop setting (travel, garden, cooking…).  On the final day of the workshop I share how I’ve used the illustrated journal as a place of refuge and healing. I believe the purpose of art is more than decorating homes, museums or galleries. It must feed and restore the soul of the one who creates it. 

We’re a hurting nation and world!! So many emotions we don’t know how to process. COVID-19, isolation, loneliness, unemployment, police brutality, death, riots, social injustice… I’ve seen a lot in my life but I’ve never felt or experienced what I am seeing and feeling today.

I rarely share on this level…it makes me uneasy. So why do it? Sometimes we have to take a risk for the sake of others. We each have gifts/talents/skills and opportunities to use them. What we do with them is up to us. As for me…I use my ability to teach through example. Try to use your images and words as a tool to take the turmoil within you to unravel your feelings. Ask questions, get angry, seek empathy in a face…and healing. You may not find answers. But when you take emotions and put them on paper something will happen inside you… the emotions will no longer fester and poison you. You’ll be able to think clearer and find peace.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Be well, be creative and seek peace,