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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sketching on the Farm, Summer 2017

Sketching on Bluebird Trail Farm

I'm excited to announce a new collaboration with a local farm, Bluebird Trail Farm! I will be teaching a series of workshops on this beautiful farm this summer. These workshops are for all experience levels. All supplies are included in the cost and students will bring home a finished and frame-able work of art at the end of each workshop. I hope you can join me!

Sketching the view from the porch.

Landscape Watercolor Painting

July 11th, 2017 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm 

Enjoy an evening of sketching the beautiful rolling hills of Blue Bird Trail Farm. Bridget will introduce you to some basic watercolor techniques for landscape painting. All supplies are included in the cost of this workshop. All experience levels are welcome. Students will take home a finished frame-able work of art.

Wild Flowers -  Botanical Drawing & Watercolor Painting
Autumn Bouquet

July 25th, 2017 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Learn the basics of drawing and painting plants in this botanical workshop for all experience levels. Bridget will show you how to draw and paint plants with accurate detail. We will collect a bouquet of wildflowers from the farm to draw and paint. All supplies are included in the cost of this workshop. Students will take home a finished frame-able work of art and their bouquet of flowers.

Sketching chickens
Sketching Animals
August 1st, 2017 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Spend some time surrounded by goats, alpacas, ducks, bunnies and more! Bridget will show you some easy and quick sketching techniques for capturing animals in motion. We’ll use graphite, colored pencil, and watercolor. All supplies are included in the cost of this workshop and students will take home finished works of art.

Sketching Garlic

Garden Party 
August 22nd, 2017 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Join us for a delightful evening in the garden. Pick your favorite veggie or fruit from the garden, draw and paint it, then we’ll prepare our subjects in a delicious dinner. Bridget will walk you through some easy drawing and watercolor techniques. All supplies are included in the cost of this workshop. Students will go home with a full belly and a frame-able work of art!

Each workshop is $40 per person.

Visit Bluebird Trail Farm's website for more information and to register:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

My Story

Painting in my Corning, NY studio.

How did I come to be working here in the Finger Lakes Region?


I shared my story with the Finger Lakes Wine Country Magazine in their summer travel issue.
If you're local, the Finger Lakes Wine Country travel magazine is arriving in mailboxes and at information centers this week!

Here's my interview:

Come for a visit, stay for a lifetime

Why relocate to Finger Lakes Wine Country?

Sure the region is well known for world-class wines and picture-perfect landscapes, but did you know we're also home to businesses and industries that lead advances in science and technology? Finger Lakes Wine Country is a great place to live, work, and conduct business.
Read the stories of people who tapped into the wealth of business opportunities the region offers.

Bridget Bossart van Otterloo

Corning, NY

Where were you born and raised?  
I was born and raised in Northern New Jersey.
What brought you to or kept you in this area? 
I came to Corning after college to work as a Studio Apprentice to a well-known artist in the area - the late Thomas Buechner.
Why did you choose to start your business here? 
My art business has evolved over time - I've build up clients, art appreciators, and students over the past 15 years here in the Finger Lakes area. It's an affordable and beautiful place for artists to live. I've always felt that the community here is very supportive of the arts.
What’s Finger Lakes Wine Country’s best kept secret? 
The fantastic parks, waterfalls and trails around the lakes; plus, stopping for a beer or wine after taking in nature.
If someone were to tell you they were thinking about moving here and starting a business, what would be your best advice as to why they should do it?  
It's a beautiful place to live and work. There are museums, great Main streets, gorgeous parks, and plenty to do without the crowdedness of a big city. The arts community here in Corning is very strong and growing fast.

 You can access the digital version here:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Arts in Bloom, Steuben County Arts Trail

Visit me in my Corning, NY studio this weekend!

I've been spring cleaning in my studio, getting ready for our 5th annual
Arts in Bloom, Steuben County Arts Trail!

You're invited to visit my studio this coming weekend,
Saturday, April 29 10:00 am - 7:00 pm, 
and Sunday, April 30, 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

10 Jackson Circle, Corning NY

I'll have:
Studio sale prices!
  • New work to preview 
  • Mini oil paintings
  • Discounted unframed watercolors
  • Watercolor cards
  • Hand-painted pottery
  • Oil painting demo on Saturday
  • Watercolor painting demo on Sunday 

There are 15 stops along this year's Arts Trail. For a map and more information visit:
Map of Arts Trail at:  
Hope to see you this weekend, 

    Sunday, April 2, 2017

    Painting Flowers from Life - Amaryllis

    "Amaryllis" 36x24 watercolor by Bridget Bossart van Otterloo

    I began this painting in back in February. Patiently waiting for the double blossoms to open, I watered and moved my amaryllis around following the sun. Knowing I wanted to paint this amaryllis life size, I picked out a large sheet of paper and planned out the composition with a very light pencil sketch. I started with the blossom on the left, the fist one to start opening. The intricate curling green sepals attracted my attention.
    I began with the first Amaryllis bud.
    As the blossoms unfurled, I continued to paint with a combination of flat layers of color and dry brush detail. This classical botanical style of painting begins with light layers of color, followed by more and more layers of detail and color. Each petal has at least 5 layers, or passes, of paint on it.
    Work in progress- Amaryllis blossoms taking shape.
    I prefer to paint plants from life because there is so much more information and energy in the living plant. A photograph is limited as to how much detail and light it can capture, although I do use photographs to finish a painting.

    I always find it hard to get rid of my plants, even after they've passed their prime. I still have the dried amaryllis blossoms in my studio, and I've been thinking about painting their delicate veins.
    Finished plant and finished painting.

    Come paint with me in my home studio and try out this botanical watercolor painting technique. I have two workshop dates left this spring, April 8th and May 27th. We'll be working from plants, following the technique I talked about in this post. Email me at with any questions and to register.
    • April 8, 2017 - Botanical Drawing and Watercolor
      Working with live plant specimens, students will learn to draw and paint plants with accurate detail. We will go over the basics of botanical drawing and watercolor painting techniques. I will be teaching the classical botanical style of working in thin transparent layers of watercolor.
    • May 27, 2017 - Botanical Drawing and Watercolor – Spring Flowers
      Working with live plant specimens, students will learn to draw and paint plants with accurate detail. We will go over the basics of botanical drawing and watercolor painting techniques. I will be teaching the classical botanical style of working in thin transparent layers of watercolor.
    Happy painting!

    Follow me on Facebook (@BossartvanOtterloo) and Instagram (@bbvo_studio).

    Sunday, January 29, 2017

    Postcards from the Past

    "Postcards from the Past" work in progress.
    With everything that is happening in the world right now, it can seem overwhelming and all-important to pay attention to. I'm having trouble carrying on with my usual studio routine. I feel like there is so much outside my usual flower painting that needs my attention. Last week, after participating in the Women's March in Seneca Falls, NY, I started this Postcards from the Past project. Seneca Falls is considered the birthplace of the American women's rights movement.

    We got to the march early and had a great spot for hearing the speakers in the Women's Rights National Historic Park, site of the first women’s rights convention in 1848. Two of the inspiring speakers—Diane Shenandoah, Oneida Nation Faith Keeper - Wolf Clan and Louise McDonald Herne, Bear Clan Mother—spoke on how the early Suffragettes in Western New York were inspired witnessing Hausenosaunee (Iroquois) gender equality. I don't remember learning this in history class, do you?

    We stopped in the Women's Hall of Fame where I picked up these postcards: (Hear Our Voice postcards were picked up yesterday. I thought they made a nice picture together.)

    Postcards past and present.
    I brought them home to my studio where they've been sitting on my desk speaking to me. I'm not sure where this project is going, but I'm taking it step by step. It's a good place for me to me right now—exploring how to communicate ideas visually.

    Here is what my little series looks like so far (still a work in progress):
    All the portraits will be sepia toned with the Iroquois Confederacy Wampum belt symbols connecting them.
    I'm connecting these portraits with the symbols of the five Seneca Tribes—the Iroquois Confederacy Wampum belt, sketched in my notebook above. The tree of peace is in the middle. The middle portrait is of a Seneca artist, Caroline Parker (Seneca) in 1849.

    The past has a lot to teach us. Let's not forget her lessons. I'll be sure to post photos of the finished paintings. Here's something you can do this week: write a postcard to your senators and representatives about what matters most to you. You can print out postcards and find more action steps at

    Find your voice by using it.

    My best,

    Sunday, December 4, 2016

    Creative Process - Apple Couple

    This post is inspired by a recent interview with Edward Dougherty, poet, writer and professor at Corning Community College. For his sabbatical project on creativity, Edward is interviewing artists from different disciplines about the creative process. What goes on in their minds while creating? (You can check out Edward's work here:

    Edward visited me in my studio to observe and ask questions about how I start a painting. I am comfortable working and talking simultaneously. I do a lot of it while teaching, but I still sometimes find it hard to put what goes on in my brain into words. Painting is a visual medium, and I sometimes struggle to translate those visual ideas into words. I'd rather let the painting do the communicating. Edward did an excellent job of asking me questions as we worked. This blog post is mostly about the technical part of my creative process. I'll leave the creative writing up to Edward and will let you know the end results of his sabbatical project.

    While thinking and talking about how I work, I realized that I like routines. I have my set studio hours and they are sacred to me. I usually paint for about 5 hours in the afternoon when the light in my studio is best. I often have a few paintings in various stages of completion, which allows me some flexibility about what I "feel" like working on that day. I'm also a seasonal painter. I prefer to start painting from life, which means that I paint what's in season. The apples in the painting featured here were picked at a local orchard back in September. It's amazing how long fruit will keep if you pick it fresh.

    I usually start a still life painting from life with the subject there in front of me. I paint from life for a long as possible, but also have photographs handy for finishing touches. My favorite part of this process is setting up a new still life. This is when the possibilities are endless and I haven't ruined anything yet.

    My first steps are to visualize the composition and begin with a rough sketch in the basic colors. I use oil paint mixed with Liquin™ to thin out the paint so that it flows more easily.
    Sketching with the brush

    The main purpose at this stage is to get rid of the glaring white of this multimedia board. I'm establishing the larger shapes and thinking about the negative spaces in between the objects. Even though it's a representational painting, the abstract shapes in the composition must be interesting.

    I began this still life thinking that if I placed the apples up high in the space of the board it would give them more importance—more personality. But, as I started to fill in the first layers of paint for the background, I realized it wasn't working. There's a major problem with the composition—I've left too much space at the bottom. I either need to make the wooden crate very interesting or add something else to the still life setup.

    Rethinking the composition
    Here I am explaining my dilemma to Edward. I'm thinking about what I can do to make that space more interesting, trying to visualize additions to the setup.
    Still thinking

    I decided to add another branch hanging down around the apple couple. Here's the new composition:

    Then I got back to work filling in the rest of the browns around the apples. These are just the first coats of paint, so I'm basically getting rid of the white and setting up for future layers of paint.

    Continuing to "block in" the colors

    Many painting hours later, I have a composition that I'm happy with, so I start the more detailed work on each apple and all those leaves.

    Flash forward to almost done:

    Making progress, but there's still a lot to work on.
    Here's the finished painting and still life set up in the background:

    Finished painting with still life

    "Apple Couple" 14x11" oil on board by Bridget Bossart van Otterloo
    Thank you for your interest in my work and the creative process.

    Happy painting,

    See more of my work on my website:
    Follow me on Facebook (@BossartvanOtterloo) and Instagram (@bbvo_studio).

    Tuesday, October 18, 2016

    The Gift in Teaching

    Painting Quince branches on 300lb cold press watercolor paper.
    I learn as much from my students as they learn from me. Before I explain a technique, I must first think about it for myself. What am I doing? So much of art is just doing, my hands know what to do after years and years of painting. Putting actions into words is sometimes hard for me. I've found that teaching has made me more aware of what I'm doing as an artist. Why am I holding the brush like this? How much water am I using? What colors am I using, and why? When does a watermark happen? All these questions have made me a better painter.

    I've found that watercolor painting can be a spiritual practice. There is certain amount of letting go in watercolor painting. The paint and the water can have a mind of their own. They want to do their own beautiful thing together, and sometimes it's better to get out of the way. The more you try to control it, the worse it looks. This is especially true of wet-into-wet watercolor technique.

    Some students come to class wanting to know exact formulas for painting —exact color combinations and step-by-step instructions. I do my best to give them all the information I know, but this is art, not science. The one thing that will make them a good artist is the one thing I can't teach—it's putting in the time. Invest hours of time into your painting. Practice, practice, practice. Don't be afraid to fail. Not every painting is a keeper. I'm still learning this for myself.

    Happy painting!
    If you are interested in learning more about watercolor painting and drawing techniques consider taking one of my workshops in my Studio listed below.
    I also teach weekly classes at 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning NY. Visit their  website for more information and to register:

     Studio Workshops
    Join me in my light filled home studio for a morning of drawing and painting. These classes are for all levels.
    $50 per student per class.
    Materials are included in the price of the class). Feel free to bring your own materials if you have them.

    All workshops held on Saturdays - 9:00am–1:00pm in Corning, NY. (address given at time of registration)
    To register, email me at
    • October 22, 2016 ♦ Nature Sketching
      Learn to observe and sketch the natural world. We'll cover easy sketchbook techniques while working with live specimens. Drawing with graphite, colored pencils, pen, and some easy watercolor techniques.
    • November 19, 2016 ♦ Botanical Drawing and Watercolor
      Working with live plant specimens, students will learn to draw and paint plants with accurate detail. We will go over the basics of botanical drawing, and watercolor painting techniques. I will be teaching the classical botanical style of working in thin transparent layers of watercolor along with other detailed painting techniques.
    • December 10, 2016 ♦ Holiday Cards
      Create beautiful hand-painted holiday cards. I'll provide some easy templates to follow. Paper and envelopes included in the cost of the class. Bring your ideas too!
    • January 28, 2017 ♦ Introduction to Watercolor
      We practice color mixing, go over brush types and handling, and the different types of watercolor paper. We'll start with a color wheel and finish with a small watercolor painting.
    • February 25, 2017 ♦ Botanical Drawing and Watercolor
      Working with live plant specimens, students will learn to draw and paint plants with accurate detail. We will go over the basics of botanical drawing, and watercolor painting techniques. I will be teaching the classical botanical style of working in thin transparent layers of watercolor along with other detailed painting techniques.
    • March 25, 2017 ♦ Nature Sketching
      Learn to observe and sketch the natural world. We'll cover easy sketchbook techniques while working with live specimens. Drawing with graphite, colored pencils, pen, and some easy watercolor techniques.
    Finding all the shades of purple in these irises.

    Tuesday, October 4, 2016

    Artist's Residency at Sunny Point

    Sunny Point Art Center on Keuka Lake—view from my kayak.

    Last week I had the pleasure of spending time on Keuka Lake with my artist friends Aleta Wynn Yarrow and Gretchen Halpert. The Arts Center of Yates County has a beautiful location at Sunny Point for Artist Residencies, Retreats and Workshops. Check out all they have to offer on their website:

    The purpose of an artist residency or retreat is to give an artist time to create their art, away from the distractions and routines of daily life. The experience is especially wonderful if you can share it with inspiring artist friends. Aleta and Gretchen made my stay even more enjoyable. Here we are warming up for a day of painting and creating with some yoga.
    Yoga before painting
    I spent my days at Sunny Point enjoying the beautiful surroundings and completing some watercolor paintings. I did not give myself any big goals to accomplish (I've been doing too much of that lately). I just wanted to use the time to enjoy watercolor painting and absorbing inspiration from the environment.
    Watercolor study—view of the studio barn from the cottage dining table. Can you smell Gretchen cooking dinner in the background?

    Watercolor study of the trees on Sunny Point surrounded by lake water.
    Rainy day watercolor of foliage changing on Keuka Lake. I used the splattering technique to create that rainy day wet feeling—leaving droplets of water on the paper.
    Windblown autumn leaves caught in delicate spider webs. The wind kept trying to take my paper too.
    I really enjoyed the peaceful time here at Sunny Point. Thank you Chris and everyone at the Arts Center of Yates County who make this Residency possible!
    If you are interested in finding Artist Residencies or Retreats for yourself, check out this website: You'll find a wonderful directory for Artists of all disciplines there.

    Happy creating!

    Thursday, September 8, 2016

    "Nature's Light" - new paintings at West End Gallery

    "Nature's Light" at West End Gallery through October 14, 2016.
    My studio is empty, and the West End Gallery is full of paintings! There are 29 new paintings and 1 sketchbook (from my California trip) on view at the West End Gallery from now through October 14, 2016. If you're in Corning tonight— Friday September 9, stop in the West End Gallery to say hi. My favorite part of an opening reception is chatting with all of you face-to-face. I love to hear your feedback and reactions to my paintings. Feel free to ask me lots of questions. There's a little story behind each painting. If you can't make it to the gallery, you can always view all my paintings on my website:

    "Goldfinch on Thistle" by B. Bossart van Otterloo


    Please join me for an

    Opening Reception

    Friday, September 9th 

    5:00–7:30 pm

    Music by Harpist, 
    Meredith Kohn Bocek

    West End Gallery
    12 West Market Street
    Corning, NY 14830

    Preview my new work on my website: 

    Save the Date!
    I will be doing a watercolor demo at West End Gallery during Urban Arts Crawl in Corning on September 30, 5:00 – 8:00pm.

    Monday, August 8, 2016

    How do you know when a painting is finished?

    My studio full of mostly finished paintings, awaiting the fall show at West End Gallery.
    How do you know when a painting is finished? This question runs through my head a lot, especially this time of year when I am finishing up my paintings for the West End Gallery show. An exhibit takes a lot of planning. I need to finish applying paint about a month before the show so that the paintings have time to dry before the final layer of Retouch Varnish. Then they need another week or so before the varnish is dry enough for the painting to be framed. My calendar is all marked up with self-imposed deadlines.
    One way to know when to stop working on a painting is a firm deadline like an exhibit. I could keep fussing away at small details in my paintings, but time will not allow it. Instead, I stand back, look at them from a distance, or reverse in a mirror, and say to myself "It's finished." This requires turning off the critical perfectionist part of me and focusing on the big picture.
    Here are some questions I ask myself to help decide if a painting is finished:
    • "What is the main idea I want to communicate in this painting, and have I achieved that?" 
    • "Is there anything about the painting that is catching my eye in a distracting way?" 
    • "Do I like it?" 
    • "Will continuing to work on this painting help or hurt?

    When I teach and give Artist Talks I get the question of "how do you know when to stop?" a lot. I wish the answer could be simple. Deadlines do help. Otherwise, you just need to ask yourself if you are achieving what you set out to do, and if continuing to work on the painting/artwork will help or hurt. Sometimes a partially finished painting has a fresh vibrant quality that more time and layers of paint will destroy. This painting of Peonies below is a good example of that.
    Painting Peonies from life in June.
    This painting was painted on multimedia board. You can see the board and the first layers of paint showing through in the brightest spots on the right side. The multi media board gives a watercolor-like effect in the first few layers of paint. I love the freshness of the beginning and middle stages of a painting. Sometimes, by the time I finish, I wish I could rewind to this stage.

    Cloud Study plein air painting.
    This Cloud study painting was done en plein air, meaning in the open air. It took me about two hours painting on location at a friend's home on Keuka Lake, NY. There's a spontaneity to plein air paintings that I love. If I were to work on it more at home in the studio, I would lose some of that fresh feeling. So I declared this painting finished when it was time to pack up and go home.

    Work in progress during the Marty Poole workshop at 171 Cedar Arts Center
    I started the above painting in a workshop with Marty Poole at 171 Cedar Arts Center this past June. This photo was taken at the end of the two-day workshop. I'm happy with the progress I made during the workshop and plan to leave this painting in its semi-finished state. I might work a little more on the apple in the girl's hand, making that the focus of the painting. Other than that, I think I will leave the sketch lines of the under-painting in the bottom half. During the workshop, Marty talked about pushing through the hard stages of a painting and not just giving up. It's at this point in the painting process that you really learn and grow.

    The question of when to stop working on a painting, or any project, is an age old question. You can apply it to many areas of your life. How do you know when to make a change? How do you truly know when you're ready? Sometimes you just have to dive in and go for it. Only you can know when time is right.

    Happy painting,

    P.S. See all of my finished paintings at West End Gallery this fall. "Nature's Light" Opens September 9th with a reception from 5:00 - 7:30 pm. This is a two person show with the fabulous work of Brian Keeler. The show will be on view through October 14, 2016.