What I Did Way Back BW (Before Writing) Part 2


If you read Part 1 of this post, you know that I used to paint for a living. WET paint, that is. Then I discovered the joy of digital painting, using a Wacom tablet and an electronic pen. (You draw on the tablet, and it appears on your computer screen.) It was the most fun I ever had painting. You can work in layers, so it’s easy to take out things that you don’t like, or add new ones, without messing anything up. And you can use all sorts of digital “brushes” for blending effects, oil and watercolor effects, and much, much more. The above is a portrait I did of my daughter’s Dalmation, Dexter.

My cousin’sΒ dachshund, Greta,Β was one of my first efforts. I’ve broken it down so you can see that you work it just like a real (wet) painting. First there’s a sketch.


Because the background is on one layer, and the sketch on another, you can change the background to any color you want at any point. So versatile! Next, the color is blocked in.


Then, it is blended for the first time, softening the areas together, and adding a few details.


Then, more and more details are added, until you’ve got the look you want. The finished painting can be printed on watercolor paper, or on notecards, and other items. Paint once, use again and again. (Or sell again and again–kind of like writing a book.)


Here are a few other examples of my work, which I generally did as custom orders for people who wanted their pets captured in a painting.

This is a friend’s little dachsie, Riley, and one of the cutest little guys you’ve ever seen.


These were done at very high resolutions (too large to fit on my monitor all at once) so that they would print nicely. Here is a closer look at Riley’s face, though this is still not as big as I was working.


This is Ginger, commissioned by a friend for her mother, after the dog had passed away.

gingerforbrochureAnd a close up of Ginger’s eye, so you can see how much detail I used. (I really enjoyed being able to capture every little bit I could.)


While I did more dogs than anything else, sometimes I’d paint other things, just for fun. Florals and scenery, and the occasional horse.


So, that, my good friends, is what I did in my Former Life, before repetitive stress syndrome became too painful to allow me to continue. I was sad at first, but then I started writing, at long last, and now I couldn’t be happier. Never look back, except with fond memories. That’s my motto.

And now it’s your turn. What did YOU do before you started writing? I’d love to know!



63 thoughts on “What I Did Way Back BW (Before Writing) Part 2

  1. You really captured Ginger’s facial expression; I feel like I know her. What programs do you use? Tim’s favorites are PhotoShop Elements and Corel Painter. He uses a Wacom Tablet with a stylus and both programs to create artwork. As a career artist for several major newspapers, he had to learn how to use a computer to create illustrations–something he still enjoys doing today. Hope you are, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Linda! Glad you think so.

      I use PaintShopPro. It’s what I started with years ago, because I couldn’t afford Adobe’s Photoshop, and I’m used to it now. I have the latest version, though I don’t use it often enough to have gotten real familiar with it, yet. I’m on a learning curve. The only thing I’ve done with the new version is create these memes, and do my resizing of my own photos, adjusting saturation levels, contrast, etc. No real artwork, yet. But as I mentioned in response to your other comment, my vision is not good these days, so I doubt I’ll ever do a lot of painting again. Luckily, though, I can increase the size of projects on the computer, and make them a bit easier to work with. I do intend to continue making new graphics for various things. And some more “Review Please” memes, etc, to share here.

      I have a new Wacom tablet as my original one died, and I find it very difficult to work with. I can’t seem to get the settings right, so that’s something else I need to master. The last thing I used my old one for was the silhouette of the black dog on my Harbinger cover, which I did on the tablet. Then it died. 😦

      Glad you like Ginger. She was fun to work with. (And yes, her ears had been cropped badly, leaving one much shorter than the other, so that wasn’t me. πŸ˜€ ) I have tons more digital work, but thought this was enough to explain what I was doing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sue. I switched from oils to acrylics many, many years ago. I hate the smell (and toxicity) of oils, so I loved water-based acrylics. But digital is even more fun. You have every single color in the universe at your disposal, just by click on any image with a color you want to use. You have every brush known to man for creating different effects. And by doing every feature on a separate layer, you can delete something you messed up, and start anew, in an instant. When you are done, you just merge all layers into a finished painting. I was so blown away but what I could do digitally that isn’t possible with any kind of wet paint, I never missed it. Except for wooden or slate Christmas ornaments, etc, that I continued to paint for sale and my own tree. It worked for me, and I do miss it. But I’m too busy writing to worry about it. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

        • In spite of what the Rolling Stones said, I don’t believe time, time, time is on our side! πŸ˜€ I think it’s part of some grand cosmic practical joke, conspiring against us at every turn. πŸ˜€

          Good luck with learning how to use it. Once you really get it going, you’ll be amazed at what you can do. Of course, it’s the software that controls that, but if you have a good program, you’ll LOVE it!! After years of wet painting, I was utterly astonished at what I could do. Keep us posted if you give it a try.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. That dashie is soooo cute. I can see how this would have been fun. When Emily Carr could no longer paint due to health reasons, she took up writing and is as well known as a writer as she is a painter.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Fantastic, Marcia! Magical work. I’m pleased you’ve found something else that makes you happy. I’ve always written but while doing other things (studying, working as a psychiatrist, studying American literature, doing my PhD and being a teaching assistant at university, then working as a psychiatrist again)… These days I’m translating and checking other people’s translations (mostly for authors but sometimes for agencies) , writing (or trying to find my next project), teaching online (at the University of the People), and reading and reviewing, it seems…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Olga. Glad you enjoyed seeing who I used to be. πŸ™‚ And wow! You’ve worn (and are still wearing) a lot of hats! I don’t know how anyone can do so many things, while obtaining degrees, teaching, more degrees, and writing. That’s a very impressive resume! Thanks for sharing with us, and for squeezing in time to visit here, too. It’s always wonderful to see you stop by. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Marcia, I love the Dalmatian. I used to have one called Sheba. She was gorgeous and had the most wonderful temperament. These works are stunning.
    I used to work for Oxfam in the UK then I went to work for a leprosy programme in Karachi, Pakistan and followed that up establishing a mother and childcare project in Afghanistan. I started writing articles about life in Pakistan and Afghanistan before eventually writing fiction. Happy to do a blog post about it if you think people would be interested?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sure folks would enjoy knowing more about your experiences, Mary. You’ve led a very interesting life, and guess what? It’s not over yet! More interesting things to come, I’m sure! Yes, please consider yourself invited to write a guest post at any time that’s convenient to you. I know you’re catching up with some things, but whenever you’re ready, we’ll get it up. Thanks!

      And I’m so glad you like the Dal. Dexter was a lovely dog, who lived longer than Dals usually do. He is much missed by my daughter and her husband, even though he’s been gone several years, and they now have cats. πŸ™‚ In fact, I did this portrait as a Christmas gift for Erin the year Dexter departed.

      Thanks for the kind words! And for sharing about your work. Will be waiting for a future post from you. πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I can imagine your daughter and her husband still missing Dexter. I haven’t owned a dog for a long time now. We adopted a cat when a friend went to work in New Zealand and she’d be appalled if we brought a dog into the house. My sister’s dog sometimes stays and the cat vanishes!
    Yes, I’ll do a post – after I’ve sorted out the other thing! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Once a writer, always a writer. I have other interests, but writing is what I went to school for and what I’ve always done professionally. I’ve done line drawings for user manuals, but I’d never pretend to have the artistic talent you do. I wish I did! I’d love to be able to paint my doglings and capture those precious expressions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • So you’ve mostly always been a writer, then? That’s wonderful. And amazing. Apparently, your parents didn’t beat you about the head and shoulders for having such a fanciful idea. (To be fair, my parents thought they were giving me practical advice, but I’d never even considered any career except writing until they insisted I get a business diploma.) I’m glad you’ve always pursued your love.

      As for painting, anyone can be taught to paint, you know. It’s a basic skill well-bred women were always taught back in the day, right alongside needlework. Granted, not everyone is going to be able to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, or the Mona Lisa. THOSE artists have special gifts. But with a good teacher, anyone can be taught to paint a something they can be proud to frame and display. Honest, and I know this, because teaching them is what I did for quite a while.

      Today, I suspect my painting days are mostly behind me, except for a few doodads now and then. But that’s okay. Now I’m learning to be the best I writer I can be over the next few years, and I’m enjoying that just fine.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow Marsh, you are a multi-talented creative. Fantastic artwork. And stress syndrome? So you traded in one stress for another? LOL kidding.
    My resume is like a rap sheet, lol. One day I’ll have to write about it. πŸ™‚ xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Deb. I’m glad you liked these. Yep. Because I worked in such detail, I was making tiny, little, tight movements with my right hand and arm all day long, for hours on end. Until one day, the pain in that shoulder went nuclear. 😯 I had to wear a brace for a bit, while it gradually eased up. But even today, if I type too long, it twinges. Still, it’s better than it was. I simply couldn’t continue with my digital art, much as I loved it.

      Oh, and believe me, the painting was a mid-life past life. I did all sorts of things throughout the years, including being an “inside adjustor” for Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, waaaaaay back in time. Executive secretary, administrative assistant, store manager, geesh. You name it, I probably did it at some point. But I stuck with the painting for a lot longer, and plan to stick with writing from here on out. πŸ˜€

      And I was hoping a few of you would share a bit about your past lives in the comments section, but I’ll be even happier to share full length posts from you, if you like. Or link to them from your own blogs. Don Massenzio is posting something on his tomorrow, for instance, and I’ll be sharing that, for sure. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow Marsh, I know how fine detailing can cause health problems. My sis-in-law is an artist and has severe problems now with her right hand and wrist, so now she’s teaching art. Ok, ok, ok, just to list a few – like you, I was an Executive secretary for General Manager of a Hotel, I was office manager for an architect, and then a construction company. I worked in retail buying and selling for years in my early 20s, I was a travel agent, I was a singer in a band, and finally I worked in casino for years before I met my husband – blackjack/poker dealer and the pitboss. Oh ya, I been around girl! As for posting here, thanks for you always generous invitation. It’s been a crazy few months for me and I’m in the crux of final edits, book cover, getting ready my MS for formatting for my newest book. Once I catch my breath, I’d love do a post here. ❀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Now that’s the kind of sharing I like! Lots of great life experiences in those jobs, but the one that jumped out at me, of course, was singer in a band. Love it! I was always friends with the band, back in my misspent youth, and I danced all the time, mostly for fun, though I won a contest or two. (Who cares if the judges were mostly drunken beach goers????) But singing would have been fun! And the casino stuff. Now I understand one of your usernames! πŸ˜€

          Yes, you may post at any time. Get caught up and let me know when. πŸ˜€ ❀

          Liked by 1 person

          • Lol, my secrets are out! Yes, kind of a weird mistake with my Twitter name. I used to play tournaments and was friends with many poker players. I had that name before I began writing books. Duh me, before I knew it I had a following and didn’t want to change the name. LOL πŸ™‚ Thanks Marsh ❀

            Liked by 1 person

  8. You have quite the talent. It’s too bad you can’t paint anymore, but I’m really glad you picked up writing! πŸ˜€
    I used to do paint by numbers, very very slowly, and puzzles that featured cute kittens and puppies. Also slowly. Neither hobby really worked well for me, but I kept at them for years!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Caitlin. But you knew I used to paint, right? If not, I can’t imagine why. I painted by numbers growing up, probably clear up into my teenage years, before I decided to try it without the numbers. πŸ˜€ And I still like puzzles, too, though I never have time to do them, these days. But they were very relaxing to put together, and I liked them. πŸ™‚ ❀


      • Yes, I saw your art before (and have some of your Santas, which will have their time to shine on Dec. 1st.). πŸ™‚
        I outgrew puzzles–the bigger ones took me way too long. I’m not good enough at them for them to be relaxing! I’d rather color for that zen moment.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m okay with puzzles, but my brother, AFTER he had a major stroke, was genius at them. He couldn’t talk or walk, but he could work huge jigsaw puzzles in no time. It was fun to watch how quick he was.

          As for coloring, I don’t dare buy any of those coloring books. I’d never get anything done. There’s something about coloring that I have loved all my life, and some of the best times I had when my kids were young was spent at the kitchen table, coloring with them. πŸ™‚

          Okay, I’m glad to know I wasn’t imagining that we had talked about my painting in the past. πŸ˜€ And I do remember sending the Santas. Man, my brain is too full of outside issues. I’ll be so happy when there are no contractors and insurance people and yard clean-ups going on. We still haven’t finished clearing out the back yard. It is filled with plants that have to be dug and disposed of. Irma was tough on vegetation! And on outdoor structures like trellises and the roof of the Bali hut, etc. We’ve put it off for last because it’s still so hot outside. But that is easing a bit, and we’ll soon be spending weekends cleaning. Which is preferable to dealing with insurance people, if you ask me. (No offense, folks, but if you aren’t in the industry, insurance issues can drive you insane.) 😯

          Liked by 1 person

    • If you lived here, Marje, I’d teach you. It isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. No one believes that, but it’s true. Digital painting is harder, but acrylics on canvas and that type of thing is so much fun, and easily de-mystified with a decent teacher. At a hobby level, I mean, of course, and not meaning that you can take a course and become an overnight sensation at galleries, necessarily. (Though that’s possible, too, I suppose.)

      Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! πŸ˜€ Once I finally get my studio converted back to it’s working state, I will no doubt paint some small things here and there. Right now, it’s still in Infirmary Mode, from when we had to house an elderly cat in there for a year. But when all this hurricane stuff is done, and we finish with our flooring project, it’s next on the list. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Those images couldn’t be more beautiful, Marcia. The detail is astounding. Learning to draw and paint is on my bucket list. My hands feel as though they should be able to do this without instruction, but something is missing, and I’m not sure what it is. Sometimes I can sketch beautifully, but most times I fall short. Perhaps I was an artist in a past Life πŸ™‚ I worked as an RN before writing books. My hobby was writing songs, playing guitar, and doing gigs. I still dabble in this. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful artwork with us, my friend β™₯

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tina! So lovely of you to say. Find a good teacher, and you will be able to learn to paint. It’s that simple. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, painting was once considered a skill every well-bred young woman learned right alongside various types of needlework. Not everyone goes on to fill galleries with art like that of DaVinci or Michelangelo, but believe me, if you want to learn to enjoy art and have your own paintings turn out well enough to frame and admire, you can do it. Everything hinges on the teacher.

      And if you can play the guitar, then I’M in awe of you! I don’t know how to play a single instrument trickier than a kazoo! So yay for that talent!! Thanks for sharing about your life BW. I have the greatest respect for nurses, having dealt with many of them over the years. You often don’t get the credit you deserve, as the glory sometimes goes to the doctor, but for my money, nurses are the ones “in the trenches.” Nice to learn more about you! Thanks! πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Welcome, Marcia, and thank you for the encouragement! Learning to draw and paint just moved up on my bucket list. You’re right about nurses not receiving due credit. We’re the hub of the wheel, the one everyone goes to for everything, doctors included. Our skill set is above doctors in many areas, and equal to theirs in many others. Wages between the two should be far more equitable than they are. Btw, I love the kazoo. It can add a bit of humor to a song, and audiences adore that πŸ™‚ ❀

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Sorry its taken so long to get around to looking at these posts – life has been too manic (nothing really new there…).
    I am totally in awe of your beautiful paintings. I tried to paint when I was younger, but I’m really lousy at getting proportions right, so I gave up.
    As you know, my day job is pretty time consuming, but back when I was still getting myself established, I did a few other jobs alongside it to get finances rolling, including selling loft insulation, selling advertising (which I hated), and working as a life guard at the local swimming pool. Just a bit random!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Better late than never, Debby. (I made that up! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ ) Besides, I think you were on vacation . . . um . . . holiday . . . when I posted these. But I’m glad to see you here now, and I thank you for your kind compliments. And just so you know, painting and drawing are two different skill sets. Some people are better at one than the other. Mixing and blending colors, shading, and tiny details are something I’m very good at. Getting proportions right is a whole ‘nuther thing. MUCH harder. Many, many fine painters work from patterns to get the shapes right. That’s always been the way of it.

      So selling loft insulation was better than selling advertising? Somehow, I’m not surprised. The ad business has always sounded like a dreadful rat race to me. Lifeguarding might be nice. Except for that part about the SUN shining on your body! After having skin cancer more times than I can count, I do NOT do sun! I wear Total Eclipse sunblock to walk to the end of our short drive and retrieve the mail! But other than that . . . πŸ˜€

      Thanks for stopping by and letting us know a bit about who you were in that past life. πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for putting me right about the drawing v painting thing – I’d never considered them to be such different things, and I had no idea painters used patterns. Well, you live and learn. (I definitely didn’t coin that one.)
        And just so’s you know, my lifeguarding was all done indoors (this is England, you know – outdoors and swimming only happen together for a short part of the year). No need for sunblock in that job!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oooh, “putting you right” sounds so stern. I hope it didn’t come across that way? For me, it’s just about sharing with–and learning from–each other.And yep, even some of the great masters used tricks to get their sketches right. Things with mirrors, shadows, and reflected light. I used patterns a great deal when doing tole and decorative paintings, as most do in that type of art. Just a simple sketch to transfer to your surface, and then you work your magic with brushes, and color choices, and careful blending, etc. \

          I wasn’t using printed patterns for my digital art, but if I felt something was amiss, I could put a photo on a layer under my painting, dial back the transparency of the painted layer, and see where I’d gone astray. I wasn’t using Photoshop effects or anything, though. I used that electronic pen and millions of tiny little strokes. Which is why I had to quit, because of the repetitive stress and a bit of carpal tunnel. But there are as many ways to paint as there are artists doing so, and for my money, almost all of them are good ways. It’s the impact of the finished work that I enjoy.

          Now, INDOOR lifeguarding sounds pretty good to me. πŸ˜€ Chlorine is much less of an annoyance than sunburn and the resulting age lines and skin cancers. INDOOR POOLS! That’s for ME!!! πŸ˜€ I would have jumped in one this afternoon, for sure. We were doing some backbreaking labor today, and even though it was only 75 degrees out, which is pretty nice, I was HOT! 😯

          Liked by 1 person

          • No, no! I didn’t mean it to come across like that either, rest assured!
            What a great idea, using a photo to underlie your painting, I never thought of that possibility either, even though we often remark that some paintings are so realistic they look like photos.
            And wow, 75 degrees! We were just below freezing today (I’m working in Scotland this week), so definitely no inclination to go jump in any water πŸ˜€

            Liked by 1 person

            • Whew. Glad I didn’t come across rude. I only use the photo to be sure my sketch is on track. Then I turn off, or delete that layer, and work in stages, like illustrated above. But using a good graphics program, you can certainly keep it there, turn it on when you need to, and off when you don’t. I just like to do more of it “freehand” than that, and only use the photo if I can tell something isn’t in good proportion, perhaps. I can adjust slightly, then turn it off.

              Digital painting is so much fun, and more versatile than anything I’ve ever tried. And two great things about it for painters who get interrupted often, like by real life: 1) it isn’t wet, so can’t get messed up when you stop for a while, and 2) by using the “eye dropper tool” you can duplicate any color in the world by clicking on it in your reference photo, or whatever. It’s like having millions of bottles of paint at your fingertips, all the time. SO much fun.

              By varying the settings on your electronic pen, you can have hundreds of “brushes,” in any size range you want. There are settings to duplicate the effects of fan brushes, round brushes, flat brushes, tiny little eyelash brushes, and on and on. And you can click on any solid color area and flood fill with a color, too. Voila. Instant background, say. Textures, patterns, they are all there for your use. OH, how I wish I could still do more than just memes, etc, with it, without it hurting me. BUT. I’m not going to complain. That was then and this is now, and NOW I’m a writer. Who’d-a-thunk? πŸ˜€

              I love cold weather, but I do have to say that I prefer it to stop on the plus side of zero. I can handle colder, but I can see where many would hate it. However, everything is relative. When you go through 3 or 4 weeks in a row of over 100 degrees outside, and 90 to 95 for several months, the broiling sun gets to be pretty old. I’m trapped inside for weeks, hiding in the a/c, trying not to DIE from heatstroke. If I had my way, I’d have nights in the 40s to 50s and days never, EVER hotter than 68 to 72. That would be very nice. Neither too hot, nor too cold. But we don’t live in a perfect world, so we learn to deal with what we’ve got. Mostly. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰

              Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: What I Did Way Back BW (Before Writing) #BlogHop | Lemon Shark

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