•April 8, 2014 • 1 Comment

Most of us find shopping for spring clothes, shoes or accessories helps to breaks us out of the winter blues. I look forward to the major art supply companies sending out their spring discount flyer. It’s the time of year I order my much needed supplies of paper, brushes & paint. It is always exciting when I purchase a few new colors to add to my palette.


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This set by M Graham titled “Jewel Tone” featured several colors I use often and a few that were new to me. Hansa Yellow & Cobalt Violet are a constant on my palette. I’ve used M Graham watercolor pigments before & I’m very pleased with how good they are. I put a pinch of each color on my palette and play with them to see how they mingle, blend and granulate. Or how well they play with others.


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Daniel Smith Watercolors are one of my favorite paints, (along with Holbein). I love all the quinacridone colors and when I saw they now offered a ‘Q Deep Gold’ I had to try it being I adore Q Gold & Q Burnt Orange. As you can see on the test strip, the Deep gold falls in right between the Gold & Burnt Orange pigments. The Piemontite Genuine gave an amazing granulated effect which will work well in many of my paintings.


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New Paint Colors3Here are 2 samples of these new colors

New Paint Colors2


A great affordable way to try new colors is to see what Daniel Smith is offering in their “Triads”. You can find them on their web site under -Daniel Smith Watercolor – Triad Sets. This is a chance to experiment with gorgeous color mixes and some limited editions colors too. Incredible value each set is only $18.95 and free shipping.


Let the new colors on your palette wake up the artist in you. Spend more time in your studio being creative. Just like the sound of birds singing lets us know that spring is here, playing with colors awakens the joy within us and lets us know that the world will be filling with colorful flowers and brilliant greens.


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Winter Watercolor

•March 3, 2014 • 5 Comments

Sometimes I feel the need to paint & play mindlessly so today I choose a soft, snowy, winter landscape as my subject. I did not use a reference picture. I used my imagination and ideas from winter paintings I’ve done in the past. I laid down a cool violet-blue wash grading it to white at the bottom of the paper. This saves the white of the paper and helps create the snow-covered ground. I used masking fluid to save the white shape of the moon. I very rarely use any masking product but I wanted to have the freedom to work with a very wet wash and didn’t want to be restricted by the small white moon.


Silent Winter1


When dry, I paint the distant mountains keeping them light in value & cool in color. Using a darker value I added the distant fir trees. Next I add the foreground trees. Winter trees are fun to paint because without their leaves you can show off the trunk, branch and twig shapes.


Silent Winter2


Working a very light wash over the top of the trees gives the illusion of the tiniest or finest branches that would barely be seen individually but together they are seen as a slightly darker mass at the tippy top of the winter tree. Now that I’m working in the foreground of the landscape I can add some warmth to my color palette. The contour of the road is created by painting along the curve and blending the paint up to form the snow bank. This is something I had fun practicing by painting lots of holiday cards


Silent Winter3


The most important finishing touch is establishing the shadows. This will pull the entire painting together and give it viability. Shadows give form & curve to the ground. Remember, colors live within those shadows, they are not just gray blobs 

Using Chinese White & water mix to the consistency of heavy cream Splatter paint drops into the painting by tapping a loaded brush against a dry brush handle. First practice this using a piece of scrap paper Little snow flakes will appear on your winter painting.


Have Fun!


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Playing with Flowers

•February 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Like most places in New York I am dealing with another dreary winter day filled with gray skies with ice & snow covering the ground. A perfect day to spend time in the studio playing with watercolor and painting flowers.



This was a painting I began quite some time ago. I was not happy with the results so I took it to the sink and washed it to remove the paint. I gently scrubbed the surface of the paper with a very soft toothbrush. [ I am doing this on Arches paper ] When completely dry I reworked the painting and now I’m liking the flower shapes & colors. It has mostly hard edges but the flow of pigment gives it a soft feel.



This painting has mostly soft edges. I painted it entirely wet in wet allowing the paint to mix on the paper. It’s fun to drop pigment on damp paper and watch what happens. A great way practice your control of water to pigment ratio. Too much water and the paint spreads too fast and colors are diluted. Not enough water and the paint can’t move & flow on the paper.


What we consider failures can become great learning & practice pieces. Search through your old art and find some of what you feel are your failures and rework them. Take risks and try new techniques. Let the fun begin!


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Layering Leaves by Negative Painting in Watercolor

•January 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

An easy & fun way to practice negative painting is by layering leaf shapes one on top of the other. In a previous post I showed you the simplicity of negative painting    ( ). Now I’ll do a painting with a variety of leaf shapes showing how I’ll create depth within the painting.


I start the painting with a colorful wash. Don’t be afraid to make your wash full of colors and textures. Use your favorite colors or try experimenting with colors you rarely use. We all have those tubes of paint we purchased but haven’t fallen in love with. Squeeze  some of those paints onto your palette and play with them. This is also an opportunity to see how your colors mix together or a good time to use new pigments to see how you like the colors. I recently purchased a variety of new Quinacridone colors that I love playing with. The wash I start my painting on are  thoroughly dried before I proceed with adding the leaf shapes.


Golden Fall


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The leaf shapes can be traced from a real or artificial leaf or drawn free hand. I then choose a color slightly darker than the original color of the first wash. I paint the negative shape around each leaf shape. The new wash will be blended to the outside edges of the paper. You can see the salt I added to my second wash which will add more texture at this stage of the painting.


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Golden Fall4


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When you complete a layer of shapes and it is fully dry draw the next layer of shapes placing them “UNDER” the 1st layer.  NEVER PLACE THE NEXT LAYER ON TOP OF ANY PREVIOUS LIGHTER SHAPES OR LEAVES & NEVER PAINT OVER THE LIGHTER SHAPES…ONLY AROUND THEM. The only time I will paint any surface leaves will be to detail them or help separate them with shadows.


Golden Fall6


Golden Fall7


Golden Fall8

Here’s a closer look so you can see the details I added to some of the leaves.


Each wash I add gets darker. Don’t be shy using a juicy dark mix to create depth. Let the viewer see how far you can push the background within your painting. Do add some details to the leaves being careful not to make them too dark or they will no longer sit on the surface of the painting.

I also added vines or branches to the painting using the same negative painting technique, I just painted around them to make them appear. I splattered the completed painting with a beautiful gold watercolor paint by Holbein. I love using Holbein’s  gold & silver paints to add a bit of light to my paintings.


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This painting was fun, filled with exciting colors & shapes. Try negative painting and shift the way you see an object. You can always paint a leaf, now challenge yourself by painting the space outside the leaf and let the leaf appear as the light or unpainted object on the paper.

Once you start seeing objects in the negative you’ll love painting outside the lines.


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•November 18, 2013 • 2 Comments

Many artists struggle when starting a new painting. We question what subject do we want to paint. How to start the painting. What colors should we choose to use. There are many more questions such as how large or small should the painting be. The list goes on & on.

I keep folders filled with photos I’ve taken of various subjects including sunrises, flowers, shadows, clouds, animals and anything that interests me. I paint exclusively from my own photos or I will paint what I see outside.

I will Photoshop my photos using an assortment of filters to help guide me & allow me to better ‘see’ or understand the drawing needed for the image I desire to paint.

This is my starting point to help familiarize myself with the subject I want to paint.

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GARDEN statue2


Images have been changed using Photoshop.


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I draw using ink pens of various sizes. This lets me establish my values.


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I negative paint a wet in wet wash creating the background behind & around my flowers & statue.


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 I finally add some color to the flowers and using a violet gray I add definition to the figure of the girl. This is not a completed painting but a small rendering of the painting I’d like to do. I can see the areas I would change or where I’d like to add some extreme darks. I will do several studies of this photo and then take out a full sheet of watercolor paper and enjoy making my brush & pigment dance with vibrant colors across the surface of the paper.

I like the preliminary trials because they give me the freedom to play & explore the joy of painting with watercolor.


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Faces in Watercolor

•October 22, 2013 • 2 Comments

In my search to find new images to attempt to paint I came across a photo I took several years ago of a young girl. What attracted me to this image was the wind-blown pieces of hair.



To help guide me and help me see the lines to draw this image I applied several filters to the original picture using Photoshop.






Each picture allows me to clearly see the shapes within the picture.



My drawing of the face. All I’m trying to capture are the shapes that make up the face. I softly use an eraser to lighten the dark pencil lines.



Using watercolor I paint the shapes not worrying about creating the actual face. (If I paint the shapes a face should appear) This turns into a fun project and I paint fearless of the outcome.



In the finished painting I feel the face came out looking older than the age of the girl in the photo. I like the strands of hair blowing across her face. I will return to this picture and do a practice series of paintings to see how different colors and techniques alter the finished results. Time spent painting is always time spent learning and today I had a wonderful lesson in painting a face.


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I Painted a Dog in Watercolor!

•September 10, 2013 • 4 Comments

When the reality of life distracts me and I find it hard to concentrate on painting I go to my studio and organize my supplies, rearrange my space, & clean. I enjoy reviewing the large collection of photographs I’ve taken, mentally planning my next painting . As I relax my mind and stop worrying about what I should be painting something always grabs my attention and this time it was a photo of my friend’s dog named Jasmine. She is a 200 lb English Mastiff that lives with my friends Sal & Alan on 250+ acres in VT.


Jasmine a


Working from these 2 photos I lightly sketched an outline of her face and started by painting the eyes. I couldn’t tell you why I start with the eyes but I feel if I can create lifelike eyes then I’ll have a chance of bringing a little personality or life into the painting.


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A close up of the eye & the detail of shadowing the area into a droopy shape.


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I continued painting the face making sure not to add too much color. This was challenging because I love COLOR but I resisted the urge to take the painting another direction by adding a variety of fun colors. My goal was to have a  realistic portrait yet not try to replicate the photo.  It was exciting to see her face take shape!


Jasmine d


Adding the ears helped to define the outline of her head but the most fun was creating the background or illusion of her body. Here is where my watercolor paints were allowed to run and merge and flow down the paper.

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 Her face she has so much expression because of the droop & sag of her loose skin. I’m quite happy I kept the color subdue and allowed her character & demeanor to shine through. My finished painting shows what a great animal she truly is.


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