Brianna painting with watercolor

•July 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

 

I developed this simple exercise of painting flowers in pots as a lesson to show how to paint wet-in-wet and how to control edges. This is a fun study of painting flowers and my students always are successful with this task. I decided to share this exercise with Brianna, my 6-year-old Great Niece. She has been painting with me since she was 2 years old and her skill with watercolor is constantly growing.

I showed her the first step, painting the pots and allowing the colors to bleed into one another.

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Brianna working on her pots

Brianna flowering pots class1

Next I added the flowers using an assortment of colors. These too are allowed to blend on the paper. I showed her how to pull out some spikes on a few or the flowers using a rigger brush.

Brianna flowering pots class3

My demo painting

Brianna handled the flowers exceptionally well and floated in her colors keeping the paint wet to be able to pull out the spikes. BUT to my surprise she asked me for a straw and proceeded to blow out the edge of the flowers to create the desired effect. She saw a better way to change the edges so she used a blowing technique. This surprised me. Her knowledge of the various watercolor techniques and when to apply them proved to me that her grasp and awareness of the use watercolor is by far greater than I could have imagined.

Brianna flowering pots class2

Brianna flowering pots class4

Brianna’s finished painting

She was so pleased with herself and I could see the confidence with which she paints is growing greater with each painting. I am so proud of her and look forward to many delightful experiences painting with her.

FLOWERING POTS AABri

Here are some of the flowering pots I did as examples either in my classes or preparing for my classes.

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FLOWERING POTS AA2

FLOWERING POTS AA1

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Painting the Swan Family in Watercolor

•June 21, 2017 • 4 Comments

 

Cygnets 7 2017

I feel so blessed to be able to see these sweet baby swans swim daily by my house. Most days they stop by, have a bite to eat and sun themselves on the warm sand. I have dozens of photos of them. I’m hoping to spend lots of time painting them with my watercolors.

I choose this photo because I liked the composition of the 3 cygnets. First I sketch the image onto my watercolor paper. I am using Arches 140lb paper 15″x11″ I paint the eyes first, I feel it starts to bring the animals to life.

Cignets A1

To start painting the birds I am using Hematite Genuine a Daniel Smith watercolor paint. I love the granulating effect it achieves. It is great for painting animal fur or wherever I need texture.

Cignets A2

Cignets A3

When the babies are finished I add a background to the painting. I am using Luna Blue and a touch of Phtalo Blue both are Daniel Smith paints.

Cignets A4 copy

My finished painting is only my 1st attempt at painting this photo. I will take the parts that I feel are successful and use them in the next painting and the areas that I feel were unsuccessful I will use as a learning experience.

I’m already looking forward to getting back into my studio and starting another painting of this photo. I will make sure I share those results with you soon.

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Painting Edges – Flowering Pots

•May 30, 2017 • 3 Comments

I have been preparing for my latest watercolor workshop and I thought these flowering pots would be an easy exercise in how to paint hard & soft edges. I  firmly believe that we learn not only by seeing an artist paint but by doing it ourselves therefore I always challenge my students with simple exercises encompassing a single technique. This lesson is all about painting edges. I constantly stress the importance of changing up the edges in our paintings to create more interest for the viewer.

The most simple explanation of edges is:

Hard edges are created by working on dry paper

Soft edges are created by working on wet paper

Paint a few connecting shapes, each one a different color allowing the edges to touch and the paint to bleed into one another. The outer edges will be hard edges painted on dry paper.

Edges-Flowering Pots

While the paint is still damp add the flower shapes to the pots. Have fun choosing the colors and allow them to blend & flow into each other and into the pots. Within each shape you will have very soft edges.  You do not have to define each flower, the painting will read as groups of flowers.

Edges-Flowering Pots2

Look at how cheery & enchanting this uncomplicated exercise is. Here are several more for you to try.

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Edges-Flowering Pots5

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My goal for my students is to help them better understand the use & techniques of painting with watercolor. I design my workshops to include exercises to make them feel successful. I think this will be a good lesson that when it is complete they can walk away with a better understanding of painting edges.

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A Successful Watercolor Painting

•May 21, 2017 • 4 Comments

I am just like you. Lately my desire to paint has far outweighed my ability to paint. My time has been consumed with other obligations and even when I have the time to paint I am either too tired or I start painting only to feel that everything I do turns into an epic failure. I know I am not alone in these feelings.

While spending a weekend in the mountains in Vermont I was looking forward to having the pleasure of indulging myself in my passion of painting. I had lots of new colors I wanted to try out and plenty of good quality paper. I made sure I brought along stimulating references, I was all ready to paint! But nothing materialized from the bristles of my brush. Each attempt to paint ended in what I felt was a disaster. I packed up all my art supplies and filled my time with other activities.

The day I arrived home, after a 6 hour car ride I decided that I needed to paint something, anything that would help me feel fulfilled and fruitful as an artist. I set up my mini watercolor supplies and on a small, 5″x7″ paper I sketched a succulent plant.

I only used colors that I love, remember I’m painting this to make myself feel good.

The Plant

I worked each leaf individually allowing them to fully dry before painting the adjoining leaf.

The Plant2

The Plant3

When it was completed I have to admit I felt good. My value as an artist soared. You may think that I was putting a little too much emotion into the success of a painting. I know there are many artist who can relate to how I felt by painting something that made me feel such delight within myself

Artists paint for a variety of reasons. One of the top reasons I paint is because of how it makes me feel. I needed to feel good about my painting abilities. I needed to feel successful as an artist. This little painting made be feel larger than life and that’s a good feeling.

How does painting make you feel?

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Watercolor Painting – a Dog & a 6 Year Old Child

•March 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Everyone loves a sweet & gentle dog. Brianna has a special dog named Twitch who is a pit bull. Twitch has grown up, from birth in a loving family where he plays & protects 3 small children. She adores him so much that she painted a watercolor painting of him for her Dad. I helped her by penciling in his cute face. She then proceeded to paint the portrait of Twitch all by herself. I’m proud of the way she handles her watercolors, not bad for a 6-year-old.

Twitch by Bri 11-2016

While home today waiting for an enormous snow storm that never materialized I decided to do my own painting of Twitch As always when I start an animal painting I always start with the eyes.If I can get the eyes to have a soulful feeling than I’m ready to continue with the portrait.

Twitch a 3-2017

The colors of this particular dog are so soft, like a fawn. I needed to keep the values light and only darken the value where it was needed like in the eyes.It’s fun to watch the face come alive as I continue to make progress in my painting.

Twitch 3-2017

Painting with Brianna helps to remind me to paint with the same wonderment and freedom that she paints with. She hasn’t ever been told that the colors or shapes she chooses are wrong or that what she’s doing is not good. I watch her as she picks up the brush and without hesitation she starts painting.

We as artists must let go of the feeling that everything we paint must be a “painting”. We need to let go of the idea that others will judge our art. We must paint like Brianna, she  paints because she can and because she likes what she is doing.

I am learning how to paint from a 6-year-old and it’s a fascinating experience.

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Setting Up My Watercolor Palette

•January 10, 2017 • 5 Comments

Each artist falls in love with their own individual selection of colors. We pick colors for many reasons. Color can evoke an emotion or enchant us. We are attracted to color depending on our mood or surroundings. For example, on a cloudy day I may feel like painting bright yellow & red flowers, this may help brighten my space and bring me a feeling of sunshine. On a brilliant sunny day I may feel like using a variety of blues in my painting because I feel the open sky above me.

With all the marvelous colors available from an assortment of manufactures how do I decide which colors will make the cut and get a prized spot on my limited space palette.

The most important things I want from a tube of watercolor paint are bright & vivid colors when dry, pigments that easily mix with water,  paint that performs well in washes and a paint that is easy to use after drying in my palette. It MUST re-wet and feel like fresh squeezed pigment right out of the tube. I will not tolerate a pigment that forms pellets or breaks into tiny pieces of paints when re-wet.

For my style of painting I use Holbein, Daniel Smith & M Graham watercolor paints. I am not saying I think these brands are the best, I am saying they are the best for me. Sample a wide variety of brands and discover which work best for you and they way you enjoy using paint.

This is a sample of my choice of colors when I started painting (around the year 2000). These paints did not all fit in my palette but this is a color swatch I made of my colors & brands.

color-palette-5

This is currently the choices of colors on my palette. Only Quinacridone Gold, Hematite Violet, Bamboo Green, Thalo Blue, Cobalt Turquise Light & UltraMarine Blue have remained on my palette  for 17 years.

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This is how my studio palette is set up. I always have an exact color chart for each of my palettes. I may not use a palette for several month and I want to know the placement of each color.

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My travel palette is set up like this. The colors are slightly different from my studio palette and I really enjoy the difference. I sometimes take this palette out while working in the studio because I am looking for a specific color that is included in this palette.

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The order in which you set up your colors is a personal choice. Some artist set up their palette like a color wheel. I like similar colors grouped together. Yellows, reds. blues, greens and earth colors or granulating color all sit next to each other. Set up your palette however you feel is the most comfortable for your needs.

Whatever colors you choose to incorporate in you palette I urge you to only allow colors on to your palette that you know you will use. Now you may think that sounds silly but I have painted with artists who not only do not know what colors are on their palette but haven’t even used many of the colors. Also limit yourself to a fixed or narrow amount of colors and learn as much as you can about how they work for you. Scrape out colors that you are not crazy about and add colors that you love. I have seen artists take out 3 different palettes each containing over 2 dozen colors. That means they could have to choose between 72 colors when picking out a color to use within a painting. That is too much of a decision to make, besides I like to limit my color choices to 3-5 in each painting.

Practice painting  using only 3 colors and see what happens. When you put aside the distraction of picking colors for your painting you can focus on the art not the color. Since value is much more important than color in a painting, limit the color and enjoy the process of creating art.

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Choosing A Watercolor Palette

•January 4, 2017 • Leave a Comment

As individuals we all have our likes and dislikes, that’s why there are so many choices when making a purchase. Do your research and read the reviews when buying a new palette.

I use a variety of palettes but I will share my 3 favorites with you.

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John Pike Palette

This was my 1st palette and it is my favorite palette for several reasons.  It is almost indestructible because it is made of a very hard plastic that does not bend & crack I am using the same palette for 17 years and I still love it. It is my daily studio palette. About once a year I re-evaluate my choice of colors and I might switch out one for another more desirable color.

~It seals tight and keeps my paints moist, which is very important to me. I use tube pigments and when I open my palette I do not want to find dried up paints.

~It has 20 paint wells. 16= 1 1/2″ & 4= 2″ I also purchase empty full pans. I can fit 2 pans into 1 well to double the color capacity within my palette. The wells are large enough to accommodate my large brushes.

~ 10 1/2″ X 15″ It has a large mixing area plus the top can be used as a mixing area too. I do not mix my colors on the palette, I use large puddles of individual color therefore I need room to work in my style. The only color mixing I do on my palette is for grays or browns

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Mijello Artelier Peel Off Palette

~ This is my travel or going to workshop palette because it is slightly smaller than the John Pike palette yet it is large enough for my needs. 9″ x 13″  It fits into most flat bottom art bags.

~This palette seals tight and does not leak. It has a rubber seal to prevent leakage. I never stand my palette on its edge when traveling because the moisture of the paints can run within the palette.

~ Considering it’s size the mixing area is sufficient for my use.

~It has 24 wells, (3 measure 2 1/2″) I can have plenty of color choices because of the amount of wells.

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I also use a smaller palette made by Mijello   It is the perfect size for Plein Air painting or for just sitting on my deck while painting the views or gardens. The Mijello Fusion Airtight Leakproof Palette comes in 3 sizes and has a removable tray that fits into the lid. Both the tray and the lid can be used as mixing areas giving me plenty of space to make color puddles.

18 Wells  10 1/2″ x 5″—24 Wells 12″ x 5 “—33 Wells 12 1/2″ x 6”

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When using a new palette if the water/pigment beads up & separates in the mixing area use some comet or abrasive cleaner on the mixing area. You want to break up the shiny surface which will then allow the water to pool together.

Pick out your palette, fill it with your favorite colors and have fun. I will share my choices of color and how I set up my palette in my next Blog titled “Setting up my watercolor palette”.

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