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.


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.


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.


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.



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.



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




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.


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”


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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A Watercolor Wash – Playful & Pretty

•November 28, 2016 • 2 Comments

Watercolor is the most playful medium. It flows and dances beautifully with water. It can be light and transparent or dark and mysterious. You as the artist can choose how you want to describe or convey an image by your numerous choices of techniques in the use of watercolor.

Today I painted a wash while thinking of the softness of flowers.  I used plenty of water allowing the pigment to mingle freely on the paper. I have no fear of blooms appearing in my washes, in fact I welcome them. I like the edges that they make and find them useful.


Working on dry paper, my goal is to allow the original wash to direct me as to how the flowers will appear. By the addition of some hard edges I can create the illusion of roses. The dark stems give the appearance of light coming through from the background.  


My goal was to have a painting of flowers that was mostly soft and glowing. I didn’t do much planning but I knew that I needed a mix of soft & hard edges to add interest to my painting.

I have not painted roses before because I have seen so many outstanding paintings of them I was intimidated.  But today I conquered my fear and I will start a series of these glorious flowers. This will be a great project to paint during the cold short winter days ahead.


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•November 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment


These are a few more of the Rooster paintings I have completed recently. Above is the first wash which was painted using Quinn Gold and two different reds, one cool & one warm. When this dries I add the details in the eyes. I usually paint the eyes first which helps me see the life of the animal I’m painting

This is the finished rooster.



This next Rooster was painted mostly on dry paper therefore it has many hard edges, except for the body which I painted wet-in-wet allowing it to have a very soft feel somewhat like feathers



This painting was done mostly on wet paper which gives it a diffused soft feel. When completely dry I detailed the eyes & beak. One soft brush stroke outlines the breast area and the painting is finished.


Whether you prefer soft & flowing or defined & detailed knowing how to achieve the desired results all depends on your knowledge of watercolor techniques. Practice the basics skills needed to be proficient in the use of watercolor. It can only help you become a more accomplished artist by having command over this amazing medium.


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•November 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment


This lively little rooster watercolor painting was entered into the 61st Annual Art League of Long Island  Member’s Exhibition 2016. All art submitted must be no larger than 25×25 so I rummaged through my recent paintings looking for the ideal one to enter into this show.I thought this cute portrait of a rooster would do nicely.

While searching through my artwork I came across a multitude of finished, partially finished & undone practices of roosters. I decided to complete several of them and share them with you.



  I did a simple wash of very light reds, pinks & oranges and once the wash was dry I started to detail the eye & face area still keeping the value very light.



I increased the value as I continue to define the face, beak, comb & wattle. I don’t need to completely illustrate these just a suggestion will do.


The last marks I make are to slightly outline the body. The completed painting has a soft appearance unlike the 1st rooster (top of the page) which is much more distinct and specific. Both are rooster painting but each will appeal to a different viewer. I paint what I like and enjoy, I find these roosters to be challenging yet amusing & enjoyable to paint.


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Acknowledging the Negative Watercolor Workshop 2016

•November 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment


On Oct 29th & 30th I taught my newest Watercolor Workshop titled ‘Acknowledging the Negative’ at the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills New York. An amazing group of artists were in attendance and everyone was eager to explore this fun yet challenging concept.

I had several exercises for them to do progressing from simple to more advanced as I walked them through the process of painting only the negative space allowing the image to appear as the white of the paper. That is how these images were painted.





Another exercise was to layer images which creates depth in the painting. We used leaves that I gathered from outside and brought to the class. It was easy to trace around the actual leaf, and when layering them we could place one on top of another to see how to work out the design of the painting.



The exercise of ‘finding shapes or images’ from a colorful wash is one of my favorites. For this class I had the students finding flower shapes. Everyone did a great job with this challenge of having to “see” by stretching their imagination as they looked for floral images within their washes.



I am sharing my floral painting although it is not nearly finished. In the first image I have 2 layers of flowers, the yellow flower sits on top of the blue flower.


In this image you can see the 3rd flower or 3rd layer sitting under the 2 other flowers. This is how I build my layered paintings by painting in the negative.


Thank you to everyone who attended my workshop and thank you to the Art League of Long Island for adding me to their roster of educators.

I am completing my Winter/Spring schedule of workshops and I am offering several Negative Painting classes including a full workshop on Negative Painting Flowers. I am excited to have a terrific place to share my love of watercolor painting.

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