Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Broad Strokes: A Class Demo

I think one of the toughest aspects of watercolor is to simplify what we're looking at on paper. Using a large brush is very helpful, to start with. I tend to want to look into the background and start there since that, in my mind, is the under-painting. I work background to foreground, as probably all artists do, layering as the landscape or subject moves towards me. And light is a huge part of that. Squinting one's eyes one can see how the light and shadow fall and overall patterns. I like to start my students off working on broad landscapes to get to get them used to working background to foreground.

My sketch
In this instance a student brought in a complex photo. Okay, I thought she was crazy for trying to paint this image, but we both learned some things. My demo was about seeing light, building a few layers of color, and suggesting and simplifying rather than rendering it in detail. Also exaggerating light, color and atmosphere and using broad strokes on a couple of levels. I used large brushes which kept me from noodling. Nothing like noodling to kill a watercolor sketch!

A beautiful rainforest reference photo

 This was done in three passes. A basic wet in wet, warm and cool variegated wash to start suggesting light around the trees and blue sky reflected on firs in the background. I see a rainbow of colors in this photo, so ended up with that. Tried to keep the foreground warm; cools recede, warms come forward. The first wash was about a #3 on the value scale.
After drying, I applied more variegated washes with suggestions of shadowed patterns in the background with an occasional hit of light. Around a value #6-7. Then darks, merging and mingling colors and added a couple calligraphic brush marks suggesting limbs. I always vary colors on each pass, which adds movement and variety. Darkest areas hit around a #9 on the value scale. A few darks can add a lot of punch and create a little irradiation which helps make it glow.

Give it go, see what you come up with!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

QoR Watercolors

I decided to try the High Chroma sample pack of the new QoR watercolors by Golden. This painting was a test run to see how they behave. It's almost done entirely with that pack of colors with the exception of adding in some DS Ultramarine turquoise and Quin sienna for darks. I really like these QoR watercolors. I like them so much I'll be switching over to some of their colors over time.
In comparing with DS they are subtly different in shade. Some more than others. For instance Quinacridone magenta is brilliant and intense compared to Daniel Smith's. QoR's Cobalt teal is a little darker and more granular then DS's. But I think it's biggest difference is it's behavior. The paint seems to disperse more easily, releasing tendrils of pigment into wet areas. You can see this behavior in the upper right corner pinkish violet area. There's also a depth to it that's difficult to articulate. Something about the way it interacts and mixes with other pigments. This was painted on arches hot press 140 lb. which can feel like a sponge at times, but this paint seems to glide on. I'm really looking forward to getting to know this paint better.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Some Flowers

Playing around with keeping it wet and allowing the paint to flow.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Black Swan and Australian Roses

What a wonderful name for a Noodler's ink. It makes me visualize a swan, dark and elegant floating with red roses on a shaded pond. It's a lovely, transparent, gem-like color. Shades nicely when written. I tried it out last night on this sketch in my Punjab watercolor sketchbook. A very rough paper that's difficult to draw on with a pen. Though it was a struggle to draw, I love the effect of this ink with watercolors. It bleeds a magenta. Usually I prefer warm reds like Noodler's Cayenne. That color has a hint of brown. But this is nice and think I'll stick with it for awhile. Unfortunately the formula for this ink was changed to a more purple color. Probably equally as lovely. This is the old formula.

Messy and spontaneous Valentine Flowers with wine...

Monday, February 9, 2015

Around the World Blog Hop

My thanks go out to Sue Pownall in the UK for nominating me to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop. Please visit her blog and website to check out her beautiful ink line art.

How it works: A blogger answers 4 questions then invites another 1-3 bloggers to answer the questions on their own blog the following Monday. Here goes...

What am I working on? 
A number of things such as planning watercolor classes and getting my studio and house ready to have them here. I’m starting with two this month, Beginning Watercolor and Watercolor Basics. Teaching forces me to examine my own and other artist's picture making processes and techniques. Also relearn all the basics, try to merge them with my own techniques and bring some clarity to them for lesson plans. It's incredibly rewarding to see people develop their skills and creativity. And I learn so much from my students.

A gouache experiment

Gouache and watercolor study for
a future painting.

On the art front, I’ve been playing around with watercolor, oils and doing more sketching. I really enjoy painting and drawing on location anywhere. Whidbey Island is the perfect place for it with it’s beautiful scenery and venues. Lately, I’ve been combining gouache and transparent watercolor.

An oil painting in progress.

In addition to watercolor and sketching I'm working on a series of landscape paintings in oils. It's a nice change of pace from watercolors. For me, it's a more difficult medium than watercolor because brush strokes are more deliberate and stay where you put them. Brush technique is important. It's a very sensuous medium that makes my mind churn with ideas. I'm excited to learn more about using it. The summer before last I spent a good amount of time plein air painting with oils and plan on getting out there this year, when the weather is better.


How does my work differ from others of my genre?
Making pictures is like handwriting. I guess it's the way I make my marks and apply the paint and print the block. All my works vary in style, techniques and mediums. They influence each other and dovetail together. Block printing, over the course of years, has influenced my watercolor and vise versa. I apply ink to the plate like I’m using a brush, dipping in different colors, and I apply watercolor washes in layers, blocking in like I’m cutting negative and positive areas out of a block.

Why do I create what I do? 
Because I'm inspired by what's around me and I want to share what I see. It's challenging. And the pleasures of picture making are endless. I'm in a constant state of learning and enjoy the in-the-moment creative process. I’m spellbound by the subject, the marks, the paint, the newness and the unique qualities of every picture. The result is a record of the event and the process of making it.

How does my creating process work? 
It starts with a subject I'm inspired by and I think has potential. That's often landscapes because I'm awed by it. People and animals too. I enjoy their forms. I consider all the elements of picture making; light and shadow, form, line, texture, composition, values, color, etc., and how to interpret the subject on a piece of paper. Do I want it graphic or volumetric? For me the subject suggests the medium and how to handle it. If it's a block print there's some planning involved such as deciding on color, then which color on which block and the order of printing. But I try not to labor over it because I enjoy spontaneity and all the surprises. I'm also motivated by the joy of playing around and learning the technical aspects of a medium. For instance with watercolor, understanding pigments and their behaviors such as granulation and trying to exploit those. They're all experiments to me. The End!

My nomination goes to Laura Frankstone, AKA laurelines, who’s work I’ve admired and followed for many years. Be sure to catch her Around the World Blog Hop post on Monday, February 16th. It’s sure to amaze! 

Thanks again, Sue! 


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sketching at Good Cheer

I joined Whidbey Island Sketchers for sketching at Good Cheer 2, our local thrift shop. I thought, oh what fun it'd be to sketch some shoes. The boots were colorful and looked simple enough. Well, rain boots are not so easy. They're clunky but subtle in shape. I messed it up so brought it home and tried fixing the it with some gouache.  It's okay. But it's always fun sketching stuff at Good Cheer.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Watercolor Classes!

My watercolor classes are beginning in mid February. Watercolor Basics is ongoing for as long as students sign up. Classes will be held at my studio in Clinton. We're going to have fun splashing about! Join us!

Beginning Watercolor

Have you long admired watercolor paintings and wanted to learn how to paint with this beautiful medium? Nothing compares to it's luminous, gem-like qualities, and it's spontaneous and interactive nature. Come learn all the basics to get you started. You'll learn about the different brushes and their uses, papers, paper surfaces, pigments, color, mixing and laying washes. This class is for the absolute beginner and those that want to dust off their old equipment and refresh their knowledge.

2 sessions
Thursdays, Feb. 19 & 26
$100  4 seats available

Watercolor Basics

Ahhh watercolor! Nothing matches it's luminous colors, spontaneity and gem-like qualities. If you already know the basics of watercolor and are looking to expand your knowledge, come join my watercolor classes. We'll have fun exploring this beautiful, interactive medium. I'll guide you through the study of it's glorious natures, splashing and playing with washes; flat, graded, variegated, wet on wet, wet on dry, negative and positive painting, and 3 step glazing. We'll also explore texturing such as dry brush, splattering, scraping, salt, sponging and resist. And of course, brushwork. It's an ongoing class, there's so much to learn!

4 sessions
Tuesdays, 10am-12:30pm
Feb. 17, 24, Mar. 3, 10
$120  Full


Thursday, June 26, 2014

All Kinds of Strong

Is there an illustrator or artist that doesn't dream of illustrating a children's book? Probably, but it's always been a dream of mine and I finally had the privilege of illustrating one. The book is titled "All Kinds of Strong" written by Sharon Reiss Baker and published by Amazon. It's a wonderful story about a little girl named Sadie Rose, smaller than most, that has a very big and a very strong heart. It takes place in a Jewish farming community. It's also about community and what it means to live in one. You can read more about it here:
Check it out here. Don't forget to buy a copy for your children or grandchildren!

Here are a few illustrations from the book:

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Critters on the Couch

A quick sketch. I used a Pentel brush pen filled with Noodler's Cayenne water soluble ink for the line work.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Roaming Radish

Here's a few sketches from our Whidbey Island Sketchers meet a couple weeks ago at the Roaming Radish in Freeland. Having eaten there before, I knew they had fantastic food. All organic and local grown. It was delicious! And I really appreciate their numerous vegan selections. 

First I sat at the bar...   

Then huddled in the hall next to the kitchen.

Later got in a few more sketches of customers and wait staff.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Figure Painting, Session 4

In my fourth figure drawing session our model was scheduled to pose for 3 hours so I thought I'd tackle it with oils. I went into the session with a plan to keep it simple by focusing on basic shapes of light and shadow and not worry about details such as a likeness or individual toes, etc. And also to release myself from the outcome and simply play. I've practiced that through regular sketching on location and have become a process junkie. It's the experience. That's the gold nugget. The real pleasure. And if something works it's frosting on the cake. Letting go gives me license to explore and allow a drawing or painting to become an individual as it evolves. I'm creating to seek understanding through questions. I read an interesting blog post at Roz Wound Up by Roz Stendahl, one of my favorite blogging artists. She wrote about drawing and the questions that motivate us to draw and what drawing leads to. It made me wonder what questions artists and myself ask while creating. What do I seek to understand? These questions are very individual and I think they define our personal styles. It's a form of truth seeking. Personally, I'm not interested in flashy and stylish brush strokes. I like grit and directness. Playfulness. A raw, immediate response to what I'm seeing. It's easy to be seduced by techniques, yet we can't escape them, so it's a dance. In the end the picture contains the whole experience and all the questions that lead to the decisions that made it.

Angela in oils... 

The Questions
While painting Angela, I'm in a room with other artists engrossed in their own questions and understandings. There's a synergy in the group that's fueling. Model, artists, drawings. My internal conversation: How is the model sitting? What's her attitude? Shoulder angle opposed the hip angle? She's looking up a bit, I see under her nose. I try to feel the action. What color should I draw with? Where do I want to place the figure in the picture frame? What happens when I thin this blue oil to a watery consistency and apply it to the background? What happens when I paint another thicker color on top, scumble it, drag it dry? How does the model's leg move toward me? What kind of brush stroke conveys that? There's bone under that flesh, a structure, remember that. How does the light and shadow fall across the figure as a whole? And in parts? How do I depict that so it reads? What's that reflected color? How can I punch up these values? Don't let mud happen! This area is unfinished, how can I keep it consistent with the rest? Does that edge move this way? No, that way. Those are just a few of my questions and I've only scratched the surface! What are yours when you paint and draw?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tin Palette Studies and a Tip!

In my efforts to create a mud-free travel palette I did some color mixing studies. As I had mentioned in a previous post, the colors in my palette were Hansa yellow, Azo orange, Quin red, Cobalt blue, Cobalt teal, Diopside genuine, Quin gold deep, Raw sienna, Burnt umber and Lunar black. I didn't do mixes with Azo orange since I'm considering switching it out with Pyrrol orange. Or Lunar black. One could create endless studies with the colors that fit in this little Altoid tin palette!

I decided to remove Raw sienna and add Quinocridone sienna. It makes outstanding oranges when mixed with Quin gold deep, and also a nice transparent deep brown when mixed with Cobalt blue. Quin sienna is very versatile. It's also powerful in intensity. Since I can create fairly decent deep values with colbalt blue and Quin sienna, I removed Lunar black.

Here are additional studies with colors I'm considering: Hansa yellow, Anthraquinoid Scarlet, Pyrrol orange, Quin sienna, quin gold deep and Cobalt violet. Some interesting mixes.

I decided to add cobalt violet because I just can't live without a violet in my palette. So for now I've settled on Hansa yellow, Quin red, Pyrrol orange, Cobalt blue, Cobalt teal, Cobalt violet deep, Quin sienna, Diopside genuine and Quin gold deep. 

Here's a neat trick!
I found this brilliant trick (somewhere on flickr) for attaching pans to the tin using self sticking magnets on the bottom of the pans. So I bought a roll of magnetic tape and cut pieces to size. It comes in sheets too. At first I was skeptical they'd be strong enough to hold, but they do. Works great! Makes colors interchangeable with a click. No sticky stuff to deal with.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Winter Sunset

While out walking the dog this evening I did a couple sketches of the sunset over the Olympic Peninsula. I took my Altoid tin palette, two small sketchbooks (3.5"x5.5" and a 5"x8") and water brushes in a small satchel. Zoey, my dog, didn't seem to mind waiting while I worked. There was a deep carpet of leaves to lay on and the temps are a bit warmer than it's been. The sunset was something to behold. Incredible color on clouds, reflecting on water and constantly changing.
I made some changes to my tin colors after doing color studies this morning. I'll be posting about that in a day or so. I'm much happier now with my orangey reds and purpley blues!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sketching at Ebey Bowl

The Whidbey Island Sketchers met at Ebey Bowl in Coupeveille last week. A wonderfully retro place. So fun! Do check out WISk's fabulous sketches!

A few sketches from later that evening at Greenbank Grille:

A Little Night Drawing

I weathered the cold on a walk at dusk and did this little sketch of the road in the woods. It was getting dark fast and I could hardly see what I was putting down, but that's part of the excitement. I enjoy coming home to view the results. Not thrilled with this one, but oh well.

This little palette is what I took. A year or so ago I spray painted a little Altoid tin with the intent of turning it into a pocket travel palette. I set it aside until I saw my sketching friend's little tins and was inspired to put it together. The tin contains Hansa yellow, Quin red, Cobalt blue, Diopside green, Cobalt teal, Raw sienna, Quin burnt orange, Burnt umber, Azo orange and Lunar black. All are Dan Smith. Handy little palette! Covers the color wheel nicely. I'm not a huge fan of Quin red but it mixes up very nice violets, so I didn't add a violet of any kind. It mixes a decent orange too, but sometimes I want a pure punch of it, so added the Azo. I'll work with that for awhile but will change it out soon for my favorite, Pyrrol orange. It's fairly opaque, which has advantages at times.

Water brushes, fleece and fuzzy gloves.

Later that evening I decided to try sketching outside again but this time with my headlamp on. Brrrr!

I tried to capture the moon and it's beautiful light through the clouds and tree...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Figure Drawing, Session 3

We had an outstanding model at our last drawing session. She has lovely features and dressed in an interesting costume of a black skirt, frilly gauzy top and black stiletto boots. I tried to suggest her tattoos and not go over board on them.

I started with charcoal:

Then moved to watercolor:

I have mixed feelings about long poses. I much prefer doing gestures and quick 20 minutes to keep things fresh. But, admittedly, longer poses give more opportunity to study. And more opportunity to overwork it. So I draw the same pose a couple times.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sketching at Senior Thrift

Spent an afternoon sketching with the Whidbey Island Sketchers at Senior Thrift in Freeland. This is from a couple weeks back.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

More Figure Drawing

Even though our model didn't show, our drawing group managed by drawing each other. I must say we have an interesting group of noses. I find noses wonderful subjects. They come in so many subtle shapes and sizes.
Drawing that evening was excruciatingly difficult for some reason. It felt like I couldn't see and feel the forms, so I tried drawing the same subject over and over.
Here are some drawings from the last session...




The many hands of Faye.

An unfinished drawing of Judith