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Monthly Archives: October 2010





The above images were created for a Halloween challenge offered by Beth Parker.  Other artists’ work, who have participated in this challenge,  may be viewed by clicking on the links posted in her comment section on Beth’s post, here.

I created both of these images by drawing in waterproof  black ink, either with an eye dropper or a nib. I spritzed the ink with water while it was still wet. I allowed for some dripping of ink on the devil. I painted each of them in watercolor after the ink had dried. The glitter was attached  using acrylic matte medium. The devil’s background was created by flooding the background area with water and brushing in ink around the outer  edges of the paper. While the paper was still wet, I brushed in fire engine red and alizarin crimson watercolor into the background. This created the flame-like effects there.



There is a beautiful little dogwood tree growing in the midst of the tall trees lining the drive leading to the spot where I have currently been painting. This is a loose and fairly quick painting of this little tree. I had spattered some frisket on a piece of Arches paper last week and didn’t want to waste it. That start became a dogwood tree in fall color.

This painting was both tedious and FUN!!! Our Watercolor Plus class worked with wax resist this week.  This class is studying many of the different things that an artist can do with watercolor. We discussed wax resist, sgrafitto (scratching into the painting and salt effects). I drew the scene in graphite, first. Next I pulled out a box of crayons and went to work with yellows, reds and orange crayons. Yes, we used regular old crayons. You can also use candles in various sizes to rub wax on your paper.  This crayoning is the most tedious as you really have to use elbow grease as you apply the color.  Err on the side of applying too much. I always lose some of the wax under the pigment. The other thing to watch out for is that color and value needs to be considered. The artist must paint with either a darker value or a complimentary color to the wax in order for it to show up.  Once the wax is on, the remainder of the painting is painted as a watercolor much like one that does not include the wax.  The trees blackish gray color was achieved with a mixture of violet, june bug, and earthen green pigments. I then dropped salt into them for the textured effect.

This scene is from the corner near the property where I have been painting. I really liked the colors and the broken down gate.

This week I started a new beginning watercolor class.  We talked about our supplies and how to use them. When we started to paint, we practiced wet-in wet applications of pigment:

  We learned that our colors would look different if we mixed them on the palette than if we applied them to the wet surface of the paper. Palette mixing rendered a flat color and mixing colors on the paper allowed for the pigments to mix with the help of the water and often appeared vibrant. We learned how to encourage the creation of cauliflowers by dropping in extra water as the wash began to dry.

We practiced drybrushing by using very little water and more of a creamy consistency of pigment :

  We angled our brushes and dragged them across the paper. We commented how this would be a nice technique to use for barn siding, fencing and any area where we may need to add texture.

We practiced painting wet on dry:

    We decided this would be best used to create detail areas in our paintings.

In order to be able to concentrate on these skills, for a week, they were asked to paint a monochromatic painting using one color, only, and build their watercolor from light to dark.


Monochromatic Studies

This was a painting I did last Saturday during that spell of nice warm weather we have had.  These two cottonwoods stand on the southeast  shore of the pond. They stood out starkly against the backdrop of the woods.  They each had a few large yellow leaves clinging to the ends of their branches.  The leaves actually flickered as the breeze tossled them every once in awhile.  No hawk today. Caught a glimpse of him as I drove up. He flew from a tree into the woods. I soon found out why. The entire time I sat and painted I could hear gunshots going off from several types of guns. Must have been target practicing. I can’t imagine the amount of ammo they went through. Sounds like that are enough to quiet a woods.

I drew the above drawing in a life drawing session about 2 years ago.  Every once in awhile, I enjoy taking a line drawing, like this, and creating a painting from it.  The drawing was smaller than what I wanted so I  placed the acrylic cross hairs I use to lay over a photo and laid it on top of my drawing.  I discussed this in this previous post. I then drew the two cross hair lines on a larger format watercolor paper and re-drew the lines  of the drawing. This enlarged my image.

Knowing that I would need to stay focused to paint this image using my imagination, I  opted to play some sort of music in the background. The figure appeared rather restful and contemplative, so I chose two CDs of  Adagios. One was Mozart and the other Vivaldi.

I followed what I had learned in my workshop this summer about carving out a pathway of light along the figure’s form and allowing that to remain the white of the paper.  I chose colors that seemed to fit the music I was listening to as well as the mood of the figure.  The above painting is what I ended up with.

It seemed only fitting that I post a drawing and a portrait painting, today, as my first session classes ended tonight and they were in  Beginning Drawing  and Watercolor Portrait.  You may view some of the students’ work here

Thank-you to all my students who contributed to the Student Art Page.

Several years ago I was asked to paint a portrait of a friend’s two pets. One of them was a black poodle and I struggled both with finding a way to make the eyes appear from the black face and the fact that I had not used black watercolor before. I read about the use of blacks in books and found that much of what was said was to use black in conjunction with another color.  That is what I did, here.

Later, I learned about using primary colors to create black. That is what I did to create the above image of a holstein cow.  I allowed the three colors to mingle on the paper as well as mixed it in my palette to create the effects above.

Then I read a blog post about an artist who only worked in black and white watercolor. Try as I might, I have not been able to locate that post or artist through googling but he rendered incredible scenes using black and white watercolor. They were mostly night scenes, many of which were of highways and cities.  I forgot about this artist until Eva posted a watercolor in black, here. Thank-you, Eva. You sent me on a journey that has been very rewarding and informative for me.

I chose a the above blacks made by Winsor Newton, ivory, lamp, mars and neutral tint to create my black paintings. For white, I chose American Journey titanium white.

The first painting I chose to do was from a photo of clouds that I had taken. I learned that black watercolor worked very well to create a monochromatic painting. I was able to create depth and manipulate the different blacks to achieve just what I had in color, before. It did not look flat if handled like any watercolor.  I will say that had I only used ONE of the above blacks, I would not have been able to build up the values as well and this may have appeared much flatter. I also was intrigued with the difference of mood a black watercolor brought across. Very somber.

The next image I chose was a photo taken by Bigsurkate. Thank-you, Kate, for allowing me to work from your photo!  I had noticed that when I added the titanium white to the black, I came up with a foggy and opaque gray. I worked the background behind the crow in wet and wet with ivory and mars black (very diluted) and allowed it to dry. I then went back in with the titanium white, wet-in-wet, and created the foggy appearance.  I really like the contrast of that opaque white with the rail the bird is perched on as well as the whites I left on him.

For my last study I chose a photo reference that Carol and her husband sent  after I inquired about what a big snow looked like in New York City.  Kaiya, their dog, was not in the photo. I added that from another photo. Thank-you, Carol and husband, for the references!  What prompted my wanting to try this was a little original watercolor card that my sister had sent me a year ago. That artist had painted a snow scene in black of skyscrapers in the background and park bench in foreground. On the park bench was a Christmas gift and it was the only thing in color. I really was impressed with the contrast. Thus, the inclusion of Kaiya, in color, to see if I could achieve the same effect. I used no white in the city scene. The white is the white of the paper.

What this involved study showed me was that we are not limited, at all, by what to use to create.  Even though I like the richness of the blacks that other colors make, I also am intrigued with the somber scenes created in black and white.

To all my students out there that I have warned about black and white!  Have fun! See what you can do with it!

And Henn! That goes for Paynes gray, TOO!!!!!