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 click to enlarge

Yesterday it snowed all day.  To celebrate the occasion, my Granddaughter and I sat down to do an art project. I recently purchased a wonderful book titled “ The Usborne Complete Book of ART Ideas” by Fiona Watt. My Granddaughter has paged through it, daily, and selected exercises she has wanted to try. She is 4 and a half (it is important to note the half, she says).  She has been fascinated with drawing homes and buildings, lately.  One section had a lovely example of city buildings that could be rendered using wax resist and watercolor and she asked if she could do that. We, first drew rectangles in pencil using a ruler and discussing the shapes we were creating. Yes. I have to help her hold the ruler and guide her. This is an exercise that I sit right next to her and help her with as she goes and is one that we do a little and come back to. Her attention span is back and forth. She then colored in the rectangles with different colored crayons and added the moon and the stars with crayons. In the next step, we mixed a large amount of prussian blue  watercolor and another container with a large amount of harvest gold (quin gold). She covered the sky and a portion of the buildings with prussian blue and finished the buildings with harvest gold using a large flat watercolor brush. We then allowed that to dry.  In the next step, she looked at the reference in the book and drew in her windows, doors, steps, and fences using a black crayon. To finish our snow day painting, she spattered the snow in with a round brush and white acrylic gesso.

After she went home, I decided to paint my own “snow day” painting.

One of my students  loaned a book to me that had a technique in it that I had not tried before. He thought I might like to see what I could do with it. Thank-you, Henn!  The book is “Painting Buildings in Watercolor”  by Ranulph Bye.  To enhance texture in brick and cobblestone and stone, he uses a technique with oil paint and turpentine.  He masks off everything that he does not want to texture with frisket paper. He then mixes three colors of oil paint with turpentine and splatters each color separately onto a pre-wet (with water) area that he wishes to texture. I do not have oil paints but have waterbased oils and turpenoid. I decided to texture an entire piece of watercolor paper using this technique. I mixed, separately, prussian blue, raw sienna, and sepia with some turpentine and splattered them onto my pre wet 140 lb coldpressed watercolor paper.  I took it one step further and dragged my flat brush through the paint splatters. The above is what I achieved. Believe me, this is horrendous compared to the beautiful texture that the author of the above book achieved. I liked it, though, and saw a painting wanting to be brought forward.  I went in search of  winter landscape photo references on wet canvas and came up with two that I liked that I thought had compositions similar to what I saw in my splatters.

 click to enlarge

The above is the painting that came from my textured paper . What I really liked about this is the fog was already there due to the texturing and I just filled in all the negative shapes that were darker in value.  I splattered titanium white watercolor with a toothbrush to finish.


  1. Oh what a delightful way to spend the day with your grand daughter, and to have such a beautiful painting emerge is exquisite.

    And the one you did of the lane? It is so beautiful. I am really in love with it!

    • Hi Kate,
      Oh. It was great that she takes such interest in these things. We have been creating paintings and tracings and glueings and such projects since she was two, but just recently she has pulled out her sketchbook and colored pencils or markers and wanted to spend time alone with drawing and coloring. She will even ask me how to draw things or can I find her a picture of a certain thing so she can draw it. I am LUCKY!
      The lane looks very much like northern Indiana. Thank-you, Kate!

  2. What fun! It would make a fabulous Holiday Greeting Card!

    • Thank-you, Chris. I thought the same thing! That may just happen!

  3. You two did a great job on these. You must of really enjoyed the time with her. 🙂

    • I enjoy time spent with her everyday! We have been buddies since shortly after she was born. I wish my other two Granddaughters lived near so that I could share times like this with them, also. Thank-you, Debbie! 🙂

  4. You have a wonderful developing Urban Sketcher in your granddaughter, Leslie! I am having a hard time figuring out which artwork from this post I like better. Upon a consideration I think I prefer hers :D! Great colors!

    Your new technique produced magical results, I am very taken with the fog and the mood in your painting – lovely!

    • I totally agree with you, Alex. Her painting has character and is unique! Plus! She told me who lived behind each window and if they had pets or not. She told me about their jobs and if they were nice or “crabby”. That kind of personalized that one for me! 🙂

  5. Lovely, It would make a beautiful Holiday Greeting Card!
    Loved your creative work 🙂
    Marinela X

    • Thank-you, Marinela. I think I am going to print out a few of the Granddaughter’s to use. 🙂 Loved your snow poem!

  6. Wow, your snow landscape is exquisite! S is so lucky to have you, you have to be the best grandmother ever. She is going to be quite the artist.

    • Thank-you, Jay! You would not believe S. She actually gets her colored pencils out and draws by herself a lot! I think she really enjoys it! If for nothing else, the time spent sharing things she can do in art will give her skills to fill her free time with in the future. What fun!

  7. It must have been a great time spent with your granddaughter, she certainly has taken after you in art 🙂 It was like you talking to me through this post and I enjoyed learning about yuur technique Leslie!

    • Once I get a better handle on this oil paint and turpenoid splatter texturing, Padmaja, I’ll try to post a step-by-step. It is really new to me. We had great fun with her cityscape! Thank-you, Padmaja. 🙂

  8. Hey Leslie – what a precious story – told with all the care of the day. And the buildings just sparkle – what a lovely painting. I love the snow painting as well – the process sounds hectic but the result is just like a snowy day (from the few I have ever seen)
    This is a warm, loving posting – thank you.
    The paintings should hang side by side somewhere

    • What a wonderful idea, Stephen. I had thought to maybe frame hers but maybe she would like them both. 🙂 Good idea.
      I will try a few more with the oil paint texturing and see if I can improve on it a little. It doesn’t take long to do. It is sort of like texturing paper for a painting to go on. I could have some made up ahead of time or actually use the technique only for the side of a textured building. More exploring is called for, but I did like it. I don’t think I could have achieved as good and effect just by painting the scene in watercolor. Thank-you, Stephen!

  9. Thanks for sharing your grandaughter’s talent and personage! Imagine what a difference it will make to her paintings if she maintains that ability to “know” what’s behind it all.

    What a joy to read about and to see the unique effects. I was amazed at how little detail actually exists in your painting when it is enlarged.
    Reminds me of a print I have of a Reubens sketch. It’s a bearded man resting his chin on the back of his fingers. When I look closely at the drawing, it is impossible to see anything but a scribble where the chin and hand meet. Yet…it’s all there and so clear from a distance.

    • I love what you talked about with the Reubens sketch. That is what is fascinating about mark making! Sometimes the simplest lines or values say so much! …and you are right, Amy, the texturing holds much of the snow scene. I just painted the dark values in and spattered some white…
      Thank-you for this lovely comment!

  10. He he, love the painting.. and love how you talk so tenderly about the little girl’s attention span!! Tell me about it 😉 The 6 year old is not any day older than her, or so it seems! And as I am skimming through your post, ‘real’ snow flakes on your site!! Oh, the holiday season is definitely here!!

    • You know you can have snow on your site, too, I think. Go to your dashboard admin page and click on extras under appearance in that column down the left hand side. There is an option there for falling snow till Jan 4th. Click on that box and hit update. Voila! Snow on blog! 🙂
      Love your comment about the attention span. Do you remember being young and the days seemed so long? No wonder, we were jumping from task to task in minutes and were able to complete hundreds in one day! Ha! Thank-you, Rachana.

      • Thanks Leslie, I made it ‘snow’ at mine after seeing it first on Jamie’s, your new friend 🙂
        Agree, even we as adults seem to have short attention span, my to-do list is 10 pages long, go figure! BTW, the little one who is 2 tries to emulate his brother at 6, and single handedly operates the Phone and all his rhymes and cartoon applications without prompting.. AND I got my first computer at 20! So, I will just console myself thinking it is a multi-tasking generation!! Oh no, let me stop here, I am taking away the Christmas paintings’ spirit with my oratory bore.. 😉

      • Ha! I know!……and I got my first computer at 57! 🙂

  11. Every time you explore some new method you create wonderful art, Leslie. You and your granddaughter are very blessed in each other. Peace.

  12. Your granddaughter’s painting is beautiful! I love that you paint with her 🙂 It reminds me of all the art projects I’ve done with my grandma. It’s wonderful. Love your snowy painting too. I can really feel the snow falling in your scene!

    • Wow. You did art projects with your Grandma? I have so much fun sharing with her. She has begun seeing things in books she wants to try and we make an effort. Thank-you, Amber! 🙂

  13. Leslie,
    I love both the paintings. I can’t believe those “horrendous” splatters became a beautiful snowscape in the finished painting.

    • HA! I love it, Raji! Thank-you for your honesty. I love your comment! I tell my students, “When you get tangled up, just tango on.” A line I stole from “Scent of a Woman” movie. I try to follow my own advice. But your comment has raised another question in my mind, today. What if all we had to work on was splattered pieces of paper? I have seen incredible works of art on notebook paper and newspaper. Really makes me think. Thank-you for this comment! I owe you! 🙂

  14. Two beautiful paintings. I really love Syndey’s cityscape. She puts me to shame! and you are the best grandma ever!

    I love, love, love your first snow painting. I can feel the coolness and the mistiness of the snow. This is really beautiful.

    • Puts you to shame? Me too!!!! I am constantly learning from her free spirit. She embraces things she sees that she wants to do. Someone hasn’t made her feel she is “not capable” yet. I hope that never happens, of course. She teaches me a lot about just letting go and having fun and I feel I am learning from her.
      Thank-you, I hope this first texture painting isn’t beginner’s luck.I’m going to splatter a few more to have “in waiting”.

  15. snowing nonstop here.. :0)

  16. All of these are beautiful, Leslie, including your granddaughter. How fun!

    I find the descriptions of technique quite interesting.

    Thanks for posting all. Wonderfu! Just wonderful. I’m in love.

    • Thank-you, Jamie. These were fun to create. Now it has been snowing and snowing, everyday. I hope, in our exuberance to welcome in the first snow, we didn’t add to the energy behind this front! 🙂

  17. Your command of color has always impressed me and it looks that gene/seed has obvious definition in your granddaughter. Jealous of the snow all day, however 😦

    • Hi Bbrasseaux!
      Thank-you for this. My Granddaughter is loving receiving comments for her hard work. Snow? Again today. ….and I guess this week end may turn out to be a front with heavy snow. So far, I have been able to handle it with a shovel but the snowblower is ready!!!! 🙂

  18. This is such a cool technique and it came out beautifully in your art!! I wish I had time to experiment with all the fun stuff you do, Leslie! You are always learning and I love that! Your Granddaughter’s painting is excellent, too! Fun!

    • Thank-you, Beth. You can store this information and use it later when you do have free time? I would assume you could also splatter with diluted acrylics to get a similar effect and paint in watercolor over the top, also. I am constantly looking for new techniques to share with my students and this is one I will probably include next year. It makes it all the more special that a student found it and brought it in for me to try. I am all too conscious of the fact that there are numerous ways to express ourselves on a format and I strive to meet all the artists’ needs who come to class to learn. I guess that is why I explore so much!

  19. You give me an idea on how to spend and at the same time teach my son on how to draw. This is really an excellent exercise to begin with but i need to wait for another year before i could try it out. The snow effect on your painting is great, like you have said the misty is just natural.

    • Hi Francis,
      I started with my Granddaughter on simple projects when she was two. At first, it was a way to pass the time together. Now she is inquisitive about all the different ways she can create. Thank-you for this comment.

  20. Lovely Leslie. I too know how difficult it can be to keep their attention at such a young age. I draw with my boys all the time, but we’ve never tried anything so creative. I’m going to show them this picture, I know they’ll be inspired! Another great post!

    • Check into that Usborne book of art ideas, Keith. Maybe look for it in a bookstore or your library. I am as intrigued with what it offers as my Granddaughter is. It isn’t just that they are simple ideas because they are not, but it is filled with fine art ideas and not so much craft. I like that about it. We did another exercise over the last two days and modified it to meet our needs. She painted in watercolor, collaged flowers from tissue paper and used wax resist in it as well as splatter. Your boys might be equally inspired by it. Thank you, Keith!

  21. The ability to art runs in your family. 😀
    I like the moody feel you painting had.
    Great job

    • Thank-you Richard. My Granddaughter looked at my painting I was working on one day and she said,”I want to paint like that.” That was all it took to come up with childrens’ books on art that she could page through and let me know what she would like to learn, next. I hope that this will, at least, give her insight into an activity that she can use during her free time. Who knows? Perhaps this will grow into something larger for her.
      I like the mood that the oil splatter causes, also. I will be trying more of it. Thanks!

  22. Great paintings – and wonderful techniques Leslie! What a lovely memory you have given your grand daughter, and what a happy creative day you two must have had! I love the snow and fog techniques too – those two are very atmospheric! Great post!

    • Guess what, Lynda? You have been saying how much some of my recent paintings would be great for Christmas cards? Well. I couldn’t resist. I made a few from the Granddaughter’s “citysnow” piece. Looks realy good on a card! Thank-you for your comment. You have qite a bit of snow, right?

  23. Heheh great stuff Leslie! A lovely collaboration! There’s no need at all for you to buy Christmas cards when you can use your own art work – so easy to print onto card or just cut out and mount with 3d foam which will raise the print 🙂 or you could print the citysnow twice and decoupage!

    We’ve had a bit of snow – more on the way…….not a fan, always afraid of falling and breaking something 😦

    • Wow. Thanks for the different ideas for making cards. Currently I am purchasing the cards through local office depot. They have several card stocks to choose from and they print up nicely, but I like your ideas!!! I never seem to stretch my mind far enough. That’s why I need all of you! I am not a friend to snow come March when we get royally dumped on in the fickle warm/cold weather. 🙂

  24. I love all of these snow day paintings! We just had our first snow here, as well. It is so beautiful – quiets everything, like natural insulation.

    • Oh boy, I have shoveled twice. That is due to melt in .5 inches of rain starting tomorrow that will turn to freezing rain and followed by 4 inches of snow, they say. Scheduled to end on Monday. Phew!!!! I’m OK with the snow, but the rain and ice prior is always challenging. Thank-you for your comment, Jennifer!

  25. Oh I do that picture of row houses with my students from that very same book. Your granddaughter is quite talented. Your paintings are wonderful.

    • Thank-you for making yourself known, Meg! I love this book. I can see many projects for my Granddaughter as well as myself in it. The other day, we made tissue paper flowers and followed with tissue paper flamingos that the Granddaughter calls “fingos!”. So she is even coming up with ideas of other things she can use these techniques for. I think that is a good sign that this book is something special. She grabs it and looks through it for more to do each day after pre-school. Thank-you for your visit and taking time to comment.

  26. I can see you and your granddaughter working together completely at peace while the snow falls outside. That’s a nice image!

    • Thank-you, Al. I so enjoy when we both are so into what we are doing that all else, even time, passes without notice. 🙂

  27. What a beautiful drawing your granddaughter has made – the colours are so rich. It really shows too how children can be inspired & do wonderful work when they are helped by someone who loves them & can share their time& experience with them. I think that an underestimation of children’s capacities along with then providing them with sterotyped & visually unexciting images (which are often over simplified & kiddyfied) helps to create stereotypes & in children’s artwork. Very clearly not the case here! Glad you are able to be with your grandaughter.

    • I am in total agreement with you, Sonya, about underestimating childrens’ capacities. It matters that we share activities together right now. She has an interest in what those around her do. I have only taken that interest and spent time helping her with supplies, resources and technique. She has some supplies she knows she can grab and go to work on something at anytime. …and access to some books that give her incredible ideas. I wish I could be doing the same with my two that live out of town. My son has asked that I put together a tub of art supplies and this book as a gift to them this Christmas and he is going to follow up and do the same with them on his days off. It is a gift that keeps on giving all year round. Plus? A great lifetime activity for filling spare time! Thank-you for this thoughtful comment!

  28. dear leslie,

    christmas is really here with the theme straight from your paintings. i like specially the first one, that would be nice for a christmas card sent to special friends. a nice touch of the holiday spirit. simply awesome!

    • That first one was my Granddaughter’s, Marvin, and I will show her your comment tomorrow.She will be thrilled. Yes, I have used her painting for several Christmas cards this season. Thank-you! 🙂

  29. Greetings, Leslie! I’m in flux with my blog..trying to figure out how to offer as many ideas as you do to your readers and still maintain other irons in zee fire…but, thanks for this lovely piece, I’ve just ordered this book you reference for my budding artists! One day you should put out your own Leslie Book of Ideas. You and Carol King together give me a little somethin’ somethin’ each time I visit (which hasn’t been too often lately but my work crunch is over till January!)

    Anyway, thanks again!

    • Hi Pat! I have been visiting to see if you have posted and now I know you have been totally BUSY! I am glad you ordered this book. It is packed with ideas. EVEN ideas I can use with adult classes! There are a lot of supplies needed, but they can be gathered as time goes on. Thank-you for taking the time to visit. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  30. snowy pointillism – your snowy woods.

    • Exactly.
      Thank you, “Y”, for taking the time to visit and to view some of my paintings. Now you know why I visit you. Your work is so creative and by viewing it, I see the stretch that I need to absorb in order to pull a painting from those things I see. ..and then your poetry. I am an avid reader and appreciate what writers do with words. You are so very gifted in both.

      • Leslie, you are too kind. thank you for your compliments. it’d be nice though to know what to do with a paintbrush (sheepish grin).

      • Sheepish grin right back at you because I know nothing but to point and click my digital camera. I know nothing of settings or filters, etc. You rock in your artistry!

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