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Monthly Archives: August 2011

The above painting came from a reference photo that I took one evening (several years ago) about four miles north of where I live.  There is a large Amish community in this area and I was out and about gathering photos of scenes I wanted to paint. The “Holstein” painting I posted, last year, came from this excursion. This was painted on toned masa paper glued to the illustration board. Yay! Only one more, adhered to illustration board, and I am running back to glueing my masa to Arches coldpress. 🙂   What I have learned is that I have to know where I am going with the illustration board. It does not accept the layers and the colors that the Arches does. Think two layers and I am OK, but these paintings do look different.

*Note: Recently, my free time has been eaten up by other matters. Free time is when I paint. For the time being, my time online is limited but I will post when I have something new to share and will visit all of you at that time and look forward to the time I can pick up speed once again!!!!   🙂



I have always wanted to try a wave crashing along a rocky shoreline. I found the reference photo for this painting on the Wet Canvas site for artists and stashed it away for awhile, intimidated by the abstract quality of it.  Everything was pretty much like painting any other painting as long as I was mindful of the values. The splatter was added, first by tapping a #4 round loaded with titanium white around the crest of the wave and then rubbing the bristles of a toothbrush in some creamy titanium white and aiming it at the wave and drawing my thumb back across the bristles (creamy white consistency or it will drip) like pictured below:

Be sure to place paper over the areas of the painting that you don’t want spattered.

Yes. I am becoming more comfortable using white watercolor in my paintings. The more I read, the more I see it documented. There is nothing that compares with the glow of white paper showing through but, sometimes, using white enhances certain paintings. Some rules I follow when using white are:

1. I use a different waterglass to rinse my white brush in. It is so opaque that it can contaminate other colors.

2. I usually use it towards the end of a painting as it bleeds into other colors and lightens them more than is desirable

3. I only use it in paintings where I want an opaque white appearance or can’t determine how to save the white of the paper.

   click to enlarge

The above painting is of a view of a home behind my house, while peering through the branches on my large maple tree. There are other homes in my subdivision, but you would not think so looking at this piece. Painting this caused me to think of how an artist can control imagery to create a different feel of an area than what is actually there. I like that. I framed this scene in by making a four sided viewfinder with my hands, thumbs and index fingers touching. I moved that home-made viewfinder around until I found this view.  I set these items to my masa paper with a graphite line drawing, first, and then defined the scene  by trying to replicate the lights and darks I saw in it.

I must note that I used toned masa paper to paint on and I tried something new. I glued the masa to coldpress Crescent board. I wanted to try this surface as the board is sturdier than the 140 lb coldpress Arches I usually use. I will not use this support after completing three others that I have already glued down. The illustration board does not take the pigment with ease and I had to work painstakingly with my layers to achieve my darks. It does offer up a different look than my other masa paper paintings, however.  I am thinking the coldpress paper on this board must not have been very thick nor very absorbent. That is my best guess. …but someone just starting out with the masa paper painting might abandon the technique very quickly with this support as it requires a lot more patience and diligence to work on  than  Arches 140lb coldpress paper.

I will reserve the Crescent illustration board that I have remaining as a support for my citrasolve collage work.

How to prepare masa paper here.

I have two people to thank .  Without them, this image would not have occurred. It has been about a year ago, now,  that I received an email from Anne Michelsen of Bright Spirit Studio found here. She had read how much I enjoyed painting horses and offered me several photos of these lovely Belgian draft horses. Thank you Anne!

The other thank you goes to a dear friend that I paint with. We were together painting last weekend and I took the drawing of the above painting, along with the reference. When she viewed the reference she asked me if I was going to make the background the red featured in the reference. I said, “Oh no. That would look rather garish, don’t you think?” She replied she just loved the color and thought it would make an interesting finished painting. I worked on the horses’ heads and harness and was only about a fifth of the way done with this when I left that day. Her suggestion haunted me as I continued with the painting for she often has interesting vision and takes on art.  So, on Wednesday evening, with a surge of confidence, I painted RED! Oh my….was  it  RED!  No matter what I did which was to add harvest gold and burnt sienna,  it still came up RED, RED, RED!!!  Here’s where the painting talked.

It said, “I’m flat!”.

I said, “What?!?”


By this time, I had worked for four nights on this image and I was getting to the point I wanted it to be done. I remembered my drawing teacher telling me it is only a piece of paper and Don Andrews talking about how we cut ourselves off from learning when a painting becomes “too precious” to try something new.  I looked more carefully at the barn siding, and noticed that the red was very irregular and faded in places and there were stripes of the siding showing. Not wanting to render a background as detailed as my foreground I began to swish my brush over the red and wetting it in areas. I’d then quickly grab a paper towel and lift out what I had done.  I became interested and swished in more harvest gold and burnt sienna abstractly and went back and forth between lifting and adding until I had something that looked more like I wanted.  Just goes to show you that artists don’t often get to end up with their preconceived notion of what something should look like most of the time.  I thank Anne and my friend for this offering. I feel like the finished painting means so much more for the gifts along the way.

Belgians are the most commonly seen breed of draft horses we see the Amish use in this area of Indiana.

Debby Frisella talks about the color red here.

The above painting was inspired by a poem  and painting that Val Erde offered up to writers, photographers and artists here.  Her poem is titled Tree.  As I read it, much more came through for me than a singular tree. I thought about all trees. I then thought about us as many of the words she chose, in this poem, had a human quality and then an animal quality. At that point, it dawned on me that the feeling I had and thought  was that of every living thing and what we face, this lifetime, this existence.  I chose to begin abstractly and create a piece with no reference other than her poem and the things it spoke to me.  I added rice papers and more color as I built my story of a lifetime here. When I scrolled furthur, I saw her digital painting that did have a humanesque form as well as a tree form and that was all she wrote. I was off and running. I don’t want to bore you with everything I thought as I created this as I believe an artform can mean many things more than what the artist is feeling. I will tell you that even the colors and shapes I chose spoke something of life here. I have titled this painting Renewal.

Many other artists have tagged their responses to this challenge in her comment section. You can view them by clicking on the tags the individual artists have left there.