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This week I returned to working on Masa paper. I believe it is my favorite way to watercolor.  The crinkles seem to add that extra something to the way I paint. For a tutorial to learn how to prepare your masa paper’s surface for painting  click here and here.

The reference photo for the above painting was from the Wet Canvas Library.  I really don’t know what this farmer is doing. That is the strangest plow I’ve ever seen. It appears to have a straight blade on either side of that wooden platform the boy is sitting on. I am wondering if it is something that just makes the furrows for a garden and that is why the woman is motioning what she wants the farmer to do?  Maybe someone viewing this could give me a tip as to what that piece of equipment is.


  1. Great painting! I agree that it is an unusual plow. Usually, the seat was elevated a bit. It appears to be a rather large surface to be dragged along the ground. I’ll print up a copy and show it to my Dad. In spite of his Alzheimer’s, he still remembers growing up as a farm boy in Indiana. We find the remnants of old plows and farm equipment in the woods when we take our Thursday walks together. He usually has a great deal to say about every relic and how it compares with the equipment he used in his childhood.

    • I’ would be willing to bet your Dad would have an idea about this piece of equipment. It looked very handmade and put together with wood with the exception of the metal on the bottom of the platform. The ground area they are working on had already been broken up in the foreground and the background. That might help; like it had been plowed and leveled.
      Thank you, Chris, for the comment, this piece.
      I think you are doing a very cool thing , this way you share time with your Dad on Thursdays. I have read about some of your outings and think about how special those moments really are to him.

  2. This is wonderful. I love your masa paper watercolors, the lines add so much texture, shadows and movement.

  3. Wow the texture of the paper is so unique and gives the picture a beautiful dimension to the scene

  4. Les,
    I love the texture the masa paper provides this content in that it creates an aged affect. I find it interesting to have a posterior view of all, as if peeking into their life! Nice!

    • Good point, Nancy! I felt there was a story, here. That is why I included the woman. I think the guy behind the drag or whatever it is is actually carrying on a conversation with the other guy holding the reins and following off the page. The lady seems to be pointing or directing the whole process. Yes; a peek into their lives. Thank you!

  5. Ha! there’s is no way I could give you a head’s up as to what that farmer is doing! But I love this painting. The rich crinkles of the masa paper along with the warm colors make me want to walk right up and ask them what’s going on. I like the horses’ tails. Did you use gouache on them, they look textured.

    • 🙂 You make me laugh, Carol. Even New Yorkers would know a little of draft horses in days of old (but not now!). I imagine there was public transportation like street cars and such pulled by a team of horses. As a matter of fact there must have been liveries at one time, before cars. I’ll bet you’ve viewed photos of those days gone by in museums. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to ride a horse to work and back?
      Yes. I used white goauche and that didn’t look so good so I textured some with white acrylic. The manes are white gouache. Thank you for an awesome comment.

  6. Beautiful Leslie. I love the sunshine in it too. When I was a child; one of our neighbours worked his land with his horse (but I don’t recognise this piece of equipment). This painting makes me remember them, thank you.

    • I love it when artwork reminds a viewer of something they have seen or experienced! I think art is a great communicator. 🙂 Thank you, Hannekekoop.

  7. This is beautiful, Leslie! I love the way you paint animals and I can literally feel the sunshine’s warmth on the horses and men. My guess is that they are putting together a sleigh ride for the kids. I have even seen farmers dragging bed springs around a field to smooth land out, so there is just no telling.

    • Well, akid is actually weighting this irem down for sure. You may have something there about dragging bedsprings. This item appears “very” homemade in the reference photo. Thank you, Beth! 🙂

  8. Very, very beautiful work, Leslie! I love the details and all the extra texture because of the paper.

    • Thank you, Debbie. You know I have such fun working on this toned masa paper.

  9. I didnt have a clue that horses are used on plows! This is a unique piece and the horses are beautiful on the textured surface.I went and read the preparation of masa again.I am a little confused, so the preparation is on the rough side which is then glued to the water color paper so the final painting is on the shiny side?

    • Horses are North America’s beasts of burden. Not so much since industrialization because of tractors and combines, but the Amish still use draft horses.
      That’s right. The toning of the paper is on the rough side. Then the rough side becomes the back side that is glued to the watercolor paper so that you paint on the shiny side. However, I believe I mentioned that you can not tell the shiny side from the rough side after soaking so I mark the bottom left hand corner with a waterproof black ink dot to remind myself which side is shiny. Hope that helps, Padmaja. Thank you!

  10. These tend be my favorite pieces that you do as well, Leslie. This is just beautiful. I love the historical sense of the subject.

    • I think the historical aspect of this drew me to the reference, Sherry, as well as the story going on. Thank you for this comment. 🙂 I remember you said you recently visited Shishewana, Indiana. We see similar scenes to this, there, but not such thrown-together contraptions behind the horses.

  11. I love the texture in the masa paintings. This one is just great. Lots of action and interest. Depth… has everything.

    • Thank you so much, Gretchen. This is fast becoming one of my favorite surfaces to work on.

  12. Wow, this looks great! I’m so sorry to miss the class this summer. But the Summer Reading Program has taken over my life. But I’ll be back this Fall!

    • I don’t know how you do all that you do, Dianna. I miss you but know I will see you again come fall! 🙂 Thank you for the comment!

  13. Wow, so beautiful. It looks like something one of the old masters might have done. (I’m not calling you old!) My favorite part is that beautiful forest background, followed closely by those terrific horses. The light and shadows, and the texture of the Masa paper, just wow!

    • Can you see me smile? 🙂 Thank you for such praise.
      As for the age? I am getting on in years a bit.

  14. I love the perspective you have chosen. Seeing it all happen from the rear lets me see the power of the horses. It also reminds me of driving past an Amish farmer plowing his fields. I always wonder at the teamwork that must be required to be successful doing this. Maybe the older man was giving his grandson from the city a ride and Grandma was supervising.

    • I think you hit it on the nose, Ruth. I think I was attracted to the reference because I viewed the story from behind them. Almost as though I was just walking by or something like that. I think you have a good story going about a Grandma and Grandpa. I like that!

  15. Great painting as always, Leslie
    Love it 🙂

  16. Leslie this is beautiful – I agree with you – that paper is wonderful – if I was any good at watercolours I would definitely want to try it on that. I’ve no idea what the plough is but I love the sense of history that this piece evokes.

    • Hi Nicola,
      You are good with inks. You could crinkle this paper, soak it, glue it on watercolor paper and it would be a different surface to work on. I don’t know how it would look with your pointillism pieces and may drive your eyes “batty” but it’s worth a try if you ever have a mind to try something new. I would imagine it may give an aged look to your drawings. You could then try a toned piece and see what it would look like.
      Thank you for your comment. I like that element of history to this, also.

  17. Leslie, this may have been a home-made contraption used for TILLING the soil, as opposed to plowing it. Tilling is more for garden prep. As you say, with the woman seemingly giving direction, they may have just been cutting rows for whatever she wanted to plant.

    For some reason, I was not receiving notices of your posts, but I now use the READER and I find it far better. I have a suspicion that WordPress has been doing some work on improving the Reader because you suddenly showed up today. Yay! Nice to be back.

    • I think you are right, Amy. It has to be home-made. I have not found anything that looks remotely like it in my online searches. I agree about the tilling aspect. Thanks for the link. The field was already plowed and now he was going over it with this. That woman in the picture is a hoot, isn’t she? I think she makes the story more than anything else. All the others are her supporting characters carrying out her requests I think.
      I just figured you were not dropping by because I had not made it over to Souldipper as yet. I play catch up all the time right now. It’s great hearing from you! …and Thank you!

      • I would have noticed sooner if you’d visited me, but it took WP ages to get the messaging straight. There was a problem with my receiving notices. I had to switch to the READER – you may not have had to learn about it. If so, good. So I had to be on the sites of all my subscriptions to switch notice methodologies.

        You’re coming through now.

  18. Wow, he’s beautiful! The more you do masa, the more I like it. I will have to try more of it myself. This summer I’m continuing to do the tropical fish with different techniques. I’m working on an ink and gouache right now. Even though I’ve taken a vacation from classes this summer, I’m still doing some watercolor work. Which is good for me, usually no class, no work. Hope your summer is going well!

    • Hey! that’s great! I did the no class, no painting going on thing, too, early on. As soon as I began to paint on my own, too, I really began to grow and a lot of the thingsa I was taught in a classroom began to click. It was kind of like a new-found freedom, Dianna. Woul love to see more of what you do with the fish series! Thank you for the comment.

  19. nice one. i would like to see you painting in front of me! 🙂

    • Thank you for such a nice comment, Anindya. I could say the same to you! 🙂

  20. Wow! What a stunning painting! The colors are gorgeous and I like the batik effect, very nice!

    • Thank you Anne! I had fun creating this one. It is not as beautiful as what you come up with with some of those sweeping landscapes but I hope to someday translate something like what you do in my paintings.

  21. You are a master… I’m in awe…

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