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Monthly Archives: June 2013


I am currently working on several paintings that I started as demos of techniques for my students. The above painting was one of these.  I prepared a surface to work on using a mixture of gesso and water and scratched and swirled the medium around with a credit card to create texture and movement. I lightly sketched my composition on the dried surface.  I have painted rocks before but never so many! I was intrigued with the shapes and the shadows and the way the elements had worked on their surfaces. I chose a piece of Arches 140lb rough and some of that texture was still evident poking through the gesso. This helped to add to the roughness of the surface of the rocks. As I was working on this, I began to wonder what a canyon scene might look like on masa paper and put it on my to-do list.  At some point, I deviated from my original photo reference and used rock  forms from several others to create the background.

If you wish to try this technique, I’ve explained how to prepare the surface in this post here.


The above is a gouache resist. I have painted quite a few of these and left several in their black and white form. I like the suggestion of “block print” that they seem to carry with them. The full process for doing one of these can be found here.

This is the largest one I’ve painted and I was nervous about how it would take during the rinsing process. I didn’t need to worry. However, with another small one, I learned I must wait patiently for the ink to dry thoroughly and not rush it with a hair dryer. The hairdryer causes some ink to work through the gouache. A more clear image will appear if you allow the ink phase to air dry.


Nancy Longmate Nancy Longmate

watercolor, ink and Citra-solv collage

Sue Mendenhall2

Sue Mendenhall

watercolor on masa paper

Dorette Hess2 Dorette Hess

watercolor and ink; barn siding drawn with ink and razor blade

The above paintings are just a sneak peak of what I have posted on the “Student Art 2” page found by clicking here. My students just finished a class I title Watercolor Plus. In this class, I introduce several ways that watercolor can be used with other media. This time they painted on a gesso juice surface, learned to prepare and paint on masa paper, created a gouache resist, used ink with watercolor in several different ways, and created a watercolor and Citra-solv collage.

Thank you to all my fellow artists who agree to share their work on this blog. I know they inspire others to try what they have tried by doing so.


The above is a painting I posted almost three years ago, here. My class is going to try and re-work an old painting of their choice this week. I suggested to them that the techniques and skills they have gathered over the course of the last few years could aid them in this venture of taking something old that they are not too attached to and making it something new.

I have decided I do not like how I rendered the pond. The scene is overly peaceful to me.  I did not create a center of interest for the viewer’s eye. I also did not like the fact that the building in the background is lost with that cream color.


We have been working with ink, lately. I recalled a recent post with a backlit tree. I lightly drew a tree trunk over the left side of this and painted it in with blues and greens and added ink with an eye dropper while the color was still wet. Then I immediately blotted the surface of the trunk with paper toweling. This created a bark-like texture. I then used a rigger and very small round to create the branches and leaves. I balanced this with some leafy ink forms on the right side of the painting. Across the bottom, I used a razor blade and rigger to fill in the grasses with india ink. I worked a section at a time and spritzed these grasses with water. That is what created the fuzzy-like forms within the grasses. After this dried, I changed the building in the background to a red barn. Now, I can see it. I remembered my class on “little people” with Don Andrews and painted small cattle in the sweet spot for a center of interest.  I think I will never stop learning.

I have posted one other re-do here.


I love working with papers made with Citrasolv.  Thank you to Carol King’s post of three years ago, found here, I was introduced to what Citrasolv, a natural cleaner and degreaser concentrate, can do to transform National Geographic photos into beautiful collage papers. My two previous posts on this are found here and here.

To prepare for any Citrasolv collaging, I prepare the papers in advance so that I have a lot of colors and patterns to choose from.  I use a glass jar and pour enough Citrasolv into it to do several National Geographics. I work in the garage ( for ventilation; the smell is so strong when working with the concentrate) to do this. I lay out two rows of newspapers on the garage floor to lay my drying papers on and get busy. I set up a TV table and cover it with newspaper. Then, working from front to back of a National Geographic magazine, I either brush, spritz or eyedropper the Citrasolv on the pages with photos. Between some of the pages, I crinkle up some saran wrap for a stained glass sort of look to some of the papers (pages under saran wrap take a little more time to work). Some of the adds don’t work so I usually skip those. Spread the solution on both pages. I have had some problems with the dry page sticking to the wet page and have lost some of those prints. Then I take a coffee break or have a sandwich or something. There is a small waiting period for the solution to do its work. I find it takes longer in the cold of winter (yes! I have toned papers in the winter!  🙂   ).  Once I see the solution has done its “thing”, I begin carefully tearing out the pages and laying them on the newspaper to dry. Drying is fast; 15-20 minutes! The pages are usually pretty easy to tear out because they are softened by the fluid. Here are some examples:

To start this project, I painted, first. I have rushed to use the papers too soon, in the past. It is almost as though the artist needs to see the values in the paint before he can decide which values and patterns in the papers to choose. I suppose, if I worked in another media, I could work on the surface of these papers and I could go back and forth with my choices.  So I painted


and painted


and painted


The whole time I worked on the above painting, I concentrated on value. I wanted to use my papers as some of the darkest darks in the piece.

I then paused and waited for the above to dry while I mixed my glue. I like using acrylic matte medium with some water mixed in. Just a little water;  I don’t want my mixture drippy wet, but also not thick. I have several old brushes I devote to the glueing process. They get pretty gummed up and I usually have to soak them in warm water before I use them, as they dry like cement.


I began by cutting little pieces of darks to color in the background under foliage behind the barn on the right. I started working in the trunks and limbs of the background trees. I always brush a thin layer of the glue on top of each paper. The papers are not acid free and I read in one of my art books that the glue on front and back will help preserve the color and protect the surface of the watercolor paper. At first, it is confusing, but, as I added more papers, the scene began to appear.


In this step, I finished the trees in the background and went back in with greens and yellows to fill in more leafy forms to help it read a little better. I added the foreground electrical pole, background foliage behind the second barn and a few branches on the foreground shrub.


The next step was one of the most difficult with this particular painting. I painted the shadow shapes on the second barn. I was careful to go back into the shadow shape and delineate each board on the side of the barn after the initial shadow wash dried. I also painted some shadows behind the shrub in front of the first barn and on the left side of the telephone pole.

midwestbarns  finished painting

To finish the painting, I extended the electrical pole down to the side of the foreground road and added the wires. I know. I know. Why the pole and wires?  I think it was because it was part of the allure for me when I chose this reference photo (thankyou to Wet Canvas) for my painting.  I thought the pole and wires added to the depth and it is so much a part of a midwest scene such as this one.

I love working in collage and especially with these papers. I think it is a wonderful exercise in values and patience. They do take time.

The Citrasolv art page can be found here. It was great to learn that some of the art supply companies are now carrying Citrasolv as one of their art mediums!