Skip navigation

Category Archives: Uncategorized


by Nancy Longmate

by Nancy Longmate




STEP 1 :        Monochromatic Study


STEP 2 :   Splatter


STEP 3 : Lift and Soften Edges of Some Splatters and Add Color


The above two paintings are Nancy”s and my final attempts with working together on splatter painting. We completed five paintings, each, experimenting with subject material and color. We practiced and painted a grisaille, first, in all five paintings. We used this technique to paint buildings, portraiture, city scenes and landscape.

I have learned that it is very difficult to ruin a watercolor and that it is harder to get mud than I thought. I learned I could paint a monochromatic study and still return to vibrant color. The splatter helped to create interest  and  enhance depth in some of them. We called them our dirty paintings because we had to get used to the way they looked following the splattering phase. I think the splatter helped the “look” of what I normally paint just like the masa paper and citra-solv collage helps my paintings.

A tutorial of this technique can be found here and here.


The above painting is one I have done for a friend of mine. This is her half Halflinger mare, Lilly Mae.  I used frisket for the white strands of mane and whiskers and highlights on the eye and the hardware and stitches on the bridle.  After painting strands of mane in for hours!, I had to do some lifting with a sponge to blend some of the lighter colors. Her mane is lighter than her body, but not white.  I worked extra hard on sculpting her face and capturing the veins and the jawline to lead the viewer’s eye to Lilly’s huge soft dark eye. That took several layers of very light washes.  After removing the frisket from the metal hardware of the bridle, I went back in and shaded areas of it. I used Harvest Gold, Raw Sienna, Halloween Orange, Copper Kettle, Burnt Umber, Sepia, Prussian Blue and Blue Stone to create this portrait.

Thankyou to those of you that have enquired as to my whereabouts. I have been fine, but the Holidays and all the shoveling and blowing of snow that I’ve done has kept me away from painting and blogging. I will try to be more present!


The above is a simple watercolor sketch I used as an example for my landscape class. This week we talked about putting “Little People” in our landscapes. I look back through all the landscapes I have painted and less than a third of them have people in them. What’s that about? People create interest for the viewer and can be used to lead the eye through a landscape or support a story the artist may be trying to tell, or just give life to a scene. Sometimes they are like little stick figures and sometimes they are a little larger, like I painted, here. I will outline how I created these. However, there are two very good tutorials for this on You Tube here and here.


This is the simple sketch I drew on my paper. If the figures are really small, I skip this step or frisket them out in advance. Note that I do not include a lot of detail. If the people face me, I often eliminate eyes nose and mouth on them and just use shadows I see to suggest facial features.


I usually begin with painting my skin tones, first. If the figure is tiny I may cover the entire figure with the skin tones and let the additional colors for their clothes run through that color. In larger figures, I look for how the light hits the people and leave the lights unpainted. Note: the stripe of white on arms and legs


I then give then clothes and allow the pigment to bleed into the skin tones. If it is too dark, I lift some of the color while it is still wet. I pay attention to where the clothes are lighter and darker. Note: the light on both figure’s shoulders and shorts


Select a color that you are using and puddle a shadow at your figures’ feet. This grounds them to the page and enhances the feeling of light. I then painted the hair a on the woman and the hat on the guy. The lady did not have a ponytail in the reference photo. That was all mingling pigment, a happy accident, and I decided to keep it. Added the frisbee, at this point.


I chose to frisket the splash around the dog. The two things that made the dog work was the highlight on the body defining his form and the shadow that grounded him to the page.


The last step was to fill in the landscape around them and remove the frisket from the splash.



Mary Smierciak3

Mary Smierciak3       Blind Line Contour

Lisa McGuffey3

Lisa McGuffey3  Blind Line Contour

Jerry Young

Jerry Young  Value Study

The above drawings are from my beginning drawing class that just finished up. Over a six week period, they worked their way through blind line contour, negative space, perspective, simple value studies and still life. They worked from both life and photo reference and learned how to use their pencils for measuring, a viewfinder for focus and a simple crosshair grid for perspective.  If you would like to view more of their drawings, click here.

David Hess

David Hess

Dianna Burt

Dianna Burt

The above paintings are examples of portraits painted in the six week watercolor portrait class that just finished up. They concentrated on facial features the first week and then worked their way through using a grid for obtaining a likeness, skin colors, color combinations, and compositon as it pertains to portraiture. The last night of class was devoted to painting a self portrait. If you would like to view more of their work click here.

Thankyou to all the students who have contributed their art to be viewed here.


The above painting ended up as  total experiment in painting more monochromatically  and including some white paint. Ohmy! There are parts of it I like and other parts I can’t stand.  I was totally inspired by an artist featured in the Watercolor Artist Magazine this month by the name of Anni Crouter.

Unfortunately, the article only gives a summary of how she uses the medium so off I go exploring. I was not brave enough to black out the background for fear I’d lose the whole image, so opted for dribbling white and sepia through it. I think I needed to use more colors to achieve the deep browns and blacks in these ponies. I did like that I had to concentrate on shape and form and the twist and turns of the leather on them.  I even enjoyed frisketing the buckles and bits and other hardware on the bridles and harnesses.

Anni Coulter works on that new Arches Oil paper called Huile. I ordered some of that but have not tried it as yet. Will let you know what I think of it when I do.

One of these days, I’m going to get brave enough to black out a background and just leave hints of the shape.  I thank Watercolor Artist Magazine for the subtle pushes it offers to try something new.

Thank you to Wet Canvas for the image of the pony team.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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.


A little over a year ago, I tried a new surface that I read about in the February 2012 issue of “Watercolor Artist” magazine. The artist was about Kathleen Conover. She uses a mixture she calls gesso juice for some of her paintings. The juice is made from 1/2  white acrylic gesso with 1/4 water and 1/4 acrylic matte medium.  You pour this on your watercolor paper and spread it over the surface with a credit card.  While it is still wet, slash marks in it and squiggle through it with the credit card to create texture and all sorts of calligraphic marks. Allow this phase to dry completely. I have found that you can adjust the ratio of the mixture. There is also a thick acrylic gesso and a more fluid one. Check the label. The more fluid one requires less water and matte medium. The thicker the gesso, the more slippery the surface.  This slippery surface is much like painting on yupo but not quite as slippery as some of the pigment does stain and adhere to the portions of  the surface where the gesso is not as thick. I like it much better than yupo and appreciate the lifting that can be done.


The above is my first washes of this painting. This is really a phase where I lay in the shapes and initial colors of my piece.


Next, I added richer color and began to shape and lift and shade the forms of clouds and waves. You can lift with a damp cloth, brush or Q-tip. Kathleen Conover has also used stencils she has made to apply color or wash color out by scrubbing. The design possibilities are endless as you can just keep re-modifying your painting until you are satisfied.

mexicocoast  finished painting

In the last step I shaped the waves and used acrylic white on the white caps.

I spray these with a matte fixative when I am finished.

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.

This was the first time my Grand daughter saw Lake Michigan. I remember the first time I swam in Lake Michigan and the first time I went running into the ocean. There is something special about the grandeur of it all.

     Tracey                                                 Leslie
        Tracey                                                  Leslie
    Tracey                                                    Leslie
If you ever get the opportunity, paint with a friend. Years ago, Tracey and I began to get together and paint outdoors from life and indoors from reference photos. We learned together and laughed a lot about mistakes or hard challenges. I remember one day when we drove around the entire time and never found anything we wanted to paint or draw but came home with some great reference photos. I find that I learn a lot just from watching others draw and paint. We are always amazed by the differences in our work even though we are painting the same subject. I have posted several of the things Tracey and I have painted above. You can click on them if you would like to view them larger. Tracey’s blog can be found here.  Tracey does incredible paintings and drawings of local Indiana landscapes and buildings. Recently, she has expressed an interest in learning to draw and paint animals so I am lucky enough to share that journey with her.
I have also added a Student Page to my pages above. I did this because some of you have expressed an interest through your comments and e-mails in viewing them. Thank-you to my students for giving me permission to photograph and post your work.