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by Nancy Longmate

by Nancy Longmate



There is not much more I can say about this project than my friend and I are still experimenting with splatter paintings, described here and here. We have always started with a monochromatic study of our reference and then splattered or dripped clear water and color on them, before refining and adding more color. We have branched out to experiment with figures in a landscape and adding more color.

My photo, above, is a  street scene of Pirates Alley from wet canvas and a figure I found in another wet canvas reference photo. I made the dog up (fashioned it after my maltese dogs but a little larger). I will probably continue to use this figure. He is so versatile!

I was fascinated with all the abstract color in Nancy’s elephants! This is a truly adaptable technique that opens all sorts of possibilities with your personal style. It is also underscoring that about anything is possible with watercolor. It is really hard to wreck them.


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.




The above painting is my Granddaughter with her “PINK” hat, which she loves, and her horse, Duchess, who she also loves!

About halfway through this painting, I started chuckling when I remembered my sister, then 4, and I, then 6, riding our rocking horses in the family room while singing along to this at the end of the show.  🙂



I created the above paintings from photo references that my sister took of my Granddaughters while they played hide and seek after my daughter’s wedding.  Thank you to my sister for allowing me to paint from them.

I love the technique I used to create them so will share how I created the top one with you.


In the first step, I toned a piece of 140lb Arches coldpress with abstract color. I had to get this layer dark enough so it would show through the rice paper I was going to glue on top of it.


I then covered the entire surface with torn pieces of textured and transparent rice papers, overlapping them as I went. I mixed my glue with 1 part water to 3 parts acrylic matte medium. This created numerous textures over the surface of my abstract. I applied the glue on the underside of the papers and thinly over the top side of them with my brush, making sure I pushed any air bubbles from under the papers. I allowed this stage to dry overnight.


I then drew my subject on the format in graphite. Yes. You can erase, easily, on this surface.


I painted.


…and painted


…and painted.

I really enjoyed this surface. It was much like when I paint on toned Masa Paper pieces. I found I could lift and blend color if it dried too flat looking.  Some of the pigment would trail along a torn piece of the rice paper and add more texture.  Sometimes when I rubbed my brush over a dried painted area, interesting textures would show through like in the lower right hand quadrant of the second little girl, above. The glow of the original underpainting showed through in some areas, adding to the piece.

Shhh! finished painting

To finish the painting I added white gouache to the larger girl’s dress and veil. In the second painting I added the white gouache to leaf forms and tiny flowers.  I chose to fade the bottom of both pieces to show the textures of the papers and make the paintings appear significant of a memory.

I liked this technique enough to want to do more of them.




The inspiration for the above painting came from several photo references. I recently suggested to my students, taking the composition class, that they could free themselves a little from the constraints of working from one photograph. I felt this would open up a new world for them to create from. We become, over time, so attached to working from one photograph that we forget that we have a wealth of information available to us from real life and our techniques we have learned from watercolor class. They were to take a landscape photo that  really liked and include a dominant tree, something man-made and something living (other than a plant); like people or animals.

I chose a photo my sister had taken in New Mexico during the winter months and it included this worn home and the large shrub -like trees on the right. I searched Wet Canvas for a photo of children and found the three placed here on the porch of the home. I chose a tree from a grouping I found in my photo reference book for artists and used a portion of it for the large tree in the foreground that overlaps this scene.

The challenge became working with the values and colors of each of my photographs, as well as their proportions. The tree in the foreground had to be enlarged for this scene and the colors changed to balance with the warm oranges and reds in the prominent bushes on the right. The children became “wee” images of the original reference I had available. I had to change their clothing colors so they would be visible and not become lost in shadows cast by the large bush-like trees on the right. I was attracted to the splats of light in this as well as the long shadows reminding me of the early morning light in late February as the days are becoming longer and the promise of spring is right around the corner. I imagined the children I had created as waiting for their school bus.

I liked that creating a painting with guidelines like this prompted me to create a story. How interesting when we take that extra step into creating with what we have at hand…..

I am practicing portraiture because I will soon be teaching a class in watercolor portraits this fall. This is a portrait of my son, a tattoo artist. I snapped the photo I used as my reference for this last summer. I was intrigued by the challenge of capturing the look on his face as well as trying to render the tattoos on his arms. The look because it seemed to say so much about a tattoo artist’s life. They wait for the customers to come in, sometimes for hours. Then? Everyone comes at once, usually in the evenings and late at night, so the artist waits. I had an instructor a few years back that spoke of the occupation because there were two young men in our drawing class who were planning to become tattoo artists. He described the occupation as grueling and commended anyone who stuck with it. The artist rarely has an opportunity to create freely and often has to duplicate images that are selected due to the popularity at that time.  I thought this image portrayed the “waiting” part of the artists’ job rather well. It also reminds me that there are many facets to the art field that we never think of as we sit and enjoy  creating paintings we choose. I have a great deal of respect for the artist who makes a living by using his/her art skills.


Quite a while ago,  a  friend of mine gave me a picture she had taken of a mutual friend and asked if I would like to see what I could do with it.  It has sat in my collection of photo references for over a year.   I  wanted to try a figure on the masa paper and the above is what I came up with. I painted the figure, first, and then went in search of ideas. The interesting thought I had was that notes probably came from many sources. The background could have been a city or an event but I wanted it to portray something a little more far-reaching and, perhaps, more soulful and contemplative.   I placed him in nature and greeting a new day.

The above is my attempt at exploring an exercise we did in the first creative drawing class this session.  The assignment was to draw the topline of a cityscape across your support paper. From that line you were to continue drawing and painting and design your own cityscape with the use of line, value , texture and shape. 

I drew the entire cityscape on drawing paper with graphite, first. I used drawing paper from my sketchbook.  Because I was intrigued with Amber’s crumpling of regular paper, here, I decided to crumple my drawing and then glue it to watercolor paper.  I then painted my city scene. I had read that I could draw on tissue paper with waterproof ink and glue that to a painting and decided to try it with this piece. The window and the figure were drawn on tissue paper and then glued to the surface of the cityscape. Whoops! I tore it in places. Will need to be more careful in my glueing process in the future.  I think I could have encouraged a few more tears, however, as they may have been better incorporated into the painting that way.  Once the tissue paper dried, I painted on top of that surface, also. This layering, crumpling, painting is really opening a door for me. Such fun!

Every once in awhile I try something I see others doing. Thanks to Carol King’s workshop on Citra Solv collage papers made from National Geographics, I had some interesting papers to add to this project. Thank-you Carol! 

I have watched Isabelle post her muse collage work for a year, now, but not taken the time to try one myself. Last week I began visiting Ghadah at Pretty Green Bullet and was inspired by her loose ink drawings of figures and applications of collage.  I thought I could try a little of both artist’s approaches.  Thank-you Isabelle and Ghadah!

As a theme, I chose to respond to a post that I thought very informative that Eva posted not long ago about the water cycle. Thank-you, Eva!

I used waterproof black ink, Citra Solv collage images, newspaper text, watercolor and gesso to create this. Beyond that, I will let the piece speak for itself.

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.