Skip navigation

Tag Archives: hotpress paper

The photo reference for this painting came from the photo reference library on wet canvas. A student of mine found the photo and offered it to me to try.  Thank you, Henn!

Due to lack of time to paint, recently, I have been working on these two horses for about a month of short sessions. I decided to try 140 lb Hot Press paper due to the detail in the wood grain and because I wanted something a little more realistic. I am still a novice with hot press paper but like it for painting horse portraiture. What intrigued me the most about this scene were the shapes; the straight mechanical lines against the organic lines of the horses’ heads.  This portrait was painted in layers. I painted the background areas right along with the horses’ heads. That helped me to be able to see the values and save my light areas. The most difficult part for me was the wood.

I promised Alonso, if I finished this, I would post it. The above painting was drawn a couple nights ago on Arches 140lb Hot Pressed paper.  Why hot pressed for such a textured scene? Oh, you know; just to see if I could do it. I found another splotch of time to paint the cow on the far right and some of the one next to him, but then off to other things that must be done.  I was able to get classes taught and student artwork posted and had a FREE NIGHT last night! I decided to paint this scene. I was about an hour in and the electric went out. 50 MPH winds we were having. Angered by this change of events, I lit two candles and held a flashlight and painted away in the dark.  I know. I know. I know. Artists are not to paint in the dark. I think if I waited for everything to be perfect in my life I’d never create anything. So, this is my candlelight painting. Cows, no less.

As I painted, my anger began to subside and my thoughts wandered to people who had suffered much more and I was humbled. Many lost their homes in these storms that tracked across the midwest the last two days. Some lost their loved ones. My condolences to all of you.


I am beginning to see some similarities in my work, especially in portraiture, animals and figures.  The top lion was painted this week. Bill is from a post in 2009.

I leave you with a sing-a-long.  I have probably sung this song more than any other and have never tired of it. Sometimes carrying it through a day with me, not able to get the tune out of my head.

Thank you to LittleUkeleleMonster for these lyrics!

Have a GREAT weekend Everyone!

Recently I went to see the new Pirates of the Carribean movie with my sister. Johnny Depp makes me laugh!  I guess that jogged my memory of a cool photo Tracey sent me when she was in California last year.  I believe she said she thought I might like the challenge. This was a guy who ran a booth at a festival that sold dog wear, leashes and bandanas and such. …and, yes, Tracey, challenging it was.

I revisited hot press paper again as I am trying to get the feel of painting on this surface.

Below are some steps in my process for those of you who like to see that.  No special techniques other than the use of some frisket in a few places.

I prepared a line drawing, first. I used that cross hair acrylic grid that I spoke of in a previous post here. This helped me visualise the placement of the two figures and their shapes.

I started the painting with the blue cap and the blanket on the dog. I think I did this to get a sense of the values I needed. I usually do not begin with darks. Next, I worked on the dog because I knew I wanted him to dominate the scene and the guy just back him up.

I wet the entire surface of the background and ran two of the colors I had used in the portrait from top to bottom by applying the pigment onto the wet surface at the top of the paper and tilting it so it would run down the page.  If any of the pigment ran onto the figures, I dabbed them off with a paper towel.  I painted in the bandana, guy’s hair, and removed the frisket around the dog’s glasses, bandana, tip of nose and guy’s hair.

  finished painting

I finished the painting by softening and defining the areas that had frisket applied. I also had to work with adding some darks to the man’s skin tones.




This smile is for all of you who visit, here. 

I have read on other blogs, from time to time, a request for viewers to be helpful in their comments and to critique the work there, honestly. Oh yes, I sense what they are asking for. How can we do that?  How can we take someone’s vision and, … and make it different? 

That caused me to pause and review my blog and page through some of my work. I noticed that I had been blogging for two years, now.  Something I had been strongly encouraged to do and had to be talked into.  I also noticed a steady increase in my ability as an artist.  I noticed that I had tried new techniques and stretched my vision.  That means a lot more than one critique that may have burst my “bubble” and sent me home with my tail between my legs.

I owe that to you who visit and comment and encourage. I am smiling on you. Thank you.

Everything I know of football, I learned from my son who has followed the Chicago Bears since he first knew about the game.  This has been a marvelous season watching the Bears face their challenges and it has brought with it much conversation between my son and myself. This week has been horrendous as we  wait for them to face their rivals. The only way I could see through to quieting my anxiety was to paint something to honor tomorrow’s game. That helped.

So, to my son, as well as all Bears’ fans out there, “Go Bears”!!!!!!!

Remember Mr. Ed?  As I painted this portrait, I decided to change the color from the color of the horse in the reference material because his face reminded me of that famous talking horse.  I used to spend a lot of time with horses.  This painting was fun for me. I am still working with 140 lb hotpress paper and searching for ways of creating on it while playing in the paint. I used frisket on the mane.  I stroked it in, added color, stroked some more frisket on top of that dry wash, and a third layer. That gave the streaks you see in his mane. I used both flat and round brushes.  I limited my palette to yellows, reds, halloween orange,  june bug and sepia.  Below is my drawing and first washes for you to view.


    first strokes and washes

This is Biskit. My daughter recently asked me (6 months ago) if I would paint a portrait of her beloved Golden. I had tried about 5 years ago and was not able to come up with one that did him justice. I took pictures of him and flipped through them about two weeks ago and settled on the pose above. He is extremely hard to capture a photo of as he is an exuberant fellow and doesn’t quite understand posing. I have a lot of shots of him laying on the floor pouting as we would try to pose him and tell him to stay. He’d immediately lay down and pout because he  would prefer to have his head in your lap, nosing your hand and placing his paw on your knee.  I was lucky enough to get this picture of him later in the evening before he actually realised I was paying attention to him again.  This defines Biskit. Bright eyes, ears down and back and a huge grin on his face.

The following is the making of the above portrait.  Please realize I only post these progression pictures in the event that they can help you in trying something I have attempted as I create. 

I chose hotpress paper again as I am still experimenting with it. My first step was to get a good line drawing:

In order to get the proportions correct, I used my clear acrylic crosshairs I talked about here.

You can faintly see in the above step that I used liquid friskit in tiny areas around the eyes, nose, mouth and to define the whiskers. I then began to paint washes of color onto the image by following the values I saw in the reference as well the countours that defined the roundness of his form or flow of the hairs of his coat.  I learned hotpress paper does not respond to my normal wet-in-wet techniques in the same way as the coldpress paper does. My images look a little better if I use contour  and paint more in a drawing mode on it. Approached, in this manner, I get a fairly good painterly feel as I lay color next to color or add a second wash.  I defined Biskit’s largest forms (head, muzzle and neck) prior to concentrating on the background and detailed areas of the features.  My palette consisted of  American Journey colors copper penny,  june bug, raw sienna, harvest gold, naples yellow, burnt sienna, burnt umber and permanent rose. I also used Winsor Newton quinachridone gold.

The above is the bulk or the “meat”of my painting.  I first described the eyes. I had an instructor tell me once that it helps to get some color into the eyes before working too much of the background. She said it helps to give some life to the image so you can see the balance between background and the image.  Notice, in this stage, the friskit has not been removed and the eyes don’t have too much definition to them. They just have the lights and darks of it.  I then layed in the background wet-in-wet. I wanted it to look a little broken up and mottled so I chose a large mop brush that holds a lot of water to lay the colors in. I mixed two large dark washes of the two dark colors I had used in the portrait. I chose these colors because I wanted to push the head forward so the golds could “pop” and  move forward in the format. Those colors were june bug and copper penny. I worked fast so I could get the mingling of color you see in the lower right quadrant. While the wash was still wet, I picked up the board and tilted it back and forth a little to help with the direction of the flow. Once the background was dry, I removed the friskit and furthur detailed the eyes and mouth.

The above view of the eyes show them after the friskit was removed.  Note the light tone in the irises of both eyes. I had layered quinachridone gold, followed by burnt sienna and waited for that to dry. I then layered copper penny, june bug and burnt umber on the pupil and waited for that to dry. Next, I took a small damp brush and lifted out some of the burnt sienna on the iris and some of the burnt umber on the pupils to create the lighter areas in them that give the eyes their roundness.  Note the friskit had covered some of the lid on the eye on the left as it faces you and I needed to touch that up and shape the white area nearest the nose to have a little warm tone to it more like the inside corner of an eye. This is detail work that can be crucial to some portraits if you wish to draw the viewers’ eye to them. I caution you to not add these highlights unless you see them in the reference material.  I did not see them in the Rudolph painting I posted here because his eye in the reference was soft and dark. Eyes can go wrong quickly and highlights and tonal differences look freaky if misplaced.

Above is the image of the finished eyes.

I then concentrated on tongue, teeth and lips. The above is an image before I detailed them.

I removed the friskit. I shaded the tongue and gums with darker washes of permanent rose so they showed the bends and folds of the tongue around the teeth and the darker pigment in the gums. I shaded the teeth with very light washes of june bug and lifted out some of the burnt umber along the upper curve of the lower lip.

  finished painting

  finished painting

I have had the photo reference for this painting for about a year after seeing it on wet canvas.  I have always wanted to try it. I hear so much about not making muddy colors with pigment and agree that they are not “pretty”.  However, there are some subjects that  almost beg for some degrees of  ” mud”.  That was my first challenge. The second was that I wanted to try to work something textural on the Arches 140lb hotpress watercolor paper I have been experimenting with.  I have not done many night paintings so this seemed like an adventure to me.

In the first step, I wet the entire surface of the paper and fed in my background colors of magnesium blue, permanent rose, a little lemon yellow in the center, and a mixture of halloween orange and magnesium blue to make the gray for the sky and strip of gray in the foreground. I dried that with a hairdryer prior to starting to paint the trees.

In the second step I mixed colors like hookers green, burnt sienna or ultrmarine blue and olive green to make the greens and warm tones I saw in the trees. I painted trunks, branches and  fir trees moving my brush in a way to create textures throughout. This was a very lengthy process as I had to move from lighter tones into darker tones. Oftentimes my strokes looked too defined so I would blot, while still wet, with a non-lotion tissue.  This created the effect of some of the trees being in the foreground and others distant. It also helped to make this appear more like a night scene that blurs together.

In the next step, I softened all the trees by taking a wet 2 inch flat and lightly blurring all the tree shapes together. I then darkened the night sky with ultramarine blue mixed to a blue-gray with a little halloween orange and washed a very light wash of  permanent rose through that gray while it was still wet. I softened all hard edges in the sky, as I went, by tickling their edges with a thirsty brush. I built up the darks under the trees with burnt sienna and hookers green allowing them to mix together on the paper.  I was careful to leave the little path you see leading into the woods in the lower right quadrant. I felt that created a little interest and mystery as did the warm light behind the trees.

In the final step I mixed sepia with hookers green and darkened the foreground firs. After that dried,  I used titanium white to indicate snow on the foreground firs and the trunks and branches of the deciduous trees.

 I challenged myself, two-fold this week. I had read on Stephen Quirke’s blog about how he was enjoying using Arches hotpress paper. The above portrait of Rudolph was done on 140 lb Arches hotpress paper.  I was amazed that I could paint much of anything on it as I have only been successful with it a couple times. What I have found to be true with this paper is that it is what I call honest. It shows your brush strokes, dries lighter(much) than when I work on coldpress and demands a certain amount of skill. Yes, I followed the basic guidelines of watercolor to create this image. I built my colors up from light to dark and background to foreground. I was able to do a little lifting and softening after paint applications and you can see evidence of this on the light areas of his antlers and the insides of his ears.  I like how this paper glows even after applications of numerous washes. Thank-you, Stephen, for giving me a little push through your blog!

 The other challenge was to create Rudolph decades after my first drawing I did of him in Kindergarten. When I was five, I loved the Gene Autrey version of Rudolph the Red Nose ReindeerThe book was my favorite Christmas story, at the time. It was also one of the first songs I learned to play on the piano.  I wanted to give him a believable appearance after all these years of viewing cartoon versions of him.  I never saw him as fictitious or cartoon-like.   I never bought into believing that Santa, flying reindeer and little elves making toys did not exist.  In each and every story and wish that surrounds this holiday, each year, I see evidence of  incredible miracles taking place and that is what I wish for all of you this year.  Have a wonderful Holiday!