Skip navigation

Tag Archives: little people

I just finished teaching our fall session of Beginning Watercolor.

Kay Byerley4

Lizzy Smith3

The first thing we worked on was learning wet-in-wet, wet on dry and dry-brushing strokes. We practiced brushstrokes and painted a back-lit scene for our first assignment.

Lizzy Smith

Carole Smith2

We talked about ways to create texture and foliage and trees. We also discussed greens and adding other colors to them.

Jennifer Howey3

Kay Byerley3

We discussed ways to create skies, clouds and that similar washes could be used to create water.  Each student created a large sky or a large foreground painting.

Carole Smith4

We talked about how to paint buildings and learned to grid reference photo and size our format and grid it. This helped us to get the perspective correct on the buildings.

Jennifer Howey

The fifth week we talked about color combinations and specific colors that fell in either the light, medium or dark tonal ranges.

Carole Smith5

We finished by learning how to paint little people into our landscapes.

Thank you to all students who shared their paintings here. If you would like to see all their paintings click here. You can also scroll to the top of the page and click on Student Art: Beginning Watercolor.


Ruth Karau3

Henn Laidroo2

Cindy Guzik2

The above three paintings were created by artists in the Advanced Watercolor class this session. I chose them because they fit the season. The students who work in this class have completed all the classes I offer in watercolor and wish to continue working as a group. They must finish three paintings in a six week session. They work on individual projects of their own choice. If  you would like to view all of their work click here  or scroll to the top and click on session 2 Advanced Watercolor.

The Watercolor Landscape class also ended this week.

Tammy Enrietto2

We studied composition and where to place a center of interest.

Carol Spallone

We studied division of space and value contrast.

Meghan Mills5

We painted either a big sky painting or large foreground painting.

Kara Morris 3

We created a painting on a grunge background and discussed the benefits of using the technique for certain subject material.

Janet Nichols2

We learned to paint little people.

If you would like to view all the art work from landscape class click here. 

You can also click by scrolling to the top of the page and clicking on Watercolor Landscape.

Thank you to all the students who allow me to post their art here.

I am trying something new again! This technique is one that will keep me trying for years to come. I always like techniques that take time and that don’t allow me to be so hasty as to ditch what I am working on. This technique satisfies my desire to explore and to fix things in an existing watercolor that has taken a wrong turn. The above painting is my first attempt.

I learned about this technique from an article I read in the February 2017 issue of Watercolor Artist. There was an article about the artist Nadine Charlsen. She shared a step-by-step tutorial of one of her paintings, so I tried it. Please understand that my first attempts probably leaves out a whole host of things she does that I have been a bit hesitant to jump into in this first try. I strongly encourage you to look for this article or watch how she works on a few You Tube videos. I think this technique lends itself to a whole host of individual ideas as to how each artist may approach doing the same thing.

My first step was to draw the image I wanted to paint and wash in my darks with paynes gray. I think you could use sepia or van dyke brown in this stage, too. Whatever you think lends itself best to rendering those darks.  Nadine Paints her paintings on easels, so the paintings are upright as she paints. I was chicken, so this was painted with only a slight tilt.

Once the first step was dry, I dropped large puddles of water all over the painting. This breaks up some of the hard edges and softens the background. I wait for this to dry. I took stiffer brushes and rubbed out some areas where the color bled too much to my liking and to save portions of the painting that I wanted to appear lighter.

The above step was the most time consuming. I painted the color of the items in the booths and and on the opposing side of the alleyway. My painting was becoming  full of edges, again, and looking too perfect and not at all atmospheric. After the color dried, I tilted my board and began washing white gouache over the surface, top to bottom. I dabbed areas of darks and some of the color areas so they did not become too overpowered and washed out. I allowed this watered down wash to trail down the surface of the paper. I did this three times until I got the above look. I waited for that to dry before moving on.

I thought the previous step had washed out too much of the roof area and softened some of the foreground too much. I went back in and touched up some of the colors, the roof and the foreground chair. I spritzed water on the surface to break apart some of the edges that were created by that. Once that dried, I tilted the board and washed white gouache all over areas where I wanted it to show up. I blotted some of that wash with a tissue and rubbed small areas with a stiff brush to further soften an edge.

In the final step I worked on the foreground chair and the people, brightened areas of color and filled in things that looked a bit unfinished.

I think the point of dropping and spraying water onto the surface of the watercolor is an attempt to bring out a mood and to soften the edges of a scene. I think it gives air and depth to a scene. I felt like I could do anything I wanted and still bring something worthwhile back to the scene. Sometimes it looked like it was destined for the trash. At other times it began to look better than anything I had ever painted before.  I will be teaching these things to my students in their next class. We will probably have a messy good time of it. I hope!

Oh! Nadine uses Khadi paper, mostly, and sometimes 140lb Arches rough. I used the Arches rough because that is what I had on hand. I will try the Khadi at some point.


The above painting began as an abstract. I applied alternating color washes and torn pieces of rice papers, allowing each layer to dry. After each layer dried, I rotated my board and looked for something realistic in the patterns that were created by the washes and papers. When I located the whale, I began layering and painting to bring that imagery forward. It is one of my favorite ways to work. Here is the one I did last year.


The above painting began with a detailed drawing of the Bateleur Eagle but took several layers of watercolor and rice papers to bring the image to completion. The head feathers, face and yellow beak are watercolor. The wing and back feathers are torn pieces of rice paper with watercolor painted into them. I thank wet canvas for the reference image for this collage painting.


I love painting “Little People” !

Beginning Watercolor class ended this week, too.

Jane Coffee

Jane Coffee

The first week included an explanation of supplies and how they were to be used. We practiced wet-in -wet, wet on dry and drybrush applications. We talked about how to create darks and that a solid color is always more beautiful if more than one color is allowed to mix on the paper rather than the palette. We discussed allowing the water to do the work and become our partner.

Megan Mills2

Megan Mills2

The second class was devoted to learning the color wheel and the basic color combinations. I taught them how to crop and then grid a photo reference and their watercolor format for the difficult perspective paintings.

Marilyn Bultemeyer4

Marilyn Bultemeyer4

The third week we talked about different ways to render trees. I introduced and demonstrated the use of liquid friskit, salt, saran wrap, scumbling, Pointillism, sponging and using a rigger for tiny branches.

"Kat" Franke4

“Kat” Franke4

Dawn Amstutz

Dawn Amstutz

The fourth week we talked about buildings, their perspective, how they are put together with shapes and to look for their cast shadows and how the foliage may fit around them.

Betty Bercot5

Betty Bercot5

The fifth week was devoted to learning to paint “little” people to insert into our landscape paintings.

On the last night of class, I introduced the “Elegant Writer” Calligraphy pen and how it could be used with watercolor.

If you would like to view other examples of their work click here or scroll to the top of the page and click on the Student Art: Beginning Watercolor spring 2016 page.

Thank you to all the students who participated and shared their artwork here.







The above painting was created for an assignment I gave for my composition class. I asked them to create a flower like they have never seen before and ad a number and word or letters. It was designed to get them ready for our watercolor and collage class that began last week. I designed my flower from Fuschia and added things and decided to go giant with it. I need to do more of this. Those of you who follow my site might remember we had an assignment last year that was to create a tree like you have never seen before. You can view that here.

The Beginning Watercolor class also ended this week. I only had three students for this session. That meant we were able to cover quite a bit of material in a six week session.

Gayle Brown2

Gayle Brown2

The first week we learned about the watercolor paper (we use Arches 140lb coldpress right from the start), brushes and practice painting wet on dry, wet in wet, and dry brushing. We practiced washes and compared mixing colors on our palettes and mixing colors on the paper. Their first assignment was to paint a back lit scene.

Gayle Brown

Gayle Brown

The second week we learned how to create trees in different ways. This included using a sponge, pontillism and scumbling. I also introduced liquid frisket and showed different ways it could be used.

Kathy Gordon

Kathy Gordon

On the third week we talked about man-made objects and buildings, perspective and how to grid our paper to assist with drawing our buildings. We talked about how buildings are man-made and composed of geometric shapes. We also talked about how we could look for negative space to put our buildings together. I also taught them how to soften a line by tickling a hard edge while it is still wet.

Rose Clair5

Rose Clair5

On the fourth week we discussed clouds and the different techniques we could use to create them. We also talked about painting water and waves and what we can use to create snow.

Rose Clair

Rose Clair

Kathy Gordon5

Kathy Gordon5

The fifth week was devoted to learning to paint little people.

On the last night of class we worked on an elegant writer painting. They were not able to finish these for me to photograph but all three had a great start!

If you would like to view more of their paintings, please click here or scroll to the top of the page and click on Student Art: beginning Watercolor in the list of pages. You can enlarge any of the above paintings by clicking on them twice.

Thank you to all my students who contributed their art to this page.  🙂



I began this painting several months ago. I guess I was anticipating summer and warm weather. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could render these Victorian beauties in some way. I do not consider myself very good at drawing and painting buildings. One thing I know I do not do enough is insert little people or animals into my landscapes. I get so caught up in the “thinking” part of putting landscapes together that I never include a story; and I like stories so much better! I used two separate reference photos to come up with the neighborhood and another for the “little cowgirl”. I made up the older person at the top of the stairs and modeled the dog’s form after the boxer who lives across the street from me. I can remember a time when those red boots and hat would have been my prize possessions, not to mention a man’s best friend to spend the summer with!

Little People are fun to paint. Here are a couple sketches to ad to the mix:




Roxanne Yoquelet

Roxanne Yoquelet

Roxanne Yoquelet4

Roxanne Yoquelet4

We began our class with an introduction to brushes, pigment and paper. We practiced washes and glazes and were introduced to three ways to apply watercolor (wet in wet, wet on dry and dry brushing).

Laura Lindsay3

Laura Lindsay3

Laura Lindsay

Laura Lindsay

We talked about different color combinations and practiced painting some of them.

Laura Lindsay4

Laura Lindsay4

In the third class it was all about trees and foliage and the different ways (sponge, pointillism, scumbling, salt, frisket) texture could be rendered in watercolor.

Roxanne Yoquelet3

Roxanne Yoquelet3

Laura Lindsay2

Laura Lindsay2

Roxanne Yoquelet2

Roxanne Yoquelet2

Then it was on to “Big Sky” and “Big Water” and how to allow the water on your paper to mingle color. How to splatter and how to let go of the reference material a little and allow the water to help create the painting.

Roxanne Yoquelet5

Roxanne Yoquelet5

Laura Lindsay5

Laura Lindsay5

On the fifth week, we discussed buildings and perspective and that they were composed of a collection of shapes that fit together.  I was knocked off my feet when I saw the two paintings, above! What beautiful work after only five weeks.



On the last night of class, we practiced painting “little people” to use in our landscape paintings in the future.

A huge thank you to Roxanne and Laura for giving me permission to share their paintings with others.


The above painting was produced by following the guidelines of another of Betsy Dillard Stroud’s exercises. I was to select a busy and detailed landscape as my reference. I was to create a  silhouette of the landscape in black, simplifying the scene. Next I was to paint the landscape again using color. As I painted, I was to simplify and change the scene again.


I began with this simple pencil sketch, removing a bicycle, fruit stand, all lettering, the chairs by the restaurant  and some of the people. I simplified the building in the background. The old man at the top of the steps was added because there was too much empty space at the top of the subway steps once I had removed the fruit stand.


This was my black silhouette.  I decided that the addition of the man changed the story from fruit stand to people in this reference and balanced the empty space by re-inserting some people into the scene that I had removed.  The lit ad screen atop the railing required a little something so I added that. At this point, I had decided I had what I needed for the finished painting.

subway final painting

What an experience when I began to work in color! I saw I had simplified the restaurant or the bar, in the background too much,  so re-added some of the lettering. I really simplified all the color and lettering in all those windows on that building. They had a lot of different colors and lettering on them. I just used them to cast the glow of light on the scene. I thought the building in the background was too busy so had the fall tree expand and reach across it. I imagined more light coming from a building to the right of the people and indicated that in the cast shadows from the people. Since I had changed the center of interest to the old man and omitted the busy fruit stand and bicycle, I decided the scene was more about the people heading to the subway and followed my guidelines for painting “little People”. Refer to posts here and here.

This was a great exercise that I will use again.