Thursday, January 29, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 5

Oh what fun! This bird is beginning to take form. Using French Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue and a touch of Sap Green, the same technique is used to paint the green and blue areas of the bird's body. Use a light touch!!! Your colors should always remain transparent. I used a little bit of diluted Indigo to develop some soft shadows here and there to indicate changes in feathers. Reserve most of this for later! A little goes a long way here and it is very easy to over work the painting or add too much pigment at this stage. Let gravity, water and paper tilting do some of the work for you. Never press enough on your brush that your bristles bend. Your brush is used here only to drop paint and push puddles of pigment around. If you over-work with your brush your painting will look dry and fussy, instead of looking fresh and spontaneous.
If you are interested in learning some of these techniques, I have a booklet about painting trees on sale at my etsy shop. I am working on more booklets, so stay tuned to see what I am working on next! To order the Painting Trees Booklet click here. You will be taken to my etsy shop where you will find the booklets for sale. More to come on the bird soon!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 4

Continue with the previous technique to paint the tail and the tail feathers. You may notice that I used even darker colors on the bird's chest and lower areas, especially against the overlapping wing area. Once the wash was applied, I added a little Quinicridone Magenta and VanDyke Brown to these very dark areas while the area was still wet. This softened the wash but kept the edge next to the wings quite pronounced, thus the gentle shadow. Be sure this wash is completely dry before you move on to the next step. Dry your painting with a hair dryer or allow to air dry. When you touch the painting, it will feel cool to the touch if it is still damp. The paper should have a uniform temperature and dryness when it is ready for the next application.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 3

Here is a detail of the painting. Keep your colors moist, yet strong. Where you have painted wet onto dry paper you will have a crisp edge. Where you have painted wet pigment into wet, the colors will mingle and diffuse into one another. The more wet, the more diluted the colors will be. If you are adding color to a very wet area, your paint needs to be less wet, almost straight out of the tube (with just a little water). Don't worry about fussing with this glaze of color. Remember this is an under painting or base coat. The shadows and details will be added at a later stage.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 2

The background is looking nice and bright. So it is time to move on to the body of the bird. Remember, save the details for last. Just get the base painting in. You can always tweak and add the little things later.
We used Aureolin Yellow, Winsor Red, and Permanent Alizarin Crimson for this wash. Be sure your paper and previous wash is bone dry and your pigment colors are moist and ready to dip into - but not too wet to control the pigment to water ratio. Painting on dry paper, begin to load your brush with a nice creamy mixture of a pigment. Just as you would paint a flat wash, keep the edge of the wash wet with a bead of wet paint. As you move around the body of the bird, continue to dump, charge or mingle the other colors. The mixture should be wet enough to stay moist, but not so wet as to dilute the colors too much. Do not brush back and forth, rather just drop the colors where you want them to go. Darker colors in shadow areas or where the feathers look darker and lighter colors where the light is hitting the bird or where the actual feathers are more yellow. This technique is often called Charging or Mingling.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor

I have to take a break from the Hens and Chicks painting for several reasons, but I wanted to share the progress of a painting I did with my students recently in class.
One of my students requested that we paint a bird. I had visited the Brevard County Zoo this fall with my step daughter and took lots of great photos! One photo was of two large parakeets. I thought this would be a fun, colorful subject as well as a great way to teach some wet-in-wet watercolor techniques, and "charging" techniques.
Our first step was to apply the drawing that I provided onto the 10 by 14 inch arches watercolor paper. We used 140 lb.
Then, we applied water to the entire background area and added lots of color: Aureolin Yellow, Sap Green, Hookers Green, Perylene Green and a touch of Burnt Sienna. We deliberately added the darker colors to the bottom to add weight and the impression of dense foliage.
Stop back soon for another update! If you would like to follow along with your own painting, send me an email (below) and I will post the reference material on my etsy site. ( When you pay the $5.00 through Paypal, I will send the drawing and photo reference to you so you can paint along!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hens and Chicks in Watercolor Number 4

I am sorry that I haven't written in a while. We had company from Michigan for a week and I stayed busy with them. Then we had an art show last weekend. Getting ready for the show and taking care of things after the show has consumed several hours of my time.
Back to the painting...
In this shot, you can see I have begun to add greens to the cooler areas of the image. I used Permanent Sap Green and some more Aureolin Yellow. It is really important to continue to soften some of the edges. This keeps your work from looking flat. When all of the painted edges look crisp, the painting will have a flat, graphic look. Nothing wrong with that, if that is your goal, but for me, the goal is realism. So, I like to vary the edges just as I see them in nature.
More to come soon!
Take a look at the class schedule which starts in February. I am offering both Level One and Level Two watercolor classes as well as a drawing class. Click here to visit my classes page on my website.
Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hens and Chicks in Watercolor Number 3

I am now adding some greens and yellows to some areas where the sun is shining on the petals of the Hens and Chicks plant. I used Lemon Yellow, Aurolean Yellow and Permanent Sap Green. Again I used the same method of creating soft and crisp edges as in the last two applications.
I like to glaze colors and these first few glazes provide the foundation for the values of the entire painting.
My parents are visiting from Michigan and we have been having a lot of fun. I will be back to more daily painting in a few days when they head back home.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hens and Chicks in Watercolor Number 2

This is a large painting, on a full sheet of watercolor paper, so the photos are a little difficult to get even in light. That said, you can see that I have continued to add and define the shadow areas with French Ultramarine Blue.
The values are so important in this piece (as with any painting) that I am working to build them right from the start. I will be glazing other colors onto the fully dried pigment later, so I want to keep them transparent, not heavy or thick, but rich with color where a darker value is called for.

I have started to work here with Violet and Prussian Blue to intensify the values, provide a little variety in color and to continue to build interesting shadow areas. I work through the entire painting with this technique before I move on to the next stage.
This painting is beginning to work already simply because the values and edges are correct.
I hope I like it as much when it is done as I do now!!!

Just a note - So far this piece has taken over 6 hours including the preparation of the drawings and getting the glaze established to this point. Be patient with your work. Anything worth something always requires time and patience.
I have set my schedule for classes in Melbourne, Florida for February through April. To see the list of classes and even register online visit:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hens and Chicks in Watercolor

Okay - an new painting in progress! Here we go.
First I worked on the drawing. After getting it composed the way I wanted it, I transferred the drawing to my 300 lb. Kilimanjaro watercolor paper with graphite and a tracing method. This piece is on a full sheet so it measures approximately 20 x 29, after taping the edges to a foam core stabilizing board. This prevents the paper from buckling while I am working on the piece.

Oddly enough, I will begin this painting starting with the darks. This is unusual for a watercolor painting, I know, but this helps me to navigate later when the painting seems more complex and my pencil lines become lifted into the wet pigment and disappear.

I wanted to get the shadow shapes established in this piece. I worked over the entire painting with French Ultramarine Blue, building the shadow areas with crisp and soft edges. I can't stress enough how important WATER is to this process. Paint wet. That is all there is to it. If you don't have enough water in your pigment mixture the paint won't flow, and it won't glow with color.
To soften an edge I apply a very wet area of pigment, then I clean my brush and while the pigment is still wet, I pull water into the pigment area from the white, unpainted area. Each stroke I make with a clean, damp brush. If I pull from the pigment area into the white area, I will just pull color and dilute the mixture that is already applied, and the color will move right out to the edge of the stroke. If I pull FROM the white area with water INTO the color, the plain, clean water at the edge will dry leaving no water mark or line. This makes the light to dark transition very smooth and soft with no funny edge. It works well for me.
For more about a painting in progress with this technique please visit my website:

More to come! Check back as I record my progress on this piece.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Welcome 2009

Well, it's the 5th day of 2009 and I haven't started painting yet! I have been getting things cleaned up after the holidays, working on the paperwork for my business here in Florida, and started to volunteer at a local pregnancy resource center.
Anyway, I have a painting that I started before the holidays which I have taken some progress photos of and I plan to get that done soon. We do have some family coming in this week from Michigan, so I might not get the piece finished, but I can certainly get the beginning pictures and descriptions onto the blog for you.
The painting at left is one I did a few years ago. The Broughton Garden is a historical garden in Franklin, Michigan. I know a few of the Franklin Garden Club members, and I have painted at their garden tours for the past four years. This particular garden is one in the center of town which the garden club maintains. I really enjoyed painting the hostas. You can see this piece in larger format on my website under Garden Portraits. Click here for the link.
Stay tuned for the installment of the Hens and Chicks painting, which will be posted soon! I sincerely hope you have a blessed, prosperous and healthy new year.