Saturday, February 28, 2009

River Scene In Watercolor No.4

Here I have mixed a little Permanent Sap Green, a touch of New Gamboge and a touch of Burnt Sienna. This creates a nice warm, earthy green. You can use Earthen Green, it would work just as well. I applied the Brush Dance strokes of this color mixture to the trees. The applications of pigment on the trees so far have all been a foundation for the details to come.

I have applied the same mixture used above, to add some depth to the reflections in the water. Again, keep those brush strokes horizontal. The thoughtfulness with which you apply your brushwork will determine the final outcome of your painting. If you like to paint loose, then use loose brushwork. If you want to strive for realism, then you must fine-tune your eyes to the detailed shapes of the colors and values within your picture plane.

Bottom, right is a detail of the horizontal brushwork. You really don't need to be "fussy", but you need to pay attention to the overall shape and direction of any washes or line work you apply.

Would you like to paint along with this project? Visit my etsy site and choose the Online Class item. For $5.00 you can get an email with the reference photo and a drawing, ready to transfer to your paper! Then just visit daily to see what steps and colors to use next.

Friday, February 27, 2009

River Scene In Watercolor No.3

I have added some French Ultramarine Blue to the deepest shadow areas of the trees, using the same Brush Dance as was used yesterday. The white areas on the blue are where the light is bouncing off the wet paint. I paint very wet, each little application of this stage has a little puddle that needs to dry before my next step.

Using Permanent Sap Green, a wash is applied to the water where the trees reflect into the river. This glaze should have color to it, but it should be wet enough to be transparent. Each glaze created with watercolor should be transparent, so that the paper can glow through the colors as the light shines through the pigments, hits the paper and bounces back at the viewer's eye.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

River Scene In Watercolor No.2

To paint-along, please visit my etsy shop and obtain the online class at:

Using various mixtures of Aureolin Yellow, Permanent Sap Green and a touch of Burnt Sienna, apply some foliage to the sunlit areas of the trees. I call this application a Brush Dance, due to the fact that the non-working end of my brush flops, or dances around in different directions. This movement helps to keep the brushwork looking fresh and non-uniform.

Now, use a little of the Burnt Sienna, very wet, and add a small area of "dirt" to the horizon line and to the riverbank where the sun is shining on the dirt. This application needs to remain relatively light in value as we will add more color, detail and shadow later on.

To learn more about my classes and workshops, please visit

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

River Scene In Watercolor No.1

You can paint along with this project by visiting my etsy shop ( and choosing the icon for the online class. I will send you an email with the reference photo and a ready-to-use drawing for the project.

To Begin: Paint a wash in the background for the sky. You can either wet the area with water first, then use a stronger pigment, or you can just apply a very wet pigment to the paper using the Flat Wash method. Keep your paper tilted in different directions to keep the moisture flowing and thus allowing the paper to dry in a more even manner. You can also control the flow of the darker pigment toward the top of the paper, as most skies will appear lighter at the horizon line. I used a mixture of French Ultramarine Blue, Antwerp Blue and Cerulean Blue. I applied this wash to the entire background, then used a clean, crumpled, paper towel to lift areas where I know I want the lighter greens in the trees to shine through.

Allow to dry or dry with a hair dryer.

Next, apply a mixture of Antwerp Blue and French Ultramarine Blue to the water using a number 10 round brush. Be sure to use horizontal strokes to suggest the same types of values and lines that are suggested in the reference photo.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Splash Watercolor Show Brevard Watercolor Society

Yesterday, Saturday, I painted a demonstration painting at the Brevard County Watercolor Society Show. The project was called "Five for Five" as there were five artists who each painted five objects. We took photos earlier and each set up our own paintings of the five objects independently of one another.

After taking nearly 100 digital photos last week. I decided to compose my painting to focus on the lovely shadows that appeared due to the fact that I took the photos outside in the bright afternoon sunlight. Before coming to the show, I added some masking tape and masking fluid so that I could flood color onto the painting more quickly without having to paint around the little bits of light that I wanted to save. You will see a hint of the yellow masking around the square container and the bits of light within the shadow it casts.

As I often do, I began the painting by laying in a foundation of
shadows in French Ultramarine Blue and a bit of Prussian Blue.

Next I began to add some yellows to the areas that will eventually become the copper pot, candle stick and the green leaves.

Now I have added some Quinicridone Magenta and some Burnt Sienna to the leaf tips and to the brass objects. I also added some Quinicridone Gold to the brass areas and to the small clay pitcher near the center of the painting.

Next, I have gone back with some darker blues to enhance shadow areas. I have also used Burnt Sienna and VanDyke Brown to warm up the brass pots and to deepen the warmer area values.

I used a physical mixture of VanDyke Brown and Perylene Maroon to warm up the shadow areas and to deepen the values. Since we had only two and a half hours to work on these pieces, plus people were watching us paint, which means I was having conversations with folks and painting at the same time...
Anyway, I did not complete the piece as I would have liked, but this is the end result.

This was such a fun event. If you would like to learn more about the Brevard Watercolor Society please visit their website:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Student Work: Level 2 Painting

I just have to show off some work that one of my recent students painted! Fred is in my Level 2 Class here in Melbourne. He brought in this piece to work on in class.

He started it one week, and I helped him with some minor areas and technique. He brought it in the following week, framed!

Great job, Fred!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 13

Here is the final stage of the painting. I added a few shadows around the wings and on the bird's face and beak. I think this was a fun study and I would love to do another one, larger! My photo reference was of two birds, so I may work on that in the near future!
If you would like to learn about my classes you can visit my website by clicking here:

I have produced a little booklet on how to paint trees. You can find it on my online etsy shop at:

I am working on more "How-To" booklets. Visit back soon!
If you would like to become a follower of this blog, you will be able to easily stop back and see the progress of my paintings.

Thanks so much for visiting!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 12

To create the bird's eye, I used a number six round brush (Silver Black Velvet) with a nice point. I loaded the brush with French Ultramarine Blue and a touch of VanDyke Brown. The combination of the warm and cool colors creates a darker value without using black. I can push the color combination to warm or cool, depending upon which pigment I use more of in the mixture.
By painting a small comma-shape, I am able to keep the sparkle in the bird's eye.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Painting Accepted into Michigan Watercolor Society Exhibition

This piece, Perspectives, was just accepted into the 62nd Annual Michigan Watercolor Society Exhibition. The show will be at the Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, Michigan, from March 14 through May 10, 2009.

This annual exhibition is always a treat! So much talent. The jurors are very good at choosing a wide variety of styles. If you get chance visit the show - you won't be sorry.

Perspectives is part of the Wine Series which I began last winter. There are four in the series so far. You can see all of the paintings in this series on my website:
From this page you can click on a image to see the larger view.

For more information about the exhibition, visit the Michigan Watercolor Society website:

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 11

Finally, time to work on the details!
I used a physical mix of VanDyke Brown and Indigo to create the very dark values on the bird's beak.
I allowed the pigment to settle a little at the bottom to create a subtle shadow. This was dried before the next step.

I used a very, very wet mixture of Winsor Red and water to create a pinkish tint on the birds light face, around the eye and on the light area of the beak. Again this has to dry.

Dry with a hair dryer if you want to continue to work in the area next to your last application of paint. If you drop wet paint next to a wet area, it will spread very quickly where you don't want it.

If this happens, quickly place a clean, dry paper towel onto the area. Just press, don't rub. This should lift most of the color off. Then, dry thoroughly before applying more color.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 10

Again, students wanted to see how to add more texture and foliage in the background, so we added some leafy branches on the top left side of the painting. Personally, this is getting a little busy for me, but I have to admit the demonstration was fun.
To create these leafy areas I used a number 10 round brush. My favorite brushes right now are Silver Black Velvet brushes, which I purchased through They are half synthetic and half natural hair, so they are relatively inexpensive, but give the feel and softness of a natural hair brush.
I started with lighter color combinations of yellows and greens, and gently dabbed the brush in what I call a Brush Dance. When doing this stroke, I focus on a small area and concentrate on the handle-end of my brush. I touch the loaded brush to the paper, making sure that the top part of my brush handle moves in several different directions, like a dance. This helps to create a variety in the strokes and prevents them from looking too uniform - something you don't find much in leaf clusters in nature!
From the lighter colors, once dry, I move on to darker greens to build the shadow areas of the leafy clumps. This is a fun technique and can become soft of hypnotic when used on large paintings.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 9

I wanted to add a little more detail to the branch, so this would help to draw the eye around the painting and to bring the focus onto the bird.
I used Indigo and French Ultramarine Blue to create some shadows. I applied the pigment to the left edge and under the parrots feet, then, cleaned my brush, tapped on the paper towel next to my palette, and used the clean, damp brush to soften the edge to the right. This technique can be used on any area in a painting where strong color is desired for one side of a smooth object, but a soft edge is required to make it look dimensional.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 8

I wanted to demonstrate how to add some foliage to the background. I used a number 10 round brush with a good point to produce these leaves. I call this a pull-push stroke. I start at the outer edge of the painting and press a little on the fully loaded, wet brush as I pull it into the painting with a curve motion. As the stroke is pulled I lift on the brush to create a varied width and then lift higher to bring it to a point.

This stroke is great for making calligraphic marks. To make that type of a mark, as you pull the brush toward you press down and lift up so the bristles deposit wider pigment, then thinner, then wider. The brush can be twisted while pushing and pulling also.

Once these leaves were dry, I added a touch of Perylene Green for shadow areas.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 7

After completely drying the painting with a hair dryer, I have now added a little under-painting for the branch the bird is resting on.
I used a mixture of Burnt Sienna and VanDyke Brown. Only progressing a short distance at a time, I draw some pigment, a relatively dense blend of pigment, just a little water, along the left edge of the branch. I only go about one or two inches, then I quickly rinse my brush, touch it to a cloth or paper towel so that it is wet, but not dripping. With the moist brush, I pull along the edge of the color that I just applied, pulling the water into the wash, not pulling the wash out. This technique softens the right edge of the wash without diluting too much color and without creating a strange edge where the water is applied. Be sure your water is clean and that you do not brush more than one stroke.
I continue with this method along the wooden branch, just a little at a time. If I apply the coat of color too far down the branch, it may dry out before I come back with the water.
Once the entire branch edge is applied with this technique, I can go back and touch in a little more color here and there, being sure to soften edges to keep this under-painting as simply a foundation for details to come.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Parrot Study in Watercolor Number 6

I have added another wet-in-wet wash at the base of the background at this stage. I used Hooker's Green and Perylene Green. I didn't want to have the feeling that the bird was floating too much. However, the background really is secondary to what is happening with the focal point of the bird.
To accomplish this wash I added a light, wet wash of Hooker's Green. Then I charged in darker, richer values of the colors I wanted. As they float in the edges are soft and muted, so they are down-played and they don't take away from the crisp detail of the bird.
To keep the edge of this wash very soft, I used a little clean water. The clear water is applied away from the wash and pulled into the wash. This keeps the color moving INTO the wash instead of continuing to pull color out and creating a funny line at the end of the water.