Saturday, May 30, 2009

Arches Study Workshop 2

Here I have applied the drawing to the 140 lb. Arches paper, which is about 11 by 14 inches. I tape the paper to a foam core board and now I am ready to paint.

The first application of paint is done in French Ultramarine Blue. I begin to build the shadow areas that will become dark under-painting for the warm, dark values in the finished piece.

As I discussed yesterday, if I under-paint with this relative opposite, it will darken the value without making the painting look dull or as if it was painted with too much pigment. My desire is to increase the value and maintain the transparency of the pigment.

If you would like to paint along with this lesson, you can order the photo reference and drawing online at, just click on the icon for the online class.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Arches Study Workshop 1

This painting was a demonstration piece for a recent workshop I did for the Brevard Watercolor Society. I called it: Painting The Shadows First.

First I want to talk briefly about layering colors. If I want an area of my painting to be dark brown, and I just paint browns in that area, the pigment will not get darker, it will simply get thick. In order to make a color darker in value, I need to layer that color against it's relative opposite.

This is a sample of my value chart. I used a mixture of Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine Blue (relative opposites on my color wheel) to create the dark, neutral color. I then painted the darkest mixture I could make, and still keep the color transparent, onto the number six square. I continued to paint the squares, progressively adding more water to the pigment/water mixture. I left the number one square white. This is a tool that I use often to judge values, the darkness or lightness of a color.

This is a sample of a color wheel. You can learn more about the color wheel from lots of books, and I talk briefly about it on my Beginner's Workshop DVD. You can make a simple color wheel, and paint some of the colors from your palette onto the color wheel. Or print a color wheel from many of the online art resources and use a marker to list which colors on your palette correspond to the areas of the color wheel.
From there you can then see how to mix dark, neutral colors from the relative opposites on the color wheel. These mixtures can be physically mixed on your palette or glazed, layered wet onto very dry, to create rich, dark value contrasts in your paintings.

I use this theory to build the dark values in my paintings. For instance, I use a lot of French Ultramarine Blue because it is a relatively pure, true blue in relation to my color wheel. If I look at my color wheel I can see that it is opposite many of my warm orange-brown colors, like Burnt Sienna and VanDyke Brown. I like to paint with glazes, and often I paint with only one color at a time. I allow it to dry, then glaze on another color to create the rich values, while maintaining the transparency of my pigments. Come back tomorrow to see the beginning of how this painting was built.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Brevard Watercolor Society Workshop

Last weekend I did a workshop for the Brevard Watercolor Society, here in Melbourne, Florida. What a fun time we had! I demonstrated my technique of painting the shadows first, then glazing colors over the dry paint. Lots of people showed up for a fun day of painting!
We worked from 10 AM to 2 PM, and I shared as many tips and tricks as I could fit in. My next blog lesson will feature the project we worked on.

If you would like to paint along with the lesson, visit my etsy shop ( and for $5.00 I will send you the six page project handouts, including the reference photo and drawing. You will receive these materials in pdf format via email.

Thanks to everyone who showed up for the workshop. I really had a great time and I enjoyed many of my new Florida neighbors.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 13

My finished piece!

Hope you enjoyed this one - I know I did!

This lesson is available for you to paint along! Just go to my online etsy shop, click the icon for online class and complete the five dollar purchase. You will then receive an email with the drawings and reference photos for this lesson!

Let me know which lesson you would like, I have several of them on this blog.

I also teach drawing and watercolor classes in the Melbourne, Florida area. If you are interested, visit the Classes page of my website for more details:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 12

This detail shows how beautifully glazes have subdued the leaves in the background. First glaze was of Olive Green, then with a thin mixture of Prussian Blue (after the green dried).

I have created recognizable suggestions of the plants behind the birds, without completely decribing them for the viewer.

I used some Indigo to further push back the details here and there. I also used Indigo in the beaks of the birds, and some of the darkest shadow areas along the shoreline.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 11

Now it is time to start to tie it all together!

I have used a mixture of Sap Green and Quinicridone Gold to glaze over some areas of the water. Near the foreground left, I used Olive Green and VanDyke Brown and Permanent Alizarin Crimson in the foreground right.

I used some of the Quin Gold on the orange areas of the flamingos, as well as on the branches on the right.
I used a very wet mixture of Olive Green and Quin Gold to glaze over the leaves and the entire background. I want to be sure they aren’t too detailed and compete with my true focal point.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 10

I have used VanDyke Brown as a wash in the background. I have also used it to create more shadows on the palm fronds, areas in the water, and to create some of the darker values in the flamingos. Go lightly on the birds! They should look light and airy, not heavily detailed with dark colors!

Here is a detail of the brushwork
on one flamingo.

Here is a detail of how the VanDyke Brown was used to create shadows around some of the reflections in the water, along the left side of the bird’s leg, and as a wet glaze near the shoreline. Soften edges with clear water when necessary.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 9

Using Prussian Blue, I have begun to add some texture to the areas surrounding the palm leaves. I just allowed my round brush to dance over the background. I will glaze later to soften the look of this area.
I am using various reds from my palette to add pink glazes to the flamingos and to their reflections in the water. I also used Prussian Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, and various greens to add some crisp details to the reflection areas in the water. The colors used in your background will determine which colors are reflected into the water.
Sometimes it is helpful to actually draw in the reflection shapes with a pencil and slightly shade the darker values to guide you. These little shapes can become a huge, confusing maze if you don’t study your references carefully.

This is a detail of the reflections in the water at the base of one of the flamingos. Play with the abstract shapes, just remember, they should make some kind of sense based on what they are reflecting!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 8

Using mud from my palette, (various mixtures of greens, blues and browns) I begin to add some cast shadows on my leaves.

I know that I will add a glaze of color or two to the leaves again later, but I want to add some dimensionality to them. This helps the viewer to see the depth due to the light direction, which will cast shadow shapes on many of the leaves.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 7

Using VanDyke Brown, I begin laying in soft washes in the water and in the background (only where the painting is bone-dry). Noticed how the softened edges, in horizontal bands begin to define the water.
The horizontal bands are very important. If you don’t keep your main brushwork on the water primarily horizontal, your water will not read as flat.

In this detail, you can see how the VanDyke Brown is touched in with a number 6 round brush near the legs of the smallest flamingo.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 6

I wanted to quickly build some dark value in the background, so I mixed some Prussian Blue and Perylene Green to create a wet, dark value wash. I dropped this in and around the plants in the background. This value addition really helps the flamingos to pop!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 5

Using very wet paint, and softened edges, I applied some French Ultramarine Blue to create some of the areas where I want to have some darker values. Even though I am starting to build darker values, the paint application is very wet.

In this detail you can see where I have washed over the green line that I painted in earlier. Each wash glaze will soften the edges of the previous wash, and, if kept transparent, the glazes will build rich, intense, colors.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 4

Here I have applied Hooker’s Green and Sap Green, using the softened-edge stroke. Paint a crisp edge where you want a sharp line between the white of the paper and the wash of color.
I also established a bit of an edge between the water and the land. This is more of a reference for me, than an actual edge that will remain.
I used a bit of Burnt Sienna to establish the line against the leg of the smallest flamingo.

To learn more about the brushwork and washes that I use, you can order my Beginner's Watercolor Workshop DVD by visiting my online shop:, then choose the DVD. If you don't see it there, send me an email and I will post it again. You can also order through my website:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 3

Now I have added some Hooker’s Green, Cerulean Blue, Burnt Sienna, and a little bit of Aurolean Yellow to define some of the palm leaves that are hanging down behind the flamingos. Keep the application of this series of colors very wet and transparent because we will be painting more later.

Use your photo references for ideas of where to stroke in some leaves. Keep the colors varied and use the pull-push stroke to create these little areas.

While working with the yellows and golden colors, drop in a very wet wash of Aurolean Yellow or Burnt Sienna onto the twigs, if they are in your composition.

You can paint along by going to my online etsy shop,, click the icon for online class and complete the five dollar purchase. You will then receive an email with the drawings and reference photos for this lesson.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Flamingos Lesson 2

I used Quinicridone Magenta and Alizarine Crimson
in very wet washes to lay down the first bits of pink colors in the flamingos. This helps to establish the focal point and to give you a sense of satisfaction, that, yes, you have started your painting!

Try some different pinks and reds from your palette on a scrap piece of watercolor paper to see which colors on your palette will make the right color for your painting.

This is a detail shot of one of the flamingos. You can see that the application of paint is not fussy, just quickly lay down some bits of wet color. If your pigment is wet enough, you will be able to siphon off areas that may have too much color.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Flamingos Lesson

Finally, a new lesson! I call this one, Flamingos Napping.
If you would like to follow along with this lesson, go to my online etsy shop,, click the icon for online class and complete the five dollar purchase. You will then receive an email with the drawings and reference photos for this lesson!

Transfer the drawing to your paper.
With this lesson you will receive several sketches of flamingos in different sizes. Do some thumbnail sketches to see how you might like to arrange them. You can enlarge or shrink the drawings provided to fit your composition better. Once you have a nice composition, transfer the drawings to your watercolor paper.
After you transfer your drawings, use masking tape to secure your paper to a foam core board.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Beginner's Watercolor DVD Now Available!

I wanted to let you know that my new DVD, “Beginner’s Watercolor Workshop” will be available as of Friday, May 8, 2009.

This project has been in the works for the past two years and has finally come to reality. The DVD contains over an hour of instruction, plus a printable, 20-page workbook on the disk.

The workshop walks you through the basics of watercolor in an easy to follow format. It would make a great gift for anyone who has the desire to learn watercolor painting.

For those of you who have taken my class, it is a great review, plus it includes some of my latest and greatest tips on washes and brushwork. It is a wonderful introduction to the fun and challenging medium of watercolor for beginners and those who have been painting for awhile.

Topics covered in the DVD include:

• Watercolor Paper Types
• Preparing Watercolor Paper for Painting
• How to Choose Brushes
• Paints/Pigments for Watercolor
• Suggested Watercolor Supplies
• Art Supplies Resources
• Setting Up Your Palette
• Setting Up Your Work Area
• The Four Basic Washes
• Beginning Brush Work
• How to Make a Value Chart
• How to Transfer a Drawing to Watercolor Paper
• Make a Color Chart from Your Palette
• Paint a Flat Wash Around a Difficult Object
• Glaze with Transparent Color

The cost is $27.00 US, plus $3.00 S&H
To order, visit my website:
Or to order by phone, call: 321-474-3449

A YouTube preview should be out by early next week!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lots More Art!

I will be posting a new online lesson very soon.

I have been very busy with shows, gallery openings, working on the final details of the upcoming DVD (Beginner's Watercolor Workshop - coming soon!), and painting with my friends from The Art & Antiques Studio Gallery.

Lolly Walton, I, Barbara Smythers and Therese Ferguson (right), painted for the Relay For Life this past Saturday at the Eau Gallie High School. We worked on our paintings for about 4 hours, and then donated them. People attending the event were able to purchase tickets, then place their tickets in a jar, which was designated for each painting. At the end of the event tickets were drawn and winners were notified.

At right are the coconuts I painted for the event. Most paintings take between 20 and 60 hours, so this was very fast for me! We had a wonderful time and the entire event (not just our paintings) raised $14,000 above their goal to help with cancer treatment and prevention. We were thrilled to be a part of it. We met many cancer survivors and enjoyed the sunny, very breezy, day!