Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 10

Using a wet mixture of Quinicridone Gold and Burnt Sienna, I have touched in some of the gold edges on the dish. Use varying mixtures of these colors. Where you see a lighter value in your photo reference, paint it lighter. Where you see a darker value in the reference, paint it darker. To make it darker in value use a slightly stronger pigment and perhaps use more Burnt Sienna than gold. It is amazing to me how different the piece begins to look with this addition of warm colors!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 9

Today I am continuing to use French Ultramarine Blue to develop the subtle light effects in the glass. I have added some very wet pigments to the jar, and to the white bowl. Notice how the towel reflects into the shiny glass. Keep the applications light and wet. Use both crisp and soft edges, letting your reference be your guide.

In the canning jar, I painted the shadows on some of the letters. It is very crucial to not allow yourself to get too literal here. Pick out one value, the darkest value, and don't allow yourself to work in any lighter values yet. You also don't have to paint everything you see. This is where the artist in you will learn to filter out what is necessary to the painting and what can be left out!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 8

Today I am going back to the French Ultramarine Blue and using a very wet wash of color on the folded edges of the towel. As before, I am using my Softened Edge Stroke (see previous posts) to create a soft edge where I don't want a crisp line in the color.

Pay attention to the lightness and darkness (values) of the different shadow areas. The shadows will be darker on one side. There is also some light bouncing around the objects. Squint your eyes to see the different values. In your photo references you will see that one photo is printed in black and white. This also helps to identify the subtle, different values throughout the piece.

Don’t have the references? If you would like to paint along with my blog lesson, you can get the photo references and drawings sent to you by visiting my etsy shop, clicking on the Online Lesson icon, and pay a small fee of $5.00. I will then email the to you the photo references and the drawing.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 7

Using French Ultramarine Blue, I have added the lines on the towel. I tried to create each line with as few brush strokes as possible. This keeps the painting looking fresh and painterly. It's okay if the lines are not perfect. The towel is not the focal point for this painting. Too much detail, even in detailed work, becomes fussy-looking.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 6

Take a look at the red pigments on your palette. Each red has either a warm or cool cast to it. I used a very wet wash of Winsor Red on the cherries to provide a base color for the subsequent glazes. This is probably 90 percent water and 10 percent pigment — very wet. I did not mask the highlights in the cherries for this painting, so I just painted around them. If you have a difficult time with painting around those tiny areas, you may want to add a little masking fluid first. I think it is good to learn to paint around, besides I don't like to take the time to mask, and then remove it later. I do use masking occasionally, but obviously I chose not to for this piece.

I have left a tiny little white area around all of the cherries at this point to create a separation between them visually. Later on I will fill this in with color, but for now I will leave the white area. It also helps me to see where each cherry begins and ends because as I work with the wet paint it will often lift the graphite and the pencil lines will disappear.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 5

Today I have used Sap Green to add a wet wash of color to several areas on the jar. I have again used the softened edge stroke (see previous post) to create soft glazes. I have used different strengths of color (by using different mixtures of pigment and water) to develop some darker values and some lighter values. It's important to use your photo reference as a key. It will guide you as to where you need color, what shapes those colors should be applied, and how dark or light the color should appear.

Because the previous glazes of color were bone dry, the soft application of another color on top of the previous layers creates a depth of color that cannot be achieved otherwise. When glazing several layers of color, be sure to use a very light touch and do not brush too much! Extensive brushing will simply lift and mix the colors and create mud.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 4

Using French Ultramarine Blue I paint in the shadowed areas of my still life. I like to do this for several reasons: this helps to establish the foundation, or bones, of the painting; it helps me to identify which direction the light is coming from; it creates an under-layer of cool color where I want the shadows to appear. You will see why this is so important very soon.

To create the soft edges of color on the towel and in some of the other shadow areas, I use what I call my Softened Edge Stroke. I apply a nice, rich, wet stroke of color in a small area, then clean the brush and tamp it on the paper toweling. I use the clean damp brush to pull a tiny bit of moisture INTO the stroke of color. The moistened edge creates a soft edge. It is very important to pull the liquid INTO the pigment and not to pull the pigment out into the clean, wet area. Pushing the water INTO the colored stroke will help to create a soft edge that does not have a funky line of dried pigment, because the water softens the edge to the white of the paper. I hope this makes sense.

I would love to hear your comments! Please click the comment link at the bottom of the blog entry. You can also become a Follower!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 3

Today I am going to add some Burnt Sienna to the puddle of yellows that I used yesterday. Again I want to work in the largest basic washes first, so I will paint a foundational layer of paint for the table. I mix a large puddle and use lots of water. The wetter the wash the nicer it will flow when applied to the paper.

Because I work very wet, there is usually a bead of paint at the end of the wash. I use a piece of paper toweling to gently rub along the taped edge of the painting. You can also just touch the paper toweling to the puddle, without even touching the paper. This will siphon off the extra liquid so that it will not run back into the wash and create a bloom.

Paint the largest areas first, then go back and paint the table where it shows through the jar. Because the glass will distort the line, it should not line up perfectly with the normal view of the jar.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 2

Today I want to begin adding my big washes. I like to start with my largest washes, and I often start with the first glaze of a background wash. I used a large, wet puddle of Aureolin Yellow and New Gamboge to wash onto the background. I keep the board tipped, stroke each area only once and allow gravity and water to make the pigment flow. If you use a very light touch on the paper, only using the brush to direct the puddle, your paper will not be disturbed and your washes will be clean and bright.

I also added some of this mixture to the areas in the jar where I can see the background showing through.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson

A New Lesson! It's time to explore a still life painting in watercolor.
I have worked on a drawing and now I am going to trace it onto my watercolor paper.  I used Arches 300 pound cold press paper. I used a Chunky Graphite Stick (from and applied a thick coat of the graphite to the back of my drawing. I used a tissue or piece of paper toweling to gently rub the graphite. This smooths it out and removes any extra crumbs.

I use one piece of masking tape to secure the drawing to the paper. This provides a hinge which keeps the drawing in place, but allows me to lift it occasionally to see that I am capturing everything as I trace. I like to use a ball point pen to trace. I find that I don't have to push hard, it is easier to see what I have traced since the pen is usually a different color than my drawing, and it provides a nice, thin line on the watercolor paper.

Now I use two-inch masking tape and tape all edges of the paper to a foam core base. Be sure that at least 1/2 in of the watercolor paper is covered with tape all around. If you tape less than 1/2 inch, chances are the tape will not hold when you apply the wet washes of color to come.

If you would like to paint along with my blog lessons, you can get the photo references and drawings sent to you by visiting my etsy shop, clicking on the Online Lesson icon, and pay a small fee of $5.00. I will then email to you the photo references and the drawing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Handiwork - Just for Fun!

I work a shift each week at the cooperative gallery with which I am a member. We are encouraged to bring our work and paint and draw during our shift. A few weeks ago I was prepared to paint, but forgot to bring the actual piece I had started, so I looked around for something to work on while I was there.

Ah, Ha!!! My hands are attached to me and I cannot forget them! So I sketched my hand several times on a 10 by 14 inch sheet of watercolor paper. I played with wet washes and skin tones. What fun. This is a great way for those of you who want to learn to paint people to study shapes, shadows, values and colors for portraiture.

To learn more about the Art and Antique Studio and Fine Art Gallery, a cooperative gallery here in Melbourne, Florida, click here.

I am currently gearing up for classes which start the last week in September and I am getting ready to set a date for a one-day Beginner's Watercolor Workshop. If you are interested in classes please visit my website for more information. The one day workshop will cover all the foundational information, wash techniques and brushwork that you will need to begin painting in watercolor. If you would like to participate in the Saturday workshop please drop me an email so I can notify you of the date, time and location.

New online lesson coming soon!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 14

After adding another very faint wash to the background water (it seemed too disjointed before), and a few little touches here and there, like the very tiny line of shadow under the right edge of the boat where it meets the water, well,...I am happy. I think this little piece is complete.

If you enjoyed this lesson, please let me know by posting a comment. f you would like to paint along with this lesson, go to my etsy online shop and click on the Online Class icon. For $5.00 I will send you the reference photos and the prepared drawing in a pdf file format via email. Then, you can paint along each day as I describe with photos and journaling, how to paint this little picture.You can go the older posts, print them off and use them as a workbook.

A new lesson will be posted soon. Become a Follower and you won’t miss the new things coming up!
Thanks so much for visiting.

You can see my work at the Art & Antique Studio Gallery in the Eau Gallie Arts District (EGAD) in Melbourne, Florida.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 13

Today I am working primarily with the water.

Using the mixtures that I used before (Sap Green, French Ultramarine Blue and Antwerp Blue - variations of these, and by themselves) I use my pull-push stroke to develop some more ripples and details in the water. The more distant brushwork needs to be wetter, lighter in value, and thinner in width of application. The closer strokes are more defined, wider, and darker. It is really crucial at this stage to not over-work a painting.

I used a little bit of French Ultramarine Blue to add a tiny shadow under the crisp whites that were saved before with my masking fluid. This makes these particular water ripples very distinct.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 12

Today I am using the olive green mixture from yesterday and adding a touch of that color in the reflections of the boat in the water. These little brush strokes should be horizontal to maintain the appearance of the ripples in the water.

I have also used a tiny bit of Quinicridone Gold and Burnt Sienna to make little angled strokes to the shadow side of the ropes. Danger! Don’t over work this. In the scheme of things in this painting, the ropes are not that important. Too much detail here will give them too much importance and make the painting look fussy and over-worked.

I have used some VanDyke Brown to add a touch of shadow on the right sides of some of the dock posts, and as a glaze in the shadow areas under the dock.

If you are in the Melbourne, Florida area, you can take one of my classes in person! Visit my website for details.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 11

Today I am using a small bit of Permanent Sap Green and Burnt Sienna mixed to create an olive green. You can add some New Gamboge if you want it to be a little more golden. I use a wet, but strong mixture to paint the stripes on the right side of the boat. Then, I added some water and painted a wetter version of the same mixture on the left side. It needs to be wetter and lighter because it is not in shadow.

A bit of French Ultramarine Blue was used in the little bumper at the corner of the dock to create a soft shadow. I also used a touch of Burnt Sienna with a number six round brush that has a nice point, and run a very light, very thin stroke of pigment here and there on the right sides of the mast and ropes that go up through the tree line.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 10

Check to be sure that you have painted all of the underpainting where it needs to be around the masked areas. Thoroughly dry your painting. It needs to be bone-dry for this next step. Now it is time to remove the masking.

Use a masking fluid pickup, the best, cleanest and most efficient tool for removing masking. Any other tool will leave residue on your paper, or leave unattractive marks. You can purchase a masking fluid pickup, which looks like a rubbery eraser, at most good art supply dealers, or go to, one of my favorite online suppliers.

Simple rub the masking fluid pickup over the areas where you applied masking. You can actually use a scrubbing motion and not have to worry about disturbing your paint. With very clean, dry hands, gently touch your paper to see if any masking residue is left, and use the pickup tool until it is completely smooth and clean.

Now you have some beautiful, crisp whites to add sparkle to your painting!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 9

Using very wet French Ultramarine Blue I have added some glazing to the wood on the dock. I have also begun to build some shadows under the boat and under the dock. Notice how the shadows around the dock posts fall on the water. When painting in the shadows, be sure to keep them consistent. Your main light source should be coming from one direction, so all the shadows should fall on one side of the objects. In this painting the light is coming from the upper left, so all of the shadows should be on the right of the objects. For interest I used varying values and I tried not to overwork.

I used a little bit of very wet French Ultramarine Blue to develop some brief shadows in the red sail cover.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 8

Now that my foundation is complete, I can begin to work in a little detail, just one step at a time.
I have mixed little puddles of very wet pigments. One puddle is a bit of Permanent Sap Green with a touch of French Ultramarine Blue, another is French Ultramarine Blue on it’s own with some water, another puddle is of Antwerp Blue and another puddle has a combination of the above colors. These puddles are all very, very wet and pale.

Using a number 10 round, or larger, I applied a pull-push stroke to create some shadows and ripples in the water. The ones in the background are very faint/wet, and smaller in width. The strokes in the foreground are wider and more crisp.

I used a clean, damp brush to soften edges here and there to break up the crispness of the lines.
Be sure to look A LOT at your photo reference for clues as to where to add the brushwork, where to soften the lines and what color and direction the brushwork should flow.

If you would like to paint along with this lesson, go to my etsy online shop and click on the Online Class icon. For $5.00 I will send you the reference photos and the prepared drawing in a pdf file format via email. Then, you can paint along each day as I describe with photos and journaling, how to paint this little picture.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 7

Today I have applied a bit of very wet Burnt Sienna to the dock area. As you can see from the progress so far, I like to work around the whole painting a little at a time. I find this helps me to keep a check on values and color, and I don’t get stuck in one area. I work in simple, under-painting, or foundational washes, then slowly work into details later. The under-painting really helps me to keep from over-working a piece and I don’t have areas that look like they don’t belong because they were developed too far before the rest of the piece.

I love to hear from you! Please feel free to share a comment or become a Follower!

Let Us Not Forget

Let us not forget those who lost their lives on 9-11!
We need to remember what happened and work to prevent it from ever happening again. My heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones on that horrific day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 6

Today I want to focus on the boat. I start with a nice mixture of French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna to create a lovely dark neutral color. I first apply it at a value of about 5 (six would be the darkest value, so 5 is dark but still transparent) on the back, shadowy area of the boat. As I work the wash forward I gradually add more water until I am just painting with clear water at the front of the boat. This is called a graded wash and you can see the lovely transition from dark to light. The only crisp lines are where the wet pigment was applied to the dry paper and not softened by a damp or wet edge. I am always amazed at how this simple little wash can accomplish so much.

Be sure when developing this area that you do not brush more than once in each area. Apply a stroke of paint, tip your board so that a bead of wet pigment crawls to the edge in the direction where you will apply your next stroke. Dip into your paint, then just barely touch the bead as you pull the next stroke of paint along. Continue this process, adding more water to your paint each time, until you are just painting the stroke with water. If you don’t touch your brush more than once to the area, you will have a beautiful, clean transition from dark to light. This really shows the dimensionality of the boat!

Now, using Winsor Red, a great, transparent tomato red, I applied a little wash to the sail covers. I varied the value (lightness and darkness) of the pigments so this underpainting will have some depth to it. We’ll add details and shadows in another step.
Allow this to dry thoroughly, or dry it with a dryer at a cool setting.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 5

Now that the sky and water are dry I can add a very wet application of Permanent Sap Green with a number 10 round brush. Ask I poke the wet pigment here and there along the tree line, using varying strengths of pigment, I also leave some areas with no pigment at all. I also dab in some New Gamboge, Burnt Sienna, very lightly, and then some Perylene Green along the bottom to add weight and shadow under the trees. Work quickly, and while the pigment is still wet, use a clean, damp brush to touch the edges of the tops of the trees here and there to soften the edges. Since the trees are in the background and not a part of my focal point, I want them to be less distinct. When I soften the edges, the details are removed and the impression of trees in the distance is easily achieved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 4

To make the water look like it recedes into the background I need to use some atmospheric perspective. This simply means that the front (closer to the viewer) needs to be a bit different than the back (farther away from the viewer). Any drawing or painting is simply creating an illusion of reality, or whatever the artist desires to represent. I want to create the illusion of a three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface.

To accomplish this I wet the entire area that will represent the water, or river in this case. Using French Ultramarine Blue, Antwerp Blue and a very tiny bit of Permanent Alizarin Crimson, I gently stroke a bit of color directly from the paint well, into the very wet area on my paper. To create the illusion of depth I add more pigment to the bottom of the paper (closer to the viewer). I am keeping the distance lighter at this point.

I can create more atmospheric perspective with details later on in my painting, and I will add more details to what is closer, and smaller, less defined details in the distance.

Tip your paper and allow the water and gravity to do some of the painting for you! Wherever you applied water, the pigments will flow. I used my brush to add water into the nooks and crannies around the boat and dock so the pigments would flow there as I tipped the board. If your pigment runs outside of your wetted area, quickly use a dry, clean paper towel and just press (don’t rub) onto the runaway pigment.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 3

Ah, color! I have wet the sky area with clear water, then applied a generous amount of French Ultramarine Blue. By tipping the board I can use gravity, instead of my brush, to make the pigment flow. The lack of brushing keeps the wash nice and smooth as the paper is not disturbed with all of the bristles on my brush.

I have kept the tree line white with the softened edge created by water. The board has been tipped in all directions, but mostly I have tipped it toward the top of the sky so the darkest pigment flows in that direction. When I am satisfied with the value (it should be dark if I want it to look like a sunny day!), I added just a touch of wet Permanent Alizarin Crimson in one corner just to add a little warmth. I like to make the corners of my paintings each a little bit different. This also gives the piece a little depth and variety. Allow this to dry thoroughly. You can use a dryer but don’t hold it too close to the masking, or use a cool setting.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Boat On River Lesson 2

Now the drawing has been traced onto my Arches 140 pound paper. I want to preserve some whites in this piece to make the water appear to sparkle, and I know I will be working with big wet washes due to the amount of water and sky in this piece. Therefore, I have masked some of the finer detail areas. I use Winsor Newton Yellow tinted masking fluid and a nice, little brush coated with soapy water.

Never mix your masking tools with your regular painting tools. Use separate water, paper towels, etc. Masking will ruin your good brushes, so keep them totally apart.

I use a very cheap little brush for masking. I coat it with thick, soapy water, then use just a little masking at a time. I keep dipping into the thick, soapy mixture in between applications of masking to preserve the brush as much as possible. If an area to be masked is extremely small, I sometimes use a toothpick to apply the masking.
Don’t use a hot hair dryer on your masking as this will “bake” the masking into your watercolor paper and make it difficult to remove.

If you would like to paint along with this lesson, go to my etsy online shop and click on the Online Class icon. For $5.00 I will send you the reference photos and the prepared drawing in a pdf file format via email. Then, you can paint along each day as I describe with photos and journaling, how to paint this little picture.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Boat On River Lesson

I use thumbnail sketches a lot. These little sketches work great to figure out where I am going to place the subject of my painting on my paper. I work out composition, values, and I work on eliminating things in the reference photos that are unnecessary.
While working with my thumbnail sketches I write little notes to myself. This seems to help me do a lot of problem solving before I ever touch my watercolor paper.
 Here you can see a close up view of the thumbnail used for this painting. I use two horizontal lines and two vertical lines to check my composition. This is commonly known in the art world as the Golden Mean or Rule of Thirds. If your focal point falls on or very near one of the points where the lines intersect, you can be pretty sure that the composition will be a pleasing one.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Lesson for This Weekend!

This little boat will be the next blog lesson starting this weekend. My level two class just completed it and I think all of their paintings came out great! The biggest part of this lesson was the study of water.
If you would like to paint along with this lesson, go to my etsy online shop and click on the Online Class icon. For $5.00 I will send you the reference photos and the prepared drawing in a pdf file format via email. Then, you can paint along each day as I describe with photos and journaling, how to paint this little picture.
If you can't visit the blog each day, you can visit occasionally (become a Follower!) and print off the archived lessons. If there are past lessons that you would like to try, just go to the etsy shop, as above, and when ordering let me know which lesson you would like.
Have a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sunlit Coconuts Lesson 14

A quick glaze of French Ultramarine Blue in the sky and - Ta Da!!! After a lot of "tweaking" around this piece, it is finally complete! Hope you enjoyed it. I know I did.

This piece will be for sale soon (we need to mat and frame it!). You can learn more about purchasing my work by visiting my online etsy store.

If you are in the Melbourne, Florida area and would like to learn more about my drawing and watercolor classes, please visit my website.

A new lesson will be posted soon. I am also beginning to plan my upcoming art show season. You can find out more about the shows I'll be in on the Events page of my website. Stay in touch - become a Follower.

You can see my work locally at the Art and Antique Studio Gallery in the Eau Gallie Art District (EGAD!), Melbourne, Florida. Click the studio name above to visit their website.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sunlit Coconuts Lesson 13

Today I am just tweaking the piece. Using many of the colors used previously in this painting, I work around the image touching up areas. I use light washes to push areas to the background, and I used warm washes of yellows or Burnt Sienna to pull things to the foreground.

I again used Prussian Blue to work in some of the finer details, especially around the end of the top coconut. I used a number six round brush with a nice point, pulling and pushing the brush to create varied strokes.

Visit back tomorrow to view the completed painting!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sunlit Coconuts Lesson 12

Today I have used VanDyke Brown to develop some more of my details within the vines, the impressions in the trunk, and to again develop more little details. By applying small amounts of pigment, then immediately softening the edges, I can create the illusion of details and depth without actually painting every little thing. The top coconut is my focal area, so I want to create the illusion of detail without actually painting each bit in. By using this "poking" method of touching the wet pigment with a damp brush, I can create a myriad of edges that make it look detailed, without being fussy.

I have glazed VanDyke Brown again within many of the shadow areas to deepen the value. Once dried completely, I glaze blues in the same manner over the browns. Using relative opposites on the color wheel creates much darker values.