Friday, October 30, 2009

Candy Dish Lesson 13

Ta Da!!! The finished piece. I am craving chocolate... I'm glad it is almost time for those little trick-or-treaters to visit my house. I may munch on some candy, too!

If you would like to order the reference photo and drawing for this lesson, please visit my etsy online store and click on the Online Class icon. Let me know which lesson you would like. Thanks for visiting.

To learn more about my classes and artwork, please visit my website:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Candy Dish Lesson 12

The remainder of work on this piece is just to refine the details in the candy dish, continue with various glazes of wet, transparent colors on the candies and to lift and soften areas that need either lighter values or softer edges.

I used a number six round Silver Black Velvet brush ( for the detail areas. I used the colors from the candies and shadows to pull this together. I kept a close eye on the reference photo to indicate where the details were necessary - if they aren't necessary don't put them in!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Candy Dish Lesson 11

It is time to remove the masking that was applied at the beginning of this project. I like to use a rubber cement pickup. You can purchase these at any art supply store and also at They work great! You can really scrub this tool over your paper to pick up every last bit of masking without worrying about damaging your paper. If the edges of this tool get black and crumbly in appearance, simply use a scissors or razor knife to scrape down to a clean edge.
Now that the masking is off you will see the sparkling white of the paper. I chose to soften some of these areas using a number 4 Fritch Scrubber brush. This is a small, stiff-bristled brush that I dip into clean water and gently brush over the edges of the masked areas. Then I quickly press the area with a paper towel to lift the moisture and scrubbed pigment. Be frugal, don't over-do this technique or you will loose your whites. The direction of the scrubbing motion will determine how the lifting looks, so be conscientious about the direction you push and pull the brush. Use your photo reference as a guide for where to lift and soften. One thing to note, this DOES chop up the paper somewhat, so only do this in areas where you do not plan to add any more color!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Candy Dish Lesson 10

Today I wanted to paint the chocolate-coated candy. In my painting there is only one! I used Burnt Sienna as an underglaze, then I used VanDyke Brown to glaze over that to create more of a chocolate color and some of the deeper shadows. French Ultramarine Blue was used for the deeper shadows in this candy - but each color was applied after the other glazes had dried.

I also used French Ultramarine Blue and some of the other, previously used colors, to develop the shadow areas around the candies that are in the dish. Be sure to check your photo reference to capture the value, shape and color scheme of each of these little shadow areas. This is a good time to correct some of the candy shapes if they are not quite perfect!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Candy Dish Lesson 9

Okay! Now it's time to dress up the table a little. First, I used a one-inch flat brush with very soft bristles. I loaded it with clean water and gently pulled a puddle of water over the entire table, including the areas of shadow under the dish painted earlier. The only things I left untouched with water were the actual dish, and the candies both in the dish and on the table.

(Special thanks to Anna, one of my students, for shooting these pictures for me!)

It is extremely important not to put pressure on the brush - use a VERY LIGHT TOUCH!!! The brush should basically just push the water around, not really even touch the paper. The less you can stroke the less wash-out or heavy bleeding of pigments you will have.

If you used very thick, heavy pigments for your shadow areas it will lift a lot. You will notice that lots of color flows into the water. All I can say is that this is a good lesson to keep your pigment applications thin, transparent and use lots of water with each glaze!

Now that the table is covered with a generous amount of water, you should see a shine to it. Some areas may still have measurable puddles. Gently tip your board to be sure the water is absorbing evenly into the paper. While it is still shiny, apply small amounts of French Ultramarine Blue and Permanent Alizarin Crimson by dripping it into the wetted areas. Put your brush down and tip the board to create soft areas of slightly blended color.

Notice that I have added some Winsor Red to the red candies. Use any of the bright, warm reds on your palette for the candy glaze. I have also deepened the yellows with a glaze of New Gamboge and a little Quinicridone Gold.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Candy Dish Lesson 8

Here I have glazed the blue candies with a light, wet wash of French Ultramarine Blue to intensify the color!

Things are starting to take shape!

If you would like to paint along with this blog lesson, let me know. To receive an email with the pdf file of the photo reference and drawing for this painting, simply visit my etsy online shop and pay the $5.00 fee and I will send the references to you. Many people like to print off the daily lessons, then paint the project from those sheets.

More to come soon on this lesson. Thanks so much for visiting. I love to hear your comments!

Candy Dish Lesson 7

Time to paint the shadows of the green candies. Again, working with the theory of relative opposites on your palette, look at a color wheel, and see which color on your palette might work as a nice, transparent opposite for the green candies.

I chose Permanent Alizarin Crimson, since it is already a color I am using in this painting, it will keep the look "cohesive". Using the same technique from the previous two days, I painted the shadows of the green candies with the red under-painting. Look for areas where a crisp edge is appropriate and where you may need to soften an edge with a clean, damp brush. Be sure that your shadow areas make sense with the direction of your light source. This will not only make your painting look dimensional, but it will make it look believable! Allow to dry, then glaze each of these candies with Permanent Sap Green. Be sure to keep the glaze wet, transparent and don't over-brush!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Candy Dish Lesson 6

Using the same technique as yesterday, I am painting the shadows for the "Yellow" candies. Because I don't want the candies to turn strange colors, I am glazing the yellow candy shadows with a bit of Burnt Sienna. I am again trying to pay attention to the crisp and soft edges, wetting the edges where I don't want crisp lines. If you would like a more dramatic effect, use a mixture of French Ultramarine Blue and Permanent Alizarin Crimson, very wet, to make a light purple color for the shadows of the yellow candies. Allow these painted shadow areas to dry.

After the shadows are dry, apply a nice, bright, wet glaze of Aureolin Yellow. Cover the shadow areas and the entire yellow candy. If you like, you can drop in a little New Gamboge here and there with a wet-in-wet technique.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Candy Dish Lesson 4

Today I want to begin working on the sparkling colors in the glass candy dish. I will be using the same colors that I used previously: French Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Red, and New Gamboge. Because the colors will be a bit diluted as I work, I want to begin with strong, wet pigments. Stir up some of these colors in the corners of your paint wells and have them ready to go. Pay close attention to the values shown in the reference photo so that you can get them right the first time. With this method I don't want to have to go back and paint another glaze of color if I can prevent it.

Lay some blue in the center of the large, round, glass shapes at the lower edge of the bowl. Quickly rinse your brush and load it with another color. Touch the edges of the blue here and there with this color. Rinse and clean your brush between each area so that you don't contaminate your brush and pull colors into areas where they don't belong. Continue on with adding the other colors, wet into wet, touching just the edges of the wet pigments. Allow them to soften and blend on their own. Avoid brushing, as this will make muddy, fussy-looking color applications.

Candy Dish Lesson 5

Today I will begin painting the candy-coated peanuts. Yum! As the colors are layered onto these little morsels, they will come to life!!!
First, it is important to understand that if I want to achieve nice dark shadow areas I will have to use relative opposites of colors as underglazes in the shadow areas. Painting a layer of the near-opposite of a color will create a deeper shade of the local color and give the impression of a very dark shadow, and thus provide the illusion of dimension! The relative opposite of the blue in my candy might be Burnt Sienna, so that is what I will use for the shadows in the blue candy. I have decided to change a few of the colors of the candy, to balance things better, so if you do the same, make a mark on your reference photo to help keep things straight.
I am using a coffee-stain of Burnt Sienna to create transparent areas of color where the shadow shapes are. Pay attention to crisp and soft edges. The crisp edges will be painted on the dry paper and left alone. The soft edges will be touched gently with a clean, damp brush. The touching with clean water will soften the edges and make the objects look more dimensional. Allow the Burnt Sienna to dry.
Now use a blue or turquoise color from your palette to glaze over the dried "blue" candies. Paint over the entire candy piece, including the shadow area. Keep this glaze very transparent and wet. Allow this to dry thoroughly.
I have gone back to my shadow colors and used the "charging" technique previously used for the shadow areas to develop the under-parts of the candy dish. Notice the application of paint around and under the candy.

Candy Dish Lesson 3

Moving to the next shadow area on this painting, we will use the same "charging" technique that we used yesterday, except that the last application will just be water. This time we will work from the bottom edge of the shadow toward the bowl. Turn your paper upside down if that is easier to maneuver with your brush. Again work from the blue (French Ultramarine Blue) to reds (Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Winsor Red) to yellow (New Gamboge), then use clean water and pull the water INTO the pigment. If you pull the pigment INTO the water, you will just keep pulling out the pigment, diluting it and creating a harsh line. If you push water INTO the pigment, you will have a clean transition from white paper to clean color. Allow this to dry.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Candy Dish Lesson 2

Normally I layer colors, but today I am going to "charge" wet colors into one another. I want these colors to be strong enough that I won't have to add any layers of pigment later, but I want them to be wet enough that they will blend together and be transparent. I have used French Ultramarine Blue in the areas where the strongest shadow is, Permanent Alizarine Crimson, Winsor Red, and New Gamboge for the other colors. Before I begin, I want to be sure my pigments are very wet, and well-mixed, so they are ready to dip into for the process of "charging".

To begin, I dip into the French Ultramarine Blue with a number 10 round brush. I can't emphasize enough the importance of WET pigment. I lay a small path of pigment (not more that a 2-inch length) and quickly clean the brush and dip into the next color. I lay the next color next to the blue, just barely touching the colors so that the blue runs into the next color and softly blends. Continue this process until  an area is filled in. Pay attention to the values and shadow shapes so that your areas make sense. Be bold and use strong, wet pigments. Allow this to dry.
Notice in these photos, even though I have already applied the pigments, they are still shiny and wet. If you work wet, the colors will blend much more easily without having to fuss over them with your brush!

Candy Dish Lesson

The first stage of this painting was to create a drawing from a photo I took of some candy in a dish on a very sunny day. I set up the still life on our lanai while it could be washed in the crisp morning sunlight.
Next, I scrubbed the back of the drawing with a Chunky Graphite Stick (can be purchased at It's important to scrub hard and deposit a lot of graphite on the paper, so when the drawing is traced onto the watercolor paper, almost no pressure is required. This will prevent indentations in your paper from pressing too hard. These depressions can collect pigment and create ugly marks and lines in your painting.
I tape the drawing along one edge to create a sort of hinge. Now I can trace the image onto my watercolor paper, and lift the drawing occasionally to view my progress. Again, when tracing, use a light touch!!!
Remove your drawing and fold it in half. You may want to use it again sometime!
If you would like to join us in painting this piece, for $5.00 you can order the printable reference files from my etsy shop:

Even though the drawing is on the watercolor paper now, there is still another step before paint is applied to this piece. I wanted to mask the areas of absolute white (the paper will be my white), which I need to save. If I mask these areas, they will be preserved and I don't have to be quite as careful when laying down the wet washes.
To mask, I use a small container that holds a bar of soap and some water. You can use dish soap also, but I like the bar of soap because it is a little thicker. My second small container holds a tiny bit of masking, just enough for the current project. This protects my fragile masking fluid in its larger container. Masking dries out quickly, so I like to keep my larger container closed, except for pouring a small amount into my little container that I work from.

I use a small, cheap brush. Don't ever mix masking fluid or its water, with your watercolor paints or brushes. Any masking that gets into your water tub can eventually get into your good brushes and ruin them forever.
I saturate the brush with the soapy mixture by brushing into the very wet, thick bar of gooey soap. Then, I dip into the masking and apply a small amount at a time. Again, dip into the soapy mixture, pick up a little more masking and apply. The soap keeps your brush from getting saturated with masking fluid. The brush will stay soft and workable for a long time. The last thing I do is scrub the brush in the soapy mixture one last time. I don't wash out the brush, I just leave the soapy mixture in it. My masking brushes last a long time!
Allow the masking to air dry. If you dry it with a hair dryer, the heat can make the masking sink into the paper and it will be more difficult to remove.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Studio Clearance Sale on my Website!

I have run out of room in my storage area!!!
I just wanted to let you all know that I am clearing out my studio and I am having a huge sale on my etsy website. If you are interested in an incredible deal on limited edition giclee prints of my artwork, now is the time to get them!

They would make the perfect holiday gift and you will still have time to have them framed if you like!!!

Please visit my etsy site for more details.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday Morning Water and Sky Workshop

Nancy Sadowski of Riverview Studios in Melbourne invited me to teach a four week workshop on how to paint water and clouds. I had to take a quick photo of the group this past Tuesday. What a nice job everyone did!!! Lots of work, lots of laughs and so much fun producing these nice paintings of a boat in water.

You can learn more about my local classes by visiting my website:

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Side Lined By My Quilt

I have not meant to ignore my blog lessons, but I have to admit that I have been side-tracked by a long-running project. By long-running, I mean since 2001!!! I started this quilt back then, and have worked on it off and on for many years. Recently, seeing how close I was to completing it, I picked it up and worked hard to complete it.
This quilt is a Double Wedding Ring quilt, completely hand pieced, hand appliqued, and hand-top-quilted. I can't begin to tell you how many hours have been poured into it!

I completed it recently, and thought I would share the photos. So, I do more than just paint with watercolor. When I am quilting it is hard to put it down, so the painting gets set aside for a short time. I continue to teach, so I am still painting nearly every day, but when I have a quilt project, well...the evenings get away from me.

I will try to post another watercolor lesson soon!
Thanks for visiting.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 19

The finished piece! Once I sign a piece I don't allow myself to touch it with a brush again. You can see a larger image of the final painting on my website.

If you enjoyed this lesson please let me know. Some folks like to print out all of the daily posts first, then purchase the references from my etsy store, and paint along.

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 the to you the photo references and the drawing.

Please stay tuned - another lesson will be here soon! Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 18

The final touches! I used Van Dyke Brown and Perylene Maroon to add some very dark details to the cherry shadows. I used the Van Dyke Brown, fairly wet, to run tiny shadows along some of the stem areas.

Move your piece to another room or in different light. Step back from the painting so you can see it from a different perspective. Hold it up so that you can see it in a mirror. Note anything that you may want to change and let it sit for a while. After some time, go back and make the changes. This is an important time to remember not to overwork your piece. I was once told, if you think you are ALMOST done - STOP!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 17

It's time to add some drama to the table.
I mixed some Burnt Sienna and Van Dyke Brown to create a wash for the table. I wanted to give it some weight, a darker value and some texture like wood. First I glazed a little bit of water over the wood table area. This should make the paper damp, not puddled.

Then I used horizontal strokes of strong color and laid on some texture. The wetness of the paper helps to soften the edges. I also tried to make the strokes non-uniform and darker on the bottom right than on the upper edge. This helps to create the illusion of depth.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 16

When I stepped back and looked at my progress yesterday, I noticed that the shadows in the towel were pretty cool. I want to warm them up a little!

I used a VERY wet wash of Burnt Sienna and glazed it over some (not all) of the shadow areas in the towel. This very light wash, like a tea stain, helps to warm up the shadows and make them look more natural.

I added a touch of this color to the left side of the glass dish also, to help define the shape and shadows, and to add a tiny bit of reflection where the cherry on the table is shining into the side of the dish.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 15

Now it is time to step back and take a good look at this painting. I want to be sure I am not overworking some areas. I like to keep the painting at the same stage of development throughout.
As I study this piece I can see that I can add some darker values to the jar. I painted some of the warm colors used earlier in to the details of the lettering on the jar, saving the whites for where the light is hitting it directly. I added some Prussian Blue to some of the darker shadow areas around the piece including the bottom edge of the white dish.
It's starting to come together!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 14

Today I am using a variety of reds from my palette to develop more depth in the cherries.  I used Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Perylene Maroon, and Winsor Red primarily.
I like to use these colors because they are transparent and so when I glaze with them the colors underneath will show through. This makes the colors vibrant and rich.

I added some Permanent Sap Green and Burnt Sienna to the stems on the cherries.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 13

Today I am using Prussian Blue to develop some of the shapes on the jar lid. Again shape is so important. I am painting the shadows, not the bumps. I am painting around the light areas.

I used Prussian Blue to develop some more shadows in the jar also. I used it around the bottom of the lid, along the left edge, around the darkest shadows in the lettering, and at the bottom of the jar. It is really beginning to take shape!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 12

Quinicridone Gold and Burnt Sienna are the colors of the day! I am using them to add some gold cast to the glass jar, especially at the bottom where the colors are darker because of the way the light is hitting the objects. I used a touch of this color at the top of the jar lid also. Notice the soft edges inside the jar. Some areas of glass will have crisp lines where the shadows are deep, like at the edge of a shape in the glass (notice the letters). Other crisp edges of color can be found around where the light hits the glass directly. All of the other areas will have soft transitions of color by using clear water. Wet edges are soft edges. Dry paper will create crisp edges.

As you look through glass, it will change the values and shapes of objects behind and under the glass. Notice how the jar is a bit darker than the wall.

I guess I have been saying "notice" a lot. Think about it this way: you should look 90 percent of the time and paint 10 percent of the time. The more you LOOK, the more you will see accurately. Then you will be able to create the impression of something realistic.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Still Life With Cherries Lesson 11

Back to painting the cherries! I want the cherries to look round, so I need to focus on the values, shadows, and the direction the light is coming from. I also need to be sure that I am painting the shadow SHAPES correctly. Since we are creating the illusion of a three-dimensional subject on a two dimensional surface, the sure fire way to accomplish this is by correctly using color, value and SHAPE.

Again, look at the reds on your palette. You may want to add some darker browns to your choices here. I started to use Permanent Alizarin Crimson to work in some of the shadow shapes around the cherries. Be consistent with your light source. If the light is coming from the upper right, be sure the darkest shadows appear on the lower left. Some of the cherries will cast shadows here and there on the other objects.