Saturday, November 27, 2010

TV Star

Here's the latest in the Christmas card series.....only I painted a half sheet!

This morning I got an email from a feature writer for the local tv cable station.  I had totally forgotten that he had filmed my watercolor workshop last May in my hometown.  Here is the clip.  Guess I'll have to watch out for the paparazzi now...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Christmas Cards

I've been on a roll since the last posting.  Here are four more Christmas cards.  You may be interested to know that I didn't even draw these beforehand.  That makes this not only a great project, but a very freeing exercise in staying loose. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hand Painted Christmas Cards

Making family and friends feel special during the holidays is part of the magic of the season.  How about using your painting skills to show them you took the time to create something unique just for them?
Hand painting individual cards will do just that.

Take a quarter sheet and divide it in half. Fold the two sheets gently, and then using masking tape, secure them to your painting surface.  After completing your mini-painting, remove the tape, and voila!  You have a neat, crisp border.  All that's left is to write your personal greeting.

I use the inside of the card for the painting because I then use a small sticker to secure it again, and address the outside, saving the difficulty of finding an envelope to fit the card.  Only twice did the post office machine tear the little present.  I just painted another one and hand delivered it.

Get going now, because everyone will want one!

Friday, November 19, 2010

#200 - New Hampshire Birches

This is my 200th post!  Thanks to all who visit and leave a reaction or comment.  I invite you to become a follower and bookmark my blogsite.  Stay tuned for more painting advice in the wonderful medium of watercolor!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Demo

Painting for a large group like the St. Louis Watercolor Society can be rather intimidating.  But last night I did a demonstration painting for a packed house.  What a lively and fun crowd!  I had a great time!

Before I began painting, I tried to reinforce the concept of keeping things simple.  I suggested three things:
1.  A limited palette
2.  Defining large areas with silhouettes
3.  Using the vignette

My subject was appropriate for the Society since part of their logo is a steamboat.  Here's my demo.

Monday, November 15, 2010


This is a street corner that no longer exists here in St. Louis.  If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember that I love including signs in my city scenes.  Don't automatically eliminate signs.  They can provide interest and texture.  Also the lacy quality of the scaffolding appealed to me.

Once again I was working with the secondary triad:  purple, green, and orange.  Most of them are grayed down so that the brighter colors around the focal point can stand out.  Sometimes it's good to have a color idea and know how to employ it when you are dealing with an essentially colorless subject. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Secondary Colors

The whole purpose of this painting was to depict the scene in the secondary triad: orange, green and purple.

I worked from the middle of the scene outward, surrounding the lights with soft-edged darks, gradating from darks to midtones, all the while keeping the color scheme in mind.

Keeping it simple sometimes means limiting your palette.  Try a secondary triad to keep repetitions and harmonies to a maximum. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Here's another take on the tugboat/bridge scene.

What gives this painting its punch is the boldness of the darks.  The hull of the tugboat is a mixed black, not a tube color.  Also, darks don't have to be black; they just have to be dark enough to stand out.  The bridge is a gradation of reds, ochres, blues, and violets. 

The darks work best when contrasted with the white of the paper.  But make sure there are some interesting midtone silhouettes to surround the focal point contrasts.  And just because the silhouette is a midtone, it doesn't mean you can't vary the colors within the shape.  Look at the skyline and you'll see how many colors I sneaked into that solid area.

Be bold with your darks.  They're bound to attract attention!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Another Take

Last spring, I painted this scene for the Gateway East Artists Guild at their monthly meeting.  This morning I decided to try it in another, less traditional style.  Values are still important, but this painting's emphasis is on the bolder colors and looser brush strokes.  I think there is a bit more energy in this version. 

This style is actually harder to paint than the more traditional approach.  But every once in a while, I like to cut loose! Inventive color takes even more planning than local colors.   I actually reversed the ordinary practice of placing cooler colors in the background and warmer colors in the foreground.  Encourage your sense of play, and try all sorts of approaches to the same subject.  It is very freeing!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Connecting the Whites

There is a near obssession with beginning watercolor students to "save the whites."  The problem seems to be where those whites are saved and why.

Many times I see "popcorn whites"---whites that are sprinkled throughout the painting with no regard for forming shapes.  If you think of white as an important eye-attracting shape, you can use it as a focal point.

Connecting white (or light) shapes can form a pathway through a painting. Surrounding the white shapes by darks will also lead your eye to the important subject matter in the painting.

Be deliberate in your conservation of the white paper.  It can be a powerful director!