Saturday, April 30, 2016

Think Maine!

Every spring I start to anticipate my departure for Maine.  The reunion with old friends, plenty of subject matter to paint, and just the mere trip there with stops along the way start my pulse going a little bit faster.

I also look forward to conducting my annual workshop in Boothbay Harbor.  It is headquartered at the Lions Club, an old building converted from schoolhouse to a big, open meeting space.  It's on a quiet side street only a couple of minutes from downtown.  There is plenty of space to spread out on a rainy day, but also handy to other favorite painting locations:  the Harbor with all its boats, lighthouses, rocky shorelines, tree lined coves, and quaint streets.  These are the sights that I've loved for 36 years. 

This year's workshop will be held from August 29th - Sept. 2nd.  Tuition remains steady at $400 for the five day workshop.  Just down the block from the Lions Club is Beach Cove Resort, perched high on a hill overlooking West Harbor Pond.  Many students choose to stay there because of its convenient and quiet location.  My favorite Inn in Boothbay Harbor is the award winning Topside Inn.  Their full breakfasts change daily and are abundant beyond belief!  The d├ęcor is stunning, as is the view of the whole bay from the top of McKown Hill.  On the quiet side of the Harbor is Brown's Wharf, featuring a fine restaurant on the property, an up-close view of yachts, lobster boats and sailboats.  You can also check out the Chamber of Commerce's website for more lodging options.

The workshop is fun and informative.  The focus changes from year to year, and this summer I will focus on translating strong, clear values into vibrant colors.  A small sketchbook will be very useful.

So reserve your spot and make your lodging reservations soon.  This will be a vacation and a painting experience you'll long remember!

For more information email me at  

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Power of Lines

Sometimes the reality of a scene contains natural compositional aids.  In this case, all lines lead to the crane and the tugboat.  The tower in the background also leads downward toward the boat.  The shoreline forms another pointer as does the reflection in the water. 

If pointer lines do not occur naturally, think about ways to invent them.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Thinking About Color

I spotted this statue titled "Perpetual Mourner" in St. Louis' Bellefontaine Cemetery.  After doing the value sketch and the drawing on the watercolor paper, I looked at it for hours, trying to decide which colors to use.  To convey the mood, I decided against using warm colors.  Then suddenly it occurred to me that black and white would communicate the mood and the grief better than any color could.

I also abstracted and softened the tree shapes in the background.  Local color would have called for green, but continuing the use of grays was imperative to maintain the unity and mood of the painting.

The mysterious figure hidden within the shroud is ambiguous about its gender.  Grief is grief, no matter the sex of the mourner. 

"I see a red door and I want to paint it black..."

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Power Of Dark Values

One of the more difficult things for beginning watercolor painters to do is to paint a dark shape with confidence.  To hit the paper with enough paint to make a bold statement with a dark value is a hard step to make. 

If you are timid with a dark in the first wash, and discover that the dark you thought was dark enough, you will try to go back and make it darker, only to discover that the area becomes muddy.  Too much water is usually the suspect.  Darkening an area requires a bold application with lots of paint. 

Oftentimes, the paint is applied on the first go around, and then when it starts to dry, the artist goes back in when the paper is still damp.  Try to be patient and wait until the area is completely dry before trying a second wash.  Better yet, go darker than you think the area should be on the first application to insure its freshness.

As Ed Whitney said,  "If it looks right when it's wet, it's wrong."  More paint and less water will result in purer darks and movement in the paint if applied quickly.