Monday, September 29, 2014


Image size 30" x 22"

I took the reference photos for this painting from our trip to the Vancouver aquarium four years ago and have always loved the brilliance of the oranges and blues and finally decided to try to paint them.  I'm not sure that I captured the lighting that made them glow but I'll live with it for awhile and then decide if I need to make any changes.

I used Lanaquarelle paper, and in the past, I remember it being easy to lift paint from but I didn't find that to be the case here.  In fact, in the upper left corner, I think the sizing had disintegrated already even though I had just opened the pack of paper so I wasn't able to lift paint at all.  There are 10 sheets in the pack so I'm not too happy about the possibility of so many pieces of paper having sizing issues.

I'm getting really tired of holding my breath every time I put paint to paper waiting to see if there is sizing in the paper or not.  I have heard that Arches paper company changed its sizing in the past couple of years and many artists don't like it ( my Arches paper is older than that) but I'm wondering if all of these paper companies have changed to a sizing that has a short shelf life.

In the case of the Arches paper, I heard that there were environmental issues with the old sizing and that was the reason for the change.  I've been told that sizing is a plant based ingredient, so I'm not sure why there were environmental issues.  I just know that I'm getting really tired of not having confidence in any of my watercolor paper.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Spiky Succulent

Spiky Succulent
Image size 15" x 22"

I really fought with this painting!  I planned for it to be a poured painting but as soon as I got the paper wet, I knew I was going to have problems.  Even though I haven't had this paper very long (maybe 18 months) the sizing was gone so it acted like a blotter paper.  Of course, I have no way of knowing how long the paper was in the art supply store before I purchased it.  

I did do a couple of pours but because there was no sizing, the paint just soaked in and didn't move so I got streaks instead of flowing color.  I had spent so much time drawing this that I didn't want to throw it away so I began to paint it with a brush.

When there is no sizing, it's impossible (for me anyway) to build strong darks because the paints continue to soak into the paper and disappear so I decided to paint a layer of matte medium over the whole painting to seal it and then continued painting.  Of course, once the paper is sealed it is no longer absorbent so the paint sits on the surface and when you try to add darker layers, it tends to lift your previous layers.  I had to use a really light touch and dab rather than brush on the paint.

I used the QoR paints again and started with that same triad - quinacridone gold, indanthrone blue and alizarin crimson.  One interesting thing about the paper not having any sizing is that the paints meld together and sink into the paper and become so soft looking that it almost looks like the painting is on suede.  After I sealed the paper, I decided that the colors were almost too soft and neutral because they had all blended together, so I added a mixture of thalo blue (green shade) and green gold to bring some brightness to the painting.  I'm really happy with the way the colors look and it was nice to use these paints in a way that shows off their subtle colors since the other paintings that I've done with them have been pretty bright.

In the future, I don't think I would choose to paint on paper without sizing (like printmaking paper) but I do have a lot of watercolor paper that I've had for years and since sizing seems to degrade over time,  I will probably be in this situation again.

Even though it is a challenge to paint on paper with no sizing, I think that forcing myself to make it work was a very good exercise.  

I'm really happy with how this painting turned out so I'm glad I stuck with it and didn't let the paper win!  This painting is one of my favorites so far which is saying a lot since I've painted well over 300 paintings in the past six years.

Monday, September 15, 2014

QoR Watercolors on TerraSkin

Cactus Flower on TerraSkin
Image Size 6" x 7.5"

I haven't painted with watercolor on TerraSkin for awhile and I thought that it would be a good surface to try with the QoR watercolors.  I love how bright these colors are!  Paints always look brighter on TerraSkin than on regular watercolor paper because the surface is nonabsorbent and the  colors sit on the surface but these seem even brighter, which I love.  Bright colors make me soooo happy!

I used a bit of artistic license with the colors of the flower.  It was really only pink but I threw in some purple and orange to get a more luminous look.  Most of the texture in the background was achieved by spritzing it with some water while it was wet and some was added with brushwork.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Calm Sea

Calm Sea
Image Size 24" x 8"

I didn't have a lot of time to paint this week so I did this simple painting.  I did a base coat of a dark blue (top) turquoise, (middle) and ochre (bottom) and after that dried, I coated the canvas with gesso in a random pattern which created that great texture in the painting.  Then I finished the painting with a combination of pouring and painting.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blog Hop

I've been invited by Deborah Younglao to participate in a "Blog Hop".   This is a way for artists to find other artists with blogs that they may otherwise never have seen.  I will introduce you to Deborah, answer four specific questions about my work and then introduce you to three artists whose blogs I follow and whose work I admire.

I found Deborah's blog shortly after I started painting on silk.  Her silk paintings are beautiful and I love how she is always experimenting with new techniques.

Deborah Younglao

"Painting on Lustrous silk with brilliant, liquid dyes has been my passion for nearly 20 years.  A piece of silk being painted becomes a living thing.  While the dyes are wet they are constantly on the move...the creation in front of me is always changing.  The dyes, the silk and I dance together.  Sometimes I lead; more often than not the painting leads.  My painted silk may become a 2-dimensional painting, a 3-dimensional quilt, or a fluid piece of wearable art to grace your shoulders."

Here is Deborah's blog:

Okay, here are the questions I need to answer about my own work:

1)  What am I working on?
I'd like to say that I'm concentrating on some specific series but I tend to flit from one project to the next depending on what catches my interest at the moment.  I have a very short attention span and get so excited about new projects and techniques that it's really hard for me to create a cohesive body of work.  That sometimes works to my detriment in a marketing sense, but since I paint to make myself happy, I really don't worry about it.  At the moment, I seem to be doing more watercolors (I DO consider myself to be a watercolorist) and acrylics but I am really missing working in encaustics and doing palette knife paintings in oil.  And then there's pastel....and silk painting....and I've been really wanting to try some wood block can see my problem.  Too many fun mediums, too little time.

2)  How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I tend to paint in a very graphic way.  I'm very black and white in my thinking and have been influenced by my background doing architectural drafting and of making stained glass windows for over 20 years.  I'm definitely a tight painter.  I would love to be able to paint loose, gestural paintings but that's just not me.  Once in a while, I'm able to create one (maybe after a glass of wine?) but most of my paintings are very graphic and tightly rendered.

3)  Why do I create what I do?
I feel very blessed to be able to see the detail and minutia of daily life.  I often miss the obvious, but that's another story.  : )  I usually work from photos I've taken but my favorite art projects are ideas that come from my imagination.  Those are few and far between but definitely become my favorite paintings.  When I work from my photos, I use ones that either bring back a good memory or just that I feel are really beautiful.  I finish a painting each week to post to my blog (a self imposed duty) and a lot of times, picking a subject is the hardest part of the painting.

4) How does my creative process work?
Once I decide on what my subject will be, I chose a medium.  Most of the time, that's the easy part.  I will look at a photo and usually know which medium will show off the subject the best.  Because of my short attention span I tend to jump right into a painting without doing any thumbnail sketches first.  I know my paintings would probably be better if I did the sketch first and did value studies but I prefer to work out the problems in large scale as I paint.  Each painting is a new lesson in mistakes and successes and I like that.

Now, for the artists that I want to feature:

Leslie Redhead is a watercolorist whose work I've always admired.  She paints directly as well as pouring watercolor and is always sharing her ideas and techniques on her blog and in videos.

Leslie Redhead

Leslie was born in Murray, Ut and was raised in Maryland where she was exposed to all the wonderful art that the museums of Washington, DC had to offer. Her degree is in Zoology because she planned on doing scientific illustration.  However, after a move to Boston and the birth of two children, she began painting and teaching more in watercolor.  Eight years ago, her family moved to Canada which is where Leslie's husband is from.  Leslie's paintings are in private and corporate collections worldwide.  She recently graduated with a Master of Education in Art from the University of Victoria and has signatures with Northwest Watercolor Society (NWWS), Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (CSPWC), and the Federation of Canadian Artists (AFCA).  Leslie continues to teach and conducts workshops in Canada, the U.S., and Spain.  Her work is featured in Splash 10:  Passionate Brushstrokes for the Splash: Best of Watercolor series, Leslie Redhead: The Life of an Artist, and Making It!, Case Studies of Successful Canadian Artists.

Leslie currently resides in Vancouver, BC with her husband, two children, and dog.  She is represented by Madrona Gallery in Victoria, BC.

Here is Leslie's blog:

And some of her youtube videos:

Nan Johnson paints with acrylics, a medium I always find challenging.  I've followed her blog for years and enjoy seeing the diversity in her techniques and painting style.

Nan Johnson

"My artwork focuses on the lines, patterns and shapes that appear in everyday life.  We live our lives surrounded by patterns and shapes that affect our thoughts and ideas - and we may not even be consciously aware of their influence.  Using acrylic paints and painting in styles that combine both oil painting & watercolor techniques, I am able to express the patterns I see in the world surrounding me.  The subject matter of each body of work determines the style or technique that is used to create the final piece.  Each piece invites the viewer to create a story from what they see visually.  Very often, a piece can be interpreted in more than one way - which often leads to the next body of work."

"I hold true to the statement that art is not a thing, it is a way.  A way of expressing, of communicating, and of recording a moment in time where an emotion is felt.  It's all about capturing the visual expression that is found in life.  I find it is a great way to live!"

Here is Nan's blog:

Belinda Del Pesco is a printmaker and watercolorist whose artwork is both dreamy and emotional.  Her rich colors and soft edges are so beautiful and I wish I could figure out how to achieve that effect!  I've followed her blog for a long time and always look forward to seeing each new post.

Belinda Del Pesco

Belinda is a painter and printmaker in Southern California.  She works in the classical tradition of figure, landscape and still life art, and documents her process in photos on her blog and video on her youtube channel.  A life-long fascination with the nuances of the face and figure, and seasonal changes in the natural light on everyday forms & interiors have been a constant source of inspiration. These ingredients, combined with her affinity for the artistic traditions of the late 19th and early 20th century, create a spirited appetite to paint and print insightful interpretations of what she sees every day.

Here is Belinda's blog:

And here is her youtube link:

I hope you've enjoyed meeting these artists and learning a little more about me.  Each of these artists will be continuing the 'blog hop' in their own blog posts featuring their favorite artists who blog.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Colorful Cabbage

Colorful Cabbage
Image Size 14" x 21"

This started out as a poured painting.  I poured about 3 layers and then removed the resist and finished it by painting directly because I wanted soft edges within the leaves.  I again used the QoR watercolors because I wanted to see if I needed less paint when mixing my colors for the pours.  I needed A LOT less paint than with the watercolors I've used in the past.  I started with small dabs of fresh paint in my water mixtures and had to add extra water to each color to tone down the intensity.  I was really surprised at how much less paint was necessary.  Usually, I have to keep adding more and more paint to each container to get the level of color I need so I am really happy to have found a paint that is so intense.

By pouring the paint, I got the color blending of the purples in the middle of the cabbage with the greens of the outside leaves.  I think pouring gives the colors in a painting a cohesiveness that you might not otherwise achieve.  It also gives the colors a beautiful glow.

I used a limited palette for the cabbage.  Usually, when I use three primaries there is only one secondary color that is pure and the others are a bit muddy.  I used Alizarin Crimson, Indanthrone blue and Quinacridone yellow.  With these three colors, I was able to mix a beautiful purple and a lot of clear shades of green and although I didn't use orange in this painting, the Alizarin and yellow make a pretty good orange.   I think I've found my favorite triad!

I know that it's supposed to be possible to mix every color from the three primaries but I wanted a warm brown for the background and I didn't feel that I was getting the color I wanted from these three colors so I used a mix of burnt umber and burnt sienna for the background and then brought those colors into the shadows of the cabbage to warm them up a bit.

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