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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Tawny Gold" pastel painting

9 x 12 pastel on LaCarte

This painting is soooo close to being done, maybe it is done, but I have to put it away before I tinker with it!  Tomorrow I will look at it and see what (if any) tiny touches are needed.  I am really happy with it.  I'm planning on entering it in a juried show.

Meanwhile, I think I'll tinker to my heart's delight on that watercolor on Aquabord!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Beginning of pastel painting of snow around the rabbit bush

This painting is from a photograph I took near home.  I never got around to painting rabbit bush at the peak of its blooming season in September!  Now it is like the bushes are freeze-dried and the yellow blossoms have faded to a beautiful tawny gold.  The snow melting in crawling shapes add an interesting change to the pebbly, sandy earth.

More on this tomorrow...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Window Into the Past" watercolor pencils and watercolor

I think I am addicted to drawing and painting old barns and buildings with watercolor pencils and watercolor.  I am starting a series (this is my third) of scenes from the ghost town of Bodie, California.  I am now using a thicker drawing paper from a sketchbook by Aquabee.  It accepts light washes well and has better tooth for the pencils. 

This medium is very clean and portable to work with and I don't require an easle or a large area.  So, I will be doing this type of work on my babysitting days for my new little grandson while he sleeps. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A second painting of "Catalina" in pastel

9-1/2 x 5-1/2
"Catalina v2"
Painting the same scene multiple times has its advantages.  The more times you paint it, you get more comfortable with the subject, think less, analyze less, and get more spontaneous and intuitive.  That is why I decided to paint this scene again. 

The first painting was on blue colored LaCarte.  This one was on terracotta colored LaCarte.  The reddish orange shows through a little bit and visually vibrates with the blues of the water.  The first painting is very relaxing and has a misty or hazy effect since I painted with a light touch.  This painting has more energy because of the complementary colors vibrating, and also because I pressed harder with the pastel. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

More on "painting watercolor on aquabord"

Here are some detail shots of different areas of the peonies I am painting on "aquabord".  I am trying various watercolor techniques I am familiar with and have used on Arches coldpress watercolor paper.  It is turning out to be a totally different animal.  You do not get that look of paint that sinks into the paper, nor the soft, subtle self-blending of wet paint side-by-side.  Aquabord dries faster, so the self-blending is limited.  After I took off the liquid mask, I am re-wetting the hard edges around the mask and trying to blend the petals.  In the top detail you can see where I've done some of the outer petals.  I seem to be pushing the paint around on top of the board and getting unwanted streaks. 

I think it is like any new paper or product you try - you have to experiment.  You have to try different ways than you are used to - to get the effect you want.  This board is fairly large and it will take me a while - days - to learn on it and make this into a painting.

One more thing about this board - if I don't like what I've done - there is an option to put it under the kitchen faucet and wash it all off - and start all over on white board again!  Yes!  They claim you can do this!  Go right back to white!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Back at One" a watercolor painting

This painting is 9 x 12 on 140 lb Arches coldpress watercolor paper.  A couple of years ago we visited Catalina Island and we were waiting in a parking lot for a bus tour to pick us up.  Across the lot was a ticket booth for Miniature Golf.  An old golden retriever was sleeping on the ledge of the ticket booth window.  It was so unusual that I took pictures.  I've been wanting to paint this for a long time - it looked like it would be fun.

It turned out to be hard!  I'm very happy I finally finished this painting.  I had to work out some problems and make some changes along the way.  I decided to make the dog darker and backlit.  So I got to try my hand at wetting and scrubbing with a watercolor scrubber to lift out the tree and background that is through another window on the other side of the ticket booth. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Exploring a new painting surface with watercolor

One of my awards for placing a 3rd in the Sierra Watercolor Society judged show last September, was a 12 x 16 Aquabord by Ampersand.  I decided to try the splatter and poured painting methods I learned in Lian Zhen's class last year.  In my blog slideshow is a painting of peonies from his workshop.  I'm SO glad I am a note-taking freak, because I have forgotten how I did that painting!  After reviewing my notes, I printed photos of peonies I took, and drew a composition on this new board.  One flower is supposed to be the "diva", so we were supposed to draw it in detail and mask the edges with liquid mask.  Then do a series of water spray, splatter with paint, fingerpaint, drop paint in with a brush, tilt the surface and let it run ... all kinds of fun stuff where you trade in control for serendipity.

Here is the beginnings of this process on this board.  Very interesting!  Although it doesn't come out the same as Arches coldpress paper, it does accept the watercolor in a nice way. be continued...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Artist Interrupted....

Yesterday my daughter had her baby - a beautiful baby boy.  So, I am an artist who is happily interrupted!  So, it is time for show 'n tell from "days gone by" art.  I started this as a watercolor on watercolor paper and was displeased.  So I tried pastel pencil over it and had a lot of fun with the detail aspect.  This is a large Proteus flower - a tropical flower grown in Hawaii.  They fascinate me because the center is furry-like.  I always have to touch them! 

I found my reference photo, which I took on a trip to Hawaii, so it is original.  I have never shown this before because I considered it a practise piece for many years.  Now that I am doing pastel over watercolor on purpose, I am changing my view of this painting!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Catalina" a pastel painting

I had it in my mind to do this painting a little impressionistic, and I think it came out that way. I am learning Adobe Photoshop to crop and adjust my photos of my art.  Sometimes pastel doesn't photograph the way it looks in person, especially if you allow the paper to show through.  I always photograph my work in natural light, but this particular piece looked washed out.  I used the autofix feature and it really made this painting look great without changing it much.  It restored the contrast that was washed out. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An artistic diversion

I think I got tired of working on the watercolor.  So I put it away for a day or two so I can look at it and get inspired again with fresh eyes.

In the meantime, I started a little pastel.  This is a coastal scene - boats - water - something I hardly ever do!  I am such a landlubber, but I do love looking at the sea too.  West Coasters will recognize this (maybe).  We are on a ferry that is taking us over to Catalina Island.  It is still taking me a while to get back into the groove with pastel.  I feel like I'm mincing around, starting very light until I find my way.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Progress is a little slow...

This painting is more challenging than I thought!  This is the first time I've ever painted a dog in watercolor.  And now I am at the point of doing the sliding glass windows and I realize I've never learned to do reflections on a window pane.  So, I'm winging it.  Now I'm realizing a compositional problem.  The palm tree is right in the middle of the dog, and the sign (not painted yet) is right in the middle of it.  That's what you get for following your photograph!  For the most part, I'm am satisfied with the progress, but I am definitely learning along the way.  This is turning out to be what I think might be called "illustration".  That's OK, I like to try new things and new looks.  In fact, my husband is rolling his eyes because I want to get a couple of wigs to change my look without cutting my hair!!!! 

Monday, January 10, 2011

A new watercolor in progress and tips I have learned

This is going to be a watercolor with watercolor pencils.  I have been having fun doing this technique, so now I am doing this on Arches 140lb cold press paper.  I am working from a photograph that I took of a real dog napping on a window sill!!!!! 

I started by drawing it freehand in a sketch book on good quality paper that could hold up to eracing to fix errors.  Then I traced it.  Then I made graphite transfer paper - a technique I learned from Anne Abgott in her workshop.  Using a 6B graphite stick (architectural supply), I heavily coated another tracing paper.  Then, I "fixed" the graphite by using a little bit of lighter fluid on a paper towel - rubbing in circular movements.  (The first application was a little too light so I had to repeat the process).

I like to use Scotch 3M painters blue tape in the grade of stickiness called "low to medium adhesion".  It holds the traced drawing paper down and yet you can peel it off without ripping the tracing paper.

Another trick I learned from Anne was to use a cleaning pad (architectural supply) to remove extra dark graphite spots from your watercolor paper before painting.  It worked great!!!

Next, I saved some white areas on the dog's coat and a paper sign with Mistix (liquid artists rubber cement).

Then I began to use watercolor pencils to define the grain of wood, the shadows of the wooden letters, and the texture of the dog's coat and other areas.  Then, I filled in some of the areas with various watercolor washes.  I am basically working on dry paper with a wet brush.  I think this is called "wet on dry."

Because the background of the dog is specific and complex, I needed to do tight work.  I did not tape my paper down to the board because I knew that it would be easier to rotate the paper as I filled in the letters and other difficult areas.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Making a sketch into something more

This started out as a sketch to prepare for the previous pastel painting called "Winter Colors".  Sometimes after I finish the painting, I go back to the sketch and do more with it.  In this case, it started with pencil to block in the shapes of the leaves and the cast shadows, and then evolved into watercolor pencils ... then watercolor wash over that ... then finally, Prismacolor colored pencils layered and burnished in some areas.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Winter Colors" a pastel painting

This painting was inspired by a winter trip to the Scottsdale, AZ area.  These cactus turn the most gorgeous shades of green and violet.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The second stage of this pastel painting

The daylight hours are short this time of year.  Working on black is hard to work in various lighting, so I am just working in daylight.  Maybe one more day of work on this.  This piece is light-hearted for me - I'm just having fun pushing the colors and smooshing them around!  Listening to Gypsy Kings is upbeat and makes me almost dance to the music.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Beginning a new pastel in 2011

I haven't painted in pastel since the holidays began at Thanksgiving because my pastel studio is in the kitchen and kitchen table.  Now I'm back in the kitchen and it is not cooking!  It felt strange!  Like I didn't know where to start.  So, I thought it would be fun and a challenge for myself to do colorful cactus on black sanded paper.  The shapes are fairly simple and I can play with various ways of blending, or not blending at all.  I can see how far I can go to build up the lights on a black paper.  I can decide how much or how little of the black I want to show through.  Here is the first stage - blocking in the shapes and trying out various colors.  It doesn't look like much right now....this is a work in progress.

I took on another challenge for 2011.  I was accepted into a new Daily Painters of Nevada blogsite.  You can see it at .  Then I also joined their specialty blogs for pastel and pencil art.  You can see these at and .  These are all under the umbrella website of Contemporary Fine Art International.  You can view their website and learn about it at .  SO!  I will be posting to my own blog as well as 3 others!!!  The minimum number of posts they would like is at least 2 a week (they can be works in progress).  I need to do at least one pastel painting a week and maybe two drawings a week.  I still want to do watercolor painting here and there too.  WOW!  I think I can do this.  Maybe my husband can take up cooking (????)