Friday, November 8, 2019

Art Tip-Three Ways to Reserve Your Whites in Watercolour

Three of the many ways you might keep your whites.....well, watercolor are:
  1. Use a colored pencil wax resist
  2. Keep the colors “corralled” with a water “lasso”.To see more about this technique please see this blog post:
  3. Use a fluid mask to hold back the watercolors. To see more about this technique please see this blog post:
For the first technique, a colored pencil wax resist, you are using the wax in a colored pencil to keep your watercolor from soaking into the watercolor paper where ever you have drawn your line. Use of colored pencil, especially without erasing it, is not really an American Watercolor Society accepted practice.....but if following a juried show rule is not an issue.....I've found it does the job quite nicely.

This is a bitty sample of how it works:
First I drew a small circle using a white colored pencil, and inside of the circle I drew the letter A. I'm not including a photo of this step.....'cause you wouldn't actually see anything!

At the bottom of this bitty test sheet you can see the actual circle containing the watercolor paint. I brushed inside the white wax colored pencil circle with water..... then floated in deep blues and a yellow and let them mingle and then dry. 
After the watercolor was dry, I took a brush with water only.....and brushed the dried watercolor off of the letter drawn with the wax colored pencil. This revealed the white wax colored pencil “A”. It's not a perfect brite white.....but it should blend in with the rest of your painting. It's especially useful when you just need a bit of white detailing. 
The little flower study above has a pink colored pencil outline and the white petals of the flower are a mixture of the water lasso effect and a bit of colored pencil on the tips.

I did a watercolor of a building that shows off a bit about this technique when used in a painting, in this blog post:

I recommend a book Paint Radiant Realism by Sueellen Ross for more about this technique.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Watercolor Play Day at the Library

Watercolor Play at the Logan County Library

Today I got to lead a bitty guided watercolor play date at our lovely Logan County Library. 

It was open to the public and I planned a couple of watercolor exercises that would suit folks who had never held a brush before.....or folks that were looking to learn how to expand their watercolor techniques.

I decided to show folks about primary and secondary colors by making a color wheel using just three colors....the primaries red, blue and yellow. I also wanted to show we could “corral” watercolor by just painting a circle with water and when we filled it with the watercolor paints......the colors wouldn't go beyond that water circle. We then “encouraged” the watercolor paints to mix when they touched, to make the secondary colors green, orange and purple.

For the second part of the “play date” we drew an apple using my photo (noting the shadow side and the high lit side.)

Again using just water to outline and fill our apple. Then we dotted in yellow for the sunlit portion of the apple, then filled up the rest of the outline with red.....and let the colors mingle.
For extra points we drew the apple's shadow and finally joined the two together.

We worked on some light weight smooth watercolor paper and on some thicker rough watercolor papers, so's folks could see the differences in each kind of paper. 

For folks who might be interested in my experiences with watercolor, here are links to other watercolor technique blogs I've posted in the past:

Thanks to everyone that attended and to Logan County Library for hosting.
I had a blast!

Monday, September 30, 2019

2019 Pennyroyal Art Exhibition

This is just a bitty blog about how we spent our the 2019 Pennyroyal Art Exhibition in Hopkinsville KY. The annual show has a lovely reception in the Hopkinsville Community College Auditorium Gallery at the close of the show. The first pic is Frank with his First Place 3-D ribbon for his recent sculpture REACH. Also shown is his smaller piece, Shark.

You can see a bit more about the making of REACH here: 

I had three pieces in the show: Street Festival, Kentucky Winter Wheat and Chocolatier. You can see a bit more about each painting by clicking on the individual pictures below. 

We both had a lovely time and we really appreciate all the kind folks at Hopkinsville Art Guild for putting on such a great show.

Street Festival

Kentucky Winter Wheat


Monday, September 23, 2019

Reach (the painting)

each panel measures 8 x 24 inches with a depth of 6 inches
acrylic paints on triangular two sided gallery wrapped canvas

This painting, Reach started out in response to or  maybe sympathy for Frank's recent carving of the same name....shown here in this blog post: 

When I learned what kind of subject he had in mind to portray the title of Reach, I remembered some old photos I had taken, of some kids climbing on a homemade climb wall, at a long forgotten fair. I dug them out and in the process of reviewing them for Frank.....I got interested myselves. I dug thru my canvas stash and found a unusual triangular shaped gallery wrapped canvas. I had bought it …... then couldn't figure out just what would work on a two sided canvas.

I worked up a couple of sketches of two of the young boys climbing up the wall. Instead of the crudely painted backdrop painted on the climb wall, I decided to use for reference pics of an actual cliff on the creek. Which I just so happened to have, courtesy of Frank's superior photographs of various creek scenes.
I began by making paper cutouts of various hand holds bolted to the climb wall and my sketches of the two young climbers. I used the cutouts to mask off the details, and began glazing in random....but “rock looking” scrumbles. I used red first, then yellow and finally blue. I followed those glazes with brushes of various other colours.

I let a few layers dry then began to glaze in the lower figure. This boy was a bit behind the other one.....and was a bit hesitant looking down a bit worriedly. He was depending on the secured rope tied to his belt harness.

After getting the first boy glazed in, I went onto the second boy that was close to the top.....and REACHING for the pentacle of the flat tabletop of the rock cliff. His rope is much shorter, and shows a slacking of his weight since he is pulling up on the cliff top. After wrapping up the details of they boys' clothes, I went onto painting the individual handholds. I saved the rock textures for last, emphasizing ing the overhead sunlight ghosting off the creek rock upper surfaces. 

Here are the two sides straight on. I had blast doing a somewhat “off the wall” subject for me!


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Speech Practice

Speech Practice
18 x 24 inches acrylic paints on gallery wrapped canvas

This blog is both a bit about my technique in painting Speech Practice and a bit about the woman I am portraying....Josephine Henry, Kentucky suffragist.

I had painted a portrait of Josephine Henry from an old black and white photograph done when she was about fifty-ish.

But I was captured by the idea that Josephine Henry was considered a good speaker, especially in support of the Married Woman's Property Act of 1894. But I wondered, just how did she get so good at speaking before an audience? She probably wasn't “born that way” I figured that she had to a lotta of practice. 

I wanted to paint her a bit earlier in her life, around thirty five or so, so I gave her a hairstyle and clothing that better reflected that earlier decade. Since this is purely my imagination, I placed her outside, in her backyard, and gave her an audience of three......a bust of Homer, a bust of Cicero (famed Roman orator).....and a curious cat.

I deepened the background foliage, and refined my idea of what she might have looked like at the earlier age, and deepened the shadows on her “audience”. 
I also wanted to have on the top of the stack of books, a representation of a curiosity of the time (before youtube), a whole book on the formal technique of speech gestures. Very dramatic hand swoops and chops designed to give any speaker a tool box of gestures for emphasis of their point. Of course the speakers depicted were all was considered a man's job to give speeches after all! But nothing stopped women from learning all about the fine art of speech making from that same manual.

I continued refining my historical illustration of the “making of a speech maker” in Josephine Henry, till I felt she reflected my concept of the scene.

Here is a bit more about Josephine Henry:

1843-1928 Kentucky writer, speaker, political advocate for women's rights. Born in Newport KY and later moved to Versailles, KY. She married Capt. Wm. Henry in 1868. Both were involved in local/state community affairs. 
Josephine Henry was instrumental in getting passage of Kentucky's Married Women Property Act or the Husband and Wife Act in 1894. This bill allowed women the right to own property in Kentucky, overturning old laws preventing women from owning property, receiving wages, making a will or even be guardians of their own children. Passage of this bill, was a crucial step in women winning the right to vote in Kentucky.
Like many women activists of the time, Josephine Henry came from a well to do family. She had the time, books and support to learn about political issues and developed the will to actually make change happen. She authored pamphlets on women's equality. She lectured throughout the state, and wrote hundreds of articles and editorials for newspapers.She co-founded the Kentucky Equal Rights Association. She died in Versailles after a stroke at the age of 85

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Fan Dance or I Love Sunlight

Fan Dance
Acrylic on 11 x 14 gallery wrapped canvas 

This week I'm talking a bit about FAN DANCE, another in my figurative series. 

I pulled up a lovely couple of old photos of a boy and girl, that I felt had a “story”. They were from a batch of photos I took years ago at a RenFaire. I sketched out the boy and girl figures, and reworked their features/expressions to suit the story I had in mind. I did a quickie colour sketch that you can see in the upper left of the photo. With such great lights and darks to work with....the underpainting went quickly.

After laying in all the major masses of color, I went to work on what I consider the “ice cream” portion of a painting....the faces. For maximum sunlight in the painting, I kept the main costumes in the light range of's I could play off reflective light bouncing around. 

I included the little white awning and its support on the craft cart where the girl is selling her fans.....but I was a bit hesitant at so much stark white dividing the couple, in the composition. But it had “worked” on the bitty color sketch, so I went with it. In the sketch I had some sunlit trees and a pathway in the background, but later changed that to a gravel path leading up to the cart.

Here the features of both the boy and girl have been sketched in. I went on to adjust both the main characters' features and expressions to “say” what I wanted. I painted in the fans set out for sale and called this one....DONE!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Gazebo or Study in Shadows and Light

11x14 inches acrylic paint on gallery wrapped canvas

This week's blog post is about a bitty painting called Gazebo. 

This painting ended up being as much about the light glowing thru the latticework of an outdoor gazebo as the beautiful model. I started out with a snippet of a photograph I took at a long ago RenFaire. I rearranged some bits of the composition and started to work. 

The first challenge was getting enough highlights to show the modified model's face, (changed to look at the viewer) but keep with the theme of a backlit shadowed interior. I fell in love with the intricate latticework patterns of light and shadow and how the light seemed to skate off the edges of the latticework fretting.

I soon found that I needed guidance to keep with the straight lines of the latticework. I got out my handy dandy artist's tape and with a T square lined off the correct lines for the latticework and the sunlight that glowed thru the openings. 

After some sitting and looking at the painting I decided the the background tree and ground cover were too busy and competed with the main attraction of the sitter and the gazebo, so's I simplified and muted it a bit and called the painting......done!