Monday, October 23, 2017

Walnut Ink & Watercolor

Autumn brings with it a beautiful array of colors and textures. At our Farmer’s Market a
new crop of persimmons are available in a variety of shapes and colors.  I came home with a bag full and put them in a favorite dish. I loved how the contrast of colors and textures played off of each other: orange-red against blue-green. Smooth against rough.

When Daniel Smith Artists’ Materials asked if I’d like to try their Walnut Ink. I was eager to give it a try. I am particularly fond of inks with warm tones. The idea of drawing the persimmons with walnut ink was appealing. Before the bottle arrived I did a little research on their website. I thought walnut ink would fade. I was wrong. Here is what I found.

“DANIEL SMITH Walnut Ink is lightfast, non-acidic, transparent, and low staining.  It’s finely pigmented, sepia-colored, water-based ink made from walnut husks. It's great for all types of drawing styles and calligraphy, and works beautifully with a dip pen or brush. With a brush, DANIEL SMITH Walnut Ink handles like a transparent watercolor with good layering, and lifting capabilities in darker washes. The rich color resembles traditional walnut-based inks, but will not fade.” 

Step 1
Watercolor Paper is Bockingford cold press 140lb. My favorite technique for drawing is continual line contour. I keep my pen on the paper for the majority of the drawing. I am using a bamboo reed pen…Why? I enjoy line variation.
Helpful hint: Before you begin drawing soak the tip of the bamboo reed pen in 3 inches of water for 20 minutes.  The pen will have an increased ability to hold ink.

Step 2
I start by pulling fresh color into the center of my palette. I work on a dry surface and mix the colors on the paper. You’ll noticed the Walnut Ink moves…I like that. If I touch the line gently it will move a little and more if I scrub the line with my brush the more it moves.  
The persimmons are a mixture of Hansa Yellow Medium, Anthraquonoid Scarlet & Quinacridone Burnt Orange. The Leaf and stems are Quinacridone Gold & French Ultramarine.

Step 3
The plate is painted with Cobalt Teal Blue. I intentionally disrupted the details on the plate with my brush. I want the lines to defuse. I don’t want the lines to be in sharp focus especially since the majority of the plate will be effected by shadows from the persimmons.

Step 4
Shadows are my favorite subject! The presence of light defines form and gives life to a subject. I begin my making two puddles of paint on my palette: 1. Quinacridone Burnt Orange & Quinacridone Rose 2. Imperial Purple. I start by painting the form shadows on the persimmons with Quinacridone Burnt Orange & Quinacridone Rose and quickly move into the cast shadows on the plate with Imperial Purple. I want a soft transition between the objects and the colors.

Step 5
The final stage I use Imperial Purple in the background. Before the passage has lost its shine I touch a small amount of Phthalo Turquoise into the area. Final touches are added to the foliage area.

My Daniel Smith dot card has a white X on the colors I used for this piece. All the materials used in this demonstration are listed below. 

Ink: Walnut Ink (new bottle same ink)
Watercolor Paper: Bockingford 140lb cold press

Happy Painting!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Workshop Experience

Workshops can be a magical experience and should be. People set aside time, money, work schedules and family duties. New ideas and techniques are explored. Skills are honed, materials explored, friends are made and creative energy fills the air. Every workshop should feel this way for everyone who participates!

I’ve been teaching classes and workshops over 15 years. I’ve considered writing this post many times.

Workshop Skill Level 
(Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
Be honest with yourself about your skill level. You’ll avoid disappointments. It’s not possible for a teacher to bridge a lack of skill and inexperience in the short time we have together. Skill will be achieved by the amount of time you spend outside the workshop sketching and painting.

I do my best to give everyone equal time. Don’t expect a teacher to be your private instructor in a workshop. Please don’t ask workshop participants to help you. They came to be immersed in the workshop experience, not to be a teacher. If you’re struggling speak to me privately. Don’t fill the air with negative remarks to fellow students. 

Workshops are a social event for many, but not for all. Be courteous and keep talking to a minimum as well as volume. You’ll have lots of opportunities to visit with each other before the workshop, at breaks, during lunch, after class…

If you are very sensitive to noise or others talking, bring ear phones to block out noise or listen to your music. 

Come Prepared and Ready to Learn 
Arrive on time and be mentally prepared. 
No talking or texting on cell phones in the classroom. If you must talk on the phone (family emergency…) take it outside. This includes lunch time.
Set up your watercolor palette with paint before the workshop.
Pre-cut your watercolor paper.
Bring what you need…but not your entire studio. 
Ask before taking pictures or videos. Each teacher has a different set of guidelines about their artwork and examples being shared on social media.

Teacher Set-up and Break
Give the teacher time in the morning to prepare for the day. I come early in the morning to set up…not to visit. I'm often asked, “Can I have just a minute?” Please give me (teacher) 20-30 minutes to set up and I will give you an entire day of undivided attention and instruction.

Lunch time: 
Give the teacher time to eat and recharge. I’m often approached at lunch and asked to review portfolios, sketchbooks or look at paintings on a smart phone. It’s not the right time.

In closing I’d like to say, come to the table (workshop) with realistic expectations of me and the workshop experience. I will bring to the table (workshop) my time, talent, knowledge and a little humor. I will do my best to guide, encourage and instill my knowledge.

Happy Painting!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hahnemühle Watercolor Paper Review

I was contacted by Hahnemühle USA and asked if I would try their watercolor papers and share a review with my followers. Carol Boss sent me a nice assortment of papers to try. 

I’ve been on the road a lot this summer…teaching workshops from California to North Carolina. Between  workshops I’ve been busy putting this paper to the test. 

The scene Volterra Roof Tops (left) was done on the Cézanne, block, 140lb hot press.

Sample Tests on Cézanne Block, 140lbs Hot Press and Rough
Hahnemühle has numerous watercolor papers but I’m going to focus on one…Cézanne. The paper comes in many forms: blocks and sheets. Paper surfaces: Hot press, Matt, and Rough.  I’ve put time and thought into this review. I’ve tried to boil it down to the most important stuff… what I look for in watercolor paper: usability, surface strength, consistency in sizing & forgiveness. I need a paper that can handle a lot of water, glazing and scrubbing.

In this first demonstration of the leaves I only used two colors, Payne's Gray and New Gamboge. Using two colors I can focus more on the paper surface and what was happening. I was happy with how the paper handled and moved on to a full color Negative painting of Pomegranates.  If you are unfamiliar with the term Negative Painting please see this post.

The bottom line is…Do I like the paper and will I use it?  The answer is yes. I found the paper to be very reliable, responsive and fun to work on. The Cézanne held up to everything I toss at it.

I’ve posted a video companion to go with this review. I share additional paintings done on the Cézanne hot press, matt and rough. I show detailed images of the paper's surface and talk about what I like and dislikes… Like why do they call the paper Matt? It’s looks and feels like cold press to me. 

I’ve posted the video here. If you have trouble viewing please click this link.

The paper is newly available in USA. The watercolor blocks are available but the full sheets aren’t available just yet. If you want to try the paper I need you to do your research (please don’t ask me to find it for you). I was told the paper is available at Hyatt’s Graphic Supply & DaVinci Artist Supply  For additional help you can contact the company directly at www.Hahnemü 

Hope you've found this post fun and helpful. I love to explore paper, paint, pens... and share the information with you.

Happy Painting!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sketches and Memories of Barcelona and Costa Brava

I’ve been home from Spain/Catalonia almost two months. Where has the time gone! Before anymore time slips by I want to share my trip, thoughts and sketches with you. 

My trip was broken into 3 phases: playtime in Barcelona, Workshop #1 May 15-22, Workshop #2 May 22-29.

May 10th my journey began. After a long flight I arrived in Barcelona. Cris, a fellow sketcher and dear friend flew in from Portugal at the same time. We got our luggage (always relieved when it arrives) and headed to the hotel. Once checked in we took off walking around the city of Barcelona. I was beyond tired but the joy of being in this magnificent city kicked in (along with caffeine) and we explored the city for a few hours. One of the first shops I visited was a pen shop…no surprise here! 

Cris and I had 4 full days in Barcelona. We walked our little legs off visiting many of Antoni Gaudí’s beautiful buildings, Park Güell, museums, parks, shops…and sketching along the way.  One day we walked more than 8 miles. Our final day in Barcelona was Mother’s Day. Moments likes these remind me how far I am from home and those I love. Cris and I celebrated each other as women & mom’s by going out to dinner at a fun tapas restaurant. A couple calls and text from home warmed my heart.

Overview of the  two workshops:
I was joined by 10 woman and Jackie Grandchamps. Jackie is the owner French Escapade. This was my 5th workshop with her. She’s absolutely amazing! Everything runs smooth and seamless. From Barcelona the group was taken to Costa Brava. Within a couple hours everyone was checked into their rooms. Jackie took us on a walking tour of the small village, pointed out points of interest, restaurants, shops… welcome dinner in a beautiful restaurant with a view of the beautiful small village and the sea. I’ve never seen a prettier sea.

Each day we started with a tasty breakfast and by 9:15 we were headed out for a day of sketching and exploring. All the locations were varied and beyond beautiful. Everything was close…so no long rides in a van. Each day I did a demo. Afterwards I walked around and checked on the group to see how everyone was doing. By 4:00 we were back at the hotel. We had a couple hours to relax, shop, swim, sketch…before dinner. Oh my gosh…dinners were amazing!!!! Not only was the food varied, fresh and tasty it was sooooo pretty. 

Between sketching and painting we had opportunities to know each better through play, shopping, conversations, hikes, giggles…and being downright silly!  I have wonderful memories from the time spent in the company of these intelligent, witty, talent women.

After 19 days it was time for this gal to head on home. Trying to get everything back inside my suitcases (and a few treasures) is always a challenge. I arrived home just before midnight on May 29th. I was greeted by the man I love and a big hug. It’s always good to come home.

During the trip I did 28 sketches…some ink, watercolor and pencil. Here’s my “Sketchbook Tour of Spain/Catalonia” click on the video. If you have a problem getting it to play click on this link: Sketchbook Video

If you’d like to join me at one of my workshops in the U.S. or if you’d like to join me in Tuscany next year check out my Workshop Schedule here. 

Happy Sketching! 

I have 100's of photos but I'll leave you with a few of these smiling faces.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Modified Watercolor Palette

I’ve always liked to take things apart (disassemble). When I was a kid... if I really liked something I took it apart. Why? I wanted to know how it was made. And yes I always put things back together. I have continued my fascination with how things are made into adulthood. But now I usually take things apart to see how I can make it better.

I’ve modified most of my art supplies: Sketch-Bag, sketchbooks, brush holders, pen holder, a few easels…and lots of palettes.

I get lots of questions about my sketching palette because it looks
different... Yes, I've modified it too. It’s the Heritage made by Alvin (it goes by other names too). It’s a great palette but lacked an area to make larger puddles for washes.

Trays:  3 inch Triangle Bead Trays, plastic (easily found on internet search)
Glue: Gorilla Glue or Epoxy 
Sandpaper: Fine Tooth/Grit

Clean the inside of the palette surface and allow to dry.
Use a fine grit sand paper on the bottom of the trays for better adhesion. 
Use a small amount of glue on the trays and put into place. 
Leave palette open over night to dry.

Step-by-Step VideoModified Watercolor Palette. If video doesn't play click this link: Video

And what would a palette be without paint? Here's my Dot Card of paint choices. I use Daniel Smith Watercolors. In my sketch palette you'll notice I've added Green Gold and eliminated Phthalo Blue (GS). These colors are on my studio palette which has more wells. Wish I could send everyone a Dot Card but I only have enough to cover workshops...sorry. 

Daniel Smith Watercolors 

Green Gold (not seen on card)
Hansa Yellow Medium
Raw Sienna Light
Quinacridone Gold
Permanent Yellow Deep
Anthraquinoid Scarlet
Permanent Alizarin Crimson
Quinacridone Rose
Imperial Purple
French Ultramarine
Phthalo Blue GS
Cobalt Blue
Manganese Blue Hue
Cobalt Teal Blue
Phthalo Turquoise
Green Gold
Phthalo Green (BS)
Quinicradone Burnt Orange
Transparent Red Oxide
Lunar Black

Paint Tube Organizer. I always travel with this! It's the easiest way to quickly find tubes of paint and to organize colors. It's so handy! 

Happy Painting!


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Continual Line Contour

I've been using "continual line contour" drawing for so long I've forgotten when I learned how. I can tell you it has changed the way I see, draw and paint. I've learned more about observing edges, measuring, overlapping and page placement than any other approach. 
In my workshops (sketching, illustrated journal or plein air workshop) I start by demonstrating and teaching this technique. At first students might feel hesitant. But by the end of the workshop I have won them over.  

I keep a collection of props on hand and I ask students to bring props to the workshop too. The more variety the better: jars, kettles, paint tubes, brushes, mugs, wooden and metal tools, artificial flowers, vegetables. 
During the workshop I use a timer so the drawings don't become too involved or precious.  It’s funny how the mind acts when you use a timer…absolute and complete focus! We start by drawing: 1 object in 3 minutes, 2 objects in 6 minutes, 3 objects in 10 minutes. All drawing is done from life (no photos). Once we get comfortable with drawing we begin painting.

Here's a workshop demo:

During the drawing keep your pen on the paper as long as possible. Yes, I said PEN! This exercise will teach you to slow down, look longer and be more certain of shapes, size and edges. There will be a certain amount of distortion to the drawing but I consider this part of the charm.  Continual Line Contour is a good exercise no matter how long you've been drawing. 

Here's a short video I made showing, "Continual Line Contour". I usually work from life but in the video I use a photo so my view would be the same as the viewers. If the video doesn't play click on the link:

"Art like life, is knowing where to draw the line".  Happy Sketching!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

What is the Purpose of Art?

Life is busy with workshops, travel, judging shows, writing and painting. Let's not forget those things that need our daily care: exercise, laundry, grocery shopping, appointments…  When I get time for myself I need something that will recharge my creative battery and feed my weary soul…sketching.

Sketching is a very broad term and I’m often asked, “What exactly is a sketch?” A sketch is anything I do in my sketchbook. Some people will disagree…that’s okay. Let’s face it the world is full of rules, laws, guidelines, restrictions, constrains… What I do in my sketchbooks is not defined or dictated by any one but me (big smile). What happens in my sketchbook is my playground, my challenges, my success, my failures…my business. 

My sketchbook is a safe place to go when I want or need to recharge, create, stretch, grow, play, explore and sometimes pour out my heart.  Within the pages I don’t ask for anyones approval or acceptance. Everyone needs a safe place to call our own. A place where we don’t seek or need anyone's approval or acceptance. 

You will learn more about me by looking through one of my sketchbooks than seeing an entire show of my work. Why is that? My paintings are me at my best (dressed up, make-up and on my best behavior). My sketchbooks are a true picture of me (in my play clothes, being silly, exploring my world, hurting…as a friend would see me). 

I take my sketchbooks everywhere I go. You can find me sketching at a cafe, in a garden, airport, sketching with friends…or a hospital.  People passing by like to comment. Most of the time they say, “nice sketch”, “wish I was talented” or “are you an artist?” But I’ve also heard, "What a shame it's in a sketchbook you could have sold it”. Why is it that so many people do not see the value of something unless they can attach a dollar amount to it?

Take a tour inside a recent sketchbook. Click on the video below or click on this link

The sketchbook in the video is one I made. To learn more see: The Perfect Sketchbook

My favorite manufactured brand is the Stillman & Birn, Beta. My video review:

I leave you with this question...

What is the purpose of art if it does not feed the soul of the one who created it? 

  Happy Sketching!