Thursday, October 23, 2008


Have I been buried for the month of October? Not literally - but - I'd pledged to finishing a commissioned triptych this month - so - I have been totally WITH PAINTBRUSH.

I'd done a pencil design and presented it to my patrons several months ago. It looked pretty much like this black and white image. So early in October I emailed it off for approval and we did make some small changes in the third panel . . . just dropping in different "items" in exchange for what was already there. Then when we'd worked that out . . . I worked up a value study. When I was happy with it I began enlarging this black and white to the actual 20 x 13 inches to transfer to my watercolor paper.

Next, I began to apply my resists to save my whites. Using both my liquid frisket and wax crayons I imagine where I don't want ANY pigment and then, come my washes of pale aureolin yellow, thalo blue and carmine. Once these are dry, I begin developing my darks and layering to create colors that glow from underneath one another.

Here you can see the beginning of my painting process. I'll be back soon to keep you updated. Now, I'm onto the big juicy, rich colors and on and on . . . the artists paradise :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Talk on Technique

Well, to my surprise, I had one of my wonderful readers send me a comment suggesting I follow up on the Rogue Valley Manor presentation with some snippets from my actual talk - to give you a peek into my crazy, complex technique. So here goes . . . this is a excerpt from my notes (well, I've made it sound like English now and corrected misspellings and abbreviations) . . .

"My favorite pigments are usually earthy, natural mixes but, to get some of the punchy, vivid colors I do layer with bold yellows, pinks and oranges.

I have pet brushes too (WN Scepter Gold II) – the majority are synthetic & natural hair blends. But there is nothing like a fat Kolinskey sable brush (a brush with only male mink tail hairs. These animals are native to Siberia and northeastern China, where the cold helps grow a thick, long hair that carry huge amounts of water) or a wiry synthetic to scrub off an area I want to lighten!

I do have an apparently, unusual painting technique – in that I paint w/2 brushes at the same time. 1-for carry pigment 2-for water source or moistening. And I have to admit when lost in painting – I have painted swatches across my overhead lamp to anything in the way of my unused brush.

Before starting my painting process, I define my image. I’m pretty exacting whether I start a piece plein air or work in my studio from photos.

Often I have just my sketchbook or journal with me when I want to capture a scene. These personal journals have added so much to my technique. Not only do I sketch more quickly but also, I relax into looseness, not worrying about errors and I experiment more – and that transfers later into my bigger paintings. The journaling, I find is more spontaneous and publicly unencumbered (although the writing can get pretty personal).

I’d taken my sketchbook along on a women’s hiking retreat. Well . . .
. . . and that’s one of the points I teach in my WC Sketching & Journaling Classes.

Now, with my fine art pieces I feel them to be more intense, complex and personal. These larger works spring off my journal sketches or redesigned photo references - into small line drawings. From there I use my trusty computer to enlarge my drawing so I can transfer it to WC paper AND I make 2 pale copies of the small drawing – 1, for working out a value study and 2, to suggest where I will pour my first layer of primary colors

But before any pigment goes on the WC sheet I determine exactly where I want to save my whites – VERY important with WC since the paper IS your WHITES – and save them with frisket (misket, plastic liquid that dries and can later be pulled up) or with Wax Crayons.

They are the latest discovery to my painting process – and I just LOVE them

These crayons (Caran de Ache) are brilliant solid pigment that act as a resist (your wet pigments will resisit staying on it) AND as bright colors that bleed throught the wet pigments.

After applying my resists – I mix a light value, #7 on a value scale, (or darkness) of my 3 primaries (Aureolin yellow, Thalo blue and Carmine red) and slop them onto my paper. Oh yes, they run into each other and the paper bubbles up with wetness, forming valleys and bumps – but it’s very exciting!

They I focus in on developing shapes, usually I end up going way dark really early (one workshop I attended declared me the “Queen of Darks” – sounds sinister, eh? Well, actually, it's a compliment to a watercolorist) and layering thinly to create colors that glow through from behind. Sometimes I use 4 or more layers honing the curves or shadows of flowers. "

Hope that gives you a window into my techniques . . . love to hear your feedback and comments on unusual techniques you indulge in . . .

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Show Up and Talk Delivered

We delivered all twenty-five pieces of art to the Rogue Valley Manor day before yesterday. As I mentioned, I was going to be surprised if they hung them all - but - surprised I am!! And I'm quite pleased with how they all look together. The florals blend well with the landscapes and visa versa. My journal was installed on a table in the back so that I might reference it in my 20 minute talk.

My Hubby and I arrived about 15 minutes before the "Artists' Reception" began. I rehearsed, and over-rehearsed the talk, added, talked slower, extrapolated with gestures, and practiced looking into my audience's eyes for days. Now it was time to deliver. I actually wasn't nervous - just ready to get it over.

Slowly the room began to fill up and pretty soon there were nearly 30 people. The introduction was done - and - I was off and talking. I'd worked out a signal with my husband, in that if I was talking too fast he'd do this "slow down" motion, but he never did. And once people actually laughed some at my humor . . . things eased up even more. There were a few questions at the end - which I was actually able
to answer, and then, the back doors opened up for appetizers & wine to be served.

Several very nice people came up and chatted about art and their responses included "The most detailed and technically informative talk they'd had!", "Your talk certainly helped me to look at your art and appreciate it more." as well as, the Resident Art Historian saying he saw "parts of my work that reminded him of Burchfield!" Hey, I'll take ALL of those comments.

But you know, the reason I believe this all went so well was mentioned in my talk. Well, here, I'll quote kinda what I said - there are times "that reveal to me I am a channel to express things I'm not even aware of and I hope those mysterious energies permeate the resulting pieces". Just as I hope "They" permeate my thoughts and actions not just in my paintings but in my life!

For those who ponder what happens when each one of us grabs an opportunity to try a new endeavor, fearful as we may be, I want to attest to the results. I feel stronger, clearer, safer and more free!!! Take the chance - cheers for embracing new adventures!!!