Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Peppermist Twist
A watercolor painting
Karen A. Cooke
May each you have a wonderful Chrismtas holiday spend with family and friends!

Merry Christmas and Happy Painting!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Running Out of Time or Money?

Handpainted Bookmarks
Christmas is almost here!

If you still need presents and are out of money and almost out of time, consider painting a bookmark for a gift.

The bookmarks above are specifically for Christmas with pine cones and holly, but bookmarks can be painted for any occasion by simply changing the picture.  Below are instructions for painting bookmarks:

Painting instructions for Christmas bookmarks:

1)      Tape down the paper, measure and draw the size of the bookmarks on the sheet.    Depending upon the size of the paper, you can probably get 7 bookmarks from one sheet.  Draw or transfer the picture on each of the bookmark section

2)      Using a large  flat brush, apply an overall wash with yellow ocher leaving the color more intense at the top of the paper and gradually becoming lighter at the bottom.    Allow to dry.

3)      Spatter the entire sheet of bookmarks using a darker shade of yellow ocher or a light brown. 

4)      Using a #4 round brush paint the red ribbon lightly with a simple controlled wash.  Allow to dry.  Add the shaded areas of the ribbon.

5)      Wash the pinecones with a light yellow.  Paint the details on the pinecones with dark brown. 

6)      Apply a controlled wash over the holly stems and leaves using a mixture of green and yellow.  Allow to dry and add detail with a bit more green.  Be certain to leave the edges slighter as this is what will create a variegated effect.

7)      Paint the berries with a bright red.  Using a liner brush, dab in the darker shadows and final details.

8)      Allow the bookmark to dry completely.  Sign your name!  Cut the bookmarks apart.  Punch a hole in the top and add a piece of gold cord or ribbon cut to desire length.  CONGRATULATIONS!  You have completed your painting – your bookmarks are ready for gift giving!

9)      The bookmark can be given as is or color copies can be made at a copy store and then laminated for gift giving. 

Happy Painting and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Shopping for an Artist?

It is that time of year to be Christmas shopping.  Many of you may be shopping for an artist and would like to have a few ideas of what to buy.  If you are shopping for a beginning watercolor artist or if you are thinking about trying watercolor painting yourself, I would recommend the following for a "starter" set:
  • A set of watercolor paints.  A basic set usually contains the colors used most often.  I would recommend one of the higher quality brand of paints as these colors are truer and contain more pigment.  If the person wishes to continue with this hobby, additional colors can be added.
  • For starters, a watercolor artist can create a painting using only 3 brushes: a large flat brush 1" or 2" wide, a #6 round brush, and a small #1 round or liner brush for details. 
  • Watercolor paper:  I would recommend Arches 140 lb weight paper - 11" x 15"
  • A sketch pencil and kneaded eraser
  • Sketch board (large enough to hold the size paper purchased).  A presentation board can be used which is considerably less expensive than a sketch board. 
  • Misc. items that are inexpensive or can be found around the house.  (Container for water, paper towels for cleanup, paper/plastic plates for palette, and masking tape).
These are basic supplies and can be purchased at any art supply store.  Many stores offer 40-50% off coupons on a regular basis which makes trying watercolor painting and Christmas shopping cost less. 

Have fun shopping for an artist OR give painting a try yourself!

Happy Painting!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

How NOT to Paint?

Peppermint Twist
Watercolor painting by
Karen A. Cooke
How NOT to paint?  How crazy! 

Actually, this title is to illustrate a point that many times what is left "white" or unpainted is as important, and in many cases,  more important than what is painted. 

The painting above demonstrates this.  A sketch was made of a few pieces of peppermint candy.  The sketch was not very detailed and the emphasis was on the placement of color and shadow.  The areas of white, or places left unpainted, were as important as the areas of paint.  Without the white areas, the painting would not have taken shape. 

I used light washes of Windsor Blue, Scarlet with a little bit of Naples yellow.  The entire painting was done with varying washes and intensities of these three colors.  Many areas were left unpainted, and the eye makes the connection of the stripes and the wrapping.   Although the wrapping is every obviously present, it was only painted by use of shadows and light washes.

At this time of year when peppermints can be easily found, grab a few peppermints and a paintbrush and see if you can learn how NOT to paint!

Happy Painting!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Woodblock Printing

Woodblock Printing
Although the emphasis of my blog is watercolor painting, I thought you might enjoy this post about woodblock printing.  While visiting an antique store which specializes in a large variety of salvaged architectural materials, I ran across a set of woodblocks for printing.   Since I like things that are a little unique, I thought these would be great for decorating….not to mention the fun I would have “playing with them.”    The print above is one of the finished prints. 

The photos above are the printer blocks that I purchased.  Part of the fun was trying to tell what the finished picture would be.  It was difficult to tell in most cases before the print was made.  Some of the blocks are only sections of a completed painting and only discernible when viewed as the printed image.  One print is part of a torso of a man – with no head and only part of his arms and legs.  Another print is a pair of hands; another is a woman’s face, etc.  I was able to obtain 6 different print blocks.    

Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper.
As a method of printing on cloth, the earliest surviving examples from China date to before 220 BC and from Egypt to the 4th century.  (Of course, my blocks are not nearly that old.)

The wood block is carefully prepared as a relief matrix, which means the areas to show 'white' are cut away with a knife, chisel, or sandpaper leaving the characters or image to show in 'black' at the original surface level. The block was cut along the grain of the wood. It is only necessary to ink the block and bring it into firm and even contact with the paper or cloth to achieve an acceptable print. The content would of course print "in reverse" or mirror-image, a further complication when text was involved. The art of carving the woodcut is technically known as xylography, though the term is rarely used in English.  In Europe, beechwood was most commonly used; in Japan, a special type of cherry wood was used.
Methods of printing:
Used for many fabrics, and most early European woodcuts (1400–40). These items were printed by putting paper or fabric on a table or a flat surface with the block on top, and pressing, or hammering, the back of the block.

Used for European woodcuts and block-books later in the 15th century, and very widely for cloth as well as paper. The block is placed face side up on a table, with the paper or fabric on top. The back of the block is rubbed with a "hard pad, a flat piece of wood called a burnisher.  This is the method I used to create my prints.

Happy Painting!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Seasons of the Sun

Lighten Up
9" x 12"
I love sunflowers.  Everyone who knows me knows that yellow is my favorite color and the sunflower is my favorite flower.  One can find sunflowers and yellow hidden everywhere in my home….well, maybe not hidden! 

Included in this blog are a few sunflowers that I have created in watercolor or pastels.   

Watercolor tip:
When painting sunflowers, remember to paint each petal separately and don’t paint petals that are touching until they are dry or the colors will run together and be indistinct.    Skip every other petal when painting – this will allow time for each petal to dry.  Use various shades of yellow, gold, green and brown, concentrating the deeper colors at the base of the flower.  Remember – the petals are not perfect:  twisted, turned and bent.  This gives the sunflower character. 

Bed and Breakfast
11"  14"

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large flowering head and got its name from its huge, fiery blooms, whose shape and image is often used to depict the sun. The sunflower has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads of flowers. The heads consist of 1,000-2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base.

From the Americas, sunflower seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production.

 he sunflower is native to Central America. The evidence thus far is that it was first domesticated in present day Mexico, by at least 2600 BC.  It may have been domesticated a second time in the middle Mississippi Valley, or been introduced there from Mexico at an early date, as maize was. The earliest known examples of a fully domesticated sunflower north of Mexico have been found in Tennessee, and date to around 2300 BC.

Do sunflowers really follow the sun?
A common misconception is that sunflowers track the sun.  When the plant is in the bud stage, it tends to track the movement of the sun across the horizon. Once the flower opens into the radiance of yellow petals, it faces east. No one knows why. However, it is likely a defensive response. Facing south or west could result in sun-scalding of seeds during very hot days.

While researching the sunflower for my blog, I found the following information about sunflower paintings, specifically those done by Van Gogh, who is the most well-known “sunflower artist.” 

According to the National Sunflower Association:
The sunflower plant has almost 'human-like' characteristics and dimensions. The face of the blooming sunflower can almost speak to you. For this reason, the sunflower was a favorite subject for Europe's greatest artists such as Van Gogh and Picasso. Sales of these paintings can bring millions of dollars today. The sunflower continues to be a favorite art form for designers of fashion to the every-day coffee mug. It has, and continues, to stand the test of time.

According to research on VanGough’s sunflower paintings:
The colors are vibrant and express emotions typically associated with the life of sunflowers: bright yellows of the full bloom to arid browns of wilting and death; all of the stages woven through these polar opposites are presented. Perhaps this very technique is what draws one into the painting; the fulfillment of seeing all angles of the spectrum of life and in turn reaching a deeper understanding of how all living things are tied together.
Why are sunflowers popular subjects for art and a favorite subject for me to paint? 

For the reasons above?........................ OR,  maybe it is just because I like sunflowers and the color yellow… just makes me happy!

Happy Painting!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I’m Back to Blogging!

I’m Back to Blogging!

During the past few months, we have relocated to the East Tennessee mountains; and with the packing, unpacking and just getting settled, I have not had the time to post on my blog!  Whew!  I think we are finally at the point to enjoy living here and for me to have time to once more sit down at the computer and blog!

I plan to post once a week and share with you my art experiences here in the mountains.

Happy Painting!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Different Perspective!

Cades Cove Church

A different perspective can make a good painting a great one.!

One of the most difficult parts of a painting can be the composition.  This is especially true when painting on location or setting up a still life.  My watercolor painting above titled  Cades Cove Church, was painted from a photograph I took when visiting Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains.  I took several photos of the church from different perspectives to find the one that added the most interest.   See the examples below:
Cades Cove Church
Same church....different perspective
As you can see from the photos above, a different perspective can  make a more interesting painting.

Happy Painting!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Hummer!

Summer Hummer
Watercolor Painting

The hummingbirds have returned!  These hungry little birds are a fun sight in my yard and we enjoy watching them eat at our feeders.  As shown in this painting, they love bright colored flowers, especially reds and yellows.

I will be taking a short "vacation" from my blog until July while we are relocating to another part of the state.  I thought the little fellow above would be a good example of how busy we'll be over the course of the next few weeks.  We'll be as busy and probably as hungry!

Keep painting - summer is a wonderful time to grab that sketch book and your paint brushes and enjoy the wonderful opportunities to paint outdoors.   Grab a camera too  - capture the summer to paint when fall and winter  weather arrives. 

See you soon - keep checking back.  I hope to have some wonderful paintings of our new location and watercolor tips to share.

Happy Painting!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Central Park!

Central Park
Watercolor painting
11" x 15 Mats to 16" x 20"

The watercolor above was done for my son for his birthday and was double matted with a cream white and a rusty brown in a medium brown frame. 

This painting contrasts the natural park settings of the old stone bridge, rugged rocks, trees and lake reflections with the manmade structures of the high rise buildings on the Upper West Side seen in the distance and invites the viewer into the scene to stroll along the foreground path.

As you look for subjects to paint, look for contrasts in your setting to add interest to your work.

Happy Painting!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Get Inspired!

Dixon Garden Dogwood

Get Inspired!  The BrushStrokes advanced watercolor class toured the Dixon Gallery and Gardens recently before continuing work on their spring palette painting!  The photo above is one of many beautiful plants in the garden area.  I have included a watercolor study of a dogwood I painted below.

Dogwood Study
The Dixon Gallery and Garden, one of the  art museum in the Memphis, TN area, specializies in Impressionist and  Post-Impressionist paintings.  The museum inspires the artist not only through viewing the numerous paintings, but through strolling the beautiful gardens, which display many seasonal plantings that are a riot of color from spring through fall. 

In addition to the permanent collection, the Dixon is host to numerous exhibitions through the year.  We were able to view many works of Joe Jones.  Mr. Jones was heralded in the 1930s as one of America's most powerful social realist painters. 

So, if you need inspiration of simply want to spend an enjoyable afternoon, tour an art gallery! 

Happy Painting!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring Flowers!

Golden Trumpets
11" x 15" Mats to 16" x 20"
The technique used in this watercolor gives the painted paper a batik-look achieved without the traditional batik use of wax. Below is a short definition of batik.

Batik (pronunciation: [ba.te], but often, in English, is [bæ.tɪk] or [bətiːk]) is a wax-resist dyeing technique used on textile. Batik is found in several countries of West Africa, such as Nigeria, Cameroon and Mali, and in Asia, such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Iran, Malaysia and Thailand. However, it is in Indonesia that it is considered a national art form.

Painting instructions:

1) Do not tape down your paper before your sketch. Sketch in the flowers and leaves with little detail. Make the pencil lines dark enough on the flowers to be seen after the crumpling and wetting technique, but do not press hard enough to indent or scratch the paper.

2) Here’s the hard part………crumple the paper up in a ball as though you were going to throw it away. Concentrate on making wrinkles in all areas of the paper without tearing it….crumple easily.

3) Submerge the paper ball into water making certain it is evenly wet. Remove from the water and unfold carefully. Smooth onto your sketch board and tape along the edges. The tape will not stick well to the wet surface; however, it will hold enough to keep the paper in place.

4) While the paper is still very wet, float in the background of green and blue working around the petunias. I used sap green and Windsor blue; however, other shades of blue and green can be used with a pleasing effect. Use a large flat brush or mop to place in the background except for working around the flowers. Use a #6 round or similar size brush to work in the background around the flowers.

5) Let this dry COMPLETELY!

6) Flowers: Once the background is dry the daffidols are painted in using a wet-in-wet technique. Wet the center first and apply a wash of yellow/gold. A wash of clean water is painted on the areas to be paintedyellow. Then a wash of yellow is laid in starting near the center and letting the water pull the color to the edge of the petals. A darker yelow is worked at the edge and allow to run back into the first wash of color creating a deep center and deep edges with a slightly lighter center. Some of the blue and green from the background will be found in the wrinkles and creases of the paper and will look like veins in the petals. Also, the wrinkles and creases will allow the yelow color to bleed into the white areas of the petals. Don’t despair, that is what you want to happen and is part of the beauty of this technique. Continue painting all flowers, alternating petals that are touching.  After the flowers are completely dry, the centers are detailed slightly.

7) Leaves: The leaves are painted in only after the flowers are dry. If your leaves have become hidden under the washes, lightly sketch in some leaves. Using a mix of colors: gold, green, blue, add leaves using deeper colors to indicate shadows. Some of the leaves are simply painted with a wash of water to give the appearance of flowers fading into the background.

8) This painting can be matted on top of mat board with a torn edge in keeping with the batik look. Place a ruler along the edge of the painting and tear the paper lifting slowly and creating a jagged edge with layers of the white paper showing. Or, if you prefer, you may mat your painting in the traditional method.

Happy Painting!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Watercolor Palette

Paris in Spring
11" x 15" Mats to 16" x 20"

Spring - The Seasonal Palette
The green shades of spring are exceptionally fresh and vibrant. To capture the colors of spring in your paintings, color mixing should be kept to a minimum. Remember the more colors you mix together, the duller and more subdued the resulting color will be. For the spring palette, it is a good idea to limit your color mixing to only 3 colors. For example, most spring greens can be mixed from a simple 2 color mix of one blue and one yellow. Also, consider using a “purchased” green for some of the greens in a spring landscape.

The majority of greens found in a spring landscape consist of a lot of yellow. Early spring flowers are predominately yellow. For the first fresh leaves of spring, grass and flower, yellow is the most significant color on the spring palette.

Spring Palette Colors:

• Sap Green

• Ultramarine

• Viridian

• Cerulean blue

• Phthalo Blue

• Cadmium Yellow Pale (cool yellow)

• Cadmium Yellow Deep (golden yellow)

• Lemon Yellow (cool yellow)

• Indian Yellow (golden yellow)

• Yellow Ochre (golden yellow)

 Color Mixes:

• Cadmium lemon + Ultramarine = Cool, fresh green…..good for flowerbeds

• Diluted viridian can be used to add bluish- green texture (good for shadows and shaded areas in foliage)

• Cadmium yellow + cerulean blue = Bright, sharp green for foreground foliage

• Yellow ochre + Phthalo blue = dull green for dark-leaved trees

Important Yellows

Cool, acid yellows are particularly useful for springtime because when mixed with blue, they create sharp greens characteristic of fresh leaves. The coolest yellows are those with a blue bias: lemon yellow, cadmium yellow pale, cadmium lemon. Depending on the blues theses yellow are mixed with, these yellows will produce a range of cool, vivid greens found in a spring landscape.

Golden yellow (those with a red bias) produce warm or subtle greens, depending on the choice of blue. These golden yellows include cadmium yellow deep, Indian yellow, and yellow ochre.

Spring Blues

The blues used are primarily ultramarine, cerulean blue and Phthalo blue. These blues are used for sky as well as mixing with yellows to create spring shades of green.

Purchased or Premixed Greens

Self-mixed greens are usually easier to integrate into a landscape than a single color of a premixed green. However, spring foliage is often so bright that it is important to have that color stand out, rather than simply blend in. In this case, purchased greens are great in a spring landscape. However, purchased greens can be mixed with blues and yellows to blend foliage.

The following are examples of purchased greens that work well in the spring landscape:

• Sap green

• Viridian (use in limited quantities as this color can dominate a scene)

Spring sunlight is usual low which make the colors appear particularly bright and luminous. With watercolor, you can capture this translucent effect perfectly by applying paint in a thin layer so that the white paper shows through the wash of color. Avoid using white paint in a spring landscape. The chalky effect of white paint is particularly unwelcome when you want to capture the fresh, sunny colors of spring. To create white flowers and highlights, leave patches of unpainted white paper.

Happy Painting!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Daylight Savings Time - What It Means to an Artist!

Spring Smile
Watercolor 9" x 12" Mats to 14" x 16"

Daylight savings time starts tomorrow!  Although I don't enjoy "losing" that hour's sleep when our clock's spring forward, I do enjoy the end result - later sunsets!  Even though the number of daylight hours don't change with daylight savings time,  the daylight hours are found on the clock at a time when I can better use them. 

What does that mean to an artist?   Well, to me, it means that I have more daylight hours when I am awake to paint.  (It also gives me more time for yard work which will soon be needed with the coming of Spring.....but that is another story!)  There is just "something" about natural light when painting. 

March 20th is the first day of Spring, but I am already working on spring paintings and preparing my lesson plans for teaching the "spring palette."    I'll discuss the spring palette in upcoming blogs.  But, as you are outside the next week, take a look around at what's blooming in your area...even if it is weeds.  What is the dominate color?

Until next blog....take a nap and rest up for "springing forward!"

Happy Painting!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brenda's Barn

Brenda's Barn
Watercolor 9" x 12" Mats to 14" x 16"

My watercolor painting above was painted from a photograph taken by one of my friends.  Her photo was taken across the street from her home during our last snow...just a week ago.  She is an excellent photographer who has a knack for composition in her subjects.  Her photo caught my eye as an excellent subject for a painting.

My watercolor class is concluding a unit of study on the winter palette;  so this painting was an excellent way to end this unit using the colors of the winter palette.    As a recap, the follow are colors in the winter palette:
Payne’s Gray

• Ultramarine

• Burnt Sienna

• Sap Green

• Burnt Umber

In my painting above, I used ultramarine and Payne's gray for my sky as well as the snow shadows.  Tree branches and trees were painted with a mix of burnt umber and Payne's gray. The barn was a mix of reds and burnt umber to give a weathered texture to the red barn.

This was a fun painting for me....I love painting old barns; and this was is even more special since it was painted from a photo taken by a friend.

If the groundhog was right, Spring is just around the corner.  We will start a new unit of study in our watercolor classes for March - the Spring palette.  So, good by winter....see you next year!

Happy Painting!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snowy Trail

Snowy Trail
Watercolor 11" x 15" Mats to 16" x 20"

It keeps snowing, so I keep painting snowscapes.  If it keeps snowing where you are as well and want to keep capturing the cold weather to help cool you off in July, the following are some tips for painting snowscapes.

Advice on Painting Snow:
Snow transforms a landscape, softening edges and imposing tonal harmony. In bright sunshine, its reflective quality gives the landscape a dazzling brilliance, with trees and other features standing out in contrast to the prevailing whiteness.

When painting a snow scene in watercolor, you need to work logically from light to dark, conserving the white of the paper for the snow and applying washes carefully to the surrounding areas. Using masking fluid as needed to preserve the white of the water.

Warm and cool color contracts are very evident in snowy landscapes. Shadows are a characteristic blue-lilac color and were often depicted in winter scenes by Impressionist painters, who understood how these colors complemented the yellowish orange of the winter sunlight.

Advice on Painting Winter Trees:
When painting winter trees, especially leafless ones, consider their structure and growth pattern carefully.

Use the flat of the brush for the main branches and the tip of the brush for the small ones.

When you paint towards the end of a branch, the line will naturally become thinner as you complete the stroke, creating a realistic effect.

A liner brush, a rigger, or a small palette knife can be used to paint very fine, thin branches.

Three Things to Remember When Painting a Snowscape:
Snow white paper….the snow is represented by the white of the paper itself.

Cool shadows are painted using cool violet-blue paint to contrast with the white of the paper and the glint of sunlight.

A crisply painted tree, fence post, house, or other object will create a focal point to draw the eye into the painting.

Don't complain about the snow.....paint it!  You'll be dreaming of this cold weather in July and August!

Happy Painting!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Frosty Windows!

Frosty Morn
Watercolor 11" x 15" Mats to 16" x 20"

In my watercolor painting above, Frosty Morn, the windows were "frosted" using a fun technique.

The painting was lightly sketched in using a ruler to make straight lines for the window panes.  The wooden part of the panes was masked out using art masking tape.   The snow can be masked using masking fluid. 

NOTE:  Artist tape is much easier to use then masking fluid when straight lines are needed. 

Instructions for "frosting" a window:
  • It is important that you pre-wet the area of the window pane, but not the snow at the lower section of each frame. 
  • Pre-wet these sections using a flat brush. 
  • You will want to apply pigment to these areas while the surface area is wet and shiny.  Apply variation of hues using several shades of blues and lavender.  Remember watercolors dry lighter. 
  • Start with the top frames. 
  • While the windows are wet, place a slightly wrinkled piece of plastic wrap over the top of the paint.  Repeat this process on all window frames.   
  • The plastic wrap can be taped in place if needed.   
  • It is important you leave the plastic on the surface to form the “frost” until the surface is DRY. 
  •  If you life the plastic while the paper or the paint is wet,  the pigment will have a soft edge and will not “frost” the window panes. 
  • If the color is not as dark as you would like you can re-wet the area with clean water, apply more pigment, and plastic and let dry. 
  • When dry, remove the plastic wrap.
  • It is very tempting to lift the plastic wrap to see what is happening under the plastic wrap, but be patient - the finished result will be forth the wait.

Happy Painting!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Painting Tile, Bricks, or Stonework

The Avenue
Watercolor 9" x 12" Mats to 14" x 16"

In my watercolor above, The Avenue, the stonework behind the sign is a major part of the painting.    Many times, brick, tiles or stonework (even if not the focal paint of the painting), play a major role.

The following are the steps involved in painting bricks, tiles, or stonework.

  • Lay down a wash of the light shade of the wall.....the lightest color that will be the "mortar" of the brickwork, etc.

  • While the background is still wet, add some deeper shades of paint in the same color family or contrasting shades to add interest and realism to the background.

  • Let this dry.  Prepare the color desired for the brickwork.  Dip a "kitchen" or rectangular sponge in the paint and place in the location for the bricks.  Remember to leave areas of the background showing for the mortar. 

Let dry and then complete your painting.

Happy Painting!





Saturday, January 22, 2011

Watercolor Painting or First Aid?

Winter Aspens

The painting above, Winter Aspens,  is the finished product.   The paintings below were done by student's in today's watercolor class and will show the painting during the various steps.

Susan's Painting with Gauze in Place

Removing the Gauze
Tracy's Painting with Gauze Removed
Watercolor painting lends itself to texturization.  One of my favorite techniques is the use of surgical gauze to works as if MAGIC!  The background trees/foliage was painted with the surgical gauze texturization method.    The following are instructions for surgical gauze texturization. 

Adding texture to a painting can be accomplished in many ways….one interesting way to add texture is the use of surgical gauze.

How and why does it work?

The gauze will absorb the paint and leave a mark when lifted. The difference in color from light to dark formed by the weave of the gauze will leave an interesting design.

What is important to remember when using this technique?

Manipulation of the gauze to make irregular patterns will create more interesting designs. The watercolor paper must be wet to hold the gauze in place before the paint is applied.

When should this technique be used?

This technique can be used to create spider webs, foliage, basket weave, etc.

How to texturize using surgical gauze

• Wet your watercolor paper with clear water. This will hold the gauze in place.

• Use a single layer of gauze if your gauze is doubled.

• Using your hands, manipulate the gauze into place purposely placing it irregularly on your painting unless a regular pattern is desired.

• Rewet any areas that may have dried.

• Using a flat brush, apply the paint. One single color or several colors can be used depending on the result you are trying to achieve.

• Let the gauze dry and remove it.

• Add any details with a round brush if there are areas that are not the consistent color or pattern you would like.

Texturization can add much detail and interest to you paintings and create designs that are not achieved easily by other methods. Use of surgical gauze is one of these methods.

Give this technique a try!

Happy Painting!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Down the Snowy Lane

Down the Snowy Lane
Watercolor 9" x 12" Mats to 14" x 16"

How to Paint Snow
In watercolor painting, much of the snow is painted by simply allowing the paper to show through and painting the shadows.  The snow is not actually "painted" at all.  In my watercolor above, Down the Snowy Lane, you can see the shadows and "bare" areas of the ground are painted with the following colors:
  • Ultramarine Blue
  •  Payne’s Gray
  • Burnt Umber
  • Sepia
  • Yellow Ochre
Leave the areas of the snow in the brightest light completely unpainted. 

The snow on the tree branches were "painted" in the same way.  Parts of the tree with snow were simply left unpainted. 

During this cold winter, find a winter scene to paint, fix a nice cup of hot cocoa and enjoy painting the winter weather!

Happy Painting!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"IF" Technique

Winter Aspens
Watercolor 11" x 15" Mats to 16" x 20"

My watercolor above, Winter Aspens, uses the "IF" technique to make the large trees in the foreground.  Being able to mask out these trees, makes it much easier to paint the sky and the background trees and shrubs in an unbroken line.

What is the "IF" method? 


One can use the “IF” method to mask large areas for watercolor painting. “IF” or ironing freezer wrap is a quick and easy way to mask large areas. It is not as messy and much faster for large areas than using liquid masking fluid.

The instructions are simple:

• Using a sharp pencil drew the painting on your watercolor paper making a dark pencil mark, but not pressing too hard into the paper to leave an impression.

• Place the freezer paper, waxed side down, over the area to be masked. Carefully trace this area onto the freezer paper. Secure the freezer wrap with small pieces of masking tape if needed to keep the wrap from slipping.

• Remove the freezer wrap from the sketch and cut the shapes from the freezer wrap using scissors.

• Apply the freezer paper, waxed side down, over the area to be masked on your watercolor paper. Make any adjustments necessary.

• Using a hot iron (linen or hot setting) and working quickly, press the shape onto the watercolor paper.

• Allow the paper to cool before painting.

So IF you need to mask large areas, give the “IF” method a try!

Happy Painting!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011 - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

New Year's Day is often a time to make resolutions for the coming year.  My cousin, Jim White (aka Tennessee Granddaddy) posted the following definition of a New Year's Resolution in his blog:

What is a New Year’s Resolution?   A resolution is nothing more than a promise to yourself to change something you do for the better.

If you plan to make a New Year's Resolution, think about that definition and consider my suggestion:

Be realistic in your goals. 

Would I like to be able to do a watercolor painting every day?  Of course, I would  --- I would definitely enjoy painting it.  BUT, is that a realistic goal?  Of course not!  So, I considered my present time commitments and decided a completed painting a month would be a realistic and attainable goal.    Does that mean I can't do more?  No, it simply means that I will fit into my schedule time to paint one watercolor per month. I will paint whenever I have the time, but set a goal to paint at least one per month!

The most important part of making resolutions regarding your art and setting realistic goals is to never let the goal become more important than the art!  When you lose enjoyment of your painting to attain a goal, you miss the point of what painting for enjoyment is all about.

Happy New Year and Happy Painting!