Color Me With Watercolor

I spent July continuing my watercolor portrait practice. These two were inspired by fellow Sktchy member, Lauren Arno, who challenged us at various times during the month!

And… in just over a week I’m also going to take her online watercolor class through Sktchy. I’ve always felt there’s no better way to expand my repertoire than by taking classes.

Color me happy!

Portrait Retrospective

Where does the time go? This morning I realized I haven’t posted in over a month and yet I’ve completed 2 additional sketchbooks since then.

I guess I’ll start in by showing you a few of my favorite portraits from May and one from early June. All were drawn from photographic references posted on the Sktchy app by other creatives. You’ll see I often switch things up by sometimes forgoing my beloved ink lines and instead choose to sketch in pencil before I paint. There’s a different feel to each of these methods but I enjoy them both.

This month watercolor was my only constant.

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018… Part Six

Finally! I hereby present the final five direct paintings I did for the June challenge.

Even with all its flaws I actually prefer the quick thumbnail portrait on the left to the more detailed portrait I did to follow. Again from a Sktchy photo.

More negative painting practice. I pulled out a teeny-tiny brush to do the darker lettering.

My ever-present studio companion. He truly is only 4 inches tall!

From another photo found on Sktchy. I had a vision of a zen monk in deep meditation.

Last day of June! Marquette grapes make darn good wine… they’re cold-hardy and they grow in Vermont!

Looking back on the month of paintings I can see where I fail but more importantly I see where things went right… things I learned and want to repeat. It was a great month!

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018… Part Five

Marc Taro Holmes calls it direct watercolor while Liz Steel says straight to paint. Either way it’s quite the challenge to visualize the page and paint without a structural underdrawing.

I’ve now completed two thirds of the month’s challenge and I’m definitely more comfortable handling my brush and paints.

I took my paints to an outdoor concert. Great subjects but my painting was cut short as I spilled my water! Sigh.

I have a thing about ampersands! I discovered that I should have done the shading before I painted the details. More negative painting practice again.

Painted from a Sktchy photo. Another negative painting practice and another one of my favorites.

Foxgloves. I can’t grow them but I’m glad my friend can!

Cool and refreshing sour cherry cider! Another one of my favorites. I know many artists don’t like the blooms, also known as back-runs, but I love the variation in hues and the fuzzy edges.

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018… Part Four

Ooops… Somehow I must have had a brain cramp… this should have been published last Friday. Well, it’s here now and I’ll just push the others back a few days to compensate.

These five are the start of the second half of the challenge. I’m much less stressed and more inclined to just start in and see where my brush takes me.

Two quick views across the pond. This is one of my favorites because I can see myself using this technique on vacation.

Another people spread. I’m particularly fond of the woman with dog in the upper right. Just a few brush strokes allowing us to fill in the details ourselves.

My favorite pitcher! Not only does it glug-glug-glug when it pours but with its beautiful coloration it’s a great subject.

Another fun pitcher to paint!

Dogs… I really miss my ink when I’m painting them! They move so fast… I should be painting sleeping dogs instead.

See you in a couple of days for the next installment!

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018… Part Three

Here I am fully one third of my way through the month and I’ve finally given up on perfection. I’ve started to “lean in” as the contemporary lingo says.

I love a few in this group but one of them in particular got away from me… it’s a real dog! (wink-wink)

I wanted to try something that had both wide swaths of color along with fine detail. This bottle had both.

Woof! Done from a photo on Sktchy.

Lesson One from Wil Freeborn’s book Learn to Paint in Watercolor with 50 Paintings. Who knew doughnuts would be such great subjects!

Out with my plein air group… just starting to get comfortable balancing my sketchbook, paints, and water jar without getting soaked… done that before.

Lesson Fifteen from the same Wil Freeborn book. I think this technique would be great to capture the Adirondacks across Lake Champlain.

More on Friday… until then have a great day and a wonderful Independence Day to all of us in the States!

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018… Part Two

After my first very uncomfortable 5 days of the Direct Watercolor challenge (see the previous post) I started to find my balance and decided to relax and just see what I could achieve without needing to create something “finished”.

The white iris is my first attempt at negative painting.

People! Thank goodness for Anne-Laure Jacquart’s YouTube video.

Yet more people practice… this time watching Trevor Waugh’s YouTube videos.

I have a few toys to model for me when I don’t know what else to paint or when it’s late as it was this night.

More negative and positive painting practice. I love this little jar, and yes… the jar has no e in saccharine, and no… saccharine is not better for me.

Committing to daily practice was key… and understanding that it was truly “practice” allowed me to start enjoying my painting time.

I hope you’ll come back Wednesday when the adventure continues.

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018… Part One

I just finished a daily painting challenge for the month of June. This was all spearheaded by Marc Taro Holmes and the point was to create a daily watercolor without relying on an initial pen or pencil sketch for guidance.

Whew! Often I felt as if I was walking a tightrope without a net and at times I needed to talk myself through the fear just to start! I’d sit there with a loaded brush hesitant to touch the page.

But begin I did. These would never be considered among my finest work but I knew I’d never get to my goal without practice. I’m going to show you my month’s work in chronological order.

June 1st – Sktchy portrait

Poppies from my side garden, painted in plein air.

Our black kitty and her favorite spot.

Both of our cats as models.

As I wrote above… I was really missing having my pen lines to guide me. I think this marks the end of my whining and the start of me getting my brain thinking of seeing volumes instead of lines.

I’ll post the next batch on Monday… hope to see you then!

#30x30DirectWatercolor2018

Cloud Illusions

Ah… the ability to paint believable clouds… that’s my ultimate goal, but for now, it’s a struggle. 


As you can see… the frustration was getting to me. 


It’s important to just keep working. 


Clouds are all about the mix of hard and soft edges and decreasing their size as they near the horizon.

So… I’ll keep practicing because… with apologies to Joni Mitchell… I really don’t know clouds at all.


(I may be concentrating on clouds but this might just be my best tree yet!)

Sunset Series Saga

It’s February and even though it’s been fairly warm here, we have had just enough cold and snow to remind us it’s still winter.

I’ve been dreaming of warm sunny days, walking the beach, and watching the sun go down over crystal blue waters. A vacation or holiday… I don’t care what you call it… realistically, I have months to wait before that’s even a possibility. 

Several years ago I found myself in the same situation and found Laure Ferlita and her online classes where I took her watercolor class: An Imaginary Visit to th Beach. Fortunately, I’ve been following her blog, Painted Thoughts, and saw a link to her online watercolor sunset workshop at a very reasonable cost of ten dollars

So began my sunset quest.

My first… painted along with the video. 


Then a few days later I thought I’d try going it alone. I used different pigments and tried to be faster. It’s okay but I see too much color blending (the green) in the water. 


#3 was better but I didn’t leave enough skips as I painted the sun’s reflection in the water. 


I thought I had enough but all these masked off rectangles were just screaming rigidity. I needed to try one more… fast and loose in a vignette style. I made too much use of my Signo Broad white ink pen for my liking but I’m still pleased.  I’m less sure about the vignette style.  Now that I’ve done it I think I prefer the masked rectangles instead. 


I enjoyed my practice and now feel comfortable enough to try these methods on some of my own sunset photographs in preparation for the days when I again can paint plein air as I wriggle my toes in warm sand.