Moving Beyond Adolescence

A few days ago my friend Bobbie Herron published “That Dang Adolescent Period” on her blog, Aloft with Inspiration. In it she describes the idiosyncrasies and unpredictability of watercolor and the importance of perseverance. Please take a minute to read it… I’ll be here when you’ve finished.

Finally I was inspired to revisit a sketchbook-painting I started… and abandoned… over a week earlier. It had hit the adolescent phase where inexplicably everything looked wrong. Not only were my proportions off but my colors looked pale and insipid.

It needed more layers… but where to begin? I was paralyzed. Instead I closed the book knowing it was unfinished.

The sketchbook sat on my desk all week mocking my indecision.

Then I read Bobbie’s post.

It took me less than an hour to add more hair to the crown improving her proportions. A few more layers of bold juicy watercolors and I called it done.

The adolescent had grown up.

A4 – Arteza Watercolor Sketchbook

#30x30DirectWatercolor2019 Part Four

Here they are… my last seven mini-paintings from The #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 challenge.

I loved this sweet bird. The coloration might not be real but sparrows really do stand with their feet in what ballet teachers call second position.

Chickens, on the other hand, don’t know ballet.

People in the park.

Salt n’ pepper shakers on the table.

Friday evening sunset.

Astilbe in bloom.

A lemon branch… not from the garden, but from the local craft store’s floral department.

Whew… it’s been quite a month!

I’ve decided I worked too hard to just give up and go back to painting with pens or pencil underlines but I’m also not prepared to keep working like this daily. Instead I’ll continue practicing direct watercolor off and on… maybe once a week or so. After all, I have many more pages to fill!


#30x30DirectWatercolor2019 Part Three

June was moving fast and I was still committed to creating daily paintings in my tiny watercolor sketchbook. Oh yes, there were some days when I seriously considered grabbing my pen or pencil, even possibly giving up completely but then I thought about why challenges exist.

If it was easy it wouldn’t be a challenge!

… and so the paint only challenge rolled on.

I haven’t seen any butterflies with this coloration but I loved painting her.

It was late and I had not found my inspiration during the day so these metallic horses became my muses.

Hummingbird first and the bee balm the next day. They’re always together in my garden!

Another busy day but there’s always a subject lurking in the mirror.

Much more time for this broken seashell. This really shows how lovely the watercolor blends and granulates on this paper.

I have struggled for a long while to paint my cats. Here’s our smaller girl.

Barred Owl at VINS, Vermont Institute of Natural Science, our local raptor rehab center.

By this time I could see the finish line. I’ll post the final bunch on Monday. See you then.


#30x30DirectWatercolor2019 Part Two

Now for the next batch of my small June paintings.

Bumblebee. Can you see how I attached her wings? There’s no way this fuzzy girl would be able to fly even if she were real!

And then to continue the theme I painted a Dragonfly . I always called them Dragonflies… only when I moved east did I hear them referred to as Darning Needles. ( … and I’ve been told Damselflies are a whole ‘nother thing completely!)

One of my favorite pair of earrings… but please zoom in on the lettering. See how the cobalt teal blue pushed the burnt sienna to the edges… it was pure serendipity. So cool!

Drawing an ellipse with ink is hard enough… negative painting one pushed me far out of my comfort zone.

The squirrels are always burying acorns in my garden…

and I’m always digging them out once they’ve sprouted into tiny oaks trees.

On the left… went to an artist meet-up where I chose to paint this small bouquet on our café table.

Thinking and practicing facial proportions I painted this young woman from my imagination.

Apatosaurus. Long neck… long tail. Ooooh… I love mixing greens!

We’re at the halfway mark of the challenge … much more to come!


Testing Another Sketchbook

Yes, another. This is the one I’m using for June’s 30 x 30 Direct Watercolor challenge… it’s the Arteza 5.5 in. x 3.5 in. landscape watercolor sketchbook that I purchased from Amazon. $14.99 for a pack of two… I believe they’re only sold that way.

Update: I just looked and they’re $13.98 for two through Amazon… at that price you can try them without guilt!

This small size is perfect for painting on the go. And it’s quite thick at 80 pages. As comparison the popular watercolor Moleskine has 60 pages.

You can see in this view of the bottom of this book that as of this afternoon it’s just over halfway filled.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the binding stands up when the book is full.


#30×30 Direct Watercolor 2019 Part One

Today is the last day of June which means it’s also the last day of the 30×30 Direct Watercolor challenge for 2019. Marc Taro Holmes created this challenge last year to prompt artists to think of shapes instead of line when painting with watercolor. Marc requested that when we posted our art on social media we tag it with #30x30DirectWatercolor2019.

I’ve painted a piece every day this month so I guess it’s about time I shared. These are in a very inexpensive 5.5 in. x 3.5 in. landscape format watercolor sketchbook by Arteza. This book has quite a few issues which I’ll go into later but I’ve enjoyed working with it this month as I adapted my painting style to work with this paper.

Poppies in my garden… I’m happy with the buds but the flower? … not so much. I forgot to leave white bits.

Whelk… I like how this more textured side of the paper allows for watercolor “magic”, a term popularized by Australian artist Liz Steel.

Poppies revisited.

Garlic done by starting with negative painting of the background, as I did with the whelk above… and only when that was dry did I go in to paint the bulb and roots.

People practice… something I should be doing at least once a week so it doesn’t seem so daunting.

Lucky bamboo. This turned out better than I expected… besides, it’s always fun to practice mixing my own greens.

Sunset. We’ve been decluttering old photos and this night I tried my hand at capturing the feel of of this before it was tossed.

That’s it for part one… stay tuned, there’s more to come.


My 2019 Fake Journal Video

Again this April I participated in IFJM – International Fake Journal Month.

My eighth year… whew!

Not only do I love the process of creating the journal, I also love making these video flip-throughs… getting better photographs, picking the music, all of it… I only wish you could page through it yourself but this is the next best thing.

If this video doesn’t play you can also watch it through YouTube.

If this piques your interest be sure to check out the daily postings of my 2019 Fake Journal starting with this post on my dedicated Fake Journal Blog:  … that way you can easily read my character’s daily current event haiku (haikus?) and see closeups of the images.

Hope to see you there!

#2019IFJM   #IFJM2019

A Few Process Photos

When I started this portrait I had to keep reminding myself to take it slow and stop now and again for photos… success!

Again I used just a few pencil guidelines as reference for my first light watercolor washes.

After they dried I put in the background wet in wet.

It seems I’m always waiting for paint to dry but I love the look when it dries naturally. I have a heat gun I could use but then the background would dry before the paints had a chance to mingle and create the beautiful mottled surface.

Next it was time to add more skin tone glazes and figure out how to portray beard stubble… I dabbed the color on with my finger!

I really need to see if I can correct that left eye… the inner corner should be a tiny bit lower.

More layers to suggest his laugh lines and it’s time to stop before I start fiddling. I peeled off the artist’s masking tape… signed it… dated it… and done.

Pencil and Watercolor in an 8 in. square HandBook Watercolor Journal. Portrait of a muse from Sktchy.