Posted in painting

#WorldWatercolorMonth Texture

I was happy with today’s topic. It’s time for me to practice painting textures. I especially wanted to paint a basket. This basket was stashed away in a bathroom cabinet. It is filled with Spanish moss – I’m not sure where I got the moss. So, two textures – plaited reeds and Spanish moss. To add a third texture, I posed a little wren, who seems keen to grab some of that moss for her nest.

Yellow ochre, New Gamboge, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue and a little Payne’s grey. I added two ink colors using Micron pens – Black and tan. Paper is Paul Rubans watercolor block.

Posted in painting

#WorldWatercolorMonth Day 1

For the first day of #WorldWatercolorMonth, I chose the image of jumping for joy. Having my joyful figure on the beach at sunset gave me a ideal opportunity to practice blending colors in a wash. I used micron pen on the shore line and figure only.

She sure has a lot of hair.

Paynes grey, New gamboge, Quin red on Strathmore watercolor travel journal.

Posted in painting, quilting

A little of this, a little of that

It’s been almost two weeks since I posted last. My days have been full, if not busy, but nothing to write home about. At least I can catch you up on projects in progress.

Improvisational Quilt.

As you see in the photo, the quilt is under the needle. I have been whacking away at the quilting for days and days. This is the biggest piece of cloth that I have attempted to quilt with my lil’ old Bernina.

I’m doing a parallel- straight line pattern, mostly because this type of quilting doesn’t require much manipulation of the quilt. I start at a long section and keep sewing parallel lines until I get tired or run out of bobbin thread. My goal is simply to finish. Pretty lines and straight lines are both out of the question at this point. Optimistically, I’m going for quirky charm. My daughter loves that aesthetic.

Watercolor Painting

My water color painting results have been less than satisfying. When I crashed and burned at applying the background wash to the bird of paradise painting, it got tossed. I then resolved to start back at the beginning. To this end, I checked out a “teach yourself” watercolor instruction book from the library and began working through the techniques one each day. Today’s lesson was line and wash. I chose to paint from a photograph I took of a pond on our local walking trail.

Willow trees hanging over the water

Here is my painting.

I enjoyed working on this one and am happy with it. The only thing I want to add is darker paint on the the group of leaves at the right edge, giving the painting more contrast of values.

The garden has been getting much of my attention. But starting today, heat is intensifying. So I will likely shift my attention back to indoor activities.

Posted in painting

Bird of Paradise Work in Progress

I have been collecting images of the tropical flower called Bird of Paradise for a few months now. Initially I wanted to make quilt blocks with this flower as a motif. But lately, I have been charmed by this photograph offered by the San Diego Zoo, of a flower with hummingbird.

I decided it would be a perfect reference for a water color painting. There are three techniques that I could practice from this one photograph: color mixing, background washing and masking.

It occurred to me that I would be more successful if I practiced each of these techniques separately, before combining them into a finished painting. My first study was the hummingbird.

The masking fluid allowed me to reserve the white margins on the breast feathers and the wings. I think he came out quite nicely. While I was at it, I used the same paper to determine the color mixes for the rest of the painting. You can see my little notes penciled in above the bird.

As an aside – Did you know that hummingbirds are the primary pollinators for Bird–of-Paradise flowers?

Yesterday I painted a small study of the whole image. The scariest part was the very dark background wash. I used a mix of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, with a small amount of lemon yellow to neutralize the blue.

This study is on 5″ by 8″ Strathmore travel journal

I feel I was successful in laying down the wash correctly, but it isn’t quite dark enough. There is also insufficient contrast between the bird and the background. And what can I do to make the petals more luminous?

Palette: Lemon Yellow, New Gamboge, Winsor Transparent Orange, Thalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Red.

Posted in painting

Heat Set

This week the summer heat has finally set it. I haven’t been posting for the past several days. Perhaps it’s because my energy is sapped, not only by the heat, but also by the unrelenting misery of contemporary human interactions. Wow, I don’t even know what that last bit means.

As a counterbalance I give you a photograph of some non-human beauty.

Ozark Sundrops in front of an old house.

I’ve been working daily with fiber. But nothing that I think is share-worthy. I have two knitting projects underway – a shawl and a baby dress – both are disappointing me. The local art association had another plein air meeting, during which I sketched. But I stopped before completing it, due to the heat.

The one bright spot in my week has been my water color painting. In an effort to hone my skills I made a goal to paint daily. Here are the two still lifes I painted this week.

This one was painted while following an on-line tutorial and a sample photograph.

My photography is not super-focused but I’m pretty happy with the painting.

The next painting was done while looking at a photograph, but I took off the training wheels. I worked out the color mixing and brush technique without a tutor.

Apple on cloth

What I like: The textures of each surface, the highlights and shadows of the apple, the rich mottled color and shaping of the apple. What I don’t like: The shading of the folded cloth. But it does have a sort of abstract appeal.

Okay, enough about me. What’s up with you?

Posted in painting

Time Between Fiber Objects Again

When I haven’t been enjoying the weather outdoors, I have been viewing painting tutorials on Lindsay Weirich’s site.

Also known as the Frugal Crafter, Lindsay is very generous with her knowledge of water color painting and teaches her art through videos on her WordPress blog as well as her Teachable site. I chose the Texture Toolbox: Feather and Fur lessons. This is an intermediate course, but I feel ready for it. Here is my result from lesson 1

And here is lesson two: A little sparrow fluffing up her feathers after a bath.

I’m pretty happy with both of these pieces.

Today the weather is still stunningly beautiful. My husband has gone fishing. I will likely spend the day gardening. There are seeds to plant and flowers to pick.

I hope you enjoy your day. You know it will never come again.

Posted in painting

Celebrating Earth Day Turtle Style

Dear Friends,

Today I am offering two watercolor sketches of baby sea turtles. Everyone loves babies. And what better symbol of the earth’s prolific life than these little guys?

Their moms swim up to 1,500 miles to return to that one special beach. Thousands will converge on the spot where they were born some years before, each female toiling up the beach until she finds that sweet spot to lay her eggs. And lay she does – dozens are dropped into the nest, which she slowly buries and then toils back to the water, never to lay eyes on her own progeny.

The hatchlings dig out and sprint towards the light of the sea. Those that survive predators on the beach face a most uncertain future.

So let’s all cheer on the baby turtles, for their own success, and as a symbol of our own future selves on this precarious planet, third one from the sun.

Posted in painting

Inspired by Nat GEO

While organizing the reading material in my studio, I came across a National Geographic magazine from 2007 that I had saved for some reason. There were no bookmarks or post-it notes attached. So I asked myself: why did this issue end up here? The only thing to do is thumb through it and sees what jumps out. I stopped at page 147.

The photographer captured a tortured cottonwood on the Colorado Plateau, which is an area that sprawls across four states and contains a vast expanse of sedimentary rock. The plateau is carved by the Colorado and other rivers. This particular cottonwood is on the banks of the Escalante River in Utah. The dramatic sandstone cliff behind the tree forms a warm backdrop to the massive black branches. It’s as if the tree is embracing the cliff. I knew right away that I wanted to paint it.

Instead of just jumping in and fooling around with paint and brushes, I studied the subject a little. Following the classic approach to painting, I first made a value study. This involves working out the light-to-dark areas of the image in a monotone. I had no gray paint, so I chose to paint the value study in sepia hues.

That seemed to go well. I was satisfied with this study. Next I worked out my palette. I had a little fun, making my paint swatches into parts and pieces of the image.

The palette will be yellow ocher, burnt sienna, sepia brown, ultramarine blue and fern green. My gestural study, using the selected palette, was next. I don’t have a photograph of this step. What I learned from that step was that the stone cliff is composed entirely of warm hues. So I chose to paint the tree in cool hues. As I worked through my studies, it became clear that this subject is all about the focal point. Having realized this, I knew it would be my task to eliminate any parts of the background that distracted.

After sketching in the outline of the tree branches, I applied an overall wash, and then laid down some burnt sienna on the cliff face.

The cottonwood looks ghostly. Focal point is where the branches intersect.

A landscape watercolor can take several steps to paint. I ended up painting four different layers, each of which needed drying time before I could proceed. Here is the painting after the second and third layers were complete.

I let it dry overnight. The next day I worked in the final details, adding another layer of darker leaves, some shading and shadows on the tree trunk, and some fine lines in burnt sienna on the cliff face. I tried to emphasize the detail lines that directed the eye to the focal point. After these parts dried, I glazed the whole background with a thin layer of yellow ocher and finally worked some textural lines onto the trunk.

Finished Painting. Cottonwood on the Escalante River

The finished painting is definitely better than I had expected it to be. The only fly in my ointment is that I didn’t use artists’ quality paper. So there is some buckling to deal with. Does anyone have recommendations on how to flatten the paper out?

Posted in painting

Painting Fun

It’s a drippy, rainy, cold and dark day here. In my brightly lit studio, I am practicing my water color painting techniques. Here is a little photograph I took last summer, during brighter and warmer days.

I don’t know what species this little bug is, but today he is an artist’s model. I was inspired by this image because of its textures – rough, warm brick and cool, smooth, green beetle carapace. Most of my time was spent trying to get the pock-marked and moldy brick down on paper. One tactic I used was painting the terra cotta lines in the brick with the edge of a credit card. It worked pretty well. Matching a paint color to the bug’s body was another difficult challenge. In the end, I used Micron pens in turquoise, bright green and black ink to draw in the beetle. Then I brushed on water to blend the ink lines.

This photograph came out exceptionally cool in tones because of the weak outdoor light. But I am happy with the painting itself. If I were to paint this image again, I would make the dark areas darker, especially the beetle’s shadow.

Posted in knitting, painting, quilting

Catch-Up Friday

Since I didn’t finish any of my fiber objects this week, I have decided to write a progress report. You see above about ten inches of the Weaver’s Square pattern, which will become a colorful vest for my daughter. This is the back of the garment. The front I have planned will be much more subdued. While working with seven strands of yarn each row has been a challenge, the satisfaction of the work and the excitement of seeing the color emerge has more than compensated for any difficulty. I have chosen to switch out the vertical colors at a rate of two or three for every band of horizontal color. As a result, the pattern has a more vertical effect.

Log Cabin Mini Quilt

Another work in progress is picture above. The quilt sandwich is constructed and some stitch in the ditch took place. At that point, I decided to work some embroidery in the flower squares and add hand quilting to the strips.

Blue block nearly finished.

I also felt that a border was essential to provide balance between the light and the dark sections of the piece. Going further, I plan to hand-paint this border in multiple hues. It will be exciting to see how well that goes, and it will take me more time.

Last week-end I started a tutorial on painting with water color on paper. This class was offered on Despite a little trepidation, I am sharing my work today. Keep in mind I am a rank beginner and be kind.

Seascape at daybreak with birds.
Color Block using primary colors, salt, colored pencil and micron pens.
Realistic style chickadee

Such a fun week. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind me that this life is real.