Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Still Life With Pewter

I painted the table itself with new gamboge more to the left where it is lighter and then burnt sienna and alizarin with cobalt added where the table is more shadowed.
I added a darker violet (cobalt and alizarin) to the darker shadowed areas of the fan shell.  I scrubbed out some ridges and reglazed over some of the shell with perm. rose.  I kept scrubbing areas and reglazing them to build some layers and getting the patter right.  I put in the shadow being careful to lighten the shadow when the fabric was raised up underneath the shell.  I then started the area under the fabric.   I will skip over this part for now and come back to it later.
Here I made a mix of burnt sienna and perm. rose and added the ridges on the shell, defining them more in some places and blurred others.

Here's a closeup of the shells.   I glazed over the outer edge with new gamboge.
You can see the shell detail here.....if you click on the picture and then click it a second time after that you can see it up close.  It looks like it has a shine.  You should skip the area you want the shine to appear or you can scrub it out, however it will be more effective if you skip over painting it.  If you skip over painting it, then you will probably need to soften the edges by scrubbing them slightly.   I added the shadow on the shell with cobalt and dropped in a violet with cobalt and perm rose.  I dropped in a little thalo to the shadow also.  I added new gamboge where the shadow is closer to the shell.  I also started the fan shell.  I did a light glaze of burnt sienna over most of the shell but left some white areas showing.
I started to add some reflections in the pot.....such as from the handle.  The rosewood handle is reflected in the pot on the right side.  It's just the same colors I used in the handle which is burnt sienna and alizarin crimson.  I added some darks in the pot on the spout.  That is the same mix we used in the pot only darker......cobalt, alizarin and some new gamboge to tone down the violet.  As you can see I started the shell.  I can only tell you the colors I used as it would be very hard to describe how I painted it.  I used new gamboge, burnt sienna, perm. rose and/or alizarin depending on how dark I want to make my reds and some cobalt blue.  There are a lot of rounded edges in shells and to make them look that way you have to be able to graduate the colors so they look like they bend.  If you start dark, then you can eventually get lighter with a water wash or if you start light you can eventually get darker.  There are lots of dark indentations and shadows.  That's were you need a stronger concentration of paint.

I felt there was a warm glow on the cloth towards the back on the left so I glazed over the cloth with a mix of  new gamboge and  permanent rose.  This color can also be found in the pot and you can see where I added it above in the next photo.
I moved away from the pot for awhile and started the fabric.  I worked wet on wet in sections starting on the right side under the handle.  I'm using a mixture of cobalt blue,  a little permanent rose and a little new gamboge.    I want to paint the areas that are shaded stronger color and leave parts that I want to be lighter and letting it bleed into the lighter areas.  When it dries I make a stronger mixture of those colors and put in the darker folds.

We are starting a still life in class and I will complete it within the week.  I had some difficulty with the paper in that it was soaking up water and drying so fast I could not keep up with it.  It could have been the fact that I had a room heater on because my studio is COLD!  It might have gotten the air so dry that the paper reacted.  Anyway, I decided to add a sponged texture to the background and it seemed to work ok.  Next time I work on the painting the heater is not going to be used and I'll see if that makes a difference.  Sometimes the sizing isn't right on the paper....I've had this problem before when it was a different time of year, it might not be the heater.

So I masked around the inside perimeter of the pot and the handle and spout plus the upper layer of the tablecloth.  Enough so that I can freely paint the background without getting too much on the other parts of the painting.  I used a mix of cobalt blue, alizarin crimson, and burnt sienna.  This gave a nice plum color.  Initially I did it wet on wet and found I had trouble getting it dark enough after multiple applications.  So I decided then after it was dry to do another layer wet on dry.  I didn't like the paper drying so fast and then while wet I sponged off color on the left side to cover some of the blotches that formed.  I made sure I evenly sponged and continued some on the right very lightly to show to continuation in the texture to  make it look more intentional.

After all that dried I took off my masking fluid and masked some areas of the pot I wanted to remain white such as many of the highlights. Then I started to paint the handle which is a rich rosewood.  I used burnt sienna and some alizarin crimson.  I added cobalt (mixed in and/or applied directly) to shadow and darken some areas.  I used more burnt sienna than alizarin....careful not to make it too red.  I added a touch of gamboge to the middle area of the handle where it seemed highlighted. 

For the pot itself I used the same colors....cobalt, alizarin....some gamboge to grey things down.  I will continue as I get more finished.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Just wanted to detail some of the colors I used for this painting.  I used cerulean blue and cadmium red for the sky and water.  The real painting is more of a pale violet than the one showing on the computer.  So I made more of a grey violet color.  I used the same color for the distant land and then also added raw sienna to grey it down even more.  I also used raw sienna and burnt sienna throughout the background.  Those are the only colors I used in the painting except I substituted cobalt blue in places where I needed a stronger dark such as in the branches.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Water Feature Still Life

We are starting this painting in our new fall classes.  It's small but something to get us started.  Cathy in my class took this picture at Longwood Gardens.  It didn't have the lion fountain just a plain one.  I added it in as an afterthought!

I started painting the red flowers with some cadmium red lt. and some alizarin mixed together.  I added some violet (cobalt and alizarin) shadows on the flowers on the left....just slightly.  Next I painted the yellow flowers with some winsor yellow (or cadmium yellow lt.) then some gamboge.  It needed to be a little more orange on the left side so I added some cad. red lt. to the winsor yellow.  Next I painted the green leaves on the left in the back.  I used cobalt blue and winsor yellow....making sure to vary the greens (warmer and cooler) adding a little more yellow in some and more blue in others.  I painted the foliage in the clay pots.  Also some cooler and some warmer.  The foliage in the 4 pots in the front were painted in one continuous manner connecting each one.  The I painted the large pot.  Using burnt sienna, cobalt blue and alizarin and making the left side a little darker.  The inside of the pot I used burnt sienna and cobalt blue.  The clay pots in the front are next.  I alternated their colors so as not to make them all look the same and the sun was hitting them all a little differently.....some cooler, some warmer.  I used yellow ochre, alizarin, cobalt and burnt sienna.  Some pots I used more alizarin (but watered down), some I mixed all the colors together and some I added cobalt for shadow.  Next I painted the bricks with a diluted wash of alizaring and burnt sienna.  When the bricks dried I painted the shadows under the pots with cobalt, alizarin and a little touch of burnt sienna.  It's a light wash so I didn't go heavy on the color.  When that dried, I added a darker shadow of the same colors and blended it out with water so there wasn't any hard edge.

For the rock wall, I painted all the rocks first.  Some with burnt sienna, some with a mix of burnt sienna and cobalt, adding alizarin at times also and then adding a raw sienna glaze on some.  I sprinkled salt on some of the rocks while still wet and scrubbed some to add a slight highlight.  After they dried I glazed cobalt blue with alizarin and a little burnt sienna mixed in over the ones on the left to put them in shadow.  On the right side I used the side of my brush to skip around and not define the rocks too much with a watered down version of that mix.  After all that dried I did glaze a bit of raw sienna over the rocks also.  I didn't want all of the rocks to look the same....that's too boring for me.  Variation is very important in painting.....when things look all the same, the viewer gets bored.....and so do I frankly!  I ended up spattering some color around....and then painted the lion and water.  I used the same colors for the lion that I did for the rocks and the water also has some of the violets that the rocks have.
That's it.
Oh, I added the lion by making a stencil of it's head and the water and scrubbing it out.....that simple!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mary's Garden (May Change the Title)

I started a painting that is a little more on the challenging side.  It is not finished yet but I can walk you through the stages up to this point.

I didn't use any masking but rather painted around the figure.  I first wet all around the upper portion (up to her shoulders) of the painting, carefully going around the figure.  I put in a few clouds in the sky with a very light mix of cobalt blue and permanent rose.....more on the cobalt side.  I did not wash the whole sky but rather left it white in most parts.  Then I wanted to indicate evergreens in the background so I put in a mix of ultramarine blue and winsor  yellow in shapes of trees.  It is very blurry at this point as you can see. 

There is a house in the background that I added for depth and to make it look like a home garden.  I tried to not put a lot of emphasis on it so I painted it with cobalt blue but later could see it still stood out too much.  That's later.  The roof of the house was painted with watered down cobalt blue and a little permanent rose in  the mix.  Those colors are used throughout the house.  The shadows on the roof have much more cobalt in them and I don't think I used any perm. rose at all actually.  The shutters are cobalt and burnt sienna with a little perm. rose.  I then began to work the evergreen in the back of the statue.  Using the same colors of ultramarine and winsor yellow but in a darker mix (less water).  I try not to mix the paint too much on my palette.  I like to see the individual colors that I use so you will see more blue in areas and more yellows in others.  It's my style, so if you don't choose to do that, it's up to you .....but that's what I enjoy about allows you to do that and it adds beautiful variation within your work.  I decided later that I needed to move the tree a little further out to the right of her extended arm covering more of the house.  The outline of the tree was following too close to the figure's form.  So if you want to do that now you can instead of doing it later like I did.  You can see from the first picture I posted where I went with that.  I didn't totally darken the tree.....I will go back later for that.  I don't want to darken areas too much too early....easier to darken than to lighten!  Just want to take note of the negative painting done where the lilies come up into the evergreen.  You can draw them in to make it easier for you to see.  I just eyeballed it....sometimes it's a little more spontaneous for me.  Next I moved over to the left to do the red bush.  I used perm. alizarin crimson and raw sienna (you can you yellow ochre).  First I made a mix of the two (more alizarin) and I also used the raw sienna separately.  I started with the raw sienna toward the top of the bush and then added my mix into it.  I wanted the top of the bush to appear a little lighter.  I also added green into it towards the bottom of the bush with the same mix as the evergreen.  It created a shadowed effect.  Also being careful to do negative painting of the lilies in front of the bush.  As you move over towards the figure, there are some yellow lilies there.  I used winsor yellow for the flower tips and used a cobalt and winsor yellow (more yellow) mix to do the leaves.  I added more cobalt to create a darker value (not too dark) within the leaves.  Basically the lily leaves all over the painting to the right have 3 values.  The light green (cobalt and winsor yellow), medium green...(more cobalt) and a darker value green (ultramarine and winsor).

As we move over to the lilies on the right you will see a variety of color within them.  If I did the lilies all one color, I feel it would be quite boring.  I also (of course) saw a lot of violet within the leaves.  I will post the photo of the garden below.  I started figuring out where I wanted the larger lily flowers to go and painted those in with alizarin and a little violet plus a dap or two of winsor yellow.  You can darken them or lighten them how you want.....there is not set way to do this.  I also added purple iris flowers in there (cobalt and perm. rose).  I added the other lily flowers later after I painted some of the leaves so I could make it look like some leaves were going in front of the flowers.  Just be careful not to make them look to aligned and even with each other.  It's natural to want to do that.  After that I started to paint the light value of the leaves as mentioned above.  Just quickly stroking in shapes.  As you notice as you get to her hip area the leaves go out more horizontally.  Change them up so they don't all go in the same direction.  You can look at the photo below.  I then painted the medium value green.  Used that to add stems to flowers and other areas that needed to be darker.  Next I worked on some darks within those shapes.  Many of the darks appear triangular in shape.  Try to look at shape and not the fact you are painting leaves.  Squint your eyes at the photo below and notice the values shapes....if you do, it will become a lot easier to see.  I decided that many of my leaves had looked too individual so I took the medium value green and just threw it into the leaf area and blobbed it in to mix it up a bit.  It helped also to fill in some empty white spaces I had.  I added violet in the area down further.  A mix of ultramarine and alizarin with a dash of burnt sienna.  You can probably see where I put that.  Dropping in a little burnt sienna down by the base of the lilies near her foot adds interest.

Now we move on to the statue itself.  Fun!  I gave her a wash of cobalt blue (watered down....not too dark!!!) in all her shadowed areas first.  Being careful not to cover the highlighted areas!!  The very outer areas of her arms, the top of her head, her legs and pedestal all have a sort of halo of white around it.....including interior portions.  By doing this, it helps to establish the areas you need to paint and the blue is a good base.  I used some drybrush techniques as I layered other colors so it looks like stone.  I used yellow ochre next in drybrush and also cobalt with perm. rose in it.  Some areas I used a little green to create the feeling of moss, like under her arms.  That's how far I have gotten.  Will add more later!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


We're doing a single sunflower in class and this is my finished painting done from a picture a student of mine took.  She let me use it for the painting.  It was fun doing it because the background is loose and the flower a little more defined. 
This is the first step, or maybe I should say many steps later than the first step.  I forgot to take photos of the progress.....guess I got into to it too much.  I have to say I almost like this painting better than the finished one.  It's more simplified and fresh looking......guess I need to know when to stop!  I started by masking out the petals with masking fluid just halfway.  Then I could put the background in easily.  I painted wet on wet with new gamboge sporadically.  Then I used sap green sporadically making sure that the yellow I just put down shows through in places.  I used ultramarine blue in places also where I wanted dark areas.  After that dried, I took off the masking.  Then proceeded to paint the petals.....some with new gamboge, others with winsor yellow.  I used permanent rose on petal bases while still wet to have a blended effect.  I then worked on the center.  I wet it first then dropped in new gamboge then sap green around the center, being carefl to leave some white in the center.  You can always blot it you cover it up.  Then while wet I added burnt sienna around the edges.  When that dries I painted the area around the edge of the center with new gamboge and burnt sienna in places. The petal shadows I put sap green on and just intensified the areas of permanent rose with some burnt sienna and perm. rose mixed together.  Those are all the colors I used throughout the looking at the finished painting you can see how to do the remainder.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


We are doing this painting in the beginner class, although I had my doubts as to whether this was a beginner painting!  There are three challenging aspects to this painting.  The bag is one, the shadow is another and then the apples are the third.  The upper background is a good size to try to's not too large of an area, so I felt it was good for a beginner and not too difficult.  

Unfortunately, I only took one progress picture......I forgot to take anymore!  Sorry, when I get engrossed in a painting I can also get absent minded.    Anyway....let's start with the background.  I used Thalo blue, winsor yellow and burnt sienna.  I made the mix a little more yellow on the left and more blue on the right.  I didn't want the background to be all one color.  I painted it wet on dry and I slightly blurred the edge between the table and the background on the left by adding a little water along the painted edge after I painted it.  Be careful not to add too much water or you'll get a bloom!                                                                                                      

Next I started on the bag.  I just used plain 'ol yellow ochre in a very light wash to cover the bag and leaving the parts that remain white.  I added permanent rose while wet in the what I felt were the pinker areas.  This is reflected light from the apples through the bag or against the bag.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cardinal Painting

Winter class sessions have begun!  We are focusing on edges...or I guess I could say we are becoming less focused!  Blurring edges and having lost edges are key to interesting watercolors believe it not!  I myself do not do it enough in my work, so I thought we would really get into it!  Having crisper edges near your focal point is a natural draw to the eye.  You see here in the cardinal that you immediately look at it's head....hopefully!  Of course this picture is not finished yet, but that is my goal.

I started this painting with a wet-on-wet wash with cerulean blue mixed with a little perm. alizarin plus a little burnt sienna to take the color down a bit since it is a foggy misty scene.  I added a little green in opposite corners made with ultramarine blue mixed with a little new gamboge.  If you notice I added a bit more alizarin in spots also.  While the wash was still wet I made some branches that are in the very far distance and I want them to be very blurry.  I made that with cerulean blue and cadmium red.....there are areas where I used a little more cerulean in the mix.

Focusing in on the cardinal, as you can see I softened the edge in the breast area and under the beak.  I think it gives it a misty quality and I do think it keeps the eye from lingering too long where you don't want it to. I used cadmium red and alizarin mixed together at times, but other times I used them both separately.  I also added a touch of new gamboge to the  shoulder area and on top of the head.  I was careful not to get too strong with color towards the back area of the bird.  In order to soften the edge of the breast area I added water outside the outline of the bird so that when I painted the bird itself the color blended outside the line.  You should prethink adding the water outside beforehand....the results are better than if you paint the bird first and then add water on the edge.  Practice that before doing it on your helps!  As you can see I also added VIOLET!  What else!  I used cobalt blue and alizarin in those areas and changed up to ultramarine on the tail area because it needed to be a little stronger.  It's ok to mix some of the cadmium red with the blends with the bird and also tones down that violet a bit....don't overdo it don't want the bird to be brown.  The black area of the head I used payne's gray but added some cerulean to it in places.  The beak has some yellow in it and alizarin with a little violet in the area closer to the head.  I've been using new gamboge and alizarin for those colors.  Violet with cobalt and alizarin.

More to come later!

Here it is later and I'm just adding the rest of the branches now.  I noticed so many different colors of the branches in the photo.  There is an ochre color, green, violet with more blue in it, violet with more red in it, and burnt sienna colored branches.  These are the ones I am going to put in.  The branches that have more yellow in it, which is the ochre, also have some burnt sienna added to it while still wet.  I like to vary the color of the branches because indeed the light changes the coloring.  Even the branches near the cardinal have a tinge of red to them .....maybe from the reflection of the bird.....which one of my students actually pointed out to me!  Very good!!!  I love it when my students point things out to me!  Now I should go back and adjust me painting!!!

Ok let's continue......I can't exactly point out all the branches but take notice of the colors and the colors I give you.  So you have the ochre ones, now the green.  I made that with cobalt and new gamboge.  Don't make the green branches too dark.....they don't stand out in the photo and shouldn't be too prominent.  They also shouldn't be too yellow because it's a foggy day.   The violet branches I made with ultramarine blue, alizarin and a little burnt sienna.  After painting them in the violet color, you can drop in some other colors where you see it like burnt sienna or yellow ochre or green.  It gives the branches some variation which is always good.  In some places I added more blue, and in others more red.  Also I made sure that the branches near the birds head weren't too strong in value.  I didn't want the head to look like it was getting speared!  Also, I made most of the branches lighter in value near the outer edges of the paper. 

There are different levels of atmospheric perspective.  Make sure you have branches in the foreground, middle and back of your painting.  The branches in the way back are blurred and the middle ground should be paler than the foreground.  Just make sure you have enough of each level.  When putting the middle ground branches in, don't get too fussy about them......loosely put them in otherwise you will spend a lot of time with it and it shouldn't be that stiff.

Lastly after the branches dry,  I checked to make sure there are dark spots or areas that should be noted and light areas that should be scrubbed.  The tops of many of the branches are highlighted and I scrubbed those out.  You can either use a scrub brush, or use a regular damp brush and blot afterwards.

I spattered my painting also.  I spattered with yellow ochre, greens and violets.  You can take note of those areas on the finished painting.  I used a lot of water in my color to spatter so it makes larger more varied spatters.  I also put in some green leaves that look dried up since it is a winter scene and they wouldn't be nice perky leaves.  Don't overdo it though....I only added a few and they are pale.  Also, I added some extra background in the upper and middle left of the painting because I thought it needed some darker value.  You can do this after the fact - it works just fine.  Just make sure that whatever you paint on one side of a branch, also comes out on the other side, otherwise you will end up with color that stops short.

That's it.....if you have any questions that I didn't cover, please feel free to email me or make a comment on the blog.  Happy painting!