New: Shop for Lila Mae’s House (sticky post)

Now you can order Creating for a Cause products online at (new address) Shop to Shelter for Lila Mae’s House! (external website)

See my Creating for a Cause page for background on this special collection of notecards, scarves, and bags featuring images from my artwork, developed to promote awareness and to raise money for organizations working against human trafficking. The section Help us “Create for a Cause!” tells about workshops where we make the pouches to bundle the notecards.

(This post is “stickied” to remain at the top of the blog; newer blog posts may appear below.)

Posted in Uncategorized

Spring graduates

Two watercolor paintings by Jo Myers-Walker of Iowa Avenue in Iowa City busy with pedestrians including recent college grads

University of Iowa graduates approach along Iowa Avenue in
downtown Iowa City, with the Old Capitol Building in the distance

In honor of my granddaughter’s graduation I painted these scenes of Iowa Avenue in Iowa City, with Maddie and her roommates in their graduation attire. I reminded the graduates that they may remain friends forever after living together for four years. I still see my former ISU roommate and other amazing women I lived with in those college days.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Octagon Shop revisited

Artist Jo Myers-Walker poses in front of the Octagon Gallery Shop in Ames, Iowa with fabric print of one of her watercolor paintings

In front of the shop with “Laundry Day” fabric print

Ames still feels like my hometown and the Octagon is where I got my start. It was great to be back, bringing paintings and prints for the Octagon Gallery Shop!

The original paintings are “Backyard Chickens” (16″ x 20″) and “Waiting for Supper” (20″ x 25″), and the large polyester print is “Laundry Day” (30″ x 40″). There are also lots of my bird prints and several pillows, among the works of “over 180 area artists.”

The shop is at 413 Douglas Avenue in downtown Ames, next door to the Octagon’s Community Gallery.

Works by artist Jo Myers-Walker shown on display at the Octagon Gallery shop in downtown Ames, Iowa

Inside the Octagon Gallery Shop:
“Laundry Day” polyester print is shown above the interior doorway into the
Community Gallery, and my original paintings on the opposite wall.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Florida revisited

Watercolor painting of people in brightly-colored clothing walking along a Florida beach by Jo Myers-Walker

An earlier impression of people on the beach
   

Detail of watercolor painting in progress by Jo Myers-Walker showing masking used to preserve white space

Masking to leave white space
for a new painting’s seagulls

Several years ago I visited friends in Florida to soak up the atmosphere and paint three scenes of South Beach for them. I could smell the ocean, observe the people and hear a variety of languages as they passed by. The area is known for its Art Deco buildings and museum, and looks different than any other place I’d been.

Recently a visitor noticed the watercolors in my friends’ building and commissioned two large paintings using the same style and subject matter. Although I never got to talk with him about what he wanted, he trusted I would find a way to personalize the new work. I did research and sent smaller preliminary watercolor sketches to make sure I was on the right track. Then I could feel comfortable starting on the final, larger paintings.

Preliminary watercolor painting of beach scene in South Beach, Florida by Jo Myers-Walker

Preliminary sketch of a beach scene

Preliminary watercolor painting of Ocean Drive in South Beach, Florida by Jo Myers-Walker

Preliminary sketch of scene along Ocean Drive

As I got into it, the story started flowing like a novelette. Each of the characters has their own things to do. A sunbather gestures to illustrate the story she’s telling. Skateboarders and roller skaters roll along Ocean Drive while passersby admire sports cars on the street. Between the sketches and the final paintings, a beach umbrella and pedestrian’s bag have taken on the colors of the Italian flag, and a beach chair has the Ferrari logo.

It was enjoyable to take a mental trip to Florida again as our wind chills were -60 in Iowa at the time; made me warm just thinking about it.

Watercolor painting of beach scene in South Beach, Florida by Jo Myers-Walker

Final painting of the beach scene, 30″ h x 40″ w
   

Watercolor painting of scene along Ocean Drive in South Beach, Florida by Jo Myers-Walker

Final painting of Ocean Drive scene, 30″ h x 40″ w.
The ocean is to the left, beyond the painting’s view.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Figure painting

Different students' painting of the same sketch of walking figures to practice watercolor shading technique

An exercise in shading —
students’ painting using my outline
(photo courtesy of Mary D.)

Watercolor painting of pedestrians viewd from above by Jo Myers-Walker

   
View from the second floor
   

People bring a painting alive. My classes want to put people in their landscapes, so I painted different points of view as examples. Above left, since we didn’t have a live model, as a way to teach technique I sketched two figures using tracing paper over a painting of mine. Students copied the outline by holding up watercolor paper over the sketch in a bright window. With the outline to start from, they could focus on that lesson’s techniques of watercolor shading.

Above right, I was enjoying the shadows of people walking by. It feels kind of voyeuristic to paint people if they don’t know I’m painting them, so I try to be respectful of their privacy in the artwork. I have many journals full of people I’ve sketched and those same people end up in my paintings. I cut them out and start placing them in a watercolor to get the story going.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Joyful flowers

Floral arrangements delivered to Jo's car by wagon and pedal power

Wagon delivery service

Watercolor images inspired by arrangements of spring flowers

Floral inspiration

For a recent family wedding the groom’s brother, an event florist, created wonderful floral arrangements for the reception tables. Afterward my grandson put some in his wagon and pedaled them out to my car to take with me. My watercolor class members brought them from the car for us to paint and enjoy their beauty.

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Spring showers

Cotton watercolor paper hanging in a shower to wet it for pre-shrinking

Showering watercolor paper

Quality watercolor paper is made from cotton, and cotton shrinks. If it does that while you’re working on a painting, the paper will ripple and the paint will go into puddles and change the image. To keep that from happening, before I start I pre-shrink the paper — for a large sheet, by wetting both sides in the shower! Then I hang it up to dry, free hanging so it slowly shrinks down.

This keeps the paper from changing shape as much while painting, and makes framing much easier. I’ve been known to re-wet just the back of the paper after a painting is done and carefully iron it so it sits more nicely in the frame.

Posted in Art Tips

Holyroodhouse

Image of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

The starting picture provides a vantage point
   

In-progress watercolor painting of vista including Holyrood Palace by Jo Myers-Walker

In progress: The painting with
foreground figures not yet completed

I painted this view of the Palace of Holyroodhouse (or Holyrood Palace) in Edinburgh, Scotland, for some friends who had been there on their travels and provided me a small picture to work from. It was such a small picture that first I had to blow it up larger, and I still wasn’t sure if some white things in the foreground were sheep. My friends thought they could be, and liked the idea, so in the painting there are sheep, along with the travelers themselves taking in the view.

The couple who commissioned the painting are both novelists and we talked about how we start the dialog of what’s going on so a story comes to life. They use adjectives to describe a scene, where I use color and texture. As a writer or a painter, it’s all about interpretation.

Watercolor painting of vista including Holyrood Palace by Jo Myers-Walker

Holyrood Palace painting completed
   

Watercolor painting of view of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh by Jo Myers-Walker

An earlier painting for the same friends, Edinburgh’s Royal Mile looking toward St. Giles’ Cathedral

Posted in Studio Snapshots

A road map for painting

Photograph of a back yard and the back of several buildings

A photo to start from

People bring in a photo to class of what they want to paint, and it can be scary to look at and try to figure out where to begin. Often a photo is way too busy. Select what’s important — what you want to say — and leave out the rest (maybe adding a few neighbors to the picture!).

We start with a black-and-white sketch, finding the big shapes first, developing a value scale and organizing so it has a focal point and story. After that we paint a small color study the same size as the sketch. Then we’re ready to enlarge and paint the final version. All of the preliminary composition work is done so we can just have fun.

Pencil sketch of house and back yard based on photo

Figuring out what to
leave in and what to add

Watercolor painting of back of a house and back yard by Jo Myers-Walker

The painting follows the “road map”
provided by the sketch and color study

Posted in Studio Snapshots

Watercolor for all seasons

Images illustrating watercolor concepts by artist Jo Myers-Walker

Some examples from day 1 of Landscape class

Watercolor sketch of sidewalk scene by Jo Myers-Walker

Composition gives the eye a path through the landscape

Despite the arctic weather we’ve been having, the new classes are going well because people are staying in and painting!

This session I divided my courses between Watercolor Landscape, and Watercolor Portrait Painting.

Pencil sketch of a young woman and selfie photo by artist Jo Myers-Walker, each with notes about proportion drawn in

Proportions illustrated on a sketch and selfie
   

View over the shoulder of an artist creating a watercolor portrait based on a photograph

A class member starting from a photo
to creat a watercolor portrait

Posted in Studio Snapshots