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.
The starting picture provides a vantage point
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.
Holyrood Palace painting completed
An earlier painting for the same friends, Edinburgh’s Royal Mile looking toward St. Giles’ Cathedral
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.
Figuring out what to
leave in and what to add
The painting follows the “road map”
provided by the sketch and color study
Some examples from day 1 of Landscape class
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.
Proportions illustrated on a sketch and selfie
A class member starting from a photo
to creat a watercolor portrait
My graduation photo. The slate reads: “Because of [Progressive Rehabilitation Associates], I can:
–Walk –Sleep –Get in/out of my car!”
Celebrating my graduation from Progressive Rehab! Physical therapists Lori and Brittany got me back on my feet after two knee surgeries, lower back and hamstring pain. They always made me feel like I could do it — it just hurts a little bit but then gets better.
This February is so much better than last year. Being able to walk to class and sit and stand when needed is awesome, I praise my body all the time. I will continue to do my exercises they taught me.
Dancing to the music with jingle bells, celebrating a very successful show.
We helped out Lila Mae, too!
Wishing you times of joy and celebration!
(click image to view larger)
The Annual Show & Sale postcard
A radiance of cardinals,
by watercolor class members
(Above left) The postcard for this year’s Eastside Artists Annual Show & Sale features my cardinal painting. I sent them three to choose from, and they picked this slightly frumpy young bird with his feathers a little ruffled.
(Above right) My watercolor students got in the spirit and painted this splendid array! According to whatbird.com, a group of cardinals may be called a “radiance.”
With Eva at Wheatsfield, trying out scarves
We had a good day at Wheatsfield on Saturday! I’ve been introducing tote bags and scarves printed with my artwork, to complement the “Notecards for a cause.” Proceeds from all these items will go toward awareness of human trafficking, starting with support for Lila Mae’s House (link is to a Sioux City Journal article; note the “Ways to help” and “Signs of human trafficking” in the left-hand column).
My appreciation to Wheatsfield Co-op for providing the space; to my friend Eva for helping me unload, staff the table, and load back up again; and to everyone who stopped by! I’ll be putting more online about the scarf designs — you can see a sneak peek from the photo shoot below.
Update: See the Creating for a Cause page to see all the scarf designs, plus notecards and bags!
Samples of the bags, scarves,
Behind the scenes with a scarf
model at the photo shoot
With friend and fellow painter Jeanette
(left) at the Bridgewater show
I had a chance to see my stretched polyester prints in a grand space when I was one of several artists featured in a show at Grand Living at Bridgewater, in Coralville. This room is an area for performances such as speakers or musicians. It sorta blew me away as to the size of the prints; in my small apartment you don’t get the same effect as when you can stand back and see what they would look like in a larger space like a lobby.
(You can also see one of my shower curtains hanging out on the display doors behind me.)
One of my paintings from the workshop
Nationally-known watercolorist Janet Rogers served as judge for this year’s Iowa Watercolor Society (IWS) Annual Exhibition, and I attended one of the workshops she taught in conjunction with the IWS annual meeting. I have been teaching and drawing from a live model for a couple of years and felt I was ready to learn more from a master figure painter like Janet. I immediately felt a kinship between her painting style and mine.
Her teaching style also felt akin to how I teach my classes. We started with drawing. Then a first wash, and let it dry; second wash, and let it dry; then finish off the painting. The drying is important to achieve a layering effect — you can’t get too impatient! I enjoyed learning from Janet, and the camaraderie of seeing my painting friends.
During the watercolor workshop at La Poste,
a renovated 1914 former post office
building in Perry, Iowa
Workshop participants with
our artwork in front of La Poste
(Janet Rogers is at the railing at right)