Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Tryst Falls"--a plein air watercolor

"Tryst Falls"
 A Plein Air Watercolor on Archival Paper
9" x 12"

Painting on the spot offers many delights and challenges. Beauty is all around us, filling our eyes and souls, singing its siren song--"paint me if you dare"! Details crowd around us, clamoring for attention; the light changes rapidly. The wind picks up, or dies and suddenly we're hot!

I love the challenge, and some of my favorite paintings have been done on the spot--and sometimes I'm just not quite happy with what I've done. Just because you've started a painting on the spot doesn't mean it's set in stone and Must Not Be Touched. Satisfaction in the end result can be important, too.

I often put a painting aside for a few hours...or days...or weeks. If I'm still happy with it, that's marvelous! If not--by then I can usually tell what I need to do to come closer to what I responded to originally.

In this case the waterfall was glorious--sparkling, roaring, moving with energy that could move mountains--but my original painting was overdone and dull. I washed back the edges to form a vignette and focus the eye on the waterfall (as you can see in my art tip #93!), and added more color for a lively sparkle.

I featured this painting on a recent art tip on fixing watercolors--you can find it on my website at, at upper left. (If you're not already getting my Art Tip announcement newsletter, you can sign up there, too--we're up to Tip # 100, believe it or not!)

This is one of my favorite places to paint--I've done many of the falls and environs, and have yet to be bored...



I used a combination of techniques for the waterfall itself--liquid mask, painting around, and lifting the mist at the left with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and clear water.  Make sure to blot away the loosened pigment quickly!

Here, you can see I used a bit more scratching, with a sharp craft knife to give a bit of sparkle.  You'll want to use a good strong paper if you plan to do much lifting or scratching...

I used the Mr. Clean eraser, which is actually a fine-grained manmade sponge found in the household cleaning department of your grocery or discount store, to make a softened vignette effect on the final painting.  It draws the viewer's eye into the center of interest, where I kept the lightest and darkest areas, as well as the most detail and action.


This painting is offered unmatted and unframed to keep costs down. It will come to you carefully wrapped via Priority Mail, in the US. Insurance included in the shipping cost



I love painting on the spot; it's always a challenge, and I see things I can't, in a photograph. I share some of my love for this kind of work on my CD that was done mostly in the Shenandoah Valley, where my husband used to live.

I'm glad I captured some of that spectacular scenery, and the wonderful memories...


It's $15.99 + shipping, if you'd like to explore the wonders of painting on the spot--or of the Shenandoah Valley!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Autumn Lake, Ray County--SOLD

"Autumn Lake, Ray County"
9" x 12"
watercolor pencil on archival paper

This is a hidden lake on a private holding in Ray County, Missouri. My friends and I had secured permission to explore, hike, sketch, and photograph, and we came across this beautiful spot. The leaves were gone, but the still water reflected a pristine sky and lakeside reeds glowed as if on fire!

I hope it finds a home with you...



I chose watercolor pencil for this, since I could sketch in those graceful bare limbs with my pencil point, then soften them with clear water to suggest the tiny twigs you barely see from a distance...

I varied the color a bit to give the impression of the different types of trees.

The clumps of reed were like soft down-filled pillows!  I know they had provided cover for waterfowl, frogs, and fish, spawning near the banks.

 I love the way watercolor pencil allows interesting, natural textures like those above, while making wonderful puddles that feel like washes...I lifted the light color trees with a small stiff brush, and then, when everything was dry, scratched through with a sharp point.

You can click on these images to see them larger...

Strathmore 400 CP watercolor paper has a good hard finish and works well with watercolor pencil, allowing you to lift and scrape without damaging the surface.

These are Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer pencils...soft, rich, and intensely pigmented.


This painting is offered unmatted and unframed to keep costs down. It will come to you carefully wrapped via Priority Mail, in the US. Insurance included in the shipping cost



This painting was originally done for by North Light book, Watercolor Pencil Magic, now out of print.  In order to meet the demand, I produced an expanded version of the book, Watercolor Pencil Workshop on CD, restoring one whole chapter that had to be edited from the book for space reasons; the CD is in PDF format, and has bonus reading.  We use this CD for my online classes!

The CD is $15.99 + shipping--you can find it here, if you like:

New journal-keeping CD is finally done...

Hooray, just got word that my newest CD, "Keeping an Artist's Journal" is up on my CafePress site! 

It was a lot of work, and a lot of angst--Lesson 5 got lost somewhere between my ancient computer and the new one
[info]kateslover got me before Christmas, and we just found it last week. I edited it, put the bonus reading together in one document, and got it off to be mastered.

I've kept a journal for 35+ years, and it's been one of the most profoundly important things I've ever done for myself, helping me to celebrate milestones--and everyday joys!--deal with anxieties, plan paintings, face my fears, record details of nature, write first drafts of my books, keep a travel journal, collect recipes, and love my friends, family, and animals.  I feel lost without my journal!

Over the years, I've written about journaling in Country Living Magazine, Personal Journaling, The Artist's Magazine, and Watercolor Artist as well as in my books--especially
Creating Nature in Watercolor and the Sierra Club Guide to Sketching in Nature...and am just waiting for a new contract from North Light to do a NEW book, just on the subject.

Some of the "bonus reading" articles on the CD are edited forms of those earlier published you can tell, I AM committed to this concept, and shared a great deal about that on the CD.

I recently finished teaching on online class, also called Keeping an Artist's Journal, that this CD is based on--my students were amazing. They did terrific, thought-provoking and inspiring work, and what we ALL learned was so gratifying.  Wow, what a rush...

There are 5 fully illustrated lessons in PDF format, along with lots of extra material!  I'll get it in my website catalog as soon as I have my own copies in hand, but for now, it's OUT there.  Finally!


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