Saturday, November 23, 2013

MONTHLY RECAP -- What I Have Been Up To

This month, I was busy with a portrait commission and illustrating a children's book.

I finished and shipped the portrait to my friend in Ohio, just a few days ago.  These are three of her grandchildren, so I really wanted her to love it.  I'm always nervous when there is more than one subject in the portrait.  But, I was satisfied with the result (as was my client, thankfully) --

watercolor by Pat Howard, 29" x 21"

Another fun project was "Annabelle" -- illustrations for a baby's board book.  Here are a few of the illustrations:  (there were 11 total)

And, of course, I continue to take lots of pictures, which may or may not become paintings, down the road:

Geraniums, safely inside before the first snowfall of the season.

A harmless wolf spider on our back deck -- scary and hairy, but harmless.  Glad he was OUTSIDE!

Morning visitors

Alan starting on a new project -- his last before he retires.

The view out our front window in Durango

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


For these sketchbook exercises and color studies, you'll need the following:

A sketchbook, pencils, black pen, gold pen, colored pencils and watercolor pencils, markers, and -- okay -- an eraser, if you must.  Also, a watercolor sketchbook, if you have one, or small pieces of watercolor paper, and watercolor paints and brushes.

Try a few, or all, of these ORANGE exercises --

1.  PUMPKINS -- Draw a pumpkin, with pencil.  Then, add color with colored pencil.  Layer the colors, starting with yellow first . . .

Now, try another pumpkin -- this time, drawing with pencil, and then painting with watercolors.  Add a patterned cloth at its base.  Once again, start with an underpainting of yellow . . . 


- Draw a Daylily, or another orange flower, with pencil.  Color it with colored pencils . . . 

Look at a bouquet of orange flowers, or part of a bouquet, and start painting the colors and shapes, without drawing first.  Mix the oranges right on your paper.  Let that dry -- and then come in with a black ink drawing on part of it. . . 

3.  PAINT A "FEELING" OF FALL -- Don't draw first, just paint a simple little landscape, using oranges and other autumn colors . . . 

4.  ORANGE FRUIT -- Buy some orange fruit -- preferably, the kind you like, so you can eat it after you're finished drawing/painting.

- Draw a few pears and an apple on a ledge.  Add a pattern on the "tablecloth".  Mingle your oranges on the fruit.  Paint a violet background, and then paint the pattern.

- Zoom in on your orange fruit and fill up the page with the shapes -- to make it almost abstract.  Draw contour lines with a gold pen, and then mingle the orange colors within the fruit.  Paint some darks in your background.


- Flesh-Tones -- Do a page of Fleshtone mixtures -- which is really just pale orange.

Make notations right on the page, so that you remember what colors you used.

- Orange Grid (a la Paul Klee) --  Draw a grid of square, and in each one, make a notation of the color you will try to achieve there.  (Be sure to include one Blue square, for contrast).  Then paint each square, either directly (from the tube, or mix on the palette first); wet-in-wet mingling (use water first, and mix on the paper); 

6.  CARROTS -- Buy some carrots, with the greens still attached.  They are more fun to draw and paint that way.  Draw them, and then paint with watercolor.  Do a yellow underpainting on the carrot and greens.  Then paint the rest of the background a light blue.  Mingle the colors in the carrots, using yellow, orange, and a warm red like Cadmium Red.  Leave some of the yellow showing, especially in the middle of the carrot, to give it a rounded look.  Then use the blue to paint a cast shadow.

7.  ORANGE-LINE DRAWING/PAINTING -- Set up a still-life, or look at your pet.  (Use a photo, if your pet won't sit still.)  Mix up an orange paint with your watercolors, and start "drawing" the shapes with your brush and the orange mixture -- no pencil drawing first.  Keep drawing shapes until you run out of paper.  Then, fill in the shapes with mingled colors -- exaggerate the colors!  Paint up to the orange line, but not over it, so that you get the nice contrast.

8.  AUTUMN LEAVES -- Collect some leaves from outside, and draw/paint a few small leaf studies.

9.  DO SOME DOODLES -- Draw some doodles with black ink, add a patterned background, and color with colored markers, especially orange.

10.  FACES -- Paint a few ORANGE under-paintings on small pieces of watercolor paper.  Then, using a black pen, draw a face on each one.  (Either find random faces from magazines, or use my examples here.)  Title and date your faces.

Orange you glad there aren't eleven of these?  

Monday, October 28, 2013

BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK -- My 2-Day Watercolor Workshop in Ohio

I enjoyed painting with 6 wonderfully eager-to-learn ladies, at my 2nd Annual Watercolor Workshop in Uniontown, Ohio, that took place two weeks ago.  We painted forests, using the negative painting techniques that I love to teach.  It is such a great technique to learn, in order to achieve depth in your paintings.  

Even though they were all following my lead, with this step-by-step project, they managed to create 6 uniquely different paintings by the end of the day.  It's always fun to see the results of this project.   

music is "Leaves of Autumn" by Jiang Xiao-Qing

On the 2nd Day of the Workshop, we worked on two different projects -- a Grid of Leaves (where we tried out various underpaintings in each section, and then drew and painted different leaf shapes over them),  and Stargazer Lilies (where we drew and painted lilies, from life, (and one sunflower!), and did some negative painting, too).  Since we went back and forth between projects, no one was able to finish any one painting, but they were all off to great starts on both.  Hopefully, they all finish their paintings at home.

music is "Autumn Equinox" by Cynthia Jordan

It was a great time, and I think everyone learned something.  I'll definitely be back next year!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

ORANGE: 10 Things Every Watercolorist Should Know About This Color

"Orange is the happiest color."  - Frank Sinatra

It seems like the perfect time of year to concentrate on the color ORANGE -- when the greens in nature are turning to golds and oranges; when the farmers' markets are filled with pumpkins, orangey-red apples, and yellow-orange gourds and squashes; and, when the Denver Broncos, with their orange and blue uniforms, start their season. (Sorry -- I'm a football fan!)

Fun and flamboyant ORANGE radiates warmth and energy -- and is epitomized by the glow of the setting sun, the flames of a campfire, fall foliage, and it's namesake citrus fruit.

Here are 10 things that I think every watercolorist should know about this color, along with 10 "orange" paintings of mine, and 10 quotes about the color orange:

1.  ORANGE sparks more controversy than any other hue.  There is usually a strong positive or a strong negative association to this color.  But, certain tones of orange, like terra cotta, peach, coral, and rust, have a broader appeal than a true orange.  

"Everyone knows that Yellow, Orange, and Red suggest ideas of joy and plenty.  I can paint you the skin of Venus with mud, provided you let me surround it as I will."  - Eugene Delacroix

2.  ORANGE is a secondary color, made up of Red and Yellow.  And so, it is very vibrant and shares attributes of both Red and Yellow.  All three colors are very useful in autumn landscapes.

"Reds, Yellows, and Oranges conjure up sunlight and fire, while the Blues and Blue-Greens evoke snow and ice, sea, sky, and moonlight."  - Anonymous

3.  You don't need a tube ORANGE on your palette, since it is easy to mix an Orange with any Red and Yellow.  You can mix many different shades, between Red-Orange and Yellow-Orange.  And, many of the tube Oranges are not lightfast, so I always mix my oranges.  A really beautiful orange is made with New Gamboge and Quinacridone Rose.  I even use that mixture, watered down, for flesh color in my portraits.  You can try a color exercise grid, to see all the various Oranges that you can mix -- with your Reds across the top and Yellows down the side.

"I can see the orange haze on the horizon, as the morning exhales a yawn, 
and seems to be ready to rise".  - Jeb Dickerson

4.  An invaluable "ORANGE", that you should have on your palette, is Quinacridone Burnt Orange -- which is similar to Burnt Sienna, but is very transparent and mixes well.  It is more transparent and intensely-colored than the earth pigment, Burnt Sienna.  And, it's especially good to use when you need a brown, other than in a landscape.  

" . . . Frizzy Orange curls grow in her wild hair, like snapdragons pleading for water."  - Paul Gardner

5.  The shades of Burnt Sienna -- still a tried and true color -- vary considerably, from brand to brand.  This natural, unsaturated Orange "earth" color, is originally from Sienna in Italy.  It is great for landscapes, and the appropriate blue for the sky, when using Burnt Sienna, is Cerulean Blue.

"There is no Blue, without Yellow and without Orange."  - Vincent Van Gogh

6.  The complement of ORANGE is Blue.  When placed right next to each other, they really pop.  Mix them into each other to create Browns.  Orange and French Ultramarine, especially, make colorful neutrals.

"Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins?  
Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blindingly enter into the other?  So with sanity and insanity."  - Herman Melville

7.  A very versatile and effective complementary color combo is Quinacridone Burnt Orange and French Ultramarine.  This is a good 2-color scheme, especially for landscapes.  When mixed together, these two colors make a lovely gray (somewhat like Payne's Gray).  When your painting is mostly Orange, the French Ultramarine can be added to make a nice dark.

"Orange is Red brought nearer to humanity by Yellow."  - Wassily Kandinsky

8.  ORANGE is a warm color, that visually comes forward.  It can have an exciting effect in a painting.  Orange is one of those colors that really stands out, even in the distance, as if to shout, "Hey, look at me!"

"My mum taught me that redheads shouldn't wear Pink, Red, or Orange, but if you choose the right shade, such as a Bright Orange or a Cherry Red, it can look fabulous."  - Jane Asher

9.  One good use for a Cadmium ORANGE is to spatter it on top of a very dark wash.  Because it's heavy, it will just settle and add some interest to a big field of dark color.  But, never just glaze a Cadmium Orange wash over a dark wash.  

"The majority of painters, because they aren't colorists, do not see Yellow, Orange, or sulphur in the South of France, and they call a painter mad if he sees with eyes other than theirs." - V. Van Gogh

10.  ORANGE is the new Black.  I don't know what that means, but it's the name of a popular new TV show on Netflix.  I thought you should know that :)