Discovering luminescent watercolors

On a recent shopping trip to Daniel Smith Art Supply, I lucked into a hands-on demo of their line of luminescent watercolors. While experimenting with shimmer paint and duochromes and pearlescent colors was fun, the iridescent colors really caught my attention. When dropped into a wash of quinacridone burnt orange, three of the colors – sunstone, Aztec gold and copper – resembled the look of sunlight on a sleek chestnut-colored horse. I’m definitely looking forward to trying these in a full painting!

Finished portrait of “Christine”

I shared a progress photo a couple of weeks ago of a portrait commission I was working on. Now that Christmas is past and the portrait has been delivered (to tears and delight), I can post the finished painting. This was a fun-and challenging-project, as the cell phone reference photo was dark, shadowed and a little blurry.  My goal was to create a bright, happy, girly portrait that wasn’t too sweet. According to her mom, mission accomplished!

Working in graphite

Years ago, long before watercolor came into my life, most of my work was done in graphite, ink or scratchboard. While learning watercolor, I came across the work of Georges Seurat. His drawings in particular are very inspiring – the soft edges, the richness of values and the depth of expression are all masterful, and something to aspire to. This is the first graphite piece I’ve done in a while, and I kept Seurat’s drawings in mind the entire time I worked on it.

3 paintings in a day

With “small works” shows gaining in popularity, and the different opportunities that pop up to show work in a limited space, I’ve been working on some new paintings in a variety of sizes. The two square pieces are 8×8″ and the study of the totem pole is 9×12″. All three are watercolor on textured canvas, and were completed in one long day in the studio. Once finished, the paintings are varnished to protect the  surface and eliminate the need for glass.

Bringing someone to tears

The phrase “the eyes are the window to the soul” always comes to mind when I paint a portrait. In fact, whether the subject is a person or a pet, every painting starts with the eyes. When working on a commissioned portrait, the pressure to “get it right” is pretty intense. With “Christine,” I was able to show the work-in-progress to this little cutie’s mom. When she started crying at the sight of a cell phone photo of the painting, I knew it was on track. The first thing she said was “those are my baby’s eyes!”

Today’s palette of colors

Had a request on Facebook to share my current palette, so thought I’d share it here as well. All are Daniel Smith watercolors. The code is: *=favorites, +=secondary, ×=lightly used.

Top row: phthalo yellow green(*), perylene green(*), green apatite genuine(+), cobalt turquoise(+), cobalt teal(*), manganese blue hue(+), lunar blue(×), cobalt blue(*), french ultramarine(*), imperial purple(*), payne’s blue-grey(×), verditer blue(×)

Yellows, top row: hansa medium(×), mars yellow(*), raw siena(*); bottom row: aussie red-gold(×), cadmium orange hue(+), monte amiata siena(×)

Reds, top row: perylene red(×), permanent alizarin crimson(×), transparent red oxide(*); bottom row: rhodonite genuine(×), burnt siena(+), van dyke brown(*)

I have a tackle box full of other colors, and will sometimes pull in a few different paints for a specific subject. For now though, these are the go-to colors…

An anniversary gift…

When my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary, we took a road trip to Jackson, WY. Between the snowmobiling, the wildlife and the amazing art, it was a fantastic trip, and we brought home a very nice bronze. Since then, we have continued to purchase art on our trips, and love to visit galleries wherever we go.

While working a recent shift at Parklane Gallery, I was blessed to have the experience of selling a pair of my paintings to a couple that were celebrating their own 10th anniversary. A few days later, they sent me a photo of the paintings in their entryway, with the following comment:

I don’t think the photo really does them justice, they’re actually the prominent feature coming in the front door, and make the house quite welcoming, especially on these dark winter days.

They’re really quite wonderful, and do a lovely job capturing what is so special about the region we live in. It is a pleasure having them in our home.


Brett and Margaret

Plastic wrap texture

It’s pretty common for me to have 3-4 paintings going at once, since many of the techniques I use require a lot of drying time. This early stage of “Twisted Slumber” is a good example.

The first step was laying in a heavily-pigmented wash of quinacridone gold, pink and coral, plus some cadmium orange hue. A couple of pieces of plastic wrap were scrunched up, placed randomly on the surface, and covered with books. 24 hours later, the results were revealed: a good start on the texture and movement of a Japanese maple in full fall color…

Painting in the dark

Was really excited to get started on this painting, but the power was out! No worries – found a headlamp and a couple of lanterns and got to work. The lighting wouldn’t work for “real” painting, but was plenty to get a first wash in.

This painting will be called “Shake Off The Night,” and is being worked on a canvas that has been coated with fiber paste. The paste, by Golden, adds some texture and makes the surface somewhat absorbent, allowing watercolor to act like watercolor.