Sunday, December 18, 2011

My daughter paints a horse with oil

My daughter is an artist too.  Her blog is called That's Sketchy.   She recently painted this horse in oil and keeps telling me I should switch from watercolor to oil...because it's so much easier.  I tell you, oil is not intuitive to me!  It feels like I'm thinking back-words!  I started painting with watercolor such a long time ago when the kids were babies, because I didn't want to expose them to toxic fumes.  I enjoy watercolor so much and am so comfortable with it!  

I really do like the look and feel of oil, though.  Maybe I will do a little more of it!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Painting From a Greeting Card

In my last post I showed how I hung an inexpensive Autumn seasonal painting on a piece of 32” x 40” plywood.  This Christmas painting is attached with metallic ribbon to that same piece of plywood, strung through the holes and tied in the back.  See my previous post for details of how I prepared the plywood.

The idea came from a tiny gift tag.  It sparkles with glitter and measures 1½ inches in diameter - very small!  I’ve saved it for almost 8 years thinking I would use it as inspiration some day!

I did a sketch on a large 30” x 40” piece of old matte board.  Not too detailed.

I chose pastel chalk because, unlike watercolor, It doesn't require as much planning ahead.  It's fast, and I could cover my mistakes instead of tediously lifting them off.  A large piece of watercolor paper would be costly – I wanted cheap!  I didn’t have to stretch it, mount it, cut mattes, or frame it with expensive moulding behind glass.

Then I covered the whole scene with “snow” (dots of white chalk) which hid a lot of mistakes, and sprayed the whole painting with several coats of Aqua Net hair spray, letting it dry between coats.
I brushed a little Mod Podge (waterbased sealer, glue) to the areas of snow I wanted to highlight and sprinkled a little glitter over it. 

The white gingerbread frame was made of left-over foam core.  I made a template from scrap paper as a guide and cut the foam core with an exacto knife. Using Craft glue, I stacked a couple layers of foam core spacer strips around the edges, directly to the plywood to give space between the painting and the finished “frame”.  I glued the gingerbread frame on top of the spacers.

Here you can kind of see how the glitter sparkles from the light of the Christmas tree when the room is darkened.

I probably spent a total of 20 hours on this project.  It’s an easy one that looks festive even if you aren’t a good artist!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Easy Inexpensive Picture Frame

This is my solution for a large inexpensive Picture above our piano.

I needed it quickly and didn't want to purchase wall art with expensive moulding, mat board and glass. And I didn't want it to show poor taste. But what? Hmmmm. Something seasonal maybe!

Last year I did this 32” x 40” painting called Thanksgiving Pumpkins. It’s done in gouache and pastel on corrugated cardboard. I sprayed it with Krylon fixatif so the pastel doesn’t rub off. It’s really cheap! It’s warped and the edges are marred. Nice moulding just wouldn’t fit!

So I cut a big 36” x 40” piece of unfinished ¾” plywood and drilled two ¼” holes in each corner to fit around my “painting”. Then I strung lengths of raffia through the holes and tied them on top over the painting. It holds the warped painting in place and doesn’t look like I’m trying too hard to make it look tasteful!

I screwed two heavy-duty picture frame hangers onto the back of the plywood and strung them with framer’s wire.

The framed painting hangs by the wire on a wall hook that I nailed into the drywall.

You could use this idea with a series of small pictures on small pieces of plywood. Maybe use some of your children's artwork! And use ribbon instead of raffia for a romantic or Christmas theme.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Plein Air Watercolor Painting on Catalina Island

I’ve been watercolor painting en plein air on Catalina Island. This a finished painting of the Casino Ballroom viewed from Descanso Beach, just north of the village of Avalon. Plein Air Painting is done outdoors, in the air, on location, very quickly, to capture the light as it shines on a scene.

There were 10 of us very serious energetic ladies…well, some of us…who got up at 4:30am each morning (not me).

This is a small 2” x 3” thumbnail study I did with water soluble colored pencils. I did this before starting the finished painting to test colors and position layout.

And we painted well into the night. Here’s a picture of me with my headlight trying to paint a street scene!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Watercolor at Rancho Bernardo Winery "En Plein Air"

Rancho Bernardo is a quiet community near San Diego. And the local winery is a nice place to eat, shop, and paint En Plein Air. I am such a detailed person that painting fast this way is such good exercise to help me loosen up!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Waiting Near Cafe Merlot in Watercolor "En Plein Air"

Watercolor painting En Plein Air now that summer is here and the weather is nice, is something I don't get to do often enough!

I started this very small painting outdoors on location at the Rancho Bernardo Winery near Cafe Merlot and finished it in studio. Very quick to capture the changing shadows.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Watercolor Materials

I use very basic materials when I paint in watercolor.


A #2 and #5B pencil is good enough for sketching.


For brushes I use Winsor & Newton Sceptre Gold II watercolor brushes (short handle) sizes 2 – 14. These are a synthetic/natural mix. Robert Simmons makes good, economical brushes: synthetic, synthetic/natural mix, or all natural sable.


I use Arches 140 lb. Bright White cold pressed 22” x 30” sheets. (I also buy the 156 lb, cold pressed rolls that are 10 yds. long and 51 inches wide and cut pieces to size.)

Lanaguarelle and Fabriano are brands I use also.


When purchasing paints I always get professional-grade tubes instead of student-grade (not Cotman, for instance). Student grade paint has fillers instead of pigment. Some brands I use are Old Holland, Winsor & Newton, and Holbein. Call or email the company for their color-fastness and color-intensity charts.

Other materials:

Flat brushes for large area washes, kneaded erasers, hair blower, Krylon Workable Fixatif, Golden Golden UV resistant medium, tracing paper, masking fluid, plywood board, water pan (to soak watercolor paper) staple gun & staples, pliers, and a screwdriver (to remove the staples from my board).

Just experiment and adjust your materials according to your preference.

This is my color palette: