Friday, February 19, 2010

Outside time

I love getting to spend time outside with a notebook and pen and some paints.  I have been surprised at the difference looking at my subject in the outdoor light makes in studio time.  After recording something from life it stays in my head, and then in the studio I can paint it more realistically. 

This sketch was done one summer afternoon last year while a storm rolled across the land.  I still can see it in my minds eye, whereas if I had taken a photo, it wouldn’t mean much in the studio.  I’ve been surprised at the difference this has made in my painting.


Later, in my studio I could recall so much of it as I worked on this painting:



Yesterday I stopped along the road to get a gander at some Brigham Tea bush and decided to record it for a later painting.  I like working loose, but so far have only been able to work that way in sketches.  I get carried away in “Real” paintings!



Contrast it with this little painting, which I tried to do from memory and couldn’t stop painting till I’d over painted it!  As usual…..



Well, if simple is the goal, I have a lot of work to do!  Upward and onward!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Travel Watercolor Kit



Travel kits! What watercolor painter doesn’t search for the perfect travel solution? I have seen some great little watercolor paint boxes made from Altoids cans, but could never find the trim that was used to hold the paint pans in place. Several paint manufacturers sell clever little sets that hold either tubes or half pans. Some have cute little water reservoirs and tiny paintbrushes, but all are pretty pricey. Paper; how to find a watercolor pad that is large enough to record what you see that still fits into a reasonably sized bag or backpack? I hate tiny little watercolor books that I feel like I have to work in miniature, and forget a teeny tiny little brush that isn’t comfortable in my hand!

I’ve tried several solutions over the years, but don’t use them much because they are just not practical to use on the go. SO- I finally bought some Altoids, donated the candy to my son and have been carrying the can around in my purse. I have felt it, and opened it and closed it and wondered how to get the paint pans to stay in place, where to mix colors and what colors I would most want to have in it. The thinking about it was as fun as the putting it together!

I wanted a mixture of full and half pans and decided on 9 basic colors of paint to put into it. The colors I use most get the full sized pans and the mixers get the half pans. I used a dot of rubber cement under each pan to hold it in place. That way, I can pull them out and re-arrange and stick them back in again when I want to. Each paint pan is only half full of paint to help in mixing, plus the lid will work for larger mixtures.

With a good quality travel brush, I am well on my way to a useable travel kit!



From top, left: Quinacridone Rose, Burnt Sienna, Sepia, Phthalo Blue, Cobalt Turquoise, Cadmium Yellow, Cobalt Violet, Raw Sienna and Burnt Umber in the center.

A Travel Paintbrush

I have been looking for just the right travel brush for several years. I’ve tried putting my studio brushes into various carriers or other contraptions to protect the ends from being destroyed, but never had much success with anything I’ve tried. It’s always too bulky.

I got a flier from my favorite art supplier, and it had SABLE travel brushes advertised at really good sale prices, so I splurged. Always wanted a real sable brush, anyway! Wow! What a difference. I’ve been using Silverbrush Black Velvet brushes for a few years and thought they were really nice. Hmm, not compared to this little beauty. I have been converted! Now to get a night job to be able to afford a couple more of them.


It’s an Escoda, #8, series 1218. It’s the same size as my Silverbrush #6, but holds more water/paint. It has a lovely snap and reshapes better than any brush I’ve ever used.

Good thing I only have to put in a half day tomorrow. I hope the light is bright and the weekend is warm!



Thursday, February 4, 2010


Ran out of Burnt Sienna and Phthalo Blue! Winsor Newton paints are quite nice, but SO pricey. I am definitely on a budget right now, so what to do? I set a limit of $35.00 for the paints I needed and then took an inventory of what I was almost out of. No sense in paying shipping for two tubes of paint when I’ll be out of other colors before too long. I needed 5 tubes of paint!

Daniel Smith watercolors are very nice and priced more reasonably than Winsor Newton, but still over my budget. Enter Dick Blick Art Supplies! My Studio flier came with an introduction to the all new Dick Blick watercolors, at pretty great prices to tempt me to give them a shot. Not only could I get 8, EIGHT tubes of paint with the money I had to spend, they said they’d throw in a $24.00 Lama Li travel watercolor book for free!! Who could resist? Certainly not me.

Along with my usual colors, I decided to try out Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Violet for fun. I’ve seen them used recently, but hadn’t had the chance to try them out.

I did wonder if I’d get a student grade of paint for my trouble, but decided it was worth the risk. What a great gamble it was! I love the paints. They mix beautifully and dried only slightly paler than they were laid down. All watercolor paints fade as they dry, to differing degrees, but these are still lively and vibrant after drying 3 days with only slight fading. I took a small piece of 140lb. watercolor paper and made a few mixtures to see what I’d get. I can hardly wait for time to make more color mixes with them. What fun!

The Lama Li watercolor paper book was out of stock so the company substituted a 50 page Savoir Faire, 6” x 8.5” book in instead! Wow, the paper is gorgeous! Now, if it’ll only stop raining long enough to let me get OUTSIDE for a few hours.