Painting loose and free is natural for many watercolorists, but I find it very challenging. For me, to paint loosely, I must 'think long and look slowly,' then paint deliberately with a sure stroke. No fussing.

Knowing what to put in and what to leave out is part intuition and part design knowledge, just like color choice is. Being aware of each shape's edges then adding variety with soft, lost, and hard edges helped me create movement in the painting.

The range of darks and lights established focal and restful areas, depending on how close together they were located. The placement of small shapes with hard edges helped emphasize a focal area more.

Developing the unpainted areas so that each space was a different shape and size also added interest to this study. It may look like a quickly dashed off painting, but there were lots of subtle decisions made before the paint ever met the paper, and plenty of on-the-spot decisions were made while my brush was moving. It's fun and it's nerve wracking! And I love to paint:-D

"MAY DAY GERANIUMS" Transparent Watercolor on 140# CP Arches 7 x 9" COLLECTED



Barns have always been part of my life. I played in many Indiana barns when I was a kid since we lived in a rural area where corn fields and barns dotted the landscape. I can still smell that hay, the manure...UGH! I can remember being very frightened to step down into that open space out of the hay mow.

My hope with this painting was to create a landscape of an old barn but give it a twenty first century appeal. The scene is made up, and it's created on the slick YUPO surface.

I used the grid idea that George James often starts with to 'set up' the painting. You can see the overall grid in the drawing below, but it's harder to see how the grid is shifted upward and to the left slightly where the barn is. The important parts of the painting are located within that specific section of the grid. Areas outside that specific section of the grid area get less attention and detail, helping lend a contemporary look to the old fashioned barn. This grid device has really helped me simplify and state better what is vital to me in my paintings, especially on YUPO, where I can get pretty nutty about textures, often letting them take over the painting.

The early stage of the painting clearly defines one good white shape, with other shapes painted in to surround it. Eventually the good white shape is integrated into the overall design, and even though it's no longer visible, it still provides the skeleton that helps hold the design of the painting together.

This Saturday I give a demo at the Cincinnati Women's ART Club at their NEW BARN! They've renovated the old barn where United Dairy Farmers began (love that ice cream.) Because this is their first meeting there, I felt inspired to paint a barn for them with a contemporay touch. YUPO, here we go again! I'm nervous, but I know I'll have fun. The demo drawing's almost complete, and I'm really planning this one a lot more than the one posted here. Hopefully, the finished painting will have a resemblance to their new art center in the huge, remodeled UDF barn.

"OLD TIMES" Transparent Watercolor on Heavy Weight YUPO 26 x 20" COLLECTED



The two posts below show a finished YUPO painting as well as the painting showing what it looked like about half way through the process. The smaller photo was my reference.
We were freezing cold from walking across across one of the London bridges near the Taft Museum, and my umbrella had blown apart in the strong wind. To top it all off, Westminster Abbey was closing, and we couldn't get in. The abbey is there on the left in the photo. That's all I saw of it.
We paid a bunch for a taxi back to our son's flat and went out for supper after we dried off and got warm again. The memory of how quickly it got cold and rainy that day stayed in my mind, and that's what I'd hoped to convey. The picture of the painting in progress may actually convey the feeling better than the finished piece. I think I'll try again.

Double click on the paintings to see the textures better, and you'll be able to see how YUPO can be glazed with several layers of paint. Since the paint sits right on top of the sheet of YUPO, never soaking in, it takes some practice to paint over it without lifting the existing paint.
I've printed the commonly heard English phrase, "MIND THE GAP," in the final painting, too, but it's hard to find. Do you see it?
"LONDON BRIDGES" Transparent Watercolor on Heavy Weight YUPO 20 x 26" COLLECTED



Several artists in my classes have expressed a desire to be able to paint along with me rather than create their own work, so this Wednesday night I'm starting a class that will help those artists feel more secure about painting. This harbour scene will be the first thing we paint together, and I know that even though everyone paints the same thing, we'll have a dozen different paintings when we're done.

Painting along with the instructor can be very beneficial to help an artist learn special techniques and skills. The danger in attending paint-along classes too long is that many people get very comfortable and satisfied creating successful painting copied from the teacher, then find it quite frustrating to paint when they try it on their own. As long as artists are learning new techniques and processes (not repeating them) it seems that the paint-along process can be justified.

When someone helps each step of the way, results can be almost guaranteed. Painting your own original masterpiece should be as easy - we wish! It's also a lot easier for me to teach a paint-along class, but the satisfaction factor is much higher for me as a teacher when I see artists have successful results while working on their own original works and inspriations. There's just a lot more frustration and struggle they have to wade through to get to that success.

Either way, teaching is a lot of fun, and I wouldn't change my 'job' for anything. It's amazing how much 'work' art can be and how much work that teaching art can be. But it never really seems like a real job, even though it's work!

FYI - I did screen out several people who wanted to take the class. They weren't allowed because they no longer need to copy a teacher to learn what they need to know, and I knew that this new class would actually hold them back as well as stifle their own creativity.

I'll let you know how Wednesday evenings work out.

"MAINE EVENING" Transparent Watercolor on 140# CP Arches 15x 11" COLLECTED