When visions pop into my imagination, I might try to capture them on paper, but it usually doesn't work. This started out as one of those paintings last week. Envisioning a wonderful forest of quiet trees extending into a spacious white snow bank with a striking contrast of dark and light patterns, I couldn't wait to get started.

After painting the trees and background and leaving the snow area white, I knew it was obviously not going to express what I saw. The unfinished painting was tossed into a drawer.

Then when Wednesday's class got to BUBBLE PAINT, using fluid acrylics mixed with water and Dawn Liquid Soap, I printed the unfinished tree painting with the bubbles. Nothing to loose, I thought, and at least the new texture added some interest to an otherwise drab composition.

BUT --- seeing it flipped upside down changed everything. Now it reminds me of the northwest corner of Indiana with all the smoke stacks that used to pollute the air. Though this was not what was intended initially, it was a good discovery nevertheless, and conveys a vital message, too.

More bubble paintings are on their way, one of them fairly successful. The goal in the class is to develop valid pieces of art by combining the textured surface created with the colored bubbles with additional enhancements or embellishments of paints, inks, and possibly collage. Each artist's work will be individual even the the initial technique was used by everyone.

We all developed small, two-value thumb nail studies to work from for our bubble prints, so some may end up with abstract designs and others with realistic or representational paintings We are expecting really creative results.

"POLLUTION SOLUTION" Transparent Watercolor Covered by Fluid Acrylic Bubbles on 140# HP Arches 12 x 16"



This was posted yesterday, but since then, a pale blue wash of Cobalt Blue has been added to the background as well as to some of the petals of the flowers. Stronger darks were also added, as per Rhonda's good suggestion on the last post. Maybe better?

Yesterday's post was a little too pale compared to the real painting. This one's more accurate, I think.

The last couple of days have been spent blowing bubbles - paint bubbles! More to come soon on this:-D

"WASHED DAFFODILS" Transparent Watercolor on 140#HP Arches 16 x 12"



One of the things that I love about watercolor is the huge variety of processes and techniques to choose from when painting. After taking many workshops from many wonderful, professional artists, I've enjoyed adapting those techniques to how I paint, eventually passing along the information about the processes to my classes via demos. Credit is duly given to the instructors for their specific techniques that they so willingly share.

Years ago, a friend introduced me to Stephen Blackburn. Deb Ward had been fascinated by his beautiful handling of watercolor, so a bunch of us signed up for his workshop in Lafayette, Indiana. Since then, he has been to the Cincinnati area several times to give workshops ... twice, in fact, to give workshops for people in my classes. One of my original paintings of penguins, shown on the blog on March 24, 2008, was created during one of those workshops.

The daffodil painting shown here was a demo for Tuesday's class based on info that Steve taught us. Posted here are also two stages of the painting before completion.

First, miskit is 'poured' in a 'stream' onto the paper and then spritzed with water to create trickles for it to flow into. It's a lot trickier than it looks to do this part. Once the miskit is dry, paint is poured over the paper, with several colors being applied. Each color can be allowed to dry in between pours, or for more color mingling, the colors can be poured all at once.

Once the miskit's removed, the subject can be established, as it was with this painting, or the subject could be determined ahead of time before pouring. I do a detailed value study of the drawing in order to know where NOT to paint. For the most part, the picture is developed by painting behind the subject matter, with those darker values popping out the focal areas. This 'negative' painting preserves the beautiful results of the poured paint over the ruffly miskited areas, allowing them to remain untouched.

The final look couldn't ever be achieved with a brush. The unique textured surface created with the poured miskit and paint adds so much to the final painting, making it more unique and intriguing to look at. Thanks, Steve, for sharing your discoveries with us.

Steve won the top award several years ago in International Artist Magazine for one of his exquisitely rendered sunflowers done with his technique. He's a master artist who has developed his very own technique of creating beauty, and he willing shares his techniques in his workshops. Deb's invited him to return to Cincinnati to teach another workshop in May. Hop over to her website - http://www.debwardart.com/ - for more information about the workshop, but hurry. Several people from my classes have already signed up.

Pop over to Steve's instructional website, where you can sign up for his newsletter, too. If you click on the workshop page, you'll see him in action at one of the workshops he taught in my studio. Here's the link - http://www.learnwatercolors.com/

Next month, watercolor artists from around the country will enjoy being at Kanuga Watercolor Workshops near Hendersonville, North Carolina. I've been able to be there for most of the last dozen years to continue learning more about creating art. I'm one of those people who think that learning never ceases and love taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible to experience more ways to be creative. Although there are more than ten instructors to choose from at Kanuga each year, this year Miles Batt will be my instructor for the week. So looking forward to going!

"SONG OF SPRING" Transparent Watercolor on HP 140# Arches, 16 x 12"



We had a great time Sunday in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the Watercolor Society of Indiana's Winter Meeting. Mark Lemons does a great job as president to guide and lead this group of diverse artists. About sixty people attended... not bad for a cold February afternoon.

After the business meeting and a drawing for some great door prizes, it was time for my demo. Once that first wave of nervousness was out of the way, all went well. In fact, I had a blast painting on the slick YUPO surface and sharing several of the processes used to work with watercolors on YUPO.

One of my small oil studies of a couple walking under an umbrella was my source of inspiration. The drawing was completed ahead of time with gray miskit applied to areas that were to remain pure white.

A 4x6" value study, created earlier from that oil sketch of the photo, was the guide for the painting as well as the drawing. Paint was applied in each shape with the value of that shape based on the value study. Colors were chosen at random, with consideration for the mood of the rainy evening scene.

Edges were adjusted as I painted, and a foam roller was used quite a bit to move paint around and help establish smoother transition areas. Some shapes were extra juicy, and but most were very dry, with little water added to the paint. Many of the techniques shown are ones discovered and perfected by George James, YUPO master from California.

A window washing squeegee, (previously cut into smaller lengths by my husband,) did the trick of dragging thicker paint and helped add linear aspects to the painting. A couple of dried areas were spritzed with water from a Windex sprayer, then squeegeed off, creating a spontaneous, fresh, textured look.

The finished painting is posted here, as is, without any changes made since the demo. There's a possibility that the legs of the man might need to be adjusted. Also, it bothers me that the reddish brown oval shape to the right is about the same size as the woman's hair, so that may need to be changed, too.

Though the painting was finished in under two hours, the preparation time was considerable. It took well over six hours to get the composition tweaked and sketched, ready to paint, plus about 20 years to learn to handle watercolor. Add into that the two frustrating years spent fighting to control paint on YUPO before finally having a break through, and you can see why art can't be sold for the actual time it takes to create it. No one could afford it.

Overall, I was very happy with the results and really enjoyed being with so many Hoosier artists. In early May, Middletown Fine Arts Center is sponsoring one of my YUPO workshops - see the side bar here. If you're interested, check it out. I know we'll have a great week painting on this slick, slippery, challenging, and fascinating surface.

In June, there's also a YUPO workshop in Dallas that I'll be leading - see side bar - at a great workshop facility and gallery there. Hope you can make one of the workshops if you're interested in learning more about painting on YUPO.

Thank you, Betsy, for taking pictures during the demo. You are a blessing.

"RIVER WALTZ" Transparent Watercolor on Heavy Weight YUPO, 19 x 28" COLLECTED