Snowy Forest: Real Time Watercolor Painting

Snowy Forest: Real Time Watercolor Painting

Carve out some time for a real time watercolor painting session with me! Learn to paint snowy trees in a forest with only two watercolor hues – we’ll be creating a variety of colors and values with simple supplies!

I haven’t done a ton of real time videos, because it’s so hard to talk that long without sounding dumb! I did take some breaks and just played music during parts, so hopefully that will keep the silence from getting deafening.

Gather supplies

Whatever brand or hue of watercolors you own, try this with your set! You’ll need a blue – I’ll be using Cobalt Blue, but try any medium tone blue. Then choose a midrange reddish brown; Transparent Red Oxide is in my palette, but feel free to substitute Burnt Sienne or something similar. Note that your mixes might have to change a little based on how they mix so try a few puddles of color to see what it takes to make a warm and a cool gray.

You can paint in a sketchbook like my value study – or try a larger painting. This demo is on a 1/4 sheet of Saunders Waterford Rough.

And then brushes – a big brush for the large wash is a must! The Casaneo brush I’ll be using is a size 20 round;  you’ll need something to paint a lot of water and pigment for that first wash, and a small brush will only cause you frustration. For branches and leaves, medium and smaller brushes are fine….scale according to your painting’s size.

  1. Sketch a day by Lake Michigan Book Press 
  2. Saunders Waterford Rough Sheets 
  3. Artist tape 3/4″ 
  4. Brushes:
  5. House of Hoffman Palette 

Tutorial: Snowy Forest (real time watercolor painting)

Join me in painting along! Feel free to stop the video as you work, I know I paint a little faster than the average bear. 🙂 NOTE: If you are seeing this post BEFORE noon on January 21, then the video below will not play. But I wanted to get this post out there for those who may want to refer to it as we paint along together at noon!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Value Study

Some of you will be creating your value study as we work – I suggest trying this painting small, then paint it large. The small one will help define where each value is placed in the picture – so you get familiar with:

  1. Just how light are the lights?
  2. How dark are the darkest places, and where are they?
  3. What is the color temperature – which are cool and which are warm?

First pass

The objective here is to cover everything in the painting that’s NOT the lightest light. That means anything that’s light, like sky or trees, but not AS white as the snow patch in the distance – all of that is toned back. Keeping it light is key, but not TOO light; you don’t want to have to keep adding more and more layers later.

Second pass

Establish the basic midtones – it needn’t include a lot of detail, that’s for the next step. But now is the time to start defining all the midtone areas and blocking them in. Be thinking about where you’ll want detail coming up, and tell yourself that can be saved for the next pass – or you might overdo it at this blobby stage!

Third pass

Now is the time to indulge your detailed side. I still recommend keeping brushstrokes simple, and don’t try to define every branch, leaf, and blob of snow. You’re creating the impression of this scene, not every detail of the photo reference. That’s a photographer’s job.

Source image

I wish I could remember which Facebook friend sent me this years ago…hopefully they’ll come out of the woodwork and remind me! And maybe get me a higher res image, too. It’s a wee bit fuzzy. Download it here.

Original for sale

You can purchase this painting (unframed) on my fine art website, or a print or framed print at Society6 – I love that they show you how something looks framed!

So….will you be painting along?

Let me know if you plan to or already have! I’m starting a new thread at Artventure to collect all our snowy forests, so be sure to add yours there when you finish!

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

  1. Sketch a day by Lake Michigan Book Press 
  2. Saunders Waterford Rough Sheets 
  3. Artist tape 3/4″ 
  4. Brushes:
  5. House of Hoffman Palette 

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One painting’s crazy journey: inspiration, mistakes, creation

One painting’s crazy journey: inspiration, mistakes, creation

Art goes through stages – inspiration, mistakes, creation and more in the process. Sometimes that isn’t a linear process, either! It can be discouraging when the road is long, but don’t give up. Push through!

That happened to me in the creation of what would, in the end, be a simple watercolor sketch. But it was almost a week in the making! I got to the final stage and decided to film the end result – a very simple real time watercolor!

A note about pinterest

Before I get to the rest of this post – I’ve been doing a couple new things this year already, one of which is actually uploading things to my Pinterest page. I’d gotten an email from Pinterest reminding me I had over a million views a month on stuff that was old….until a month or so ago I hadn’t added anything over there since maybe 2015!

But….I’m not looking back to beat myself up. Just going to move forward. And create graphics for each post in 2023+ and they’ve beem getting a little more attention too. I hope to figure out some best practices and create more interesting content over there too. Baby steps though!

If you’re a Pinterest user, I’d love for you to pop over to my page occasionally and repin some of your faves! I made a board with all the classes on it, so if you’ve taken one, feel free to repin it with a comment about what you liked about the class!

Alrighty. Let’s get on to today’s tutorial!

Real Time Watercolor: One painting’s crazy journey of inspiration, mistakes, creation

This video is about the watercolor painting; for further info on the pencil piece, join us over at Patreon.

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Explore composition options

These are only a few ways to adapt a photo to make it your own:

  1. Tilt the image, move it to one side, what happens if it’s off the page?
  2. Change the orientation – portrait/landscape. Add context.
  3. Alter lighting – direction, strength of highlight/shadow
  4. Add personality in some way
  5. Push any of these a step or ten further!

That crazy side trip

A number of folks see a drawing like this one that I didn’t like, and only wish they could do it – but remember that’s an apples and oranges comparison. You’re comparing your capacity and abilities at your level to someone else’s capacity and abilities at their level.

This past weekend I posted a speed video of this drawing along with my struggles, what I didn’t succeed with. Something I mentioned in the discussion:
I sometimes think I understand, in a way, how a guy who saves a puppy in a flood feels when called a hero. “I’m just doing what anyone would do in the circumstance, I’m no hero.”
I’ve never saved a puppy – but I’m making art that anyone at my level would make. And I’m not better than any of them. I’m no hero.
Having people shout that my muddy gouache painting is the best they’ve ever seen makes me less interested in overcoming the muddy mixes I’m getting – because clearly no one else sees the mess that I know is right in front of me. I question whether getting good at clean mixes is worth the effort.

At the end of this post I’ve included some suggestions for giving artists feedback.

 

Become a patron to join in the mentioned discussion:

 

Back to the drawing table!

I followed the advice of an artist who said, “When things go wrong, go back to what you know.” He’d had a tragic start to a painting and was ready to just quit art he had so much doubt. But he decided to go back to what he knew. He knew this shadow should go there. He knew that shape should be rounder. He knew that one brushtroke should…..and so on. One decision at a time.

So that’s what I did! Back to the sketchbook. Explore the idea a little more. Where else could this go?

I had to make sense of the librarian. We needed a bag for books since an alpaca has no hands. Needed a library patron…sitting on a bookshelf?

Maybe this alpaca  librarian needed to get out to her patrons. And try on some other colors? The interaction here made me very happy!

While I was simplifying, attack the color scheme too. The olive canvas bag made more sense – and has things like a rolled-up cover to protect the books.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Once I went through the crazy pencil drawing (discussed further on Patreon), I went back to the drawing board. Or the sketchbook! I quickly sketched out some options to start building on the alpaca librarian idea – and loved the simple sketches enough that I realized it was watercolor that would express the whimsy that I wanted in the piece anyway.

Why didn’t I think of that sooner? Because I’d convinced myself that what I wanted was the fur technique – no, that wasn’t going to be what makes me happy. The overall result of the piece, now THAT is what delights me!

Do you struggle with pieces that just don’t work?

It’s not abnormal at all! Most artists strive to do their best work; and sometimes something that appeals to us doesn’t click with others – and other times it clicks with other people, but we just aren’t satisfied!

When we dismiss an artist’s honest critique, we can stymie their growth by convincing them there’s nothing to improve. They might stop trying to learn perspective or improve shading consistency or a technique with their medium. “If everyone says it’s amazing, maybe I’m just being picky.”

But if you as an artist are not satisfied with what you created, it’s important to embrace the learning curve and grow from it. Figure out what you want to improve, and find a mentor, a tutorial, or a class that’ll help you conquer it!

***I’m not talking about those who are dealing with poor self esteem – this is about those who share that they’re learning and they’re hitting some tough spots they want to grow in. 

Give feedback to artists that encourage growth

Be sensitive to artists who post something and say there’s a thing or two they didn’t like. You may honestly not see what they were unhappy with – but that doesn’t mean bulldozing over their feelings of dissatisfaction is always the right thing to say.

It IS great to encourage – but some replies that help people grow:

  1. Affirm that it’s good that they shared something they’re struggling with.
  2. Thank them for the bravery it took to post something they weren’t super proud of.
  3. Tell them something specific you really DO like (a color selection, a particular element of the art, or how the piece made you feel).
  4. Let them know you’re learning from what they’re learning, too. We all grow when we all grow, right?

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

  1. Sketchbooks:
    • Bee Paper Mixed Media Sketchbook AMZBlick
    • Alvaro Castagnet Sketchbook (not available publicly, purchased from the artist)
  2. Artist tape 3/4″ 
  3. Brushes:
  4. Watercolors:

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How to draw a realistic strawberry

How to draw a realistic strawberry

Have you ever wanted to know how to draw a realistic strawberry….in a few mediums? They’re a really interesting fruit – and technically the fruit is those little things we think of as seeds on the outside…each of those contains a seed—and can be planted! Who knew?

Well from the berries on Tuesday to blueberries yesterday and strawberries today….I think I just had a fruity week! If I draw a lot of fruit will I lose weight just by doing that? Please say yes! So much easier than a diet….

Tutorial: How to draw a realistic strawberry

This video starts with almost 11 minutes on a complex speed drawing of a strawberry – worth a watch even if not creating that one because it’ll help you understand the basics of a strawberry.

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Draw a realistic strawberry

In alcohol markers, layering is the key to trying to nail down the color you want in a drawing. The alcohol ink is transparent, so you can shift the hues by which pens you choose! Depending on the photo reference you choose to work from, you may find warm and cool reds, pinks, and oranges, so look carefully to create beautiful color shifts. Use deeper shadows are inside the “pockets” for the achenes (the seeds (fruits) outside the berry).

Realistic strawberries in 3 mediums

I created these little berries on watercolor paper – yes alcohol markers can be used on it, even if challenging! It even helped it to remain a little rougher/looser! Colors used:

  1. Olo markers: R0.3, R0.4, R0.5, R0.6, R1.7, YG8.3, YG8.5
  2. Albrecht Durer Watercolor Markers Pale Geranium Lake, Leaf Green, Dark Phthalo Green
  3. Daniel Smith Watercolor Anthraquinoid Scarlet, Permanent Alizarin Crimson,. Sap Green

What’s your favorite fruit?

Incorporate a strawberry in your next project – even if not a big element you might find these techniques kind of fun! Or see if you can sketch your own favorite in a loose way, small, or create a large detailed version and really get to know it! 

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

  1. LARGE BERRY, ALCOHOL MARKER:
    1. Olo markers 
    2. Olo marker hex chart 
    3. Marker sketchbook 
  2. White Signo Uni-ball Gel Pen:  AMZ  BLICK 
    1. SMALL BERRIES:
      1. Small sketchbook was bought from artist Alvaro Castagnet, contains Arches rough and several other papers. Not available online.
    2. ALCOHOL MARKER:
      1. Olo markers 
    3. WATER-BASED MARKER:
      1. Faber Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Markers  Blick • AMZ 
      2. TWSBI Eco Fountain Pen M
      3. Platinum Carbon Fountain Pen Ink
    4. WATERCOLOR:
      1. Anthraquinoid Scarlet
      2. Permanent Alizarin Crimson
      3. Sap Green
      4. Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Sable Round 4 

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How to mix colors with alcohol markers

How to mix colors with alcohol markers

Have you ever wanted to learn how to mix colors with alcohol markers? We’ll do that not by putting drops of different inks in the bottle – but by what you draw! You can use Olo markers, Copics, Sketchmarker – these tips will work with any brand of alcohol markers you have.

And a bonus: if you learn to mix colors, you don’t need to BUY all the colors! You may have what you need to create a color on your own. How cool is that?!

Thank you!

Big thanks to the folks at Olo for sending me these markers to work with. A few months ago they’d sent me a small group of pens to see if I liked them, and once I did but was left qwith questions about the color selection – a whole set came my way! Thanks to my friend Lori for coordinating this effort so I could produce a hex chart for you all to use!

Tutorial: How to mix colors with alcohol markers

This is one of my longer videos; you can jump from one section to another – just look for the segments in the progress bar at the bottom. However – even if not interested in Olo markers, you might learn something about other markers along the way, too!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Complementary color mixing

Complements (opposite colors on the color wheel) can do two things for a hue: dull them, or darken them. Sometimes both! Which means they work great for shadows. If your collection of markers – or the brand you’re using – doesn’t contain the colors you need, try a complement underneath the main hue! Keep it light at first – generally it should be about a midtone, but depending on the color that’s on top, adjust as needed. (ie yellows may need a lighter color.)

Analagous color mixing

Don’t have the right green (or any color)? Mix one by glazing other colors on top of it. Usually analagous colors work best to shift the hue of a color as was done here. But sometimes others can warm or cool a color to give you just what you need.

In case you’d like to try some berries or holly leaves…here’s the photo:

And the Olo marker colors I used are as follows – find hues similar that you’ve got in your collection!

Olo Hex Chart

Need a chart for your Olos, or know someone who does? Just tap on the photo below and go get one and color it on up!

What’s your toughest color to match?

Does your marker collection have all the colors you want in it, or do you have to mix up your own colors too? Copics may have a wider color selection but I still find some things that need some mixing. Give me your suggestions in the comments, maybe sometime I can make a video with that color mix!

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

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Swatching Daniel Smith Gouache (22 colors)

Swatching Daniel Smith Gouache (22 colors)

The last thing I figured I’d be doing right now is swatching Daniel Smith Gouache – all 22 colors. Or any other brand of gouache! 

I had misconceptions about the medium that, at least at first glance, seem to be very wrong. I’m just at the beginning of this crazy journey though, so stick with me while I learn!

The good folks at Daniel Smith gouache sent me these paints for swatching and painting with – I almost think as a dare. Or encouragement? I’m not totally sure. They do know me well enough to know I’ll try most things, but with my misconceptions about gouache, I’d have said no if they told me ahead of time a box was coming. I didn’t know gouache was so much like watercolor – that you can re-wet and re-activate it. I knew you couldn’t do that with acrylic, so it’s already been a great learning curve!

Tutorial: Paletting and Swatching Daniel Smith Gouache

In this video I’ll be putting together an airtight palette of paints, then swatching the 22 Daniel Smith Gouache colors.

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Airtight Gouache Palette

Once I began researching, I realized the palette was going to be much more important for gouache than for watercolor. With regular watercolor you can just squeeze paint on a plate – doesn’t matter if it dries, it’ll be fine when you re-wet it.

Gouache will re-wet as well – but it changes consistency some when that happens. The “sweet spot” for mixing gouache is just wet enough to move, but thick enough to remain opaque. When pigment is re-wet from a dried puddle of color, it’s harder to get it thick again. From what I read, different brands handle this differently.

I watched a great video by a gal who tested a bunch of airtight palettes. This is the one she came away with as the best to keep paint fresh longest. The one she had was under a different brand name, but that one wasn’t available at the time I shopped, so I picked up this Joybest palette. (I think a lot of companies use the same one and just brand it with their name.)

KEEP THE LID ON IT! I’ve already found it’s best to put a blob of colors to use on the tile and close it up.

Swatching Daniel Smith Gouache

Swatching to see the color isn’t necessary for gouache; the colors in the pan and on the paper are the same. But it’s still a good exercise to do to practice getting that “correct” mix. I tried opaque, semi opaque, then transparent like watercolor – and most of the time I got it right. Ha! Painting with these is much better practice but this is a great exercise for a new gouache artist.

Gouache buzzard card!

Yesterday was the first of my “Friday Fun” card shorts – did you see it? Click here to watch! You can also catch up on the gouache paintings I’ve been posting this week on my Fine Art instagram account.

Is gouache on your want-to-try list?

Right now I’m new enough that I’m not sure I have much to offer for advice. Perhaps pick a warm and cool red yellow and blue plus a black and a white? You can mix them into a lot of other colors! Be prepared that you’ll use more pigment more quickly than when using watercolor – I’m trying not to panic about making it through 31 paintings in January! ha!

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

 

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