Watercolor a Crashing Ocean Wave | Seascape

Watercolor a Crashing Ocean Wave | Seascape

No sketch. No masking fluid. No gouache.

My happy place!

I know that probably qualifies me as “insane,” right? I think I could count on one hand the artists in my near-sphere who actually enjoy negative painting. Plenty out in the pro world, but…not much in mine.

But I’m ok with that. Because this painting brought me inner joy that’s off the charts.

With paper at a 30degree angle, pale wash with a Cascade/Transparent Red Oxide mix.
Adding more straight Cascade and letting it flow, still with paper at an angle.

Video: Watercolor a Crashing Ocean Wave | Seascape

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!

Needle brush having a dance party
Taping off the sky
Painting the distant water, negatively around the wave
Color playtime with Cascade/TRO mixes
A little brownish glaze….
Enjoying the small details

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My vision for Landscape Foundations

It’s been a while since I added any new Landscape Foundations courses…I had planned on one a year! But the last one showed up in 2021….yikes. Time flies!

My vision was to create a series that focused on one element of nature at a time – because when I was learning, I always picked a landscape that had a sky AND trees AND a river AND rocks AND…well, I didn’t know how to paint any of them, and my paintings were disjointed. I was struggling with each element AND how to make them all work together!

So I started with Trees I – a single tree. Five trees, actually, each course has five paintings with lovely techniques in each.

The second was Trees II – treescapes, learning how to get all the trees to work together. Another five paintings.

In 2021 I created Rocks and Ripples…. 5 paintings of rocks in creeks and rivers. Because I love painting rocks, but figured no one would take a whole class on JUST rocks. Ha!

And that brings us to the new class…

Watercolor Seascapes!

I wrestled and wrestled with the best way to teach big waves, which is what everyone wanted to learn. Yes, the big splashes are fun but…I spent literally days looking for references of other types of water so I could get a progression in the course. Learning the basics of water movement and reflection all the way up to different waves crashing. And different colorways so that when folks took their own seascape photos, they’d have some idea where to begin since there are different colors and techniques!

Interested in the critique group?

The thing I like so much about this idea is getting likeminded artists together who are working on something similar. These four classes of course are different, but the painting is at the same level, and the commitment to growth is pretty high at this stage too. And I hope that as we meet over the course of a number of weeks, then students will also feel like they’re in a class with the group. Not just flying solo with videos.

I don’t know how this will go or whether people will or won’t even want to join in. But I won’t know if I don’t try!

If it does go well I’ll create other groups periodically, in different mediums, groups of courses, etc. So be sure to subscribe to the newsletter to be sure you don’t miss out! I’ll be creating a survey in the next couple months so people could weigh in on what they’d like to see. No promises, but I hope to get some feedback!

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. Arches Cold Press sheets
  2. Daniel Smith Watercolors:
  3. Transparent Red Oxide 
  4. Cascade Green 
  5. Ultramarine Turquoise 
  6. Payne’s Blue Gray 
  7. Da Vinci Mottler 30 flat wash Blick | Amazon
  8. Da Vinci Series 17 Maestro Inlaid Needle, Size 9 Amazon
  9. Winsor Newton Kolinsky Sable Series 7 Round #8 Blick | Amazon 
  10. House of Hoffman Palette
  11. Artist tape 3/4″ 
  12. Incredible Art Board, Grafix 

Intuitive Abstract Watercolor | Artist Trading Cards

Intuitive Abstract Watercolor | Artist Trading Cards

Last week I hit both a deadline and a wall – on the same day….and ended up creating an intuitive abstract watercolor to get myself out of it.

As an independent artist, I set myself project deadlines, it’s all in my Google doc so I know what my tasks are, tracking completions and tasks, and planning for the future. And for World Watercolor Month, I wanted to release a few new classes. In the past I’ve had ONE class featured, but since my student base stretches from beginner to advanced, I wanted to have something for everyone – so they can all participate in the fundraising.

That was, of course, quadruple the workload I usually pile on myself! Which led to a couple necessary down-days, as I hit that wall. My body just screams UNCLE and gives out!

Tutorial: Intuitive Abstract Watercolor

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!

You would think I’d know better by now. That crash and burn has happened to me many times over the years. You might guess that I’m a type-A personality, and I push and push and push til I can’t push and collapse.

Unfortunately that affects my art, too. The collapse generally means I don’t want to sit in my workspace. I don’t even want to look at it. Laying on the couch, walking the dogs, and making food is about all I can deal with.

That has to come to an end at some point though, and sometimes it ends by just muscling my way into the studio and diving in head first. Other times, tippytoeing in with hopes of getting a sketchbook page out as a warmup.

This time, I had the added complication of needing to get the last ATCs (artist trading cards) finished so I could mail out the final envelopes in the Dot Card Fundraiser. (MANY THANKS to everyone who participated, they’re all gone!) I originally hadn’t planned on making 125 ATCs; I had about 50, but as I started packing more envelopes, I realized I wanted everyone to get an ATC treat inside, and busied myself making some. Often it was cutting up an old piece of art that had a few good rectangles in it….but at the end I opted to make the piece you’re seeing today.

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Intuitive Abstract Watercolor

Layering the hues for color as the base, and adding 3 different kinds of watercolor ground, I was able to create a large piece that could be broken easily into small and interesting rectangles. I paid attention to creating horizontal and vertical axes as well as some angled directional lines, letting the grounds be thick in some places, more washy in others.

A few tips:

  1. Look around your studio and your home to see what you can find to paint with that’s NOT your normal brush. Or if you have a brush you never use, try it out! Try a comb, a fork, a tool from the garage.
  2. Make marks you normally never make. You might discover some that you want to include in your representational work too.
  3. Layer from the background forward; if you want high contrast as I did, and you’re using black, be sure the lighter values go down first and dry completely before adding darks. If you want lighter on top, use grounds or acrylic or gouache on top, since you need more opacity.

What’s an Artist Trading Card?

I posted a deepdive last fall on ATCs – but basically it’s mini art pieces traded among artists. 2.5″ x 3.5″, stored in sleeves or page protectors. or framed, or whatever you’d like to do with them! As I sent out well over 100 of them, I do hope some folks decide to send one back, too. It wasn’t a requirement in the fundraiser but a girl can wish, right?

Have you tried abstract art?

Are you an artist who normally paints abstractly? What do you think about while making marks on your paper? Does painting this way make you feel a particular way?

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. ATC storage:
    1. Individual ATC sleeves
    2. 9-card page protectors
  2. Daniel Smith Watercolors
    1. Aussie Red Gold Blick | Amazon 
    2. Moonglow Blick | Amazon
  3. Daniel Smith Watercolor Grounds
    1. Mars Black Blick  | Amazon
    2. Pearlescent white Blick  | Amazon
    3. Iridescent gold Blick  | Amazon

Masking fluid comparison for watercolor

Masking fluid comparison for watercolor

So is there ANY art supply in which the super cheap brand seems to perform as well as the pricey one? Maybe, just maybe, I found one. Don’t quote me forever on this; I only just started using one of these brands of masking fluid, and I’ll let you know in time how it does!

Tutorial: Masking fluid comparison for watercolor

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!

The contenders

For years the fluid I’ve used is the Grumbacher. Something about having orange fluid appeals to me, so I can see where I’ve painted the fluid! The Daniel Smith has been in the studio for a long time too – but my art friend JUST told me the little baggie of “tips” in my drawer goes with the DS fluid – HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS? And third, I’ve seen the Pebeo online and it’s cheap – so I had to see what the difference might be.

The results

Simply said, they’re, pretty much all great in their own way. I didn’t see any whose lines lost their integrity, even the DS with its bubbles looked fine (It was my bad blooping at fault for any problems, not the fluid!) The DS is white though, hard to see on my paper.

The blue Pebeo is nice because it’s blue of course, and even nicer that it’s inexpensive! I wouldn’t have guessed it would do well. I don’t know how it’ll work when I use it in landscapes, as the blues and greens may hide it and I might forget a spot and leave the fluid on the paper, oops.

And the Grumbacher, my years-long fave, may get a leg up in time; if the blue Pebeo doesn’t work with blue and green paintings, it’s possible I’ll need to go with orange.

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Dot card fundraiser

Order yourself a dot card while supplies last – and while I still have ATCs, I’ll tuck one into the envelope. Yes this is happy mail! I plan to get them out as fast as I can in case you want to use them in July for World Watercolor Month.

World Watercolor Month is July

Be sure you’re following along for the WWCM fun coming up! Either subscribe to my newsletter, or the email list over at art-classes, or Youtube, or Instagram or Facebook…you get the idea. Whichever place you trust to get you the info you want when you want it! 🙂 I’ll be shouting from the rooftops all over. July 1, mark your calendar and make a plan to paint!

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

  • Masking fluids:
    1. Daniel Smith Masking Fluid w applicator tips  BlickAmazon 
    2. Grumbacher Miskit masking fluid Blick • Amazon 
    3. Pebeo drawing gum  BlickAmazon 
  • Brushes I used with my masking fluid are a “detail” set – however I found an even better one with mixed sizes!
    1. Plaid Color By Me brush set 

What’s the right way to hold a pencil?

What’s the right way to hold a pencil?

It’s time for real talk. I saw a meme online and can’t find it again.

Am I the only one whose feed loses the stuff that I want to see, and keeps sending the stuff I don’t???

The meme had 4 doodles of hands and each had a pencil – different ways to grip a pencil – and each one had labels.  What? There are names?? It was gone before I had time to stick it in my brain or screenshot it, so had to wait til I had a few minutes for research…..and thus I bring you…..NINE that I found.  Even more than the meme!

Video: What’s the right way to hold a pencil?

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!

I still don’t know…

….if there’s a rhyme or reason behind my pinking and ring finger moving around at will. If I find out, I’ll let you know! The question will likely haunt my upcoming art for the next month or two, won’t it…

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I made my own memes

This one is a carousel-style, and will live over in the Tiny Tutorials class – where all my carousels are collected. It’s got about 150 of them, addressing all kinds of topics and mediums. And in there I’ve also collected videos that apply to the same! Sign up today. 

Which grip is yours?

I also made my own one-image meme that, aside from some weird finger drawings, has the more complete info I wish I had been able to find in the other meme. ;0)

Am I the only one who varies?

Do you swap around your tool-holding techniques? Within one piece, or do you swap it out based on the tool? Inquiring minds want to know…

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

Comparison: 4 colored pencil papers

Comparison: 4 colored pencil papers

My adventure with colored pencils continues! In my previous post I said I was trying out some drawings with the new “set” of colors in my Colored Pencil Conversion Chart – not that it’s a set, but it’s a grouping that I can now use in teaching! Before I was always testing every time I made a new class, hoping to locate colors that would have a match in both Polychromos and Prismacolor. And now that’s settled – though it required making a real test with a real drawing that you can see here

 

That left me thinking about much more – like, have I ever tested the newer papers in the studio in a head-to-head test? Nope. I had done that with some papers years back, and drawn with what I have….but not in a side by side test. So I finally did – with lollipops! You can watch the magic in the video, and see the full scale drawings later in this post.

 

 

All the rawings on this page are made with Polychromos penccils. Papers left to right above: Strathmore bristol, Daler Rowney heavyweight, Legion Stonehenge, and Clairefintaine pastelmat

Tutorial: Comparison – 4 colored pencil papers

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!

Want to color lollipops?

While some will want to engage with the bird drawings on offer in this post – some might be at the stage of creating a realistic looking lollipop! Got you covered. You can get this PDF tutorial along with the image to print on your favorite paper.

Strathmore Bristol, vellum finish

Back in college I had used a bristol, though that one isn’t made any more. I knew crafters who swore by this Strathmore, and had gotten some to try it out. 

While it can have a good result, it’s….well, it’s hard to work with, in that it takes a lot of layers and demands blending solution! I love me some contrast, and this made me work for it. Perhaps if there was more time on the clock, more hours in the day, I might have been willing to sit with it longer, but it frustrated me. 

The drawing experience isn’t great either; resorting to heavy pressure just makes it difficult to want to use the paper for colored pencil. But for 45cents for a 9×12 sheet, you can’t ask much, can you?

Daler Rowney smooth heavyweight

Another inexpensive paper clocking in around 75cents a sheet, this one was the favorite of a wildlife illustrator. She dows lovely work, but also the patience of Job, I think! I did like the texture it created, but the time factor with so many layers was crazy. No blending solution here, just layer after layer, using complementary colors to create shadow hues.

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Legion Stonehenge drawing paper

Now we’re talking! This paper entered my life years ago and has been a go-to, and side by side with the others it was easy to see why….it’s quite soft and gathers up a lot of pigment on the paper! I prefer a paper that doesn’t make me use blending solutions, and there’s none used here. Again, complementary colors throughout – and a floofy bunch of feathers!

The one problemwith birds and this paper is that it’s tough to deal with adding white on top of other colors when the pencil has already been built up; it only gets to be a grey color. Because of that I added negative coloring for the darkest areas, adding shadows around feathers to let those determine the shapes of the lightest bits

Clairefontaine pastelmat

Made spevigivally for pastel, this paper also works quite nicely with colored pencil. It holds a lot of pigment like the Stonehenge,  but also allows enough layers that you can get a pretty decent (though still imperfect) white on top of other color.

If you have an area that needs to be white-white, leave the white of the paper OR make sure white is the first layer of color in that area. Thats what i did with the kinggfisher in my previous video–the white water, white highlights in the bird, and the white sky opening all went in as the base white.

Two drawbacks to pastelmat;

  1. the cost. At almost $4 a sheet in a 9×12 pad, it’s kinda crazy. You can try a single sheet for just over $5 if you want to see if you like it. (links at the end of this post0
  2. the white attracts dirt! whether dirt from the air, fingerprints, dust……..it all sticks to the paper. Develop tidy habits, cover your work overnight, and be  careful of any stray marks.

Two new classes

Both are level 4 classes; the drawings are traced so don’t worry about having to know enough about drawings to get the proportions right.

Nuthatch

This drawing is on white, and includes a lot about complementary colors blue and orange. Only five pencils made this entire drawing – it’s pretty amazing. 

Blue Tit

This yellow bird with a blue back (that you can’t see) is also level 4, and is on charcoal grey. It’s more forgiving as far as messiness1 and lots of fun to work with.

Closing thoughts 

I won’t be doing a 100% switch to pastelmat for colored pencil work, but if I hit the lottery i might, ha! Stonehenge still works well for me and gets nicely pigmented. 

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

Clairefontaine Pastelmat by the pad…no 2 is what I’ve been working with.

  1. Palette No 1 Maize, Buttercup, Dark Grey, Light Grey  BLICKAMZ 
  2. Palette No 2 Sienna,White, Brown, Charcoal Grey   BLICKAMZ 
  3. Palette No 4 Dark Blue, Light Blue, Wine, Sand  BLICKAMZ
  4. Palette No 5 Dark Green, Light Green, White, Dark Blue BLICKAMZ
  5. Palette No 7 BLICK

Clairefontaine Single color pads:

  1. Charcoal grey only Pad BLICK
  2. White only Pad BLICK

Clairefontaine Pastelmat by the sheet:

Charcoal grey Sheet BLICK (for Bluetit)

White Sheet BLICK (for Nuthatch)

Try this blending tool with colored pencils

Try this blending tool with colored pencils

Blending with colored pencils is a skill we can spend our artistic lives on  – and a small fortune on as well! Fortunately the tools to try aren’t expensive – like blending stumps, cotton balls, qtips, brushes, and even a very clean finger! (Be careful, oils from your finger can wreak havoc on your artwork.)

I hadn’t thought of trying the tool I want to show you today – but my cup of pastel tools was right there beside me just begging to be tried out. Since colored pencils and pastels are dry pigment, it was sure worth a try!

Tutorial: Try this blending tool with colored pencils

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!

Bokeh on dark vs light

Soft blends are what makes bohek work – and I think colored pencil is 2nd easiest to create it with (pastel being #1). The color if the paper makes a real difference in the techniques applied.  

When working on light paper, the ‘valleys’ , or low spots between peaks, are what causes the speckled look…the white paper shows through, and filling those spaces in with pigment in a variety of techniques can smooth that out. I happen to love that texture when I can get it to be evenly distributed!

It’s easier to make those spots less visible when the pigment color is close to the paper color, so on white, the lightest colors don’t need as much blending.

On dark paper, though, the valleys show up as dark spots in between the peaks of the paper. That means more pressure to apply more pigment is needed to increase the brightness as well as filling in those gaps.

If drawing a pale bokeh, a lighter paper would be more helpful; for primarily dark bokeh, select a darker paper.

Tips for bokeh

Layer colors atop each other as they touch, so that in thoe areas where they cross you’ll get 50% of each color, letting both trail off in the direction of the other color. From this experiment, I can say it doesn’t matter whether they’re analagous colors (adjacent on the color wheel) in colored pencil, since this technique works great. Other mediums are more likely going to be helped by using colors close to each other.

Make the bokeh dots different sizes, and watch the scale of them compared to the focal image. In this case, the dots needed to NOT be more important than the bird; the kingfisher is to be the star, so I had to watch my colors, values, and sizes so the bird remained most important. Study a lot of images on google to get an idea what the scale might be to go with your subject.

In a forest like this one, add trees that remain SOFT by surrounding any black lines with a light color so the trunk and breanches seem to feather out.

One of the last changes I made on this image was to turn some of the dots into partial hexagons, leaving some of the edges trailing off into each other to keep them looking like they were floating and mixing together. I squinted to make sure the backgound didn’t have areas that were as detailed as the bird and water.

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Kingfisher for sale….

If you’d like a kingfisher to display on your wall…

Get the conversion chart

Today’s project came about because of the conversion chart so go grab yourself one!

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