Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Monday, January 31, 2011

WIP: Red Barn in Winter

9 x 12 Watercolor

Well, I meant to take photos all along and post a series of WIP's but got so engrossed with my little red barn that I forgot and just steamrolled right along!

I'd guess I'm a little better than halfway finished. This is a snow scene (you know I love snow) so most of the bottom half of the pic will remain white. It's not the kind of scene where there's snow piled everywhere... just enough left on the ground to keep it covered. There's still masking fluid on the windows and the edges of the barn roof. I'm working from a black and white photo (although the original photo ref is in color.. but it's in the computer) so I'm choosing my own colors.

This is a fun picture to paint. And the M. Graham paints are - sigh - fabulous.

Monday, January 24, 2011

For Jeanne - Fun with M. Graham watercolors

I posted recently about switching over to M. Graham watercolors (which, bless the folks at M. Graham, don't dry rock hard when left in my palette like most other watercolor paints do) and then posted a color chart I'd made with my new working colors. Various comments were left on my blog about the paints and the chart (thank you so much.... visits and comments are most welcome and appreciated) including one comment left by my dear friend, Jeanne, whom I've dubbed "CA". She's in California..... hence the nickname.

What she said was - and I quote - "Hurray you posted. Now post something you painted. lol"

Hmmm. Kind of ups the ante, doesn't it? Jeanne is acquainted with my unfortunate tendency to get sidetracked with all kinds of worthy distractions and then my painting time gets short shrift. But now she'd thrown down the gauntlet! My honor was at stake! (well, not really... but painting time was).

Thus motivated to push aside the excuses, distractions, delays and all other spoilers of art time, I jumped in and started painting. And loved it. I experimented with pen, ink & watercolor (something I've always loved the look of and meant to try out "sometime") by doing a couple of windows and brickwork; did the vase of roses in an uncharacteristically loose style; had fun with the thatched house, lemon pie and the Dove chocolate (and if you're thinking I bet she ate the chocolate the minute she finished painting it... you'd be right.... the paint wasn't even dry before the chocolate had disappeared).

Thanks Jeanne for the nudge... I needed it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Year, New Paints, New Color Chart!

After constant activity (cleaning, cooking & company) from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I'm finally starting to get back into the swing of things. I'm not exactly in a highly productive mode... but they say attitude follows action so I'm going to act like I'm bursting with energy and creative enthusiasm and see what happens. I'll let you know if it works ;-)

I've had a nagging issue with watercolor. I like to keep paint on my palette, ready for use at any time. Perhaps that comes from starting out in oils and being able to pick up a dab of color at will without having to squeeze paint from a tube. With watercolor, if you keep paint in your palette it dries out and eventually ends up looking like a dried cracked river bed. Then it takes quite a bit of water and working to get it back into usable form. Which is really hard on soft watercolor brushes... and I just get tired of teasing that brick hard color into a soft consistency.

Enter M. Graham Watercolors... my heroes! M. Graham watercolors are formulated with honey (yes, the same kind you eat) and because honey is a humectant... well.... let me give it to you in their words.....
we created a watercolor with exceptional amounts of pigment in an old fashioned binding medium of pure gum arabic and natural blackberry honey. The result is watercolor of extraordinary strength that is easily diluted for smooth, controlled washes and deeper "darks". Alive with strength and intensity, watercolor made with honey absorbs moisture from the air, preventing hardening on the palette or in the tube. http://www.mgraham.com/html/watercolor.asp

Notice that last phrase? The part about "preventing hardening on the palette or in the tube"? Yes! That's what I've been after!

I chose M. Graham after doing quite a bit of internet research because they are reasonably priced (I usually order from Blick) and got great reviews for quality and color. A couple of other manufacturers also make a non-drying watercolor paint, but based on what I read, M.Graham is second to none in quality and is priced much more competitively.

So I ordered about a dozen colors, bought a new palette (an airtight Mijello - which I love) and had fun filling some of the 24 wells with color. I then made a new color chart using almost M. Graham paints exclusively (except a couple of colors that I forgot to order).

I've done some experimenting, and after letting the paint sit in the palette for almost two weeks when I went back to it, I dipped a moistened brush into the paint... and... heaven! ... the paint sprang to moist, luscious life with one touch!

Most satisfying :-)

A good way to start a new year. Now, I'm off to do some painting :-)
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