Friday, January 31, 2014

MONTHLY RECAP -- What I Have Been Up To

At the beginning of every year, I just try to regroup, and plan for the new year.  And, this January was no different.  I did get a few projects started and managed to take some pictures for my weekly photo challenge.

Got the okay for this sketch, which I will be painting in February . . .

Here is the reference photo I will be using.  She is so darling (the granddaughter of a dear friend of mine), so this portrait is going to be fun to paint

I also had a look at a painting of mine, which had sort of survived a fire in a house outside of Durango, but had a lot of smoke/soot damage.  A friend of mine, here in Durango, Libby Brown, restores paintings -- and called to tell me that one of the paintings she was asked to restore was mine.  She's going to try to restore it, but I think I may be re-painting it.  It was painted on Aquabord, and the clay surface came away from the board, so it may not be able to be restored.  She's going to attempt to clean it, as best she can, so that I can duplicate it.  More to come on that . . . 

Here are my photos for three different, weekly themes in January:


Denver City Park at dusk

Outside the Denver Museum of Nature & Science



Next week's theme is LAYERS . . . 

See you in February!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Announcing My 1-Day Watercolor Workshop in Durango - "Painting Irises like Van Gogh"

I'm excited to be teaching another 1-day Watercolor Workshop in February --


(if Vincent had painted in watercolor . . . )

One-Day Workshop
at my home/studio in Durango

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
10 am to 4 pm


If you live in or near Durango, Colorado (or will be in the area), please join me for this workshop!

We'll be emphasizing VARIATION -- in Hue, Value, Edges, and Shapes, and using the Secondary Color Triad -- Violet/ Green/ Orange.  

I'm offering just one, all-day session this year, so you'll have plenty of time to paint.  Obviously, we will have to use photographs as reference (which I will provide), but it will be fun to paint these beautiful flowers in the winter.  

All skill and experience levels are welcome.


Price:  $100. for the 1-day workshop
(includes snacks and beverages)

Special offer for my on-line Mentoring Course students -- Half Price for this workshop.


To reserve a spot in this year's workshop, or for more information, contact Pat @
via Facebook (Pat Howard or Painted Prism or Pat Howard Watercolors)

Hope to see some of you in February!

Monday, January 20, 2014

WATERCOLOR WORKSHOP: Negative Painting of Aspen Leaves

In this negative painting project, you'll be painting layers of transparent color to create depth and dimension.

You will be adding one layer of leaves and branches behind another layer.  Each layer of negative painting will take you further into the background, behind the first foreground leaves and branches.  

In negative painting, you do not paint the subject itself -- at least, not directly.  The positive shapes are drawn -- in stages.  You will paint the negative shapes, which are the shapes around, between, and behind the leaves, stems, and branches.


If you'd rather download a PDF of this Tutorial, for $6, click here.  


For this project, you'll need a piece of watercolor paper (about 7" x 9"), mounted on a board; a pencil for drawing; various sizes of round brushes (#2, #4, #6), and a flat brush for wetting your paper.  You'll start with a secondary triad of colors -- Sap Green, Quinacridone Gold, and Quinacridone Magenta.  And, you'll be adding some blue (French Ultramarine) later in the project.

1.  Begin your painting with a wet-in-wet underpainting.  Prep the 3 colors first on your palette -- bring each of the colors into the middle and add a little water to it.  Then, wet the entire paper with clear water.  Make sure that it is evenly wet.  Add the three colors to the paper, so that they mingle a little on the paper.  Add the magenta to the bottom left, the gold to the top and diagonally down the middle, and the green to the right side.  Let this settle for a few minutes, and then spatter those same three colors onto the underpainting.  Let this dry completely, while lying flat. . . 

2.  In pencil, draw a few skinny branches, with stems and heart-shaped aspen leaves attached.  This will be your foreground . . . 

3.  Paint the negative shapes with transparent color.  Use the same colors, but mix with a little more water, because you'll be painting the negative shapes, wet-on-dry.  And, use the underpainting color to guide you, as to what color to paint on top.  Paint a gold wash on top of the gold shapes . . . 

When you come to a shape that is two colors, like gold and green -- Start painting the gold, and then transition to the green. . . 

Then, finish painting the shape with the green wash. . . 

On some of the negative shapes, you'll start with the gold and then transition into the magenta wash . . . 

No need to go very dark with this layer -- it just needs to be a little darker value than the first layer.  And, stay transparent (by having enough water).  You want to alter the color below it, not totally cover it up.  This will be true for each subsequent layer.  Continue this way until all the negative shapes are painted with the appropriate washes of color . . . 

4.  Draw more skinny branches, stems, and leaves behind the 1st layer.  Start by drawing three meandering lines, to indicate branches.  Then add a few stems coming off the branches, and draw heart-shaped leaves at the end of the stems, underlapping the foreground shapes.

5.  Mix up two new colors, using the three colors that are in the middle of your palette now.  Mix the Sap Green + Quinacridone Gold, to get a warmer, darker green.  Mix the Quinacridone Magenta (or Permanent Magenta) + Quinacridone Gold to get an orange mixture.

6.  Paint the negative shapes with these two colors.  With the green wash, paint a transparent layer on the shapes that are already green, and on half the gold shapes. . . 

On those shapes that are part green and part magenta, start with one color and transition to the other.  . . 

Continue painting the negative shapes.  Paint the orange wash over the magenta shapes, as well as over the other half of the gold shapes.  

Continue in this way until all the negative shapes have been painted . . . 

7.  Draw some more branches, stems, and leaves.  Once again, I find it helpful to draw the skinny branches first, behind the existing ones.  Then, draw the stems in various places; and then, draw the leaves at the end of the stems.  Make sure to underlap these shapes, rather than try to squeeze the leaf shapes within the negative shapes.

8.  Mix two new "cooler" colors.  Clean off the middle of the palette.  Now mix two new colors, using the green and the magenta, but cooling them down a bit with a little blue.  Mix Sap Green + French Ultramarine, to get a cool green.  Mix Quinacridone Magenta + French Ultramarine, to get a red-violet.  

9.  Paint the negative shapes with these two colors.  Be sure to switch to a little brush, like a #2 round, to paint the smallest negative shapes.  You're not painting any detail at all, inside the leaves, but with each layer, the negative shapes will get smaller, so you need to adjust the size of the brush you use, accordingly.  

Use the red-violet mixture to paint half the negative shapes.  Paint the other half with the blue-green mixture.  Remember to paint only the NEGATIVE SHAPES around the leaves and branches, not the leaves themselves.  That's how you achieve the feeling of depth.

10.  Draw your last layer of branches, stems, and leaves.  If it's hard to see what you're drawing, you can use a colored pencil.

11.  Mix up a blue wash for the final layer.  Clean off the middle of your palette, and then mix up a wash of French Ultramarine.  

12.  Paint the negative shapes that you've just created, using this blue wash.  To finish this painting, this blue wash is painted over all the new negative shapes -- which darkens this last layer and creates even more depth in your painting.  Be sure to use a small round brush, that comes to a nice point, in order to better paint these little shapes.

If you'd rather print out this tutorial, you can download the pdf, for $6, by clicking here.  
That way, you will have one step and one image on each page, so it's easier to paint along with.


You can also get three tutorials, for $15, HERE.
The three Negative Painting Tutorials are:  1) Trees, 2) Aspen Leaves, & 3) Zinnia.

Friday, January 10, 2014

New Year's Resolutions for Artists

I resolve to have a more creative year!  How about you?  

Here are some things I would suggest adding to your resolutions for the year, to help you be more creative:

1)  Make time and space for your art this year.  Do something every day, and try not to leave your art until the end of the day -- too easy to make excuses not to do it.

Here's my space -- Nothing fancy and kind of cluttered and messy right now . . . okay, all the time.  But, lots of art has been created in this space.

I haven't always had a studio.  But, I have made space for my art -- on the kitchen table, my lap, in an extra bedroom, the basement (on top of the pool table), a barn, on the back porch, dining room table, TV tray -- you name it.  

2)  Keep a sketchbook.  Draw, write, and paint in it as much as possible.  Take it with you everywhere.  Start a new one each year, and try to fill it up before the end of the year.

Draw or write it in it first thing in the morning with your coffee.  Or, during lunch.  In fact, draw your lunch.  Check out this blog for ideas for your sketchbook.

3)  Experiment with new watercolor techniques.  Try not to be too concerned with the end result -- just enjoy trying out new things in your painting.  Or try using a different kind of paper.  If you usually paint on paper, try painting on Aquabord or watercolor canvas.  

4)  Treat yourself to a new "tool".  Buy yourself a sable brush for your birthday, or buy a set of Quinacridone paints right now, so you can use them all year.  

5)  Go and see some real art or artifacts.  Visit museums, galleries -- maybe a different museum every month.  Go to art openings; visit public art in your town.

We visited the Denver Museum of Nature & Science last month.

6)  Take more pictures.  Do the Photo Challenge every week, on this blog.  Post your pictures on Facebook, Pinterest, or Tumblr  -- or Instagram.  Make photo books (on a site like Shutterfly --  Just the act of taking photographs will help you in your art -- with composition, ideas, lighting, editing.  And you can use them as references for your drawings and paintings.  Buy yourself a camera, and learn how to use it.  I have a simple point-and-shoot Canon, and I love it!

7)  Mat and frame at least one piece of your art this year.  Give it to someone as a gift, hang it up in your own house, or sell it!

I hope you try at least one of these this year.  

Have a happy and creative New Year!