Friday, February 24, 2012


Painted a few wet-in-wet underpaintings, for my faces.


Taught a one-day Watercolor Landscape Workshop at my home, on Wednesday --

Eleven ladies were here for the morning session, when we painted this landscape with tree in the foreground.

Five women joined me for the evening session, and we painted this sunset landscape together.

We never quite got around to the last landscape I had planned. 
I guess that one will have to wait for another day --

Thursday, February 23, 2012

WINSLOW HOMER -- (Random Thoughts for Thursday)

"The Sun will not rise, or set, without my notice and thanks."
                                                                          -- Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer quote, written on Pat Howard demo painting

Happy Birthday (tomorrow) to Winslow Homer (1836-1910), one of the great American artists, and considered the father of the American Watercolor Movement.

A self-taught Boston illustrator, Homer worked for "Harper's Weekly" during the Civil War.  The watercolors came rather late in his 50-year art career.  For over 30 years, his winters were devoted to oil painting, while summers were for outdoor life, and executing hundreds of watercolors.

When asked by a biographer to evaluate his own work, Homer replied, "You will see; in the future, I will live by my watercolors".

Fresh Air, 1878. Watercolor with opaque white highlights over charcoal on paper.  Signed and dated lower right: Winslow Homer/1878 (Dick S. Ramsay Fund)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY -- My 10 Favorite Sketchbook Pages

Ten of my favorite pages from some of the sketchbooks I've kept over the years -- the oldest one in this list is from 1994. 

 In no particular order . . .

Monday, February 20, 2012

MONDAY MANDALA -- My Funny Valentine

At our Surprise Yourself  Creativity Retreat, 16 women collaborated on 12 different mandalas -- one for every month of the year.  Each mandala had a song theme and used different media.  The mandala for February was "My Funny Valentine", done in watercolor. 

Eight different artists worked on this one:  Connie Voss, Maggie Sauer, Kris Ryall, Pat Howard, Leslie Hawkins, Debbie Wyckoff, Barbara Bond, and Linda Greenberg.

Some of these women had never painted in watercolor before -- I thought they did a fabulous job!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


The faces I drew this week, as part of my face-a-day project.  Clockwise from top left, HRH Prince of Wales, Brand New Shirt, Meet Julie, Spartacus, The Drop Earring, Pete Coors, and Marie de Sevigne.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

BEHIND THE SCENES SATURDAY -- Photo Reference Collages for Watercolor Paintings

"Love, Durango-Style"
Using my photos, I make collages (left) -- not as finished art pieces -- but to use as reference tools for my watercolor paintings (right).
"Farmer's Market in Durango"
I suppose I could do this on Photoshop, but I really like the process of cutting out parts of different photos, spreading them all out and moving them around, on the floor or table.

"Sunflowers at the Market"

"Saturday Morning at the Market"
"Flowers or Veggies?  Beets Me!"
This way, I can try out different color combinations and arrangements/compositions, before I glue it all together.  Then, I get started on my drawing and painting.  This all takes awhile, but it's enjoyable and well worth it.    

Friday, February 17, 2012


This week, I finished a portrait commission,

"Shirley's Girls"


I also submitted one of my paintings for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge --

This race will begin in Durango this year, so I thought I would submit this painting that I had done for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.  I changed it just a bit, "erasing" the Iron Horse logo from the back of the one guy's jersey.  If they decide to use this painting for a poster, I'll have to pick up the actual painting from Sorrel Sky Gallery, unframe it, and actually change the painting -- not easy to do with a watercolor (but still possible!)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

HAPPY ACCIDENTS (Random Thoughts for Thursday)

When painting in watercolor,
 never say "Oops!" --
always say "Aaaah . . . interesting!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WEDNESDAY WORKSHOP -- Stretching Paper

Unless the paper you select to paint on is 300-lb. weight or heavier, it will need to be stretched.  There are two reasons why this is necessary:
1 - To achieve a flat, tight surface and prevent the paper from buckling during the painting process, which causes the washes to puddle in the valleys.
2 - To break up the sizing on the surface of the paper.  This sizing inhibits the initial washes from locking in the paper fibers.

There are several ways to stretch your paper, but I will describe and show the staple method, which I consider the fastest, easiest, and most effective.  With this method, I use 140-lb, cold press watercolor paper, soaked and then stapled onto Gatorboard.

First, tear or cut your paper to the size you want.  Have a piece of Gatorboard ready, that is a little bigger than your paper.  Gatorboard is the best painting support I have found.  It is lightweight and waterproof, and is available through most art supply stores and catalog companies.  It's similar to the foamboard that framers use, but it is waterproof.  Staples attach easily and can be removed easily when the painting is finished, and it can be used over and over again.

Soak your paper in a sink or tub, large enough to accommodate the paper.  You don't need to soak it very long -- just make sure both sides of the paper are completely wet.

Then, drain off most of the water.

While it is still very wet, lay the paper onto the Gatorboard.  Position the paper squarely on the board, and gently smooth it out with the back of your hand.  (You don't actually stretch the paper.)  I'm often asked which side of the paper is the "right" side for painting.  I have found that it doesn't really matter.  I just grab a piece of paper, stretch it, and start painting.

While the paper is still wet, staple it to the board around all 4 sides.  Start stapling at the middle of an edge, and place staples about 2" apart.

Then, place your paper/board in a horizontal position, to let it dry completely.  I try to stretch my paper at the end of the day, so it's dry by the next morning.  (You can speed up the drying time with a hair dryer, if you need to.)

As it dries, it will buckle, but don't worry -- you didn't do it wrong.  When the paper is absolutely dry, it will be as flat as the board and ready to paint on.

Do make sure the stretched paper is completely dry before beginning your drawing or painting.  If the paper feels even slightly cold or damp, give it some more time.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TOP TEN TUESDAY -- My Ten Favorite Watercolor Pigments

My Ten Favorite Transparent Watercolor Pigments

1 -- Quinacridone Gold -- I love this color!  Beautifully transparent and brilliant -- glazes nicely.  You've gotta have this color if you paint sunflowers!

2 -- Quinacridone Burnt Orange --  This has replaced Burnt Sienna on my palette.  A "magic" color -- mixes fine with all colors and glazes very well.

3 -- Quinacridone Magenta --  Another "magic" color!  Mixes well with other colors.  I use it for mixing darks and for doing value paintings.  It can easily be pushed to blue violet with French Ultramarine.

4 -- Quinacridone Coral --  I'm very fond of all the quinacridone colors!  I use this one a lot in my portraits -- it's great for skin colors.

5 -- Cobalt Blue --  A good, all-purpose transparent blue -- except for darks.  But, it is great as a glaze, and used as a cool for skin color, and for a green when mixed with aureolin yellow.

6 -- Phthalo Blue -- A beautiful staining and transparent color.  Makes wonderful darks and pretty greens, but easy to over-do -- it can overwhelm a mixture.

7 -- Aureolin Yellow -- Transparent cool yellow (sounds like an oxymoron) -- makes nice variety of greens when mixed with different blues.  

8 -- Quinacridone Rose -- Necessary for portraits, as well as flowers -- also glazes beautifully.

9 -- French Ultramarine Blue --  A good, warm blue.  Mixes nicely with magenta and/or rose for violets, but can also be mixed with aureolin and/or quin gold for greens.

10 -- (Tie) Raw Sienna -- Good for glazing, to set back something in space or to cut the intensity of a color.  Cadmium Red  -- Great for a pop of color, or when painting poppies or cherries!  Not good for mixing, with anything except other cadmium colors.

I have other paints on my palette, which I use, of course -- but these are my favorites!

Monday, February 13, 2012

MONDAY MANDALA -- The Color Wheel

A mandala is a circular pattern that has existed in nature and in many different cultures since the beginning of time.  Each Monday, I will be painting and posting a new mandala.

In this "Color Wheel", I was trying out each of the 24 different transparent pigments on my palette.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sunday Collage of my Face-A-Day Project

These are the faces that I drew, from the first week in February.  This is my yearlong project -- a continuous contour line in ink, of a face a day, for a year.  I started in May of 2011, so I have a few months to go.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Watercolor Demonstration of a Floral Bouquet

For an Open Studios event at Sorrel Sky Gallery in Durango, Colorado.

I started with a quick color sketch of the bouquet, in my sketchbook.  Often, I like these quick sketches better than the finished paintings.

On the stretched watercolor paper, I did a wet-in-wet underpainting.  When that was dry, I began to paint the flowers, working my way from shape to shape.
Every now and then, I would turn the bouquet, to get another perspective -- not worrying about painting it exactly as it was.

Then, I did a little negative painting, added some darks, and signed it.

It's fun to paint in an un-planned way occasionally, and in this case, I was happy with the result.