Mama Said, Mama Said (World Watercolor Month 15/31)

That song is stuck in my head from working at this, really trying to make this painting “become” what it wants to be.    The lines of communication just weren’t there, and I couldn’t hear what it was trying to tell me.   All I could hear is that song “Mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this, mama said….”  This is 5 x 8″ 300# Arches cold-press.   The good news is, this has turned from a watercolor painting (yeah, it’s underneath, somewhere) to an acrylic painting, and with acrylics, it is never over.   Amen, brother Ben, and please pass the sauce!


Every painting is a journey. Some journeys never get there, and we just have to turn the page, and know that the sun will rise tomorrow!

What I learned:

1. I truly love Quinacridone Burnt Orange.
2. I love texture products. OK, I already knew that.
3. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Note:   As a Blick Art Materials affiliate, purchases from this link helps to support my site, and a fledgling art business.  Enjoy, and many thanks.

This weekend, I’ll be posting my round-up from the fabulous bird art we saw on July 8, when we last celebrated Draw A Bird Day.   Peace and happy WEEKEND to all!

Golden Yellow Dog (World Watercolor Month 13/31)

This one started out as an abstract silhouette of a dog, in a similar fashion to the cat I painted yesterday. But as I started dropping in color to the damp paper, I was getting shading kind of similar to the reference image I was using….


so I wound up going a bit more realistic than planned.   This is watercolor on 8 1/4″ x 5 1/2″ Arches 140 lb. cold-press watercolor paper.   I definitely changed the color from the reference, but not way.   Considering that I love drawing animals realistically, but have almost no experience painting them, it turned out ok, and the fur texture sure worked out better than I could have hoped. However, looking at the work of Rebecca Evans and others here on WP who paint animals so convincingly, let’s say I’m not where I need to be, but I’m making the journey. Do check out Rebecca’s blog, she will inspire and impress you with horses, hares, and everything furry and hairy under the sun in almost every medium there is! An extremely talented artist, and a good woman, to boot!

I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of my #2 round Isabey sable brush, which definitely helped me get my furry on.  It was pretty much a matter of flicking here and there in the direction the fur was growing on damp (not wet) paper.   Using M. Graham’s wonderful Nickel Quinacridone Gold paint seemed to help a lot too; just the nature of the pigment gave me a hand up.    Which I needed!     Not sure I’ll be trying any more realistic animals in watercolor soon, but this turned out better than I could have expected with a semi-realistic animal painting, for sure.   Boy, lots of practice with watercolor this month!    I hope you’ll join us; it’s never too late to pick up a watercolor brush and fling paint (and joy) to the moon!   Peace.


Fiber Paste by Golden (More from the Mad Scientist for World Watercolor Month #7/31)

There are several samples included in Golden’s A to Z box that can turn most any surface into one that absorbs watercolor paint. I experimented with a texture product called fiber paste, and it was lots of fun!   This is a product that looks like handmade paper when you apply it to a surface.   How textured the surface becomes depends upon how thickly you lay it down and what kinds of textures you add to it.

0707 before

I started with a palette knife on a 5 x 7″ piece of Claybord that I was looking to cover up, because the painting didn’t turn out so great.   I applied the fiber paste thinly in some areas and a little more thickly in others so that I could make swirls and patterns in the surface.   (You have lots of working time with this product, because it takes several hours to dry thoroughly.)    After it fully dried, I went right in with my watercolor paint.   I didn’t need to dampen the surface first, because it is very forgiving, and easy to soften off the leading edge (if desired) as you paint.   I found colors very easy to lift when the paint was wet also – all the way back to the white of the surface.  Once the paint dries overnight, though, it acts more like watercolor paper in that you can lift color a bit if you work hard at it, but those fibers hold on to the pigment pretty tightly, and the color is less likely to move on you.

0707 afterI was pretty happy with this for a first attempt, and really looking forward to playing with this product more!      I love the handmade look of it, and with the added bonus of being able to create textures, skins, etc. – you can even mix in acrylic paint or ink to colorize the surface before you even pickup a brush!   So……lots of exploration ahead with this one.    This product is available in jars sized 8 oz. and up, and as a sample size in the Golden acrylic A to Z set.    (Note:   As a Blick Art Materials affiliate, purchases from these links will help to support my site.   Enjoy and thank you!)

I’m really enjoying experimenting with different products, surfaces, paints…….feels like a playground.   I hope you’re enjoying the ride!   July’s edition of Draw A Bird Day is tomorrow, in case you’d like to post your bird art for my roundup later.   Peace to all.

Getting ready for World Watercolor Month in July! (100 Face Challenge #65)

You don’t need expensive materials and supplies to join us next month for World Watercolor Month. I learned last night that a pen from the office can be turned into watercolor!    First, I need to thank Kathy for another wonderful reference image.   Birds, blooms, butterflies… name it, Kathy’s got it over at Backyard Bird Nerd.   You have got to check her site out if you haven’t already.   I sketched this in my 8 x 5 1/2″ Strathmore Visual Watercolor journal:


I was inspired by Charlie at Doodlewash, who recently painted a female cardinal and it was just lovely.    It made me want to try a bird painting, as I’ve not done one in awhile.   I always think of Kathy’s site immediately when I’m looking for a backyard bird, as her images are so crisp, and her birds have personality!    Love it!    So I typed “female cardinal” into Kathy’s search box, and poof!    Loads of posts with the bird I wanted to sketch!   I sketched her with one of the pens I use in the office, a Uniball 207 by Signo.    Touched it with a damp, small watercolor brush and there you have it, a quick watercolor painting.   Uniball still makes these pens, but they are going to a waterproof ink for many of them now, it seems, as I searched Staples for links for you.

The good news though is for a couple dollars more, you can pick up a compact, introductory watercolor palette that will go with you anywhere and includes a brush!   The Sketcher’s box from Winsor and Newton’s Cotman line goes for under $15 at Blick, which in my opinion is one of the best art supply deals going.   This is my favorite “every day” palette, as it has a very small (roughly 5 x 2.5″) footprint, you can mix colors in the three mixing wells in the flip-up lid, and 12 half-pans of color are included.    I started with this palette almost two years ago, and haven’t run out of a color yet!    So for $20, you can have a brush, a palette, paint and a watercolor journal, which is everything you need to join in the fun next month!   (Note:   As a Blick affiliate, purchases from these links help to support my site.)

If you’ve always wanted to paint in watercolor, I hope you’ll join us next month!    It’ll be lots of fun, and it’s a great introduction to the lovely playground of art!     I’ll have more ideas for the watercolor beginner this week.    Thanks as always for stopping by and joining in the conversation.   Peace and a productive, creative week to all!


Claybord + Micaceous Iron Oxide + spray bottle

The mad scientist strikes again!    This time, with Claybord and acrylic paint (including one specialty product called micaceous iron oxide), and a spray bottle of water.   I’ve enjoyed the surfaces I’ve tried so far by Ampersand, but Claybord and I had not made friends yet.   During today’s experiment, though, I discovered something about this surface that may change that.   This is a 5×7″ piece of Claybord.


This painting was supposed to be something else entirely, but when I got the background down and sprayed it a bit with a water bottle, I started to get some interesting effects that I liked, and so I kept tweaking it.   In the process, I found out that if you spray this surface with water and wait a few seconds, then come back over it lightly with a bit of paper towel, it will lift most of the paint under each of the water droplets.   Which is where some of the cool effects came from (although I wound up covering most of them – will leave them next time, I think).

Claybord is a very slick surface.   After applying a couple of layers of paint, spraying and playing, I added some Golden micaceous iron oxide to the surface.   (As a Blick affiliate, purchases from these links will help to support my site.)  You’ll see it toward the bottom of the painting.   This is a texture product that will gray down anything you mix it with, and add a fine, gritty texture in the process (like very fine sandpaper once it dries).   At that point, it becomes a drawable surface as well, and apparently, a ground for pastels too.   I found it interesting to spray this product lightly and watch layers appear, almost like mountains were coming into my painting without me doing much of anything.   I liked!   Do I have a lot to learn?   Sure.  I have a lot to learn about everything.   But it was fun, and after watching Chris Cozen demonstrate this on Artist’s Network TV, I’ll be trying it again soon.

I’d love to know what you think about micaceous iron oxide and Claybord.    Lately, I’m having almost as much fun spraying paintings with my water bottle as I am painting!    Peace and Happy Sunday to all.

Clear Tar Gel and Watercolor (from the mad scientist)

Another experiment from the mad scientist studio of Create Art Every Day. This was my first try playing with an acrylic texture product by Golden called clear tar gel, and I thought it might be cool to add watercolor paint.

061916The acrylic gel acts as a resist to watercolor paint, and in this case, kept the different pigments from blending with each other and making mud.    It drips from the jar in strings like honey.   It goes on white, so it’s easily seen, then after several hours, it dries clear, masking the surface beneath it.   I started with white 140 lb. watercolor paper in this case, dripped the tar gel on in a random pattern of squiggles, let it dry overnight, and then added watercolor the next day.  While preparing this post, I came across this blog post, which has lots of ideas for using clear tar gel too.

If you work with acrylics, you can mix acrylic paint with clear tar gel to produce a colored gel as well.   I think a copper or bronze metallic would look really cool, and that’ll probably be my next experiment with this product.  Some artists use the colored gel to add texture to a finished painting.   If you’ve used clear tar gel, I’d love to hear what you enjoy doing with it.   I see lots of possibilities, but have only just begun to explore this medium!    (Note:  As a Blick affiliate, purchases from this link help to support my site.)

I hope this inspires you as we prepare for World Watercolor Month in July!    Happy Father’s Day to all of the wonderful men who make this world a better place by being amazing dads.   I’m off to the kitchen to make gluten free crab cakes for Hub for later.    Peace and happy painting to all!

Adjust and correct watercolor paintings

I finally opened the shipment of watercolor paper I ordered back in April. (Oh, the lusciousness!)  And tried the 300# Arches cold press paper. (I may be in love.)


But, as happens when I don’t approach Lady Watercolor in a joyful, bouncy mood…..she quickly stomped on my dancing toes. But wait, I can rinse it under the sink! Yes, except those quinacridones I love so much are stainers. They don’t rinse. And a watercolor fail was soon born.   Enter Golden acrylics in Zinc White.

Zinc White is a NON-opaque acrylic white.    If you mix it with a touch of the color you’re trying to cover up/correct/blend, you can scrub it in over your dry watercolor painting, and it fades into the mist, as though you never made a correction at all.    And no white flags waving!   I should have taken a before and after photo.   I realize this painting may not inspire anyone to try this method.   But you should have seen it before.   Having given up on the watercolor, and not wanting to throw the paper away, I thought it would be fun to try painting in acrylic on watercolor paper.   (I loved it, by the way.)    So I went in with several hard swipes of magenta and quin violet acrylic, thinking I’d try one of my abstract grid paintings.    I was able to cover all of those lines, and swirl them right into the watercolor clouds I painted.   Without big honking white splotches in the middle of my sky.

As I said, this painting won’t be framed, but for me, it was an invaluable experiment in using acrylic non-opaque white to cover and correct a watercolor painting.   I’ve tried gouache; I’m not a fan.   Maybe you are, and if so, I’m glad it works for you.   What I like about this is the white can fade completely into the background, yet still cover up your hard edge, your bloom, whatever you’d like it to cover.   The more white you add, the white makes itself more obvious.   But if you like, you need see no white at all, just your beautiful clouds or whatever it is you’re painting.   That, to me, is a small miracle.    If you’re interested, this is the product I used, which is in Golden’s Open line (meaning the product stays workable on your palette for hours, even days, without drying up).   (As a Blick affiliate, purchases from this link will help to support my site.)

Getting ready for July’s World Watercolor Month, as initiated by our friend Charlie at Doodlewash!    I hope this sets someone free out there.    Enjoy your weekend, especially all the dads!   Peace.

Chasing Confetti: A Black Gesso Experiment

Every time I watch one of Chris Cozen’s videos on Artist’s Network TV, it’s not long before paint starts splashing over here.


I took the abstract Claybord experiment (elephant) painting from Friday, added a high-low application of black gesso, and used some of the lines created by the gesso to bring structure to my piece. I still don’t think this painting knows what it wants to be, and that’s ok for now. One thing I do know for sure is that I will be doing more paintings over black gesso in the near future. So much depth from the start, which is great!  The challenge, for me, becomes how to bring in the light while retaining that depth.  When I figure that out, I think I’ll be really jazzed with this technique.   (Note:   Purchases from this link help support my site.)

Happy June Sunday to all! I hope you either make something beautiful or make someone feel beautiful today. Peace.

A Friend for Life (in Between): 100 Face Challenge #63!

Ever since drawing one of Kathy’s blue jays in ink for June’s installment of Draw a Bird Day, I’ve been drawing more than painting. Pointy implements, please!    I couldn’t resist a recent photo of Jodi’s dog Charlie at Life in Between over breakfast….and by dinnertime, I was off to try this photo from last September as well.   I dare you to resist these gorgeous images of a soulfully beautiful animal!   I enjoy drawing animals, dogs in particular, very much.   Their whole life and all of their love sits in their eyes, and what could attract an artist more than that?!


Hub and I love baseball, but it’s not always the most action-packed event on TV.   So I’m sharing last night’s “fun in the sketchbook while watching TV” with you this morning. This was done with a 4B pencil in a sketchbook recommended to me by Kirk at Dumb Sketch Daily.    It’s called a Universal Sketchbook and it’s made by Canson.   And I LOVE it! Why? It’s 100 sheets (so, 200 pages) long (longer than most), it’s inexpensive (currently $4.50 at Blick for the 8 1/2″ x 5″ size, perfect for drawing in my lap, as I love to do), lightweight, and it works well for pencil, ink, colored pencil, conte or charcoal, even light watercolor washes (as shown here).

I think what I love the most about this book is that it’s so inexpensive that I’m not afraid to “waste” it.    I will try subjects that are way too big for me.   I’m not afraid to make an ugly drawing or waste the beautiful paper or mess up the lovely book I bought.   You know?    Yet, it’s an inviting surface that works well for most mediums, so I often surprise myself by how the sketches turn out.   Jill of Jill’s Art Journal encouraged me to keep a daily art journal last year, and that tip led to daily drawing nearly every day since last May.   You would only need 2-3 of these little books to take you all the way through the year (I often use the backs of the pages too), and it’s a nice little companion that travels well.    It’s spiral-bound, with perforated pages.  What’s not to love?   I wouldn’t have even attempted a foreshortened pose like this last May.   Now, it’s a fun challenge.   Perfect result?   Heck no, but I’m steadily improving with a daily practice.

Drawing is a really inexpensive pastime.   And it’s a fun way to record snapshots of your life.    Date each entry, and watch your skills improve.    You will be blown away by this practice!    The only other thing you need (IMO) is a kneadable eraser.     It felt funny to use at first, and way too much like something artists use (and I was much too timid to call myself an artist), but you will be glad you got it.    These things cost less than a dollar.    And to start, just use any #2 pencil you have lying around your house!   So, for under $7, what have you got to lose?    People tell me I’m talented.   I can assure you, I’m not.   But I practice.   I practice almost daily.   And it makes a HUGE difference, as you’ll see with each page turned.    (Note:   your purchases from these links help to support my site.)

If you try this, please let me know how you’re doing with it!     If there is anything I can help you with, I will.   Since having a child over 25 years ago, nothing has changed my life more than a regular art practice.   It will heal and transform you in ways you can’t expect – all wonderful!   I shall jump off my soapbox now, but I just had to get this out there!   Jodi, thank you for sharing your photos of your lovely Charlie.

Peace and a happy, creatively wonderful weekend to all!