Draw a Bird Day, August issue! (100 Face Challenge, #71)

I want to once again thank our friend Michael Emberson at A-Wing and A-Way for letting us know about the annual Draw A Bird Day celebration, which happens April 8 each year. We’ve been celebrating with bird art on the eighth of every month since!     I also want to thank Kathy at Backyard Bird Nerd for this tremendous bluebird reference image.    Kathy regularly shares amazing shots of birds, blooms, butterflies, you name it, even poetry on her blog here on WP.   Please check her site out, if you haven’t already.

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I grabbed a few quick minutes with a pen from the office (the Signo 207 by Uniball used to be water soluble, so have a try if you have one of the old ones, it’s great fun) and my Strathmore Visual Watercolor journal.   This journal is a great one to choose if you’ve always thought you’d like to try watercolor.   It is very inexpensive at $5.29, and you can pick up a really nice starter travel palette, which includes a brush, 12 colors, and 3 mixing wells for under $15.    This is pretty much all you need to begin watercolor sketching, and this time of year is a perfect time to get started! (affiliate links)

FYI, Blick Art Materials is offering Free Shipping for all orders of $35 or more through 11:59 Pacific Time this Friday, August 12!

I’ll be posting a roundup with links to all of the artwork of everyone participating in August’s Draw a Bird Day celebration in about a week.    If you’d like your artwork to be included, please post a link to your work in the comments below.    Thanks so much, and have a wonderful week everyone.    Peace.

Grids on Grids with Golden Molding Paste (Acrylic August, 4/31)

Oh, I’m addicted to texture products! It took me awhile to understand what gel mediums do, what texture mediums do, and how the different paint formulations behave….I guess now that I understand, I want to keep experimenting!    If you’d like more information about this too, I can highly recommend Chris Cozen’s videos on Artists Network TV, as well as her books.   Also, Nancy Reyner has a terrific book called “Acrylic Revolution” that I believe Jill from Jill’s Art Journal told me about.  Jill, you nailed it; it’s a wonderful book, with lots of techniques and great illustrations too!   Chris and Nancy are both Golden working artists and educators, and they know their stuff.


This is another painting do-over.    It was a texture experiment gone wrong on a 5″ x 5″ Ampersand Gessobord and so I needed even more texture to wipe the slate clean, so to speak.   I spread a layer of Golden molding paste on the painting first.    This product dries opaque, leaving no show through from the painting underneath.     Next, I embedded a scrap of 1/2″ grid hardware cloth from Hub’s wood shop into the painting, lifted it up, and then turned it and impressed it again.   This gave me all of those great texture lines.

After it dried (several hours), I dripped some Dr. Ph Martin’s Bombay India ink in, sprayed it with water, and moved the painting around, allowing the ink to follow those grid lines, highlighting them.  Where the ink was a bit too strong or became soupy, I sopped it up (on paper towels I will save, thanks to Kerfe’s great inspiring post yesterday), and wound up refining with some Golden fluid acrylic paints.   I think I may have gone a bit too far with Quinacridone Burnt Orange, but I can always go back, add Titanium White, which is very opaque, and have another go with the colors.   Or I may leave it as is.   What do you think?

Blick’s Free Shipping offer for orders of $45 or more is extended through 11:59pm Pacific Time tomorrow, for anyone interested.   Purchases from these links support my site.   I hope we are all having fun with our art supplies.    For too long, I saved them and didn’t want to run out.   So I rarely used them.   Boy, that is just not part of my vocabulary anymore.    Art supplies are the jungle gym and the art world is a playground, and I am gonna enjoy it.    How about you?   I can smell the weekend!    Happy Thursday!  Peace.


Homemade Spray Ink in Golden Molding Paste (Acrylic August, 3/31)

The mad scientist is having lots of fun breathing new life into painting fails recently!   This is acrylic texture product, paint and ink on a 6 x 6″ piece of Gessobord by Ampersand:


This one started out as a painting fail from several months back that I almost wanted to remake as soon as it was posted.   I fished it out of the pile the other day and added some Golden Molding Paste to it to cover what was below, and then drew swirls into the paste with the back end of a paintbrush.   I really love the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India ink set I bought, but it is extremely strong.   I decided to make my own homemade spray ink by adding drops of it into mini mister bottles partially filled with water, and adjusting the mixture until I was happy with the strength of the spray coming out.

This turned out to be an extremely inexpensive way to make wonderfully vibrant spray ink!    And you can see how strong the colors are.   It also gives you the opportunity to mix up your own colors.    (I recently bought a box of 50 small spray bottles very inexpensively on Amazon (only 32 cents per bottle), and plan to make lots more little bottles of spray ink, as combining the colors and watching them mix on the painting was so much fun.)   This is not only inexpensive, but a fun and easy way to custom make a spray ink (in this case, multiple colors to play together) especially for your project.     I do feel this painting needs a stronger focal point, so I may add a blackbird or crow in the lower right corner.   Speaking of which, the August issue of Draw A Bird Day comes to your WordPress screens this Monday, August 8!    I hope you will help us make WordPress fly by posting your bird art then!    I will do a roundup mid-month with a link to everyone’s beautiful artwork.

Note to my fellow art supply addicts:   Blick Art Materials has extended Free Shipping on orders of $45 or more through this Friday, August 5!    Friends don’t let friends pay for shipping if they can avoid it.   😀   Purchases from these links help support my site.   Enjoy and thank you!

We made it to the halfway point of the work week!   Blessings to all for a wonderfully productive rest of the week!   Peace.

Geometric Abstract Watercolor, Take 200? (World Watercolor Month, 23/31)

Boy, I had quite a journey with this little painting the other night.    This is 5 x 5 3/4″ on Arches 140 lb. cold-press watercolor paper:


Sometimes the combination of listening to a good audiobook and painting a picture can be a wonderful escape from the news headlines that are becoming all-too-anxiety provoking for this HSP.    I got very lucky with a recent pick, “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” by Anne Bronte, which I was able to download from Hoopla for free in a couple of minutes.   (Gotta love the library system!)    I just love British literature with all of my heart, particularly the classics, and this one is really filling the bill for me right now.

The creepy setting and mysterious female main character we meet toward the beginning of the story bled into my painting a bit, I think.   (She is also an oil painter, which I didn’t know going in, and loving that aspect too.)   I’m also loving the narration, the characters, the creepy, wild setting, even the cover art on the audiobook.    But I’m thinking my paintings may start to darken a bit in the coming days.   (Then again, maybe not, I don’t know what happens after all, lol.)

I’m having lots of fun learning about M. Graham Ultramarine, Prussian and Phthalo blues and some Quinacridone Violet snuck into this one as well, I believe.    Working wet into wet is what I love most about watercolor.   I really like to just turn it loose and let it play, letting the colors find each other, join hands and dance.   There’s just nothing like it, for me.   Really enjoying working with a 1/2″ flat acrylics brush – I like the Princeton Umbria series, not sure if I have any sisters or brothers out there who are also fans.   It brings enough water to the page, but not nearly as much as my sable flats or even the Princeton Select brushes with longer bristles that I think of as more of a watercolor line.  (Note:   As a Blick Art Materials affiliate, purchases from these links help to support my site and a fledgling art business.   Enjoy Free Shipping on orders of $35 or more through midnight CST Monday 7/25, and thank you!)

I hope you find your happy place this weekend, and May Anne Bronte (or someone like her) and good ol’ Paint Puddles be with you!



Times Square (World Watercolor Month 9/31)

This one began as an abstract floral, and wound up morphing into one of my grid compositions.   It’s a mix of M. Graham watercolors and Golden fluid acrylics, plus gesso.  It is approximately 5 x 8″ on 300 lb. Arches cold-press watercolor paper:


Because it’s World Watercolor Month, I began with a background wash of M. Graham watercolor paint (azo yellow, quinacridone gold, bit of yellow ochre).   After it dried, I went back in with Golden fluid acrylics (they’re the consistency of heavy cream, and oh, so vibrant; my favorite of all of the Golden paint formulations) and Caran d’Ache neocolor crayons.     And then several layers later, we have this!    I never know where these abstracts are going to go, and I’ve learned that making a plan ahead of time isn’t the way for me to work.     I may sleep on this one and see if I need to lighten some areas, but I like where it’s headed so far.

Happy Saturday evening to all.   May your skies be sunny, your breezes be warm and comforting, and your palette be full and welcoming.   Peace.

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.

Jewel-tone Textured Patchwork in Acrylic

This is acrylic on an 8 x 10″ canvas.    I am feeling the need to go even larger, thanks to encouragement from Debi, Dawn, Jodi, Graham, and so many others. Thank you for your encouragement!   I am enjoying it. It’s hard to believe I started on 4 x 4″ squares.


Lately, I am enjoying combining acrylic texture products with a rich, dark underpainting to give me a good foundation and lots of depth from the start.    I started this one by combining Golden heavy gel with a bit of soft gel to produce a product with lots of body to it.    I laid it on the canvas with a palette knife, and cut random lines into the surface while it was still wet.   Once dry, I mixed a few drops of teal and turquoise india ink by Dr. Ph. Martin with (mainly) viridian acrylic heavy body paint by M. Graham and added that to the surface.   Once that dried, I was off to the races with primarily Golden fluid acrylics.

I want to give special mention to a product by Golden that helps me get nice, soft blends.   It’s called acrylic glazing liquid and I wouldn’t want to paint very long in acrylics without it.   I learned about it by watching Chris Cozen and other artists on Artist’s Network TV.    It not only adds several minutes of open time to the paint, it makes a slick, luscious surface for the brush to glide across with no drag at all.   It can also act as an eraser when you put something down and don’t like it.   You can put a couple drops on a soft rag (or on a paint brush) and work the surface to lift up the paint, providing you get to it within a few minutes or so, and it hasn’t had time to really set.   Really love it.   (Note:   As a Dick Blick affiliate, purchases from these links help to support my site.)

I am not sure I have enough light areas in this piece, so any feedback on that would be particularly helpful.   I always appreciate your comments and visits, and want to thank everyone for taking a look at my work.   I feel privileged to be a member of the WordPress art community.   You all are the best.

Happy Wednesday, and enjoy a lovely June day in your part of the world.   Fling joy like you mean it!   Peace.

An Abstract Claybord Experiment

My first experiment with Claybord……and I’m undecided at this point about this one.   This is a 5×7″ acrylic.   Vicki Hutchins reviewed it here, and I love everything Vicki does, so of course, I bought some too!


I’d love to know what you think about Claybord.   I love Aquabord and Gessobord, all created by Ampersand.    (Note:   I may receive a portion of your purchase from these links to help support my site.)   Not sure how I feel about this one, but I’d love to get your thoughts.    It is a very slick surface.    So I guess I expected a different result?    I don’t know.   Maybe I was having an off day with the brushes.

I’d also love to know what, if anything, you see in this painting.    It’s a pretty fun kind of mind trip for me, hearing everything I didn’t paint, lol.    For this one, I had something in my mind and I was painting abstractly, randomly (or so I thought).   Then I turned the painting to the side when I was ready to put my brush down, and there it was…..what was on my mind while painting.   Strange, huh?   *cue the Twilight Zone theme*

Happy Almost Friday, good people!    Peace and paint puddles to all.

Watercolor and Absorbent Acrylic Products

I thought I’d create a quick painting to show the difference between Golden’s absorbent ground (left side) and Golden’s light molding paste (right side).


The absorbent ground is much thinner and soupier and, therefore, smoother. What I like is that these products not only work with watercolor, they are easy to correct. Watercolor lifts right back to the light molding paste or absorbent ground (in this case, applied to the white canvas panel) very easily. Once the paint has dried, it still lifts easily with a damp paper towel or rag.

Artist and teacher Chris Cozen asserts in her videos on Artist’s Network TV that Golden’s absorbent ground can be used to “correct” watercolor paintings by placing the ground over a section of watercolor paper and painting over it. Has anyone tried this? (I had to try painting on the absorbent ground once I heard this.) I find them very similar in terms of absorbency and ability to easily lift back to white. The difference I’m seeing is the much more substantial body and moldability of the light molding paste.   I just love love love the look of the underlying texture of both products once the paint is added.    It jazzes the heck outta me.   And this was really easy to do.   Only took a few minutes.    The products are quite absorbent, and I needed several layers of paint to get this depth of color, but not much more than I’d need on high-quality watercolor paper.   (Note: As a Blick affiliate, I may receive a portion of your purchases generated from these links.)

I hope we are all dancing through this lovely June week! Hoping for more LARGE (well, 8×10″ is still large to me) acrylic paintings soonish! Really enjoying them. And tomorrow will be the June installment of Draw A Bird Day, for anyone interested in participating by posting some bird artwork!    *peep peep*   Peace.