Lighthouse in Watercolor (World Watercolor Month, 24/31)

I found an artist on YouTube whose work I really love; his name is Peter Sheeler.   I couldn’t resist trying one of his lighthouse tutorials (This is 8 1/4″ x 5 1/2″ on Arches 300 lb. cold-press watercolor paper:


He works in pen and wash, which I also enjoy, but haven’t done for awhile, so I thought I’d stick with pencil and see what took place.    I did this one early in July and wasn’t thrilled with it, but since what I turned out yesterday wasn’t thrilling either, thought I’d post this one for something to share.   I hope you enjoy it!   And if you have any interest in line and wash or quick watercolor sketches, Peter’s channel is a great one to follow.

For my fellow art supply addicts, Blick Art Materials extended its Free Shipping on orders of $35 or more through this Monday at midnight Central time.    Remember, they do match all art supply house prices if you put a link to the competitor’s offer in the Delivery Instructions window at checkout.    I need to place an order myself!    World Watercolor Month has really helped me to use up my paints and papers.   🙂   (Note:   Purchases from this link helps to support my site and a fledgling art business.   Thanks so much!)   I hope you enjoy a relaxing, rejuvenating Sunday, and that you find buckets of peace and even a cool sea breeze.   Peace.

Partial Rabbit (#26): 100 Face Challenge

I found a nice closeup of a rabbit/hare head via a Google images search and had to try to capture it.   This is a simple ballpoint pen with a bit of Polychromos colored pencil on top.

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It kind of reminds me of the hares I’ve seen Rebecca over at RebeccaEvansCreate do so many times, but now the photo is gone and I can’t find any more info about him/her.   I just know he was cute and I had to try and draw him.    I was surprised how much I enjoyed working with the ballpoint pen!    A nice inexpensive art supply, I tried it due to a suggestion and related video from Alphonso Dunn (my ink hero).

Let’s all blow really hard and send that snowstorm out to sea.   Who’s with me?   Stay safe and warm, my friends.   ❤

100 Face Challenge: Less is More Experiment (#8)!

Recently, I decided to focus more on drawing animals, particularly in ink. In that process, I ran across the YouTube channel of an amazing artist named Alphonso Dunn.   He has a huge catalog of videos there, which he’s graciously produced and made available for free.   One that particularly caught my eye is titled “The Less is More Principle”.  Which led to this drawing.

010616Pen can be tricky, and as Alphonso teaches, it can be very useful to learn to be brief with your strokes, and capture the immediacy of the subject in that moment.   I wanted to capture the essence of this dog quickly, and I was happy with this effort.

Incidentally, Alphonso came out with his first book a few weeks ago.   He wanted to produce the kind of book he wanted when he was trying to teach himself how to draw in pen.    “Pen and Ink Drawing:   A Simple Guide” doesn’t disappoint.   He is passionate about teaching and about drawing, and he is one of the few artists I’ve come across who is really good at both.  He can boil difficult principles down to a paragraph or two.    (He has some wonderful videos on perspective, for example, that brought me closer to understanding this than anything I’ve come across.)

He is wonderful, and has such a gentle and gracious way about him, too.   By the way, he also works in pen and watercolor, graphite; he doesn’t limit himself to just ink.   I encourage you to check out his YouTube channel, and consider taking a look at his book (free preview on Amazon, here) to see if you might find it useful.   It’s already the #1 bestseller on Amazon in its category.   Congratulations, Alphonso, and well-deserved!

Happy Wednesday; we’re almost home free now!     I want to thank all of you for taking this journey with me.   Peace and creative wonderment to all.

Draw a Bird in December?

I couldn’t let December fly by without resurrecting Draw a Bird Day once again. I want to thank Kathy at Backyard Bird Nerd for a photo that just kept calling my name, and Ann at for a wonderful, emotive painting that just made me want to really try and capture a beautiful little wren!

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Wrens are such exuberant, lively singers, and they are so chippy and happy too. I fell in love with Ann’s recent wren painting, and wanted to try my own rendition with the same photo.   Ann gave me a great tip when I asked about her painting.   She sometimes uses colored pencil for the underdrawing, or to add depth to her work.   I really loved that idea, so I decided to try using watercolor pencil for the initial sketch.  Once I sketched in the wren, including the markings, and liquified the pigment, I let it dry before going back in with my Cotman travel watercolor palette.   Considering it was done with student-grade paint in my little mixed media art journal on my lap in front of the TV (vs. using good Arches paper meant especially for watercolor and sitting at a proper table with my full M. Graham palette), I was pretty happy with it. I have drawn many of Kathy’s lovely wren photos since, and I’ve even made some progress rendering bird feet since this painting was finished (which was kind of like my impossible dream, lol)!    I’m making the journey, people. 😀

I also wanted to share a few paragraphs from a book about drawing birds that I’ve mentioned before, “The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds” by John Muir Laws.   I have tremendous respect for this man, both as an artist and a teacher.   If you love birds as I do, and you’ve ever wanted to draw or paint them, let me assure you that you CAN do it.   It does take practice.   Just as you wouldn’t expect to sit down at the piano for the first time and play a symphony, you can’t expect to sit down and draw perfectly the first time either.   Drawing is such an amazing practice, much like meditation.    You will get back what you put into it, and I can tell you I’ve found rewards beyond anything I could have imagined when I started just over a year ago.

All my life I told myself I can’t draw because I don’t have “the gift”.   Well, often we believe what we tell ourselves, and in this case, I wasted over 45 years believing that!   I don’t want you to fall into the same trap.    Mr. Laws says it much better than I could here on page two of his wonderful book (please click the photo to enlarge):

I found this book at my local library, but if you have any interest in birds/making bird art, this may be one to purchase (or add to your Christmas list).    You may also want to check out the author’s blog and YouTube videos.    I promise you will be informed and entertained!    He is due to release a new book next month called “The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling”.   Based on my experience with this author, it’s sure to exceed my expectations.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.   Hub and I set up his homemade nativity scene in the front yard over the weekend, and I’m looking forward to doing a post on it soon.   Until then, peace and joy to all!

DIY Watercolor Journal

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I watched this YouTube video from artist Cathy Johnson a few weeks ago. It explains how to quickly make your own no-sew, inexpensive, yet high-quality watercolor journal using a sheet of watercolor paper (but you could use any paper you like). I finally had a chance to go ahead and make it yesterday.   This top image is the “cover” of my new journal, which will give me 32 pieces of 5 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ watercolor paper for my art journaling delight! Can’t beat it for the price of about $4/sheet at Blick (for Arches 140# cold-press).

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I did this ^^ painting in my store-bought art journal (which isn’t “real” watercolor paper) the night before last as kind of a warm-up to the top one.   I kind of think this one is better, with more empty space and no water-soluble crayons in the background.   A little cleaner, I guess.   Hub likes the busier one best.   Which do you like better?   Or maybe you prefer neither one.   hehe.

Looking forward to doing some plein air paintings this fall…..really gotta get my tree painting on. If anyone can recommend any books/videos on painting watercolor trees, they’d be most appreciated.

Eek!   I almost forgot Draw A Bird Day is tomorrow!    Better get flapping on that…..Happy Labor Day Monday, and peace to all.

Gradation studies

I was inspired by Lance Weisser’s recent post, which noted a YouTube video available from AWS watercolorist Stan Miller. Lance is one of the watercolorists here whose work I find very inspiring, so of course, I clicked over to the video he cited right away…..and found several others, all produced by the same artist. The first lesson can be found here.

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After watching almost all of these very inspirational, educational videos, delivered in Mr. Miller’s no nonsense style, one message I heard loud and clear is that, after a good drawing, value is everything in painting. Color is pretty immaterial; it’s really all about value. First: Is the drawing accurate? Second: Is the value correct (meaning does the lightness/darkness chosen match the reference)? If those two things are right, the painting should be a pretty good one, according to Mr. Miller.

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So, I decided to do a couple of gradation studies. As usual, I had very little time to put these together, but I was pretty happy with them. Are they perfect? Nope, but I’m on my way. By the way, his watercolor portraits are so amazing!! I’ve enjoyed doing portraits since January, but I have never tried them in any type of liquid medium (mainly colored pencil). Well, now that I understand how it’s done from watching Stan Miller’s demonstrations, I’m tempted to at least give it a go.

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Very excited about this! I really enjoy drawing portraits, but have not even considered attempting to paint one. Will be very curious to see where this leads.

I want to thank you, Lance, for sharing that post. That man knows how to teach! I am so impressed with his work and with his instruction!

Happy creative Sunday to all! Walk in peace and light.