Friday, May 17, 2019

Deserted Dune, Orleans MA, part one

We seem to be locked into a pattern of perpetual gray skies and rain... today's antidote to dull weather is to pull out some photos of a Cape Cod beach on a sunny morning. These photos are from early April 2017, and the painting combines elements of two photos -- one showing a weathered, split-rail fence along the edge of a parking area at the First Encounter Beach, in Orleans. For compositional interest, the fence photo is flipped so that, in the painting, it runs in an opposite diagonal to the sloping dune. The second photo of a sloping dune with grasses and scrubby brush casting shadows, will need some creative additions -- perhaps a weathered Adirondack chair or a small section of broken-down fence. The painting is done in a limited palette: Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, Mineral Violet, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, Sepia, and Shadow Green. Only two brushes are needed so far  -- both pointed rounds -- #8 and #14; later I'll use a 1/4" flat for the fence details and a #4 rigger for the dune grasses. The paper is Saunders Waterford 200 lb., cold press -- heavy enough to stand up to watery washes and requiring tape only on the corners.

Reference photos

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Frognerparken Rose, part two

After letting a bit of time pass, I returned to the pink rose painting began last week. (See the start of this project at Frognerparken Rose, Part One by clicking HERE.) The largest portion of work had already been done, so this stage only requires enhancing the background -- by adding depth to the foliage at the bottom and the blossom.
Scrubbing out some leaf shapes with a Liquitex brand, size 2 angled brush (designed for acrylic and oil painting) which has fairly stiff bristles -- easily lifted the non-staining watercolors without damaging the surface of the paper. A thin wash of Yellow Ochre brightens a few of the leaf shapes, and several darker lines and shapes, in a mixture of Shadow Green and French Ultramarine, adds interest.
The shadows on the petals are glazed with washes of a mix of Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, and Permanent Rose. The intense color at the center areas of the blossom is deepened with a slightly darker glaze of Permanent Rose and Burnt Sienna. Although the petals at the very bottom of the flower show up white in the reference photo, they are glazed with a pale wash of Permanent Rose, and Yellow Ochre in the center lower petal, to avoid an unfinished look.

"Oslo Rose"  watercolor  12" x 9" unframed, $65.00
Purchase this painting via PayPal at my Daily Paintworks gallery (Click HERE to go to the Gallery)

Memorial Day Parade

So pleased to learn that my watercolor painting, Memorial Day Parade, was juried into the upcoming show,  "Color My World," at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod. The exhibit opens on June 5 and runs through June 30 at the Center, 307 Old Main Street, South Yarmouth, MA 02664.  See the step-by-step process I followed to do this painting in an earlier post on this site (CLICK HERE TO VIEW) 

Memorial Day Parade  watercolor  20" x 16"

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Golden Iris

"Golden Iris"    22" x 15"  watercolor
Available for purchase at my Daily Paintworks gallery. 
Click HERE to go to my gallery. 

Yellow flowers pose a challenge: yellow pigments sometimes "misbehave" if combined with other colors. This painting shows how easy it is to end up with muddy or dull tones when adding shadows. Because they are complementary colors (e.g. opposites on the color wheel), purple/violet and yellow can make a useful gray when mixed together on a palette.

Early stage of painting
Reference photo
However, glazing a thin wash of purple/violet on top of a blossom that has dried in order to indicate a shadow results in brown tones, and not gray.
I began this painting by covering the entire 22" x 15" sheet of paper with a pale yellow wash of Winsor & Newton's New Gamboge. (All pigments used in this painting are Winsor & Newton Professional Artist Watercolors, with the exception of Shadow Green and Brilliant Orange which are both Holbein Artists' Watercolors). I'm providing links here to two useful online resources: Cheap Joe's Art Stuff and Jerry's Artarama. Both offer great prices and either low-cost or free shipping (depending on your order).
Process details:
After doing a simple outline sketch of the blossom, I dampened the area of the petals and added color, wet-in-wet. I used Winsor & Newton's Lemon Yellow, New Gamboge, and Transparent Yellow, allowing the three colors to mingle on the damp paper. When dry, I began adding Holbein's Brilliant Orange and Winsor & Newton's Cadmium-Free Orange, accenting the ruffled edges of the blossom. After these layers dried, I added several thin washes of Mineral Violet combined on the palette with a small amount of French Ultramarine Blue, allowing each wash to dry before laying down another. I also used Burnt Sienna to deepen the shadows in several places, notably on the front portion of the left-hand petal, and on the central, upper areas of the blossom.
The center portions of the blossom where the petals come together at its core, and the stamens, were painted in Transparent Orange, Cadmium-Free Orange and Brilliant Orange. Parts were then glazed with Burnt Sienna to further deepen these shadowed parts of the flower.
The leaves were done in stages, weaving with freehand painting, the different layers and sizes of leaves. I used multiple thin washes, in various combinations, of Winsor & Newton's Permanent Sap Green, Green Gold, Winsor Blue (GS), Hooker's Green, and Holbein's Shadow Green. Foliage shadows were added last, in pale washes of Mineral Violet. The iris buds and stems on the right were painted using the same colors as above.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Frognerparken Rose, part one

Step 1
While in Oslo last year on vacation, I took as many photos (surprise!) as I could without feeling distracted from our "in-the-moment" time in Norway. We went to Frogner Park (Frognerparken) several times, as it was only about a mile or so from where we were staying. Its location offered a nice walk through picturesque neighborhoods. Even though it was October, the weather was quite mild (usually between 55F and 60 F), so a lot of plants were still blooming. The roses were especially lovely, and today I decided to use one of these photos as a reference for a small painting.
Reference photo
My palette is a limited one: Permanent Rose, Cobalt Blue, Mineral Violet, and Yellow Ochre for the rose itself. And for the background: Permanent Green, French Ultramarine, Green Gold, Winsor Blue (GS), Shadow Green, and Sepia. To paint the blossom, I used my favorite #12 pointed round brush from the Robert Simmons "Expression" series, purchased from Jerry's have three of these #12 brushes, and have just ordered two more).
I did a simple graphite sketch to begin, and then started with glazes of Permanent Rose and Mineral Violet in varying intensities. I put in the deepest tones first, and slowly added successively lighter glazes -- working from dark to light –– the reverse of how I normally do a blossom like this one. It seemed that this would be the best way to avoid a too-heavy application of color, in the shadow areas, during the final stage of the painting. 
Before beginning the background,  I erased all of the pencil lines and painted free-hand around the rose, relying on the dark tones of the background to give the blossom its shape and form. I used two different brushes –– a 3/4" flat brush from the Cheap Joe's "Golden Fleece" series (, a synthetic fiber brush that holds an edge well, and a pointed round #8 from the "Da Vinci Cosmotop Spin" series (available from 
I mixed a large puddle of rich color (not too much water) blending on my palette Shadow Green, Permanent Sap Green, French Ultramarine, and a small amount of Sepia. Applying this mix without  concern for coverage resulted in the effect I was looking for –– a suggestion of foliage shapes and varied tones, with a lighter patch of bluish-green in the upper left corner where there might reasonably be a patch of sky peeking through. As I worked toward the bottom of the painting, I added more Permanent Sap Green to the mix, along with some Green Gold. While the bottom section was still damp, I scrubbed in a line of Yellow Ochre for a flower stem, and made some additional lighter and darker marks on the right, again giving a suggestion of foliage without actually drawing in any leaf shapes.
Although I wanted to finish the painting in one sitting, I knew it would work to my advantage if it sat overnight. When I return, I'll have a fresh eye so I can perhaps see something I've missed during these initial stages of painting.
Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Painting a landscape, Part Two

After spending a day or so away from this project, I was able to tackle it with a fresh view. I wanted to eliminate the problem diagonal -- the line of gray-blue running from the bottom right of the painting to the left, where it connected with the curving path. You can see it here in the small image, or see a larger image at Step 3 in my post "Painting a landscape, Part One." The challenge was to fix the diagonal without scrubbing away a lot of what I'd already laid down. In my experience, 140-lb. paper does not stand up well to a lot of scrubbing, as it destroys the surface.

I added some mid-range and darker greens in the mid-portion of the painting, and extended that greenery to the left and slightly downward so it almost touches the curved walkway. I left a bit of white along the top edges of this green area to emphasize a separation from plantings farther back.

With Mineral Violet and Winsor Violet, I added more washes to the flower area at the left in back of the greenery, and also along the walkway. I let the colors mingle because I knew that this would help this section of the painting recede in the viewer's eye. Along the back of the garden, I suggested a fence with a series of posts and connecting wire. Using Sepia, with a #3 pointed round brush, I added branch details in the three areas of Burnt Sienna to suggest large, flowering shrubs.

I decided against painting in some brick-work on the walkway. This unnecessary detail would have been distracting, and wouldn't have improved the composition. Instead, I dampened the curved path and covered it with a pale, slightly uneven wash of Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet. While this was damp, I used Sepia and the #3 pointed round brush to suggest separations between the pavers. At first, the green lawn at the left seemed too bland and uninteresting, and I considered adding a small evergreen at the left. But I decided it would be more effective to leave the smooth lawn as a contrast to the busy, overgrown garden. With a wash of Mineral Violet, I added shadows to the lawn at the back of the plot and in front at the lower left of the painting.

Now the distracting diagonal is gone, variation of color and shape in flowers and foliage suggests movement, and the fence adds interest and anchors the scene. Finis.

"Gardenscape #1"
 watercolor   14" x 10.5"   SOLD

Friday, April 19, 2019

Two Paintings Juried into the "Bay State Open" Show

I'm really pleased to learn that two of my newest watercolors "Garden Royalty" and "Daffodil Waltz" will be included in the upcoming Cape Cod Art Center Show "Bay State Open" which runs from Tuesday, May 14 through Sunday, June 16 at the Center. The Cape Cod Art Center is located at 3480 Route 6A, in Barnstable, MA. Click HERE for more information, e.g. hours, directions, etc.

"Daffodil Waltz" watercolor  17" x 17"
matted & framed

"Garden Royalty"   watercolor  17.5" x 21.5"
matted & framed

Painting a landscape, Part One

I've started an 8-week independent study watercolor class, offered at New England School of Fine Art (NEFSA) in Worcester, MA. Our class is a group of approximately twenty artists working in various mediums. Many are watercolorists, and a few of us have been in classes together in the past. I continue to attempt to "loosen up" my approach to painting in watercolor. So the goal in my first three-hour class was to attempt a freehand landscape, relying only on my ability to render accurately with a paintbrush –– and no pencilled-in guidelines.
My reference photo is one I took at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA, several summers ago. While I don't intend to replicate the scene exactly, I hope to evoke a sense of the place as I use this photo (and several others taken at the same time) as a basis for my landscape exercise.
Reference photo

Step 1 (above) My paper is a quarter-sheet of 140-lb. Kilimanjaro Original White, from Cheap Joe's (my go-to source for art supplies). I prefer 300 lb. paper, but I have a few more sheets of 140-lb. to use up and this seemed like a good opportunity. I began by covering the upper half with a pale, thin wash of Pthalo Blue, using a 2" Robert Simmons Skyflow brush, and after this dried I added shapes of green for the foliage (trees and low bushes, a suggestion of garden plantings, etc.) For these shapes, I used diluted washes of Green Gold, Undersea Green,  Yellow Ochre, Shadow Green, and a very pale wash of Pthalo Blue (which can be too intense if used straight from the tube).

Rinsing my brush (a #12 pointed round) with each color change, I allowed the first splotches and puddles of colors to mingle on the paper. This produced some pleasing blends and soft edges (e.g. in the small clump of almost-white shrubs at far left). I dabbed in Burnt Sienna as a basis for some deeper-tone flowers, and then applied a thin wash of Green Gold and Pthalo Blue for the green lawn on the left. While this area was still damp, I added a bit of Shadow Green to the edge of the grass. I saved adding color to the distant curving path for later; the photo shows it as paving stone but I may change it to the type of brick-work on the path in the photo's foreground.

Step 2 (right) I built up details slowly, trying always to keep it loose. Using a mixture of Shadow Green and Sepia for the deepest green colors, I indicating shaded parts of the trees, and just barely suggested tree trunks and a few branches with almost straight Sepia. Using darker, almost full-strength pigment for smaller details on the trees adds depth; cool, blue-ish green helps the distant foliage recede into the background. I began to paint the curving walkway by applying a thin wash of grey, made from mixing Sepia and French Ultramarine and lots of water.

Step 3 (left) Although this third image looks as if I added more color to the sky, I didn't -- I just photographed this one in a sunnier room!) I added more detail in the distant trees and mountains, using deeper mixes of Pthalo Blue, Shadow Green, and a bit of Permanent Sap Green. This  background section is now approaching the strength I am hoping for, so I will probably not do anything else to it.

I continued to add shadows in the trees on the right, a few leafy details to the tree on the left, and more color variation in the largest evergreen in the middle. Alternating applications of pale washes of Mineral Violet, Burnt Sienna, and Pthalo Blue, I suggested banks of flowers –– again softening  the edges by allowing the wet washes to mingle. In the foreground, I used stronger washes of those same three colors, and when these dried I added some leafy Green Gold and Permanent Sap Green details to suggest clumps of flowers. Mineral Violet combines beautifully with French Ultramarine and a wash of this along the garden edge of the path suggests a bit of a cast shadow.

Jo Ellen Reinhardt, our instructor (and founder of NESFA) suggested I look closely at what might be a problem area: a too-obvious diagonal that draws the viewer's eye from the lower right of the painting, to the left where it connects with the curving pathway. The task now is to find a solution.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Silent Auction, Friday May 10 at "Art in the City 2019"

My original watercolor painting, "Celebration," will be featured in the upcoming silent auction at "Art in the City 2019" to benefit the Family Health Center in Worcester, MA. This will be the fourth year I've donated to the auction –– six paintings in all –– and I feel honored and privileged to be included in a large group of community artists and artisans. We all want to help meet the goal to support delivery of high-quality, comprehensive health, dental, vision, and social services for low-income and uninsured patients at the Family Health Center of Worcester, the Family Health Center - Southbridge, and the Lois B. Green Breast Health Center
Mark your calendar now for "Art in the City 2019" on Friday, May 10, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the beautiful and historic Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St. Worcester MA, 01608. 
Individual tickets can be purchased via the Mechanics Hall website. Click HERE for access to the Mechanics Hall ticket site for "Art in the City 2019."
Sponsorship-level tickets are also available. They can be obtained by contacting the Family Health Center Development Office. Click HERE for sponsorship ticket information/prices for "Art in the City 2019."

Saturday, April 6, 2019


There are times when I just want to grab a brush and paint -- I might have an idea for a subject or I might need to search for a bit of inspiration. Today, I was admiring the peony paintings of several watercolorists I know, but I also felt daunted by the attention to detail they gave to this subject. My solution was to approach peonies in a different way -- totally freehand. These were quick watercolor sketches, but they were fun to do and also were the perfect, colorful antidote to the grey and drizzly weather we've had lately. All are available for purchase at my online gallery at Daily Paintworks. Click HERE to go to the gallery.

"High Noon Peony" transparent watercolor  6.5" x 4.5"

"Peony by Night" transparent watercolor  6.5" x 4.5" SOLD

"In the Cool of the Evening" transparent watercolor  6.5" x 4.5"

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

On the line

"Wash Day"
transparent watercolor  6.5" x 5"
Click HERE to purchase via PayPal at my Daily Paintworks gallery

Clotheslines used to be commonplace in almost everyone's yard, but not any longer. In our neighborhood, there are fewer than four (obvious) clotheslines in use (some people may have one of those retractable lines that they roll out only when needed...).

My grandmother washed everything, including sheets and towels, by hand and hung her laundry to dry in the back yard. I can recall the dismay I felt when asked to help my mother clothes-pin dozens of my younger siblings' recently washed cloth diapers to the line –– and then later having to un-pin and fold them...

And although it may seem like drudgery as you face a pile of wash to hang on the line, it's difficult to argue against the picturesque quality of laundry flapping in a fresh breeze...!


Monday, April 1, 2019

Memories of Italy

When I travel, I like to take a lot of photographs, which occasionally gets in the way of being able to enjoy myself. Nonetheless, when I went to Italy in 2015 with a high school friend I was glad that I brought my camera! Our time there was unforgettable, especially since we were staying on the Ligurian Coast in the "off" season when there were relatively few tourists. This region, known for its seafood and its many small villages clinging to the edge of rocky cliffs or dotting the steep, inland hillsides, is incomparably picturesque. If I ever find myself at a loss for a subject to paint, I just pull out a few of the pictures I took while in Italy. Today, I completed this watercolor sketch, after getting a little inspiration from my reference photos taken while traveling in the Cinque Terre.
"Cinque Terre Path"
transparent watercolor   6.5" x 5"
Click HERE to purchase via PayPal at my Daily Paintworks gallery

Camogli, Italy
View from a cable car in Rapallo, Italy