Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Tim at Breakfast -- portrait sketch

Step #1
I've been experimenting recently with watercolor sketches of portraits and figures using old photographs as references. Some of my subjects sat for these photos more than 100 years ago, although I've also found it enjoyable (and challenging) to work from more recent family pictures. Many of these were shot in B&W, so choosing a color palette that would reflect the mood of the original photo is always interesting.
Step #2
Reference photo
Today's portrait sketch is of my son, and I used a photo taken when he was about four years old. It is slightly out of focus, and the shadow contrast is quite pronounced. I recall that my son was acting moody that day, and it was this slightly dreamy moodiness that I hoped to capture in my watercolor portrait.
I began with a light pencil sketch, then added a wash of Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber. The eyes are done with Cobalt Blue and French Ultramarine. (Step #1) I added successive layers of wash, using a slightly darker tone to suggest shadows along the left side of the face. The mouth was emphasized with a pale wash of Quinacridone Scarlet  and the eyes received more details with Sepia and French Ultramarine. (Step #2) The hair is done with Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna, and the shirt details are Cobalt Blue. (Step #3)
Step #3
In the final version of this sketch (below) the pensive look on my sons's face is emphasized, and the contrast between figure and background, by combining French Ultramarine and Sepia along the left edge of the face. I used this same combination to add depth to other shadows as well. This entire sketch took about 30 minutes to complete.
"Tim at Breakfast"
watercolor   9" x 7" 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Watercolor Art Coffee Mugs

I've added a new option to my Daily Paintworks Gallery page:  a series of coffee mugs, each showing the image of one of my watercolor paintings. Mugs are dishwasher- and microwave-safe, and come in a standard, 11-ounce capacity (a 15-ounce mug is also available).
Six different designs...  Peony;  Sheep;  Sunflowers;  Rose;  Tulips;  Daffodils. Click HERE to order.



Thursday, August 1, 2019

Announcing two award winners...

Thrilled to have two winning watercolor paintings in the 2019 LightSpaceTime Online Gallery's 9th Annual “Botanicals” Art Competition. There were 678 entries submitted by artists from 28 different countries, as well as from 32 different states and the District of Columbia, to this year's "Botanicals" show.

"Garden Royalty II" (below, left) received sixth place among the top 10 best entries in the category "Overall Winning Artists." This part of the competition can be seen HERE.

And, my watercolor "Peony Awakening II" (below, right) was one of 40 paintings chosen for a "Special Merit Award" in this competition. Winners in this category can be seen HERE. 

Both paintings are available for purchase through 
The Creative Hands Gallery
812 Main St., Unit #2, Osterville, MA 02655
phone:  (774) 521-4304  
email:  CreativeHandsGallery(at)gmail(dot)com 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Cliff Walk...

After spending a few days in Newport, RI, I have been wanting to paint a few images captured on my phone. Yesterday's project was to lay down the cloudy sky in this small (12" x 9") painting of one of the mansions along the Cliff Walk.
My photo reference isn't the greatest, but I'm aiming mostly for atmosphere and "feel" of this water-edge setting, rather than to capture every windowsill, gable, and shrub.
Reference photo

French Ultramarine was my choice for the sky, with a little Sepia for the shadowy parts of the clouds. I added a wash of Cobalt Blue on the left to indicate where the sky was clearing.
The grass, shrubbery and trees are done with Green Gold, Undersea Green, and Shadow Green, plus some accents of Winsor Blue GS, Burnt Sienna, and French Ultramarine.

The finished painting, below, is available for purchase through my online gallery at Daily Paintworks, which can be accessed HERE
"Cliff Walk View, Newport RI"
transparent watercolor  12" x 9" unframed

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Peony Awakening

I recently spent a few morning hours taking photos at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA, and am excited about the results. A series of peonies provided me with some needed inspiration. I completed this painting, which is based on an image taken when the sun was at a bright slant.
"Peony Awakening II"
transparent watercolor  matted & framed  23" x 19" 
This painting is available as shown below, with a double-mat and gold wood frame, at the Creative Hands Gallery in Osterville, MA.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Juried into a Rhode Island Watercolor Society show

Pleased to announce that my painting "Christmas Day Dinner" was juried into the upcoming regional water media exhibit, "Tell-A-Tale" at the Rhode Island Watercolor Society.   The show runs from June 22 through August 19, 2019, at the RIWS, Slater Memorial Park, 831 Armistice Boulevard, Pawtucket, RI 02861.  Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

"Christmas Day Dinner"
transparent watercolor 15.5" x 13.5"

Sunday, May 26, 2019


Both of these paintings were done quickly, with little or no preliminary sketching. I've discovered that the results can be interesting if you plunge in without worrying too much about making "mistakes," or "wasting" paper, or whether the final image duplicates the original reference...
"Magnolia" watercolor  9" x 12"
"Pink Magnolias" watercolor  9" x 12"
The goal with these paintings was to emphasize shadow and form, rather than to execute an exact copy of my photos. Allowing the intense colors -- Winsor Blue (GS), Green Gold, Shadow Green, French Ultramarine, and Quinacridone Rose -- to blend on the paper minimized any need to add fussy details. Both paintings were done with one brush -- a #12 Pointed Round. The single white magnolia was done on 200-lb. Saunders Waterford Cold Press; the pink magnolias were done  on 140-lb. Kilimanjaro Bright White, Cold Press. Both paintings are available at the Creative Hands Gallery, 812 Paint St. #2, Osterville, MA. Phone: 774-521-4304.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


Not the first time I've painted these gorgeous blooms -- and surely not the last time, either. This painting is a creative combination of several digital photos taken in a number of locations -- including Amsterdam. My goal was to capture the foliage with its multiple colors and shadows, as well as the bright fuchsia blossoms, which were done with wet-into-wet applications of Permanent Rose, Mineral Violet, and Winsor Violet. The warmth of the sunny areas was emphasized with thin washes of Burnt Umber brushed on after the upper areas were completely dry. The depth of the shadows on the right sight of the painting was enhanced by washes of French Ultramarine mixed with a bit of Winsor Blue (GS). I used Sepia to give definition, and add contrast, to stems in the lower area of the painting.
"Rhododendron  Shadows" transparent watercolor  9" x 12"
This painting is available at the Creative Hands Gallery, 812 Main St. #2, Osterville, MA.

Some of my rhododendron reference photos...


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.