Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Family History Watercolors -- Lucy Jane (Lee) Benson (1828-1927)...

I have been working on a series of watercolor sketches, using a collection of family photos as my references. These photos go back to the mid-1860s. My third great-grandmother sat for this portrait in about 1865, along with her husband and four of her five surviving children. I thought it would be interesting to render these images in watercolor...   I'll post my progress in stages. My first step was to lightly outline in pencil the details of her face, hands, and dress in order to get the proportions as correct as possible. The palette is a limited one -- mostly Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Cobalt Blue, and Permanent Rose. My brushes are #4 and #6 pointed round, and the paper is #140 Lanaquarelle cold press.
Step #1 - Lucy Jane (Lee) Benson

Reference photo

Step #2 - Lucy Jane (Lee) Benson

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Workshop painting...

A watercolor workshop in Zoom format may seem like something to avoid -- but actually is a great way to remain engaged in the creative process during this time of social distancing and isolation -- an opportunity to be in contact (at least virtually) with other artists. I began a six-session intensive workshop yesterday at 9:30 a.m. It's offered through the Cape Cod Art Center in Barnstable, and it kept me literally on my feet for three hours.
Our instructor is well-known Cape Cod watercolor artist, Robert Mesrop, who offers a good combination of friendly, laid-back encouragement and helpful, real-time demonstration with excellent pointers. He generously gave all participants in the workshop the same reference photo to work from. (I "flipped" my copy of this photo horizontally so that the barn faced in the opposite direction from the original -- my contrary nature is always on alert...).

Here are some step-by-step photos of my working process... with the final painting at the bottom.

Step one. This photo was taken around 11:00 a.m., after I spent about 20 minutes on a drawing (I started over on a fresh sheet of paper after I dropped a brush loaded with Alizarin Crimson early in the first-wash process... grrrrrr...).

Step two. It was 11:51 a.m. when I snapped this image with my iPhone. At this point I had spent most of my time working on the background trees.

Step three. About 40 minutes later, I had added the foreground trees and "branchy" details in the foreground.

Step four.  After adding a few more foreground details and tweaking the barn colors," I signed the sketch. At this point it was almost 12:30 p.m. -- time to call it a day and call it a finished painting:

"New England Barn" 
transparent watercolor  14.25" x 10.25"

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Imaginary scenes...

 There is never a shortage of inspiration in the national news. The California fires that are currently raging provided an idea for how to complete a quick (previously uninteresting) watercolor sketch. This house is visible from my studio window... And although there are no fires anywhere nearby (thankfully), if there was a fire off in the distance it might look like this.

"Time to Leave"   7.5" x 5.5"

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Sailboats & Sunsets exhibit, Cape Cod Art Center

My painting, "Breeze off Cataumet, is part of the Juried Artist Member exhibit, now showing online at the Cape Cod Art Center, Barnstable, MA. I'm so pleased to be included in this impressive collection of summertime views...  Contact me via email if you are interested in purchasing this painting.

"Breeze Off Cataumet"

transparent watercolor     12" x 16"

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Benefit auction update...


"Blue Glass Vase"
transparent watercolor

My original watercolor donated to the "Bid Fore the Kids" auction at the 22nd annualgolf tournament benefitting the Worcester County CASA project, " was part of a three-item lot. It was grouped with a gift certificate to Rotman's Furniture in Worcester plus a matted and framed photograph by Ron Rosenstock. When the auction ended at midnight on August 3, 2020, the final bid for this three-item lot was $1,500.00. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

A bit of news about two paintings...

I enjoy sharing updates about my work -- never more than now, while we are all participating in social distancing, wearing masks, washing our hands, etc. Another of my watercolor paintings was chosen for inclusion in a permanent installation at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center's University Campus in Worcester. The original painting, "Gardenscape #1" was sold to a private collector last year. 

One-time reproduction rights for "Gardenscape #1" were granted to a Boston gallery that specializes in corporate art installations. Last year, L'Attitude Gallery also purchased similar rights to three of my watercolor landscapes which are also part of a permanent collection in an inpatient unit at UMass Memorial Medical Center on Lake Ave. North, in Worcester.


Also, I donated an original watercolor to the "Bid Fore the Kids" auction,  part of the 22nd annual golf tournament benefitting the Worcester County CASA project. As a CASA volunteer since early 2017, I know first-hand the positive difference this organization makes for so many children and youth and their families. My painting, "Blue Glass Vase," matted and framed, measures 18" x 22." and was sold here:





Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Paintings accepted into two national competitions...

My watercolor painting, "Garden Royalty," was juried into the 2020 National Watermedia Show that opens at the Rhode Island Watercolor Society in Pawtucket, RI on August 1. The exhibit runs through September 25.

"Garden Royalty"  transparent watercolor  19" x 23"
"Feeling Cheerful" was accepted into "The National," an annual open juried Show at the Cape Cod Art Center in Barnstable, MA. The exhibit, which is all online this year, runs through August 14.  Click HERE to see the show.

"Feeling Cheerful"  transparent watercolor   14.75" x 11.75"

Sunday, March 1, 2020

February Sunflowers II

I set this aside for a few days, and considered whether to add a dark background. Stark contrasts are often successful with bold-colored flowers so I decided to work the background in Indigo. Early stages yet, with only a portion of background filled in. It's interesting to evaluate how the upper portion of the top blossom "pops" where the petals are outlined in Indigo. As I have discovered with previous floral paintings, this often takes the image and kicks it up a notch...
I anticipate doing a second wash of Indigo over all sections, to add depth to the color, before the painting is completed.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

February sunflowers I

It's that time of year when seed catalogs start filling up the mailbox, and every time I go to the grocery store I'm tempted by the colorful array of cut flowers on offer. Today a bunch of sunflowers caught my eye and became the inspiration for this watercolor sketch-in-progress. Trying to keep it light and loose. I'm using a quarter-sheet of Fabriano Artistico #300 cold-press paper, a #6 Golden Fleece rigger from Cheap Joe's. Stay tuned for updates (and the finished painting).

"February Sunflowers, detail"

Monday, February 17, 2020

News about "Art in the City" 2020

Since 2013, I've donated paintings to this annual event, and this year I'm honored to have my painting, "Mixed Bouquet"selected as the signature artwork for the Family Health Center of Worcester's annual "Art in the City" benefit auction. 
This evening gala is held at the beautiful and historic Mechanics Hall in Worcester on Friday, May 8 -- it's always lots of fun, food, great music, and most of all, it's made possible by hard-working volunteers and generous artists and other sponsors! 
Learn more about the auction at this link  And if you're an artist who would like to donate a piece of your work to this year's auction here is a link for that. Don't delay: the deadline  for submitting donated artwork is in mid-March.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Holiday Amaryllis study

Holiday Amaryllis" detail

Last Christmas, my husband received an amaryllis that needs no planting. It doesn't require any potting soil (and not even a pot!). The bulb is encased in a thick blob of paraffin (or something!), so it can easily be set on a sunny windowsill to encourage its growth. It's been fun to watch it start to bloom -- and it's the perfect subject for an rainy-afternoon studio session.

I started with a line drawing on #140 cold press Kilimanjaro Bright White paper. My goal is to capture the sort of perky, stalwart quality of the bright scarlet blooms, and the hard, shiny surface of the encased bulb.
"Holiday Amaryllis" detail

The photo reference (taken with my iPhone) is not the greatest quality. And the quick (iPhone) shots of early stages of this watercolor study show the pencil lines as well as the mingling of several red pigments in the blossom.
Reference photo for "Holiday Amaryllis"

Finished study. Not exactly what I'd expected or hoped for, but at least it's colorful!

"Holiday Amaryllis"  transparent watercolor  12" x 16" unframed
$35.00 plus $9.00 shipping
Available at my online gallery at Daily Paintworks  (click to go to that page in a separate window)

Monday, October 21, 2019

Taking a Second Look

Painting outdoors doesn't come easily to me, but pushing myself in that direction has taught me a few things. First, I always bring at least two or three small-format painting surfaces –– 140 lb. paper securely taped to a 10" x 14" Gatorboard panel, a watercolor block (7" x 10" or 9" x 12"), a watercolor notebook made with high-quality paper (Moleskine sells a good one). Too, my three-legged, collapsible, folding stool (with a shoulder-strap for carrying) guarantees a place to sit. A one-gallon water thermos and a folding vinyl water bucket are both necessities, as are a few folded sheets of paper towel and a clean scrap of 100% cotton fabric (a man's discarded T-shirt is ideal) for blotting my brushes.
After painting non-stop for 40 minutes, I generally need to step back and check my work to see if I've misjudged an aspect of perspective, or if I have focused too closely on details. My goal when working outdoors is to capture the general mood or feel of a scene, without worrying about a completely accurate rendering. Recently I was painting at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, and discovered that the color values in my sketch were too uniform and the scene lacked depth.
Before adding deeper colors...

Rather than "fix" the problem right then, I set it aside and reached for a second watercolor block. When I got home, and my problem painting was fully dry, I thought about which areas needed deeper color, and how to make the background recede which would give the bright foliage more emphasis.
I started by mixing a wash made of Mineral Violet with a little Burnt Umber to darken the background foliage on the right. Using Burnt Umber and Sepia and a 1/2" flat brush, I dropped in dark shadows where the lawn met the gravel roadway, I added a few strokes of Mineral Violet wash to give depth to the road. Finally, with Shadow Green and Sepia, I added more deep green foliage. The changes I made were subtle, but the results are sketch that is more dramatic, and the eye is drawn to the vivid trees on the left at the front of the scene.
"Bend in the Road" transparent watercolor   10" x 7"
Available for purchase at my Daily Paintworks Gallery