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.

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!