Tag Archives: watercolor

Tuesday, 4/25/11: Liz Walker

Liz Walker brought her creative energy to Muse today to work on an acrylic painting with elements of printmaking and collage.   Liz likes to bring a lot of pattern and texture into her paintings and tries to avoid large areas of plain solid colors.  Along with her paints and brushes, Liz brought some paper scraps and wallpaper and fabric swatches with her.  She cut and painted small pieces of paper and collaged them into her painting to add a bit of texture and dimension to the pillows on the couch.  She used the texture of the wallpaper and fabric pieces to print and stamp patterns onto her painting with contrasting colors of paint.  To get the blended and scumbled look she likes, Liz says she’s also been incorporating more gray tones and neutrals into her paintings and juxtaposing them against brighter colors.

Liz enjoys painting figures in everyday settings.  The shapes and colors she chooses give her  scenes balance, order, and visual interest that would work equally well as abstract compositions.  “I work from chaos to order,” Liz says as she builds the layers of her painting.  She finds that getting started with a painting is the easy part, but proceeding to the point of knowing when and how to finish is the real challenge.

Liz teaches beginning watercolor painting as well as acrylic monotype at Multnomah Arts Center and Village Gallery of Arts.  In addition to the An Artist A Day event this month, she is participating in an upcoming show at the Village Gallery of Arts in which 100 artists will exhibit four 6×6 paintings.  More of her work can be seen on her website, lizwalkerart.com.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.

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Wednesday, 4/20/11: Acey Thompson

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch for today’s post.

Acey Thompson says she has almost always had a hard time staying still. Now in her final year at PNCA with her thesis proposal staring her down in just a few short weeks, the field of study she has chosen hits, literally, close to home. She is OK with being a dog artist amidst conceptual art students at PNCA, and for her thesis she has chosen to artfully depict a dog’s ability to be completely idle and zen-like, docile, blissful almost to the point of catatonic. She hopes to conduct this study starting with her two dogs at home, her pit bull Maggie and Catahoula leopard dog Jasper.

But there’s another reason the docile nature of dogs captures Acey’s heart and imagination; when she graduates this fall, she hopes to throw time and energy into softening the stigma against pit bulls. She hopes to do this through art, with exposing people to images of pit bulls with a partner out of LA, appropriately named Diamonds in the Ruff, a no-kill pet rescue shelter:

Last year, Acey’s painting of a Great Pyrenees dog lovingly arched over the shoulders of a woman fetched $250 at the final auction for An Artist a Day. One person liked it so much because it reminded her of her own dog, and when she was outbid, she later commissioned Acey to do a similar watercolor and ink rendering.

Today’s painting is her pit bull Maggie, who accompanied her on the journey to Portland five years ago. In the photo, Maggie, now nine, wears an expression that Acey loves and knows well. A recently finished watercolor of Maggie  is also on Acey’s homepage, and so realistic and detailed that many often mistake it for an oil panting.

Acey chose today’s photo for her Maggie’s expression as well as to capture two things she loves in her life: one is a sheer curtain with gold flecks and patterned with fleur de lys, giving the portrait a regal air. The other is an Afghani pillow that was once a dress her father brought back from the Middle East. The repurposed pillowcase, with its tiny mirrors and webby patterns, contributes to the colorful foreground of the painting.

Last summer, Acey took two classes at PCC that she says really broadened her horizons in her artistic adventure. One was a watercolor painting class taught by Theresa Redinger who shows at Blackfish Gallery. Redinger took students through technical basics such as color theory using a color wheel, stretching paper, and taking the palette from small primaries to larger ones. The other class was a soapstone carving class, which gave her newfound respect for rocks and polishing.

The supplies Acey uses are: Synthetic brushes from Da Vinci, Escoda, and Raphael. Her large porcelain palette is from Muse. Watercolors are M Graham and Sennelier, and paper is Arches 140 lb watercolor. The gouache is M Graham. Her elegant bamboo brush wrap is from Muse, and she is trying out a new wax crayon to save whites, a technique she gleaned from John Singer Sergeant. She’ll use pearlescent liquid acrylic for the details in the curtains and Maggie’s collar.   UPDATE:  The last picture shows Acey’s finished painting.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.

Monday, 4/18/11: Carolynn Wagler

Thanks to guest writer Christina Hugo for today’s post.

Today Carolynn Wagler helped to bring spring to Portland with a watercolor of warm, vibrant, orangey tulips. It was a fitting subject as we sat in the window of Muse safe from the intermittent April showers.

Carolynn came ready with a light graphite sketch of her design, which was from a photograph she had taken at a tulip festival a few years back. It was an image she had been saving, waiting to give it new life in paint. After a few touch-ups with her pencil to define her lines, which would be the map for her piece, she began by masking her whites. Carefully identifying any white detail in her color photo, she mimicked these areas with masking fluid to repel paint and maintain her tulips’soft white tips. The plump blooms were then washed with a wide, wet brush followed by a sweep of lemon yellow. Carolynn then used a blow drier to set the yellow, and already the strong effect of the masking fluid was evident. Bright yellow tulips with sweet white highlights now filled much of the page. She told me that as she added more color the masking fluid would be scrubbed away to blend the white naturally into the petals.

Crimsons, golden oranges, and bluish purples gave the blooms dimension, texture and richness . Thin upward strokes of color brought out the veins and spines of the petals, while a water-charged brush diluted color in other places to give contour and shading, bringing it all slowly to life.

Carolynn used a test palette of watercolor paper painted with her original yellow to see how each new hue would appear layered on the last. On this tiny watercolor laboratory she discovered, through trial, error, and inquisitive patience how to coax her perfect purple from a neutralizing yellow background.

Carolynn has been painting with watercolors for 11 years, but has experience with acrylics and pastel as well. She says watercolor is her favorite because of its fluidity. She says she finds it “a thrill to see what you come up with through the nature of the water and pigment together.” Carolynn’s portfolio is filled with landscapes in all seasons, and expressive faces which portray emotion through bright eyes and flowing features. She is looking forward to painting some of the tropical flora she captured on film during a recent trip to Hawaii. Carolynn teaches pastel painting through Portland Parks and Recreation and she is a member of the Portland Fine Arts Guild.

The last picture below shows Carolynn’s painting at the end of the day Monday (with watercolor paper still taped to board).  We’ll post an update with a picture of the finished piece.  UPDATE:  The last picture below shows Carolynn’s finished painting.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.


Thursday, 4/14/11: Terry Street

Thanks to guest writer Sera Stanton for today’s post.

Terry Street is experienced in both traditional  Japanese and Western watercolor painting. Today, she was working in the spontaneous style of Japanese masters. She trained under a master in California and explained how the paintings are “copied” from masters until you perfect the image and can add your own nuances to it. When I spoke to her, Terry was working on an iris.

Terry showed me how she works on both normal drawing paper and on rice paper. “It is all in the energy of the brush,” she said, “the brush does the work for you… and less is more.” There is no going back in traditional Japanese painting. You must think very clearly about where to place your lines and work spontaneously. Like many artists, Terry believes anyone can learn to paint – it’s just a matter of practice, especially in this style.

In order to get a lot of variation, Terry had a large set of brushes. Although she usually only works with one brush at a time, she explained the varying uses of each kind of brush. They were also made out of different hairs, such as horse, otter or badger. To start working, Terry wet her brushes and mixed a few colors of Chinese watercolor. She said that Chinese watercolors are the best for this kind of painting because they have more clay in them, so they don’t run as much when mounted. Using an ink stick, Terry mixed some of her own ink to help mix some darker colors.

Terry’s palette today was “not textbook,” as she put it. She used violet and red and yellow and green to paint beautiful irises and poppies, as well as black to quickly paint a horse  before I left. She mixed the smallest amount of each color together to make sure that they were analogous.

When she isn’t painting on her own, Terry teaches classes. She says that she loves children and her students. Terry says that she has been painting her whole life, partially due to the fact that her grandfather collected oriental art. Truly, Terry knows the patience, practice and play that traditional Japanese watercolor requires.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.


Tuesday, 4/5/11: Tara Choate

Tara Choate painted with watercolors today using a technique that made a vibrant, colorful painting, and was also a lot of  fun to watch.  To create the background of her painting, she mixed her paints with water and poured them directly onto the paper (140lb cold pressed watercolor paper).  She picked up the paper and tilted it from side to side to make the colors flow across the surface.  Before pouring her paint, Tara had drawn the silhouette of a stork and filled it in with masking fluid, a liquid that dries quickly to a rubbery film.  The masking fluid blocked the areas of the page that she wanted to remain white as she poured three colors of paint (bright pink, gamboge yellow, and ultramarine blue), one at a time over the paper.

After letting the wet paper dry for a while, Tara removed the masking fluid with a rubber “pick-up,” leaving the white shape of the stork to paint details and shading into.  The process of painting with watercolors can require a lot of patience because if the paper and paint are not fully dry, adding more paint can result in the newly added colors flowing uncontrollably into previous colors.  A wet brush applied to wet paper and paint can also pull up the color, leaving light spots in the painting.  Tara gave each stage of her painting time to dry and took advantage of these breaks to look at her work so far and think about her next steps.

To define the details of the stork’s wings, feathers, and body, Tara used only one color, indigo, to contrast with the white paper that she had preserved with her masking fluid.  Tara said indigo has become one of her favorite colors to paint with.

Tara’s favorite subjects to paint are animals.  Her love for her animal subjects really shows in the vitality and energy she brought into the piece she made today.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.

Monday, 4/19/10: Acey Thompson

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch King for today’s post

Pasadena native Acey Thompson is a PNCA student who’s quick to recognize teachers, jobs, friends and family members who have helped shape her emerging career as an artist. She remembers aspects about her childhood too that helped her grow; She spent an entire hazy LA summer copying every Sir John Tenniel illustration in Alice in Wonderland she stumbled upon at age 7. She remembers the art teacher who showed her how to add salt to a watercolor wash at age 10 and the eye-opening effect of “starry patches” left behind. She resisted taking a Japanese brushstroke and calligraphy course in 10th grade and then gave in only to not want to take any other classes but brushstroke ones. And she remembers one time as a 4 year old where she spent an afternoon laying out plastic spoons in an artful pattern on her living room floor. When she was done, she collapsed in exhaustion, and her mother later told her that the energy her daughter put into her project showed she was destined to be an artist.

Acey’s medium of choice is watercolor, although some teachers, such as Anne Johnson, her Intermedia Painting professor at PNCA, try to steer her to other mediums out of her comfort zone. Acey says Johnson helps her explore her subjects’ environment and pushes her to explore the atmosphere while taking the time to capture the room, the windows and the light as well as her subjects. Acey began painting with watercolors as a 10 year old and since her dad was an amateur calligrapher, “there were lots of ink bottles laying around the house” to dabble in. She likes the spontaneity to watercolors, the lack of drying time and of course the price, pointing out that you can get a good set for a few dollars that can last forever.

Acey has a passion that is inescapable when you view her portfolio and the painting she was creating today: dogs. As a youth she had a family dog and friends would raise funds for the Humane Society. However it wasn’t until she was 17 that her canine appreciation kicked into high gear while working at Three Dog Bakery in LA, a bakery chain that specializes in edible treats for pups. Her interaction with animals over three years of working here expanded her love for dogs, and at 21 she moved to Portland with her pitbull Maggie. Acey’s work has been commissioned for album covers for bands such as New York’s For Every Story Untold, and up and comers Matt Taylor and his Laurels. She has also done commissioned pet portraits and works part time at Lazy Dog Crazy Dog in Montavilla.

Today’s painting began with a vintage photo Acey says has been popping up in various places over the past three years. She first saw it on Flickr, then Facebook, then Tumblr, among other spots. She decided to print it out, not knowing the name of the photographer or the subject, only that it is a vintage image of a woman with a retriever/Great Pyrennees wrapped around her neck like a stole. She began with watercolors, and then to achieve the blacker blacks used a bottle of Chroma brand India ink from Muse Art and Design.

Wednesday, 4/7/10: Erika Moen

We were fortunate to have comic artist and illustrator Erika Moen join us today to create a rare stand-alone piece outside her work in comics.  Erika worked with watercolors today, a medium that she does not get to work with frequently, but that suited her style beautifully.  Her professional skills in drawing, composition and visual clarity were evident as her piece came together in the relatively short span of the afternoon.

Erika has done a number of pieces over the years that draw on octopi and tentacles as subject matter.  Her watercolor today filled the surface with a complex tangle of octopus arms.  She seemed to have no problem keeping all the parts clear in her mind, though, as she progressed from a pencil drawing to laying in colors of separate parts, then washes of overall color, then detailed line work with a brush.  Erika used a mix of warm and cool greens, variation in line width, and overlapping shapes to give her picture a sense of depth and dimension.  At one stage, she considered adding an additional painted surface that stood out from this background to build up even more depth, but as the piece developed, she was happy with the look of a single layer.

One visitor to Muse had observed that most of the pieces so far contain some element relating to sky.  Thanks to Erika for contributing the first aquatic-themed piece!

While she worked, Erika kept her computer on the table to take images of her progress, which she complied into a video.  You can see it at http://vimeo.com/10782793