Monthly Archives: July 2019

Bittersweet Endings

Temperature Bias Color Wheel (Primary/Secondary Colors)

My summer watercolor class with Western Nevada College finishes tomorrow. The ending will be greeted with both relief and sadness. I have had a wonderful group of students to help me through my first semester of teaching college watercolor. I have wanted an opportunity to teach watercolor at the college level since I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art in 2009.

While applying grades to art is stressful, both for the instructor and the student, I am sad because my “relationship” with this group now ends. I will miss them. Sigh.

Lesson on calligraphy strokes

I have taught a lot of watercolor classes in the private sector and found it to be quite rewarding. However, I have truly enjoyed being able to teach a more progressive approach to learn watercolor – where I can start with basics and build toward more complex concepts.  I had the opportunity to impart a solid foundation of techniques and concepts that students will hopefully build upon going forward. However hated the grade, it does encourage students to actually practice and comprehend the material.

Lesson on monochromatic harmony and value

“The White Lesson”

I won’t lie, creating any new curriculum means hard work; building lesson plans, designing assignments, a schedule, and a grading scheme takes much time and attention to detail.

The college has a fantastic learning platform for instructors and students, called Canvas. Inside the learning system, I create modules that include the assignment and resources for a given lesson. I can post my syllabus for easy reference. I can schedule due dates and submission criteria and time frames. I can track attendance, use a speed grader, communicate privately with each student about a specific assignment. I can make announcements to the class as a whole or communicate within a closed messaging system with an individual student. I keep learning more little tricks and new features in the system. I often miss selecting a required feature or forget to “publish” the module, or have the date set wrong. My first class group has had to help me work out the little kinks. If any of you are out there reading this, thank you!

I have tweaked and improved my “plan” as the semester progressed. I am scheduled to teach the same class for the Fall semester. Fingers crossed, the enrollment numbers will give me the opportunity to apply my lessons learned.

Lesson on analogous color harmony

The best feature of the learning platform? I can copy all the work, with all the lesson plans, files, settings, and announcements to the next semester – 90% of the preparation work is done! So cool! The hard work transfers! Yay!

Bittersweet. It is ending, but I had this experience, now, with these students. I hopefully imparted my passion for watercolor on to another dozen folks, who will perhaps become passionate watercolor advocates in Northern Nevada? I teach at a small college and live in a small town. Maybe I’ll see them again? And now I have a month off before the Fall semester begins. Carpe diem. Today is good.

New and exciting happenings are on the horizon, Stay tuned!

I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by.


Brusho Redux

Susan & Veronica

Daisy & Susan Too

Okay, practice is needed, but I had a blast pulling out the old Brusho® pots. These paintings of the flowers in my front garden are two practice pieces (the ones I am willing to share).  It’s been a few years since I have created with theBrusho® product.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Brusho®, it is a crystallized watercolour pigment (possibly ink-based?), manufactured in Britain, that is intense (bright), transparent and staining. I learned of the product initially from Joanne Boon Thomas when she and Art Tutor first launched the product to U.S. audiences in early 2013 (I believe).

Imagine if all watercolor pigments had the qualities of Phthalo Blue, and you can begin to understand the challenges you might face painting with Brusho® pigments.

The pigment is delivered in a small “pot” of colored powder in a variety of highly saturated colors. The powder dilutes quickly with water. It is fun to sprinkle the powder on to a pre-wetted surface and watch the colors explode like fireworks. Though, be warned! It is really easy to use too much pigment too soon. Like watercolor, one should work light to dark, but it is oh so hard to resist the fireworks. I recommend looking at some of the tutorials by Joanne Boon Thomas on Brusho if you would like to learn more about the product.

Nowadays, nearly all the major online art retailers in the U.S. carry the product, but back in 2014 and 2015, I purchased the pots directly from the manufacturer, Colour Craft, in England. A quick trip through their website will reveal quite a few video tutorials, as well.

Rhapsody in Spring

During my artist’s reception recently, one of my earlier Brusho® “masterpieces” was part of my featured artist show. Many folks commented or asked why it looked so different from the other pieces. This poppy painting, titled, “Rhapsody in Spring” was one of four full sheet paintings I completed that first year. I held several workshops and really became quite enamored with the medium. I later had some issues having Brusho® considered “acceptable” for national watercolor society competitions, so I have been focusing on regular watercolor lately.

The brightness of the pigment does tend to grab one’s attention, no?

Are you local? Come be dazzled by Brusho® at my painting demo on August 3rd. I may also paint with reg’lar watercolor as well. At any rate, I invite you to join me during the Carson City Wine Walk, August 3rd from 1-5pm. I will be painting live in the Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery garden (weather permitting), 405 N. Nevada St., Carson City, Nevada.

I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by.

Artist’s Reception

Wall of Art

I had a wonderful time celebrating with friends and family during my featured artists show at the Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery in Carson City.

Five paintings went to new homes! More are ready to be adopted. The show will be up through August 3rd. I will be painting live at the gallery during the Carson City Wine Walk from 1-5pm on the final day. Come witness my denouement?

If you live far, far away and are not able to physically visit the gallery, Jeffery Pace, the gallery owner, takes call-in orders too! (775) 885-ARTS (2787). I would be happy to send you digital images and a price list of all the remaining paintings in the show.

Thank you to Dee, Joanie, Laura, Anette, and Betty for loving my paintings enough to take one home. I am most honored. All sold paintings are available for print-on-demand giclee print orders. Pricing depends on the requested print size. Taxes and shipping additional. To discuss send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I appreciate all comments, suggestions, and questions. Thank you for stopping by.

“Solar Summer” 11″x11″ Watercolor – SOLD!

“Mrs. Cluck” Watercolor 5″x7″ – SOLD!

“High Desert Spring” 5×7 Watercolor – SOLD!

“White Roses” 7×5 Watercolor – SOLD!

“All in a Row” 11×7 Watercolor – SOLD!


Puddled Cone Flowers

“Puddled Cones” 5.5″x7.5″

This week’s college class lesson? Puddle painting! Okay, so probably only I call it “puddle painting.” The long term is “wet into wet in sections on hot press paper,” so puddle painting seems a much simpler term. In this method, I create an elaborate “stained glass” pattern on tracing paper, then transfer the plan to the hot press paper in pencil.

I then choose my color scheme. In this case, I chose to go with analogous color harmony scheme; red, orange and yellow. To get the brightest orange, I used a warm red, Pyrrol Red, a warm yellow, New Gamboge, and a warm orange, Perinone Orange.

I work one section or shape at a time. I create a “puddle” of clear water then touch the surface of the puddle with at least two colors, so they swirl and marble in the water. I then work a non-adjacent shape in the same manner.

Stage 1 – background

I first puddled the background sections, leaving the subject flowers white. It is important to let sections dry completely before moving to an adjacent section. Even the slightest touch will cause the puddling paint to flow into the new shape. This is especially important if the adjoining sections are significantly different colors.

Stage 2 – First layer foreground

Stage 3 – Shadow on flowers

After the background sections had dried completely, I started with the flowers. I used lighter colors and/or pigment to create contrast between the figure and ground. I left dry white edges around the shapes to give it a sense of a mosaic tile design.

Stage 4 – Beginning with blue

Stage 5 – Permanent marker

After the flower puddles had dried, I created some shadows around the heads of the flowers. I was struggling with creating enough contrast to separate figure from ground, so I decided to change my color harmony scheme to a complementary harmony orange and blue. I used Ultramarine Blue to create more negative shapes to break up the background.

I also realized I had not left white lines around the flower head shadows, so I changed my initial plan of a “mosaic-style” painting to a “stained-glass- style” painting with permanent black lines.

Out with Sharpie marker! <smile>.

“Puddled Cones” – Final Painting

I liked the ink and wash effect, but wanted to complement the orange with blue. I painted most of the saved white spaces with a weak wash of Ultramarine Blue. I thought some of the flowers needed to be less intense, so I glazed over some of the flowers with the weak blue glaze. Those last glazes put a wrap on this demonstration painting.

“Puddled Cones” watercolor 5.5″x7.5″.

I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by.


I Grew You a Cat

“I Grew You a Cat” Watercolor 4″x10″

In a lesson for my college watercolor class on saving, retrieving, and painting whites, the students had to start with a traditionally white subject, such as a cloud, white flower, white cat (or at least partially white), white sand, etc. They each chose a theme subject for the semester, so the white subject had to also incorporate their chosen theme.

Throughout the semester, I try to paint a subject from each student’s theme. Now, I don’t know if one particular student was trying to score a few points with the instructor by choosing cats as her theme? I am not saying I “play favorites,” but it is really hard to be objective about kitty paintings. Ha! Those of you who know me, know I’m a tiny bit partial to the felines?

I have resisted for half a semester, though, before demonstrating a kitty painting. I think that qualifies as an extreme delay of gratification, no?

I began the demonstration in class. In the lesson, students had to use at least one method each of saving, retrieving and painting whites. See my blog post from July 7th “Whites and Watercolor”

End of Class demonstration. Beginning 2nd stage after removing the masking

For this painting, I used masking fluid and painting around to save whites.  I used three primary colors for the painting; Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), Pyrrol Red and New Gamboge. After painting the first layer of value, I removed the masking and began laying in some medium value tones.

Much of the painting process can be viewed via my accelerated (Public) Youtube video. I did not use any white paint for this painting, but I did use two methods for retrieving whites, which you can watch in the video.

I will let the video do my “talking” to illustrate the rest of the painting process… I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by.




Do You Register Your Copyrights?

Rhapsody in Spring – Infringed painting

Rhapsody in Summer – Brusho Full sheet – SOLD









Once upon a time, I had an image “misappropriated” by a major online art supplier to accompany their launch of a new watercolor pigment product line, Brusho® Watercolour Crystals. Two years prior to the misappropriation, I had painted a series of paintings with the product.

Brusho® had really just been introduced to U.S. markets a few years prior. I learned of it through Joanne Boone Thomas and Art Tutor based out of England. Brusho® is a crystalized ink powder that can be painted similarly to traditional watercolor. All the pigment colors are quite brilliant by comparison… Imagine having all your watercolor pigments with the intensity of Phthalocyanine Blue and you will have a good idea of how to paint with Brusho. All the pigments are brilliant, saturated, staining colors.

Rhapsody in Fall – Brusho Full Sheet – SOLD

All of the major U.S. online retailers began stocking the Brusho pigment around 2015. Before then, I purchased my pigment through the British supply company, Colour Craft.

I imagine that in the early days of 2015, U.S. retailers may not have had access to many paintings created with the new medium. This particular online retailer likely decided to do a google search for examples of such and stumbled across an image of mine posted on “the Internet” somewhere.  I learned my image was being used to advertise the product from a friend who forwarded me one of their marketing emails. She forwarded the email with the comment, “Colleen, you’re famous!”

I suppose I could have been flattered? And welcomed the promotion? Instead, it sort of rose my self-righteous ire. After all, they did not even have the courtesy to ask my permission! I contacted the company’s customer service department via chat, referenced the marketing email, and asked if they knew the artist who had created the painting. They told me the in-house art department had created both paintings! I said, “That’s interesting because I am actually the artist who painted one of them.” Oops!

Upon further inspection, I also discovered the image of my painting had been cropped just so, preserving the original height to length dimensions, but enough to crop off my artist’s signature. “Malicious Intent!” My ire rose even more (as you might imagine). I asked to speak to the “boss.” The head of the marketing department eventually called me back, admitted to the “error” by a “new employee” and offered me a $100 gift certificate to purchase more art supplies from them. So then I was insulted. I contacted a lawyer who helped me draft a letter requesting damages for copyright infringement, which of course they ignored. Because, well, I had not registered the painting with the copyright office, had I? The Marketing Director likely knew a poor starving artist was not going to go through the time and expense of filing a lawsuit against a big corporation like Jerry’s Artarama.

Cropped by Jerry’s Artarama

Full painting

Four years later and it still rankles enough for me to recall all those details. Grrr!

Since then, I have educated myself on copyright law a bit. I have learned about many of the misconceptions we artists have.

  1. Yes, we automatically own the copyright as soon as the art takes its final shape.
  2. No, we don’t have to file a copyright claim in order to have the art named as our own.
  3. There is no such thing as the “if you change it by 20% or more, you can call it your own” rule.
  4. Using a photograph as a source for a painting without permission is a copyright infringement.
  5. You do not have to place the © and year on the front of your painting for the copyright to be valid. Conversely, doing so does NOT mean you’ve properly claimed copyright. The claim still must be filed with the copyright office.
  6. Most countries also honor U.S. copyrights.
  7. Posting an image online does not mean you’ve “published” a work IAW copyright law.
  8. If I take a commission, the customer requesting the commission owns the copyright, not me.  A commission is considered “work for hire.”
  9. If I teach a workshop and the workshop host records video, the host owns the copyright to the video, not the instructing artist. See #9 above.
  10. So much more stuff, too lengthy to mention. You think I write too much? Try reading lawyerly stuff.

BUT… if one is “violated” (infringed) without copyright registration, one can’t even file a suit until one DOES register the copyright, and one can only receive damages (actual losses) if the image is infringed BEFORE the copyright claim is filed. AND one has to hire a lawyer to litigate, which costs about $100K-$150K, not to mention pay all the court costs and travel to DC, etc. Most lawyers will not even deign to consider taking your case, ’cause it is a losing proposition.

If you DO register your copyright and it is subsequently infringed, you are entitled to $150K PLUS damages, and lawyers will actually be willing to represent you on a contingency basis (you don’t have to pay them until after the verdict) because you’re likely to win! And win quickly.

Since 2015, I have therefore given much time, attention and resources to filing copyright registrations for my “important” published and unpublished works.

The law changes often. Keep up. For instance, until March of this year, I could register a group of unpublished paintings (up to 750) for one fee of $55. Since March, now I can only register 10 unpublished works for the $55 fee. That is what I get for procrastinating, huh?

The basic things to know if you decide to register your work:

  1. The website to register copyrights online
  2. Learn the difference between published and unpublished works. It is important.
  3. The fee to register a single work (published or unpublished) is $35
  4. The fee to register a group of unpublished works in $55 (up to 10)
  5. The fee to register multiple published works in one filing is $55. In order to file multiple published works in one filing, all works must be part of a set and not available separately. For instance, 12 images that are part of a calendar can be registered as multiple published works for one filing fee. But all works created for one show cannot (contrary to my expensive lawyer’s advice. Grrr).
  6. Ask for help if you don’t know. Once a copyright claim is filed, there are no refunds. Errors can get expensive. I have found the employees to be quite helpful, if not prompt.
  7. If filed correctly, it takes between 30 and 180 days for a claim to finalized. However, see items #8 below.
  8. If an infringement occurs, the court will consider the date when the claim was filed, not the date the claim was finalized. Remember if infringement occurs BEFORE the copyright claim was filed, the artist is only entitled to damages, not the $150K fine.

The “infringed” painting “Rhapsody in Spring” is available through my local gallery, Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery, in Carson City. Why not join me for my featured artist’s show from mid-June through mid-July 2019? Artist’s reception on July 18th, 4-7pm. The gallery is located at 405 N. Nevada St, Carson City, Nevada. You can see my “famous” painting!

I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by.


Framing – A Necessary “Skill” for the Visual Artist

Collection of medium-small sized framed paintings (11×14 & 12×16 openings)

In June I painted 30+ paintings. My July has dawned with the need to prepare those 30 and a dozen or so more for presentation. The former is a joy, the latter…not so much.

Collection of small (8×10 openings) frames paintings

So much of my life as a professional artist entails doing necessary “stuff” that is not necessarily full of joy. In the end, I do receive tons of satisfaction from doing any job well… Having a clean house is satisfying. Admiring the “gallery” walls of my home graced with my collection of magnificent paintings each day gives me a wonderful feeling. However, I spend much more time on marketing and presenting my work, than on the actual act and joy of painting it. Sigh.

However, I believe, a painting’s presentation may be as important as the painting itself. A framing package can make or break a painting.

Collection of medium-large (16×20) framed paintings

And mano, mano, do good frames cost lots of my poor starving artist dollars. I hunt for deals year round. To save on those costs, I scope out online or wholesale resources, build relationships with local framers and suppliers, and complete much of my own assembly. I do not cut or glue together frame moldings or cut my own mats because I believe it is important to make sure those are done professionally. I don’t want uneven corners or overcut edges on a mat corner to degrade the quality of my presentation.

That said, even “simple” assembly takes some finesse. The proper toolage will save your fingers and back, and limit the flow of curses. My essential framing tools?

  1. Metal ruler (at least 36″)
  2. Framing point driver
  3. ATG adhesive dispenser
  4. A wall-mounted bracket for butcher paper on a roll
  5. A ratchet screwdriver OR even better…
  6. Power drill/screwdriver
  7. SHARP hobby or snap knife
  8. Pencil
  9. Needle-nose pliers
  10. Metal lever with a beveled edge (like the back end of a bottle or paint can opener)
  11. White gloves
  12. Lint-free cloths
  13. Gum or kneaded eraser

My essential bulk-order supplies?

  1. Metal screws, Phillips head (the shortest length available. I buy in bags of 100 to save)
  2. D-ring hooks (two per painting. I buy them in bags of 100 to save)
  3. Coated hanging wire (I buy by the roll. Specified to hold up to 25 lbs).
  4. Butcher paper (Installed on my wall-mounted bracket)
  5. Felt bumpers (circles of felt with adhesive. I don’t like plastic bumpers, they tend to be ripped off during transport)
  6. ATG Adhesive (in my dispenser). This is double sided tape (more like a strip of glue on a roll). I buy in bulk through online wholesalers.
  7. Frames (I am always scouting for sales and wholesale deals). For custom cuts, I have a great local framer. Fast Frame of Carson Valley.
  8. Mats (I often by standard watercolor paper sizes precut in bulk from online or local wholesalers). For custom cuts, my local framer lives up to his marquee name Fast Frame
  9. Foam core backing (I like buy standard sizes precut in bulk from online wholesalers)
  10. Glazing (glass or acrylic. I often buy standard frame sizes in bulk from online wholesalers)

I would take pictures of all these supplies and tools, but then for all the time involved in taking and preparing the photos, I could be painting, right?

Many of the pictured paintings will be hanging on the walls of the Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery in another week or so, as part of my featured artist show. Artist reception is July 18th, from 4-7pm. Come on out and show me your lovely face? Maybe fall in love with one of these treasures and take her home? The gallery is located at 405 Nevada St, downtown Carson City (just off the main Carson St drag), in an adorable little building, corner of Telegraph and Nevada St.

I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by.

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Whites and Watercolor

White Roses

Oh, those all-important whites! Do I save them? Do I retrieve them? Do I paint them? Which is the best method for you? Are you a watercolor purist (only the white of the paper will do)? Or do you allow yourself to use some new trick for retrieving or painting your whites? If you regularly enter your work into organizations like the Transparent Watercolor Society of America (TWSA), you likely work hard to save the whites, since opaque watercolors are not accepted.

The White Chart

For my college watercolor class this week, we created a chart for various methods of saving, retrieving and painting whites. I have wanted to build this chart for some time. I used Phthalocyanine Blue (Green Shade) by Daniel Smith to test all the “white” methods since she is the most staining pigment on my palette. The first row has no Phthalo Blue. I just painted the square with various water-media white paints or media (click on image for a larger view). The second row, I used methods to save the white before painting. The third row, I tried to retrieve the white of the paper. For the final row, I used the same white paint from the first row to paint over the top of the blue pigment.

For putting the theory into practice, I used my previously painted “White Roses” painting (See previous blog post from June 11). Compare the before and after images? Originally, I saved the white of the paper by “blocking” or painting around the whites (first image). After the painting had dried completely, I lifted back using masking tape and Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser (Row 3, Column 6) and water lifting (Row 3 column 2). For the original painting, I used a combination of lifting and staining pigments, so the lifting with water was marginally successful. I also used some Titanium White watercolor pigment to paint a few soft whites. Can you tell which method was used where?

1st Stage

Final Painting – White Roses

The final painting, “White Roses” (Second Image in comparison) with exquisite framing will be part of my featured artist show at Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery beginning July 16th in Carson City, Nevada.

I hope you will be able to join me for the Artist’s reception on July 18th, from 4-7pm, or for the Carson City Wine Walk on August 3rd, from 1-4pm. Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery is routinely voted the “The Best of the Wine Walk” each month. Not only can you see some of the best in local art on display, but you’ll be able to nibble on some unique delectables and partake of their “special” drink offering.

Texture Finale

I once wrote a college paper about my father’s 1970’s black and white photography efforts, called “Recording the Texture (click the bold/italics link to read). Perhaps my attraction to textured subjects was inherited? Is there a gene for appreciating texture? Or is it an environmental influence? Either way… I really enjoy exploring how to create texture effects in a watercolor painting; from the soft and dreamy, to the rough and scrappy,

For the final day of my community education watercolor class (with a focus on texture), we painted two “paint-along” works. We needed to work two at once so that we could let one painting dry while we attended to the other.

The class took a vote on four photos to use as references, and we decided on Yellowstone and grasses. One of the students provided the photo reference for “Yellowstone Trees” while I provided the reference for “Marsh Grasses.”

Yellowstone Trees

Marsh Grasses

We began by masking off a few white blades of grass on “Marsh Grasses” then putting the painting aside to let the masking dry.

For “Yellowstone Trees,” we first painted the water mist (behind the trees) wet-into-wet, just touching in a bit of grayed down Ultramarine Light around the sides and edges of the water. We used Pyrrol Red, New Gamboge, and a mix of Phthalo Blue (GS) and Gamboge for a bright green for the Yellowstone moss. We applied all three colors as a light wash. We then set this paint aside to let the wet area dry.

Back to the grasses… After the masking had dried, we painted the background wet-into-wet, letting the water dry back a bit. We used Hansa Yellow Light/Deep, Pyrrol Red, and Ultramarine Light throughout. Starting at the top, we began with the yellow light paint and then added red & blue around the edges. About 1/3 of the way down, we switched to just blue, to finish the flat wash, leaving some white areas untouched but wet. Once the painting had dried back a little, we added some red sidewise calligraphy strokes to indicate grass reflections (Lower left and right), then went over the top of them with blue. We then added some calligraphy “pull-push” strokes for grasses, letting the paint softly blend into the background. We then needed to let the painting dry, so we returned to “Yellowstone Trees”.

For Yellowstone…We stamped in all four of the pigment colors over the top portion of the painting with a sponge. We then mixed up a strong dark and painted in the foreground evergreens. We used red, blue and a bit of gamboge to mix our dark. We took care to not paint all the trees completely straight up and down and “soldier-like.” We toned down the bright background, by splattering and then gently caressing in some Titanium White. The rainbow? Well, I need to practice. Ha!

Both of these paintings will likely be available through Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery (click the link for address and directions) starting July 10th. Artist reception is July 18th, from 4-7pm. Why not join us for some delectable nibblies and drinks. We can talk about art! You can take home an original painting!

Click on images for a larger view. I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Don’t forget to subscribe. Easy links in the right-hand column of this blog (on a computer), or below (if on a mobile device). For an RSS feed, click the orange & white icon. To receive email notifications, click the link, Subscribe to Colleen Reynolds, Artist by email

You can see a preview of a similar painting process on my Youtube channel. See below