Tag Archives: landscape

Recovery Day – If a Tree Falls…

“If a Tree Falls…”

Hello There! It occurs to me that today is the 13th because it says so at the top (or is it the bottom?) of this post. I had to do a quick left head swivel to look at the very cool desktop calendar of Colleen Reynolds’ art, just to confirm it is not also Friday! Whew! The 13th AND Friday did not collide. I am safe for the day from bad luck, right?

Today is recovery day after a marathon two days of teaching and teaching preparation. I taught two classes yesterday – one college watercolor class in the morning, starting at 9:30, and one in the evening for a community education program. Fortunately for my back, both classes were given at the same college campus and taught in the same room.

I arrived at 8:30 to allow time for hauling all those supplies into the room for setting up. The morning class went well. We practiced basic brush strokes and talked about grading and supplies, etc. The students did not have access to class stuff before the first day of class, so one of the bags I had to haul to the temporary art room (regular classroom under renovation) was a bag full of palettes, paint, brushes, etc. to get everyone through the first week. Some of the supplies belong to the school, so I had to retrieve things from a completely different building (two flights of stairs away). No storage is allocated for “Art teaching” in the temporary geology room, so said supplies had to then be returned to the other building after class. Sigh.

The 3-hour class, though, gave me immeasurable joy. I love my ten students, eager to learn the secrets and intricacies of this watercolor medium for the next nine weeks of a relaxing summer term. Nine of the ten students have no other classes, except this one, so I expect lots of undivided attention.

After the morning class, I dashed home for a slight respite to feed myself and my furry beasties but returned with enough time to allow for a 2-hour setup period for the evening community education class. I am teaching my “kitchen sink” class where we add a lot of auxiliary materials to the watercolor pigment to create texture. It’s a fun class for expanding creativity, especially for students new to watercolor, but it does entail many extra hours of preparation on my part.

The class itself was a joy. I was having a blast throwing salt, painting mediums, spices, papers, chalk, crayon (and more!) into the paint on small 4″x6″ pieces of Arches 140lb paper. Lots of oohs and aahs were happening as we all just watched the interactions unfold on paper, without any pressure of creating “a subject” (See images below). I do have an hour-long video of creating the texture studies. If you’re interested in purchasing a link to the video for $5, shoot me a message in the comments section below or via my “Contact” page on this website.

“If a Tree Falls…” Deja vu?

The last 45 minutes of class, we created a small little “paint-along” watercolor sketch, based on a photograph I took on one of my morning walks. It is a little 5.5″x7.5″ sketch. We used sea salt, cling film, splattering, and a tiny bit of titanium white added to just three colors of watercolor; Ultramarine Blue (Holbein), Hansa Yellow Light (Daniel Smith), and Pyrrol Red (Daniel Smith).

We started with a very simple sketch to separate the composition into the diagonal tree shape, a background (top third), a middle ground (middle third) and a foreground (bottom third) We painted a wet-into-wet background first, dropping coffee-strength mixtures of our yellow, blue and pre-mixed neutralized green.

We let the background dry back a bit, then used the same strength of pigment to paint a wet-on-dry middle ground, using some dry-brushing and skipping some white areas for sparkle. We left the tree trunk area dry and white. We added sea salt and splattered into the middle-ground area with yellow, green, blue and a tiny bit of the red.

For the foreground we painted with the same type of application as the middle-ground, just with stronger pigment and bit more of the red, still leaving the tree trunk white and untouched. We added more sea salt and wet splatter on top of the salt.

For the fallen tree trunk, we mixed up a gray tone with the blue and red and a tiny touch of the yellow. We dry brushed the coffee-strength mixed gray pigment to the front of the tree trunk, then applied cling wrap. I then used the blow dryer so I could remove the salt before adding some final darks and calligraphy strokes to the foreground and tree. I called out the shape of the fallen tree by adding darks behind and below the tree.

Sea Salt, Bath Salt, Wild Rice

Note: using the blow dryer did dampen the effects of the salt application. It is much better to let the paint dry naturally to achieve an accentuated burst from the salt (see salt texture study image to compare).

After an exhausting and somewhat comical effort to return everything to my car, I returned home to have my sweet, sweet lifesaver of a husband greet me at the door. He unloaded everything and hauled it all back into my home studio. Whew!

And I LOVED IT! All the students in both classes are just wonderful, funny, and eager to learn. See all the fun we had, creating textures in watercolor? Below are four more of the seven texture studies we completed. I confess, these are the studies I completed during my preparation day. I already have the photos processed, so…

To purchase “If a Tree Falls…” (with a black/copper frame and a white black core mat), just click on the “add to cart” link. Shipping is $15 if paying with PayPal or Credit Card for a Continental US order. Check payments and international orders incur additional shipping charges. Taxes are additional, where applicable.

If a Tree Falls.., $150 (w/ frame and mat)

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

Click on images for a larger view.

Lifting preparation, wax & unwaxed string, bubble wrap, water lifting with & without tape stencils.

Texture and granulation mediums

Chalk, crayon, conte crayon

Cling wrap, foil, wax paper

9th & 10th Paintings for Challenge – Yellow Headed Blackbirds

Yellow-Headed Blackbird One

Today I couldn’t resist my yellow-headed blackbird friend. He and I had a conversation on my walk the other day. I don’t know if he was pleased to see me. I think he thought I might threaten his nest. Have you ever heard these birds? Man, do they like to screech! But they also have a cute chirp when you get close to have a “talk.”

I painted him twice. No pre-drawing for either rendition. I quite like both outcomes. I know tomorrow is going to be a busy day. I start teaching my watercolor class at Western Nevada College. I thought I’d better paint two paintings today, just in case I don’t have time tomorrow.

Yellow-Headed Blackbird Too

For the first study, I waxed off the white wing tips, then saturated the paper front and back. While the paper was “cooking in the water,” I prepared my paints in the palette: I used Hansa Yellow Medium and Deep for the light areas of the head, and Raw Sienna Light for the yellow shadow areas (all Daniel Smith). I mixed Ultramarine Light (Holbein) with Pyrrol Transparent Orange (Daniel Smith) for the darks on the body. For the background and trees, I added Cascade Green (Daniel Smith). I also used all the bird colors in the background to promote harmony.

For the second study, I used the same color combinations, but my process was different. I wetted the background area but kept paper where I wanted the bird dry. I did not use wax for the wing tips. I dropped in weak blue and green while the paper was wet and puddly and let the paint swim around and blend on the paper. I then dried the paper back to damp before working on the bird itself.

I like both paintings. I think the second is more accurate proportions, but I like the softness of the first study. What do you think?

I have video clips for both paintings. I may edit them someday. Stay tuned!

If you are interested in purchasing either of these paintings ($150 for top painting, which is framed, or $100 for bottom painting with mat only), I have included a convenient Buy Now button below <smile>. PayPal is my credit card processor. You do NOT need a PayPal account to purchase, just a valid credit or debit card.

Both paintings are 5×5″x7.5″ on 140lb Arches cold press paper. Under the “Choose Painting” options; “One” is the first image, “Too” is the second painting.

Both paintings will be delivered via the USPS postal service. Shipping cost is $15 only if purchased via PayPal checkout (Check payments will incur additional shipping charges). Taxes are additional, where applicable. If the unframed painting is purchased, the shipping charge is only $4.50 and the customer will be refunded extra charges via PayPal).


Choose Painting



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