Friday, April 21, 2017


I've been asked to post these in my blog.  here they are, the ten commandments of watercolor:

1.              Leave white
This is the sparkle in your painting!
2.            Paint only on shiny wet or dry paper
Avoids muddy, dull color; avoids blossoms; avoids bleeding
3.            Plan and mix up enough color before you paint
So your paint will not dry before you can add more
4.            Use good quality supplies
5.            Use the right brush for the job
Too small leaves streaking; too large loses control

6.            Use too MUCH or TOO LITTLE water for the job
7.            Outline objects or make long lines of same color (you need to break up color-3 inch rule; outlining dries before you can blend)
8.            Focus on details first
It makes it hard to incorporate background into the painting. Work around entire painting
9.            Depend only on color to produce a good painting Remember to use the elements and principles of design, especially value
10.        Compare yourself to others.

(“Do not let a comparing spirit rob you of your creative spirit.


There are a few things in this exercise that will help you to paint like a water colorist.
It emphasises the following:
1. Laying in a 3-color graded wash.
2. blending color wet into wet, and watching the new colors created
3. Leaving white without masking it out
4. Not worrying about "local" color in order to create a fun painting
5. Creating beautiful darks and light with just three colors
6. Lifting paint (at the end) to create soft, brushy mane

Draw your favorite picture of a zebra, or other animal with interesting patterns. 
For the background, choose three primary colors. I chose quin magenta, hansa yellow,
and pthalo blue. I wet the paper with a large brush, and applied a graded wash, left to
right, with magenta, yellow, and blue. I left some white patches, especially near the eye,
by painting the wash close to, but not in those areas. That created a soft, disappearing
edge in those areas. I spattered clear water onto some of the drying areas for blossoms.

After the initial wash was dry, I began the stripes. Using the same three colors that I used in the background, I wet a stripe, then applied color, letting them blend into each other. The trick is to never let all three colors blend together at once, trying to keep the colors pure. For example, I might start with magenta, change to yellow about an inch later, then change to blue, then back to yellow, alternating colors. You can see that better in the close-up below. Try not to make your intervals too even or predictable.

You can make stripes with just two colors if you want to.

One trick is to put down one color, then, starting away from the first color, put down the second color and let it run back into the first. That way you have a tip of pure color to add to the next one.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Three color painting

This post will look weird bc it is from my phone.
The first photo of the fruit is done in 3colors, working left to right or top to bottom. Red, yellow, and blue were put in wet in wet to shade each item, each done in a different color order. 
The other of the beach pail is the finished product of the 2color painting. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

two color painting exercise


This is a 2-part lesson in learning to think out of the box when it comes to color.

Be sure to look at some of Carol Carter’s amazing paintings on her web site. Notice 4 things: 1) How her backgrounds move from warm to cooler either top to bottom or side to side. 2) How her colors are clean “out of the tube” colors. 3) How she may place color from the cool side of the background into the warm side when she’s doing the foreground. 4) How she uses “back runs” or “blossoms”. 5) How she incorporates “surprise” colors. She doesn’t pay as much attention to “local” color as she does colors that create a mood.

Exercise #1
Choose one of these two sketches or draw your own. I just want some simple, easy to shade shapes, that connect in some way.

Choose TWO colors, a warm and a cool, that you think will work well together to create a mood that you like. These do not have to be complementary colors. Do some color samples to see what you might like to try. Maybe go for something unusual.

Working either top to bottom or left to right, wash the background with dark cool, gradually lightening it, and then gradually add your warm color until by the bottom of the picture (or right) you have pure warm color. (I did the beach scene with aqua and yellow ochre.) You can miskit off areas if it makes you more comfortable. You do not have to have a perfect half/and/half background. But it’s nice if some of your objects are completely inside one color, and some are completely inside the other color. (EX: The seashells are completely inside the ochre color. The pail is mostly in the aqua.)

As you “watch your paint dry,” try spattering in some clean water drops to create blossoms. In my example you can see the blossoms in the aqua and in the sand.
 Let this dry completely. Remove any miskit if you used it.

Start shading your figures in the color that is opposite from what its background is. If the shells have an ochre background, I will shade them with the aqua. If the pail has a blue background, I will shade it with the ochre, adding some blue in areas if I need it.

As you paint, leave patches or pure white so that you can add a “surprise” color later.

NEXT TIME: Trying the same shapes, only using 3 colors to shade.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016



I got the reference photo from UNSPLASH from the pixabay
web site, which offers public domain photos. If anybody has other
public domain references that they like, please let me know.

First, sketch the turtle on cold press paper and miskit out the
white lines on the shell an flippers. What you see in gray
is where I put miskit. In this example, I applied miskit with a color
shaper, made for pastels. You can also apply with a soapy brush. I have since
discovered that an inexpensive Polar Flo by Creative Mark works very well also.
Do not mask out the underbelly of the shell.

I wanted to play warm against cool colors. I wet the shell completely, and starting at the bottom
rim, I painted in with quinacridone gold, quin burnt orange (or any brown/orange like burnt sienna),
and magenta. As it dried, but had not lost its shine, I added pthalo blue around cracks in the shell where it would curve under a bit. You can salt a bit for texture, or spritz speckles in it as it dries.

While the top shell is drying, softly paint a warm neutral color for the spots on the 
underbelly. Avoid hard edges here. While that is drying, begin the head area. The colors I used
were: Pthalo blue, quin magenta, and some quin gold. I was aiming for a bright, multi-colored
cool for most of the head. Avoid painting the eye yet.

Finish all the flippers with the same colors you used in the head. You want strong color
on the leading edges of the flippers. (Miskit is still on everything.) Notice that I salted the shell
in the first step, and the colors are faded on the top shell.

Using the same colors as before, I glazed over the top shell until I was happy with
the amount of glow. For the underbelly, under the mouth, and underpart of the far
right flipper, I glazed over with cobalt teal blue. I used this instead of a watered down
pthalo (which is OK to use) because it doesn't get dark, and it lifts better than pthalo
if I want to make it softened later.

Remove all the miskit. Whoa! Bright white! Paint in the eye using dark blue
and purple, leaving a spot of white.

Decide on a few bright whites you want to keep, and glaze over the head,shell, and 
flippers with water, letting the paint move lightly over the whites to dull them down
a bit. Strenthen any darks you see under the shell (near the back flipper) etc.
You can paint thin light lines on the far right flipper, just faintly.

This is one way to create a watery look. In class we will investigate several ways.
I covered the entire turtle with contact paper (clear), and carefully cut around the
shape of the turtle with an exacto knife. Then I pulled away the background, leaving
the contact paper on the turtle. 
IF YOU DON'T WANT THE PAINT TO BLEED over the top shell, apply a thin line of miskit on
the paper above the shell.

I made puddles of several blues,( including cobalt, pthalo, and cobalt teal) on my palette, with a bit of
green gold. I wet the background (trying to be sure my contact paper was secure)and then laid in
washes of the blues. While it was still shiny, I wrinkled some plastic wrap and laid it on top of the wet paint. Then I watched it dry.
If you think it is drying too hard edged, remove the plastic and sprits a bit in places it is getting
too hard edged.

Which is nothing unusual. I did not miskit the top, and some of the blue from the background seeped under the contact paper. It created a blue-ish backrun on the top of the shell, just where I wanted a
nice light glow. I just waited for the entire painting to dry, lifted a bit, dried it, and painted some quin gold over it. 


(student work, sixth week)

(student work, first week)


Chris Campbell will be offering watercolor classes beginning Wednesday, November 2, 2016.

Dates: Nov. 2, Nov 9, Nov. 16, (off Thanksgiving week) Nov. 30, Dec. 7, and Dec. 14. (off for Christmas Holiday)

Location: SIAG Studio, 2nd and Main, Aurora, IN

Time: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Studio Open: 12:30 – 3:30

Cost: $75 for six weeks or $15 per lesson. (Please add $5 supply cost for each lesson if you use instructor supplies.)

Focus: Creating texture, controlling paint and water, good composition, mixing color, experimenting with papers and brushes--using fun, flexible projects adaptable to any level of ability

This is open to beginners or intermediate painters, or anyone who wants to expand his knowledge of papers, paints, and textures.

For more information contact Chris Campbell,
Or call 812-221-1252 to register and receive supply list.


(Space limited)

Friday, September 9, 2016


Copy the pattern onto cold press 140 pound watercolor paper.

One “rule” of landscapes is to work from your largest shapes to your smallest.

This is started with wetting the entire sky with a large 2” brush. While wet, I washed in the blue of the sky, mixing cobalt teal blue with cobalt. (you can try other combinations) Some of the wash went over the roofs of the barns, but that is fine. I lifted out some clouds with a thirsty brush. Then I dried the picture.

Step two was painting in some green for the grass area. It is very easy, if using wet-into-wet, for the grass area to start to look like one big green pond. So you need to have three things to prevent that: direction, variety of color, and texture.

I chose a wet-into-wet start, although I could just as easily have done dry brush. I wet the grass area, and dropped in raw sienna, French, pthalo, and new gamboge. I tried to direct the paint in a diagonal away from the barns to create some direction. As it began to dry, I spattered a little. While wet, you can scratch in some suggestions of grass or pull out some whites with the side of a credit card.

When painting a field, you have to remember that grass, like other things, follows the rules of perspective, aerial (atmospheric) perspective. The main things to remember are:
The more distant, the smaller things appear; color becomes more muted and cooler (bluer) in appearance; and details disappear. So grass in the foreground will have more detail and cleaner color.  HOWEVER, keep the “pretty” color near your center of interest, not going off the page.

The field, rather than be a flat plane of color, should be used to subtly move your eye through the picture, through shadows, color change, texture, etc.

When your grass is dry, you can dry brush, gliding the side of a large round brush across. You can dry spatter. You can also use a fan brush to pull wet paint up into blades of grass.

When the grass is dry, work on the barns. Light is coming from the left side, so that side of the barn has the purest color. It is painted with red mixed with burnt sienna. The side of the barn is the same, only deeper color and mixed with some French ultramarine. More ultramarine is added just under the eave of the roof to add some shadow.

The top of the rear barn is painted the same, except more muted in color because it is further distant. The bottom is raw sienna. (later muted with a thin glaze of blue) The smallest building is painted with a glaze of purple, darker in the shadows.Its roof is a dirty green, shadowed near the red barn with burnt sienna.

The roofs of the barns are a wash of cobalt with some pale cool red, muted with some raw sienna. While wet, you can scratch some lines in the roof to indicate the metal roof. Just don’t make stripes, just indicate some lines the parallel the roof edge. Be sure the angle is correct. The rear roof is done the same, leaving white where the sun causes a glare on the roof.


The doors of the barns are done with dark mix of burnt sienna, red, and Pthalo blue. It is darker at the top of windows and doors because the light hits the lower areas but not the tops. Paint the windows with a dark mixture of Pthalo or French ultramarine with burnt sienna. You can indicate more barn texture if you wish.

Finish the clouds by lifting off additional color gently, then shading the bottoms with a violet mixed with whatever blue you used for the sky with some cool red. 

There are vents in the roof of the closest barn. Darken the left side and bottoms for shadow. Then
create a long shadow underneath the vents to the edge of the roof with a darker gray mixed from the
same roof colors.

The front barn sits on cement blocks. They are painted with a raw sienna on the outside and the shadowed side, underneath teh barn, is darker, burnt sienna with blue. In one part you can see grass
growing underneath the barn.

To finish up the grass, spatter some texture in the foreground. Spatter the road, if you made one.
Create some indications of grass, especially on the edge of the road.

Lightly with a fine brush paint in the lightning rods on the roofs. These should not be very dark, nor 
get too much attention, so blot them if they seem too dark.