Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Here is one of my latest paintings. It is on yupo, using ink, fluid acrylic, and alcohol inks.
Following is the poem that I wrote to go with it. It was originally for a show on addiction and recovery, which isn't going to happen this year, unfortunately.

The "model" is actually a very sweet kitty friend of my friend Jen.

By Christine D. Campbell
Even when I cannot see you
Your eyes upon me are unrelenting;
Never resting, always waiting
For my moment of weakness.
You would have me
Between those threatening claws,
Taking pleasure in the taunting, As I squirm between your paws;
Taking measure of my pain,
Prelude to a life’s demise.

So too, must I watch for you,
My eyes vigilant and unrelenting.
Never resting, always watching
For my moment of strength.
Then NO!
You cannot have me!
With my own protective claws,
I’ll escape this desperate haunting, Steal the victory from your jaws
And keep what I have fought to gain:
Freedom of a life reclaimed.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Water Lilies Negative and Positive

Here is the photo reference. It is my photo of some lilies in Lincoln State Park near Evansville, Indiana.

Here I simplified the photo, creating some areas of passage in the water
instead of having all those lily pads. I wanted to keep the dark reflections
and add some more flowers.

After painting the underpainting I drew on my sketch. Where I knew I wanted some pinks
and yellows for the flowers, I added those, but not in a controlled way.

Colors used: cerulean, hansa yellow, quin coral, permanent rose, deep green.

I started out with negative painting for the first three layers, until I was satisfied with my values. First, I painted around all the flowers, since those were focus points, and also the two pads closest to the front. I started with blue at the top, blending to a green in the center, going back to blue, and then adding pink to make it a little purple. The colors were different, but the VALUES were about the same.

For the next layer, I painted the water with blues and permanent rose to create the passage between the petals. The value got darker by 2 values. This time I painted around all the pads and stems and flowers.
I painted the wrinkles in the pads and the shadows that form between the pads.The shadows are really the negative space of the pads themselves.

I painted in the dark reflections at the bottom with cerulean mixed with a deep green. 
For the leaves, I added deeper green to the centers to create the feeling of a bowl. I separated the flower petals with darker mixes of the permanent rose and coral. 
Last, I lifted some areas of the stems and petals that got too dark. I still have to go in and lift some reflection out of the water in the foreground to further create the illusion of sunlight on water.

Ox Gall Medium

The medium I used on this week's test is Ox Gall. It is literally from cow gall bladder, but there are synthetic versions. It is commonly used in liquid version, but Lukas makes a pan version for under $4.
Most watercolor contains three things, besides the color: gum arabic, glycerin, and oxgall. The gum arabic and glycerin help it to bind to the paper, and the oxgall helps the paint move around.
Oxgall is considered a "wetting solution," which seems like an oxymoron to me, since it actually makes the paint dry faster. It seems its best use would be en plain aire under humid conditions, like Florida, where your paper just doesn't want to dry.

Directions call for you to use it straight to wet your paint instead of water. Here is a way to test what you can do with oxgall. First wet some wc paper and drop in plain color with nothing added but water. Watch how the paint moves around and blends. Do the same thing, only wet your paint with oxgall and drop it into wet paper. Notice how the paint spreads differently, like bursts of fireworks. The center of the drop pulls quickly away, drying rather quickly. (it loses its shine). If you set one color next to another, instead of blending like the first sample of paint, the paints tend to pull away from each other, not blending much. If you drop one color in the middle of another color burst, the colors tend to not blend much. They want to retain their own identity.

Friday, August 4, 2017


I'm on a mission to try to understand the uses of the watercolor mediums I've seen in stores and in artist catalogs. So each week, I'll explore one new medium. dick blick has them on sale right now, so I figured it was a good time to explore.

The medium of the week this time is GRANULATION MEDIUM. Several companies make it, but the brand I tested is Winsor Newton. 

WHAT IS GRANULATION? It makes the appearance of having tiny GRAINS in the paint, small particles of sediment that separate and sink into the grain of the paper. You usually notice the sedimentary quality in paint with more water in it. TO TEST the colors in your palette for sediment or granulating properties, make a swatch of your colors. Make the swatch big enough to paint from dark to light. If it granulates, you will see tiny particles separating into the texture of the paper.

I made a list of some of the very granulating colors and the staining colors. You  might want a granulating color for creating great textures in things such as trees, wooden barns, a sandy beach. But you might NOT want a granulating (sedimentary) color for a child's face or a shiny metallic object.

Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber
Lunar Earth, Burnt Sienna
Cadmium Red medium, Pink Color
Cadmium Red deep, Rose of Ultramarine
Cote d’Azur violet, Cobalt violet
Cobalt violet deep, Ultramarine violet
French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue
Cerulean, Graphite Gray, Lunar Black
Manganese Blue, Cobalt Teal Blue
Cobalt Turquoise,
Cobalt Green Pale, Terre Verte, Viridian, Bohemian Green Earth
Raw Umber, Sepia, Undersea Green
Rich Green Gold
Earth colors
Oxides and ochres
Contain PBR7 (siennas and umbers), PB29 (FUM), PB 35 (Cerulean)

Some brands don’t granulate as much as others, especially those with honey. Also, student grade with a lot of fillers will granulate less.

Below is a sample of my experiment. I used French Ultramarine, which is already a sedimentary color, and Quinacridone Coral, which is very smooth. The first rectangle on the left is the color by itself on cold press paper. Rectangle #2 is with salt. Rectangle # 3 is spritzed with water. And #4 is sprayed with granulation medium. (you can add granulation medium directly to your paint instead of spraying it.) The non sedimentary paint granulated; the sedimentary paint granulated even more.

CAUTION: Keep any paints that you mix this medium with in a separate palette or container. If you don't, you will get it into your other paints. Also wash the brush really well before reusing for your normal painting. 

Directions for this medium call for using it full strength with your paints from the tube, diluting your paint with the medium instead of water. But I liked putting it in a small squirt bottle. I didn't have to worry about contaminating my other paints or my brushes. Just squirt onto wet or damp paint.

Granulation does not change the actual feel of the paper. Texture medium does, but I'll discuss that another week.

CONCLUSIONS: I liked using the granulation medium. The results were pretty noticeable. And using it in a spray was easy. I don't like how pricey it seems, but you don't use much, and it goes a long way. This is one of the more expensive mediums. Dick Blick's price this week/month was about $8.48 for 75 ml bottle, much better than the $12 I paid at Hobby Lobby AFTER my 40% coupon. 

How much will I use it? Probably not on portraits, except on beards or hair. But I'll use it on about half my paintings.


You can read about some more negative painting on the 6/3/16 and 5/26/16 blog posts. This one is similar, but different. In this one, each layer is drawn on one at a time to avoid confusion. Also, every negative space is painted the new value for each layer.

You can also read about negative painting in Linda Kemp's books: Painting Outside the Lines and others. I understand that she has a tutorial of the tree project on you tube, but I have not seen it.

Begin by creating a foundation. Some might consider it a background or underpainting.
Paint wet into wet an underpainting using three or four colors. (You will use only these colors for the entire project.) Use some of the texture techniques we've talked about: salt/spray water or granulating medium/wax paper/saran wrap/bubble wrap/spackling/etc. You are not trying to make it dark, but a pretty light value. Dry completely.

Note: Linda Kemp wets both sides of the paper and puts it on plexiglas to keep it moist while painting this foundation. You remove it from the plexiglas when you are ready for it to dry.

After drying, sketch out your first layer of simple shapes, in this case a few trees for the foreground.
Here is a pattern if you don't feel comfortable without one.

Using the same colors you used for the underpainting, paint the SPACES BETWEEN the tree and limbs. Those are the NEGATIVE spaces. This part should be about two values darker than the first underpainting. When finished, you should see a lot of the textures showing up in your first trees.

Step THREE: Draw some more trees and some ground higher up above the first layer of ground. (This helps strengthen the illusion of distance: Things below your eye level rise from the bottom in the distance; things above your eye level appear to get lower from the top in the distance.) Use paint another value or two darker than the first time. Again, paint ONLY the NEGATIVE spaces between branches and trees,  NOT THE TREES THEMSELVES.  If you are doing monochrome, just use less water in your paint. With each successive layer, you should also neutralize your paints, to reinforce the effect of distance.

In this pattern of the second layer, the dots represent your first layer of trees. Notice the overlapping of the limbs.

This picture shows the original underpainting(using bubble wrap and pencil shavings for texture),
the first layer of paint, and the beginning of the second layer on the right side. The colors I used were quin coral, cerulean, hansa yellow.

Step 3: When the painting is dry, put in another layer of trees, making them smaller than the others, and making the branches wind behind the others. Again, using the same paints as before, use an even darker value to paint the last layer of paint.

Above is a finished tree project. (See how the ground rises with each successive layer)
Below is a picture of leaves using the same technique. These two are my paintings.

Below are examples of other artists' work using this particular method of negative painting.

Thursday, June 29, 2017


THIS POPPY is what I would consider a botanical painting: realistic, includes the buds and leaf shapes for identification, no background except the white. This poppy is a combination of one I found on Pixabay and a photo I took. 

COLORS USED: permanent rose (or magenta); quin coral; new gamboge; cobalt or cerulean blue; dioxizine purple or you can mix magenta and cobalt. For QoR lovers you can crack open your transparent pyrol orange. BRUSHES: I used a #8 round throughout and a small lifting brush at the end; also a small fan brush. 


Sketch or trace the poppy onto Arches board. Miskit a few white drops in the center. Wet the petals and apply yellows and reds wet into wet. Before it can dry, wrinkle a piece of plastic wrap, tracing paper, or wax paper and press it over the flower. Weigh it down and allow it to dry until you have a wrinkled effect.

While waiting for that to dry, glaze a green made from new gamboge and cerulean over the buds. Apply a light wash of purple (made from magenta and cerulean or cobalt) to the sides. These are just underglazes. Also glaze green over the stems and leaves. In the leaves, try to leave a thin white line down the middle. I also added drops of cobalt into the wet green mixture.
When the petals are dry glaze over the center with a light purple, leaving tiny bits of white. (In this picture it looks darker; but I wanted to do it with purple.) While the purple is wet, pull some of the paint up at the top of the dark center with a thirsty brush, leaving a lighter purple. Remove miskit when dry.


Check your reference and find the darkest parts of the flower. (especially near the center, underneath other petals, etc.) Paint those in with Quin coral, and fade the color out gently with water. Find the deepest wrinkles and paint those in: hard line on one side, softened away on the other. 
TIP: When painting or drawing in the crinkles, paint them emanating from the center and curving in the direction of the petals. Don't try to space them too evenly apart, not the same length or width. To paint a crease, paint a hard edge on one side and soften the other side with water. (You will use that in clothing folds, flowers, etc.)

Continue to deepen darks in the creases. On the right side, the deep part of the petals
should have a deeper red, such as alizarin crimson; or make it by adding some purple to your reds.


After all your creases are done, wash over the flower with some transparent pyrol orange (or a mix of coral and new gamboge.)

Darken the green mix that you used before by adding a little blue. Wash that over the buds, and while damp, add some purple along the sides. Before that loses its shine USE YOUR FAN BRUSH to lightly pull out some "hairs" along the edges. Do the same with the stems: Lay down the green, and while wet, add purplein shaded areas (along one side and underneath where stems cross or go behind a bud or flower). Before it loses its shine use the fan brush again to pull out "hairs" or fuzz from the stems. Also strengthen the greens in the leaves, adding some cobalt or purple in more shaded areas.
Darken the stem underneath the flower with some orange. Also glaze some orange over the bottom leaf where it might reflect the color of the poppy.


Since I can never leave a flower alone, I used my scrub brush and clean water to first get rid of any spots/drops of paint that reached the white surface. Then I chose a few wrinkles to hilight by lifting paint from the top part of the wrinkle. Concentrate on the ones that you want to appear to come forward. I also lifted a bit on the part of the bud stems that curve downward, where the sun would hit them, and a bit on the left side. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017