Sunday, December 3, 2017



You will need: yupo paper cut into 5 x 7 or so, 2 pieces; a brayer (roller); tube paints in colors you like; a pieces of plexiglas or wax paper; tar gel, if desired

On one sheet of yupo paper start dotting some small bits of paint
straight from the tube in the shape of a tree. (or any other shape you want).
Lay the other sheet of yupo directly over your painted shape. Cover with wax paper or plexiglas to protect your surface and brayer from paint.
With a brayer, roll firmly in a top to bottom motion. (This creates those
tree-like swirls) Gently pull apart your yupo pieces. You should now
have two prints.

If the paint is too thick, blot it with a paper towel. If it is too dry, mist it lightly.
If you don't like your results, wash it off and start over again.

To finish the tree:
When it is completely dry, use a small damp brush to shape it. From outside of the tree,
gently brush inward to create the branches, then blot with paper towel or tissue. To remove larger
areas of paint, use a larger brush. IF THE BRUSH IS TOO WET IT WILL MOVE THE PAINT TOO MUCH. You just want it damp.

You can remove small round areas in the tree with a damp round brush and blot to make
colored ornaments or lights.

If you want extra pizzazz, drizzle some clear tar gel over the picture in swirlls and let that dry overnight. Finish off your tree by spraying with acrylic sealer. If you do not, any amount of
water on the finished project will ruin it. 



Make sure you have drawn the eyes the same size and the iris is very round. Paint the entire iris with quin gold and dry. Dampen the eye area, and, starting at the top of the eye, paint with burnt orange and gradually add some french ultramarine blue to make it more brown. (Painting from the top down allows some of the quin gold to show at the bottom and makes the eye rounder as it moves from dark to light) When the eye is dry, darken the pupil. Pick out a small hilight with the point of a razor.


The nose is sort of a plum color made from cobalt violet and some quin burnt orange (or burnt sienna). The nostrils are darker at the tops, and there is a little highlight on the tip. It is darker on the right side and on the bottom.


I wanted the fur to have a golden-red hue, and the background to bring it out. But a pretty blue, the complement of orange, would be competing. So I used cerulean mixed with German Greenish Raw Umber (raw umber with dull green) to make a more subdued and granulated background. I have some work to do yet, but I'm happy with the overall effect.


I needed to continue to paint in some of the curls in the fur. When I got it the way I wanted, I began lifting hilights. Starting with the ears I lifted some of the areas to soften. Soften the areas that may have hard edges from the miskit.

Use a razor blade to get back some of the fine hairs that may have been lost in the fur. Also pick out hilight in the eyes if that has been lost and the whiskers if you want them to show.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


If you're wondering if you can mount your watercolors without frame and glass, the answer is YES!
Here are two web sites that you can use. There are only two mediums you will need, acrylic gel and clear, archival varnish.

I only have a few comments that may not be clear in the web sites. #1: These are mounted on boards that have been gessoed ahead of time. There needs to be a barrier between the painting, which is acid free, and the wood board. If the board is not pre-treated (with gesso or other primer) it can damage your painting.

#2: When I use a brayer, I put wax paper between my painting and my brayer so I don't accidetally get gel on the painting.

#3 I use WEIGHTS to hold down the paper while it is drying. I turn mine upside down on a clean board (covered with wax or butcher paper) and add weight to the back of the cradle board to insure a flat, air free seal.

I did this stargazer lily about a year ago, and I'm still happy with the results. It is on a 12 x 12inch,
1 1/2 inch cradle board. I had to seal the wood myself with a sealant first. I used GAC-100 from Golden to seal the wood first. I glued the painting to the wood with gel.  I used Krylon Kamar Varnish (acid free, non yellowing) in two coats as a final finish.

As this first web site points out, you can mount blank paper on a board and paint it afterward. It can also be mounted on canvas, but I like the board best.
Step by step instructions
Annie Strack's video

There are a number of web sites that demonstrate this process.

There's a lot to like about this process. It is light weight. There is no glass. And you don't have to pay for glass and frame. I paid about $12 for the cradle board on sale.


We just started 2 weeks of learning a bit about painting furry friends. This is Jasper, a dog portrait I am doing studies for. After transferring the sketch onto Arches 140 lb paper, I decided to try an experiment. Before painting, I covered the entire background with gum arabic straight from the bottle, to see if it would enhance the softness of the fur around the edges while masking out the background. I also put a bit on the hilight of the nose, hoping to get a nice hilight without having to soften edges when I'm finished.

The gum arabic dries quickly with a sheen, so it's not hard to see where I put it on. I also put miskit on some fine hairs on the ears, whiskers, and fur.

I am using only four colors for this painting: Quin gold, quin burnt orange, a dab of coral, and French ultramarine. The first painting step was to wet the entire dog and put in a basecoat of quin gold. While that was still wet, I added quin burnt orange in areas that will be darker: under the chin, shadows of the face and eyese, under the ears. I let that dry. Then I put in a second coat, starting with quin burnt orange with a little coral. I added a bit of French ultramarine mixed with quin burnt orange to the darker areas, deepening the shadows. 

OK, he looks like a zombie puppy right now, but I am pretty satisfied with the results so far.

If you are doing a dark animal, begin with a wash of blues with some pinks added. With subsequent coats, it will become very dark without becoming dull. 

Next week we will put in the eyes and tighten up some of the shapes in the fur and face.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Student Show Off Time

Today in class we had a free-paint. Everyone could bring anything they wanted to work on.
Here are a few results. Wish I took a few more pictures. So pleased with their work!

Sunday, October 15, 2017



Before proceeding with the background, I strengthened my rock  shapes until they were the way I waned them.

The last thing I did from the previous post was to put in a warm wash for a background, indicating vertical trees. The next step is to find the shapes I wanted for the background. Laying a sheet of CANSON tracing paper over the painting, I shaded in the places where I wanted my tree shapes to be. This way I was not damaging my paper with excess pencil marks while I played around with shapes. You can use charcoal or crayon or marker on the tracing paper to more quickly make the shapes.

Another way to do this is to tear strips of colored paper into general shapes and arrange them over your paper. You can move these around until you know how you want your background to look.

I used a sponging technique on the trees. When doing trees, TRY TO LEAVE PLACES THAT BIRDS CAN FLY THROUGH.  I dampened a small natural sponge, blotting out a lot of the moisture with a paper towel. Since my background had a lot of yellow, I didn't need to sponge yellow in. So I sponged a pale yellow green over anything that would have any shade of green in it. Dry that layer. Add some blue or darker green to the light green mix until you have a medium green, and sponge it over all greens that are a medium shade or darker. Dry that.

Now you THINK I'm going to tell you to go to the darkest green...but NOT YET. I am setting this up by values, and my oranges and reds are a lighter value than the dark greens. So I sponge in anything that will be orange or red. Dry. Sponge in a few reds...don't overdo those. NOW go back with a dark green and sponge in those darkest greens. 

You can see I saved a little space for my fisherman in the distance. 
I covered up my water and spattered a little over the trees. (some blues and reds). 

Now it's time to put your negative painting to work. Negative paint around the tree branches and trunks. Put some high in the distant trees and lower in the close trees. Keep it lighter in the distance. Paint in some grasses, some fir branches, or some shadows in places that need attention. Paint the waders and hat on the fisherman.

I am generally happy with the results. I have the blurred area on the right to resolve, and I want to put a few more waves in the river, but overall, I like the way it is turning out. It's quite bright, but that's how I think about fall.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


More about masking fluid.

On most masking fluids, you want to pour a small amount into the lid (for Pebeo) or a small container. You don't want to dip your brush directly into the bottle, because you need to put the lid back on right away to prevent it from drying out.

There are several good ways to apply masking fluid to retain the white of the paper.

1. Use an old brush. Put soap on the hairs of the brush to keep the miskit from clumping up on it. From time to time, rewet the brush with soapy water.

THROW AWAY RINSE WATER WHEN YOU ARE DONE. You don't want to paint with rinse water that has soap residue and latex from the miskit.

You will never use these brushes for anything else but masking. Use several size brushes depending on the job.

2. Use "color shapers" that are used by pastelists and sometimes for clay. These have silicon ends, and you don't need to soap them. Just pull the dried masking fluid right off the silicon. These are good for large areas.

3. Use a drafting pen, especially for fine lines.

4. Use a metal pallette knife. Artist Joy Moon recommends using these for masking.

5. SPATTER miskit on using a toothbrush. This creates a pretty fine spatter.

You can always remove some of the miskit with your rubber cement eraser before you paint to create holes and texture in the masking fluid for extra texture.

Don't try to blow dry masking fluid, except on very low setting, if at all. And try not to keep the miskit on the painting for very long or in a hot or very cold room/vehicle.  It can become impossible to remove.