A Painting in Three Colors

Just blue, brown and white comprise this winter scene. The third isn’t actually a hue, but it serves as an overall value shape that enhances color, such as those herein. White (unpainted or “saved” in watercolor), like its opposite value, black, helps midvalues appear more interesting, so include both in virtually every painting. Above, cleanContinue reading “A Painting in Three Colors”

Different Seasons, Varying Elements

The changing seasons provide ample opportunity to experiment with painting elements, like color and value, to achieve different results. Above, sky is painted first for this summer view looking northwesterly at about midday from Wickham Park in Manchester, Connecticut. Clear water covers the paper’s middle section, and then blue is quickly painted with another brushContinue reading “Different Seasons, Varying Elements”

Seasonal Light

Here are two watercolor paintings using light by way of color and value to suggest winter and cold air. Both are backlit scenes. The first (above, and in the next few images), at more or less midday, uses a very limited and cool palette, while the other, at a day’s beginning or end, introduces warmerContinue reading “Seasonal Light”

A Quick Shortcut

I was playing around with various winter and holiday motifs in one of my classes recently and here is an example that took about 20 minutes, most of which involved cutting and tearing painter’s tape into shapes. I used frisket at first, but then resorted to the tape when the frisket quickly prooved too gooey.Continue reading “A Quick Shortcut”

Thinking Thanksgiving?

This little guy, a Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) and one of my favorite songsters, is certainly no turkey, but its colors and shape (at least in this portrait) remind me somewhat of Thanksgiving fare. In shadow its buff-colored belly is like the hue of caramel or pumpkin pie. I begin, as usual, with dry-on-wet marksContinue reading “Thinking Thanksgiving?”

A European Landscape

St. Coloman’s Church is a baroque Bavarian icon near the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in southern Germany near Austria. It is set against the dramatic Schwangau range in the Alps. A pale wash of color suggests the building’s shadow and is applied first. Sky color both defines lit mountain peaks and covers their shadowed parts. BrightContinue reading “A European Landscape”

Botanical Illustration

Sometimes a subject has an interesting enough shape, pattern or color that it can stand on its own in a painting without including background elements that might potentially distract. An example is this tiger lily (Lilium lancifolium), which here consists of three open blossoms and two buds, long, thin stamens, and very bright, highly-patterned petals.Continue reading “Botanical Illustration”

Seasonal Contrasts

As autumn color wanes into the soon-approaching winter grays, we try to hang onto it as long as possible, for example often with bright pumpkins, gourds, and chrysanthemums. Wildlife prepares by stocking up on resources, and this motif provides a metaphor for that cyclical change. Gray – a neutral, or lack of color – contrastsContinue reading “Seasonal Contrasts”

Seasonal Sunshine

This loosely and quickly-painted popular sunflower motif is begun by splashing yellow almost everywhere across the paper, and then, while the paint is still wet, dropping blotches of red-brown roughly in the centers of the flowers. Ordinarily it’s best to avoid composing with just two primary subjects, but one behind the other and both slightlyContinue reading “Seasonal Sunshine”

Morning Mist

This is a view of mist hugging a pond or inlet with some rocky outcroppings on the water set against a backdrop of colorful sky. It is painted in just a few layers of mostly dry-on-wet and wet-on-dry applications. Color (cerulean, Naples yellow, brown madder) is primarily subdued in warm and cool neutrals. To suggestContinue reading “Morning Mist”


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