Sunday, May 9, 2010


Something I learned early on, is that you have to develop a deep concentration for your work. You really have to focus on what you are doing. This graphite, Black On White, took a great deal of focus, not only on the black Friesian, but on the background. It's hard to see in this photo, but the sky is filled with tiny snowflakes, each one painstakingly shaded around. (Black On White is available).
This topic of focus reminds me of an incident in the studio when I was at art school. After the lesson, we students would all troop off to get our equipment: a stool to sit on, a large wooden drawing board, and a funny bench sort of thing that had a flat bottom that sat on the floor, a tall upright, and a narrow, slanted board that held our drawing board and materials. This unsteady arrangement went by the quaint name of a "Mule". One evening, we were all busy concentrating on our assignment, and the only sound in the studio was the quiet classical music that was always played. We were all totally focused on our work. Suddenly, there was an ominous scuffle, then a terrific crash, as one poor student, deeply concentrating on his work, forgot that the treacherous Mule had to be kept in balance while we worked. We heard the gasp of horror, the sound of the stool, then the student hitting the floor, the bang of the drawing board, followed by the crash of the mule as they hit the floor miliseconds apart, and finally, the echoing clang of the pencil box as it bounced and rattled on that hard, unforgiving floor. Total silence followed, then the sound of throats being cleared, light coughs, and snuffles as we all did our heroic best to not scream with laughter. To our credit, we managed this, then helped the hapless student pick up his things, made sure he was all right, and then, to spare his feelings, went back to work as if nothing had happened.
I feel this is a cautionary tale, letting us know that focus is a neccessary thing when drawing/painting, but like everything, we mustn't carry it too far.
By the way, notice anything different?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Playing In Puddles - Watercolour, it's what I do.

These past few weeks, I've been enjoying writing about my love affair with watercolours. I decided to do this while I was reading a wonderful book on Art Marketing called "I'd Rather Be In The Studio!" by Alyson B. Stanfield. ( If you are looking for a book that will give you great insights and tips on getting yourself (as an artist) moving as well as a virtual artistic energy boost, I highly recommend it!)
One of the things I read, was that if I have experience and am educated in something, I should talk/write about it. Now, I grew up being taught to NOT talk about myself, especially about the artist in me. So the idea of talking about my painting, and about myself as an artist was a Big Deal. But you know, I have really been enjoying this.
I have always been attracted to the bright, clean look of watercolours, and when I finally got myself to art school, too many years ago to admit to) I made sure I took all the watercolour courses and I loved them all. Well, except for the class that insisted that we splash and dash paint on the paper. I think that's when I realized that I need to paint in a realistic style. Bravo to all who enjoy the freer forms of painting, but I am simply not a person who can "emote" and fling paint. As you can see by my 11 x 14 watercolour painting "How Does Your Garden Grow?", I love detail, and one way to get detail in watercolour is to use a dry-brush technique.
You can literally use a dry brush dipped in paint that is fresh from the tube or that is sitting, wet, on your palette. You can also dampen your brush, take off any excess moisture, and run it across paint that is damp, but not a puddle. For really tiny detail, I often use an all purpose synthetic brush, and often in a size o or even a 00. I don't paint every hair on an animal, but I sometimes like to give the impression that I do.
I'm enjoying passing along little watercolour tips that I have picked up over the years, and I hope they help you find more enjoyment in the paintings - yours and mine.