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Watercolor: New and Notable – and Skill Building in Figurative Watercolors

Seeking Beauty to Fix a Slump When I need a boost of double-shot inspiration, I look at some of the amazing figurative watercolor artists posting their gorgeous work online. And thank goodness they’re  taking time to snap and share imagery, or video-record their process, because I rely on those “stop-me-in-my-scroll” power-boosts to shove me out of an art-making slump. Looking at work galaxies ahead of your own is inspiring to some, and overwhelming to others. Which are you? Figurative Watercolors Here’s a few figurative watercolor painters I follow on social media that make me sprint to my art supplies to get back to …[Continue reading]

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Sketchbook Practice – programming motivation with mini-successes

When You Used to Make Art I loved everything about art as a kid. My excitement for creativity followed me through my teens, and I doodled and dabbled with art studio courses in college. And then I got a job. Then I moved, and got another job. And life got busy, and I stopped making art. I was pretty miserable about the dust collecting on my art supplies, but I was very committed to my Have-To list while ignoring my Want-To list. My sweetheart at the time encouraged art-making with kidnapping-note newspaper cutouts surreptitiously taped to things around the house. (Thank you, BJK. XO) Despite …[Continue reading]

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Watercolor – Bunny’s Tutor – and What’s the Best Size for Paintings?

Does Painting Size Matter? What size do you make your art? I paint watercolors and build printmaking plates in small format. Every piece of art I ever made was under 8×10, with an occasional hurdle into 11×14 – until I started to sell at Art Festivals.  In a comment on last week’s post, Marie E. asked: How have you decided on the size of your work? I have been trying to enter some watercolor competitions… It seems that larger works are the norm. Why have you made the decision to go smaller with your work? Do you find that it sells better? Is …[Continue reading]

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Monotype Printmaking – Bird Watching – and some fine artists to follow

Making a Painterly Monotype Here are some process photos for making a painterly monotype with non-toxic inks from a sheet of acrylic or plexiglass. If you’re interested in diving a little deeper into printmaking and monotypes, I’ve got a series of monotype tutorial demos for you on my youtube channel here. Grab a beverage and a notebook. In each video on my channel, there is a list of supply links to everything used in the demo. Find the lists in the ‘Show More’ links under each video window. Be sure to subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss upcoming watercolor and printmaking …[Continue reading]

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Watercolor – Wine at Mandola Rosa – and Gift Ideas for Artists

Best Gifts for Artists If you are adamantly *not* an artist, but you have a creative friend or family member that would love an art-related gift, I’m here to help!  My own family is sprinkled with engineers, mechanical wizards, construction titans, internet security bosses, firefighters and nutrition and fitness gurus. If I set them loose in a Dick Blick art supply store, and said “Please buy me an art-flavored gift?”, they’d be utterly perplexed. They all love art, and they’re totally supportive of my artistic endeavors, but that would be akin to sending a art historian out to buy buy circuit board assembly parts.  …[Continue reading]

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Watercolor – Italian Door – and encouragement to photograph your life

The Power of Photos in Art & Life I’ve been fortunate to travel in Europe with my watercolors and a camera. I worked as crew for Workshops in France  during an amazing lavender field plein air excursion taught by Carol Marine in Provence. A decade before, our family went to Rome, and wore out the shutter buttons on our cameras trying to capture the atmosphere so we could take it all home in photographs.  I don’t think you have to travel far and wide to collect subjects for art, but any rendering of great fun in life done with pigments is bound to be good. At the …[Continue reading]

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Watercolor Sketch – Morning Musing

Lasso Your Mind, and Redirect your Focus I live 15 miles from the Hill and Woolsey Fires burning now in southern California. After our experience with high wind a year ago during the Thomas Fire, I’m not comforted by the miles. I’m scanning Fire Department tweets, social media posts from friends forced to evacuate, and two more days of Red Flag Wind warnings. And I’m looking out the window over and over again. Should the wind shift, we know what to do. We can be out of here in 10 minutes, disgruntled cat and all. And since there is nothing we can do …[Continue reading]

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Woodcut: Carnelian (& gift ideas for the beginner printmaker)

Gift Ideas for the for Beginner Printmaker When I started posting printmaking tutorials on my youtube channel, I got a flood of emails asking where one could buy a comprehensive starter set to try printmaking without breaking the bank. I’ve searched, and there isn’t a complete set in a box that includes all of the parts I’d recommend to try making a linocut or a woodcut for the first time. But a kit can be assembled a la carte to get you, or your beginner printmaker started on the right foot! Printmaking is a wonderful art-making method that allows the artist to print in multiples. More than …[Continue reading]

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Pen and Ink Drawing for Inktober – Secret Sanctuary (Flowing)

Finding Time for Inktober The challenge of sketching an ink drawing in a sketchbook every day for 30 days can be overwhelming when you already have a busy month. This year’s Inktober was no exception, but I’m glad I squeezed a few of the sketches in between other obligations. When drawing is at the front of your mind – when you’ve decided to prioritize it – reaching for your moleskine sketchbook is easier. Your sketchpad calls your name and reminds you to grab it in snippets of time when you’re sitting still; in between patrons at an art festival, on the couch with …[Continue reading]

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Mat Board Collagraphs – and finding your Art Cheerleaders

Who’s Cheering in Your Corner? Did you catch this blog post about how you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with? Do you have a squad of encouragers around you? Who do you call when creative block crushes your art-making mojo, or a wave of uncertainty washes over your painting or printmaking adventures? Beginning artists are more susceptible to self-doubt than seasoned, professional, gallery represented artists. The Terrible Troll of Self Doubt Self doubt is a universal cycle, so professionals struggle with it too. The difference, perhaps, is that the journeymen artist has plowed a steady, determined …[Continue reading]

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Silk Aquatint Printmaking: Library Cat

Silk Aquatint Portrait Here is another silk aquatint , with colored pencil, based on a quick cell phone snapshot of my trusty studio assistant, Scout.  He’s all about being helpful, especially if you need things like fur in the paint, shoe laces untied while carving details on a block, paint brushes scattered to the floor, or a lap warmer. He’s house-renowned as an expert in his field of Bothersome-but-Cute. Do you have a studio assistant? How do you Make a Silk Aquatint? If you’re unfamiliar with silk aquatint, visit this post to read an explanation of the process and the concept. After you read …[Continue reading]

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Collagraph: Garden Watch – and inking tutorials for collagraph plates and printing

Mat Board Collagraph Versatility Have you ever made a mat board collagraph? If not, and you want to try it, visit this post for a detailed overview on making your first collagraph plate. If you’ve already created mat board collagraphs, do you print them just one way? Intaglio (with the uppermost surface cleared and wiped, and the recessed areas loaded with ink, to print from the “basement” of the plate)? Or Relief prints – applying and printing ink only from the uppermost part of the plate – or the “roof”, leaving the recessed areas blank? [NOTE: If you have trouble distinguishing between printmaking …[Continue reading]

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Collagraph: Sunday Morning – and helpful resources for entering art shows

How Do You Get Your Art Out into the Public? Are you juggling family and jobs while squeezing slivers of art-making into your busy world? How often do you apply to art shows? Do you ponder the opportunities of artistic exposure and camaraderie on social media? In the melee of the artist’s mind, it can be challenging to mount the technology of digital sharing.  “But it’s free exposure!”, we all say!  “Free” after you learn to title and scan your work. Free after you plan repeated missives to fill the What-Should-I-Say part of your posts on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.  There is also …[Continue reading]

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Figurative Watercolor Painting – Recharge – and Building Your Own Art Photo Reference Library

Building Your Own Art Reference Photo Library In the last post, I described scheduling your own photo sessions to create a still life painting art reference library.  Your inspiration meter might spin past 100 while considering painting and drawing materials designed and snapped in your own space, with your favorite things, or your most loved people. The painting above – Recharge – is from a photo session done over a decade ago, and I still paint and draw from images I took in that photo session. A little planning with a camera, good light and a few costume changes on your favorite persons …[Continue reading]

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Linocut print – Viognier and Apples – and Linocut Ideas

About the Linocut Have you ever made a m linocut? Most folks I meet at art festivals say they recall printing in grade school from rubber erasers, potatoes, apples and carrot stamps. The fun thing is this: no matter how old the person is when discussing grade school printmaking – they remember what their first print was. A gecko, a spider, a dog, etc. Printmaking is fun, and I’m always delighted to bring it full circle, to re-introduce the process to an adult who hasn’t carved a block in a few decades. All you need are a few art supplies, and a reference …[Continue reading]

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Beginning Watercolor painting – El Conductor – and the Ventura Artwalk

Be an Art Boss In Santa Barbara, California on Thanksgiving, a few decades ago, I took a photo of our feast. A turkey centerpiece, with a bowl of rice and a platter of green beans. A Mexican paper maché man under a sombrero with the words El Cuatrero (the rustler) scribed across the brim watched over our culinary adventures. You can see a black and white copy of the reference photo taped above my work in progress below, with the aforementioned turkey and green beans. Since I’m the boss of me, a few changes meandering into this watercolor. Mister turkey became a pot …[Continue reading]