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Pony Express Tomatoes 5 x 6.5 Graphite & Watercolor on paper
Available for sale on Etsy.

I started this as a graphite drawing and a loose wash on the plane last week while flying back to Los Angeles, and this was as far as I got (I was working on a few other small pieces which I’ll post soon.) The photo is from a long time ago, in my favorite apartment ever; an old carriage house above what used to be horse stalls, built in the 20’s. Full of architectural charm and not enough electrical outlets, but perfect just the same. I had a sticky shutter on my old camera – a Minolta SRT101 – and I remember being really disappointed when I got the film developed that everything was over exposed and furry, but I kept the photos anyway, and figured there was enough information in the arrangements, shapes and light/shadow to work with. This is my first pass from the stack of photos, and I’m enjoying the mental workout of translating values, *and* adding color where there is no reference for it. Did the tomatoes reflect red on the ceramic pot? They must have, right? But there’s only variations of gray in the photo. It’s an Art-Myth-Buster, and I love problem solving through the painting process.

Since it’s officially summer, and this weekend in Los Angeles – one of the main freeways for commuters – the 405 – will be shut down (locals are calling it Carmageddon), and because you all leave such nice notes when I post art, I’m giving away some art supplies. Here’s what’s in the goody package:

A Book: Watercolor Still Life, published by DK School, full of tips and tricks and how-to’s on painting still life with watercolor.

The book is ever so slightly loved but in great shape. The product description for it reads: Watercolor Still Life is a practical guide to a wide range of watercolor techniques. More than 300 photographs guide the beginner through a series of exercises designed to teach all the essentials of watercolor still life painting. Revealing projects focus on professional still lifes, shown in the making so novices can follow the creative process step-by-step. Unique gallery pages display works of watercolor masters — paintings that will instruct and inspire every student of the medium. Packed with specially commissioned artworks,clear instruction, and easy-to-follow exercises.

Watercolor paper: One 12 x 16 block of Canson Cold Press Watercolor paper. Brand new – still in cellophane.

And paint: 14 8ml Tubes of Winsor Newton (& 1 Grumbacher) Cotman series watercolors
The paints are almost new; a few dollops have been squeezed from a tube here and there, but there’s more than plenty of paint to fill a well on your palette and get cracking. Here are the colors: Cad Yellow, Viridian, Cerulean, Vermillion, Perm. Rose, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Phthalo Green, Alizerin Crimson, Mauve, Indian Red Hue & Chinese White.

So, here’s what you do if you’d like to win: leave a comment on this post before Thursday, July 21st at 10:00pm Pacific Time, and tell me the location of your dream painting destination. If you could take a week and go paint somewhere beautiful, where would you go?

That’s it… I’ll tally all the comments Thursday, pull a name from a hat, and send someone a sweet little watercolor still life kit. Note: If you don’t have a blogger account, please be sure to leave me your email address so I can notify the winner. And if you tweet this give away [here’s a twitter sized link to this post: ], leave your twitter ID with your comment so I can follow you, and I’ll put your name in the hat twice to double your chances of winning. 🙂

Art Quote
In the winter of 1908, Alson Clark put on layers of clothing to paint plein air in Quebec Harbor. He kept warm, but his paints froze on his palette. While most artists would have packed up & returned home, Clark located a blacksmith who made a small iron box to hold a glowing piece of hot coal affixed to the underside of the palette. Thereafter, his paints stayed warm enough to continue working. ~J. Stern

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28 thoughts on “Watercolor: Pony Express Tomatoes (& Art Supply Give Away!)”

  1. Your work is an inspiration. I wish I could see possibilities in a blurry black and white photo. I need some more imagination practice. If I could go anywhere and stay long enough to paint it would be near the ocean in some tropical place. I love seascapes and palm trees.

  2. I love that you kept the imperfect photos to translate from. You have the important info and know how you want the painting to look. There was a time when I would’ve been too literal with a photo but I’ve learned. The sight of a bighorn sheep strolling through that neighborhood is a shocker . How exciting ! And…. If I could paint anywhere…..? I think I’d go back to England and hope the sun would come out 😉 my hubby and I were there years ago and I couldn’t really paint because we were with another couple and they gave us a fantastic whirlwind tour through London, Bath, Stonehenge and Cardiff, Wales. I could do better now with the lack of sun but all of my pictures are gray . You’re doing some great work Belinda!

  3. I happily live in a town at the start of the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. I would take a week to travel along the road stopping here and there to scramble down the cliff face to the beach (at Low tide of course!) to paint looking back up the cliff or along the coastline. Using the rich red of the cliffs and the cool bluey greens of the gum trees and golden colour of the sand. My goal is to be able to paint waves any tips on how to do this gratefully accepted.

  4. I would love to paint in Scotland, my Grandmothers home land. If I should win I would give kit to neighbor who lost her s watercolor supplies in Tornado on June 1, in Massachusetts

  5. I love the process of translating what we see into what we paint. It is a blessing that photos are so imperfect in their portrayal, because then the artist can do his/her work. Beautiful watercolor – you translate masterfully!!

    OK. Since I am greedy: To tell the honest truth, I have never thought about this because I can paint anywhere. So I will be unoriginal and say France, if that will do the trick. 😉 Washington/Oregon/San Fran all seem nice too.

  6. Love the painting. I am headed for my dream painting site — Nova Scotia, and would be over the moon thrilled to win either paper or colours. You are such a sweetheart.
    And I’m over the moon just reading your blog, so don’t need the prize for that. Believe me though I’d dance up and down if I won. I love the red sand, the green grasses on the hills, the pines, the seashore near Pugwash, Nova Scotia, but love the whole place, and have seen most of it.

    I will think of you when I’m there this year. And I’ll be painting for sure!


  7. Hi B,
    Well.. I don’t paint, but if I did the location would have to do with who is there, a memory I want to savor, or perhaps a feeling of something familiar. I always enjoy seeing what you are creating next.


  8. Picking a dream painting location is tough, as there are so many places I would love to go and spend time artworking… somewhere on safari in Africa would be my choice…. Kenya or Zimbabwe.

  9. Hello Belinda!

    Many years ago I worked as a landscape designer. In particular, there was a house in Connecticut that I dream about daily. It was on a lake, with a converted garage studio. Had large barn doors opening to a stunning lake view. I have always wished to paint there.

  10. Since I was a small girl I’ve longed to paint in Venice.
    My grandfather did a large oil painting from a postcard of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice that was hanging in my grandparents apartment in Brighton, Mass. (si si I am soooo lucky to have it now, so many years later).
    One of my earliest memories is of looking at it and wanting to be in that astoundingly magical-looking place, brush in hand, attempting to tackle what my grandfather had faced, with my own hopefully equally as loving, absorbed, strokes. My honeymoon is coming up some time in the future and perhaps my dream will come true, if so your give away paints would be used on the trip!

  11. Love all the wonderful light and shadow in this painting,
    My favorite place to paint is Saint Simons Island, Georgia. Gorgeous and peaceful- like a second home:)

  12. Cinque Terres landscapes, culture, people and food are both lovely and inspiring, you must see smell and taste it in person, make sure to pack a comfortable pair of trail shoes and some SPF 30+.
    I would like nothing more than to have one week off work to focus on my art.
    It wouldn’t matter where I was if I could focus, experiment and learn techniques.
    Maybe just a well equipped studio with a good coffee shop nearby.

  13. Cinque Terres landscapes, culture, people and food are both lovely and inspiring, you must see smell and taste it in person, make sure to pack a comfortable pair of trail shoes and some SPF 30+.
    I would like nothing more than to have one week off work to focus on my art.
    It wouldn’t matter where I was if I could focus, experiment and learn techniques.
    Maybe just a well equipped studio with a good coffee shop nearby.

  14. I’d love to paint in Greece. Bright sun, turquoise water, strong shadows on white and pink houses, wonderful faces, what’s not to love?

    Well, perhaps the economy there isn’t so great right now, but that could be to my advantage, right? 🙂

  15. I agree with Kate, New Mexico has some amazing and unique looking skies and every thing just glows. I have been all over the United States but I have never had the chance to go abroad. So I’ll go with what I know and choose the Santa Fe area to paint.

  16. I always wanted to go on one of those painting trips to the Greek islands, although it might be even more fun to paint in the Greek mountains.

    Good luck with your giveaway. It is a good idea to pass on some unused supplies. I also tweeted it. My twitter id is @CAPappasArt.

  17. Hi Belinda, I’m from Italy but my I’d like to paint french landscapes and paris urban views.France and Italy are somewhat like cousin and I go back to Paris as soon as I can.

    Love your blog and your works.


  18. Oh I would really love a bit of your give away, its winter here and cold and frosty cold for Oz that is and my joints would love to go painting somewhere warm not hot tropics but pehaps a beach with colours of ultramarine and ceurilian (cant spell it!) with ochre and Indian red cliffs.
    L0ve your paintings,Im not good, started too late but I try.

  19. Let me be the first to say that I love receiving your blog. I look forward to it and enjoy how you share the different techniques and just talk about your process. I do watercolor as well but haven’t refined any particular technique as of yet but I am persistant and enthusiastic which I think will cover a multitude of sins or I hope anyway.

    Where would I paint? I know exactly the spot, or two spots actually. One is on the way to another. It’s on the high road on the way from Santa Fe to Taos. There are some aspens that shimmer like gold coins against the green of the hills and the blue of the sky and they’re so bright they are almost blinding at moments. I couldn’t inhale them enough when I was there, and my friends wanted to get back in the car to go find places to shop. But not me, I could have stayed there forever or at least until it got cold…. or rainy… which it did by the time we got down to Taos. The other place is outside of Taos, I don’t know which direction but there was a lot of flat that was divided by a deep gorge or something and the bridge moved when trucks went over it. That was interesting but not half as interesting as the sky. I fell for the sky there. It changes every time you blink. I could live there and I don’t think I’d want to do anything else BUT paint there. You’d have to. The compulsion would be too great.


  20. It’s nice that your minds-eye cast a glance backward to that particular time and place, and that you were able to use this with a less than perfect photograph to produce such a nice work. I always prefer art work with ‘feeling’ to those that are correct to the details, a mood is much more interesting to look at than a record of what was.

    If I could have a week anywhere to paint, I think it would have to be Spain. I’d like to visit small villages and old Moor and Roman sites, soak up the colour of the sun and earth and water and paint small, relaxed sketches for my personal pleasure, rather than trying to create art for others to look at.

  21. I would go to Hawaii…my memories start there but we left when I was five. And I would try to capture the spirit of IZ singing Over the Rainbow. No need for charcoal burning under the palette. Just a cool drink and some flip flops.

  22. Hi Belinda,

    I’d love to win this nice prize package, and if I could go anywhere to paint, I’d choose Bagenalstown, Ireland because that is where my grandfather came from and it looks like it is beautiful.


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