isle sur la sorgue market
Olive Vendor (from the I’sle sur la Sorgue market in Provence) 15.5 x 12 Watercolor  (Sold)

You Guys Are Awesome!

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on the last post review and giveaway from Hahnemühle paper! Five lucky winners have been pulled from names tossled about in a festive Provence hat, and they are:

Carolynn Pappas, Catherine Root, Donna Thibodeau, Jim Serrett, and Marti de Alva

Congratulations on your new art supplies, my friends! The good folks at Hahnemühle will be in touch via email to ship samples your way. For everyone still curious about trying Hahnemühle papers, click here to visit the previous post, and check the links under the little sailboat painting on postcard paper for resources where you can find each of the blocks and pads I tested.

Using a grid system in watercolor
Laying out the composition with a grid; making lots of details simpler to transfer in the drawing

Busting Through Creative Block

I had a great conversation with someone I met this week about creative block. Loosing art-making mojo is a topic guaranteed to come up when I’m in creative company. Luckily for us, in this chapter of history, we have the option to search for stuckness-antidotes online. Creative block doesn’t happen to kids; only adults are fretful enough about making things to inflict that scoundrel-of-void on ourselves.  Art-making fears have been around for centuries, and artisans from all genres of creativity have been generous to share what works for them.

I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies,  for the hardest victory is over the self.   Aristotle (384—322 BCE) 

A Helpful List

Here’s a list of 52 creative mojo inspiring ideas from Larry G. McGuire .  The list is downloadable in case you need to paper the walls of your creative space with reminders. Brew some tea, and take notes so you can get back to work. 🙂  (Here’s another blog post about that too.)

using a grid system in watercolors
Blocking in the first glazes of pigment in this watercolor portrait (& changing the image a bit – I removed the second figure in the photo)

Creating with Textiles

Do you enjoy working with textiles in your studio adventures? Quilting, embroidery, needlepoint, etc? I’ve been around fabric, embroidery floss and sewing machines my entire life, and while I’ve dabbled here and there, I try to steer my ship’s focus towards media I’m currently wrestling to learn – watercolors & printmaking. Two is plenty. I respect and admire the artistic expression of things made with fabric and thread and raw materials, and I read many sewing, needlepoint and crafting blogs; I’m always tempted to dabble more.  My step daughter is a quilter, and our discussions about the parallel meditation of planning, process and construction in both quilting and printmaking is a sweet pleasure. No matter the materials, we’re all creating expressions based on our surroundings, experiences, travels, expertise, memories and yearnings. (Look at the beautiful needlepoint of a supernova remnant in Cassiopeia A, made by astronomer and astrophysicist Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin [1900–1979]) I hope you get to tap into your own well of expression this week, and reach for the maker supplies of your choice to create something lovely and lasting and true to your vision.

Have courage. Start where you are. Use What you have. Do what you can.


glazing in watercolor - a street vendor portrait
Layering color in transparent glazes to build values in this watercolor portrait

Simple tools – pigments, water, paper and a brush, to make happy hours and days and weeks.

Congratulations again to the winners of the Hahnemühle paper giveaway, and thank you to everyone who participated. Feel free to leave a comment or share this missive and the links herein with a friend. I’ll see you in the next post!


P.S. You can subscribe to get each post as an email. Sign up (free) here.

Art Quote

My house here is painted the yellow colour of fresh butter on the outside, with glaringly green shutters; it stands in full sunlight in a square that has a green garden with plane trees, oleanders and acacias. It is completely whitewashed inside, with a floor made of red bricks. And over it there is the intensely blue sky. In this house I can love and breathe, meditate and paint.
~Vincent van Gogh

which watercolor paper should I buy?
Click the paintbrush to download a free three-page primer; Watercolor Paper 101

Save for later & Share!

12 thoughts on “Watercolor Portrait of an Olive Vendor in Provence (& Hahnemühle paper Giveaway Winners!)”

  1. Whoot! Whoot!

    Thank you, Belinda!
    Thank you Hahnemühle!

    How fun is that to win quality art materials! Look forward to trying them.
    A very special thank you to you, Belinda Del Pesco for having an amazingly creative and informative blog.

    Again Thank You!

    1. Hi there Jim! Congrats on your win, and I hope the art supplies work beyond your expectations! Which did you decide to get? (And thanks for your encouraging words.) 🙂

  2. Hello Belinda, Thank you for sharing your art work and especially letting us see your partially completed works, which -provides helpful insights to amateurs like me. I admire your work tremendously. Best regards Mark

    1. Hi Mark,
      Thanks for your kind compliments, and I’m very glad to know any part of what I post here encourages you on your art-making journey. We are all amateurs, with our own internal lists of tools and art-skills we wish we could get better at. So we’ll practice and share and root each other forward. Keep making. 🙂

  3. Hi Belinda, thanks again for an inspiring post. I’ve done a ‘house portrait’ collograph – line style, and have been experimenting with papers to print then water colour. So far I am finding water colour paper the best. I have tried:Arches 88 (no good for water colour, I have found since that it was designed for oil based screen printing), Fabriano Rosapina ; ok with watercolour, but be careful not to use too much water (I have read that alcohol {gin} is better, but not yet tried that); and best so far is Fabriano Aquarelle.
    I’ll also try Arches hot pressed and another watercolour paper I have.
    My research has turned up that Stonehenge may be the best mix of properties for this style of work.

    I’d appreciate a post from you on best papers for printing then hand watercolour. I’m finding it difficult to get good information on the properties of each paper on the market for doing this type of work.

    Cheers from Jenny in desert South Australia.

    1. Further to my initial post (now that I’m out of my PJs and in the studio):
      The Other watercolour paper is Bockingford…I’m soon to try that.
      AND soooo exciting the Khadi papers I ordered ages ago have just arrived, so I’ll try those too.

      I’ve also been doing lino prints with Akua intaglio onto Japanese Hosho paper. I’m using traditional gouache, as water colour looked blotchy, but I find the gouache powdery on the surface once dry and easy to smudge.

      I’ll try posting some photos soon…..if I can work out how to!

      I’m looking forward to hearing from any others that have tried different papers for printing and then the addition of water based colour.

  4. Donna Thibodeau

    I’m so thrilled that I won something! I can’t wait to try the new paper. Thank you for the review and opportunity.

      1. Donna Thibodeau

        I decided to get the Leonardo cold press. I read an artist review where it was said that it was the best paper this artist had ever used out of the other choices. I felt the block would work well at plein air as it is a small managable size. Our plein air group exhibits on-going at the local Nature Center and I am going to try some small paintings in the field. Usually using a sketchbook does not provide work for this. I was tempted to get hot press but I’ll try this out first. I’m looking forward to it.

        1. Hi Donna, Your choice sounds perfect for the application you have in mind. I hope you post the results of your plein air painting somewhere so we can all see. I think you’re going to love the paper. 🙂

  5. Another uplifting post Belinda! And that olive vendor painting…..left me speechless! Such a vibrant memory of Provence. So far, I’ve let another summer go by without daring to sketch at our local farmers’ market …well there still is time I guess. Your painting is prompting me to get with it! Love the Aristotle quote (that’s the 2nd one of his I’ve come across this month….so I should take heed of ancient wisdom). Thank you also for broadening our creative horizons to appreciate so many various art forms and mediums and passing along Larry McGuire’s advice, and lastly, that “Have courage….” pick-me-upper! I need to have that printed in BIG letters and read it every day. Be assured that the time and effort you put into your blogs are so appreciated.and often breathe life back into my soul just when I need it most!

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