Monday, January 29, 2018

Becoming Boone...Part #1

Each of us have a story to tell…

Last summer I taught a workshop at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff in Boone, North Carolina. It’s one of my favorite places to teach for many reasons. The people are warm and friendly, the country is beautiful and I get to spend time with a very dear friend, Joe Miller (the one and only Cheap Joe). I had the best week ever! One of those weeks we hope for as teachers. My students were eager to learn, positive, nurturing to their class mates, funny, creative…and above all, inspiring women. I came away with a full heart.

The next day Mike and I packed up and started our drive to Tennessee. We planned on arriving in Knoxville within a few hours and would join our son and family for dinner. About 100 miles into the trip we stop to have lunch at a sandwich shop along the interstate. We sat outside in the warm Tennessee air. Within seconds a small kitten appeared. He had been hiding under a boat trailer in the parking lot. He ran to my husband and wrapped his little body around his ankle. It was obvious the kitten was alone and not cared for and blind in one eye. I was very concerned about touching him because he was obviously sick. But Mike was already petting, scratching and comforting the kitten. He was starved to be touched. His desire to be touched was greater than his want for food. 

I started making phone calls looking for a facility that could help him. I found a humane society and animal shelter. I picked up the kitten and we got in the car and I waited for all hell to break loose!!! The odd thing is the little kitten didn’t get excited at all…he just wanted to lay his head on my feet. I’ve never had a cat not go wild in a car! We drove 30 minutes to the nearest animal shelter. They turned us away. Why? Because we weren't residence of that county. No kidding! But the kitten was found in their county. Didn’t that matter? No! They gave us another number to call. That shelter turned us away too. They already had 400 cats that needed homes. At this point we were sitting in the car trying to figure out what to do. And now the little kitten needed to go potty. I got out of the car and put him on a little plot of grass in the shade. Immediately a sad sick cat came out of the bushes towards us. Oh NO! People were leaving sick and abandoned animals outside the shelter! 

What were we going to do? We had a sick kitten, family waiting in Tennessee and a plane flight home to California in 4 days. I called my son in Tennessee and said we had a “small” delay and we’re running a few hours behind…and by the way do you have a 24 hour animal hospital near you?

Next we drove to the nearest pet supply store and got a litter box, food, water, bowls, flea drops, flea comb, a couple toys.

And this is where his story begins…The story of Becoming Boone. 

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Happy Adventures!
Brenda & Boone

Friday, January 12, 2018

Sketch Collage

Stillman & Birn, Beta, Size 8.5 x 5.5 (open flat, 8.5x11inch)
Do you remember the old movie posters that had multiple images that gave you the highlights or teasers to the best scenes in a movie? I do. They were beautiful! They were called a montage. The process or technique of selecting, editing and piecing together separate sections of a film to form a continuous whole. 

Have you ever visited a location, spent a day with friends, went on a trip... and felt one image wasn't enough to tell the "story"? Me too! Many years ago people noticed how I sketched multiple images on a page to tell a story. I started calling them a "Sketch Collage”. But I suppose sketch montage would of worked, too. 

The challenge is arranging elements in a way that the page has a flow and balance. Here's a few tips and ideas to help you.
11 x 10 Sketchbook
*Themes: Travel, garden, cooking, animals, vacation...the list is endless. 

*Complete the sketch collage in one sitting or add images to a page over the span of the trip. 

*Don't worry about objects being true to size in relation to each other.

*Have objects such as people, signs, road…pointed in and not out of the page.

*Overlap objects or scenes.

*Border or boxes help tie images together.

Next time you are looking for a way to tell a bigger story I hope you'll give this technique a try. 
Stillman & Bin Beta 10x8  (open flat, 10x16 inch)

Most of the Sketch Collages I create are in the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks. My favorite surface is the Beta, soft cover. I use a variety of sizes.  You can learn about the two types of sketchbooks I use here, Sketchbooks: Size, Paper, Cover & Binding

Happy Sketching!

P.S. If you'd like to join me in one of my workshops in 2018 I only have a few spots left. If you've ever dreamed of sketching Tuscany in the Fall I have one spot open. A dream trip!!!  Workshops Here 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A New Page and a New Year

Life is like sketching with a pen. You can cross something out but you can never erase it.

When I sketch I usually have a pretty good idea how it’s going to look. Along the way things can change. I can make mistakes or improvements. It all depends on me.  Sometimes my plans don’t work out and sometimes things turn out better than I imagined. Kind of like life. I’m becoming more open to the possibilities. The What ifs...? Do I make mistakes? You bet I do. Mistakes are the greatest teacher. If I always play it safe I stop reaching for possibilities I miss the opportunities to grow.

When the drawing is finished, I paint.  Color sets the mood of happy or somber, warm or cool. In the end I have something that feels like my home comfortable, safe and warm. Is it perfect? Not at all. I'm not after perfection. Life and creativity are more enjoyable when we live beyond the boundaries of perfection. In the end I will turn the page and start anew.  

As the year comes to a close I hope your home is warm and safe. May you feel loved and cherished everyday and may creativity fill your life and our world.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah…and Happy new Year!

Happy Painting!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Negative Painting - Poinsettias

Reference Photo 
Cameras are a wonderful tool but it's important to remember photographs are simply a springboard. I don’t rely too heavily on them. The sooner I respond to what’s happening on the paper and quit looking at the photo the better off I’ll be…especially with the technique of negative painting.

I start by drawing the poinsettias with a 2B pencil on Arches 140lb cold press paper. I'm especially aware of the space and shapes between the flowers and leaves (negative space). I want shape and size variety. I draw enough to get the general shapes, but not too much. I intentionally leave areas understated so I'll have opportunities for negative shapes to develop in the painting process. 

I use transparent paint to build up glazes. I limit my underpainting to 3 

colors. To determine which 3 colors I will use I make numerous color swatches. The paints need to be the same consistency (whole milk) to encourage ample mixing on the paper. I'm looking for interesting combinations (how they mix when wet, range of colors, range of values and do they relate to my subject). The 3 paint colors I selected I call my Mother Colors: New Gamboge (NG), Quinacridone Rose (QR), and Phthalo Blue GS (PB GS).

I wet the watercolor paper with clean water and introduce the 3 paint colors separately into the wet surface. I paint at an angle to encourage mixing as the paint moves. I don’t overwork the surface with a paint brush but encourage the paint to mix and mingle on the paper. I leave a third of the paper untouched with paint. As it dries the paint will continue to move and hopefully a small amount of light/whites will remain. Let throughly dry naturally (without a hair dryer).

I continue with my Mother Colors (original 3 colors) and I pull French 

Ultramarine into the mixing area of my palette. When I bring a new color into the mix it touches one of the original Mother Colors. Why? Having a new color touch one of the original 3 colors creates harmony in the glazing process. When I begin glazing I'll paint over some of the poinsettia petals, leaves and background at the same time. I start in the upper left hand corner and work clockwise. I paint hard edges against the petals I want to save and soften as I pull away. As I work clockwise around the main poinsettia I vary my colors slightly with the Mother Colors and French Ultramarine. Let throughly dry.

Periodically I wipe off my palette especially if the mixing area has become a neutralized mixture. Mud, neutrals or grays are wonderful and every painter should know how to mix them. But know when you want them and how these grays work to make other colors more lively.

I pull out fresh paint into the center of my palette. I have the Mother Colors (NG, QR, PB), French Ultramarine and the new addition of Hansa Yellow Light. Starting on the left side directly below the poinsettia and working counter clockwise. I use a mixture of French Ultramarine & 

Quinacridone Rose. I carve out shapes with hard edges against the petals. As I move across the lower section I want my colors to move from purples into the greens. With each brush load I slightly shift the green. Below the center poinsettia is a cooler green and pushes towards the blues. As I move across the lower section (left to right) I carve out more petal shapes. Above the far right poinsettia the greens are much warmer and have more Hansa Yellow Light. The small negative shapes in the center of each flower is a dark mixture of French Ultramarine & Quinacridone Rose. Let throughly dry.

As the poinsettia turns from the light I have a variety of shadows. Form shadows have soft edges and cast shadows have hard edges. The shadows on the petals are a darker value of Quinacridone Rose with a touch of French Ultramarine as it turns from the light. When I need to soften the edge of a form shadow I use clean water on the edge before the paint has a chance to dry. The leaves beneath the center poinsettia is the darkest passage of negative painting. I use a mixture of Phthalo Blue GS & New Gamboge, before the paint has a chance to loose its shine I drop a little Quinacridone Rose into the passage. The unexpected warmth brings life to the dark greens. A few touches of color in the center of the poinsettia and it’s finished.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this short demonstration. I used the Daniel Smith Essentials SetThe set consists of six tubes of paints. A warm and cool: red, blue and yellow. The colors are VERY transparent (exception of Hansa Yellow Light which is semi-transparent). 

Happy Painting!

(I originally wrote this post 12-13-15. With the holidays quickly approaching it's a good time to share it again)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Walnut Ink & Watercolor

Autumn brings with it a beautiful array of colors and textures. At our Farmer’s Market a
new crop of persimmons are available in a variety of shapes and colors.  I came home with a bag full and put them in a favorite dish. I loved how the contrast of colors and textures played off of each other: orange-red against blue-green. Smooth against rough.

When Daniel Smith Artists’ Materials asked if I’d like to try their Walnut Ink. I was eager to give it a try. I am particularly fond of inks with warm tones. The idea of drawing the persimmons with walnut ink was appealing. Before the bottle arrived I did a little research on their website. I thought walnut ink would fade. I was wrong. Here is what I found.

“DANIEL SMITH Walnut Ink is lightfast, non-acidic, transparent, and low staining.  It’s finely pigmented, sepia-colored, water-based ink made from walnut husks. It's great for all types of drawing styles and calligraphy, and works beautifully with a dip pen or brush. With a brush, DANIEL SMITH Walnut Ink handles like a transparent watercolor with good layering, and lifting capabilities in darker washes. The rich color resembles traditional walnut-based inks, but will not fade.” 

Step 1
Watercolor Paper is Bockingford cold press 140lb. My favorite technique for drawing is continual line contour. I keep my pen on the paper for the majority of the drawing. I am using a bamboo reed pen…Why? I enjoy line variation.
Helpful hint: Before you begin drawing soak the tip of the bamboo reed pen in 3 inches of water for 20 minutes.  The pen will have an increased ability to hold ink.

Step 2
I start by pulling fresh color into the center of my palette. I work on a dry surface and mix the colors on the paper. You’ll noticed the Walnut Ink moves…I like that. If I touch the line gently it will move a little and more if I scrub the line with my brush the more it moves.  
The persimmons are a mixture of Hansa Yellow Medium, Anthraquonoid Scarlet & Quinacridone Burnt Orange. The Leaf and stems are Quinacridone Gold & French Ultramarine.

Step 3
The plate is painted with Cobalt Teal Blue. I intentionally disrupted the details on the plate with my brush. I want the lines to defuse. I don’t want the lines to be in sharp focus especially since the majority of the plate will be effected by shadows from the persimmons.

Step 4
Shadows are my favorite subject! The presence of light defines form and gives life to a subject. I begin my making two puddles of paint on my palette: 1. Quinacridone Burnt Orange & Quinacridone Rose 2. Imperial Purple. I start by painting the form shadows on the persimmons with Quinacridone Burnt Orange & Quinacridone Rose and quickly move into the cast shadows on the plate with Imperial Purple. I want a soft transition between the objects and the colors.

Step 5
The final stage I use Imperial Purple in the background. Before the passage has lost its shine I touch a small amount of Phthalo Turquoise into the area. Final touches are added to the foliage area.

My Daniel Smith dot card has a white X on the colors I used for this piece. All the materials used in this demonstration are listed below. 

Ink: Walnut Ink (new bottle same ink)
Watercolor Paper: Bockingford 140lb cold press

Happy Painting!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Workshop Experience

Workshops can be a magical experience and should be. People set aside time, money, work schedules and family duties. New ideas and techniques are explored. Skills are honed, materials explored, friends are made and creative energy fills the air. Every workshop should feel this way for everyone who participates!

I’ve been teaching classes and workshops over 15 years. I’ve considered writing this post many times.

Workshop Skill Level 
(Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
Be honest with yourself about your skill level. You’ll avoid disappointments. It’s not possible for a teacher to bridge a lack of skill and inexperience in the short time we have together. Skill will be achieved by the amount of time you spend outside the workshop sketching and painting.

I do my best to give everyone equal time. Don’t expect a teacher to be your private instructor in a workshop. Please don’t ask workshop participants to help you. They came to be immersed in the workshop experience, not to be a teacher. If you’re struggling speak to me privately. Don’t fill the air with negative remarks to fellow students. 

Workshops are a social event for many, but not for all. Be courteous and keep talking to a minimum as well as volume. You’ll have lots of opportunities to visit with each other before the workshop, at breaks, during lunch, after class…

If you are very sensitive to noise or others talking, bring ear phones to block out noise or listen to your music. 

Come Prepared and Ready to Learn 
Arrive on time and be mentally prepared. 
No talking or texting on cell phones in the classroom. If you must talk on the phone (family emergency…) take it outside. This includes lunch time.
Set up your watercolor palette with paint before the workshop.
Pre-cut your watercolor paper.
Bring what you need…but not your entire studio. 
Ask before taking pictures or videos. Each teacher has a different set of guidelines about their artwork and examples being shared on social media.

Teacher Set-up and Break
Give the teacher time in the morning to prepare for the day. I come early in the morning to set up…not to visit. I'm often asked, “Can I have just a minute?” Please give me (teacher) 20-30 minutes to set up and I will give you an entire day of undivided attention and instruction.

Lunch time: 
Give the teacher time to eat and recharge. I’m often approached at lunch and asked to review portfolios, sketchbooks or look at paintings on a smart phone. It’s not the right time.

In closing I’d like to say, come to the table (workshop) with realistic expectations of me and the workshop experience. I will bring to the table (workshop) my time, talent, knowledge and a little humor. I will do my best to guide, encourage and instill my knowledge.

Happy Painting!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hahnemühle Watercolor Paper Review

I was contacted by Hahnemühle USA and asked if I would try their watercolor papers and share a review with my followers. Carol Boss sent me a nice assortment of papers to try. 

I’ve been on the road a lot this summer…teaching workshops from California to North Carolina. Between  workshops I’ve been busy putting this paper to the test. 

The scene Volterra Roof Tops (left) was done on the Cézanne, block, 140lb hot press.

Sample Tests on Cézanne Block, 140lbs Hot Press and Rough
Hahnemühle has numerous watercolor papers but I’m going to focus on one…Cézanne. The paper comes in many forms: blocks and sheets. Paper surfaces: Hot press, Matt, and Rough.  I’ve put time and thought into this review. I’ve tried to boil it down to the most important stuff… what I look for in watercolor paper: usability, surface strength, consistency in sizing & forgiveness. I need a paper that can handle a lot of water, glazing and scrubbing.

In this first demonstration of the leaves I only used two colors, Payne's Gray and New Gamboge. Using two colors I can focus more on the paper surface and what was happening. I was happy with how the paper handled and moved on to a full color Negative painting of Pomegranates.  If you are unfamiliar with the term Negative Painting please see this post.

The bottom line is…Do I like the paper and will I use it?  The answer is yes. I found the paper to be very reliable, responsive and fun to work on. The Cézanne held up to everything I toss at it.

I’ve posted a video companion to go with this review. I share additional paintings done on the Cézanne hot press, matt and rough. I show detailed images of the paper's surface and talk about what I like and dislikes… Like why do they call the paper Matt? It’s looks and feels like cold press to me. 

I’ve posted the video here. If you have trouble viewing please click this link.

The paper is newly available in USA. The watercolor blocks are available but the full sheets aren’t available just yet. If you want to try the paper I need you to do your research (please don’t ask me to find it for you). I was told the paper is available at Hyatt’s Graphic Supply & DaVinci Artist Supply  For additional help you can contact the company directly at www.Hahnemü 

Hope you've found this post fun and helpful. I love to explore paper, paint, pens... and share the information with you.

Happy Painting!