During my classes, remarks that I make almost as asides are frequently greeted with oh’s and ah’s and “That explains it.” I thought I would take this end of the year opportunity to mention a few. Possibly you have had problems with these and haven’t known the cause… or how to save the painting after its happened.


Walk to the Far Horizon

Is your painting a WATERCOLOR first or is it subject driven?  Do you feel it isn’t as loose as you would like but don’t know quite what to do?  First read Painting Looser I: Lost and Found Edges,  posted here July, 2014.

Another way of having a looser – and hopefully more pleasing – painting is to exploit the qualities that are unique to watercolor.


One of the best ways to show off a light shape is to take the adjacent shapes down into the darks. If you haven’t learned how to fill those darks with color you have probably been unhappy with your (ugly) darks.


creeping up on the edges… which are the ones  still undescribed that you would leave “lost and found”?

You probably know how to get a soft, out-of-focus background but you have found it is much harder to have your subject emerge out of that background with lost and found edges. You may have discovered that it is much easier to paint around all of your shapes than to have lost and found edges.  And besides, how do you know which edges to lose?  How do you let go of an edge and then pick the shape up again after the edge has been lost?  And why don’t you like it when all of the edges are shown?

after pour[1](1)

    Before any hard edges were established

IMG_6689Now is the season to head out into the  plein aire  and see what it really going on out there. And get it down.  Not with a camera alone (all right as a backup) but with simple recordings in watercolor or drawings.

Make a resolution, and start today!  Keep it simple. Keep it quick. Keep doing it.

neg chairs_0001[1]Can you back a trailer? Or are you like me and not able to make it go where you want?

You explored negative painting in October 2013. How are you doing?  If you are still having problems, it may not be the amount of water or paint.  It may be that you don’t see the negative shape.

Here are some drawing exercises to help you to see the negative shapes of a positive object.




drawing of the negative shapes of chairs and a table (interupted when the bus came)

JoannescarolineHow do YOU judge our paintings?

The most difficult part of teaching for me is dealing with the internal critic that dwells within each student — often seemingly poised with a ruler ready to crack them over the knuckles. Do you hear internal voices saying things like, “What do you think you are doing?”

“That’s really stupid!”

“Why do you think you can do this?”

And then there the comments of those near and dear.

How SHOULD WE judge your paintings?

Joanne McDonald’s Picassoesque painting of me :”You know how Caroline gets INTO her paintings.”