Freehand, 10-minute painting of Madrona Point, Orcas No drawing, 1-inch flat brush

What do you mean, you can’t? Sure you can.  It doesn’t have to be perfect. But it is quick, immediate, and the more you do the more confidence you with have.

IMG_9334Every once in a while I find I need to get students to re-focus. What leads you to success in much of your life is often a handicap in becoming an artist. Trying harder, “getting it right” is often the way to not getting it at all.  Take a deep breath or better, three long slow breaths, and let’s set some new priorities.


I was all set to write a Technique Corner Post on “Do You Know Your Basics” when yesterday I discovered I had written exactky that on 2/12. See: (You do know how to fine old posts in Index of Titles, don’t you?)

Yesterday I also found myself floating pigment onto an almost finished painting.  Since I have had frequent questions about what I meant when I said to “float” a color onto the painting, I thought I would try to show you in this post. It is much easier to show you in person.


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.