whitelilysm_001Perhaps you have discovered that one of the first things that changes when you start painting and/or drawing is how you see things, how much more you are seeing! This summer while  you are spending more time out of doors, PRACTICE SEEING the way a artist looks and sees. An artist does look and see differently. You can learn it faster when you really think about it.

stretching2

Why stretch your paper?

Watercolor paper expands when it is wet.  It shrinks back when it dries.  When you wet small areas of the paper you have hills and valleys develop.  These are particularly noticeble when you put the painting under a mat. However, if you soak the paper and secure (staples, butcher’s tape) it during its expanded stage, when it tries to shrink, it pulls tight and stays that way.

LightBrigadeNow that we are headed toward plein air painting, you might find it useful to review the GREEN entry in July and DARKS in August of 08 — which leads us right in to a question that has come up several times this month, “Which colors should I buy?”

itcomesouthere…. And It Comes Out Here, 1992
Talk about scratching an itch! We have heard from quite a number of people who are excited to be pouring paint (see February technique) and are eager to do more. If you haven’t already read Pouring Paint before now, go back and work you way through the February entry first.

skagitfireYou are going to have some fun.
You are going to make a mess. You are going to be able to scratch your thrifty itch. And you may find yourself excitedly heading off in new directions.

studioexteriorMy office -studio- guest quarters
This is the time of year to be making resolutions. Perhaps yours is to make a permanent place to paint. Let me share with you some solutions I have learned over the years.

sunrisee_001Just in time for the holidays — I am going to suggest two ways to make watercolor cards, You will end up with little watercolors that you can paste onto blank cards or you can cut them and send them as postcards — writing you message, addressing and stamping the backs. So start by working backwards: decide what size envelopes or post cards you wish to have.

teachingI was reminded again last month of the journal of a long distance runner. That journal was described in The New York Times around the time years ago when I was trying to learn to paint. Every day after the long distance runner returned from a run, he jotted down a little bit about that day’s run.  It didn’t take much time before the runs blurred together in his mind but he when returned to his journal he was able to see growth and remember things he would have otherwise forgotten.

trailfragment_001Have you noticed how dark and rich shadows are in summer?  Do you get flat ugly color when you try to get darks?   How do you get  colors dark enough?  How do you get dark enough  without   getting mud or an ugly color that does not look right?  Getting good darks are a natural next step to last month’s green problem.