Sunday, May 25, 2008

Estes Park Plein-Air Paintout 2008

The letter came and I made it into the Estes Park Plein-Air Event this August. This was so much fun last year, and such a challenge for me. The subject matter could not be more different, the greens are crazy bright, skys cool blues, everything is vivid. A good reason to apply to shows in places far from home is to get out of your comfort zone, both in climate, people, colors and scenes. You have to really look at the values and colors, not make fast assumptions. You often see painters who painted a scene on a tropical beach with their favorite palette. Not the colors they see but what they are used to using. That is why there are so many terrible desert paintings, often done by artists still using their west coast colors - not really looking at the desert plants but assuming too much about what they think they see. Both the Frank Bette Event and Estes Park will be a stretch. The first couple of days are usually very frustrating, without much success. Lots of scraping. Once that is out of my system, I paint for me. Then it works. Hopefully this year I will only have to scrape off one day, we will see. I plan to post my paintings that are keepers on my website and blog during my trips. I hope that you might learn from what I learned, the good, bad and the ugly. Let's hope for more good! The Paint-out starts on Aug.9th with the Quick Draw & Receptions on Saturday, Aug. 23.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Daniel Ochoa - Total control of values

I am always drawn to paintings with strong contrast, but cleverly used. Not obvious. Here is another painting by Daniel Ochoa. He has values totally under control and not afraid to use them to create the atmosphere he wants. I struggle with that, and I tend to paint high key. This next outing I am going to make myself try a piece with much stronger contrast. If you find you are always painting with in a certain range - that isn't a bad thing - only if that is all you can do. Can you make yourself push the values and still keep good composition, and emotion? This painting sure does. Check out more of Daniels work at I own one of his little pieces and it is wonderful. Get onto his email list and he will send you images of paintings he has just finished, small little works that are jewels. Every time I see his work I feel challenged in what I am doing. That I am playing it too safe, hate to say a bit boring- ugh- time to push it. Do the same. Go paint.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Gouache - and sketching

Yes, I do push drawing & sketching alot. That is because we all need to improve our skills. Most of the time I use watercolor, it travels easily, drys fast. But sometimes I use gouache. It is an opaque water based paint that illustrators have used for years. It drys with a mat finish so it photographs well with out glare or shine. While traveling in New Mexico I brought along small tubes of gouache and worked up a few drawings in color in my sketchbook. This kind of paint works best on smoother paper, soft brushes and very little water. It can be a real trick to get used to working with it but the results are worth it. I have used these for Christmas cards, they reproduce real nicely. You can find gouache at any art supply store, Jerrys and Az Art Supply carry it. Just buy red, yellow, blue, white. That's all you really need. Remember, it is an opaque so it will not work like transparent watercolor. Each coat you put down will cover what was below it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Watercolor Journals

For all you ladies that braved the heat to start your venture into watercolor today- thank you. I was so worried that May 10th would be a record high in the 100's, it got warm, but everyone seemed to have fun anyway. I hope you were able to relax, just paint and not worry about how good it was, or any one making a judgment on your work. Hold next Mothers Day as the day you will pull out this first journal and look at your first watercolor. Even if you can only draw in your journal once a week or less, you will still see improvement. Don't hesitate to write me with any problems or just maybe you need a little push to the next level. If I can't answer your questions I will find out who can! Read further down this blog to see more into on other watercolor artists who are great with journals and some cool assignments to try with your paints. Watch my website and this blog for info on next fall at The Farm. I will be the artist in res. there in late October. Plans are in the works for some day long workshops in oils, watercolors and maybe some printmaking. Oil painting lessons will be once a week during that time, set around the beginner, or someone who used to work in oils but it was a very loooooong time ago. You can write me at or My website is Keep your w/c bag with you all the time, the heat in the car won't have any effect on it at all. Everyone has to start somewhere, the best artists all were beginners at one time. Put away your expectations and paint. Stop by Jerry's Art store and check out all the cool watercolors & supplies. Have fun, and just Paint!