Lately, I’ve been interested in painting watercolor without a pen and ink drawing underneath as a way to improve my painting ability. I love pen and ink, but I sometimes find that I use it as a crutch for out-of-practice watercolor skills. It can be fairly easy to make a detailed ink drawing, slap on a few watercolor washes and come out with a really nice looking piece of art. Using just watercolor is trickier because flaws become more apparent, especially when using different techniques such as wet on wet painting.
I’ve found this video from Steve Mitchell’s The Mind of Watercolor so helpful in preventing overworked areas and understanding why they occur. I never took a formal watercolor course, so everything I learned comes from trial and error, instructional books/videos, and even a few kind souls who gently pointed things out to me about my technique. I still find myself returning to some of these same errors, especially “painting in the danger zone,” as Steve refers to it in the video. I highly recommend Steve’s videos. He has a ton of experience and I always end up laughing at his dry sense of humor.
This is my last post of the year where I’ll review 2017 and look ahead to my art goals for next year. This is also the conclusion of my round up of unposted artwork from the past year. The above images were sketchbook pages in my large moleskine done from life. Even though my time was limited, I worked quite a bit from life over the course of 2017, which I am proud of and want to continue into the next year.
My goals for 2017 were to finish my nursing program and to incorporate more art into my life than I did in my first semester. I was successful with both of these goals, although my art activity fluctuated with my school schedule and I often went long stretches with no art making at all. My most productive times were in August and the end of April to mid-May, which coincided with my semester breaks. The least productive times were in September and November, which were also some of the busiest times of my entire nursing program. I posted to my blog 23 times this year, although 4 posts were written and pre-published the year before.
For 2018, I would like to work on making art on a more consistent schedule. I have some longer term projects/series that I am planning, but I need to create a lot of new work on a consistent basis to make my plans a reality. I also want to work more from life when possible. I did a lot of small nature studies this past year and I would like to continue on that theme. I also let my email newsletter fall by the wayside while I was in school and I want to start sending that out again.
I’m looking forward to an exciting year ahead. I hope everyone reading this joins me in having a productive, prosperous, and fulfilling 2018!
These are some of the blank greeting cards that I painted over the past year. I had a recipient for each of these in mind when I painted the cards, but it is a goal of mine in the upcoming year to paint a few of these ahead of time. I would also like to get some images printed on cards as well because while I like sending cards with my artwork on them, it is not always feasible or desirable to send original art. I also would like to find a replacement watercolor greeting card for the Strathmore brand that I currently use. I’m not entirely happy with the paper as it seems to give me uneven washes and I have a hard time lifting color.
I found this little sprig and a couple of pine cones last March when I was taking a walk with my daughter. I painted in the shadows this time, which added a different element.
School will be wrapping up soon and I’m going to be glad to have a break. I’m already making a list of art plans for 2018—I’ll have a lot more time for artwork and I’m getting excited. During the winter, I’m planning to do more nature studies like this so I can work indoors from life.
My three week summer vacation went by way too fast and now I am back to school and pushing through my last semester. Although I did a lot of drawing on my vacation, I have gotten out of practice and don’t have a lot of work to show for it. I did find some artwork from 2016 that I never posted before. Here they are and thanks for visiting.
The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month. ~Henry Van Dyke
It’s actually feeling pretty spring-like today, but there is still snow on the ground. I can’t wait until it is consistently warm and sunny outside.
For this piece, I used my new set of sepia Copic Multiliner Pens. I really do like them and they offer a nice alternative to black. The only downside is that I wish they were just a tad darker and that the nibs were not so fine. I usually gravitate toward the thinnest nib in the set, but for some reason, these pens were especially fine.
I found myself inspired by this instagram photo by Michael Nobbs, who is based in Wales. He allowed me to use it as a reference and I came up with the above pen and ink and watercolor piece. I usually only work from my own photos, but in this case, I didn’t mind and I enjoyed myself in the process. Taking my time on the drawing was a nice distraction from school and everything else going on in my own world, as well as the bigger world.
Lately I’ve been trying to expand my skills and get a bit out of my comfort zone. With that in mind, instead of sketching with pen outdoors as I usually do, I decided to paint in watercolor. There is so much information online about people’s ideal travel watercolor setup, but I never paid attention to it much because I never took my watercolors outside with me. Interestingly, my supplies weren’t the problem for me this time.
I used a size 6 Cotman III brush and my Winsor & Newton compact set. For water, I used my regular water cup. My seating was on the granite steps going down into the lake. I felt a little uneasy because I was sitting in an awkward position with the trunk of my body twisted in an odd angle to properly view the flowers. Minuscule bugs started crawling across the paper as well which concerned me because I didn’t want to squish them and then leave a mark on my card. I found that a strong puff of exhale blew them off my paper which worked nicely. It was late afternoon when people start taking their speedboats out, which generated pretty large waves and I almost got splashed a few times.
The whole experience left me feeling rather rushed and not relaxed. The next time I go outside to paint I am going to put some more thought into my seating location as well as my subject. I will pick something less detailed and easier to paint quickly.
A pink peony for Valentine’s Day, drawn from my photo archives. I have really been enjoying the artwork of Inky Leaves on Instagram and I’m getting inspired to start making some more botanical themed artwork myself in the near future. I never used to care for the white backgrounds in traditional botanical painting (thinking they were too boring), but this aesthetic has grown on me and I’m going to try to leave my backgrounds white for the next couple of paintings.