Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Packing my brushes for a watercolor class!

I am really enjoying my watercolor painting class taught by Beth Neely!  She has a wealth of knowledge to share and I have already had some fun new learning experiences.  One of the first things I learned was how to stretch watercolor paper on stretcher bars.

watercolor paper stretched on stretcher bars
I figured that I would destroy the paper in three easy steps long before I could get it stapled, but it was easier to do than I thought it would be.  And yes, I will share how to stretch paper in a future blog post - however you have to wait until I get this little painting finished, because I only have one set of stretcher bars.  Ahem.  And I didn't take any photos while I stretched this one...  But, for patiently awaiting that blog post, I have some fun work in progress *stuff* for you now!

Beth brought some *mmmm* mangos for a still life.

mangos, but not for lunch
Tada!  I whipped out my camera and snapped a shot for reference later.  I did this because I know that I am one of the slowest painters on the planet.  Possibly in the universe.  By the way, this is a handy "reference" thing to do for any painting - in the studio or "en plein aire" (including field trips to Pluto).

Okay, here's my little painting - well, as far as I got during class.

original watercolor on stretched 90 lb cold press watercolor paper

Not bad for a beginning, I think.  Especially since there are no eyes, hair, fur, fins, or feathers...

One reason we creative types should take classes or workshops now and then is so that we are stretched a bit and challenged to try new things. Beth is encouraging us to mix our colors rather than to reach for a tube of the premixed color.  I can mix horse colors in my sleep - but these little puppies are green.  I admit, too, that I have more than one or two tubes of paint.  Yes.  In fact, I have tubes of paint for the entire rainbow, most of the critters, and some other tubes of colors that haven't even been invented yet.  We are talking serious paint habit, here.

But, I am up for the challenge!

a palette here, a palette there...
I cleaned up my original palette and put just the colors she suggested - including her optional colors.
  • Cadmium Red Light
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Burnt Umber
  • Neutral Tint
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Yellow Ochre
Optional colors:
  • Sap Green
  • Alizarine Crimson
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Payne's Grey
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Raw Umber 

There are a lot of colors on my other palette (bottom) that can be made with the colors on my class palette (top).  And, to prove it, take a look at my little painting now.

a work in progress, but getting there

Progress!  It is fun to work with the colors she suggested and I do really like painting on the stretched watercolor paper.  I had to call it quits at this point because the zoo had gathered for feeding time, but I will be back to the work table soon!

I have to admit, that it was a bit easier to work from my computer, than from a distance in class.  I can enlarge the image on the computer, and see the details much better.  I am soooo spoiled...

Oh, and, yes, in the past I had used a spray bottle to dampen my paints, but I am trying Beth's method of just adding lots of water to them instead.  I did use my little mister on my palette today.  We got a bit dry under the fan...

Ummmm... that big bad boy spray bottle, however, is not the one I use on my palette.  Let's just say you don't want to have a water gun fight with me.  I have pretty deadly aim...  A few assorted sometimes misbehaving critters will attest to that...

Hope you had a creative day!


  1. I love this painting! colors are awesome! I am jealous, I would love to take a watercolor class, but then I have lots of other interests too!

  2. I love to see this in's coming together nicely!

  3. Always a treat to "watch" you work!!

  4. What fun! Great work in progress - turning out quite nicely without the fur or feathers :D This method of stretching watercolor paper is great for folks that like working with a stretched canvas.

  5. I agree with your comment about taking classes. I love my art journaling classes, and have learned some much. Looking forward to see how your stretch paper! Thought you could only do that with canvas... I use a tiny spray bottle too, to mix my watercolors - I don't use the paints in tubes, except for acrylics, so I don't know their names... {:-D

  6. Beautiful, you are doing really well. Love Mangos.

  7. Your painting is looking good! It's fascinating to learn about your process. I look forward to hearing about how to stretch papers. You're absolutely right that it's good for artists to take classes to push themselves and take on new challenges. It can be really easy to stay in a good rut and stagnate.

  8. haha - Linda, *focus* is not my middle name! Thanks! I like to take classes and workshops, but I try to take ones that I haven't taken before or that specifically link to something I *really* like. I have lots of interests, too ;-)

    Thanks, memories! Its fun to do this little painting using some techniques that I don't usually use.

    Thanks, Jane - glad you came to peak over my shoulder ;-)

    Lee - I agree! I was surprised at how much it feels like paper mounted to a board, too. The advantage is that washes do dry faster because air can get to the back of the paper as well as the front. Thanks =)

    Thanks, story! Most of the basic paints are named for the pigments in them, so the names are the same no matter the medium. When companies start mixing their own colors, the names are all different. *roflol* Just to keep us on our toes!

    Thanks, Marlene!!! Me, too - they were making me hungry ;-)

    Thanks, Rose! It's been fun to see some of the new things you have learned, too. Learning new things is a wonderful way to feed our creative spirits!

  9. Watercolors were always a challenge for me. Your painting is coming out nicely.

  10. Thanks, Steve! It's been fun to do this.

    Thanks, Mechelle! I'm not new to watercolor, but Beth does somethings differently. I'm enjoying exploring some new techniques - and finding a few new challenges along the way!

  11. It's a very nice painting. The color combination makes it seem so alive.Keep it up.

    Watercolor Lessons

  12. Your mangos are beautiful. I am glad your enjoying the class.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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