Category Archives: watercolor painting

Hidden Lake Watercolor – It is Well with My Soul

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Driving home and not intending on stopping, something told me it was deeply necessary. Necessary because the world depends on it? Well, no. But rather necessary because my soul needed it. It’s been a while.

But I don’t have time!
Stop.
But I’m expected home right now!
Stop anyway.

With art supplies in the back seat, I was able to focus on this scene and contemplate nature…the way the horizon looks a tinge peach even though I am facing east and it’s an hour from sunset…the way the dried golden grasses reflect in the water…the way the tiny foreground tree has tiny gnarly twigs…
And suddenly it is well with my soul.

I am learning lately to relinquish control and listen to that still small voice. I cannot fail if I trust in God even if I cannot fully see the situation. Today was a favorable situation and I enjoyed my quick impromptu painting, but can I still have that same positive attitude with a less favorable condition? Do I trust? Can I let go of control? Will it still be well with my soul?

Now that would be some kind of faith.

To trust in God, to trust He has a plan even when things don’t go my way or perhaps when suffering is involved, if total control is relinquished, that’s not only courageous faith, but peace and freedom too. And that faith will not go unaided, for He said:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Cor 12:9

Amen.

Ice Fishing on Herrick Lake Watercolor Sketch

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Cold weather, dark gray skies, and the occasional flurries might put many in a gloomy mood. It will force some to stay locked in their houses, giving them an excuse to watch TV for hours and hours.

Then there are the adventurers….
Some extreme adventurers laugh at weather conditions, drill through ice, and sit for hours waiting for that bite. Some weaker adventurers (like myself) laugh at weather conditions just the same, but sit in a nice warm car and sketch extreme adventurers at play. He, he, he.

Winter is truly beautiful, even on the most gloomiest of days. It makes me happy to be out even if it means I have to sketch from my car to keep from freezing. I can appreciate the beauty of nature just the same looking through the window.
Maybe you can try it? If you feel as if you have cabin fever, get in your car and drive to the nearest forest preserve or cemetery. Just sit for 15 minutes and look for interesting things. Can you spot birds? Which way is the wind blowing? Follow the sway of branches. Notice the shapes of dried weeds….they’re all so different. Try to write down what’s going on or maybe even create a little poem. In just a few minutes your mood will suddenly be uplifted.
Goodbye cabin fever.

Let’s Paint a Winter Storm at Night!

The Chicago area has been hit by two significant snow storms since winter started. I love snow. Not only is it soothing to watch as it descends, but it dresses the winter trees in their formal attire. How beautiful. Each and every one dazzles.

So, let’s paint a winter tree during an enchanted nighttime snow storm!

I do not have a reference photo but the technique will work with any deciduous winter tree.

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Step 1: Draw your tree on a 140lb coldpress watercolor paper with a pencil. My paper size is 6×9. The focal point is the tree itself so in the composition law of thirds, I wanted the tree to fill 2/3 of the paper.

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Step 2: Using masking fluid, paint where the snow would land on the branches. I covered the tops of almost every branch. Let completely dry. If you do not wait until it is completely dry, you will ruin your brush. You can make sure it is dry by lightly touching it after about 10 minutes.

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Step 3: We are going to paint the sky wet on wet. Using a 1″ flat brush with clean water, wet the paper in the area of the sky and the tree. Brush right over the dried masking fluid. Make sure you do not skip around and leave dry spots. When the shine on the paper disappears, paint ultramarine blue on top and bottom of sky and mauve in the middle. Let the colors blend and touch. You’re literally laying down a few brush strokes and stepping away. Do not over work this.
While the paper is still wet, sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on the paper and let completely dry. When dry tilt your paper and discard the salt.

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Step 4: Paint the tree starting at the bottom and work your way up. I used a medium round brush. If you look at the base of the tree I started with a mixture of sepia and ultramarine. As I work my way up, I added mauve to that sepia/ultramarine mixture, then viridian green, lastly at the top alizarin crimson.
Using a small round brush, paint in smaller branches repeating the colors we already used.

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Step 5: Rub the masking fluid off with your finger. Paint shadows under the tree using the same sky color on top.

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Step 6 Final: Using a small round brush paint a light mixture (meaning less pigment and more water) of prussian blue where the snow touches the branches, making a fine line. This is the shadow color of the snow on the tree.
When everything is dry, take a #3 black micron pen and draw tiny branches/twigs coming from the small branches. Outline the trunk and main branches of the tree to make it stand out.

I hope you enjoyed this free step-by-step demonstration of how to paint a nighttime winter snowstorm.

If you would like to purchase a greeting card ($4.95) or archival print click below. Thank you!
Art Prints

Safe Space Watercolor

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Weathered but strong for the moment
A safe space made by man.
Time and the elements will destroy
But God in the heart of man, a safe space forevermore.
For no force against can deploy.

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My watercolor was made from this picture I took at CITW of a birdhouse on the fringe of a field with dried goldenrods still bobbing their heads in the breeze. It was peaceful to look at and I contemplate the story behind…think of the hands that made the birdhouse and the successful broods of birds now alive and flourishing because of this man made safe space.

Return to Retreat CITW

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It is time once again.
I felt it stir within, an urgency to go back. A time to retreat.
As I grow, I am more in tune with my body and emotions. With the weight of work and family obligations I needed a time out. Silence is what I crave, giving me the ability to hear my own thoughts and process them. I get so little of it normally, so it was time to go back to Christ in the Wilderness for a solitude retreat.

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This time I stayed in the hermitage called, Mariglen. It has a fascinating view of the land and it’s a very popular spot for the birds to visit. You can read last years visit if you wish here, here, and here, when I stayed at the Paul of Tarsus hermitage.

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It may seem to some that staying at a place like this throws you into the dark ages, as there are no TV’s, cell phone service, and no WiFi. But oh, on the contrary! Being in the “dark” here contains more light than the brightest lifestyle back home, with all of its empty technology enticements.

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For the silence at CITW not only lets me hear the wing beats of birds, but I can also hear them cracking seed in their beaks. My soul craves this.

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Time on the trails gives me perspective. I ask God lots of questions and it’s quiet enough to hear some answers. Last year I pondered much on my past but this time it was more about my present and who Christ is to me.

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He is the Light, the Life, and my Hope. This is what He whispered to me in the wilderness.

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I also discovered other mysteries on the trail, like these bones most likely from a coyote. If you look close enough you can see fur, underneath the bones, closest to the grass.

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And on one of my nights I was indulged with this cloud bow. Great treasures are all around, even in the sky.

It was with a heavy heart that I had to leave, but when the time is right I will return. I know I bring home with me a little piece of this Peace, I am never truly far from it.