Tag Archives: watercolors

All Things Tiny Watercolor

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93°F
Hot Humid

Journal Notes:
I found a bench in the shade and it’s ALL MINE. I claim it.

A healthy breeze keeps me comfortable, despite the heat.

A charm of American goldfinches keeps my spirits exceptionally high as I notice their hilly flight pattern above my head. Suddenly, a blasting car horn in the distance abruptly ends my trance on the goldfinches. Grrrr……
But my goldfinches pull me back. My mind happily flutters up and down with them in the air as if I am sailing right next to them. Their cheery song while cresting high and falling low is no match for a bad mood.

Circular ripple patterns in the lake grow outward but I missed what caused it.

The air in my nostrils is warm and humid but sweet all at the same time. I am forever thankful for this moment in nature.

My mission as of late is to dwindle my watercolor supplies for the field to a bare minimum. I have become lazy lately and have not taken healthy hikes because I use the excuse of my supplies being too heavy.

Well, no more.

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Introducing my tiny watercolor field supply kit. It fits in your two hands. Light weight, portable, and can wrap around your wrist.

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All of these supplies fit nicely inside. One watercolor cold press pad (6″x4″), one Daler Rowney watercolor field kit, two aquabrushes, one pencil, one black micron pen (not shown), and a paper towel (not shown). Total weight is probably three pounds. This kit will remain in my car. Now I will have no excuse for a spur of the moment venture.

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And here is my new tiny kitten. I call him: Little Baby Turkey Stuffing, but his real name is Niles. Niles does not fit into my tiny watercolor field supply kit. He waits for me to come home so that he can bite my supplies and my hand. Bad Baby Turkey Stuffing!

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Here is the reference photo of what I was looking at when I painted the pines. I took the pines in the distance at the beautiful Morton Arboretum and used artistic license, weeding out the background to create the tiny watercolor sketch.

What about your sketching strategy? What does your kit include?

Let’s Paint a Winter Branch with Watercolors!

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Hi Folks! This is going to be a fun lesson and very easy! No really, I’m serious, very easy!! Have you tried painting with watercolors but were frustrated because you didn’t know why it wasn’t doing what you wanted? Well, this lesson will take some of the guess work out what’s happening.

Here is our subject: a winter willow branch.

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Step 1: Using 140lb cold press watercolor paper and a pencil, sketch in the shape of the branch. Now at this time, I like to really study my subject inch by inch and review the details. I say things in my head like, the bark is really smooth, mostly blue with some gray, the shape of the twigs are wavy, I see twig and leaf scars, and on and on. Write these things down if you like. The more intimate characteristics you pull out of your subject, the better you will paint.

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Step 2: My willow branch has some peeling bark. When the bark peeled off, it turned slightly yellow in color. Under the bark was a nice red/brown flesh. Normally I would apply masking fluid here and do this step last but yours truly left her masking fluid in the car during sub zero weather and ruined her masking fluid! Learn from me, don’t leave masking fluid in the car. Lol.

Using a small round brush paint in cadmium yellow and burnt sienna wet on dry. That means do not wet the paper first. Just paint right on the dry paper. Try not to touch them as the colors will bleed together. Let dry.

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Step 3: Using a mixture of cobalt blue and sienna paint in the branch. While it is still wet, on your palette, mix a little more sienna to your mix and paint the bottom of the branch darker. This is the part of the branch in shadow. The light is coming from the top. Because the branch is still wet, the darker color with melt into the lighter for a nice transition. That’s called painting wet on wet. See that tiny little twig on the bottom right of the picture? See how the two colors are separate and have great contrast? That’s because that part of the paper was dry by the time I painted in the shadow color.

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Step 4: While the branch is still wet, mix some sienna and Payne’s grey and paint in some dark spots on the branch. These spots are here and there. Because the branch is slightly wet the edges become smooth.

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This is not a step, but a brief break to meet Oscar Mayer…it’s Oscar Mayer time!!! Oscar Mayer time!! My dog likes to hang out and watch me paint. 😀

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Step 5: Okay, back to work. With the smaller branch on top we are going to do the same steps as before using the same colors, except the very small twigs were more of a red/brown color so I painted them burnt sienna. I do this in sections so it doesn’t dry too fast to work with.

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Step 6: As before, we are going to add some sienna/Payne’s Grey spots to the branch when slightly wet.

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Step 7: When everything is dry, using a rigger brush and Payne’s grey, paint some thin curved lines on your branch. Remember the branch is round not flat, so your thin lines are rounded too. This is a very important detail for your branch. Next, with burnt sienna, paint a few leaf buds on the tiny twigs (like dots). In this step I also softened the color of the yellow peeling bark by painting over it with yellow ochre using the rigger brush. Looks great!!!

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Step 8 Final: Now this step is optional and kind of cheating. To make the white marks on the branch, I used a white Conté Crayon. Remember to draw following the shape of the branch in a nice curved angle. Lastly I drew with a black Micron pen #03.

You’re done! Not bad!

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Oscar Mayer Weiner is pretend ignoring us as I stick a camera in his face…but he hopes you enjoyed this free demo of how to paint a winter branch using watercolors!!
Yay!

A Very Late Spring Sketch – Papoose Lake

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Oh tired and sleepy trees – wake up! It’s Spring!

Winter’s death grip has finally loosened up in the Chicago area. Wheeeew…it’s been a long one. The grass has responded  but the trees are still silent. Maybe this week of constant warm weather will liven them up?

Yesterday I went to Papoose Lake because I wanted to sketch something with water in it. I fell in love with this tree because of it’s limbs which resemble arms and elbows!

Later I drove to Country Lane Woods for a hike, because Papoose does not have trails. I was delighted to stumble upon Spring Peeper frogs calling in an ephemeral pond from last week’s downpour.

Here is a video…just for the sound of their call as I could not see them up close…

Spring Peeper Frogs and a few Chorus Frogs as well.

At Country Lane Woods I also observed many tiny Ruby-Crowned Kinglets flitting from twig to twig eating flying insects glowing against an afternoon sun. Once in a while they would briefly stop and I did get a glimpse of that ruby crown! Yesssssss.

Who’s ready for Spring?!?

Red Gate Woods Sketch

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About a week ago, I made a mid-day hike in the summer heat at Red Gate Woods. Crazy? Maybe. I didn’t realize how humid it was until going up several steep hills on the orange trail. When the back of your shirt becomes saturated with sweat…it’s humid.
Yuck.

What was yummy on the other hand, was all of the interesting things I found along my trail. Like, several large Ox-Eye Daisies amongst tiny pink flowers, which I believe are Deptford Pinks. I also found a hard-shelled dead bug on a stone bridge over a small creek.

At the end of the orange trail, I came upon a band of blue jays. I grabbed my voice recorder and recorded some interesting sounds. Not only did they call out, but several blue jays made “clicking” sounds. If you turn the volume way up, you can hear it…sorry about the traffic noise…I have a cheap recorder and there is a street near by.

Oh how happy I was to walk into this auditory treasure! And happy even more so to share it with all of you!

There are many treasures in the woods, but sooooo little time.

Crappy New Sketchbook watercolor sketch

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Well, I used the last page of my watercolor sketchbook and of course, as usual, I waited until the last minute (story of my life) to purchase a new one. So when I went to the store, I was kind of desperate.

They didn’t have the sketchbook I always buy, so I was forced to take what was available…handmade watercolor paper.

I thought, OK something different, we’ll make it work.

I HATE IT.

Oh this stuff is HORRIBLE. It’s super thick and soaks up the water like a sponge. Your color starts out nice and bold, but by the time it dries it turns almost white! I had to re-work and re-work and re-work.
YUCK.

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One good thing at least…yesterday was our first snowfall. YAY!!!
It went like this: flurry, sun, flurry, sun, flurry, sun.

Call me a little kid, but I always get excited about the first snow 😀