Posts Tagged ‘watercolor’


Workshop Demonstrations

September 11, 2018

Demo #1 – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 8″ x 12″

Demo #2 – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 8″ x 12″

Demonstration paintings from a recent watercolor workshop at the Peninsula School of Art. The strategy is to connect areas of the painting to help create unity especially in and with the subordinate shapes.

#1 – started with the sky and moved directly into the background trees – starting at the left and increasing the intensity and vibrancy of the trees as I moved to the right. Then moved to allow these colors to strategically flow into the foreground. After allowing the initial wash to dry thoroughly, I utilized negative painting techniques to separate and emphasize subjects.

#2 – I began with the background trees, moving from the left. As I worked the trees, I utilized this same wash to indicate the shadows of the shed and its shadow.

Often, the initial wash is sufficient to define the important elements and lessen the need for a lot of cluttering details.


Sunspot and Klenkes

December 19, 2017

Sunspot Along German Road – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 12″ x 16″

Preparing fresh images for an upcoming watercolor workshop, I played with these two designs.

Sunspot Along German Road, is a follow up to an oil painting. The work is from sketches made during a trip into Door County Wisconsin.

Klenke’s is worked from a reference photo. The site is a well known spot in Ellison Bay Wisconsin.

Klenke’s -Watercolor on Canson 140# CP – 9″ x 12″


Klenke’s Garage

July 7, 2017

Klenke’s Garage – Oil on Oil Primed Canvas – 8″ x 10″

Due to inclement weather, I opted to work in the studio. I worked with reference photos from trips to Door County. None of the photos gave me an uncluttered view. Each photo of this old structure had elements which obstructed the view I wanted. But I was able to utilize portions from several photos to create the neater version pictured above.

Enjoyed that exercise enough that I decided to repaint the design in watercolor as pictured below.

Klehnke’s – Watercolor on 140# CP – 9″ x 12″


October Flair

June 19, 2014
October Flair; Watercolor on Daler-Rowney140# each 10" x 14"

October Flair; Watercolor on Daler-Rowney140# each 10″ x 14″

To help my watercolor students understand the idea of building their paintings, I occasionally create these “step-paintings”. Most students can visualize how they want their finished painting to look but often end up with rather mechanical and stiff paintings which often lack harmony and a sense of playfulness.

The first, or Outline stage (top illustration) is created in a technique which I refer to as “splash”. This is a manner of loosely applying colors in way that allows the colors to flow into each other. Although all of the major elements are clearly sketched out before painting begins, all lines become suggestions and not barriers. That is, I allow the yellows and oranges from the tree foliage to flow into the green grass, if it wants to. This latitude allows for interesting opportunities and will aid in adding harmony to the painting.

After the “Outline” stage has an opportunity to dry, I proceed to the “Refine” and “Define ” stages to complete the painting as seen at the bottom of the watercolor paper.


Fish Creek Cottage Demo

December 15, 2013
Fish Creek Cottage: Demonstaration of Outline - Refine - Define

Fish Creek Cottage: Demonstration of Outline – Refine – Define

In an effort to help my watercolor students loosen up and get a little more bold with their initial applications of paint, I worked this demonstration.

I started with a 16 x 20 block of watercolor paper. I created the drawings side-by-side. The fun and yet tough part of this was to apply my first, or “Outline” phase in the same manner to each of the two designs. That is to say, I worked to get both sides of this work as similar as possible. With watercolor, you will never get the same results twice, but it is still a fun challenge. When this “Outline” phase was completed and dried, I  selected the painting on the right side to use for my “Refine” and “Define” stages. This enabled the students to better understand the steps necessary to create their paintings. It also helps them to see how they can go a little more bold with their initial washes of paint to help keep their finished works fresher and a little less muddy.


Plein Air Gear

May 13, 2013

As mentioned in my previous blog, this August, Rock Valley College will be offering a Plein Air art workshop.  In this blog I will offer thoughts concerning general equipment to aid your artistic efforts. I also offer some ideas concerning basic supplies for watercolor painting en plein air as well as supplies for oil painting en plein air.

Painting en plein air is enough of a challenge. Do yourself a favor. Do not expect to create a masterpiece. You are out to enjoy the nice weather, gather ideas, do research to aid your studio works, enjoy the company of others, or just paint. If you ease up on your expectations, the results will be far more beneficial than you could imagine (and occasionally, you will create a masterpiece).

 Lighten your load. Some painting locations are near our cars which makes it easier. In some cases, you may have to hike to your spot. I am often in one spot for 1 – 2 hours. Comfort and ease will be necessary to keep the experience more enjoyable. I would like to offer a few thoughts.

 General Supplies –

·         Dress for the weather, but prepare for change. I dress for 10 degrees cooler than what the weather people tell us. Once at your location, you will be standing (or sitting) for awhile (i.e. not moving). Most artists will find locations in shade and if the wind is blowing at all, it will feel cooler and you need to be comfortable when you paint.

o   Wear neutral colors. Avoid white, bright colors and/or black.

o   Suggest long sleeves and slacks/pants. Deters bugs and sun burn.

o   Have an extra layer available in case the wind kicks up, the clouds roll in or rain threatens. Have a long sleeved collared shirt, light jacket, or sweatshirt available.

o   Comfortable shoes

·         Insect repellent

·         Sun block

·         Snacks – suggest fruit, granola bars or trail mix. Not a full meal, just enough to help reenergize you.

·         Brimmed hat – protection from the sun. I avoid sunglasses so I can see the colors and values more accurately.

·         Water/water bottle – Especially when it is warm or hot.

·         Plastic bag for any trash which you generate or find.

·         Paper towels.

·         Before parking your car, scout out location of washrooms and drinking water.

·         Camera – suggested but not necessary. Captures details, fleeting moments and can even help you compose your design.

·         Cell phone – Safety.

·         Umbrella – optional.

·         Portable folding stool

·         Viewfinder – Optional but very helpful.

·         Small pliers and screwdriver.

·         Small bungee cords and clamps – Optional, but in windy conditions, helpful.

·         Sketchbook – to lock in the design and capture the shadow patterns. Also, there are some days (moods), locations, weather conditions or time factors which may prohibit painting. You can always sketch and learn.

·         Business cards or contact information – some passerby might just be interested in that masterpiece that you are creating.

Watercolor Plein Air Gear

Watercolor Plein Air Gear

·         Watercolor

o   Tote Bag – I use a back pack for plein air painting

o   Palette – I suggest a small folding palette (I load up with paint before heading to the site).

o   Paints – In addition to my usual palette, I keep a tube of Gouache White or Chinese White with my kit. I also keep a container with extra tubes of paint in my car, just in case. The usual colors on my palette include: Hookers Green, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Winsor Lemon, Aureolin (or New Gamboge) Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Winsor Red, Alizaron Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue and Paynes Gray.

o   Brushes – Do not bring your favorite brush (it will be the brush most likely to get lost). Your choice but, depending on the size paper I am using, I usually just use a #10 or 12 round and a #6 pointed round.

o   Paper – Arches 140# CP (300# is a good alternative). I suggest you either bring small pieces of paper and use a clip board or use watercolor paper in a block or sketchbook.

o   Water for brushes – I use a plastic container that formerly contained lemonade mix (it’s just the right size and seals up tight). I also keep a container of water in the car, just in case.

o   Portable Easel (ex. French Easel). – Optional. You may wish to sit and use your lap to support your paper.

o   Small towel and facial tissues.

o   Pencil and kneaded eraser

Oils Plein Air Gear

Oils Plein Air Gear

·         Oils/Acrylics – I usually stand so I either use my Judson’s Guerilla paint box and tripod or a French Easel

o   Tote Bag – I use a 5 gallon bucket with a cloth tool bag.

o   Palette – The Judson’s Guerilla Box has its own palette or I use a wooden palette in a Masterson’s Artist Palette Seal

o   Paints – The cloth tool bag holds all my necessary paints. My usual palette of colors includes: Titanium White, Cadmium Lemon/Cadmium Light, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Grumbacher Red, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and Ivory Black. I also have  Permanent Rose, Raw Sienna, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Thalo Green, Transparent Oxide Red, and Naples Yellow – just in case.

o   Brushes – I use hog bristle flats #2 through #10 at least two of each. I prefer Robert Simmons Signet brand. I use a couple paper towel tubes to help keep them neatly inside my bucket

o   Support – I usually use canvas panels which I can carry in my paint box/easel. I also use a Handy Porter or canvas carrier for larger panels.

o   Small jar (ex. baby food jar) to carry odorless mineral spirits.

o   Disposable gloves

o   Disposable Diaper, paper towels and plastic bags.

o   View Finder

Photos of Tom Linden painting courtesy of Bob Logsdon Photography


Plain Fun with Plein Air: Summer 2013 Workshop

May 7, 2013

Workshop           August 7, 8 & 9, 2013            8:00am – noon

 Plain Fun with Plein Air

Sponsored by Rock Valley College. Class # ART 815 NC

Join us for three days of fun-in-the-sun as we explore ideas, concepts and strategies for enjoying plein air painting. The workshop will focus on helping you to understand how to locate and focus on a subject, how to quickly establish your design, and how to evaluate, amend and finish your works on location. Each day, an objective will be explained, and demonstrated. Students will have time to work on their designs. Students will receive one-on-one assistance and group instruction. Work in your medium of choice – watercolor, oils, pastels, etc. The focus will be on learning new ideas and concepts as well as learning how to be safe, meet new friends, have fun and perhaps, create a masterpiece. It is suggested that you plan to work on small supports (paper, canvas, panel, etc., nothing larger than 11 x 15). Please contact the instructor ( prior to the workshop for information concerning recommended supplies in addition to your painting equipment.

This workshop will be held in the outdoor gardens at the Nicholas Conservatory in Rockford (1354 N. 2nd Street). Please contact me if you need directions to this workshop and/or suggestions for area hotels.

To find out more about the workshop or to register, please contact Rock Valley Community College (815) 921-3900.

Photographs courtesy of Bob Logsdon Photography