So many people have said to me, “I could never paint watercolor! It is so hard to work with.”  I couldn’t disagree more.  While I understand that there is a delicate balance between water and color, or pigment, I absolutely love the way it moves, the surprises and elements of happy accidents can give you a new direction or even an end result that is absolutely delightful.  While I also paint with acrylic and pastel (I love those too), watercolor came  first for me once I transitioned from pencil to paint!

Some qualities I particularly enjoy are watching how different pigments work together..or don’t. Learning that balance between  water and pigment, and how to manipulate it is a forever learning experience.  How the pigment suspends, or breaks down it water.  Some pigments, like Antwerp Blue, actually seem to run to the water, seeking it out.  I love the transparent colors and demonstrating the differences between transparent and opaque colors.  It’s a dance.

When I’m working with acrylic, I actually use it in very much the same methods as I do with watercolor…in layered glazes. I use water with the acrylic to help it move (mostly because I’m addicted to the movement of watercolor) but have to be careful not to use too much water or it breaks down the color too much.

But this is a discussion of watercolor.  It’s really important to know your colors.  Know what they are like full strength and how they “grade” down to their lightest light.  Know what colors mix well and what shades result.  What colors are complementary?  Your color wheel can help with that, and I use other tools too.  Check out the video below and I’ll show you some very handy tools you can use to really get familiar with the colors in your palette.  There is more to read after the video, so don’t go away just yet!

So, now that you’ve seen the video, here is the secret.  Creating those charts was not my idea.  It came from the most valuable book I ever purchased on the topic of Watercolor: “The Watercolor Painter’s Pocket Palette” by Moira Clinch.  Click on the ad to buy it from Amazon sellers. And, till next time, happy painting!


I’m making headway….but before I go on, I want to welcome you to this new site! Together we will explore the wonderful world of Art…and how to create it for yourself! All of the videos here right now are FREE for your perusal and growth. Spend a few minutes, read the posts, watch the videos…and please, let me hear from you.  Post a comment, say hello, and let me know what you’d like to see in a video, are you skeptical?  A beginner, or have you been painting/drawing for a while but find you’re stuck somewhere, or just need a new way to do something!   Let me know!

Coming soon, will be a full 26 week (or more ) course. Videos in learning to Draw, learning toPaint with watercolor or…both! Be sure to fill in your email to get first notice when we go live!


It’s finished! and Thanks!

Thanks to those of you who took the survey!  Daisies won:  paint the stems and centers….so I did, and here it is:

Connections 20 x 16 Scratchboard

Connections 20 x 16 Scratchboard

I called it “Connections” for all the crossing of stems and yet one or two not quite connected, kind of “hanging out” in space.  It struck me as I was working on it.

I thoroughly enjoyed working on this one. I video recorded alot of it, but not all…it took 117 hours, after all.  Anyway, I’m editing the video now and hope to get this all figured out really soon.

I’m sorry it’s taken so long.  I’m just as subject to the distractions that keep me from the studio as anyone who is struggling to learn to paint.  It’s life.  But when painting is integrally related to the blood that courses through my veins (or at least it seems that way) I have to get back to it, or go nuts.  Figuring out the online part is intimidating, but I’m working on it…so hang in there!  I’ll get it done yet!

And, while I’m thinking about it, perhaps it was kismet that I finished on the Friday of Memorial Weekend.  May we all remember our Connections to all those who serve and have served and have given their lives and limbs for our Freedom.


General Art Info and Tips

So, once you’re completed a painting that your pleased with, the next step is to frame it and get it on your wall!  Here’s some framing tips from my perspective as a gallery owner!

A Guide to Why it’s Framed…or Not

We’ve all been there.  We find a great little piece and think “I love it, but I don’t love the frame.”  The Gallery owner may say, “No Problem..I’ll take it out”  or…No Can Do.”  Why?  What’s the difference and what can you do about it? (This custom frame job would make me reluctant to unframe!)  tradition

First, “why can’t I buy that without the frame?”.  I’ve heard the question enough, I know a good percentage of you ask.  Most of the time, the answer is simple.  In many cases, shipping or packing a piece of work without framing may significantly increase the likelihood of damage to the piece.  Take a pastel, oil pastel, or traditional watercolor, and taking the piece out of the frame, and in this case, the glass, put’s the piece at risk.  Pastel is loosely affixed to it’s media, usually an archival “sanded” paper.  It is framed substantianlly away from the glass and the mat.  This is done to prevent static electricity from pulling pastel from the paper and sticking it to the mat and glass.  Taking it out of its frame requires great care in packing and shipping (read: $$).  Not that it can’t be done….just that it takes much more care in packing.  Similarly, oil pastel works on paper require framing behind glass, because they never really dry. Shipping without adequate protection increases the likelihood of smudging. Traditional watercolor (on paper) is susceptible to damage from moisture and scratching.

That said, there are still ways to avoid the dangers and get the frame job you love.  The first possibility is to take the whole piece to your favorite framer and have it unframed, and reframed by a professional. Why go to that expense?  If your piece is not a “stock” size, then cutting mats, mounting, spacing and framing can make the most prolific artist shudder.  I seldom frame my own work.  I’m the professional at painting.  Let the framing professional do the framing.  I tend to wind up with bloody fingers and great stress.  If, on the other hand, your piece is a “standard” or “stock” size, it may be as simple as picking up a precut mat and frame from Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. So, what is a stock size?  4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10, 9 x 12, 11 x 14, 12 x 16, 16 x 20, 18 x 24 (all in inches) are standard stock sizes for most pre-made frames, many premade mats and many pre-packaged paks of glass and foamcore.

If your original is 15 1/2 x 22 (a standard 1/2 sheet of watercolor paper) or other non-stock size, you may find it difficult to do it yourself.  The warehouse stores (like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s) are often a less expensive option, though they won’t offer as wide a range of high quality framing options as most professional frame shops.  Personally, I use the services of Jim and Lisa Cox, (yes, Jim is an excellent artist) at Taos Do It Yourself Picture Framing, in Taos.  No, you don’t have to do it yourself…but they’ll help you if you’re so inclined.

What about those new watercolors on canvas? Those oils and acrylics on canvas…all with painted edges, unframed?  They are actually suitable as they are..and often hang that way in galleries and homes, and museums.  Unframed canvases don’t work in your decor?  Ask your frame shop about “floating Canvas frames”.  These frames, are as high quality as any other wood moulding, will  “float” the canvas in the frame, allowing those painted edges to be seen while giving a more traditional look to the piece.  More and more artists are moving to the canvas, with new canvas being “watercolor ready”.  I love it.  I love that the canvas can take layers and layers of watercolor, that I can finish it with protective, invisible, non yellowing varnish, and that there is no glass or frame necessarily reguired, saving me and my customer LOTS OF MONEY!  If I can save $200-$400 in framing, just think what you save when you buy it!  Plus, remember those standard sizes above?  Most stock canvases are in those sizes as well.  It’s not until you get into large, custom stretched canvas that you get outside those sizes.

So…next time you feel prompted to ask about that frame, consider this article..What is the medium?  Are you shipping it?  Can you get it safely home? But by all means, ask.  I’ll answer your questions and help you choose the best course.