The Pursuit of Watercolor IMperfection

I just watched a video made by Winsor Newton on adding gum arabic to your watercolor paint when painting outside.  It was a very educational video. I think I might try adding some gum arabic to my watercolor water jar or my paint mixes when I paint outside. Gum arabic slows down the drying time of your paints.

At the end of the video along with the credits the sentence appeared that said, “ Winsor Newton, the pursuit of excellence.”

Its alright for the Winsor Newton people to go for excellence, we need good paints and brushes etc.  BUT,  I don’t think its a good idea for us watercolorists to pursue excellence. I think excellence stresses us out and ties our brushes in a twist (mentally). I find it much better to pursue something 1/2 way between mediocraty and very good. Plus if I can remind myself to focus on the painting process and concentrate on what I am learning and try out new ideas my paintings are a success whether they look like it or not. In the classes I teach, I talk about not expecting perfect paintings.

This Summer I’ve been teaching a class at MiraCosta College called “Developing the Habit of Watercolor Sketchbook Practice.” 

Everyone in the class does their paintings in  an Aquabee mixed media ( a few have other brands) sketchbook. I give out assignments that can be done several different ways so the students can practice lots of different ways to approach painting the subject. I think its working, (the evaluations haven’t been done yet). 

 unfinished painting for this weeks assignment, beach and ocean painting.

unfinished painting for this weeks assignment, beach and ocean painting.

Paint A Cool Painting to Stay Cool

It occurred to me that there might be a body mind connection involved when we watercolor. We might be able to utilize this connection to cool ourselves down during this hot spell. 

Do me a favor and experiment on yourselves today. Select some cool colors from your paint box (think blues, lavenders, greys or anything that reminds you of the ocean.). I have no idea if the subject you paint will effect your body temperature or make you feel cooler. Report your finds to me as soon as you complete your research (painting).

 Painted this scene from the Isle of Skye using thalo blue and burnt sienna. 

Painted this scene from the Isle of Skye using thalo blue and burnt sienna. 

De-Stress Painting

Are you busy today? Are you staying cool? Are you on vacation? Or are you at home or work dreaming of being on vacation?  Did you know that if you can unearth some photos you took on your last vacation now, you can de-stress and relive some of your memories by doing a little painting from your photo?

You can print out your photo on printer paper and fold it into quarters. Draw the same size quarters on your painting paper. Now, draw what you see only in the top, left hand corner, then the top right hand quarter, etc. Draw only what you like in the photo and cut out what you don't like.  IMPORTANT! Once you get your drawing done on your paper, erase your lines that divided the paper into quarters. If you paint over your quarter marking lines, you are toast and the lines are there to stay.  However, you can always paint the quarter shapes as a clever background and claim you meant to do that. (I've done this many times.)

If you like using apps on your phone or ipad you can get the GRID# app for free and figure out how to put a digital grid over your digital image.

Once you have your drawing on your paper and at this stage if you want to go over your pencil lines with ink, go for it. Ink adds lots to watercolor paintings.

When you are ready to paint if you are befuddled as to what colors to mix and use for your vacation location, just look up at my page header above and click on the shop button.  That will take you over to my newly opened shop where I am selling custom paint sets for painting anywhere and to teach you the fun da mentals of color mixing.  *** Ollie the beagle has insisted I give the first 5 shoppers who order a kit a free mini sketchbook filled with watercolor and sketching paper.

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Beginning Beach Painting 101

Friends and I sat at the beach yesterday and painted. I shared my beach painting tips with them and they shared their paint colors and more. Jamie had the perfect color for San Diego sand,  French Ochre Extra Light which she bought at A Case for Making in S.F. The good news is they have an online store and the color is already in my cart. 

The results from the first beach painting class of the season were very good. 

 

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Painting Whatever, Whenever.....

you have a spare moment. Yesterday was one of those days, no one attended my specialy designed paint at the beach class and the college computer mistakenly terminated me when they switched systems. *Disclaimer, it was no big deal compared with the tramas happening in the rest of the world, but I was entitled to feel frustrated.

So this morning I had to administer some art therapy to myself. The dogs were fed and snoring, the house mess could wait and I made 10 minutes to paint. The paints were on the kitchen counter where I’d tossed them last night. I looked around for a quicky painting subject, the tomatoes volunteered. 

The results are below. 

 

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 A “Paint Whatever, Whenever” painting, it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be done. 

A “Paint Whatever, Whenever” painting, it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be done. 

A Girl and Her Zebra Plus Making Mistakes = ?

the opportunity to make better paintings.  I’ve discovered scientific studies that back up my theory that practice painting increases your painting skills.

I mentioned last week that my muse had texted me to paint subjects from my plastic animal and families collection. I am following the muses instructions and choosing subjects from the suitcase of plastic people and animals. I arrange them on my desk and draw and paint them in my Aquabee sketchbook.  Painting in the sketchbook which sells for around $14.98 on cheapjoes.com is less stressful than painting on a piece of watercolor paper that costs around $5 or $6 for a 22”x30” sheet. The less expensive paper = a willingness on my part to try out new ideas, different brushes, unusual color combos and concepts I haven’t mastered yet.

Did you know if a teacher says to you, “You are a good painter,” you probably will not want to try out any new methods or ideas that don’t guarrantee you decent painting.  If a teacher says something like “ You are working very hard at improving your skill at color mixing,( or some other painting skill),  you will continue to practice and improve your painting. 

What do you think? Have you ever had an experience of improvement or unimprovement after a teacher’s comment? 

*If you want to do some sketchbook practice painting, attend my Miracosta Community Ed Sat. Class that starts on July 14. Its called “Develop the Habit of Watercolor Practice Painting”.  See info on  class page on this website for instructions on how to register.

 

 

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 This painting is available for purchase, email me to negotiate the price, at anywhereart4u@gmail.com

This painting is available for purchase, email me to negotiate the price, at anywhereart4u@gmail.com

Do You Know...

that I have one of the largest collections of miniature plastic animals and people in Northern San Diego? 

 

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You may want to know how I acquired this menagerie?  I discovered bins filled with these plastic creature at a low budget party shop over 20 years ago.  I used most of these critters as models for my watercolor children’s book illustrations.  I also have an extra large number of pink plastic pigs that I use to teach drawing fundamentals. 

This morning I climbed up to the top of my step ladder to get the pigs out of their suitcase to take them to San Clemente Art Supply where I will be teaching a workshop this weekend.  I had forgotten how glorious my plastic animal (I have a few multi cultural plastic families too) collection is.   

Inspiration struck me, and I chose several paintable animals from my collection and arranged them on my shelf to see their artistic possibilities.   I think as soon as I am finished with my English countryside painting series of cottages, cups and teapots: my England period, I am going to begin my plastic animal painting period. 

 

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San Clemente + Watercolor Class = ?

Want a crash course in watercolor plus some sand and sea this weekend?  Why not take advantage of combining learning watercolor and spending sometime strolling around the beachown of San Clemente. I’ll be at San Clemente Art Supply Shop Saturday and Sunday teaching a class called Low Stress Watercolor. My approach to teaching art is that anyone can learn to paint and draw.  Talent not required, you just need to practice your painting strokes. If you already know how to paint you can improve your skills in this class.  

During class time we’ll dip, dab and discuss the watercolor secret methds I will show you. You’ll also learn about mixing colors, fixing mistakes and how to create light hearted paintings.  Plus during breaktime you can work on your tan or your surfing skills or eat a seafood salad on the pier. Sign up online at San Clemente Art Supply.

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The Embrassing Thing About Being an Artist...

I met a lovely artist a few weeks ago who shared with me some important artist advice. 

”Don’t be afraid of trying to sell your paintings,” she said.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel embarrassed that I want sell my paintings.  “Why?” You ask.  What if you don’t want one of my paintings?  What if they aren’t good enough? What if you think I’m greedy?  What if I’ve put you in an awkward position and you don’t know how to say no.  What if you don’t have enough money for essentials and do you really want to buy my art?  I probably can come up with a hundred more reasons if I try, but here’s just one more, what if I’m not dead yet, so my work hasn’t gone up in value?

Another thought just came to me.  What if you don’t know how to ask me if my painting is for sale?  Just say, “Is your painting for sale?  How much?” Hint; you can even try to negotiate with me if you think my price is too high. 

Which brings me to another difficult topic, taking photos of my paintings. If you ask me if you can take a photo and I answer yes, then go ahead and take a photo. 

This week, I plan to talk more about selling one’s artwork.  If any of you have any thoughts or advice on this topic, leave a comment in the comment box below or email me anywhereart4u@gmail.com  

 

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Home for Artists: Tired, Retired, Pre-Tired and Runaways

I found us artists a home yesterday and purchased it. It is suitable  as is, no remodeling needed.  I believe it has 14 bedrooms and quarters for our staff.  The plan is to fill the library with art supplies, good lighting and individual desks with storage and to fill the kitchen with Victoria Sponge cake, bloomer bread, peanut butter and jelly.  If you come by for a long or short stay, we’ll make art all day, plus we won’t have to cook lunch as we can have pb and j sandwiches. Every night we can go to a local pub for dinner.

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I’ve also purchased a car so we can all get around. We’ll take it to explore, find painting sites, mystical standing stones and car-boot sales.  Anyone want to move in or come for a stay? 

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Anywhere Artists Visit Oxford, England

Monday, the Anywhere Artists boarded the bus for one last day of exploring.  Our destination was Oxford and it did not disappoint. 

 Our bus fit all 12 of us comfortably and was small enough to navigate narrow English country roads.

Our bus fit all 12 of us comfortably and was small enough to navigate narrow English country roads.

We were guided around Oxford by a wonderfully knowledgeable guide named Bella. She walked us around to Trinity College and we were fortunate enough to be able to go inside  to see the inner workings.  We were familiar with some of the scenery from Harry Potter movies and the Inspector Morse BBC tv series.

 Debbie Allen shows her painting of Oxford in the bottom row.

Debbie Allen shows her painting of Oxford in the bottom row.

We parted at 2pm with some of the group returning home, some (including me) staying on and 2 of the members going off to Paris.

Parting is always bittersweet since we enjoyed each others company for 10 days, shared meals, conversations  and art making. Friendships are formed because of our like mindedness and shared interests. This trip, Katherine named us the Traveling Baggallini Sisters because almost all of us were carrying versions of Baggallini travel purses. 

The very good news is, we did not get enough of England and Wales and have decided to plan another Anywhere Art trip to see more of South Wales, the Lake district and the Cotswolds next year! 

Good Painting Day in the Cotswolds

Today was a very good day to be a watercolor painter in Chipping Campden. I sat in front of a beautiful thatched cottage and painted all afternoon.

 

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While I was painting an endless parade of interesting people walked by and talked with me. An entire high school class from Japan, a couple from Michigan, a retired gentleman, a lady riding in a wheel chair, a family from Austrailia and an engineer from Manchester were some of the people I met.  

Here is the drawing I did of the thatched cottage. 

 

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I painted furiously all afternoon, engulfed in a haze of creative euphoria.  I will show you the painting tomorrow.  The painting will spend the night in my sketchbook while I am sleeping and I will study it with fresh eyes tomorrow, add some paint blobs and such and then post it here. 

How To Paint in A Cotswold Village

Find a comfortable shady spot to sit with a view you want to paint.

Study the reflection in the river.  Note the water surface. Is it smooth, choppy, or wavy? Then make paintbrushstokes on the water that describe the movement in the water. Paint the water a in duller colors then the objects on the shore. 

Sketch, erase, sketch, erase, sketch, paint. Don’t give up, don’t expect a perfect painting.  You are slowing down, being mindful of your surroundings and creating a memory for yourself. Quit painting before you muck up your picture with too many details. Pack up your art supplies making sure you don’t leave something behind. Head to the tea shop or hotel bar and meet your friends. 

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How To Paint in A Cotswold Village

Find a comfortable shady spot to sit with a view you want to paint.

Study the reflection in the river.  Note the water surface. Is it smooth, choppy, or wavy? Then make paintbrushstokes on the water that describe the movement in the water. Paint the water a in duller colors then the objects on the shore. 

Sketch, erase, sketch, erase, sketch, paint. Don’t give up, don’t expect a perfect painting.  You are slowing down, being mindful of your surroundings and creating a memory for yourself. Quite painting before you muck up your picture with too many details. Pack up your art supplies making sure you don’t leave something behind. Head to the tea shop or hotel bar and meet your friends. 

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Thoughtful Travelers

Recently at a board meeting of Anywhere Art LLC (which consisted of Rick and I, Becky and the beagles, the other members live out of town and Max was working), we decided the word that best describes who we are when we travel is “thoughtful”.  We strive to be thoughtful about the the country we are visiting.  We want to learn about new places first hand.  Otherwise, we would stay home and not have to pack and unpack. 

We try to understand and speak with as many of the local people as we can.

Yesterday, we followed Lindsey, a certified walking guide around Bath.  Lindsay explained a lot about the past and present and helped us appreciate and be knowledgeable about what we were seeing. 

As we stood in front of the Bath Abbey, Lindsay explained that the sculpture angels climbing the ladders up to the top of the church and beyond were designed by the architect to make the bulding appear taller by directing your eye upward. 

One of the thoughtful members of our Anywhere Art group was listening and thing about the climbing angel.   She asked, “Why do the angels need a ladder if they have wings?”

Isn’t that a “thoughtful question?” 

 Look just above the blue flag to see the ladder, then upward to see the climbing angels.

Look just above the blue flag to see the ladder, then upward to see the climbing angels.

Watercolor Trip Synopsis

We’ve been busy in the Cotswolds the last few days. We followed a walking guide on the wonderful paths thru the countryside, visited the town of Bath and the Jane Austen museum. We also painted pages in our journals of snippets of the scenery and had time to stop at the town of Stow on the Wold, visit  England’s oldest Inn, now a pub and stroll meditatively through a group of standing stones called Stanton Drews.  The cows are right in the field with the stones and walk up to you when you speak to them. I am bringing home the cow pictured below and plan to call her Buttercup.

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Cotswolds Village Painting

Because they are amazingly charming and quaint, the Cotswolds villages provide limitless scenery and subjects for watercolor sketching.  The Anywhere Art group members have been very busy! 

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 Nancy Holtz sketching with Marianne and Flo advising.

Nancy Holtz sketching with Marianne and Flo advising.

Opportunities for finding quality subject matter are not limited to landscape we had to taste the local tea and cake in order to find teapots to sketch.

 On the right above the teaot is tea cake which contains tea soaked raisins.

On the right above the teaot is tea cake which contains tea soaked raisins.

We are trying all sorts of local foods of the region.

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Learning British Art Terms

Travel is a wonderful education. Yesterday I learned the British term for the  “artist tissue” we use to absorb the excess water from our paint brush.

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Painting The Town in Wales

The town of Conwy in Wales is where we’ve stayed the last 2 days. 

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From our hotel there is a view of Conwy Castle. We sat outside and painted views of the castle walls and some views of the town. 

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Conwy is on a bay and this the view from my bed.

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The group had to do some bonding last night at the St. George & the Dragon Pub. 

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England Watercolor Workshop About to Begin

Can you guest which airport I had a stop over in from the photo below? 

 

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We arrived in Manchester England yesterday and were happy to find blue sunny skies.

 

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To combat jet-lag we ubered to visit a street faire and art supply shop in the afternoon. 

Off to Wales tomorrow morning.