I know, I know… ink and gouache resist was supposed to come several weeks later in my course schedule for “Birds in Watercolor and Beyond.” But I just couldn’t wait to share it. My all-time favorite painting technique, its inky outlines and sudden transformation (as the result of spraying it with a garden hose, the best part of the whole process) remind me of my years spent carving colorful raku tiles. There’s more information on the process in an older post.
If you liked the atmospheric effect created by dripping alcohol into watercolor wash in the earlier mermaid post, here’s a very similar drawing with a slightly different background texture. Sprinkling ordinary table salt into your freshly painted watercolor wash makes a rich, grainy texture that looks a little like crystals, a little like foliage. It’s a fun and slightly unpredictable way to make interesting backgrounds. I salted only the top and bottom of this small (4×6) rectangle, so that the middle would be smooth enough to add a fairy and her friend. They were painted in watercolor, with finishing details drawn in Prismacolor (the color is Terra Cotta).
Any type of salt will work. Using coarse salt, such as rock salt, results in a larger pattern. Sprinkle it directly into the wet watercolor layer, then allow it to dry completely. Overnight is ideal. Then the grains of salt can be brushed gently away to reveal the textures beneath.
This simple “profile view while holding something up” is a pose that works well if you are not yet comfortable drawing hands. While it offers plenty of possibilities — she could be holding up a small bird, a flower, a soap bubble, a friendly insect — it’s still rewarding to be able to choose whether or not you wish to paint realistic hands. Click here to see my tutorial on drawing them.
I’m in the lake country of central Florida this week, painting some of the local avian citizens in preparation for the upcoming online course, Birds in Watercolor and Beyond. I sketched these sandhill cranes, an adult and a juvenile, this morning. Now I’m making a quick color study in watercolor and white gouache. (I’ll post another image when it’s finished.)
Sandhill cranes are abundant here: they stalk along the roadsides and peer in through patio doors. They make a rapid, beeping call like a flock of chatty space aliens. At four feet tall, they can easily look into your car window while you wait in line at the drive-through. They are ideal drawing subjects.
A fun technique that creates a soothing and mysterious atmosphere: put down a rich watercolor wash in two or more shades of blue. Drip rubbing alcohol into the wet paint to create bubbles. Then use only white (or, in this case, white and pale green) to draw your subject. Don’t draw too much –leave parts of the scene to the imagination of the viewer. Fun!
I’ve been having fun, creating examples for different watercolor techniques as I build up material for the Draw & Paint Fairies online course. This little naiad (water sprite) is balancing on a bubble that resulted from dripping alcohol into a layer of ultramarine blue gouache. Instant gratification — and a handy way to avoid trying to paint around all those round shapes! I photographed the process, step-by-step, and will weave it into a lesson on color wash backgrounds. I “borrowed” her spiny wing structure from an Asian flying fish.
I’m delighted to offer a new workshop, “Draw and Paint Monarch Butterflies,” at beautiful 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center on Saturday, January 12. Working from actual specimens, with step-by-step guidance, learn to create a realistic monarch using gouache and colored pencil on handmade buff paper. No experience is necessary and all supplies are provided. Class size is limited to 10. The cost is $65, and illustrated gift certificates are available if you plan to use the workshop as a Christmas gift. Email me to reserve a spot.
Two more things about the workshop: We’ll meet from 10 to 4, so bring a sack lunch to enjoy on the deck during our midday break.
Also, it’s important to me that you know our butterfly specimens were not wild-caught and killed. They were raised from egg to caterpillar to cocoon to adult, allowed to live a natural life and then after they died were carefully collected for our use. Butterfly farming preserves habitat and discourages destructive land use; it can also be helpful in supporting threatened species. Just so you know.
It’s not your typical botanical drawing course. My new online class series, “Draw & Paint Six Culinary Herbs,” will incorporate all the things that make the humble kitchen garden a place of a thousand small delights. In addition to learning to create softly shaded pencil studies, spirited ink-and-wash sketches and richly layered color renderings that combine watercolor and colored pencil, we’ll also explore the history and folklore associated with our six herbs. Each lesson will include art demo videos, printable illustrated instruction pages and photo tutorials posted on our private class website — as well as illustrated tips on growing, harvesting and using our culinary collection. I’m also sharing my own stock of organic herb seed (from my garden, while supplies last) with anyone who asks when they sign up. Email me for a list of available varieties.
The course is designed so that you can work at your own pace, without ever feeling rushed. Lessons will appear weekly beginning January 7 on a private, password-protected website. All 10 lessons will remain there until May 6. During those four months, you have access to the lessons anytime you wish to work on them. Feel free to take a week off (or even a month) for other activities. You’ll still have plenty of time to complete the course. Each lesson will include:
- My video demo with step-by-step guidance for each new technique
- Printable color instruction pages
- Examples for each lesson, created to guide and inspire you
- Personal help when needed, and feedback when each lesson is completed
- Access to our own private online group where you can share comments and images with others taking the course around the world. (Participation in the group is optional. No instruction will take place there.)
Art topics covered in the course include:
- How to develop the habit of looking deeply at your subject, so that you clearly see and understand its structure
- Three steps to creating a quick and accurate foundation sketch
- How to draw leaves in perspective
- My “gentle pencil” technique for softly shaded pencil studies
- How to combine ink and wash for fast and elegant herb drawings
- Traditional layering of watercolor and colored pencil to build a richly detailed rendering
- Color matching and color mixing – including highlights and shadows
- The structure of an herb plant, and some basic terminology
Absolutely no experience is necessary. The supply list is simple, and contains no exotic materials. (In fact, if you recently took my online watercolor lettering course, you already have the brushes you’ll need. You can check them off your list!)
What about technology? Well, you will need four basic tools to “attend” this online class:
- A computer, or access to one
- An email account to receive informative messages or send in your work for feedback
- A way to print out your illustrated instruction pages
- A way to send images of your completed projects to me for feedback. You can use either a scanner or a digital camera to create an image, then email it.
The cost of the entire course is $50, which is payable by personal check, money order or through PayPal. (To use PayPal, let me know you want to join the class and I will send you a secure PayPal invoice with an embedded “pay now” button.) Email me to sign up, or if you need additional information. See you soon!
I’m delighted to offer a new workshop at 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center:
Aquatic Plants in Watercolor Pencil Saturday, September 8 from 10am to 3pm 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center (on the Causeway) Spanish Fort, AL No experience necessary! The Mobile-Tensaw Delta, considered the best remaining delta ecosystem of its kind in the United States, is home to 500 species of plants. We'll focus on some favorites including lotus and pitcher plants, sketching from specimens and reference material and then creating color studies in watercolor pencil. Step-by-step guidance will be provided -- all levels of art experience (or none at all) welcome. Bring your lunch and a small set of watercolor pencils, and all other supplies will be provided. My botanical drawing workshops fill up fast -- your registration must be received to hold your place. The cost of the workshop is $50. Email to sign up: email@example.com