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by Fred Kingwill, landscape artist and teacher
Trees are often a great challenge for watercolorists and when you try to put some snow on them, it can be just frustrating! But, there is hope…
First of all, like everything we paint, you have to really “LOOK at them”! Many see trees, particularly evergreens, like the illustration on the left. But, actually most trees have a skeleton or branches/trunk, more like the drawing on the right. The branches grow up towards the sun and eventually they begin to drop and droop down. Check it out!
Try these exercises:
First do a simple drawing of the “skeleton” of three trees in pencil.
Next, grab some MASKING FLUID, (I like Pebeo), and put some snow shapes on some of the branches. Snow is not just a round blob but it has “fingers” that drop down through the branches, etc. I use an old brush, a stick, or even a chopstick to make the snow shapes. If you use a good brush, be sure to soap it before applying the mask and clean it immediately when done to avoid your tears.
Now we are ready to paint the needles on the trees AFTER the mask has dried. Used a dark green to paint right over the mask and keep in mind that the branches mostly grow UP and the edges are SHARP. When all is dry, remove the masking and paint the white “snow” with a light blue like cerulean. Leave a few whites on the top of the snow, too, to make it look real.
Now finalize the painting with some details around the now “Blue” snow and the edges of the tree. Use a dark green or even black to do this. It should now be looking like your next holiday card! Give one final sweep with a cerulean charged one inch flat brush pulled horizontally across the bottom with a “dry brush’ technique and that should do it. If you want to some more FUN, throw some salt on the snow when wet and use a razor blade to scratch some icicles on the trees.
Here are some more ways to make the illusion of snow on trees:
Draw the trees and indicate with your pencil where you would like to have the snow show. Paint the trees leaving those “negative” spaces the color of the paper. When dry, you can go ahead and paint the snow shapes with some blue. Some think this is easier than using masking fluid.
This next one is easy. After you draw the tree “skeletons”, paint some blue snow shapes on the trees. Just the blue shapes first and then, when dry, go ahead and paint the foliage on the tree.
Finally, paint the three trees in a WET INTO WET manner. Wet the entire area first, then be careful to wait until the paper has begun to lose it shine (not too wet) before you start to paint the trees. Then, when dry. you can use white opaque paint to put some snow on the trees. You can also use a razor blade to scratch some snow or icicles…
WAY TO GO!
by Jan McNeill, past president and WAS-H historian
WE’VE MISSED YOU!!
What: SAFELY meet and greet your fellow watercolorists & friends & have fun creating watercolor cards to “Welcome 2021!!”
Where: WAS-H parking lot for some outdoor fun
When: Saturday January 16 10:00-12:00 (Rain date January 23)
What you should bring:
· Your folding chair and a surface to paint on
· Your own food & drink
· Water container
· Dress for the weather
· Face mask!
WAS-H will provide:
· 2 watercolor cards with envelopes to paint
· Large buckets outside with water for painting
Let's have some SAFE fun painting together after a long break. You take your creations home, we take pictures of you and your card and post on our website and on social media. No sign up required.
Questions? Write a comment under this blog post and we'll respond asap.
You asked us on social media "How to paint skies?" and we passed along your question to master painters of WAS-H! In this article Fred Kingwill, landscape artist, teacher and WAS-H member breaks down this complicated subject for us and gives his best tips and examples. Here are Fred's recommendations.
Exercise 1: Even Sky
Skies were made for watercolors! The mediums transparency, colorfulness, water content, soft edges, etc. makes them perfect for creating the illusion of a sky. Nothing can create more mood and atmosphere in your paintings than skies. They can tell us the weather, time of day, temperature, even the season and do it in a quick glance. Painting skies is essential for a landscape painter to master. The best thing is that they are relatively easy and usually created fast. Besides they are one of the most FUN thing to do!
Once you have your materials ready, start at the top with your paper at a 10-15 degree angle to let gravity help. Work downward with your loaded brush (I usually use a blue) and keep it wet until the same value exists. You will have to adjust the color by adding or subtracting the paint in your brush. Once you are satisfied , then STOP and do not go back into the wet sky. Just let it dry. Going back into the painting will usually result in a disaster!
Exercise 2: Uneven sky
For an UNEVEN SKY, do the same as for an even sky but with each stroke add more water to the brush with each horizontal stroke. Skies are darker at the top (think black holes in space) and lighter at the bottom (think a halo around the earth as seen from space). Keeping working while it is still wet until you have an uneven wash, then stop and leave it alone to dry.
Exercise 3: Wet into wet
OK! That was easy and may be all you need to know to paint realistic skies. But, obviously , there are more options.
For this exercise you will need to wet the entire area of the paper where you want to paint. Something about 8 inches square will do. Add a few area of blue paint to some of the wet paper and watch it flow. You will need to be sure to save some white paper area to be the clouds. While it is still wet you might want to be sure the top is darker than the bottom like we talked before.
The WET INTO WET technique is just fun!
Exercise 4: Kleenex clouds
Clouds can be made by just leaving some white areas of paper as we did in the wet into wet painting or you can use the number 1 watercolor trick of all time, KLEENEX.
First do another even wash painting with a nice blue like Ultramarine. Once that is done and while still wet, crumble up a KLEENEX and " twist and lift" it onto the wet surface removing some other paint and leaving white clouds with exciting edges. Now just take a break and watch the magic happen. Teach this to another and they just might be hooked forever.
Exercise 5: Using salt
Next trick is to make it snow with a little help from SALT.
Once again we will paint an even sky or you can try this on any wet paint surface using whatever color you want. While the surface is still wet but starting to dry but still has a shine to it, sprinkle some salt (any kind will work but all the salts leave a little different size mark) onto the paper. You might have to experiment with this a little because if the paper is too wet it will just dissolve the salt and if too dry nothing will happen. A little salt in your paintings as with a little salt in your diet will do just fine. This is one of the unique tricks for watercolors so don’t try it with oils!
Exercise 6: Dry brush
Let’s try to paint a sky with strata like clouds. The ones that look like airplane contrail and have harder edges than normal puffy like clouds.
Work on DRY paper and charge your brush (I like 1 inch flats) with a blue. Now, drag your brush horizontally across the paper in a Z like pattern keeping in mind the need to leave white paper for the clouds. Using a rough paper will help but try not to push down too hard as you are dragging the brush across the paper). This technique is call DRY BRUSH, but the name only refers to the paper not the brush!
Exercise 7: Three step sky
Now we are going to combine a few of these simple skies techniques to do what I call a "THREE STEP SKY”.
First, create a wet into wet sky and indicate clouds by either leaving white paper or using Kleenex. Let it dry. I usually use a hairdryer to speed things up.
When the wet into wet painting is dry, then wet the entire painting again with clean water. Do not scrub , but just wet the paper. Now we will do another wet into wet painting using another color right over the first painting. Again, don’t scrub but you can still use Kleenex to make sure some clouds are visible. I usually start with a cerulean blue and then use an ultramarine next but you can choose, just make the second coat darker than the first. You should allow some of the first painting to show through, too.
When the painting is dry, it’s time to do another wet into wet painting. This time we may want to use Burnt Sienna or another ( not blue) color sparingly over the previous painting(s). Don’t forget to use some Kleenex to let some white still show through and, of course, avoid scrubbing. I know you will enjoy this one and you will be able to use this for other paintings. What we have done, is also known as GLAZING and another of the great secrets to learn to paint those things you know and love or want to know and love.
With these simple trick and techniques you will be able to create exciting, expressive skies that will set the mood and the atmosphere for your painting(s). Skies should usually be painted relatively FAST and with confidence. I know you can do it!
Now that you have completed these exercises, let’s put them to good use by painting in the bottom third of the paintings with some landscapes (see my examples), There, you have it. A painting with simple skies! Way to Go!
What was your favorite of these techniques? Still have questions? Let us know in comments under this post!
by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director
We opened the WAS-H November/December virtual show on Sunday, November 15, just as we were able to take our first breaths of cool Canadian air as it pushed the heat and humidity out of Houston. On that beautiful afternoon, we were treated to 45 wonderful small treasures to grace our virtual gallery walls. Our tradition this time of year is to present small paintings (this year less than 14” on a side) with the idea of offering great items for gift giving. With that in mind, the theme for this show is Small Treasures.
Joining us this month at our Zoom reception to introduce the winning paintings was our extremely talented and articulate judge, Cheryl Evans. Cheryl is a producing artist and a Signature Member of WAS-H. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a BFA in Painting and earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Houston Clear Lake. She has taught for 34 years at the high school and College level. She taught at University of Houston Clear Lake and Lee College and has retired as a career art educator from public school and was named Texas Art Educator of the Year in 2012. Currently, she is sharing her love of art as watercolor painting instructor at Alvin Community College where she has taught for 5 years. She has had several one-woman shows, and her work is found in private and corporate collections around the country, and in Japan, England, Mexico, and Norway. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the Texas Art Education Association. Her work ranges from landscape, to portraiture, to abstract.
I’m so pleased to be able to share Cheryl’s own words about each of our winners:
1st Place - Alison Hendry - Do You Think He Is Relaxed
“There is a wonderful use of texture and contrast as well as rich and subtle neutral grays. The grays are infused with effervescent bits of color. It fills the space so well. You can almost hear this painting purr.”
2nd Place - Lynda Jung - The Rose
“Delightful range of values applied in a loose and transparent manner and balanced so well with the use of the contour line. The composition is formally balanced with a good use of positive and negative space. “
3rd Place - Kim Granhaug - Sailor’s Delight
“Strong, fearless and dramatic use of color makes this piece a standout. The application has a buttery quality and really shows the hand of the artist. The turquoise color skips across the composition moving the eye and unifying the piece.”
Honorable Mention-Gay Paratore - Dodge Royal (blue car)
“This is an example of how an artist can use realism to arrange colors and shapes into an abstract composition. The composition works regardless of its orientation. It has a strong dominant focal point and killer leading lines.”
Honorable Mention - Hiep Nguyen -Twilight Impression
“This is a gem of a painting. The freshness of the loose and juicy wet on wet washes in the sky and the watery world below leaves use to speculate and construct our own middle earth as the artists suggest the shoreline, boats and piers with an efficient use of line. This painting is engaging and intriguing.”
Honorable Mention - Susan Tadlock Bond - Finally Asleep
“The facial expressions draw the viewer into the visual story. The skin tones are varied and not overworked. One of the key elements is the break up of space between that expertly applied gradual wash in the background and the two figures in the foreground. This is a very personal painting and it makes me want to know more about the child and the father.”
Please take a minute to see what our winners have to say about their painting in a separate blog posting, Winner’s Words.
We also owe a big thanks to our crew of virtual-gallery volunteers who, with tenacity and good humor, continued to push the limits of their technical skills in order to make this show possible. They are learning and feeling so good that they can keep WAS-H’s life-blood flowing until we are back in our building and are able to enjoy the camaraderie we all miss so much. Many thanks go to Sally Hoyt, Cissy Geigerman, Karen Stopnicki, Nancy McMillan, Martin Butler, Kathleen Church and, of course, our president, Beth Graham.
The take-in for our next show starts on January 2, 2021. The prospectus is available on the website. Please show your support for WAS-H and share your latest work!
The small-pieces show is one of my favorites at WAS-H as it brings me back to the beginning when I was too frightened to paint large, and small was my comfort zone. We spent four weeks hiding in Snowmass this summer and I brought along some 9x12 pads of Arches 140# paper to play with. Since the buckling annoyed me, I learned how to stretch these small pieces of paper with gummed tape, staples and gatorboard when we returned. Do You Think He is Relaxed? is the first piece I have painted on stretched 140# paper. What an enormous pleasure it is. I use Winsor and Newton, Daniel Smith and M. Graham paints most of the time and am in love with da Vinci maestro sable brushes. It was a challenge to change the color of the big chair that Tonka is sleeping on, but Carla Gauthier has said in many classes “Value trumps color”, so I kept repeating the mantra. Tonka, my dearly beloved boy passed away two years ago, and I have painted him for three images that have spoken to three different judges. I was tickled, surprised and thrilled with this award and think he must be my image mascot. Cheryl Evans was spot on about rubbing his belly. He loved that and sleeping in the sun.
Dodge Royal is one of the smallest car paintings that I have done. I usually paint a full sheet of Arches 300# and don't tape it down, so I can move it around to make it easier to do all the straight lines and the curves. I fell in love with painting cars by going with Richard to the Keels & Wheels Concours d’Elegance car exhibition. It was not the cars themselves, but the reflections in the cars that captivated my attention. I earned several of my signature memberships with car paintings: the National Watercolor Society (three $1000 awards), the San Diego Watercolor Society where I have shown with them in several International shows in Italy and Spain, and recently I received my signature status with the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies. All of these were acquired by entering car paintings. My prints of cars are for sale at the Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine. My WAS-H elite, Texas Watercolor Society, and the National Society of Artists (which I founded) signature memberships were acquired with a variety of subject matter.
Lately I am winning more awards on my portraits (see the WAS-H Membership Show, Texas Art Supply Award and the Texas Watercolor Society, $1000.00 Show award). I am doing portraits in pastels and oils also, but I love the freshness of watercolor and how the paints glow using the white paper to reflect light and color. During COVID-19, I miss seeing family and friends, but I have been painting almost every day and some of it outside in my woods. You can see three of my plein-air paintings on exhibit at G. Lee Gallery on the Strand in Galveston where I show on a regular basis.
Honorable Mention: Hiep Nguyen, Twilight Impression
I painted this Twilight Impression from my memory of an evening outing at the waterfront in Vancouver two years ago. I didn't use any photo for reference for this painting. I just wanted to express the ethereal feeling that I had at that time on the harbor of Vancouver Island. I used a limited palette with wet-on-wet techniques to recreate the twilight atmosphere and added a few scratched marks to pull the viewer eyes to the focus area.
Asleep, Finally is a watercolor composition featuring my son Casey and granddaughter Zoey.
He had been reading her books and finally she fell asleep in his arms, seemingly to his surprise.
This idea was initially conceptualized for a watercolor contest at the 2020 Taos Watercolor Workshop called Surprise Me!, but due to COVID-19 the workshop was cancelled this year, so this sweet painting has been sitting on my desk for months with me trying to decide on its next destination. The WAS-H virtual show, Little Treasures, just seemed like the right place for my tiny family treasure.
I am very pleased and honored to be recognized by WAS-H.
Drawing and painting portraits began for me in my high school Art class, along with influences from my family: my grandmother was a pastel artist, my great grandmother was a calligrapher and my great-great grandmother was a portrait artist, so art definitely runs in my blood. To be an artist you need nurturing and, thank God, I had that from my family, and now with five grandchildren maybe one of them will rise up to carry on the lineage.
We were saddened to learn about the passing of Ruth Corinne Meyer Wilson, an artist and a member of our society. Please read full obituary at this link. Our sincere condolences go to Ruth's family and friends.
by Nicole Hansen, Education Director
On my desk lays a small ivory notepad, pink flowers grace opposing corners, and at the top are the following words: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh. This is perhaps the quote to remember when focusing on how to begin your career as an artist.
I interviewed a few people in preparation for this article, and the first person I asked about advice suggested that new artists be honest with themselves about how much they practice.
Step 1: Honesty
Be honest with yourself about how much you practice, if you have a formal studio practice, and what that looks like. If you don’t, begin, It’s easy to forget that professionals don’t just deliver finished work. Professionals sketch constantly, create color studies, and explore composition. Be honest with yourself about your route, and practice. After that, practice some more.
I host many of the WAS-H online classes and one of our teachers, Ellen Orseck, recently told her class that if they wanted to grow their careers they should start locally and expand outward.
Step 2: Start Locally
Share your work with your family, your friends, and your community. Enter local competitions or exhibitions to get your work noticed and keep taking steps toward larger and larger opportunities. WAS-H allows all members to submit work to its exhibitions. Start here, with us!
Step 3: Build an Art Network
Find opportunities to integrate with other artists, art societies, schools, and galleries. A network within the local community will help you find opportunities and help promote your work.
WAS-H members have a range of opportunities to connect with other professional artists, and your artwork can be sold from our exhibitions.
Step 4: Persist
Perhaps the hardest step in any career is to continue to practice and continue to persist. This is the time you will lean on your network and your local community to help with inspiration, encouragement, and sanity. A career in the art world requires business skills, marketing skills, networking skills and hard work. Your work is special. Persist.
In preparation for this article, I read dozens of others regarding transitioning toward a professional career as an artist, and I can easily say that every single one, including ours has different advice. So read a few others and then make a plan.
Step 5: Make a Plan with Goals
Make a plan and set goals that are reasonable with timelines. Sometimes we are so busy working that we forget how far we have gone. It’s easy to forget that we have reached our milestones. If you have a plan it will be easier to keep track of where you are going and how far you have come.
Questions? If you have questions send us an email or contact us on social media!
by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director and Louise Bateman, Past-President and Committee Chairman
Beginning with the January 2021 prospectus, there are new guidelines in several areas that we want to bring to your attention:
• framing, mounting and protecting artwork
It is important to note that this prospectus update DOES NOT apply to the Annual Members Exhibit or the International Watermedia Exhibition, only the regular monthly shows. It is also important to remind you to carefully consult the prospectus each month for requirements specific to that month’s show.
Much of the need for a revision was fueled by artists using the latest (and greatest) watermedia and surfaces being developed by art companies. Also, new methods of protecting the finished art and displaying it are becoming acceptable in shows and galleries. WAS-H is also committed to expanding our exposure and footprint in the art community, and many newer and younger artists use these newer products. We also wanted to give the Gallery directors greater leeway in their position. As any former Gallery Director will tell you, it is difficult to exclude someone’s painting, due to the name of a product they have used.
Because of this, a committee was tasked with reviewing and updating the current WAS-H gallery prospectus. Serving on this committee of were Louise Bateman, Past President, Helen Lim, past Gallery Director, Daniela Werneck Genorfre, former board member, Philip Weigand, board member and Beth Graham, President. They brought to the table an impressive mix of experience with WAS-H and it’s ever evolving guidelines and of personal experience with watermedia as active artists.
Much of the committee’s discussion and decisions revolved around how to update and expand the guidelines, allowing for newer water media and surfaces to be included, while remaining true to WAS-H by laws.
We are excited to present these new guidelines and look forward to seeing the artwork.
Greetings Friends! I hope your family and friends are doing well as we all prepare for the holiday season, though perhaps in different ways than in previous years. This has definitely been a year in which we have all gained a stronger appreciation for those simple pleasures of life that have been impacted by COVID- coffee with a friend, a birthday at a special restaurant, painting (of course) with “paint pals” at WAS-H, visiting friends, children and grandchildren, and exploring new places. I’m sure you can add many more to this list.
One other small pleasure is getting to share and admire beautiful art. This is different this year, but I am grateful we still have it. Sunday, November 15 is our next general meeting, artist demonstration, and awards for the last WAS-H exhibit of this calendar year. The artwork will be available to enjoy online thru the end of December. The theme is “Small Treasures,” a topic especially pertinent this year. Consider making the gift of art to family and friends from this annual gem of an exhibit!
These monthly exhibits have been possible only because of you, the artists, and the volunteer gallery team. This gallery team didn’t blink twice when they heard I wanted to host our exhibits online during the pandemic. They quickly adapted, learned new technology, and have made it possible for WAS-H to have had online gallery exhibits every month since May. Please join me in thanking them for their work bringing your beautiful art into our lives.
Along with hosting monthly gallery exhibits and online painting classes for members, we have been working to care for our facility so that it will be ready for your in-person return. The majestic oak on the corner has had a beautiful trim, branches from a neighbor’s tree in the back that were touching our roof have been removed, and we have replaced the AC equipment for the second floor. We can hardly wait for everyone’s return!! Until then, check our website for virtual volunteer opportunities, consider joining the board of directors for 2021-2022 as a way to give back and to keep WAS-H vibrant, stay safe, and keep painting!
Beth Graham, WAS-H President
Artist-grade paper is made of 100% cotton, which makes it strong and pliable. This paper is best for artworks that are intended to be permanent, entered into exhibitions, or if you plan to scrub and scrape the paper frequently.
Student-grade watercolor paper is made from wood pulp or a combination of fibers. This paper is suitable for practice or beginners, but artist-grade paper responds differently to water and paint. If your goal is to create professional work, practicing on artist-grade paper will be necessary as well.
Hot pressed paper is the smoothest. It has a smooth, hard surface and is good for fine detail and reproduction. Some artists find it slippery and hard to control the paint.
Cold pressed paper is medium textured. It can be used for a variety of styles and is often considered the most versatile and popular.
Rough paper is the most textured of the three papers. Grains from granulated paints get stuck in the pits, which adds depth and interest, but can be challenging to remove.
The most common watercolor paper weights are 140lb (300 g/m2) and 300lb (638 g/m2). The heavier weight can hold more water but is more costly. The lighter weight holds less moisture and may buckle if it’s not stretched correctly, but its lower cost is a preferred choice for practice.
“Why” an artist might choose to use one paper over another is extremely individualized based on creative goals. The above can guide the technical choices, and the following tests may help with the decision:
Erasing: Erasing can cause damage to watercolor paper. If you sketch in graphite or other materials try sketching, erasing and then painting a wash over the paper to determine if the erasure marks can be seen after the watercolor paint is dry.
Smooth Washes: Many artists require smooth washes. Artist-grade paper is more likely to create a smooth wash, as student grade papers may create streaky washes. Try creating washes on your paper before creating an artwork.
Wet or Dry Lifting: The ability to lift color is an important part of watercolor artwork. Paint two areas. Allow one to dry. A clean, damp brush or soft rag can immediately lift wet watercolor. A clean, damp brush wiped six-eight times over a dry area should also lift color from a dry area.
If you have questions send us an email or contact us on social media!
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