Saturday, May 21, 2022

Sunday Secrets #18

 This entry was originally posted on Sunday, May 20, 2012

Drawing for Autumn's Bounty


Today's Sunday Secrets is a question that I was asked a couple of times during my studio tour concerning my poured watercolors.

The question is:

How do you know where to put your masking fluid?


That is a very good question.


I first draw out what I am going to paint.

I make sure this drawing is dark.

Usually you draw with a light pencil line but for pours, you need the pencil lines dark.

This is because when you wet the paper and add layer upon layer of paint, the pencil line starts to fade.

If it isn't dark enough, that pencil line disappears by the time you want to mask for the last couple of pours.


Then using my black and white photograph, I determine which values I want to save with my masking fluid.

I start by saving the lightest value, which is white. 

I apply the masking fluid to the white paper before I apply a pour of paint.

Once the first pour has dried, I again look at my black & white photo and figure out what the next value is that I want to save.

Then I apply the mask to that value and pour again.

I continue to build up the layers of masking fluid and paint until I am left with the darkest areas.

Finally I remove the mask and viola! 

I have my painting!


Photographic Record

 This entry was originally posted on Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another way to keep track of your progression is to keep a photographic record.

It is also fun to photograph a painting throughout a process. 

This will help remind you of how you painted that really awesome painting years from now.

The Harmony Gate

Poured Watercolor 

Progression from the first pour to final piece

Thursday, May 19, 2022

To Date or Not To Date?

    This entry was originally posted on Friday, May 18, 2012

Some artists like to date their work on the front of their paintings and others do not.

I am one of those that does not like to date my paintings.


In my experience, most buyers either like the latest and greatest or a classic.

Everything in between is usually not considered.


Most of us have not been painting long enough to be considered a classic

and a few have painted just enough to have older pieces sitting around.


My suggestion is to not date the front of the painting, but the back.

This is a great record for you and your future posterity to look back and see your progression.


At the same time, it won't discourage a buyer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Paint and Draw From Life

   This entry was originally posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012

One of the best ways to improve your drawing and painting skills quickly is to paint from life.

This can be especially difficult for those that do their best painting at night.


Set up a simple still life or go outside and paint (also called plein air painting).

Especially now that the weather is getting better.


Photos tend to flatten out objects and landscapes.

When you paint from life, you learn how to capture the 3 dimensionality or the perception of depth of your subject better.

It will also help you understand and paint that dimensionality when you do paint from photographs.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Modified Blind Contour

  This entry was originally posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Modified Blind Contour is another drawing exercise.

It is where you start off with blind contour but you allow yourself a couple of peeks during the process.

This is to reorient yourself and your drawing tool.


It is sometimes best to time yourself with this because it can be tempting to take lots of peeks.

One suggestion is to give yourself 5 minutes to do a drawing.

Set a timer at the 2 minute mark and again at the 4 minute mark.

You can only peek at these two intervals.

It will keep the temptation to look at bay.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Blind Contour Drawing

  This entry was originally posted on Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Blind contour is a drawing exercise that improves your eye-hand coordination.

It is something that is often done in drawing classes and I have always enjoyed the exercise.


The concept of blind contour is that you are to draw your object without every looking at the paper you are drawing it onto.

You are to feel the object with your eyes as you draw it.


To do blind contour, set up an object or two in front of you.

Cover your hand with another piece of paper.

Slowly follow the contours of the object as you slowly draw it onto your paper.

Do not lift your pencil/pen as you do this.

If you have to go back over an area, do so without lifting the pencil.

Do not be tempted to look at your drawing until the end!

Blind contour also makes for a great game with kids.

It is always fun to see what silly things they can come up with from the same object.

It is also fun to see the improvement you will have in your own drawing over time.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Practice Sketching With A Marker

 This entry was originally posted on Monday, May 14, 2012

I discovered long ago that when I sketch with a pencil in my sketchbook, I want to erase.

And erase some more.

I probably spend more time erasing than sketching.

Then nothing gets drawn.

Does that sound familiar?


If you are someone that spends all your time sketching with your eraser more than your pencil,

try sketching with a marker or a pen instead.


The temptation to erase is no longer there.

You are forced to commit to a line.

This commitment can be such freedom.


The more you commit, the better you will get.

I saw a huge improvement in my drawing skills when I gave up the pencil.

I'm sure you will also.


But please keep the marker to the sketchbook and don't use it on your watercolor paper!

(My mother would also recommend that you not use it on your sheets, walls, or stuffed animals like I did when I was younger)

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Sunday Secrets #17

This entry was originally posted on Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pat from Richmond, BC asked me this past week,

Do you paint everyday?

I wish!

No, I don't paint everyday but I do paint about 5-6 days out of the week.

Some days it is as little as 30 minutes and other days it is for hours.

I have a goal to pick up my paintbrush at least once a day and although it may not be everyday, I come close.


However, there have been times in my life that I have not been able to paint at all 

and other times where I have been able to paint all day and all night long.

*Update: With the onset of the Great Pandemic, I have more time at the computer than the easel.  Since I started teaching online with the University of Victoria and other courses, I spent hours filming and editing lessons and answering emails. Although I love teaching, at times I get extremely burned out on technology. When I do have time off from teaching, I rarely turn on my computer. In fact, it is these times that I ignore emails and fall behind on blog posts and newsletters. Instead, I am in the studio trying to make up for lost time. I apologize for not answering the emails that do come in at this time. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Carry A Sketchbook

   This entry was originally posted on Saturday, May 12, 2012

Carry a sketchbook wherever you go.

Or a tablet if you have one.

You can sketch at games, in church, sitting in an airport, sitting on the bus, or just waiting for time to pass.

It can be a quick sketch or something more detailed.

It is all about eye-hand coordination so it doesn't matter how long you spend on it or if the sketch is completed.

All that matters is that you practiced.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Sketch It!

  This entry was originally posted on Friday, May 11, 2012

Never underestimate the importance of drawing.

Even though I allow my students to trace a photograph, 

I tell them that drawing is an important skill that will improve their paintings.

Take some time to practice your drawing skills by sketching what is around you.

It doesn't need to be seen by anyone but you.

Remember it is the process, not the product that counts.