25 April 2007

Primary Colors

Just as I was starting this dalhia, I came across another Wet Canvas tutorial, lead by JJ in Australia. In it students were confined to using just three primary colors in their painting. I realised that the dalhia would qualify, and so was able to join in this tutorial as well.

It is surprising just how much can be done with such a limited palette. But then after all, the standard printing process uses only the three primaries plus black. The trick for the artist is in choosing which of each three colors to use. For example should it be a cherry red or a rust red, or one of dozens of other reds. And should that red that is chosen be matched with a caribbean sea blue or a navy blue? Lemon yellow or buttercup or mustard or ochre?

These considerations, and others such as paint brand, lightfastness, staining /non-staining characteristics, transparant vs granular etc, meant in just a few years of experimentation, I had acquired just over 100 tubes of paint. I tried to determine which were my twenty-two favorites in order to have the best paints fit my painting pallette. In the end, I could not do it and therefore invented and built my own pallette which would hold 96 pigments. It consisted of dollar store daily vitamin organizers and a tempered glass cutting board from WalMart. Total cost: $10. Don't, however, ask me what those 100 tubes of paint cost...........

18 April 2007


After all that color, I needed to paint something delicate. It was the time of year for daffodils anyway. I was trying different sizes and shapes, and felt that this would make a good square format. The challenge was not to let the flower's center become a boring bull's eye.

12 April 2007

Char's Sunflower

It was finally time for me to tackle the second lesson in the macro tutorial: the vibrant sunflower. Char taught us using her own example, that really exagerating or even changing the original colors can lead to a more dynamic painting. I hesitated at first, wanting to stay true to realism, yet I found that if handled carefully, what she suggested really was good advice. There is Artistic Licence after all.

9 April 2007

Spring Season of Painting

Starting with the poppy in the beginning of March, nearly all I painted that spring was flowers. Was I a floral painter? I was beginning to think that I was. Perhaps it was spring fever after so long a winter. I stumbled upon the Wet Canvas online floral tutorial at just the right time to develop my floral painting skills. I painted one after another, and with every painting I learned something new. The students of the tutorial had by this time formed something of a club. To stay within the mandate of the 'thread', our postings had to relate to the topic of macro florals. Here were fellow artists ready to offer helpful critiques and suggestions, something too good to miss. And so I contributed as many florals as I could paint, learning more of the painting process, and of Wet Canvas as well.

Thank you to all my macro floral painting pals for the many things that you taught me.

8 April 2007

Brown Eyed Susan

White petals are interesting to paint, because in watercolor white paint is not used. What really is painted are the shadows that give the white object visual substance. Ah, but then what color are the shadows? That is the job of the artist to determine, and then perhaps, to embellish. This crisp white little flower had a lot of blue in it. The painting also has an extra feature: my fingerprint accidentally got on the lower right petal. That's one of the things about watercolor. There is not much you can do about that sort of thing. Oh well. Gives it character, maybe?

7 April 2007


With it's rich luscious colors, this camelia was just begging to be painted. It took many layers of glazed pigment to build up the flower's beautiful richness.

5 April 2007

Oma's Orchids

Being from a low german Mennonite back ground, my mother-in-law is known as Oma to her grandchildren. Mennonites are famed as good farmers, and Art's mom certainly has a green thumb when it comes to her plants. The sun was shining through the nearly transparent blossoms of the orchid on the sunny Easter day we visited.

Instead of the usual matting and framing of watercolors, I tried a new technique. This painting was mounted on a three dimensional wooden panel, and protected with a spray varnish. I used opaque casein paint along the sides to complete the painting. This is a great option for buyers who might not otherwise consider a watercolor painting.

4 April 2007

Yellow Lilies

Color is a great thing to play with, especially when the rules are learned. For example, blue is opposite yellow on the color wheel. I wanted these yellow lilies to jump off the page, and so by painting a very strong blue behind them, this effect can be acheived.

3 April 2007

Blessing and Celebration

My friends Kyle and Beth Bultman in Rochester NY are classical violinists. They have taught music at the college level and run a summer string camp. Kyle has begun a network linking Christian artists and musicians. They also compose classical music. Beth's composition "Blessing and Celebration" was to be published in sheet music form, and I was asked to paint something to illustrate the publication. They loved the idea of my doing a floral, so as I listened to their excellent demo CD, I considered what I would paint.

The fuschias in this painting represent both of the concepts of the title. Viewed normally, the fuschias are pouring forth as blessings desending from Heaven. Some of the blessings are in full bloom, and some are as buds, yet to come. View the painting upside down, and now the flowers appear as swirling dancers with arms lifted in joyful praise.