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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Southwestern Themes

It's beginning to feel like fall here in Montana and my thoughts are turning to heading back to my winter home in Yuma, Arizona, and the kind of colors and textures I live with there in the winter season.  These paintings include themes from Utah (Cedar Breaks, north of St. George off I-15), Arizona (A Grand View, east end of the Grand Canyon), California (Garden Gate) and Mexico (Perspective).  These paintings are all watercolors, some using my typical bright intense palette pigments and one, the more subdued colors from the low intensity colors residing on the inner ring of the color wheel.  "Perspective" also includes pen and ink on the wrought iron gate, which is a typical thing one might see in Mexico.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to Watercolors: Fun and Flowers

First, a bit of fun.  Our challenge for Paint My Photo in July was to choose a photo and put a caption with it.  The caption for this guy was "Hmmphf!"  He looked to me like he'd just plain had enough of whatever it was he was looking at and the word seemed to fit!

 Next is a little dragon made of zentangle designs in ink and watercolor added to enhance him.  Elaine Osborne is to blame for this one!  She said the zentangles were addictive and boy, was she right!

Now for the flowers!  A bouquet of azaleas which I particularly like and plan to frame, and last a loose watercolor design of various spring flowers. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

More Acrylic Fun

For the last couple of weeks, my focus has been to improve my skills with acrylic paints.  I have mostly been playing with flowers but included a landscape as well.  As my usual, bright, flashy colors dominate my work.  Both the single sunflower and the casita are miniatures done on a claybord surface and were an experiment.  I thought for the most part they worked well and I will be trying some more paintings using this smooth surface rather than canvas.  the old country churchyard is done with both brush and palette knife on 300 lb watercolor paper. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Changing focus--playing with acrylics

For some variety, I've left the watercolors aside for a bit and am doing some acrylic painting.  There are lots of flowers in my yard right now and I have 3 old canvases that needed reworking.  Gessoed them out, let them dry and began playing.  First is one I'm not terribly happy with:  Shastas and Roses.  Not enough contrast.  Shastas are lacking in definition.  Second is a bit better, Shastas alone with a lot of palette knife work.  Last is from a photo sent to me by a friend (Thanks, Anna!).  I may work this one over a bit more:  Tea and Roses. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Portrait Workings

For the past couple of weeks, I've been working on skin tones in portraits and while I don't have them quite right yet, I feel I've made some progress.  This group of Red Hatters game me permission to "shoot" them this past spring.  I told the "Queen," Irene that I wanted ATTITUDE and they gave it to me!  Absolutely fun group to work with!  I have two more portaits to go to get them all finished but wanted to post the ones I have finished now and see where I need to go next in my learning process.  The four ladies here are 1...Janine, 2.... Irene "the Queen"   3....Tanna and  4....Karen.  They were all great sports and I plan to give them the portaits I've done of them when we all get back down to Yuma this fall. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Three Clowns - Finishing up

The remainder of the clownfish project shows detail and how it is added to the Chinese Brush Painting.  The finished painting will be shown first and following it, photos adding the detail in the coral, the clownfish and finally, the use of permanent black ink to emphasize the painting's features. 

In this photo of the painting, hardly any of the coral details have been added except around the two lower fish.  A few of the darker colors have been put on the coral between the fish to delineate ridges in the coral, but no more.  The leafy water plants behind the larger clownfish are also being more defined in this view.  Now the painting must be allowed to dry.

Detail continues to be added in this view.  I am still using only Phthalo Blue and Indigo to add shadows and define detail in the painting.  In the last step, permanent black ink will be added as well.
More detail has also been added to each fish and a thin wash of Phthalo blue has been painted over the fishes's fins to show their transparent look and blend them into the water. 

The final stage of the painting is adding the black in to emphasize shadow areas in the painting.  All that is left at this point is allowing the painting to dry very well and place my signature on it in Chinese script and adding my chop stamp seal!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Clownfish-Step by Step

Recently I posted a Chinese Brush Painting I had done on Paint My Photo and got a number of responses wondering how this type of watercolor is done.  Over the next several days, I will post step by step how one of these vibrant paintings comes together, but first I wanted to give some information about the materials and the process.  Different paper, brushes and paints are used in this type of watercolor from the usual watercolor, beginning with a delicate rice paper called Shuan  which is treated with alum.  Another difference with this process is a permanent black ink is used. The paints are generally more opaque than watercolor and the brushes are very soft and pliable.  Since the paper is sheer, your focal point can be traced onto the rice paper by laying your design under the rice paper and using a very thin, watered down ink to do the tracing.  Once you've chosen your design, compose your painting and trace the focal point onto the rice paper using the ink. 

In the detail you can see that some of the ink is darker while some is barely visible.  The black on the fins and tails are part of the black actually on the fish, the lighter ink is a guide for painting the fish and putting on the background coral. 

This is the first coat of paint on the fish.  There will be details added later as the painting is closer to being finished, but for now, the painted fish are a guide for laying in the background coral.

The background is what will make the fish really stand out later and make the painting a showpiece.  The first layer must be put on very light because many other layers will follow.  There were 3 colors used here for the background:  Phthalo Blue, Gamboge and a bit of vermillion in strategic spots.  The entire area with the exception of the fish are misted with clear water and the paint is laid in with a very soft wolf hair brush.  More water can be misted on as the paint starts to dry.  The upper left hand and lower right hand corners are blown color as these areas will not be detailed very much.

After the background wash is dry, detailing is begun on the coral, first using more Phthalo Blue, then Indigo, which is darker and stronger.  This process will take quite awhile and is done using a negative painting technique.  I allow the painting to "speak" to me as I go along telling me where the coral should be shadowed and detailed.  I usually do this part of the painting with many pauses in between so I can study what I need to add next. 

These two details from the painting show a close-up of the coral at this stage of the painting.  There is MUCH more to do yet.  So far, no ink has been applied to the coral.  This will be one of the last steps in the painting to add the darks it needs to "pop."
One other statement:  The "white spots" on the following detail photo is the sparkles on the Shuan Rice paper reflecting my flash unit on my camera.  Those will not show up when the actual painting is done.

At this point, I need to stop and study the painting to see what else it needs. 
Watch for more posts later as I finish this painting!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lewis and Clarke Trail.  The painting itself is now finished but it needs to be backed which will add to the strength and brilliance of the colors.  This is a Chinese Brush Painting done on Shuan rice paper treated with alum.  I've done a number of undersea, coral reef paintings with this paper, but never a landscape.  I did this one just to see how it would work and I do think it succeeded very well.  Will be doing more of these!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Glacier Park Show-Off

My latest painting, an acrylic, featured this golden mantle ground squirrel, a resident of Glacier National Park, Montana.  He's small--an 11 X 14 and I think, captures the little guy pretty well.  He was a great photogenic subject, definitely not afraid of people and put on quite a show for me and the other hikers just below Logan Pass in the park. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Range Boss

Newest watercolor (The Range Boss)  from photos taken last spring in the National Bison Range, Moiese, Montana...  Lots of bison last spring and many new calves cavorting around in this vast expanse.  Great subject matter for landscape and wildlife painting here!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Village Art Gallery last class of the season doing a mini workshop of Chinese Brush Painting.  Anna, Wendy, Sharron and Elaine.

Cocopah last season class

Last class of the year at Cocopah, with Peggy, Sue, Laura and Betty.  Renditions of lilacs using acrylic inks as a medium.  Fun group, great class!!!


Hi, I'm Hummingbird and I've just started this blog.  This is all new to me so I'll pick my way through this slowly.  I am a watercolor and acrylic artist, spending half my year in Arizona, where I teach watercolor classes, and half my year in Montana where I do most of my painting. 

I just returned to Montana from a VERY good winter season in Yuma, where I taught 3 classes--all of them full for most of the winter visitor season there.  I had a lot of really good students this year!  One, with my encouragement entered some of her paintings in an end of season Fine Arts Exhibit and did very well there!  Proud of her!  I also completed my first commissioned painting this season.  I did an underwater scene with a large sea turtle  and coral and two + people were fighting over who was going to get the painting!  After I sold it to the first person, the second came to me and commissioned another undersea painting, which I completed.  The first painting went home to Ontario, Canada and the other to Oregon!  The above painting is the commissioned piece. 

I look forward to posting more of what I'm doing as the summer progresses!