Yesterday in the studio.

Raw material.

I place sheets as of paper as drop sheets under the paintings I’m working on. The paper catches all the paint that splatters, And eventually gets marked up with pencil and ink. Often I find the drop sheets on their own can be quite beautiful.

Raw materials.

These sheets will eventually get used in different ways. They get transformed into paintings or collages. I tend to keep all scraps of paper if they seem interesting, and this does cause a general air of chaos in my studio.

Wavy rainbow.

Eventually the drop sheets get turned into something like this detail. This painting has a layer of thin transparent rice paper laminated to the surface. You can still see what is underneath.  I work the top layer with watercolour and gouache.

Studio time.

My daughter loves to work in the studio, and here she is painting a picture of us driving in our old car to the beach.

Easter painting.

Even though I have several piles of things I’m working on, I decided to start a new painting. Something for Easter.

Easter cat.

Then I thought I might as well start two.  Cats with bunny ears. Screams Easter.

From start to finish.

Most of the painting is blocked in, and I can start working on details. I want to create a texture for the skin of the zeppelin. I first paint the zeppelin black. Over this I paint white gouache. While the gouache is still wet I place a piece of paper towel over the surface. I gently roll over the paper towel, and this will lift some of the paint and create a texture. If it doesn’t work the first time I try again. The texture of the paper towel  creates a nice effect that I can use for the skin of the zeppelin. Details will be added over this to create the finished zeppelin.

From start to finish. Conversation.

Watercolour tray.

Watercolour tray.

Watercolour artists are the tech geeks of the art world. No other group of artists will spend so much time talking about materials and techniques in such detail. When I meet another watercolourist for the first time the conversation is usually a series of questions that goes like this.

1) Do you stretch your paper?

2) Why not?

3) What brand paint do you use?

4) What kind of brushes do you use?

5) Where do you stand on Masking fluid?

We never get to a sixth question because this is when a conceptual artist comes over and beats us up.

My answers to these questions usually are.

1) No I don’t stretch my paper.

2) I paint with a dry technique, and I find the paper if it does wrinkle can easily be flattened.

3) Winsor & Newton artist quality watercolours, and Winsor & Newton Designers colour gouache.

4) I use all types of  brushes, but I find if I spend a bit more money on a high quality brush it will last forever, and save me money in the long term.

5) I never use masking fluid. I prefer to paint freehand. However it can be useful if you are painting a complicated pattern, and using the white of the paper to create highlights and line.

From start to finish. Painting.

The painting process begins when I have completed the drawing, and cleaned up the surface of the painting. I erase any marks that might have been left over from corrections in the drawing.

I usually begin by painting in the background first. The sky and ground are blocked in, and then I begin working on the figure and other little details. The pattern on the dress I drew in with a silver paint pen. Most of the watercolour will resist the silver paint, but I will go back and touch up any areas that the paint might have  covered.

A painting begins with a drawing.


I always start a watercolour with a pencil line drawing. The paper I’m using is Arches 140lb cold pressed watercolour paper.

At first I lightly draw in the central area of the composition, and then begin to add elements to the foreground, background, and sides of the of the composition. I like to add random elements, and often have action taking place just off the picture plane. These elements that you can only see a fraction of often point to the center of the drawing.

Mystery is a big part of an interesting painting for me. I like to tell just enough of the story so the viewer is free to add to, or completely change what the painting is about. Keep in mind I also will probably have no idea what the painting is about. As it goes forward the painting will change in meaning and intention.