Monthly Archives: August 2016

Birch Trees, Owls and a Paint Review

Birch Trees
With September fast approaching (yay!) I was in the mood to paint birch trees. It’s always fun to paint with new supplies and this time I am trying a new watercolor paint from Prima Marketing. The collection is called Decadent Pies.

Great Horned Owl
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The kit includes 12 half pans of artist grade watercolor that work wonderfully for landscapes. The colors would also work well for figure studies. As an added bonus the paint tin is the perfect size for traveling. There is plenty of space for color mixing and I was able to fit 6 more half pans in between the existing colors to round out my palette. I attached magnet tape to the bottom of my pans so they would remain in place.

The colors are numbered, not named, but they appear to be yellow ochre, burnt sienna, olive green, a Tuscan or terracotta red, a flesh tone, two shades of blue (indigo and phthalo), gamboge, and four metallic colors. I do not use metallics in many of my paintings however the effect is so subtle I would use them as regular paint.

As I mentioned I added a few more colors to round out the palette which included a few cooler colors and burnt umber. The burnt umber combines beautifully with the indigo to make a full range of gray tones including an extremely useful deep warm black. The colors are so versatile that I painted the images in the gallery (click the link below the owl) using just the base kit colors. The exception was the hummingbird. I had to use permanent rose and violet in order to achieve the brighter feather colors. So whether you are painting birch trees, animals, birds, or figures these paints would be a nice addition to your art supplies. It does not say on the packaging if the paints are non-toxic so I contacted the company. Customer service emailed me stating they are in fact non-toxic. I do hope you’ll give them a try and if you do send me a message letting me know what you created.

Like any of the paintings above? They, and many more, are available in my shop. Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Parallel Pen Drawing of Wheat

Parallel Pen WheatClasses are over until mid-September so it’s time for me to experiment with new mediums and techniques. I’ve been trying out the Pilot Parallel Pen. It’s basically a calligraphy pen with two parallel plates which not only allows for sharp lines but by twisting and tilting the pen you can create some interesting drawings. The pens come in different nib widths (6.0 mm, 3.8 mm, 2.4 mm, and 1.5 mm).

The manufacturer recommends using specific inks for the best performance but I have been experimenting with gouache. I diluted some of my gouache in water and added it to an empty cartridge. You can’t buy empty cartridges so I save them when I have used up all the ink. I am really happy with the results – just don’t leave the gouache in the pen unused for a long time otherwise it can dry. If that happens just take the pen apart and soak the pieces.

You can make gradations in color by touching the tip of your paintbrush to the pen nib. My drawing of the wheat stalks uses this technique. I filled a cartridge with umber and then tipped the nib with ochre or vermilion. The color on the nib begins to mix with the umber to create lovely variations. I did the same thing to color the leaves. To make them appear to turn I pulled up on part of the nib as I moved the pen.

I recommend picking up a Parallel Pen and trying it. It takes a bit of experimentation to get the hang of using it but the results are well worth it. Next up in my summer adventure of experimentation is a new brand of watercolor paint. Check back soon for the full scoop.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Painting Sunflowers

Painting SunflowersWe will be painting sunflowers this week in our Chinese Brush class. I think they are a great subject. We will practice loading the brush with a variety of colors and reviewing the “dot” and “wipe” strokes. Since sunflowers come in a variety of colors that range from bright yellow to deep orange-red we have some flexibility in how we interpret them.

The center of the flower was painted with ochre, umber, and ink using the dot stroke. A dot of mineral green was added, not because it’s realistic but to emphasize the cheery quality of the plant. The petals were painted by loading the brush with lemon yellow then vermilion. This creates the light orange petals. Once the petals were dry accents in alizarin crimson were added with a dry brush. The stem and leaves were painted with a mixture of sap green, indigo, and ochre. A fun honey bee was added to the composition as a counterpoint to flower.

Sadly, this is our last Chinese Brush class for the summer but I will be teaching more classes in September. We will be picking up our Chinese brushes again in late October for a fun evening of painting poinsettias. You’ll be able to make something for yourself or give your artwork as a gift. I hope you can join us!

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp.