Author Archives: Kelli

Galilean Moons in Watercolor

Galilean Moons
Galilean Moons

Today’s watercolor painting uses watercolor, gouache, salt, India ink, and metallic paints to create the texture of Jupiter’s moons. I chose the Galilean moons because of their interesting color patterns and they are hubby’s favorites.

Callisto - Galilean MoonsEuropa’s speckled pattern was created by sprinkling salt onto wet watercolor paint. Io’s surface was created by letting the colors mix directly on the paper. Callisto’s darker areas were created by dropping India ink into wet Indigo paint. The yellow spot is a mixture of gold paint and white gouache. Ganymede was the most fun to paint. India ink was dropped onto the paper then I tilted it to make the ink run in different spots. I added more ink to the center to create the darker patch once the initial layers began to dry. Diluted white gouache was used to create the lighter gray texture.

I am quite pleased with this painting not only because I like the finished product but that it actually matches the idea I envisioned before I started painting. It’s always nice when a plan works out.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Ballerina on Black Paper

Ballerina on Black PaperThe other day I bought some new black paper with a smoother texture. I wanted to see how it would react with colored pencil and pastels. This quick study was done with my Faber-Castell pastel pencils. I was surprised at how well the pastel blended and how well the paper stood up to some heavy erasing. I have not tried colored pencil yet but given how well it responded to the pastel I don’t anticipate any problems with my Prismacolors. After that I’ll have to try my fluorescent pens on it. So many things to try I think I’m going to need a few extra hours in the day to try everything :)

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Interested in drawing on black paper?

I’ll be teaching a one-night class on drawings owls on black paper in May. Check my classes page for more details including how to sign up. Hope you can join me!

Woodpeckers in Watercolor

Downy Woodpecker - Woodpeckers in WatercolorThis past weekend was warm and that brought many birds to my backyard. Among them were both Hairy and Downy woodpeckers, Tufted titmice, American robins, Black-capped Chickadees, Blue jays, Song sparrows, and Juncos. I thought it would be fun to paint a few woodpeckers since you have to admire a bird that can bang its head on a hard tree then fly away unaffected.

The first woodpecker is the Downy. A good way to tell the difference between a Downy and a Hairy is the beak. The Downy’s beak is much smaller. I used indigo blue and burnt sienna for background with just a touch of burnt umber on the bottom to create the ground. The black feathers were created using the same colors in a stronger mix. A touch of white gouache was added at the end to strengthen the highlights.

Woodpecker - Woodpeckers in WatercolorThe second woodpecker is called the Lesser-spotted and is not native to the US. My palette consisted of sap green, yellow ochre, indigo blue, burnt umber, and alizarin crimson. I painted this fellow in a similar method to the one above using the wet into wet technique for the background. I created the mossy texture at the bottom with a 1″ chip brush. Barely dampen the bristles of the chip brush then dip them into your paint and dab the pigment onto the paper. If the bristles are splayed and wonky it works even better.

With just a few basic supplies you can paint your own woodpeckers. I hope you try this and please share your work. Until next time…Cheers!


P.S. Both of these paintings are available in my shop.

Pink Wildflowers in Watercolor

Pink Wildflowers

One of the aspects of watercolor I love is using the paint to create loose interpretations of a subject. This is the type of painting I find most challenging. It requires a certain willingness to let the water do the work.

In this study of pink wildflowers I masked off the flower heads before wetting the paper and adding splotches of permanent rose, gamboge, and sap green. I wanted to create the appearance of a field of wildflowers without having to paint every flower. While the paper was still damp I added a little indigo to some of the sap green to darken it a bit. When the background was dry I splattered the same colors and then misted them to spread the color. After removing the masking fluid I added a couple of layers of permanent rose mixed with a touch of indigo to define the flower heads. Stems and leaf shapes were added with sap green. I wanted a bit more white in the painting so I added grass-like stalks and splatters with white ink.

I am quite pleased with the results. It has just the right mix of detail and looseness that I was hoping for.

Why not try your own wildflower painting and let me know how it goes. Cheers!


Painting Trees in Watercolor

Mountain Landscape - Painting TreesThis week we will be painting trees in our watercolor class. I think the most important thing to remember when painting trees in any medium is that if they are part of a larger landscape there will not be a lot of detail in the branches or leaves. The farther you are from the tree the less detail you will see. The focus is on the overall shape.

I like to use either a round or flat brush. A round brush is great for painting trees like maples, birches, or any type of deciduous tree. For evergreens and palm trees I prefer a flat brush. I always begin by painting the lightest color first, followed by 2 additional layers of color that increase in darkness. I don’t put each color in the exact same place because I want the trees to look like they have depth. It is important to leave white space so the sky can be seen through the greenery.

If you would like to try painting trees on your own I have a downloadable PDF that you can use as reference. I’ll be explaining how I made each of these trees in class and all participants will receive a copy of the handout. Please share links to your tree paintings in the comments section below or email them to me, I’d love to see what you create.