Tranquil Stream Landscape Painting

Tranquil StreamThis has been the summer of landscape painting. That theme is continued with today’s painting of a tranquil stream flowing past colorful trees.

I love painting these types of landscapes. It is made from splattering color onto wet paper and adding details once everything is dry. It is important when painting wet-into-wet that you don’t fiddle with the paint otherwise you create mud which can ruin a piece. I think a good way to prevent mud is to limit the number of colors used in a painting. My palette consisted of 5 colors – lemon yellow, sap green, indigo, burnt sienna, and burnt umber. I then mix these colors into secondary colors (e.g. the yellow and burnt sienna gave me the orange color I used in the trees). I also applied the colors strongly rather than painting multiple light washes. This helps keep the colors fresh and bright.

I’ll be sharing many more tips and tricks in my landscape painting class this fall. I hope you can join me; it’s going to be a lot of fun!

This painting and many more can be purchased from my art shop.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


Painting Birch Trees

Painting Birch TreesI love painting birch trees; I think it’s a texture thing. Those dark scraggly patches stand out against the pale white-gray bark. Before I learnt how to paint trees I always thought it was so mysterious. How could an artist capture that kind of texture with watery paint? There are different ways of painting birch trees but the way I like gets nice results with a minimum of supplies and effort.

I begin by laying a wash of watery gray along one side of the tree. I use a damp brush to soften the edge and then I let it dry. This creates the rounded form of the tree. To make the texture I make a puddle of dark gray-brown (my favorite mix is indigo and burnt umber) then I apply it with a rigger brush held horizontal to the paper. This allows the paint to skip along the paper in an irregular pattern. The only challenge with this method is once you get started it is really fun so some restraint is necessary otherwise your trees look too striped (skinny zebras anyone?).

We will be painting and drawing trees in my upcoming fall classes. Classes begin in September, I hope you can join us.

This painting is available for sale from my Etsy shop.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!

Goldfish Paintings in Chinese Brush

Goldfish - Chinese BrushIn this week’s Chinese Brush class one of our projects will be painting goldfish. It may seem like goldfish are challenging to paint but if you are familiar with bamboo leaves then you are already on your way. I painted the fish with a mix of lemon yellow, orange, and alizarin crimson.

Once you have the brush loaded with color paint the head using 3 strokes. Deepen your colors and paint 2 strokes for the body. Paint the tail with 3 or 4 sweeping strokes. Add details on the body and tail with a dark red and thick white paint; finish the eye with blue and ink.

Once you have a fish or two it’s time to add some context in the form of plants and rocks. I use simple dot strokes for the rocks and small curving bamboo leaf strokes to simulate underwater plants. When the painting was dry I mounted it onto card stock to create a fun greeting card.

Until next time… happy painting!


Downy Woodpecker in Colored Pencil

Downy Woodpecker - colored pencil on pastel paperBeginning next week I’ll be teaching 3 one-night drawing classes. Our first class will feature the Downy Woodpecker in colored pencil on pastel paper. Downies are a frequent visitor to Maine and often confused with their larger look-alike the Hairy Woodpecker.

I’ll be demonstrating how to draw our bird as well as all the colored pencil techniques I rely on to create feathers. It is going to be a really fun class; I hope you can join us. For more information on this class and all my other spring/summer classes including how to register please check out my classes page.

Until next time…keep those pencils sharp!


P.S. Don’t have time to attend class but would like a downy for yourself? This drawing and many others are available from my art shop.