Reserving and Recovering Light Values: Strategies to Consider

Reserving and Recovering Light Values: Strategies to Consider

Getting light color values in watercolor works a little differently than in other mediums, since watercolor is transparent. In oil paints, lighter pigments are generally some of the most opaque, which allows oil painters to begin by blocking in large, mid-value shapes...
Don’t Let Your Inner Critic Be Lazy

Don’t Let Your Inner Critic Be Lazy

I’m working on a new postcard paint-along, using these 4 photos for information and inspiration. But I’m not going to follow any of these photos very closely, so I know I’m going to hear this in the comments: “That painting doesn’t look anything like the...
Painless Planning for Watercolor, Part 1: Exploratory Drawing

Painless Planning for Watercolor, Part 1: Exploratory Drawing

This article is the fourth in a series about creating paintings with more emotion, power and personal meaning. Here are links to the first three: Is My Painting Done?Are You a “Photocopier”? There’s a Better WayThe Lazy Way to Build Painting Confidence I know that...
The Lazy Way to Build Painting Confidence

The Lazy Way to Build Painting Confidence

This article is the third in a series. The preceding articles are: Is My Painting Done? Are You a “Photocopier”? There’s a Better Way In response to the last article, a reader made a couple of excellent points about why it’s sometimes difficult...

Are You a “Photocopier”? There’s a Better Way

This article is the second in a series. To read the first article, “Is My Painting Done?”, click here. In the next few articles in this series, I’ll introduce some ideas you can use to help you plan paintings that are more expressive, powerful and...
Is My Painting Done?

Is My Painting Done?

This article is the first of a series on creating more powerful, personal and expressive paintings. When I teach watercolor classes or workshops, there is often a moment where a student comes up to me, thrusts a painting into my face and demands: Tell me what’s...
Phthalo Green—How To Tame It

Phthalo Green—How To Tame It

In the last post, I offered some tips for mixing natural-looking landscape greens, the first of which was “avoid tube greens involving phthalo green”. So, what do you do with the phthalo green (and mixtures using it) you already have? The secret is to tame...
Better Landscape Greens

Better Landscape Greens

The weather is beautiful here. It’s the time of year when a lot of us are feeling that pull to take our paints and sketchbooks outside. It’s also the time of year that a lot of people struggle with GREEN! Do the greens in your landscapes look flat and...
Paint Shapes, Not “Things”

Paint Shapes, Not “Things”

Want your paintings to look unified? It helps to combine “things” into larger shapes, and then use smaller shapes to (partially) separate them. Here’s an exercise to help you practice. First, set up a still life with a couple of simple objects. Avoid...