Thursday, April 30, 2009

Playing With Matboard & Gesso

The finished product consisting of my gessoed matboard and transparent watercolor
A stack of 3/16" matboard and my bottle of acrylic gesso ready to be applied

When I receive an order of precut mats from my online supplier they always include the matboard cutouts or 'centers' and I've accumulated quite a stack of them. Recently I purchased a small bottle of acrylic gesso and decided to give one of Ann Blockley's techniques a try. She uses gessoed mountboard but I wondered if I could use the leftover matboard instead.

I applied the acrylic gesso fairly thick with a brush, then created more texture using a palette knife and let it dry for 24 hours. The matboard buckled slightly at first but as it dried it flattened itself out nicely. Afterwards I had no idea what to paint so I did my version of the painting on her book cover which features dandelions going to seed. I used only transparent watercolor, drying the paint thoroughly after each application. I then scraped out the dandelion fluff and defined the stem with the fine nib of an ink pen. I was both pleased and impressed by the textural element I was able to bring to this painting due largely to the gesso. Also the way the paint moves and reacts on the gessoed surface was new to me.
Check out Ann Blockley's website at

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Trio Of Lady Slippers

I finally completed this one. Yes! However, I didn't get all my Spring cleaning done but I did make a big dent in it. I decided to give my studio a very thorough cleaning and now I can't find anything! Then we finally had a fairly warm day without rain so I knew I had better get busy and start cleaning out my many flower beds. I gave two huge stands of ornamental grass their Spring buzzcut and my neighbor came by with his leaf blower and saved me the trouble of raking my lawn. Thank you, Mark!

As for my lady slippers, I'm pretty happy with the result. I'd love to do another project featuring lady slippers using a different palette. I'm not a botanical artist by any means so these 'ladys' are unique. I added whatever flourishes to them I wanted to see with no regard for species. *Note: The bead of masking fluid I added along the edges of my artist tape failed in a few places and I did get some bleeding into the outer borders, mostly in the corners. I'll have to be more careful next time. I'd love to be able to float mount one of my poured florals but that calls for a pristine border around the painting so I hope I have better luck with that next time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Cleaning }:(

I skipped this chore last Spring because I hate heavy house cleaning but the time has come to face the mess and tackle it head on. By the time I'm done for the day I'm in no mood to paint or anything else for that matter. I'll be finishing my orchids as soon as I'm done dusting those 'hard to reach' places, scrubbing, washing windows, throwing out numerous boxes I've saved for some unknown reason...the list goes on. I'd kill for a housekeeper right now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Watson Loves Flowers

While I was waiting for my son(what would I do without you, James!)to fix my computer, my youngest son and his girlfriend Jamie sent me a photo of Watson, their cat. Watson is one big cuddly sweetheart that obviously enjoys flowers. The photo was taken while I was at their home enjoying Easter dinner and I told them I'd love a copy. All my reference material is online so being without a computer had left me high and dry. Maybe I should consider painting plein air afterall? Anyway, it's been ages since I've done a graphite piece so I started doodling and this was the result. I ran out of steam drawing all that fur and all those flowers so I've decided to put this aside for the time being. I only wish I had chosen better paper but I grabbed the first pad I found. I'm sure I'll come back to this at some point because it needs some tweaking. And WOW...I had forgotten how labor intensive a detailed drawing can be!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lady Slippers~Update 2

I did so many pours on this I've now got it down to a science. I kept pouring to increase the depth of color and introduce a warmer element...namely the purple. At one point I regreted adding the gamboge to the mix. It began to look muddy and I blamed it on the paint color. I switched from mauve to a mix of Quin. Rose added to my blues and kept pouring. Slowly the muddiness disappeared. I noticed that using the blowdryer on pours wasn't the way to go. They looked much better if left to dry naturally although the waiting is tedious. *Note: Always dry completely flat! Otherwise you get crawlbacks along the bottom where you don't want them* I debated whether to add foliage but the leaves of the lady slipper orchid are so textural and graceful they had to be in the painting.

I'm using Arches 140# HP taped to a board for this project. As you can see, it's still a little buckled but it smoothed itself out incredibly well after each dousing. I borrowed a tip from Nick Simmons and applied a thin bead of masking fluid along the inside edges of my masking tape so no paint could sneak under. I'll see how well that worked when this is completed. At this point I've removed the masking fluid on the painting itself and I'm ready to start work on the flowers. It's overcast today so the image looks a bit grey. I managed to preserve the warm pale turquoise in the upper left corner even though the photo doesn't show this.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Moonlit Haze

As you've probably guessed, I have a fascination with the Moon. Late last night the view out of my front window made me run for my camera and try to photograph the sight using the telephoto. So far I haven't had much luck using this particular feature but I did manage to capture the scene. It was hazy last night with the last full Moon on the wane. I've jokingly referred to these type of nights as 'Jack The Ripper Nights'...eerily beautiful with a sense of the dangerous. The Moon appeared as a hazy 'ball' glowing through the still bare trees across the drive. All that was missing was the silhouette of an owl perched on a branch. A cat would've been even better.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lady Slippers~Quick Update

I did two pours last night on this one and it looks like I'll be doing a few more. I let it set overnight and looked at it with fresh eyes today. I see several changes I want to make already. I had a heck of a time deciding on a palette but because I hate wasting paint I used some of the leftover colors from East Meets West. I added Gamboge Hue to the Cad. Yellow Light and Indigo to the Indanthrene Blue. I also replaced the Quin. Rose with Mauve. I splattered, encouraged crawlbacks and generally had my way with this painting. I figured it'll either crash and burn or be beautiful. Only one way to find out...try it! I'm going for a very textural background. Not sure if I'll be adding leaves or not. This one is being planned as I go along. I'm letting the paint tell me what to do.