Category Archives: watercolor

E.T.s bringing in the oxygen sucking machines

My fellow Americans, stop wasting ammo. When this happens the rest of the world will be depending on us to kill the E.T.s

Anyone can do art.

Art can be a discipline, therapy or just for fun depending on your needs.

If you really want to get into doing art, the more skill you get the better. It’s like playing a musical instrument. You have to spend a lot of time practicing but anyone can pick up an instrument at any time in their life and if they live long enough to keep practicing they can see an improvement and possibly even master it. It’s not something an artist is born with. To think that is to ignore the time the artist has actually worked on it.

But not every artist wants the discipline. And they don’t have to have it in today’s art world. Self expression is valued even more highly than skill.

A lot of people just need to distract their minds from a problem and art can help with that. If you have some fun doing something with paint, that’s a couple hours that your brain took a break from whatever is eating you. What if you’re stuck at home and you’re tired of Netflix? What if you’re stuck at home with a tyrant and you can’t escape to your job like before? What if you have to home school your kids and you don’t know how to teach? Art will help in all of those situations. Any art, any project.

Art as therapy:

I wasn’t always sane, but now I am. I can’t say for sure how I got my mental health because there might be more than one reason but I think art helped. It didn’t happen suddenly. I didn’t get my head shrunk or take meds for it.

And simply not dying might have helped. Like the cliche, Time heals all wounds. That’s why I tell young artists who are suffering to stay alive. If I lived long enough to enjoy my retirement you can too.

This art therapy project:

First, think of the thing that bugs you the most. Do a rough illustration of it (stick figures or blobs will work for this). For me, the thing annoying me is the global pandemic so I threw some yellow watercolors down on the paper and then scribbled in some red lines with my Inktense pencils to make rough corona virus waves and hot spots. If I didn’t tell you my E.T.s started out as corona viruses would you have recognized it from the pictures on TV?

You can do corona viruses too or some other subject.

Second step, Think of something much worse than the original problem and add that thing into your picture. Like, what if those yellow dots with red lines aren’t corona viruses? What if they’re aliens coming to rob us of our air?

It could happen. Then we’d feel nostalgic for the days when all they talked about was the virus because suddenly they forgot all about the virus and then it would be E.T.s 24/7 on the news and our president might not be able to strike a deal with them.

Third step, Put the more scary thought’s picture in the brains of 100 people on your blog. Now 100 people will have a new perspective on corona. It’s possible to live through the pandemic without ever getting sick but impossible to live without our atmosphere.

We have a lot of brave guys who would volunteer to fly up there and destroy the oxygen sucking machines and kill the E.T.s. They’re going to need bullets and bombs.

That’s today’s art therapy project. I’ll leave it to the mental health professionals to explain how that made me feel better.

It’s raining again. I’ll go back out to draw in plein air as soon as the weather clears up.

Flower Children Dancing


watercolor and Inktense pencils







Art from my subconscious / good or bad?

I can’t tell if it’s working on any level or if it sux. Feel free to opine or critique without worrying about hurting my feelings. I don’t have any emotions toward this experiment. (and that’s the best way to approach an experiment, just try something and see what happens.) If you studied psych this might give you some insight into my subconscious brain. If you see anything, let me know, crazy or sane, doesn’t matter either.

I didn’t make plans or do sketches first. The only thing I decided was to have fun on a cloudy day when I didn’t want to go out because it was a holiday and would be crowded at the places I like to go. The other thing I decided before starting was to use yellow pink and green.

First, I spattered yellow on the paper ala Jackson Pollock to get a loose start. Then when the yellow dried I wet the paper and blobbed two pinks in around the yellow. While the paper was still wet I scribbled in some lines with the Inktense pencils. When that dried I blocked my flowers off with masking fluid and painted the background green. Then masked off the lighter green lines and went over it again with dark green.

When it’s all dry, rub off the masking fluid and VOILA!

I like this product, but opening the bottle can be frustrating.

Those dang lids where you have to press down while turning.

Once in a while I can open the bottle with no problem but sometimes I try and try until my hand gets tired and it won’t open. One time I broke a lid off a bottle of masking fluid with a wrench. That’s how bad it is.

Yesterday I got a call from a friend and she asked me what I was doing. I said trying to open this stupid bottle. She told me to run it under hot water. I said that won’t help. The lid isn’t glued shut. I can turn it. It just won’t unscrew. Again she said run it under hot water so I said ok. I ran hot water over it for a few minutes and when the bottle warmed up the lid came off! I celebrated that happening with loud insane laughter that my neighbors might have heard because my windows were open.

Now I know the trick to opening these poorly designed bottle caps. I guess my crazy friend knows a thing or two.

This masking fluid is great for adding texture to a watercolor. A few years ago I tried using it on an oil painting, which I was told doesn’t work, but it does work if you use it over thinned oil paint with no medium mixed in. And I keep seeing people are still reading those old posts which is a mystery to me how they find my old masking fluid on oil paint experiments.

If you want to use this product the most important thing to remember is to put soap on your brush first. It’s impossible to clean the brush if you don’t put soap on it first and the brush will get gummed up and ruined. With soap on it you can rinse the brush in water to clean it and use more soap to be sure to get all the masking fluid out of the brush.

Low Tide @ Pleasure House Point

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Inktense  pencils and watercolors

One place on the path floods often and I can tell which way the tide is going by the way the water is running across the path. A lot of times I go there just to walk and don’t take my art supplies along. Now, we’ve had a few days of rain and I worked on this at home, but the past couple weeks when I went over to walk or to sketch or pick my colors, the flooding place was dry and the water looked like low tide. I could see sand and oysters. When I got home I looked at the tide tables and was surprised to see the tide was almost high because I expected to find it was low tide. I wondered if I could read the tide tables at all.

The last time I went to the point to sketch and pick colors from my charts a lady on the path above where I was standing spoke to me. We were both amazed at how far out the water was and she told me low tide was an hour and a half ago but it hasn’t moved and might not move much even at high tide.

This could be one of the lowest tides I’ll see all year, which was ok because I wanted to paint the oysters on the mud flats.

This week we’re getting a lot of rain so there will be coastal flooding and low tide will look like high tide, I guess.

I don’t have as much confidence working at home as I do working in Plein air or as much confidence working with watercolors as working with oil paint or pastels. The weather forced me to paint at home. I thought it would probably be ok because I did my sketches in plein air and picked my colors and made notes of which color to use in plein air. Then after I get past my reluctance to start, I find that I enjoy drawing with the Inktense  pencils. I can make a texture with the Inktense pencils and I have a lot of colors, so they save me the time of mixing watercolors on my palette.

the time I captured a phoenix

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It was 2005. I was practicing figure drawing at open studio every week but didn’t go out to draw in plein air yet.

My daughter, Sarah went to Perth, Australia as an exchange student. She stayed 3 months, I went along and stayed 3 weeks. We did some sight seeing before her classes started. Before we left I was thinking how cool it would be to hear and see a kookaburra. I must have had my hands on the rungs of my headboard that night because I dreamt I had a hold of a huge bird by the legs. I thought, this isn’t a kookaburra, what is it? Oh No! It’s a phoenix! The bird lifted me off the ground and I hung on.

This is my watercolor illustration of my dream.

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The phoenix went above the clouds. I saw strange constellations in the Southern Hemisphere. I dipped my toes in the clouds.

This is my pastel illustration of my dream.

I almost lost these two when my art got stolen but was happy to see them when I got my stuff back, even though they might not be my best work, since I did them from my imagination.

I did hear a kookaburra in Adelaide. Crazy birds.

Path Through Wildflowers

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This is watercolor with Inktense pencils. It seems like it took a long time to finish.  I went over to the garden 6 times including the times I sketched it, first on charcoal paper and then again on watercolor paper. Each time I stayed there for an hour or two and made some progress on it then came home and worked on it off and on for hours, so I think I have over 20 hours in the painting. I enjoyed working on it very much.

The weather was beautiful! It’s cooling down but not cold.  I didn’t turn the heat on in my apartment yet. It’s staying around 70 inside so far. I hate  turning the heat on for the first time every year because it blows dust around and I don’t want to catch a cold because of it.

The garden is still beautiful with a lot of flowers blooming. The roses are so sweet smelling and the breeze makes the scent follow you down the walk.

It looks like I have time to try another watercolor painting before we get a good freeze. I’m waiting for that refreshing arctic air from Canada. Then I’ll start on my long time in the planning winter swamp painting in oils. Until then, maybe I can try to get a watercolor done at Back Bay.

watercolor fun time / dunes

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They gave all of us Plein air artists a great swag bag at the Ghost Ranch with a lot of art supplies. The thing I wanted to try first is this little color sample test palette  with 6  dry colors from QoR Modern Watercolors made by Golden. I was just playing around and made the colors bleed because it’s kind of fun to see what you get when they mix and also to watch the bleed.

That’s Mars Orange Deep on the dunes with Indanthrone Blue in the shadows and Manganese Blue in the sky. The blues don’t show up right in this photo because I took it in the yellowish light over my work table. They’re both good blues in real life.

They are some real nice bright colors and I might buy tubes of them in the future.

It rained today and it might rain tomorrow. That’s ok. It’s been dry here for 3 weeks. I started my watercolor at the Pleasure House Point marsh, but didn’t get very far with it yesterday. I will finish that thing some time soon. Not exactly sure how to proceed.  At least I had good weather for my vacation. I’m glad I made it home before the bad weather moved in out west.

skinny-dipping / watercolor abstract

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I bought raw Sienna, burnt Sienna and cobalt blue. This is a test of transparency and how the colors look overlapping and blending. I made it fun by doing a skinny-dipping abstract. The colors look better in real life than they do in this photo. A big part of improving my watercolors is to do random color swatches until I’m more familiar with the paint. It might seem like a huge waste of time and paper, but every step counts toward the goal of mastering the medium, which could take years, so there’s no rush, or limit on supplies I’ll go through. Now I know I’ll enjoy using these colors together and I like the blends I got.

Spirit Horse Head in Clouds

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It’s a clouds experiment. I can’t tell if it looks like clouds to the viewer or not. If it looks like something else, that’s what it is. I painted it in Plein air from my balcony with watercolor and the clouds were moving. I used masking fluid on my fan brush and white oil paint stick first to block out some white and to see if I could make a soft and fluid cloud texture. When it was dry I rubbed off the masking fluid with an eraser.

The horse is another drawing with a black oil paint stick taped to a yardstick to make it fun.

I’m just goofing around at home with the horses for models and trying different things with watercolors but I’m going to get back out in plein air tomorrow and get back to the landscape next.

The weather is improving.  YEA!

Spirit Horse / watercolor

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I was trying to make a ghostly transparent look with this experiment. I used masking fluid on the horse and spattered rubbing alcohol on the background. It was fun. I might do another ghost horse. Why wait till Oct? Spooky subjects are fun all year round.IMG_2307

This is my finished charcoal sketch that I started earlier this week, as seen on my previous blog post, when it was kind of rough. I’d like to go abstract with it but I feel like I need to do a tight sketch first.

By the time I finished the watercolor I probably have 7 or 8 hours in this one experiment, including the time I spent sketching, transferring it to watercolor paper then going into it with masking fluid and paint. That’s not including the times I had a fan blowing on it between layers of paint. That might seem like a long time to put into an experiment, but I learned a thing or two that I can use in the future. The more times I draw a subject the easier it gets.