Reference Photo Simplification I create my watercolor paintings in a studio from reference photos taken by myself or supplied by other people.  My method for creating the “Creative Workbenches” was to take random photos in a workspace and look through them later to find a section or grouping that would capture the personality of the creative person.  The nice part of being an artist is that I can take out parts and put in pieces in different places if it works better for a finished painting.  That is good thing, because I am not skilled at photography, and I don’t have the patience to set up a scene with the best lighting and maneuvering things around to get the perfect shot.  When I started taking photos for my artwork, I increased my appreciation of artists 10-fold. Can You Find the Painting in This Photo Here is an example of a reference photo provided by my brother.  I am not sure if he was cleaning up or just showing off, but this was a table covered by a collection of all the screwdrivers, drill bits and drivers he had found in his shop.  I suppose this would not jump out at

Retaining Wall It was more than ten years ago when I visited the greenhouse looking for plants for a newly created stone retaining wall.  The retaining wall was created to make room for a garage addition.  There was a lot of debate about what was being retained in that wall, it came with a two-foot diameter, mature, black walnut tree.  There were pros and cons, but the pros won out (later on we may have decided to go with the cons) and the search for compatible plants was on. If you aren’t aware, Black Walnut trees, put out a toxin called juglone that surrounds the tree preventing invading trees from taking hold.  There are a lot of plants that cannot survive in this toxic environment, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t waste my money on plants that would die.  The greenhouse manager suggested several plants including three variegated yuccas and we took them all home for planting. Yucca survival I like yucca plants, overtime they will mature and send up a tall flower spike that produces a ton of white flowers, very dramatic.  I looked forward to seeing that someday.  I watched the little yuccas over several years,

  Going Fishing My father introduced me to fishing when I was a toddler most likely as respectable excuse to get out of the house for some quiet time.  I have learned over the years there are people that like to “go fishing” and then there are “Fishermen”.  My dad and his dad before him were more the “I am going fishing” type.  I think my mom and grandma had a lot to do with the timing of the fishing trips (enough said about that), but I was often rewarded by these outings.  Dad would take me down the gravel pit and we would casually sit on the bank “fishing” and pull in a bullhead or two and eventually make our way back home for supper.  We would eat, dad would recline and nap and all was well with the world. Later in life I married a “Fisherman”.  Fishing was a command performance, every moment spent on the water or bank had to be meaningful and it was a job.  Two weeks after we were married, I moved with him to Alaska, a fisherman’s paradise.  We spent the summer chasing salmon, King, Red, and Silver.  Long days were spent filling

Art Gallery Planning It is early fall and I have already planned my vacation for February of 2022.  As soon as I purchased the ticket, my vacation began. I began purchasing new clothes, dieting, exercising (very limited) with the goal of making my vacation as enjoyable as possible.  Anticipating a vacation in the winter provides a goal helping me endure the long, cold winter months.  I relate planning a vacation to preparation for finding the fun at an Art Gallery, because once you have decided to make the trip, the antipation will provide an opportunity to escape the routine of daily life.  You may look up the gallery show and artists on their websites, check out gallery hours, invite people to join you or set aside time just for yourself.  Your Art Gallery experience begins when you decide to make the journey. Pre-Flight Preparation Before you get in your car to go to the Art Gallery you may want to take a moment to think about what you would like to get out the experience.  What does “Finding the Fun”  look like for you. I have listed some ideas to help with your preparation: Open Your Mind: You are venturing

Where is the fun? Are you a person that thinks “Finding the Fun at an Art Gallery” is an Oxymoron?  Would you rather scrape paint off of siding rather than spend an hour in an art muesum?  I completely understand because I would not want to give up my comfortable seat in front of my favorite TV show to venture into an art galleries unless I had my own watercolor paintings hanging on the wall.  As much as I love to see the variety of artwork, I feel intimidated  by the gaze of a gallery attendent who knows I probably could not purchase anything other than a note card.   Why Try? I feel bad that I am reluctant to go to galleries because as an artist, I am more interested in showing my watercolor paintings than selling them.  I don’t make art to be hidden away, I make art to unleash childlike wonder, stimulate curiousity, trigger a memory or spark joy in the Beholder.  So how do I convince you that visiting an art gallery is worth moving past your fears and finding the fun. Cheap source of entertainment: Generally art galleries are free.  You can see thousands of dollars

Is There a Difference In my first watercolor class the instructor placed before us a cloth lined table with an orchid in a vase, a few other objects and told us to paint.  I have to admit, that was a little overwhelming.  I hadn’t even learned how to use watercolor at that point and wasn’t sure on how to approach this set of items in a drawing.  This was my first exposure to still life painting. Still Life Painting The instructor had laid before us a still life composition to use to study shapes and colors.  The still life had no meaning to me or anyone, so there was no emotional connection to this grouping.  Grouping objects together and taking them out of context allowed us as artists to introduce our own interpretation to create a mood or emotion.  As the artist I provide the interpretation and the objects speak for themselves without reflecting on the owner.  The Beholder further interprets the artwork through their own experience and becomes a co-creator in the process in the finished piece.   One of my examples of a still life is the “Daisy and Teapot” painting. I used a few items that I was

Creative I have been working on a series of paintings I call “Creative Workbenches” and I am discovering that this term doesn’t make any sense to people.  If you Google Creative Workbench you will find photos and ads for tables and benches that can be arranged “creatively”.  I don’t think they consider the person using the workbench as the “Creative”.  Maybe my title of the series should have an apostrophe, like “Creative’s Workbenches” and that would make more sense.  Please send comments if you think I should change the title of the series.  I can adapt.   I Can Adapt The term “I can adapt” may actually be a better name for Creative.  A Creative is a person who can solve problems, find a new way to do something, make something new, use their imagination, prepare a new meal, search for the lost sock, adapt a new tool, write a new code, do jig-saw puzzles, or fix a faucet.  In all honesty, everyone that gets up in the morning and chooses their wardrobe for the day is creative.  We are all creative by design.   So why did I have so much trouble finding people willing to provide photo’s of their Creative

Starting Point I am working on Creative Workbench Encaustic Wax Pans.  This new Creative Workbench features an encaustic artist painting bench.  If you are not familiar with encaustic paintings, they are paintings made with hot colored blend of beeswax.  The wax is painted or dripped onto the surface and built up in layers.  It is a fascinating medium provided intriguing results.  The artist workbench is from Shary Bartlett, and she graciously is allowing me to use her reference photo.   Underpainting In order to preserve the white or light highlights on the pans, I put mastic fluid everywhere that should remain white.  That shows up on the image as a teal blue tint.  Once that was dried, I used a neutral tint paint to define the areas of shadow.  This underpainting will help the color appear darker and create contrast. Glazing With the underpainting in place, it was time to add color.  I started by adding thin layers of color, this would still be considered light values.  Later I will move into mid-tone values, but you will have to check later to see how this project progress.  I will add new images of the progress over time. Midway I am about

Traditional Watercolor Framing I have always taken great care to protect my watercolor paintings using an acid-free backer board, acid-free mat set in a frame with either glass or plexiglass.  This is the traditional method of protecting the water soluble pigments and dyes from humidity.  I love the look of a beautifully mounted painting and there is so many possibilities for framing them that is method perfect.  I would never have thought to do it any other way, but I had an idea that sent me into the world of waxed watercolors opening up new possibilities worthy of consideration. What are Wax Sealed Watercolors I had this idea that I would like to paint on a wooden block that could be set on a shelf or mantel.  I looked up how to watercolor on wood, which led me to watercolor ground (coating that you can paint on).  I tried watercolor ground on a small wooden coin, but what do you do to preserve it?  So further research and I found there is a fixing spray (varnish) that works well, but that led to me wax.  So for a small investment I purchased some Dorland’s wax and applied to my tiny

Just Say Yes A fellow artist informed me that Mount Horeb Driftless Historium had two weeks to find a new display for their their large street windows walk-up gallery and would l like to display my watercolor paintings.  Two weeks, was he crazy?  How do you set up a show in just two weeks?  How many paintings, what was the theme, how much room would I have to fill, what kind of advertising and posters?  So many questions, so little time.   I immediately went into cynic mode and texted him back saying no, just not enough time.  He said he would inform the 14 South Artists organization we belong to and see if any of the other artists would be interested.  Working quickly because of the short turn around time, he sent off a post on Facebook.   Earlier that day, I had listened to a motivational podcast about another artist that had finished a new collection and was looking for place to show them.  Covid hit and nothing was available.  All she wanted was a big enough room to hang her work to take photographs.  Then, all of a sudden a space became available for a short period of time