Lavonne Suwalski Demo at Rhode Island Watercolor Society.

Photo1 Lavonne Suwalski demo

Lavonne Suwalski has phenomenal energy and showed several watercolor techniques in 30 minutes flat!

Lavonne was showing us interesting effects by pouring watercolor through rice paper onto watercolor paper. Firstly, she wet the watercolor paper (with a brush) and then laid the rice paper over it and smoothed out the wrinkles. Then using juicy colors from her palette, she began laying in petal shapes onto the rice paper for a floral transfer. The rice paper has no sizing and the colors bled through immediately. Lavonne likened it to “Painting on toilet paper!” After adding a range of greens and some deep darks for centers of the flowers, the rice paper was peeled off and a fainter much softer “print” had bled through to the watercolor paper. The rice paper was hung out to dry! (see photo2) The paint was still wet and could be further manipulated to develop the flowers. However, Lavonnes. paper was extremely wet, so she stowed it flat on the floor while she began another more realistic pour through rice paper to produce the picture in Photo 1). In this painting, after she peeled off the rice paper, she used a steel palette knife to scrape the wet paint  around in the foreground to develop the rocks. More juicy burnt sienna was added and scraped around. It produced some very convincing looking rocks in a few well-placed scrapes! She added deeper darks to the pine trees, which made them really “pop!”
Photo 2 Lavonne waving paper in her demo! 

Returning to the floral transfer (which had beautiful soft edges and had almost dried) deeper analogous colors were added and gave more depth by allowing some of the lovely soft first layer to show through.
Then, she bought out her weapon of choice for calligraphy….a stick-with leaf still attached! She dipped it into Higgins india ink and made expressionistic outlines around some of the petals and foliage. (See earlier example she had made in photo 3).

Photo 3 Completed Floral “rice paper pour” watercolor painting

Lavonne showed that the stick could be soaked in water overnight and then peeled back (bark and inner layers) to create a “star” shape. Another great calligraphic tool in her arsenal! The varied black calligraphic lines were a nice contrast to the soft watercolor poured edges!
She shared many examples of her demonstrations of numerous creative techniques for classes that she teaches all over this area on week days. Below are a couple of images that I captured.

For more information about Lavonne and her classes:

Value of Working with Mini Watercolor Abstracts.

“Planetary Moons” Art-card

1.  Of paramount value is refining your design and composition skills! This would apply to all design not just in painting. This has helped me “see” shape, line and color much more clearly.
2.  Mini abstracts provide a small “study” for the basis of a larger painting,  or can be made into Art-cards.
3.  Art-cards can be further collaged as watercolor paper can be easily cut with scissors or X-acto, and mixed-media items can be added. I have found threads, beautiful ribbons and flat pieces of turquoise or natural pearls work well especially as focal points.
4.  Recycle the croppings from larger and/or unsuccessful paintings. Do not discard any of your off-cuts!
5.  Art-cards provide an easily transportable and cost-effective  (but not necessarily time-effective) product to sell at art shows, that may tempt customers to consider buying your larger pieces of art.
6.  They are great to give as thank yous and birthday cards, as they promote your art-work and provide a personal “one-of-kind” message.
7.  The standard-sized art-cards (5×7″) can be framed into a ready-made frames. These mini original art-pieces could spurn a series of small works on paper…..

“Mind-Bender Wavelength”. 15x 14.5″ watercolor on D’Arches paper

“Mind-bender Wavelength” (15×14.5″) Watercolor on D’Arches 140lb paper.
This watercolor was cropped and then reworked to make the design more effective.

  • The off-cuts were used in the art-card “Planetary moons” above left.
  • This art-card may inspire another larger painting.
  • This is one of my favorite art-cards, so I might frame it!

Here are some more Art-cards I designed recently…..(design information in their captions)

Design: geometric with organic
focal point. Pyramidal format
(on its side)
“At Surf’s Edge”
Design: High horizon format,
predominantly curvilinear,
cool dominant.
“Beach-scape II “
Design: High horizon format
Predominantly geometric,
dark against light shapes
“Rose Galaxy”
Design: Z-shape format,
predominantly curvilinear,
Bright colors against greys,
warm palette.
“Fall into Winter”
Design: Frame-in-frame format
Curvilinear, warm leaf against
cool background.
Design: T-format, geometric
 cool neutrals, diagonal
direction, bright color
against greys.

“Rose galaxy” art-card (#4 above) was produced from a cropped giclee preliminary color-sample of a larger watercolor, which in turn was inspired from an abstracted black and white art-card!

Here is the larger watercolor painting from which the art-card evolved…..You can probably find the exact portion of the painting which was tested for color correctness during the giclee process!
“Rosa Abstractus” 22×30″ watercolor on D’Arches 140 lb paper.
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Happy Creating!

Mini Watercolor Abstracts as Art-note cards.

Mini Abstracts as Artcards

Converting my Mini Watercolor Abstracts to Art-note Cards. 

Recycling of cropped portions of my larger watercolors….. Some of these inspire production of a larger painting. (I will show an example of a large painting done from one of these minis in my next post).
Practicing design again with small abstracts. Only elements and principles to work from! See previous post for more explanation of the design concepts here.

Mini Abstract “Boardwalk”
Mini Abstract “Fall”
Mini Abstract “Turn the volume up”

Improve your Design Skills by Making Mini Abstracts.

Diagonal, high horizon format

A.K.A Making Art-note Cards!

Offcuts from several old watercolor paintings or unsuccessful paintings were further edited by moving a small 3″x4″ view finder around (see earlier blog) to find interesting beginning mini paintings. The area was marked with pencil lines (using view finder as a stencil) and cut with an Xacto knife (or scissors then trimmed on the paper trimmer/guillotine). I was thinking about design formats (and shapes, small, medium and large) while I was selecting these areas.
The 3×4″ crops were then embellished with collage material (using the excess trimmings). Now the FUN begins, moving around smaller shapes to produce a pleasing image. I tear, cut with scissors/Xacto or use basic-shaped punches. I usually create or exaggerate a “focal point” on the 3×4″ crops, (see first image), 3 triangle “trees” were added on hill to capture our attention!

Vertical Strata format

Very little collage was added to this 3×4″ crop that has a vertical strata format. The large 2″ circle shape at the top was almost 50% of the image so I broke into the circle with the ultramarine blue rectangle. This created a contrasting horizontal against the rest of the other vertical lines/shapes. Your eye naturally is drawn to intense blue (don’t ask me why) and even more so when its complement (orange) is added as a little square. Most of the shapes are geometric with straight lines, only one organic shape (circle) exists and it is light in value. But it is too close to the halfway point of the image so the little orange square was added to pull the eye to the top right area where all the warm colors are! This helps the eye travel around the painting creating interest!

Cruciform with horizontal strata 
I was think sea and beach when I created this last night. A cross/cruciform was formed with the 2 very long blue strips.
The horizontal strata/stripes was broken up with a mid-tone brown “rock” trapezoid. The blue crescent moon becomes the focal point by contrast (a dark shape on a lighter area),  by shape (round against rectangular), and by temperature (a cool against a warm color). The lighter full moon was added (as the top left corner felt empty), and it is the opposite of the crescent moon (that is, a light shape on a darker area).
Modified cruciform
This 3×4″ crop was a little more difficult to design as it was too “busy”-lots of little shapes! The 2 large blue rectangles were added to provide the missing large shape and anchor the image (by acting as a dark shape too)! The cruciform (modified) is askew (tipped to 11 O’Clock). Where the lines intersect the focal point is formed, the bigger orange shape is too close to the middle of the image so 2 small orange rectangles were added (top-left). Predominantly cool painting with warm (orange) contrasts. Probably not the strongest design but I liked all the range of blues (values)! Again I was thinking of the coast!
Low horizon format 
Simple horizontal format, emphasized by adding 2 small thin strips near the bottom of the image (maybe a fence). A cool focal point (“trees”) added against a backdrop of mostly warm colors. 3 trees were added as odd numbers are always more interesting than even. 2 trees would have been boring! 1 tree would have been lonely! Rule of thirds was applied for placing the focal point. (this focal point is 2/3 down the image and 2/3 across).
Enjoy creating some mini abstracts too mount on cards and give as thank yous! or sell them!
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Enormous Value of Critique for Artists.

This how much I value critique…….I drove 48 miles (in traffic) to Pawtucket, in the adjacent state (RI) to visit Rhode Island Watercolor Society where they have a painting group and general critique every monday night! There do not appear to be any groups near me, or at least I haven’t stumbled upon them yet.

The things I value about a critique group:

1.   They are open and free/positive with their suggestions. Initial comments are usually about what’s great in a painting, later comments are food for thought!
2.   That suggestions are commensurate with the artist’s level of ability.
3.   A “different eye” (ie. someone else’s eyes) sees things that may not stand out to you, even if you looked at your painting in the mirror (for a fresh perspective) or took a photo of it and looked at the view finder image only (seeing your painting in small format often makes mistakes obvious).
4.   First reactions to a piece, are usually very informative! Oooo and ahhh’s definitely raise your self confidence! A long silence means it may not be easy for the audience to understand, especially if an abstract is presented.
5.   Realistic paintings are generally easier to critique. Spotting a missed shadow or not quite perfect perspective, or too regular clumps of grass etc are easy to see, but abstract paintings require thought about design elements and principles.  Everybody learns something when discussing the design elements and principles with respect to their painting or someone else’s.
6.   Critiques are easy to accept if you have the attitude “With art, you never stop learning!”
7.   Suggestions given by a group, can be acted upon or not, after all they are only suggestions and not a to-do list for your painting!

Watercolor Monotype Demo at Rhode Island Watercolor Society by Richard Harrington.

Richard Harrington Demo

Richard Harrington, March 3rd 2013

Richard Harrington gave a wonderful demo on the process of producing a monotype on BF Rives or Stonehenge printing paper.
Using thick freshly squeezed watercolors, he applied them with as little water as possible to an 7×8″ piece of regular plexiglas (called a “plate”that had the sides beveled with a file, so it didn’t rip the printing paper). He painted a sunflower and edited his painting on the plexi plate with Q-tips, cut pieces of credit card and tissue. The Plate needed to dry (25 Mins), but he had another one already “cooked” and dry! 
Printing from the press
His printing paper had been soaking in water for 15 mins, he took it dripping wet to a large bath towel and blotted it. Smoothing it with his hands. He placed the painted plate onto the print press face-up. The now damp print paper was placed over the plate and then a piece of newsprint, followed by a faux shammy and 2 thick pieces of felt. He rolled it through the press in one smooth action and peeled off the paper to see the first “pull”. Everyone’s Ooo’s and ahhh’s made him smile from ear to ear! The sunflower print was vibrant and ready to be dried (between foam core with books stacked onto top for one week, then it can be framed).
The “plate” still had a lot of watercolor paint still adhered to it. So made another print onto damp, hot press watercolor paper….this pull is called a “ghost”. He increased the amount of pressure the press could exert for a better ghost print. The ghost was printed on watercolor paper because the monotype can be easily touched up with more watercolor paint, especially if it is pale. The plate was then almost clean and no more monoprints could be pulled.
Richard Harrington is offering a 2 day workshop, RIWS, Pautucket RI, April 26th and 27th 2013
see  for details.

Taking an Online Expressionistic Abstract Workshop with Robert Joyner.

Tern Hovering by Sally Meding, 15×22″ for expressionistic class online

Tern Hovering (15×22″, Watercolor pencils/crayons, watercolor).

This is my first online workshop: “Abstract Expressionistic painting with mixed media” (…..I thought I had all the materials, Oops! Supposed to use Strathmore mixed media paper 90lb, I used 140lb hot press watercolor paper instead. I watched the interesting 13 min video about his painterly techniques and a demo of his first project. Robert Joyner painted a cow, I didn’t have any cow photos handy but I had lots of bird pictures…..He painted on an easel, which causes the drips to run down the paper. I followed suit and like the drip lines. It took me only 20 mins to paint this, whereas my usual painting style takes days…..Hmmmm, food for thought! Next time I will pre-paint the background. Maybe a few light watercolor washes.
Here is the link to this workshop website:  It’s free!