Watercolor Sketches


My morning start. If I work small, if I work quickly and loosely, I can stir up whatever creative genes I possess to pump up the excitement, pump up the skill set for a day of painting.

This is my current sketchbook. It’s filled with watermedia sketches created in a matter of minutes once I turn on the lights in my studio each day.  I start with watercolor and often add casein. The watercolor is transparent; the casein helps me resolve the image with some opaque color.

I use a coil bound Field Series Watercolor Journal with 140 watercolor paper. Although I haven’t tried this Iexpect the journal would also work well with mixed media technique. The size I use is 6″ x 6″ but it comes in a variety of sizes and different cover colors. Here’s mine:


I use Qor watercolor paints from Golden Artists Colors and Shiva casein available from Richeson Art. And today, I seemed to be extra enthusiastic so here a couple more sketches from this morning’s start up session.



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Warm Water

Warm waterThis is a recent painting based on a visit to Presqu’ile Provincial Park this past spring.

The subject seems to be a strong one for me since I’ve used this image in several paintings. The almost central image of a group of trees, for me, is iconic. It signifies a focused sense of community. But I called this painting “Warm Water” because of the foreground colors.

The painting was done on a cradle board. Several acrylic colors and values were poured onto the board using Liquitex pouring medium and left to dry overnight. I sanded the acrylic lightly to create some tooth then completed the painting with casein. I love using casein. Even after it dries to the touch it remains malleable allowing me to spritz, spray and scrape to create the design.

The acrylic area in this painting is the orange in the sky background and the warm oranges and yellows inn the foreground water.

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Juried Exhibition

RainThis painting was selected to be part of a juried exhibition entitled “Canadian Landscape” to be held at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery in Minden Ontario from July 29 to September 11.

The painting is called Our House Series: Red Tree in Rain and is part of a series of paintings I’m working on depicting various areas around our house in various climatic conditions.

The painting is a combination of acrylic and casein with acrylic used as the underpainting and casein used on top for its matte look.  It’s painted on 18″ x 18″ cradled birch plywood which I love to work on because of it’s smoothness.

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Casein and Acrylic

Purple HazeI attended a demo for Liquitex pouring medium and soft body acrylic colors…and this is the result of my time at the demo. It’s a marbleized 8×8 canvas painted with a bunch of my favorite colors. And while the colors are bright, fun and interesting in their movement, they were a little too strong for the way I usually work.

So I pulled out my collection of casein paints and decided to work the casein over the acrylic to tone down the intensity of the acrylic.

I love the soft, velvety look and feel of casein and thought I could create a landscape incorporating the acrylic colors.  I used Shiva Violet, Titanium White, Terra Verte, Golden Ochre and Ultramarine Blue Deep and the subject was a small section of the view outside my studio window.

The painting became an exercise in experimentation. Even though you should be able to get a translucent look to the casein…I can’t…so I used shop towels, the tip of a palette knife and razor blades to remove some of the color as I applied it. And what happened as I worked – the high gloss of the acrylic started shimmering through the matte of the casein creating interesting visual effects across the surface.Most of the green, some of the yellow and a lot of the blue that you see in the photo below is the acrylic undercoat.

Purple Haze 2

After I completed the basic design, I wanted to add some branches using random squiggles to create some energy on the surface. I used the tip of a scalpel to scrape away some of the casein leaving behind multi-colored branches from the acrylic undercoat. Great fun! And this one small piece is only going to lead to more, and larger, landscape paintings in casein and acrylic.

By the way, if you want to try pouring the colors onto a surface, here’s what I did. Mix about one tablespoon of soft body acrylic (pre-mix your colors) to about a half cup to a cup of pouring medium in a paper cup.Don’t mix too vigorously or you’ll create air bubbles in the paint.

Prepare three or four colors (any more colors and you run the risk of creating too much mud). Start pouring the colors on a canvas or gessoed hard surface. Pour a little of each color, or pour all of each color at a time. Then tilt and twist the surface to watch the colors flow together. Stop  when you’re happy with the pattern on the surface. Let dry overnight.

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