Suburban Spring…Summer in the City

May 16, 2013
West St., Annandale, NJ watercolor sketch

West St., Annandale, NJ watercolor sketch

Reeves Reed Arboretum, watercolor sketch

Reeves Reed Arboretum, watercolor sketch

Garden Urn, Cross Estate, watercolor sketch

Garden Urn, Cross Estate, watercolor sketch

A perfect way to spend a spring day is sketching in watercolor. All of these were done in my 5×8.5 inch Moleskine watercolor sketchbook. I did them with the paints in a Cotman watercolor field kit. The whole set up fits neatly into my backpack and I can work discreetly in parks, on the street or in my car if the weather is bad. The spring colors are especially vibrant this year, and including a building or other architectural form is a great way to create balance with the surrounding natural environment. Best of all, the work is neatly organized and protected in the sketchbook–no need to frame it, sell it or store it.

I’m focusing a lot on sketching these days. My teaching schedule is very hectic and I don’t have the time to work on large studio pieces at the moment. I actually prefer working smaller and on location anyway, so I am looking at this as an opportunity to explore watercolor as a medium and get some studies done of the city as the weather gets warmer and classes end. Stay tuned–I’ll be having a working in NYC in the middle of June, dates to come soon! 🙂

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Katzen in Aquarell

May 8, 2013
A friend's cat, Diva, watercolor 8x8 in.

A friend’s cat, Diva, watercolor 8×8 in.

Painting the cats in watercolor is just what I feel like doing lately, so I am. I will likely end up with a whole collection of them but that’s ok because I love cats.

I like to paint them with a lot of carefree strokes, I don’t draw them out before hand I just draw with the brush as I go along. I block in their faces with a few quick ellipses, position the eyes and nose and just go from there matching values and mixing fur colors. I try to keep the watercolor moving as one connected shape, particularly the dark and middle values, which is where I start, the opposite of what most watercolor artists do. Having them look as if they just dropped off the brush onto the paper is what is most important to me, along with pure clean colors and that sense of glowing light that watercolor creates so beautifully.

I want to make the cats whimsical but elegant as opposed to cute. Sure, they are cute, but they are also beautiful animals with lots of grace and intelligence who sometimes do some really silly things. I hope to get that across with these watercolors, a casual sense of what cats are all about. 🙂

Jake, watercolor, 8x8 in.

Jake, watercolor, 8×8 in.


Watercolor: Pure & Simple

May 1, 2013
Plein air watercolor sketch, about 5 x 8.5 in Moleskine watercolor sketchbook

Plein air watercolor sketch, about 5 x 8.5 in Moleskine watercolor sketchbook

I have been an oil painter for many years, never really did much in the way of watercolor. However, lately I have become fascinated with it! I think sometimes one medium is just better suited for a certain point in an artistic career. I really only exhibit and sell my oils on canvas, but they are a small part of all the work I do as a painter. In the past, a lot of the studies I did on site were in pastel or acrylic, either on boards, panels or canvas pads. Recently, I began working in watercolor in sketchbooks instead–I love it! The studies are automatically organized and stored with field notes in the margin. There is no pressure to “do something” with them (translation = sell them to people for less than I would get for an oil and hear them balk about it just being a piece of paper even though they are getting a great deal on an original as I don’t sell prints). I have a good handle on the inventory I have at each of the 4 dealers that represent me, I’ll know when it’s time to start producing more large works on canvas, but until then, I’m very happy I have found my new most favorite medium–watercolor!!! 🙂

Sketch done in my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook in Clinton, NJ from my car.

Sketch done in my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook in Clinton, NJ from my car.