Passion Project Finale

I finished my project – this is a power point that I will be showing in class regarding the process and completed work. Of course there will be more detail explained in class but here is the general idea 🙂

Watercolour presentation


Watercolour big project in the works!

I’ve started a rather ambitious watercolour project now – I am doing a negative painting project that is a part of my class, and I am looking forward to pushing myself further as an artist and finally getting a handle on this watercolour thing!

The idea is to make a wild abstract background, then find things in it that we want to paint, and paint the negative space around those things…I took some examples online of negative painting to get an idea…

negative painting 1           IMG_0027

This website has a pictorial tutorial on how to do this step by step, which is really helpful:

These are practice works for negative painting – trying to leave the light on top and paint around it to show depth:

Then I went through my photos and took many that I had taken in the butterfly gardens last year for inspiration photos for my project. I started doing a background and hated it, started 2 more with equal frustration, then went back to the original to start my work.

After this I stared for a really long time at the painting, once again terrified to start because once the ink is on the paper, you can’t remove it. But I learned last time not to be chicken…so I started and after a little time, I think got the hang of it. I have to use much more water than I would think, so that has been my challenge. In the end it is supposed to look something like this:

I’m not holding my breath that mine will turn out this good, but I will do my best and hope! These ones are by Leslie Redhead, who is an incredible artist, and whose book 5100+e5j2qL__SX377_BO1,204,203,200_ I have been going through constantly to learn tips and tricks of watercolour. This is one of her most beautiful ideas and although it’s really challenging, I’m excited to try it. She has been doing demos at Opus in town (and art supply store) which I have missed due to work, but I am planning on taking in her next one.

I am planning to have this painting done by the end of the weekend (yikes!) so I will put up some process pictures and hopefully a finished product soon.


Water and Ink

The above picture is a really fast one I did following a YouTube video where an artist used watercolour and then an ink pen to do detail work. He was doing it in an edited video and I was just doing it in real time it’s a bit of a mess but you get the idea…


In the process of learning watercolour, I’ve gone back to using ink and water to get a better handle on it. I already was playing with it, but I chose to do a still life for a project in a class, and I used ink and water, and then layered egg tempera paint on part of the work. I chose this for a subject:


We set the light to shine from the one side so that there would be many shadows to contend with on the picture. After taking this photo, I did several sketches to decide how I wanted to approach it, and then chose to edit out much of the background and just have a simple background in order to make the pastels in the front pop out.

I sketched on my watercolour paper so that I could get a really good handle on it – I am fortunate that I have an enlarger at home so I could trace the image to get a more clear picture.

Once I finished the pencil work I very slowly filled in the values with ink – I was extremely scared to wreck it and I knew if I put too dark of ink on it that it wouldn’t be able to get the lightness back, so I did it in many, many layers, slowly darkening the shadows as I went along. I’m not perfectly happy with it as I think I could have darkened more of it, but to be honest I was a little chicken and didn’t want to overdo it. Lesson learned – don’t be too chicken!!


More practice – watercolour


So I had to go back to basics with this again. It can’t hurt, I’m sure, and I want to get a good handle on the way water and paint move together in this medium. It’s much different than using acrylic since watercolour is so much thinner and water reacts differently with it. With watercolour, the colour lightens with the addition of water, so I have to lighten the colour, but then choose how much water to use on the paper. Too much and it disappears, too little and the colour punches into the paper and doesn’t move around.

With the arctic fox I tried to follow exactly the tutorial, but it was still hard to capture what she was doing and I was trying to figure out how much and how little to add to get the right colour saturation.

Today was back to the beginning – more exercises on using watercolour. I have been taking a class that is using watercolour at this point so it was really helpful to have personal instruction on how to do it and be able to ask questions in the moment. As much as I love YouTube, I rely on personal contact to learn and I find it much more efficient.

So these exampes are washes: 1) a beaded wash, which is consistent colour in a block from beginning to end, going line by line and using the water that is beading at the bottom of each line to start the next (this is done on a tilt so the water naturally sits at the bottom of a line). 2) a gradated beaded wash – same process as above but adding water to lighten the colour from top to bottom. 3) wet paper wash – wetting the paper with water first before adding anything, and allow the colour to run more easily. 4) glazing – doing a beaded wash, then adding a different colour over top of it once the first layer is dry in order to make a new colour – this is done instead of mixing the colours first. 5) wet-in-wet – when the wash is still wet, adding water in strokes and lines to take out colour. 6) drybrush – using the paint but fairly dry and brushing it on the paper to show the paper quality and texture more. 7) softening an edge – when the wash is still wet, adding water to the outside edges to soften it and make it blend outward away from the main colour area.

This seems painstaking, but it is necessary to really understand the properties of watercolour in order to do a larger picture. I don’t feel that all this process work was successful but I am definitely learning how to use water more fully.

I was also just enjoying playing with the watercolour after this, and working on designs that I could do with the mixing and layering of water and colours several times.



Getting on top of watercolour

So I finally got back to my Trello schedule and decided to take the time to do a painting of an animal. My friend Lenaya Chrystall is an amazing watercolour painter and she does classes and workshops, so I used one of her online tutorials to do a painting of an arctic fox. It did take pretty much all day since after each layer of paint I had to let it dry and that simply takes time! So I got some other homework done in the mean time and some much needed housework and drank coffee and wine and ate chocolate, so it was a good day. Yesterday I had a huge migraine so today is a much better day!

Here is the first of Lenaya’s videos – there are several in a row for this particular work. I have been fortunate enough to take a class with Lenaya in the past and she is a wonderful teacher. I learned today that using much less water and much more paint is the way to go. So I soaked my working area with water at the beginning and then let it soak into the paper a little before using my colour. Then when I used the colour I only had to use a tiny bit of paint and it went a long way.

One of the things we used a lot of was salt – just table salt – it changes the way the paint looks and creates a beautiful effect. However, I only had this Himalayan Pink Salt and it was quite chunky so it didn’t have quite the effect that the smaller table salt would have. But in some spots it worked, so all in all I’m quite happy with the first try.

The slow process of watercolour

So I have been working away on my passion project a little at a time. Still having a lot of difficulty getting the water right but doing my best. Today I ordered a book by Leslie Redhead called Watercolour 365, which is a walk through watercolour skills and ideas every day of the year. I am taking her class right now and working on my ink work, which acts the same as watercolour, and it is incredibly hard! Too little water and the ink doesn’t move, too much water and the ink pools and doesn’t dry. Too many layers and it becomes too black, too little water on a layer and it pulls the colour out into somewhere else…

So I went back to some watercolour basics this week and tried several watercolour techniques on a single paper. I watched a youtube video and tried the techniques with what I had, and am also finding that I am skimping out on colour and that may be partly why I am not getting what I want out of it. Next time I won’t be so shy on the colour so that when I add water it won’t dilute too much.

I looked back at Trello where I had listed my goals for this (this is my page), and I am quite far from reaching them, as I got sidetracked by the ink work and by the return to basics. So I am going to back at that and try to follow my initial progress schedule and see how it goes. I am very goal oriented so I can get lost when I am not following a distinct line.


I was playing with ink on this one – trying to get the look of smoke but as abstraction rather than a realistic look.


Passion Project work

I spent some time today working on my passion project skills. I am in a painting class and this week we started work on using India Ink and water with watercolour technique. So I have been doing that – and it is really difficult. When using only black and greys it is super hard not to overuse the black. I did a still life of an egg and an apple and the egg looks like someone painted it black.

It is also really hard to get the right amount of water. Too little and it’s too dark and doesn’t mix well. Too much and the water sits on the page and the ink runs into parts of it and leaves other parts. If I leave it until it is partially dry and then add another layer, it picks up what was there and instead of it getting darker it lifts the ink and leaves a spot. So I have to wait until it completely dries to add a layer. But then it does not layer easily – it sits in the brush strokes of the previous layer. So I have to try to get the whole section finished before any of it tries or I can’t seem to fix it. So that is what I will have to ask about next…how to layer well.

Here is what I came up with using still life at home and at class.

I also found a website with some good tips for using ink, since it is quite a different medium than other paints.

Tips for using ink

I also found this great page on Pinterest with examples and ideas of using ink in different ways with watercolour.

I have been watching my friend, Melissa, paint watercolours and use ink as well and I think her work is so beautiful! She can be found on Facebook under Melissa Rose Custom Handmade Art. This is one of her pieces that I love.


Passion Project efforts

Well…this weekend I made another attempt to work on my watercolour passion project by using online tutorials from youtube. Lets just say, so far, so not super good. But I am learning, and the most important thing I learned was that when the instructor tells you to wait until the paper is completely dry before adding another layer of paint, that I should listen to her. The second thing I learned is not to try to keep up with the video and that the pause button is my friend.

I used tutorials from the same artist and set up 2 pieces of paper side by side so that when one was drying I could work on the other one so I didn’t feel like I was wasting time literally watching paint dry. These were the videos:


The first video I followed fairly closely – although I didn’t leave enough drying time so one of my mountains looks like it is quietly exploding into a mist. Not really what i was going for. 0.jpgBut I am starting to understand the blending of colours with the water and how whether the paper is wet or dry is immensely important. With this video I started with wet paper and then dried each layer before adding another, which is why the lines are so distinct.




The second video of the trees was a gong show. I was trying to follow her in real time, but I started with dry paper because I thought that was what she did but I’m not sure now. Anyway I need way more water on my brush and once I got behind I kept just adding colour and water to keep up and ended up not paying as much attention and making it look like a giant mess.

0.jpg So I am learning that impatience is not helpful and I need to give my full attention to the project at hand or I will just get frustrated. I often jump into something really difficult and think it should be easy, and when it doesn’t work right away I am discouraged. I need to remember that learning watercolour is just as difficult as anything else and I need to start slow and give myself a break when I’m not amazing right away. That’s why artists are who they are – they make things look easy but really it’s incredible work they are doing!

My next step as outlined in my Trello is to paint an animal and I found a tutorial by Lenaya Chrystall, who is a local artist that I adore, and I am going to try to do a fox. I am lucky enough to know her, so I can ask for help along the way, which I’m sure I will need. She helped me paint a couple of tiny watercolours last summer and I’m going to make an attempt at this larger one. So stay tuned for a progress report.

PS I just found out that there are 6 videos to this arctic fox…I could be here for a while.

Passion Project beginning

Well today I started my first foray into the wonderful world of watercolour. I started by watching a couple of beginner videos. I have already watched several videos of the kind of things I would love to paint, but I thought I better start at the beginning since I tend to get ahead of myself and I don’t want to be discouraged by starting with something that is too difficult. I started by watching a video called Paint with Me, and I have to say it was not my favourite. She was clear, but it drives me crazy when people use the word “guys” when referring to people, so that was annoying. But it was good to have a very beginner type lesson – what kind of paper and paint and basic needs for a project. Luckily I have all the things I need to get started so I didn’t have to spend a bazillion dollars to begin. I also watched “How to Use Watercolor” where the guy painted insanely fast so was quite hard to follow. But that’s the nice thing about Youtube – you can stop at any time and watch again. It was also inspiring to see what he could do with just a little colour so I enjoyed that. Then I just tried to figure it all out. Small steps!


Passion project and a big change

I have had trouble deciding what to do for a passion project, and I thought I had settled on learning conversational French, as this would be an asset to my work and future career as well and it is something I have wanted to do for a long time. However, as I travelled for work this weekend I realized that it is not the best option for me. Firstly, I cannot work on it online while I am on the plane as I am not allowed to access the internet at work. Also, the Rosetta Stone course which I would be using for most of my learning must be used verbally as I have to speak to the program in order to progress through the chapters. It would be a little strange to be annoyingly speaking french to a program in the back galley of an airplane. I’m sure the passengers who are trying to sleep or read or whatever would not appreciate my language learning software. I thought I would be able to use my breaks between classes at school to learn as well, but the same problem arises – I can’t use the software just anywhere – it has to be somewhere quiet with no other people around. So it is not easy to carry around. Also, although I would like to learn french, I’m not sure that it is a passion. If it was, I would have put a lot more effort into it before now. And I really do not want to feel like I am just doing more homework that is going to be frustrating in the long run. I have enough trouble with technology in this class, I don’t want to add more difficulty and make the class less enjoyable than it needs to be.

I came back to the idea of painting. I love art and I love creating. I am a musician who writes and I also love to paint and draw. I thought it would be exciting to have a project that I am truly passionate about doing, that way I could learn and grow in my art and also my homework would be fun and not drudgery. So I have chosen to do a watercolour painting for my project. Watercolour is a medium I have not used before but have wanted to learn. I have a lot of the paints and paper I need for it, but have never used it as I have been busy with other projects and haven’t had a chance to learn it yet.

Watercolour is also the only paint I can bring to work with me on the aircraft, since other paints (even acrylics) are considered dangerous goods and not to be carried. I can fit my sketchbook into my luggage and access it during flights – I work a lot of red eye flights – and use it in a small space. It will be easier for me to practice the work while I am flying on small papers or in my sketchbook and I am undecided whether or not I will do several small projects like cards or if I will do a larger project on paper. I am going to see how it goes for now and revisit the idea in 4 weeks to see if a larger scale project would be better of my learning or challenge, or if several smaller projects such as cards would be easier to manage. I am attaching my Personal Learning Plan to this blog post so that I can look back and measure progress according to my original goal. I have also thought of adding sales to my goal – setting up a small business to sell my work – but that may be for another class.

  1. Project: Finish a large watercolour painting of a photo that I took
  2. Timeline: I have 9 weeks to finish the project
  3. Obstacles: working on an aircraft so access to space is limited – I can’t work on my main project at work, but I could do smaller projects. Time is an obstacle since I am in school full time and work full time. I generally need some clear space to do art so it can be difficult for me to work in a busy space or a disorganized space. Lack of knowledge is an obstacle – watercolour is hard to do and I haven’t learned it yet.
  4. Level of knowledge – I paint but have not used watercolour. It is a very different medium that what I am used to, but I have used watercolour paper before and watered down acrylics which look similar as background but not for actual items.I am comfortable learning but I will have to do several exercises to get the hang of it.
  5. How to acquire knowledge – youtube videos, ask a friend who teaches watercolour Lenaya Chrystall, use knowledge from my class at school, practice, read instructional blogs and online resources and books. chickadee painting abstract landscape saltwater painting
  6. Cement understanding – do many exercises and explorations to understand the medium and document the process online and in a sketchbook so I have a resource to return to for answers. Reflection on the process will help me to remember what I have learned through successes and failures.
  7. Demonstrate knowledge – document in a video and attach to my blog. Complete a final project and present via photograph or in person to the class.