Monday, December 22, 2008

Copyrights and Plagiarism

QUESTION: I am in the process of writing a book illustrated with my own watercolors. However, some of these images were copied from other watercolors, even though the actual painting was ultimately done by me. Is this plagiarism? How different does the final image have to be to be different? These are primarily pictures of tea cups. I don't want to do the wrong thing so would appreciate your opinion. Thanks.

SUSIE'S REPLY: How exciting for you! Writing a book is almost like giving birth and could be considered a labor of love. I wish you every success with your adventure!

Now to get down to the nitty gritty: First and foremost: My opinion is given for guidance only; you're advised to consult a copyright lawyer on copyright issues. My information is based on US copyright law. Remember, although there are international copyright agreements, every country has its own copyright laws.

According to the information found on the term "plagiarism" usually applies to literary theft. Plagiarism occurs when a writer duplicates another writer's language or ideas and then calls the work his or her own. The writers' words are protected by copyright as their legal property. It is permissible to quote another writer as long as you carefully give credit to the writer and the source of your quote.

In regards to visual art there is a myth about how different an image needs to be to not be a considered a copy. Some artists believe (and/or have even been taught) that you can legally use another artist's work if you change or alter a certain percentage of the painting. Some say changing an image 10 percent is enough to make it a new image while others say a change of 20% or 30% is required. This is absolutely not true and is only a myth. A copy is a copy.

A good rule of thumb would be when comparing the two images side by side if the another artist's work is recognizable as what your image is based on then you are risking copyright infringement.

Objects or subjects such as "teacups" or the "sunset" can not be copyrighted so that they can only be painted by a single copyright owner. Another artist's work can inspire you but the concept and composition of your painting should be uniquely your own not a copy of their work.

Since you asked for my opinion, if it were my book, I'd use my own teacups, my own sketches and my own reference photos to paint the illustrations from. Let it be totally and uniquely your own without the shadow lurking over you that you might not be doing the right thing.
Just consider any copied images you've done so far practice for what's yet to come.

My personal policy is "if in doubt, don't!" Let you conscience be your guide.

Again, I wish you success with your new book! Please let me know when it's available... I like teacups!

I look forward to seeing your original watercolor illustrations.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Stretching Watercolor Papers- Removing Sizing

QUESTION: Hi, I just finished your DVD Painting across America The Oregon Coast. The DVD was fun easy to follow. I do have one question about stretching paper. There are several pros and cons to stretching. One of the pros that I have been taught is that stretching removes the sizing. What do you think? Debbie

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Debbie! I'm so pleased you enjoyed the DVD on painting the Oregon Coast. Thanks!
About stretching watercolor paper: If you asked five different instructors about the pros and cons of stretching watercolor paper, you'd probably get five different answers. That's because we all develop our own style and techniques for painting and what works best for us as we learn to paint. None of us are wrong, but my method may not be best for someone else's style. And that's OK!
What do I think?
About sizing: For me personally, I like the sizing on my paper. Sizing enables me to use techniques that require a more durable paper surface. (Like glazing, scrubbing and lifting) I use Arches 140# CP for most of my paintings. I understand (with Arches watercolor paper) the sizing is added to the paper pulp as it is processed (referred to as internally sized) so the sizing is the same on both sides of the paper. Some brands of watercolor papers spray the sizing on the surface after the paper is made. I'm guessing those papers might need to have some of the sizing removed to make the paint flow better for the artist. Which is better? It really depends on the technique and style of the individual artist.
So for me personally for my style of painting removing the sizing isn't a pro, it's a con.
More About stretching: I know some artists who will not paint on unstretched paper...period!
My preference is to paint on high quality unstretched loosely secured watercolor paper. I enjoy the freedom to tilt and bend the flexible paper to create interesting mingling of the paint if my painting session take a turn in that direction. Plus I work on a number of paintings at the same time so if I did stretch my paper I'd need dozens of backer boards to hold my works in progress.
When I've worked on the taunt surface of stretched paper it wasn't that I didn't like it, but I did need to make adjustment to my brushstrokes and work differently.
Call me lazy, but personally, I'd rather be painting than spending the extra time it takes to stretch my watercolor paper. But that's me!

Thanks for your question!

How important is drawing?

QUESTION: Hi Susie! Love your work. My question is this: I want to be an artist, like you. I practise drawing and painting for approximately two hours a day. Is this enough? In Gordon MacKenzie's book he states that to be an artist you have to start building a data base. What does he mean? Any pointers you can give me would be much appreciated. Paul

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hello Paul, thanks for your question. I'm sure many other artists wonder about the importance of drawing and how it applies to painting....especially watercolor painting!

I believe that the more you draw the better you will be in every art medium. Drawing is a great hand and eye coordination exercise. Transferring what you see to the paper can also train your eye to really look at the object/subject. Draw every chance you get whether it for a painting or not.

When I'm teaching I use a simplified line drawing (for my students to see what I'm visualizing in my head) to illustrate placement and/or perspective. To me the lines are meant to be guidelines like a road map and are not intended to be the exact edge of my subject. I like to use my brush to create the shapes of the objects not following pre-made pencil lines exactly. When I try to force the paint to stay inside the lines my painting looks and feels tight and over controlled.

Most of my paintings are painted "free hand" without any pencil lines. It took me several years to get to this place. However I did draw on my paper when I started painting. The reason I can paint without pencil lines is because I do draw a lot and the information I save in my "data base" is accessed when my brush starts to draw on my watercolor paper.

In response to your specific question --- I thumbed through MacKenzie's book The Watercolorist's Essential Notebook to find what you were referring to so I wouldn't take it out of context and I'm sorry to say I didn't find it. (Perhaps you could send me the the page number.)

What he could have meant by "starting to build a data base" may have meant to become familiar with your subject and how it is shaped so that when you start to paint it you have an understanding about how it is put together or how it grows so as you paint the subject it looks natural. If we are painting something from memory or sometimes even from a photo, and we get to a place where we don't know exactly what's next we have to fake it to fill in a gap. It's much better to have a 'data base' from previous drawings to refer to. As I said I'm not sure that's what he meant but its a good guess.

I hope that helps some. Draw Draw Draw! Enjoy drawing and learning all you can about the subjects and objects that interest you. Then when you start to paint those things you will be so familiar with them painting their shapes will be second nature.

Most of all have fun!

ADDITIONAL COMMENT!! I found the MacKenzie reference! It's in his Landscapes book. What he means by "Start building your own data base." is to take notes and write down what it is you like about a specific painting or photo that inspires you. Take photos of your own when you see something you'd like to paint. Keep a sketchbook to remind you of the things you want to paint. He also says, "...there is no better way to improve your ability to see than to draw."
So we were on the same track. :) SS

Monday, November 17, 2008

Easy Watercolor Christmas Cards

Question: Hi Susie, I'm a beginning watercolor student and would like to paint my own Christmas cards this year. What suggestions would you have for a beginner who would like to paint something simple but something that expresses the beauty of Christmas?

I think that receiving a hand painted greeting card is so special! I have some Holiday card suggestions on my website that should give you some ideas for painting simple cards. For beginners (and kids) I recommend easy shapes such as those you might find for making cookies. Try painting a wreath or a stocking, a gingerbread man, Christmas tree, star etc each can be as simple or ornate as your imagination allows. Add a border. Dare to dream!

Here is a link to my free Christmas Card Ideas
and here's a link to my Winter Landscape Cards with patterns and instructions
and you can find some additional tips on my watercolor tips pages

Have fun painting your cards! Keep them simple and I know you can do it!

Merry Christmas!

Palette Choices

QUESTION: Please tell me what type of watercolor palette you recommend. I've seen so many like Quiller, Richeson, John Pike??? and I'm confused as to which is the best buy for my money. Thank you kindly. Fran

SUSIE'S REPLY: I personally like a light weight plastic palette with flat wells. It's my choice because I like to work with dry paint vs. wet paint. I find that the slanted wells collect too much water under the paint. My favorite palettes are the 32 well Jones palette or the Richeson palette with 22 wells. Both have lids and an open mixing area without "speed bumps".
The Quiller palette has flat wells and would fit my needs if it had a few more wells. It is arranged to work with the color wheel color theory and is an excellent choice for working with a limited palette of colors.
If you work with moist or freshly squeezed paint you may prefer the slanted wells. The John Pike palette is one of the sturdiest palettes on the market.

When purchasing a palette I look for a palette made from durable plastic and watch out for weakened corners. I have found through the years that the quality of the Jones and Richeson palettes mentioned above are consistantly reliable.

I hope that helps! Happy Painting!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Transfering a drawing to watercolor paper

Question: How do you transfer a drawing without a light box or window. Do you ever use graphite paper? If so, specifics please on it. Also, do you erase your drawing after you have finished your painting? I have never heard this addressed. Thank you, Linda /CA

There are many types of graphite paper available in art supply stores. If I do use a transfer paper I like the Saral brand the best. Because Saral Transfer Paper is wax free it gives the advantage of erasing like pencil without any smear or smudge.
Some artists like to make their own transfer paper using a graphite stick on tracing paper sealed with lighter fluid.

Do I erase my pencil lines when I finish a painting?
Yes, I do... most of the time. That's because for the most part if I do use a pencil line it's for a guide line or position rather than an edge. My drawing is not intended to be a part of the painting.
That's me ... and my personal preference.
There is nothing wrong with leaving pencil lines in the finished work. There are many great artists who do fantastic line drawings on their paper prior to adding watercolor to their work. Erasing the pencil lines would diminish the impact of their paintings.

For me personally, if I do want to transfer a drawing to my watercolor paper I prefer to use a light box or window rather than transfer paper.

Like so many things we do as artists, we will try this method or that method and adapt the one that works best for us and the way we paint. Not that one way is right or another wrong.... it is just what method works best for each of us.

I did draw before I painted when I began my watercolor journey. Along the way my painting evolved into more of a freehand style painting without drawing first. I do still draw some for my students when I'm teaching. For the record!

I hope that helps answer your questions.
Happy Painting!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Paint Colors for Painting Dry Sand and Wet Sand in watercolor

QUESTION: Dear Susie,You are so talented. I am humbled by your work. Thank you for sharing your experience. I just bought your brush and can't wait until it gets here. What color(s) do you use to paint dry sand and wet sand? Kris / Florida

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Kris - Thanks for the kind words! I love what I do and I love to share.

The answer to your question on colors for painting dry sand and wet sand would depend on the location of the beach and the type of sand found there. It could be white or tan or black or golden or any combination of these.

Just as you hair looks darker when its wet, wet sand will usually be a darker value of the same hue/color you use for dry sand. Plus keep in mind that wet sand will often be reflective of the sky color too. Those reflections will vary in color depending on the lighting conditions and the time of day.

Granulating pigments add a slight texture that helps with painting the illusion of sand and is even more effective if the granulating pigments are used on rough watercolor paper.

I suspect you want me to give you the names of some colors you might try for painting sand. :)
And I'll be happy to name a few that will work well for painting sand.

One relatively new color for me in my paint box is Goethite Brown Ochre (Daniel Smith)
I found that works well for a mid value warm golden sand that doesn't look too yellowish. I like mixing it with Indanthrone Blue or French Ultramarine for a nice blue gray. It has a nice density that lends to granulation when used on either cold pressed or rough papers. (While I haven't tried it on hot pressed paper yet, I believe with the properties of the pigment would give some nice granulation on hot pressed too.)
  • Quoted from Daniel Smith:
    Found in iron deposits nearly worldwide, Goethite (Brown Ochre) is named after Johann Wolfgang Goethe, the German philosopher, poet and mineralogist.
    Our unusually pure pigment is mined in Russia, south of Moscow. Rich and warm, DANIEL SMITH Goethite is a dark tea color in masstone and washes out to a rich, warm tan. In washes, it displays intriguing granulation, with pools of light and dark in every brushstroke. Like all colors derived from the earth, it is lightfast and permanent…a lasting connection to the planet and the creative forces of nature
Goethite Brown Ochre is included in a limited edition Surf and Sand Triad offered by Daniel Smith earlier this summer. (2008)

Used alone or mixed together here are some additional watercolor pigments/paints you might want to try.

  • Burnt Sienna
  • Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre
  • Lunar Earth
    (DS) A transparent, non-staining pigment that resembles Burnt Sienna in color but separates dramatically. Lightfast and extremely versatile, Lunar Earth shares pigment properties with Lunar Black and creates similar amazing textures.
    Explore their radical reticulating qualities separately, then try painting Lunar Earth into a wet Lunar Black wash. An instant beach-sand and pebbles-magically appears.
  • Lunar Violet
    (DS)With extreme granulation it’s capable of creating a rugged weathered look of years gone by, mix with other granulating pigment to create a sandy texture.
  • Burnt Bronzite Genuine
    (DS)Burnt Bronzite Genuine pushes the honey tone of Bronzite Genuine to a more coppery hue. Both deeper brown and more orange, it's ideal for portrait work as it easily produces a wide range of flesh tones. Like Bronzite Genuine, it gets a subtle lustrous sparkle from iron oxide.
  • Bronzite Genuine
    (DS) It's a warm golden-brown in masstone - somewhere between ochre and sienna, but distinctly different - that lets down into pale washes of soft, always warm, sandy beige. In a wash on cold press or rough paper, the brown settles out of this intriguing special-effect color.
  • Yavapai Genuine
  • Hematite
    (DS) ground from a heavy silvery-black mineral rich in iron. In a thick wash, the heavier particles settle, creating bold granulation. In a thin wash, it is a soft dove gray.
  • Hematite Violet
    (DS) produces the same splendid texture as the standard Hematite, but the background hue is a warm violet-brown.
  • Transparent Brown Oxide
Keep in mind that the paint varies from brand to brand even though the paint has the same color name. [The descriptions (in italics) above are quoted from Daniel Smith.]

I hope these give you some ideas for painting sand, wet or dry.
Have fun!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Staining Watercolor Pigments

Hi Susie, I've been painting for 6 years and I think I'm finally over the hump where I don't need to classify myself as a rank beginner. (smile) I now have a ton of watercolor paints. How can I determine which are staining or non staining? And could you also tell me how to know if they are transparent or opaque? Thanks, Wanda/ NC

Hi Wanda, There is a simple test you can do with each of your many tubes of watercolor so you will know which are transparent vs opaque or somewhere in between. You can test each color individually or use a larger piece of paper to test each group of colors by their hues. Using a wide permanent black marker or India ink draw a line approximately 1/4 inch wide for each color you are testing. Add a small amount of water to dilute each paint so that it spreads easily being careful not to add too much water. Allow the paint to dry. If it is transparent you will be able to see the sharp black line through the paint without any residual paint sitting on top of the line. If a paint is semi-opaque you will see only a small amount of pigment on the black line. If the paint is opaque you will see more of a chalky looking residue from the paint over the black line.

There is another simple test for determining if a pigment is staining or non staining. You will find the explanations and the illustrations for both of these tests (Testing Watercolor Paints) on my website.

Good questions! Thanks for asking!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Painting straight lines or edges in watercolor

I just started watercolor painting. Is there an easy way to make straight lines (as when painting a structure that needs to have very straight walls etc? Thanks, Donna

Hi Donna!
It sounds like you are jumping into watercolor with both feet! GOOD FOR YOU!
I do have a few simple tips that will help with getting a clean edge when painting a building or a wall with straight edges.
  1. Use a piece of plastic tape as a guideline to help paint a straight edge. I don't recommend using standard masking tape, it can damage your watercolor paper and sometimes leaves a sticky residue when its removed, but most of all its hard to get it to seal tight enough to keep the wet paint from seeping under the edge of the tape. I prefer to use Artist Tape. It is the best I've found for sticking to the paper and not allowing the paint to "seep" under the tape. And it is easy to remove without damaging the paper's surface. Look for artist tape in most artist's supply stores locally or online. Artist tape is also an archival tape used by framers to mount paintings to mat boards. So you might find it at your local picture framer too. I jokingly call my artist tape a "ruler on a roll" and I frequently use it to clean up straight edges and create highlights after the painting is painted when I'm adding those finishing touches and polishing up the painting.
  2. Use a "stencil" simply made from a scrap piece of watercolor paper or clear transparency film to provide a clean edge and protect the area not being painted.
  3. Making fluid (there are several good brands available) can be applied to the watercolor paper to reserve the white of the paper and create a straight edge.
  4. Another way is to use a ruler or straight edge held at an angle so your brush glides along the elevated straight edge. A picture is worth a thousand words ... see photo examples.

I'll add links to examples for each of these tips this weekend.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Gear for painting outside - en plein air

QUESTION: Where should I look to find kapablock foam board. Love the idea for painting outside! Thanks SR

(This question is referring to my suggestions for painting en plein air or outdoors on location. You can read more about the kapablock by visiting my website tips for
Outdoor painting gear page 2 .... And don't miss page 1 for more tips.)
Kapablock can be found at plastic suppliers such as Tap Plastics or Calsac Plastics in my area.
It can sometimes be found where ever they sell advertising supplies. It is also used for building the partitions between display booths. Some lumber supply store may carry it.
If you can't find kapablock look for the 1/2 in gator board. It might be easier to find.

Good luck! And enjoy painting outside!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Phthalo Blue -- warm or cool?

QUESTION: Hi, I Have a question about M. Graham phthalocyanine blue 15.3.
Is it a warm or cool blue? Thank you, Debbie

Most Phthalo Blue is PB15 and lean to the the greenish side of blue. In recent years some manufacturer (including M.Graham) have added an additional Phthalo's to their line that has been altered to have a more "purple" blue look. Look for the Phthalo Blue (RS) which stands for red shade.

From the manufacturers information I find that M.Graham's Phthalo Blue PB15:3 is altered to be more of a "true blue" and is a structural variant of Phthalo Blue PB15 (that produces more greenish tones. )

Here is a link to the M.Graham site with more technical information about their watercolors.

OK........that said, let's talk about warm vs cool.

Warmer or cooler is relative. It depends on the two colors you are comparing.

Red is warm and blue is cool... and its easy to see which is which.

All blues are cool when compared to any red. But when we compare several colors of the same hue (in this case blues) Manganese blue might be cooler than Antwerp blue and Ultramarine might be warmer than Cerulean blue. You have to visually compare them to see where they fit on the color wheel.
Because warm vs cool is relative to the two colors you are comparing, I find it's much easier to describe a color by naming the secondary hue it leans toward than to try to distinguish the difference by warmer or cooler. Example: New Gamboge is a orangish yellow and Hansa Yellow is a greenish yellow.

When comparing Phthalo blue(GS) to French Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo is slightly greener than Fr. Ultramarine blue which to my eye looks slightly purplish. So I say Phthalo is cooler, because on the color wheel it is closer to the coolest hue which is blue-blue-green.

The Fr Ultramarine is on the warmer side because it has a touch of red in it thus it farther away from the coolest color and closer to the warmer hues.

Now to answer your specific question: It is my opinion that M Graham's Phthalo 15.3 is very near a true blue. It has been altered so it doesn't lean toward a green hue as with the Phthalo Green Shade (GS) or a purple hue as the Phthalo Red Shade (RS). So I guess I'd say it is neither warm nor cool by itself. If we compared it to another blue I could tell you if it was warmer or cooler than the other blue hue.

I hope that is sufficient. It's not a simple answer.

Thanks for asking!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

What is "glazing?"

Susie: As a beginner in watercoloring I am not familiar with glazing as referred to in the
Raindrops on Roses watercolor tip. Please let me know. Thanks so much for your info. L S

is layering thin washes of color with drying time between each layer to build up color.

In this case for the pink roses, it would be a thin or watered down puddle of pink paint.
You paint the darkest value near the center of the rose and blend off to a more diluted watered down value on the outer edge.
Blending off is moistening the area beside a stroke to soften the edge.

Look at my other rose demo for more details and info. Look at steps 4, 5 and 6.

I hope that helps!


For a more detailed lesson on painting Raindrops on Roses look for my downloadable eLesson on my website.
You will need the Adobe PDF reader to open the file. To get it free click here.

Signatures on Watercolor Paintings

Susie, how do you sign your paintings? Brush? What kind? pencil? . . . Jane

Hi Jane,
I have a couple of ways depending on what I'm signing.
For my better than average paintings I use a stylized signature - nothing like my regular handwriting. I use a synthetic brush (I think it's about a#2 or #3) that has a crooked point. It was brand new, used once or twice and got put up wet -- got crimped in my paint box and now it has a tiny 90 degree turn in it at the very tip. At first I tried to save it but could not get the crimp out. Tried it to sign my name teeny tiny on some Christmas cards and it worked! Been using it for about 15 years now....for nothing but signing my name. I'll be up a creek if I loose it or if it wears out.
For my demos I use a stylus and sign them with my cursive handwriting signature as if I were signing a check while the painting is wet. I guess I do use it the most since I do more demos than anything these days. I learned that trick from Zoltan Szabo.

On some things when I'm in a hurry or if I want the signature very clear and legible for printing etc. I will use a sharp watercolor pencil on dry paper and my or may not glaze water over it to seal it.
On my greeting cards I sometimes use archival gel pens in a metallic gold or copper or misty blue. But mostly just use the stylus ---its so easy and convenient and fool proof!

Thanks for asking!

Recommended Watercolor Brushes

QUESTION: Hi Susie, I just watched your DVD "Painting Holiday Cards in Watercolor". I really enjoyed this DVD, learned a lot. However, I would like to know what Brand & the sizes of the Round brushes that you used to paint these cards? It would also have been helpful if you could have introduced all the supplies that you used. Thanks for your help. Linda

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hello Linda,
The brushes used on the Holiday Cards DVD were all made by Daniel Smith.
The round aquarelle with the black handle is no longer available. Their replacement for this brush now has a clear handle.

Round Aquarelle
Flat aquarelle
Since I recorded the video Daniel Smith came out with another synthetic brush that has become one of my favorites it’s found on their website as the DS Platinum Series 23 Taklon Multimedia brushes.I use 23-2 round brush in #8, #10 and #12.
The smaller sizes are very good too, but I find that the tips or points of these brushes are so good I don’t need to go smaller for a sharp point to do details. They are inexpensive so I keep several within reach for blending and direct painting. I’m very abusive with my brushes and at this price I don’t mind replacing it when it does wear out or loose its point. (TIP: When it does loose its point it makes a perfect flower petal brush with a brushstroke mark much like a filbert.)
I like this 23- line of brushes in the flats and rounds and script liners (aka riggers).
When you go to the DS site if you put Series 23 in the search box you will get a page with this whole line of synthetic brushes.
The cutter brush I refer to in the video is also been upgraded to my own signature brush available from Daniel Smith.
I hope that helps to answer your brush questions.
Things change so fast in the Art Supplies that are available from year to year. I used the blank Strathmore cards with a deckled edge for all my cards but last year they changed the paper they made them with and now they will not take watercolor. So I’ve switched to the Strathmore Watercolor Cards. They have a cut straight edge but they accept the watercolor and work for painting holiday cards using my techniques. They are thicker and take longer to dry between painting steps.
My palette is filled with Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors but Windsor Newton, Holbein, Graham, American Journey, etc are also good to paint with. The color names vary depending on brand. I’ll be happy to tell you any specifics if you can point them out for me to identify.
Here is a link to my general palette and supply list
Happy Painting!
Keep those brushes wet!

Arranging a Watercolor Palette Layout

QUESTION: Hi Susie, I have a new palette with 32 wells and I don't know where to start or how to arrange the paint in my new palette. Is there a formula or a map or a chart to help with adding colors? Also, is it OK to put more than one color in the same well? Thanks, Mary Y

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hello Mary!
Setting up a new palette can be such fun! I love to see the bright colors of the fresh watercolor paint as I fill each well. But I admit it can be a little intimidating too.
The arrangement of the watercolor paints on your palette will become a personal choice for you as you continue your artistic journey. Possibly even more important than a formula for particular placement is that the watercolor paint be in the same familiar location so you can find it easily without guessing which paint is which while you are painting.
My personal choice is to place my paint in a sort or chromatic arrangement, similar to how the colors fall on the color wheel.
My suggested palette layouts can be found on my web site.
Basic Palette Layout & Expanded Palette Layout

Happy Painting!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Green is Green is Green

QUESTION: Susie, I am having the hardest time painting leaves. Green is green is green. I never seem to get enough contrast and my leaves never come to "LIFE". Can you help? Do you have a video on painting flowers and LEAVES? Shirley

SUSIE'S REPLY: Shirley, the DVD titled Painting Sentimental Roses goes into painting leaves on the stem of a rose. And I do mention adding some variety to the green leaves by dropping in more blue or yellow into a wet area.
But let's just take a few minutes to talk about greens and how to alter them.
First of all don't let yourself get into a habit of relying on tube greens. That green hue (such as Sap Green) may be beautiful straight out of the tube but it can be so "boring." Instead of using tube greens, try mixing your greens using the blues and yellows on your palette. Each blue will make a different hue of green when you add it to each of your yellows.
Experiment by making a little color chart or grid of greens and see the variations you have available to you without dipping into a tube green.


Then make another chart for each tube green and see how you can adjust the hue of the tube color by adding those same blues to the green from the tube and then another chart by adding the yellows to the tube green(s). WOW! And think of how many more you can make if you combined the tube greens with any number of mixed greens from your first chart of just blues and yellows. (Shown in my example are Sap and Viridian mixed with six colors of a split primary palette.)


So far we've been thinking about mixing wet colors. Now let's think about glazing or layering blue over yellow or green over pink or green over orange. You can get an endless variety of greens that are alive and exciting.
Dropping wet color into another wet color is called "charging." When the blue and yellow are allowed to "mingle" on your paper rather than being premixed on your palette the color will often be more exciting and have more punch to it.

Thanks for asking a question that so many of us need to deal with. I hope you will find out that with some practice with mixing and mingling your greens will become your friend and not your enemy.

Happy Painting!

Painting Rainbows in Watercolor

QUESTION: Hi Susie! I have a beautiful photo of a rainbow that I've been trying to paint but I've had problems with keeping the colors of the rainbow vibrant and fresh without the colors running into each other and getting muddy. Do you have a simple step by step advice for rainbows? Maybe this would be in your watercolor skies DVD? Any chance that you'll be visiting Hawaii so I can take one of your workshops? Melissa/Hawaii

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Melissa! First of all let me tell you I would love to come to Hawaii to paint and teach a workshop! I don't have anything planned yet, but it could happen! I'm ready!
Now to answer your question....Painting rainbows in watercolor does present some unique challenges. When we visualize a rainbow we think of evenly blended vibrant colors with soft edges.
One way to keep our colors from mingling into a muddy mess is to apply one color (on dampened paper,) let it dry, then re-dampen and glaze the second color on next to it. The slight overlapping of these two colors will naturally create the secondary color between them. Let the colors dry again. Then add the next color. You may have to repeat the process several time and build up layers to achieve the intensity you are striving for so be patient. Its been my experience that using only red yellow and blue to paint a rainbow wasn't enough I had to mix up a purple and orange to fill in where I wanted more vibrant color hues.

I've tried painting the rainbow first then painting the landscape/sky around it, and I've painted the landscape/sky first and added the rainbow. Both methods worked as long as I took my time and didn't rush things. As is the case with most new watercolor techniques, it will take some practice and possibly several pieces of good paper to get the feel for what you are doing. Hang in there and don't give up. It can be done! Good luck!

PS. Let me emphasize.... using good paper will be critical ...even when practicing...use good paper!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Technique - Pouring Watercolor Paint

Hi Susie,
I'm very new at WC so I will enjoy reading all the Q&A's here. Can you please explain how to do the "poured" technique? I've seen this talked about but I have no idea how to do it and I love to experiment with all the techniques I read about. Thank you, Nancy

Hi Nancy - Pouring watercolor paints is an indirect method of painting and quite a detour from the more traditional direct painting methods. Due the variables involved it is often thought of as an experimental technique. Those artists who do master it come up with very beautiful luminous watercolor paintings. Two of the most proficient artists using variations of pouring techniques are Nita Engle and Roland Roycroft.

I'll share what I know about pouring watercolors, which I must admit was a lot of fun to do for a change of pace but didn't quite suite my style as my preferred method for painting. I do still piddle with pouring paint every now and then just for fun and to see what I get.
The basic idea is to pour paint diluted with water over the surface of your watercolor paper creating beautiful blends of sparkling color. Depending on the results you are striving for, you can pour each color separately allowing the surface to dry between each color (which would be considered a form of glazing) or you can allow the colors to mingle on the wet paper without drying between "pours".
Basic techniques for pouring watercolors:
  • After you have transferred your drawing to watercolor paper mounted on a support of some sort, use a liquid masking fluid or maskit to carefully reserve any whites and light to middle values. Let the masking dry.
  • Squeeze the paint you plan to use from the tubes into saucers or containers (such as a empty plastic butter tubs) and using a spray bottle add water to dilute the watercolor to the desired intensity. Use a clean brush to dissolve and clumps of thick paint. Don't add too much water, you can always use the mister to add more water to your paper as needed. Remember the more water you use with the paint the lighter it will be when it dries.
  • When the masking is completed and totally dry you are ready to pour. Have a receptacle ready to catch the paint as it runs off your paper. (If you only add one color at a time the run-off and be reused for additional poured layers. )
  • Using clear water lightly mist the paper.
  • Pour a small amount of the diluted watercolor paint on your paper. You can even use an eye dropper for more control when adding the paint.
  • Use sprayer or mister to add more water as you work from dark to light in both value or intensity and to move the paint where you want it to go.
  • Tilting your board back and forth will also allow the paint to run and mingle some if you are working with more than one color.
  • Pour off excess paint being careful to watch for puddles of paint collecting in pockets caused by the masking fluid. If you find a collection of paint use the tip of a paper towel or a thirsty brush to soak up the excess.
  • DRY and repeat as needed to get the desired effect. DRY AGAIN.
  • Use a rubber cement pick-up or a piece of tape to rub off the masking.
  • Next, remask only the lightest areas, leaving the middle values unmasked. When the masking is dry repeat the pouring process. Glazing over the already painted areas will make them darker and in the area previously reserved by the masking now add color. These steps can be repeated as many times as necessary until you build up the contrast and mood you desire.
  • Remove the masking from the lightest areas and highlights. You can now use a brush to add or bring out any of the finer details.

This is a very simplified explanation of how to produce a painting using poured paints but it should give you an idea of what is involved. For more details I'll refer you to these books by the experts.

Clicking on the titles will take you to my recommended watercolor books powered by Look for the Abstract and Experimental catagory.

And while you're looking take a peek at the new book Watercolor The Spirit Of Spontaneity by Karlyn Holman. She covers pouring plus many more fun techniques.

Thanks for your question!
I hope this inspires you to explore poured painting further!



Monday, July 21, 2008

Painting Skies Wet-in-Wet

I hope you can help me as I am getting frustrated trying to paint skys, I have just started to paint and when I try to add another colour into a sky ( wet into wet ) most of the time it bleeds into the first colour rather than blending smoothly with the first colour. Regards Steve.


Steve, I hope I can give you a tip or two that will help. Believe me you are not alone when it comes to running into problems working wet-in-wet.

  • My first tip is to experiment using less water when you wet your paper in using the wet-in-wet techniques. You do need to have the paper wet enough for the paint to spread when you stroke it onto the paper but if it is too wet the paint might travel more than you want it to.
  • Second, check the amount of water in your brush as you add color (and more water) to your painting, if your paper is wet with water, and you add one color with more water then add another color with more water you colors may be overtaking the first color as the water tries to level out. Most of the time it is a water issue... either too much or not enough! It does take some practice to find a balance.
  • Third, don't soak or wet both sides of your paper. Doing this does give you a longer working time but waterloged paper could be part of your problem. If you are wetting both sides, try only wetting the top surface and see if that works better for you.

When painting skies and placing one color next to another allow for the paints spreading. Leaving a white space between the two colors will give you some room for the colors to spread then as the paint starts to settle somewhat tilt the paper back and forth to allow the paint to travel and either blend or just fill in the white gap you left.

When working wet-in-wet as the paint starts to settle and the wet paper starts to loose its shine you need to pay close attention to the amount of moisture in your brushload as you continue to paint. With less water and more pigment the paint will not spread as much and you get more concentrated heavier clouds that stay where you place them. They still have a soft edge because the paper is still damp.
If you are not extremely careful about the water in your brush it is easy to get a back run or water mark (aka water blossom) when the wet brush touches the damp paper. Practice will be your best friend as you learn how to read the wetness of your paper and your brush loads.

Keep trying! The more you practice the better it will be.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Watermarks and Blending Off

I recently took your ROSE CLOSE-UP CLASS and enjoyed it a lot. I tried to practice at home and found that every time I blended with water or went back to add color to an area that was previously painted, I would make watermarks, and make the original color run and ruin everything. What am I doing wrong?
Thanks, Christine

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Christine! This is a common problem and a great question for me to share. Maybe we need to make a bumper sticker just for us watercolorlists that reads... Watermarks happen! I'm sure there would be many who can relate to this problem!
Watermarks (also called "blossoms" or "balloons") happen when the wetness of paint (or water) in your brush is greater than the moisture or wetness of the paint on your paper. When the water or paint you add to your paper the liquid is unequal to what's already there it will level off (spread out). This leveling process will "push" the paint particles as it levels out causing a watermark. It's actually collection of concentrated paint particles moved to the edge of the wetter area.
If watermarks are your problem, the solution is to use less water in your blending brush. Try blotting your brush to remove some of the moisture in it before you touch the paper to blend off.
I'll try to put together a new watercolor tip with photo illustrations to show what I talking about. In the mean time take a piece of scrap paper and do some blending practice exercises. It does take practice to be able to "read" your papers dampness and adjust the moisture in your brush accordingly.
I hope that helps! SUSIE

Masking Fluid

I appreciate your web sites ease of navigation and helpful
information. I am shocked by how much I have forgotten
since 1976. Back in school we used rubber cement as a
masking liquid. Is this not suggested anymore?
Thanks CS

Thanks for the kind words and encouragement! Wow, you
do have a lot to catch up on when it come to the advances
watercolor has made in the art world! How fun! About using
rubber cement as masking: you can still use it but
there are some newer (and thinner) masking fluids available
now that are so much easier to apply. One I particularly like
is the Masque Pen. It comes in a small plastic bottle with it's
own applicator tip so you don’t even have to use a brush to
apply it. Look for it in your local art store and if you don’t
see it there, most online art suppliers carry it.

Thanks for writing! Happy Painting!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Using Fixatives & Masking Tapes

Susie, I have two questions, one about finish spray for a painting, and the other about the tape to hold the watercolor in place. I sprayed some of my paintings with the spray fixative, then I tried a clear varnish enamel. That gives a beautiful finish, but what is the right thing to do? Also, I use masking tape to hold the paper, because the paper tape they recommend is so hard to take off afterwards. Thanks-Opal

Hi Opal! I'm glad you asked me these questions!

  1. I sprayed some of my paintings with the spray fixative, then I tried a clear varnish enamel. That gives a beautiful finish, but what is the right thing to do?
    The favored way to preserve watercolor paintings is to place them behind glazing (such as glass or Plexiglas) when they are framed. It is also recommended that there is a space between the watercolor painting and the glazing so that the painting does not make contact with the glazing. Using a complimentary mat usually provides this space. Framers also use a product they call "frame space" (a small strip of plastic) that is placed under the lip of the frame between the glazing and the painting if you do not want to mat the painting.

    Generally, watercolor paintings are not treated with a spray fixative. I'm sorry I don't have first hand knowledge to share with you since I do frame my paintings under glass or Plexiglas.

    But I can tell you an artist friend of mine does use a spray fixative for some of her larger work and recommends Golden Archival Spray Finish. She says to spray 4-5 light coats of the Golden Archival Varnish Spray Gloss Finish first then spray 4-5 light coats of Golden Archival Varnish Mat Finish. You want to do this in a well ventilated area and be sure to let the painting dry between each coat of spray.
    Then she applies a coat of Acrylic Mat medium (with a brush) to make the surface totally sealed and scrubable.
  2. I use masking tape to hold the paper, because the paper tape they recommend is so hard to take off afterwards.
    If you are referring to the type of paper tape used while stretching watercolor paper I'm out of the loop when it comes to recommending alternatives. I don't stretch my watercolor papers. Sorry.
    If you are
    talking about using the tape to secure your watercolor paper while you are painting. Masking tape may be used but there is a great tape made for us called "Artist's Tape" (available at most good artists supply stores ) that is archival so its is also great for framing. It holds securely and is easy to remove. It is more expensive than masking tape but well worth the extra cost if you don't run the risk of damaging your paintings. Use it on dry paper not soaked paper.
    BTW: I don't tape down my watercolor paper before painting on it. I like to paint on loose/unsecured/unstretched Arches 140# CP watercolor paper. Sometimes I will put a small piece of artist tape on the corners to keep it in place when I using an easel or painting outside. Other artists do tape more then I do -- this is just my way of doing it!

I hope that gives you some ideas. Thanks for writing!


Watercolor Paints & Papers

Hi Susie -I have a few questions please. Which is better tube paint or hard paint?
And does it matter which paper you use thick or thin? Thank you for your time. Gary

Hi Gary - thanks for your questions!

  1. Which is better tube paint or hard paint? Both are good. It's a personal choice as to which is better. It depends on the style and techniques you are striving to achieve. Most watercolorists do prefer working with moist watercolor paint and many will only use freshly squeezed paint. I guess I'm probably in the minority because I do like working with dry paint. I painted with wet paint for over twenty years because I'd read somewhere or heard someone say that colors were brighter when you used fresh paint. I took a workshop with Zoltan Szabo (one of my watercolor heroes!) and discovered that he used dried paint and his work was wonderfully colorful so I decided to try the dried paint. I found my niche. Working with dried paint allowed me to get the color saturation and value I wanted without making "blossoms". Water control is often a problem with new painters and this seemed to be a helpful tip for my student too.
    I do use tube paint to fill my wells and allow it to dry rather than the pre-formed watercolor cubes (called pans) that some manufacturers offer.
  2. And does it matter which paper you use thick or thin? I believe (and preach!) the most important factor to successful watercolor painting is the paper you use. There are several paper manufacturers and that produce high quality watercolor papers. Again it is a personal choice. Thicker watercolor papers (i.e 300#) hold more water so they stay wet longer and allow longer painting time. The thinner medium weight but highly adequate 140# watercolor paper is probably the most popular choice because due to availability and price. The thinnest 80# or lighter watercolor papers don't take much water so they are best suited for drier watercolor techniques and other mediums such as markers, pastels, or colored pencils.

All watercolor paper is not the same! Different brands use different fibers and sizing. Some are better than others for different applications. Experiment to find the type of watercolor paper that works best for your painting style.

I recommend and use Arches 140# Cold Pressed watercolor paper. It an economical medium weight paper with a very durable surface and works well for most watercolor techniques. I like to use it for my workshops because it is very forgivable...and allows for moderate scrubbing and corrections when needed.

HINT: Don't settle for cheap paper! Life's too short to use bad paper. Find the brand and type that works best for you. Even when learning to paint. Too many people try to learn how to paint on student grade "cheaper" paper and literally work them self into bad habits and never achieve the desired results.

I hope that helps! Happy painting!

Palette layout

QUESTION: Susie, I took your landscape class and I'll be back for more. I want to set up my palette to let them dry. I checked your palette layout suggestion but I now have all of the two sets and some extras so I'm confused how to go about it. I have the same palette as yours. Thanks for any help. Sharon

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Sharon -- Try painting the swatches I mentioned in the previous post. As you start arranging your watercolor palette you may find you have more wells than you have paint. If that's the case, simple skip a well every so often to reserve a space to add a new color later. More often we have more watercolor paint than wells to hold them. In this case you will need to make a choice of which watercolor paints you want to include and which ones you will leave out. I do occasionally put two watercolors side by side in the same well if they are compatible won't hurt if I get a tiny smidgen of each when I load my brush. (Example: Ultramarine and French Ultramarine)

Remember you can always squeeze a dab of fresh paint if you decide need it for a painting.

TIP: For dry paint: When filling your palette, layering the paint and allowing it to dry between layers will keep it from cracking as it dries. I usually have 3 or 4 layers. It takes a little longer to add the layers but they do dry faster when the paint is spread thinner.

Good luck! Enjoy squeezing that paint!

Here is a suggested layout or arrangement for the Richeson Watercolor Palette
You are welcome to print a copy!


Color Wheel Placements

I have both the Susie Short basic 7 set of split primaries and the "intermediate" set from Daniel Smith. My question is how do I know where the intermediate set fits in on the color wheel--in other words, is there a way to tell if Quinacridone Coral is warm or cool? Do you have a handout that shows how those colors fit in?
Thanks --- Judi

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Judy, Thanks for your question. There is not a hand out for placement of the intermediate colors on a color wheel. I do have a recommended palette layout for watercolors on my website that includes most of my colors by Daniel Smith. (It's rotated for easy printing.)
One of the best ways to determine if a watercolor paint is warmer or cooler than it's neighbor is to paint a little postage stamp size swatch of each and compare them. If you still can't visually see the difference, try mixing a secondary color with it. For example: If you were testing a red (like Quinacridone Coral!) mix an orange. If you get a pretty clean orange instead of slightly dirty looking orange then the red doesn't contain blue and would be considered a warm red. For secondary colors you simply need to visually compare them to each other, no mixing required.

BTW: Quinacridone Coral is a nice warm red. Compare it to Quin Rose or Quin Pink which both have a touch of blue in them.
HINT: If you make swatches of all the colors you plan to put in your palette you can arrange these little color swatches in the order you want to place them in your palette. Its easy to make adjustments and rearrange them "before " you squeeze out the paints.

I hope that helps! Thanks again for your question!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Beginning Watercolor DVD

QUESTION: Hi Susie, First of all, I love your paintings!!!!!!!!!! I could only hope to be as great. So, my question! I have just broken out my watercolors after many years and would love to start out with one of your instructional dvd's. What do you suggest that is on a beginner's level? Thank you, Paula Davis

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Paula, Welcome back to Watercolor! Many say its like riding a bike --once you re wet your brushes it all comes back. I hope that is true in your case! And thanks for the compliments on my paintings! There are a couple of the DVDs that are not too complicated for re-starters/beginners. Painting Iris and Painting Sentimental Roses take you through the paintings step by step. Beyond the Sunset/ Watercolor Skies is also a good one to start with. If you practice painting skies you have background for several landscapes.

This fall I will have a new elesson available for beginners that includes color mixing, color theory, simple brushstrokes and basic watercolor techniques. It should also serve as a good review for those artist who have been away from their art or who are transferring to watercolor from another medium. Watch my website for its availability.

Enjoy your journey!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Watercolor Terms

Color Basics in a Nutshell

QUESTION: Susie, what's the definition of hue vs color? Are they the same? Thanks! Sally K.

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Sally! Simply speaking yes, they are the same.
Here is a list of definitions of commonly used terms as they relate to watercolor.

  • Hue -- The name of a color, such as red, blue, yellow, green, orange, etc.
  • Intensity -- The strength, brightness, or purity of a color; its chroma.
  • Saturation -- The measure of brilliance or purity of a color.
  • Value -- The lightness or darkness of a color; pure colors will vary greatly in value.
  • Temperature -- The warmth or coolness of a color; also relative terms in comparison to other colors in context.
  • Primary Colors are those hues that cannot be mixed from any other colors-- red, yellow, and blue. From these primaries, most other colors can be mixed.
  • Secondary Colors are the resulting hues of mixing two prima ries in equal amounts.
    (R+Y =Orange, Y+B=Green, B+R=Purple)
  • Intermediate Colors are products of mixing one primary and a secondary.
    (R+O=Red-Orange, Y+O=Yellow-Orange, etc.)
  • Tertiary Colors are products of mixing two secondary colors.
    (O+G, O+P, G+P, etc)
  • Complementary Colors are two hues directly opposite each other on the color wheel.
    Complement to a primary color is the combination of other two primaries.
    Complement to Red is Green (Y+B),
    to Yellow is Purple (R+B),
    to Blue is Orange (R+Y).
  • Neutral Hues are the results of combining all three primaries in various amounts, thus neutralizing the intensity and saturation of a hue. Combining a primary with its complement results in a neutral hue.


warm vs. cool

QUESTION: Hi Suzie, This question concerns "warm vs. cool" colors. If yellow is the "warmest" color on the pallet , and assuming it come in both a warm and a cool version...does the warm version have more red in it? How can that be if moving toward red is moving AWAY from the warmest color (yellow) ? Thanks for your thoughts! Holly

I'm happy to share my understanding of "warm vs. cool" with you.
Using a visual color wheel for reference; I believe the warmest color is red-orange and the coolest is blue-green. Let me offer this brief explanation:
  • Both red and yellow are commonly considered warm, while blue is unquestionably cool. More specifically, warm and cool colors are relative to where a color falls on the color wheel. The warmest color is red-orange and the coolest color is blue-green. Everything between those two points has a slightly warmer color on one side of it and a slightly cooler one on the other. Its neighbor is either warmer or cooler depending on the direction you go around the color wheel.

  • For my basic palette I use a split primary palette, working with a warm and a cool of each primary color. (WR/CR - WY/CY - WB/CB) All secondary hues are mixed from my carefully selected (split) primary colors.

    When comparing any two colors of the same hue - one will probably be either warmer or cooler than the other. If you are comparing two yellow hues, the color with more red is warmer than the yellow with more blue in it. If you continue to move around the color wheel toward red the yellow turns into yellow-orange then orange then red orange before you get to the warm reds and to true red. [True red contains a tiny bit of both warm red (hint of yellow) and cool red (with a hint of blue.)]
    If we continue around the color wheel we move from true red to the cool reds and move into the purples as we add more blue.

Blue hues are the most controversial ones! There are differing opinions about blue-greens being cooler/warmer than blue-violets and vica-versa.
I find for me personally it is easier for me to comprehend and understand if I look at the color wheel and see where a color falls. If it is closer to red-orange than it is to the blue-green then it is a warmer version of the hue.

Keep in mind.... "no matter what hue the color is, the color temperature (or the warmness or the coolness) of a color is relative to what you compare it too.

I'll be posting more thoughts on color theory. Click here to read "Some Thoughts on Color: Working with a Split Primary Color Palette" an article I wrote for "Inksmith" published by Daniel Smith.

Thanks for your question!


Stretching Watercolor Papers

QUESTION: Hi Susie, I am so new to watercolor, that when I read my first book and it told me to soak my paper in the bathtub and stretch it before painting I was stunned! I quickly read through several other books and some say yes, some say no. I am just back from Italy where I picked up some wonderful (I think) watercolor paper and watercolor pencils because I wanted to paint what I saw there. I have painted in oils before, and love them, but this is very foreign to me. So many questions. If my paper is small - or long and thin, and I am using watercolor pencils rather than brush and paint, should I still stretch it? What kind of surface do I stretch it onto? Is there a special 'board' to buy, or just a hunk of plywood? Also. Would I be happier with my results of I paint my images, or will the pencils do just as well? Do you have any favorites for paint or pencils? And do you ever travel to Minnesota for a workshop? I looooooooove your work and would love to take a class from you but not sure how I could work out a trip to Washington. btw, do you have the costs of your workshops posted somewhere too? Wow! A lot of questions. I will patiently wait for the answers. (ok, I will try :D ) Laurel/Minnesota


Hi Laurel! You've asked some good questions! Let's address them one at a time.
  1. If my paper is small - or long and thin, and I am using watercolor pencils rather than brush and paint, should I still stretch it?
    No, it is not necessary to pre-stretch all papers before you paint on them with watercolor. This is especially true if you will be using watercolor pencils. Anytime you are using paint and a brush with very little water while painting there is no need to stretch the paper. Those speciality papers you mentioned may not respond well to the stretching process either.
  2. What kind of surface do I stretch it onto?
    Artists who religiously stretch their watercolor paper seem to each have their own special supports to recommend. Plywood could be used but there are other options that are lighter in weight and easier to manage. Some artists like to use "gator board" which is like a heavy duty foamcore. What you want is something that is rigid and unyielding to the pressure of the paper as it shrinks and tightens.
    [In the stretching process the soaked paper is expanded and secured so that when the paper dries the paper has a taunt surface. This stretched/taunt surface will not buckle or wrinkle when wet paint is applied. The wetter the paint the greater the expansion and possibilities for resulting buckles.]
    Some artists like to tape their watercolor paper down to a board without stretching it first -- just to hold it in place while they paint. They get a nice clean edge around the edges when the tape is removed. Taping unstretched paper does not help with buckling.
    As for me, I never stretch! Some artists might call me lazy but I don't like to spend the time to stretch my paper. I go through so many pieces of paper each week that if I did stretch my paper I wouldn't have time to paint! I don't stretch my paper and I don't attach it to a support by taping or stapling. If I decide I need to paint with the paper at a slight tilt to achieve a certain effect I might put a couple of thumb tacks in the top corners to keep it from sliding while I work. By not restricting the paper it can expand when it's wet and contract again as it dries without buckles or wrinkles. It will stay relatively flat as it continues to dry.
  3. Is there a special 'board' to buy, or just a hunk of plywood?
    There are some special "stretching" boards an the market. You might check the online art supply store to see what they have to offer.
  4. Would I be happier with my results if I paint my images, or will the (watercolor) pencils do just as well? That is going to be a question for you to answer! It depends on what you want the end results to be and you own unique painting style. I think you will like to use both methods for different applications and unique situations. And there is nothing wrong with combining the two!
  5. Do you have any favorites for (watercolor) paint or (watercolor) pencils?
    I do have favorites that I find myself returning to again and again. I'll share my favorite watercolor paints and watercolor pencils and brands in another post. What I do recommend is that you use the best you can afford. Professional or artist quality is preferred over student quality. The best doesn't always mean the most expensive either. Start out with a few basic colors and add to them as you have the chance.
  6. And do you ever travel to Minnesota for a workshop?
    I don't have anything planned but would welcome the opportunity to hold a workshop in your area. If you belong to an art group that would be interested in hosting a workshop have them contact me I'll be happy to send them a copy of my rates and workshop topics. Thanks for asking!

That's a lot of questions for one post. I hope this answers most of them. Thanks!

Happy painting! SUSIE