Sunday, January 30, 2022

"Starry Sky" (watercolor on paper; 12" x 9")

The following is the description of what we did in the first week of the winter term, 2022 for my "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class (my online Zoom class with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA). 
The main business of the class was painting "Starry Sky" to practice the wet on wet variegated wash. We wetted the paper thoroughly and evenly (remove excess water), then painted from the top with ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, narrow strips of permanent alizarin crimson and pale winsor lemon, and finished the wash with pale winsor blue. We dried the paper (bone dry) and repeated the process twice more (if your washes are not dark enough, you can repeat the process as many times as needed). In the second wash, I added the violet mixture (ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson) at the top and continued with the rest of the colors. In the third wash, I added a little bit of winsor lemon to the pale winsor blue to make it a little turquoise.

When the paper was dry, we painted the land shape (about 20% of the painting at the bottom; this is a sky painting) on dry paper with the dark mixture (ultramarine blue, crimson, and winsor blue), the yellow green mixture (winsor lemon and a little winsor blue), and the same mixture as the first strip (with more crimson). Each stroke was put down quickly and decisively with a flat brush, making sure the next stroke went down while the previous stroke was still damp. This way you can create the fuzzy, soft-edged wash.

Finally, we added the stars with the white gouache splatter. You need a heavy cream consistency of gouache (too much water, it dries like a veil; too little water, you cannot splatter). Please practice first on a scrap piece of paper and when you are ready, mask the land shape with a loose sheet of paper and splatter at your pleasure. Avoid big bombs! Splattering takes practice (what doesn't!), and when used skillfully, it adds a beautiful texture (snow, stars, fall foliage, sandy soil, grass, etc.) with white gouache or paints.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

"Sabrina at Makapuu Point Lighthouse, Oahu" (watercolor on paper; 5" x 7.5")

"Sabrina at Makapuu Point Lighthouse, Oahu"


Belated Happy New Year! I hope this blog post finds you well. I have been gone for 12 days on a long-awaited vacation to Oahu at the beginning of the year. It was supposed to be a celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary (12/15/90); then the first COVID lockdown and various variants followed. Finally, we and our darling daughter decided to take the risk. Armed with the vaccination card, which was required in all indoor places except in some hole-in-the-wall eateries, off we went. A little nervous, but everything was great in the tropical paradise. We came back safe and sound, except a severe jet lag.

For the last 10 days, I have been meaning to share my travel journal pages with you, but one thing or another intervened. Here you go! All the sketches were done in watercolor with occasional black waterproof fountain pen lines. If necessary, white gouache was used discretely. 

Except a few, they were all painted while in Oahu. I spent hours and hours on my travel journal, foregoing naps and walks on the beach. I am a professional artist who draws and paints. Then, I go on a vacation and what do I do? I draw and paint, exactly the same thing. So, I guess my life is a never-ending vacation!

The following images are more or less chronological. I painted a lot of sunsets because they were beautiful and they could be painted quickly. There are some still lifes, flowers and fishes. Only one was done on location, sitting on the side of the crowded Waikiki Beach Boardwalk; the rest, in the comfort of the hotel room using the image of the phone screen as reference.

Although I returned home exhausted from walking (I averaged 10,000 to 15,000 steps per day instead of my usual 5,000 steps!) and non-stop sketching, I am glad that I have done it. These pages bring back happy memories and will be shared with my students in class. Enjoy and if you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate!


"Me at Haleiwa Beach Park, Oahu"

"Cairns of Volcanic Rocks at Makapuu Beach Park"

"Sunset at Kaena Point State Park"

"Me Hiking on Kaena Point Trail: Western-most Point of Oahu"

"On the Road to Haleiwa, North Shore"

  "French Toast at Waikiki Kangnam Style Restaurant"

"Koi Pond at Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki"

"Hanauma Bay Snorkeling"

"Reef Fish at Hanauma Bay"

"Reef Trigger Fish: the Hawaii State Fish"

"My Hat with Orchids from Goofy Cafe and Dine"

"Strange Bird with Japanese Statue at Hilton Hawaiian Village"

"Sunset Jetty at Waikiki Beach"

"Palm Trees along Waikiki Beach Boardwalk"

"Sabrina Hula Dancing"

"Monkey Orchid on the balcony of Goofy Cafe and Dine"

"Fort DeRussy Military Reservation"

"Waikiki Beach Sunset Looking Toward Diamond Head"

"Lanikai Beach Sunset, Looking toward the Moku Islands"

"Pink Hibiscus"