Mono Print

Metallic Glue Relief

Tissue Paper Painting

Crayon Etching

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Under the Sea - Watercolor Resist

It was a pleasure working with seven year old Rachel last week on an "Under the Sea" watercolor resist painting. Rachel's concentration and inclusion of detail paid off in the beautiful results she achieved. Brava, Rachel!

Here's how we did it:



Watercolor paper, approx 11"x15"
Oil pastels, select any light and bright colors, except for dark blue
Thick watercolor brush
Water container & water
Water spray bottle, optional


1. Using oil pastels, draw an imaginary underwater scene, including any of the following: fish, whales, sharks, crabs, eels, sand, seaweed, coral, bubbles... and use imaginary colors and patterns.

2. Make your lines bold and solid by pressing hard as you draw, and go over your lines a second time to make a thick layer of oil pastel on the paper. Be sure to leave some areas on your paper white.

3. Dip your brush into the liquid watercolor, and let it gently glide right over your drawing. You'll notice that your bright oil pastels lines resist the watercolor, and will pop out from the watercolor wash. Use plenty of paint, and allow puddles to form and dry in place.

4. While the paint is still damp, you can create interesting patterns by using the water spray bottle to squirt a few random sprays on your painting. (Don't overdo this step, as too much water will dilute your blue paint.)

5. Allow your painting to dry flat.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wonderful Exhibition/Two Sisters

I saw a great exhibition at The Jewish Museum in New York City, called "Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore." This is a show of over fifty modern paintings that were collected by Dr. Claribel & Miss Etta Cone, including works by Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, van Gogh and Gauguin.

At the time that these two visionary collectors amassed their collection, avant-garde art was not yet appreciated or understood by the general public. The Cone sisters acquired their art by buying directly from the artists in their Paris studios in the early 1900's, and developed professional relationships with the artists they patronized.

It's fascinating to see what the Cone sisters bought to display in their home for their own enjoyment. Of course the collection now has enormous value, and has been donated to the Baltimore Museum of Art, where the two women were raised and lived as adults.

The Exhibit will be on view at The Jewish Museum until September 25th, 2011. You won't want to miss it.

Drawing Animals: Kittens & Whales & Giraffes, Oh My!

Last week I taught a "How to Draw Animals" lesson to a group of high school students. Most of the students provided their own reference photographs to work from. Having the students copy their reference materials, would have produced acceptable results, but I wanted the students to get the most mileage out of this one-day project, and go beyond copying.

First, I discussed and demonstrated how to look for the main shapes of a subject, whether it's an object in a still life, a landscape or an animal. I advised them to look for and establish the shape of the animal's largest part first (usually its body), and draw an abstract shape, such as a rectangle or oval to approximate it. Then, keeping aware of relative size, distances apart and gesture, the other body parts could be added as general abstract shapes as well. I explained that while developing the drawing, the artists would be able to keep refining their judgements to make appropriate changes, as they gradually added detail.

Next I introduced the students to the process of working with vine charcoal and kneaded erasers on white paper toned with charcoal. First each student covered his/her paper with a layer of dark tone, using soft vine charcoal. This was smoothed over lightly with a paper towel. Then, using the same charcoal sticks, they drew the basic shapes for their animals. As the drawings progressed, I showed the artists how to use their erasers as drawing tools to "pull out" whites from the paper, and to blend grays. Erasers could also be used to add light strokes for background texture or fur. Fingers were also very useful for blending, adding and subtracting values and practically "sculpting" the darks and lights.

None of the students had used this drawing approach before, and all found it satisfyingly forgiving, effective and fun. Many of the artists were pleasantly surprised with their results, and parents and other adults were surprised at the sophisticated level of work that was accomplished in only two hours.

You can use this technique of initially toning the paper to draw an animal, a portrait, a still life, a landscape, a seascape or an abstract fantasy. Your fingers and eraser will be a mess, but you can always clean up, and I think you'll really enjoy the results.

The Students' Drawings