I was invited to demonstrate how I use the Cradled Panels to attach my watercolor paintings and finish them for display, using acrylic products, at the National Art Education Association Convention in downtown Seattle, March 18th. The panels are made from birch by American Easel, in Salem, Oregon and they are available at Art Media in Portland. I use Golden acrylic mediums to protect the art.

The event was at the Seattle Convention Center, which has several art exhibits, included the glass, below.

Opening night party was at the Music Museum which was amazing! As was the Space Needle by moonlight, next door.

My friends Beth and Russ went with me to Seattle. Beth is photographing the museum’s glass entry. 

My demo was on Friday at the NASCO booth. I felt like I said the same thing a million times, as folks wandered by, but people were interested in the process, the samples and my handout.  They also enjoyed asking questions.

Some watercolorists strive for even, flat washes while others prefer the look of texture. I’m firmly in the second camp — any way I can make it happen. In part, I love the surprises — the paint unpredictability than can happen when you allow or encourage texture.

Join me March 24, 25 & 26 at Oregon Society of Artists for a playful introduction to the many textural effects of watercolor in conjunction with acrylic mediums. You will…

∆   Experiment with several techniques for creating almost sculptural surface texture on watercolor paper before you paint.

Here is an example of texture built-up on the substrate.
I’ll be using the value study on Aquabord, below, to demonstrate at the workshop.

 ∆   Learn which pigments granulate easily and techniques for layering rich texture into a painting. Create washes with flowing texture for interesting backgrounds or to enhance a subject.
Below, I’ve poured paint — onto paper mounted on cradled panel — to create the illusion of natural seascape…

… then lifted unwanted areas of color

and added paint to create the sky and rocky shore.

∆  Put your experience to work on watercolor paper, which we will adhere to a 12 x 12 inch cradled birch panel. You will learn how to finish it without using glass and take it home ready to hang on the wall. Here’s a detail of a self portrait hanging in the gallery at OSA this month.

Register by calling Art Media 503-223-3724 OR 1-800-990-3364
You don’t need to be an OSA member!

To show a painting in the WSO exhibits, a frame with plexiglass is required. So I invested in one for this painting, with the plan of ditching it for a cradled board later. Notice the reflection off the plexi. I’m also reclaiming the border that was hidden behind a thin mat inside the frame.

This birch cradle is made by American Easel in Salem Oregon. Here I’m preparing the wood by sealing it with Golden GAC 100, so the art will not discolor over time.

I’ve rubbed the perimeter with green hued acrylic paints mixed with open medium to slow dry time. It’s a bit bright so after it dries I add a very thin coat of magenta to tone it down.

Ready to attach to the board! Notice the paper is a bit smaller than the cradled board. Revealing a bit of the front panel accentuates the framed look.

This freshly cradled piece “Free as a Fish” exhibited last weekend at the Celebration of Creativity in Beaverton.

UPS brought me a huge box the other day. Inside, under an enormous amount of styrofoam peanuts, were a couple of intricate graphite drawings by one of my first art teachers, Vic Thomas, in two 24 x 28 inch metal frames.

The art is delightful and I wanted to place it appropriately! But with two artists and many windows all competing for wall space, I pondered the possibilities for displaying this gift. The solution is to mount the art on 8-inch square cradle boards, and hang horizontally above my kitchen window.

Since the art was designed by dividing the space into many smaller areas, it is not too difficult to divide it.  I did have to split one of the fish images in half, but since the panels hang one inch apart it still works cohesively. The hardest part is removing the thin paper from the foam core but I manage that with only a tiny bit of tearing.

I’m using birch cradles, made by American Easel in Salem Oregon.
You can buy them in Portland at Art Media.

I prepare the art and cradles using Golden products that protect it as I work, seal the acid in the wood and add a finish to protect from ultraviolet light. I’m trimming excess paper, above, and sanding a rough edge, below.

  A layer of Top Coat — looks like Elmers glue when wet but dries perfectly transparent!

Then attach wire hangers and wall hooks…

 Here they are above my kitchen window where we watch the birds feeding… I LOVE how it turned out! Vic, I hope you approve.

Aquabord, if you haven’t tried it for watercolor, works a little differently than any other surface. Water absorbs into the clay while the pigment floats on top, allowing for granulating patterns and lifting of paint. The clay turns buff colored when wet and dries back to white. The sculpted surface encourages pigment to granulate. Layering builds up rich color values.

Varnishing the work when finished brings out the vibrant color of wet paint! And after varnishing there’s no need to hide your beautiful art behind glass.

I accidentally left a painting outside overnight (letting the varnish fumes evaporate) and found it drenched with rainwater!

No worry, just shake it off and wipe dry.

I’ll be over at the downtown Art Media store from 2 to 4 pm on Wednesday, February 16th, to demonstrate using watercolor on Aquabord (pictured here with Art Media’s lovely Gail Vines).

I will talk about using watercolor paper on beautiful, locally manufactured, birch Cradle Boards. This is a technique I’m experimenting with that is new to the watercolor community. Again, I frame without glass — this time using a top coat of acrylic for complete protection of the paper surface.

OK, I’ll also be shamelessly promoting my upcoming workshops!

Join me there… It’s free, and with a $20 purchase you can park free, across the street at the Smart Park, garage entrance on 10th.

Art Media (downtown)
902 SW Yamhill
Portland, OR 97205
Phone: 503.223.3724

A week of exploration yielded paintings based on an image that Myrna provided, plus I used reference of the same person, (Mike Henderson — an art instructor, painter and blues musician), captured from on an online video. My goal was to work in different styles, using materials both new and familiar. Value study sketches were used to become familiar with the subject.

A quick sketch with a marker on Strathmore wet media board, was over-painted with a mix of mat media, gesso and Golden’s Absorbent Ground, adding a bit of texture when wet. Then I added watercolor washes of Quinacridone Violet, Phthalocyanine Green, and Vermillion. Used printer stamps to add the letters.

This, on Crescent Watercolor Board, uses India Ink and watercolor washes. I added Golden Crackle Paste painted (when dry) with watercolor and Winsor Newton’s Iridescent Medium.

Sketch was warped in Adobe Photoshop, I then outlined it in resist using a metal tipped squirt bottle. It eventually clogged the tip! Resist was removed after painting to reveal white lines.

This was painted on a background of watercolor on Yupo paper. Since it is not paper at all, but plastic, the paint sits on the surface and is easily removed. I used an angular motif to sketch on the face, then lifted areas to white or pale tones. More darks were added to block in shadows.

Working from one of my image captures, this piece is an attempt to add a feeling of antiquity. I added a halo of gold leaf, and wings! In blue and gold. It’s on an old piece of paper I added mat medium and gesso with paint mixed in, a thin layer of absorbent ground mutes the color and allows for paint to adhere.

This is my personal favorite. 3/4 view. I’m working on Strathmore board again. It is a looser, sketchy rendering, using M.Graham’s Purple Dioxazine paint to block in values and DaVinci Watercolor Encausticks — a new product I have been testing — to add gradations and details.
Use the large “crayons” dry, then soften with water, or dip in water and draw, or draw on wet paper — all for different effects. I’ll call this “I Want To Be Like Mike!”

Golden liquid acrylic, squeezed right from the bottle on a watercolor block outlines this high key image. It is a stylized piece, drawing from the work of Alphonse Mucha for inspiration. Wet watercolor mostly stays within the acrylic lines.

This illustration took 2nd place in OSA’s Rose Contest last June.

It’s title is “Tucked In”
24×24 inches
watercolor on cradled Aquabord

I’m loving the clay surface of Aquabord… it absorbs water but pigment stays on top of the surface and can be removed as needed. That gives me the confidence to explore, as I can change what I don’t like. It’s easy to soften edges and the colors look so rich after varnishing. Plus, I love the ability to frame without glass. The wood cradles are a good, contemporary look. On this piece I’ve stained the wood to compliment the art, using thinned oil paints.

One goal for 2011 is to actually WRITE in my blog at least once a week! Yeah, I know, it’s been three years since I posted last. So for starters, here’s a brief recap on 2010 — a very good year.

After joining a critique group late in 2009, I was accepted into the spring WSO show in Brookings with my painting “Free As A Fish” …

…and the fall show in Salem with “Full of Grace”.

A coincidence? Maybe not! Having regular feedback on my work is a powerful tool. It is the best way for me to grow in my painting right now. I am continually exposed to new ideas and different opinions.

In 2010 I was involved in fund raising at OSA through a gallery event, SMALL TREASURES, that Sandra Wood and I sponsored. Over a hundred artists participated in making over 500 pieces of art, 6 inches square. It was a challenge to hang them all, but a wonderful show for OSA that generated a good amount of gallery sales, too. I coordinated the OSA workshop program, was a member of the board and designed the fundraiser brochure. I also taught regular classes at OSA and led two Art Media workshops there, VIBRANT WATERCOLOR on AQUABORD and PAINT MIXING DEMYSTIFIED.

The wonderful thing about teaching a workshop is that I have to thoroughly know all the material myself. After many days of study, I’m sure I learned more than anyone about color mixing!

I was also able to participate in two workshops.
Myrna Wacknov’s Beginning Portraiture workshop led me into new territory using acrylic mediums and texture.

My self portrait and Caitlin’s Prawn are work inspired by the experience.
I’ve entered them both in the Western Federation Watercolor Society contest.

Karen Vernon’s WSO workshop last fall was my first 5-day workshop. I didn’t actually finish anything in the workshop. The Hibiscus painting was my focus on color. The most challenging piece I started was a painting of salmon, which I have yet to finish.

Here’s an illustration for the 2007 John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival.