Tag Archives: art

Watercolor with Pen and Ink – part 1

Rockport, MA. Watercolor, pen and ink, 10.5 x 14, Kit Miracle

There are many styles of watercolor with pen and ink overlay.  Some artists do the pen and ink drawing first and then add the watercolor washes on top.  If you use this method, you must be sure that the ink is totally waterproof and won’t smear once the watercolor hits it.

In my case, I draw a pencil sketch first before adding the watercolor washes.  After it is totally dry, I then go back and add the pen and ink details.  I have used this method for twenty-five years but I suggest that you experiment with several methods to find what works best for you.

All of the small paintings shown on my Etsy shop My90Acres are created this way.  I like the looseness that this method allows me.  If I were to draw the object first in pen, I would have a tendency to get too bogged down in the details. Then adding the the watercolor would feel more as if I were “coloring in” the painting.  This seems to make the painting more static without much life, good for medical illustration but not the look I’m after.

I always begin a new wc/pi painting by marking off the outside edge of the painting (adding an extra ¼ to ½ inch) and then taping it down to a drawing board.  I use at least 140 pound watercolor paper.  Sometimes I’ll use painter’s tape but actually, regular old masking tape will work just fine if you’re not going to keep it on the board for months.  A few weeks will be fine but you’ll probably be done with the painting before then.  Taping the painting to the board will help reduce any buckling when the watercolor is applied.

The next step I take is to make a loose sketch on the paper.  Be sure not to press too hard with your pencil or to do too many erasures as it will bruise the paper.  Bruised paper will create dark splotches when the watercolor hits it; not an attractive sight unless that is the look you’re going for.

After the sketch, I apply layers of watercolor, usually working from light to dark. A hairdryer will speed up drying time between layers of paint.  After the paint is totally dry, then I begin to add the ink drawing.  I always start with the more complex parts of the painting, such as, the buildings.  I might even carefully use a ruler for the straight lines, but the painting will look fresher if you just freehand it.  The ink is just used to loosely add details; you don’t need to put in every brick and board, every blade of grass or leaf.  Simplify the shapes and let the viewer’s eye fill in the rest.

Finally, after your painting and the ink is totally dry, you can use a plastic eraser to remove some of your pencil lines if they are still showing.  Really!  I don’t know how this works, but it does.

Take a look at these three paintings of Rockport, Massachusettes. Click on the paintings to examine some of the details.

Part 2 of this post will explore some of the materials and other techniques.

Main Street, Rockport,Massachusetts. Watercolor with pen and ink. 6.5 x 9.5 Kit Miracle

Beach at Rockport. 6.5 x 9.5 Watercolor, pen and ink. Kit Miracle

 

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Jack Frost Visits

Jack Frost on my windowpane in the studio.

After a balmy winter holiday, the temperatures in the Midwest plummeted.  We recorded minus 4 degrees (F) this week.  Needless to say, I’m a wuss and am not spending much time outdoors.  However, even working in my studio has challenges.

As I have mentioned before, my studio is an old summer kitchen about 30 feet from the back door.  It was designed when cooking was done on wood-fired cook stoves (which it actually had when we moved here.)  This was to keep the heat out of the house in the summer.  You’ll find one of these buildings on many old farms in southern Indiana and throughout the Midwest and South.  I am lucky that ours is about 15 x 25’, which is pretty large for a summer kitchen.  In this case, the family and field hands actually ate in the building.  It is a perfect size for a studio.

Unfortunately, the whole purpose of the design was to keep the heat out of the house so they didn’t really care about insulating the building.  Thus, it’s very drafty.  Although I have a gas heater, unless I want to go broke, I keep it turned down.  This week I was wearing a hat, many layers of clothing, two pairs of socks (the cold comes up through the floor), and I was still chilly.

I snapped this photo of the beautiful patterns of the frost on the windowpanes.  It looks like giant feathers.  With all of our insulated windows and super-heated houses, window frost has become more and more uncommon.

The beauty of nature is all around us, even in the most unlikely places.

Since I was confined to studio painting, here are a couple of my recent works.  Plus, I tweaked the still life with red cabbage and artichokes that I posted on here a few weeks ago.  Artists are never quite satisfied with their finished work. Renoir was known to bring his paints to gallery exhibits even after his paintings were hung, just so he could make changes.  I’m not quite that bad but I might fiddle around with a painting which doesn’t quite suit me.

Here’s hoping that the weather is better where you are and that warmer days will be here soon.

Artist Still Life, oil on canvas board, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

Down by the Creek, oil on canvas, 20 x 16, Kit Miracle

Red Cabbage and Artichoke, 18 x 24, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle. Still Life revised from previous version.

Red Cabbage Still Life – A Challenge in Color and Shape

Red Cabbage Still Life, oil on canvas, 18 x 24, Kit Miracle

This still life is a little larger and more complex than many of my other recent paintings.  I was inspired by a visit to the grocery.  I must have had my “artist’s eyes” on that day because I seemed to be dazzled by the beautiful colors and shapes of the vegetables.  Several of the more interesting vegetables came home with me that day.

Inspiration in the vegetable department at the grocery. I love these colors and interesting shapes.

Before I tackled the main still life, I first completed several smaller still lifes just to get a feel for the shapes and colors.

Red Cabbage, oil on canvas board, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

Surprisingly, the red cabbage was the most difficult to paint.  It has very subtle hues of purple, red and magenta.  It was a tight head so not much interest as far as shape until I peeled back a leaf or two.  I think a larger, leafier cabbage would be far more interesting.

Artichoke, oil on canvas board, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

The artichoke, with it’s pointy leaves and shapes, was very fun to paint.

Radishes in Green Bowl, oil on canvas board, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

The radishes are usually fun but their greens started to wilt quickly.  However, they later generated more new leaves so that was a big help.

The final big still life was painted on an 18 x 24 inch canvas which I had toned in variegated colors.  It seems to have a glow all its own.  I don’t quite know how that happened except that some of the under painting showed through.  Unfortunately, I didn’t’ take step-by-step photos of this painting.  I might tweak it a bit more but there’s always a risk of going to far.  Sometimes done is done.

These paintings will be for sale on my Etsy shop.  KitMiracleArt

Plein air painting, Brooks Bridge, Martin County, Indiana

Plein air painting of Brooks Bridge, oil on canvas board, Kit Miracle

I went plein air painting with my friend Bill Whorrall on Monday.  It was a beautiful and unseasonably warm December day with temps in the 60s.  However, the wind was brisk which posed some problems later.

Brooks Bridge across the East Fork of the White River in Martin County, Indiana

Bill lives in Martin County, Indiana which is lovely and boasts a variety of terrains – rivers, stone ledges, hills, woods.  We decided to paint this one lane bridge, Brooks Bridge, which spans the East Fork of the White River south of Shoals.  We had spotted this location before but the ground was too wet to drive on.

While we were painting, we saw about four vehicles, including a four wheeler; probably the farmer checking us out.  (It’s hunting season and there are lots of poachers.)  I just waved and he drove back.  The sparse traffic is probably why the bridge is only one lane.  Yeah, impossible for you city people to believe but they still exist.

Bill was working on some ink drawings that he created with sticks and twigs as drawing instruments.  You can see the results here.  Really neat.

Plein air painting along the East Fork of the White River south of Shoals. My friend Bill Whorrall is drawing with ink and sticks.

Painting half done

I decided to use a canvas panel toned with yellow paint.  It was pretty bright but where it shows through, it seems to add some magic.  I like it anyway.

Plein air painting of Brooks Bridge. The wind nearly took my easel right after I took this photo!

The only real problem was that the wind picked up throughout the morning.  A strong gust nearly knocked my easel into the river!

I tweaked the final painting in my studio, darkening the details and adding highlights.  It’s sometimes difficult to really see and judge colors and contrasts in the bright sunlight.  What do you think?

Yeah, it’s for sale at my Etsy shop.

Ladybug Teapot, a Whimsical Painting

Ladybug Teapot, oil on canvas, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

This playful still life was inspired by the whimsical ladybug teapot that I found in my prop cupboard.  It’s actually a teapot and cup combination which I paired with some red apples and bright green fabric.  Check out the step-by-step of how this painting was created here.

The painting can also be found on my Etsy shop, KitMiracleArt.  A great gift for your favorite tea lover!

Appletini – Something Different

It was a busy week here on the farm with company and the big Thanksgiving feast.  The weather has been pretty great, too – all sunshine and balmy temperatures.  In November, this means more outdoor chores, such as, chopping firewood, cleaning gutters, etc.

Appletini, oil on canvas, 16 x 12, Kit Miracle

All of these activities mean that I only completed one painting this week.   I call it Appletini since it features a big red apple in a martini glass with a silver shaker behind it.  The reflections were what really attracted me.  This is similar to previous paintings that I’ve posted on here, Apple Jack, and Two Lemons and a Martini Glass.  I don’t know why but I like placing objects in unusual situations.  Props courtesy of Goodwill thrift shop.

I’m not quite sure if I’m finished with the painting but I probably am.  What do you think?

Of course, available on my Etsy shop and can be shipped in time for the holidays.

Good Framing Makes A Difference

Times Square at Night, professional framing, Kit Miracle

Recently I posted about how to frame your artwork on a budget.  This post is about how professional framing and presentation can bring out the best in your artwork.

This is also a follow up to a post I made in May about something different, a watercolor and India ink painting I created of Times Square at Night.  An acquaintance saw the post and was thrilled.  She and her husband had lived in the Theatre district near Times Square for nearly 30 years before moving to New Jersey.  She bought the painting as a surprise for her husband’s birthday.

When I mailed it to her, I told her that I had planned on framing it with a white mat and black frame.  This is what she and her framer came up with.  SO much better than anything I had imagined.  Professional framing really brings out the colors of the painting while displaying it to its best.

So, framing on a budget or professional framing, you choose.

Studies in Red – Oil Paintings with Heart

I’ve always liked red paintings.  When I did art fairs for many years, they seemed to be very popular with my patrons, too.  Everyone has room for a red painting to brighten up that special spot.

The four paintings that I completed this week are predominantly red or at least in the red/orange family.

The Birdcage, oil on canvas. 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

The first one, The Birdcage, features the antique birdcage that I bought at a flea market earlier this summer.  I paired it with some bright red fabric printed with beautiful little birds.  Then I decided to do a tea theme with a teacup and small teapot, along with some luscious lemons.  Although the painting is a little busy, especially after the simplicity of the others that I’ve been working on lately, I think it works.  Boy, that birdcage was difficult to paint!  The other challenge was to depict the birds on the fabric without letting them take over the composition.

The Conversation, oil painting, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

The second painting I did this week is called The Conversation.  I can just imagine two friends having a lovely talk in the afternoon sunshine.  It looks as if they just left, doesn’t it?

Lamplight, oil painting, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

Then I painted this bright interior painting called Lamplight.  This depicts an interior scene, perhaps an entry hall, with a lamp and a simple bouquet of red flowers.  The gold frame of the mirror helps connect the objects on the table.

A Sunny Corner, oil painting, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

My final painting this week I call The Sunny Corner.  I’ve always loved the play of sunlight and shadows on interior walls and floors.  The effects are often fleeting but beautiful, nonetheless.  The chair just invites the viewer to take a rest and enjoy the sunshine.

Visit my Etsy shop, KitMiracleArt, to see many more painting details.

Onions and Garlic, a step-by-step demonstration

Onions and Garlic, 12 x 16, oil on canvas, final- Kit Miracle

I’ve been painting a lot of still lifes lately.  This one was inspired when my husband came home recently with a bag of big, beautiful garlic bulbs.  I quickly grabbed them before he could put them in a sauce or plant them in the garden.  Then I went “shopping” through the house and refrigerator, and even my prop closet for the rest of the items I needed for a still life.  This one reminds me of something by Cezanne or Renoir.  The impressionists were known for beautiful paintings featuring simple household items.

If you would like to see a demo of this painting step-by-step, click here for the demo page.  The painting is for sale on my Etsy shop, KitMiracleArt.  Paint has to dry though!

How to save money by using standard size canvases and frames

A selection of frames from Michaels. There are MANY MANY to choose from.

I am often asked, “You mention standard sizes in your painting and framing, but what does that mean exactly?”

Good question.

For many centuries, artists have been unrestricted to the size of their wood panels, paper or canvases, so their wonderful creations could be all over the place with regard to size.  This is fine for creativity, but it gets expensive to frame paintings.  The reason is that unusual sizes call for custom frames, thus the expense.  Yes, one gets many more options, but if you’re on a budget, you may wish to stick with artwork which conforms to standard sizes.

Canvas sizes and frame sizes.

In my work, I buy boxes of canvases and canvas panels (wood or heavy cardboard covered with canvas), and even use custom wood panels cut to standard sizes.  This saves me money by purchasing in quantity which, in turn, I can pass along the savings to my customers.  Yes, I still will stretch linen or cotton canvas on stretcher bars if I want a certain size which is not readily available, but that is my choice and is usually for larger paintings.

Since watercolors (and other works on paper) require a mat to separate the painting from the glass, I am cognizant of of the sizes of ready-made mats and frames.  For instance, most of the watercolor/pen and ink paintings on my My90Acres Etsy shop are 4 x 5 inches, which I mat to 8 x 10.  All the mats are museum-grade rag mats in a soft white color which I purchase in bulk directly from the manufacturer.  This allows the buyer to purchase an 8 x 10 frame and have the painting hung in minutes.  Many of the larger watercolor paintings on my KitMiracleArt Etsy shop will also fit standard frames with mats (my bigger works don’t come with mats).  Where the store-bought mat says that it will fit an 11 x 14 inch painting or photo, the mat opening is usually cut to 10.5 by 13.5 inches but you can measure them in the store.

A selection of frames from the big box store. Some come with mats and some without. You can also toss the glass if you don’t need it.

 

So where can you buy frames and mats to save money?

There are many wonderful stores online where you can buy frames and mats of standard sizes.  Some of my favorites are:  PictureFrames.com, Jerry’s Artarama, Dick Blick, and even Amazon.  Some websites even allow you to upload a photo to try it out in the frame you are considering. Also, oil paintings are not usually framed under glass.

If you prefer to see the frames in person, there are plenty of stores which can meet your needs.  Michaels and Target come to mind.  Many of the big box stores have a good selection of ready made frames, with or without mats. I have even been known to buy a frame with a cheap print in it and throw away the print!  Hey, whatever works.

One word of caution if you are framing a painting on canvas, is to consider the depth of the frame, i.e., the rabbet.  A thicker canvas will require a frame with a thicker depth.  You will probably need some special clips to keep the canvas in the frame, but many of these are sold with the frame or can be added for a very small charge.

Attaching a canvas into a frame with canvas clips. These come in various sizes depending upon the depth of the frame.