Prep Work and a Test


This is a real departure.    First off I’ve been asked to do a much larger painting than normal.   About 4×6 feet in fact.    My first thought was that you can’t get paper that big!   I then remembered reading about painting on canvas that had been prepped with special absorbent ground so the watercolor would stick.   This is my first test on a 18×24 board with 2 coats of ground on it.   It’s different to say the least but I quite like the effect it gives.   I’m a bit worried that the paint isn’t actually sticking to it properly so more investigation will have to be done about fixing it permanently.

The subject is science with an emphasis on chemistry.   My initial thoughts have been a somewhat abstract periodic table surrounded by atomic diagrams,  molecular structures and a dna helix swirling about.     We’ll see how things develop.  I’m pretty confident so far.

Lake Bled

Lake Bled

At first glance this doesn’t look too complicated but I wanted to have another go at a lake scene and try and get some movement in the water.    This is tricky as you have to wait until the paper has just the right amount of wetness so the ripple marks spread but not too much.   It didn’t work out quite as I’d planned but this is definitely something where practice makes a lot of difference.

Otherwise this isn’t the most subtle of paintings.  Too much quin gold which makes the greens far too perky.   I need to work on toning these down a bit.   Buildings came out well though so all in all things came out positive.

Canoe on Long Lake


Time to do something different after all the flowers.   This is from a photo by Bonnie Sitter on PaintMyPhoto.    I  rooted around and found my Sterling Edwards brushes which are great for this kind of painting.  They’re bristle and flat and good for working wet into wet.   At the end I hesitated about putting in the duck as I though it might be too twee but I think I got away with it.

Droopy Tulips – Take 2


Another try at the tulips although the last version grew on me a lot.    Started very differently here with the paper completely wet and and then blocked in the flowers and the leaves and let the colors mingle.   After that had mostly dried I went back to sharpen up some of the edges.   It definitely hangs together much better.

I added in the dark background at the end just to see and I think it works.

Droopy Tulips



There’s one thing you can always expect from this painting lark – unpredictability.    This was done from a lovely photo from my fellow painter
Bobbi Heath



Isn’t it great?    And it *should* have been extremely paintable.   Lovely big flowers,  long straight leaves framing the blooms,   good outline,   crisp shadows.   It had everything going for it.    Unfortunately I just could not do it justice and the painting is not so much finished but abandoned and left for dead.



Great shame.  The drawing was fine – lovely shapes, fills the page well.

Just couldn’t get there with the paint.  Do I try again?   Come back to it in a few days.   Pffft.   Maybe take up golf?

Edit:   It’s been a couple of days and this has grown on me a lot.    A closer crop improves things no end and it’s now allowed out of the studio.   Sometimes it goes like this – the struggle of painting overshadows the end result.

Sunflower with Daisies


Third time out with the small format flowers.   Sunflowers are great fun!  Very happy with this one.     I’m slowly learning that with flowers it’s the darks that make them flower like.    Little spots and lines of dark are what make them come alive.    It’s very tempting to spend a lot of time on the petals but you don’t want to fill them up with too much color as you lose the contrast.

Happy with this one – it has the right combination of looseness and definition.



Add To Cart

Shipping Paintings – A Checklist

This is surprisingly involved.    

I haven’t done it long enough for it to be second nature (yet).   But all steps are necessary:

Before painting – make sure the mat will fit round the painting without leaving gaps

.    It’s taken me five years to learn to do this (and much badgering from James).   I have a set of paint stained mats in the studio for this specific purpose.   Don’t use fresh ones – they’ll end up with paint on them.  Also – use standard sizes.   I used to think this didn’t matter and the painting would dictate what size it needed to be.   I spent a lot of time and money buying custom mats.   I was wrong.

Take a good photo of the painting before shipping

.   Not an iPhone photo.    Use good lighting.

Flatten the painting

.    This involves placing the painting face down on a board, lightly spraying the back with water, covering the painting with a clean board and placing a heavy box on top.   Leave for an hour or so until dry and flat.

Mount on foam core using linen hanging tape

.    Again using linen hanging tape hinge the mat on top.    Keep checking throughout that the mat frames the painting correctly.    Don’t use artist’s tape for this.    It always comes off after a few months.   

Sign the painting

.  I  do this after the painting is sold and after the mat is in place.    You don’t want the signature half hidden by the mat.  We, of course, don’t have any paintings in this state in the house.  Absolutely not.

Add sticker

with website and name on the back of the foam core board.  

Place in acetate sleeve

.   Add business card to front of sleeve.

Print address label

.   Try and remember which way the address label sheets go in the printer.     

Print address label again

– write note to self about which way round the address labels go in the printer.    Promptly lose notes.  

Place painting in double thickness corrugated cardboard surround.  

Use good quality packing tape on all edges.   Double check tape is secure.   Then triple check it.

Affix address label and large pink fragile sticker

.    Realize sadly that the fragile sticker probably makes no difference.   Add another fragile sticker.

Weigh package

Go to USPS website

and print out shipping order. 

 Go to USPS office

and hand the package and order sheets to the nice person behind the counter. 


and go and have a cup of coffee in the coffee shop over the road.

This takes longer than the actual painting.  But all is necessary.