Sunflower Workshop

Sunflowers. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

Phew! Another video lesson this afternoon and it was pretty intense. Flowers are tough at the best of times and require a huge amount of concentration. I’m exhausted! Everyone did really well – congrats to Cathy, Meredith, and MaryJo!!

Mine came out tighter than I would usually do but for me that is always the case when talking through a painting. I may touch this up and finish it off later.

If anyone is interested in joining me online for zoom lessons there are more signups available at
Post Road Art

Bringing it all together – lighthouse edition.


In class last week someone requested a seascape scene with rocks. After browsing through my references I thought I’d throw in a lighthouse too as I can almost never resist a lighthouse painting.

This actually brought a lot of the things we’ve been practicing in exercises together. We have the value changes on the lighthouse (white cubes), edges and painting in layers on the rocks and skies. The only new thing is the water which we touched on in one lesson but only briefly.

If this hadn’t been for a lesson I would have pushed it a lot further. Especially the water which needs some more detail to better suggest the white foam and more depths in the blues. But I need this for tomorrow and didn’t want to trash the whole thing so here it is.

Some intermediates :


The drawing. Quite sparse here and only marking out the big shapes.


I was going to start with the sky and work down but the rocks were worrying me so I tackled these first. This wash is meant to hit the lightest values in the rocks and, as most of it will be covered up later it can be quite rough and ready with some slight color and value changes.


A darker color goes in in broad, squarish shapes to suggest the shadow side of the rocks and give them form. Some edges are left hard and others are blended out to reflect the hard and smooth sides of the rocks. The grassy area and the foreground are left with less value changes to keep the focus on the lighthouse and the rocks next to it.


The sky goes in with neat cerulean. I’m careful here to use the blue to define the edges of the lighthouse so it stands out against the sky. It doesn’t need to be too dark here – slight value changes are more effective in suggesting sunlight.

The water was a bit of a gamble. I really could have gone further here – after class tomorrow I may go back and add more detail.


The final stage was to add in the darks on the top of the lighthouse and smooth out some edges in the shadows so things don’t look too pasted on. I also darkened up the shadow side of the lighthouse a little and greyed it off compared to the sky.

There’s still stuff that’s annoying me but this will have to do for today.

Macaw Demo

Macaw. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14

I keep trying to pick ‘easy’ subjects for demo paintings. None of them seem to turn out to be easy. Maybe nothing in painting really is.

There will be a full writeup on the tutorials page in the next couple of days. In the meantime here are some intermediates.

First the drawing. All is going well at this stage.


IMG_9782.jpg

Next the first washes. In the demo I want to emphasize that we want to hit the highest value for each color area (so at this stage it looks pretty terrible and washed out) . and to just put the paint on the paper and leave it.


The next stage is to leave the lighest color areas as they are and go slightly darker everywhere else. Again it’s a case of putting the color on and leaving it. Maybe a little smoothing of the edges but that’s all. You can see that there’s a little form appearing here.


The third stage is to go in with the darks. This defines some of the feathers (not all – don’t need to do them all) and gives a little texture to the plumage. It’s surprising how little definition you need here. A little work on the head and beak and we’re done.

Not perfect by any means – I struggled with this. I may need to rethink this one.


And a nice easel shot.


IMG_9790.jpg

Fruit Demo 2

Fruit Still Life. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

As it was still early and I had a fistful of reference photos I thought I’d have another go at a fruit still life. I haven’t done one of these in a long time and I was interested to see if I could still remember how to do things.

First the photo. A little more complicated than the previous one and I’ve always dreaded doing grapes.


still-life-1518989.jpg

Drawing and first washes in. Not particularly confident at this point and I’d been a little tentative with the first washes so everything’s looking a bit washed out.


Next stage and things are looking a little better. Still not really very confident but at least the grapes aren’t giving me as much trouble as I’d thought.


Final version. To be honest I quit while I was ahead here. I could have gone back in and darkened up some of the grapes but felt the risk of ruining it was too great. Pretty happy with this to be honest.


And of course an easel shot.


Fruit Demo 1

Fruit Still Life. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11”x14”

I’m starting teaching on October 21st so I’ve been thinking about lesson plans and the like. I thought we’d start off with something simple to get people used to handling the paint and mixing colors.

I thought this would be much more straightforward than it was. Turns out that when you’re trying to think through what you’re going to say and paint at the same time everything gets more complicated. Added to that is that I was trying not to paint on automatic but only do things that I could clearly articulate. Easier said than done.

So here was the initial photo :


Nice basic shapes, good colors and distinct patterns of light and shade.


Drawing is fairly straightforward I hope. Concentrating on angles and junctions and negative spaces. I marked in the shadow areas and highlights more than I usually would for emphasis.


First layer with the midtones and some darks. My shadow on the lemon fell off but that’s ok.


final image with the darkest darks put in and some details in the stalks. I hope this isn’t either too simple or too complicated for people to follow along with.


And a nice easel shot. Always good to have one of those.