Well, I had my second Watercolor Escape Saturday last weekend on March 28th. If you are new to this my wife, Marilee and I are committed to broadcasting a Facebook Live every Saturday at noon EST till our lives kinda get back to some type of normal. We want to offer an escape even for an hour or two.
In this week's blog post I have included the video now on YouTube (edited as a paint-along) and my demo notes. Here's what you will find:
Gallery of Work
Highlighted in Video
Below are several demos I did playing with composition and value studies before the final painting titled Walking in My Father's Footsteps. I also share additional paintings in the video. Click on the painting to see a larger version.
Every year I paint a special birthday card for Marilee. I remember once a long time ago we went to the Terra Museum to John Singer Sargent watercolor show. Sargent would paint special gifts for his sister with tender words and well wishes. They were touching and moved both of us.
This painting is of one of our favorite walks in spring up not far from our cabin. The silver light and tender greens you only see during this time of year.
This study was painted on handmade paper containing seeds, leaves, and stems. The paper had very little sizing so planning my brushstrokes were essential. Could not rework once the paint was laid down.
Final studio painting
I promised myself I would experiment with new color combinations during this down time. Here is an example a new color combination palette. And don't think you can't find painting reference material. This was taken by Marilee while we were driving north through Wisconsin to our cabin. The sun was setting, the sky was on fire and the earth was rich with color. Here's my 6-color full palette:
I have enjoyed Winslow Homer watercolors long before I ever picked up a paint brush. My father admired his work and would share his paintings with me. He would break composition rules and make them work.
I suggested a Homer book that looks like it's out of print but you may find on Ebay. There are other Homer books at Amazon (CLICK HERE) like this one. If you rather go to your library and check-out a book. Also here's a website to view. CLICK HERE.
Incase you didn't here we got a new puppy this year. Her name is Miss Poppy, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and she is such a joy. It's a blessing to have her and an additional heartbeat in our house.
Well that's it for now. I hope we will see you next Saturday at noon EST on my Facebook page for another Watercolor Escape Saturdays.
Remember Leave a comment below, tell me what you think and what you would like to see in the future.
Wash your hands and your brushes,
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In May I was invited to hold a full-day workshop for the Lakeland Art League in Minocqua, Wisconsin. Spring had come late this year up north just like in the Chicagoland area. Normally the lilacs are just starting to come into bloom and the trees are budding out in the most beautiful tender green. This year the lilacs were a week behind and the hardwoods on our property at our log cabin were still bare. I could tell the members were excited to get out, shake off their cabin fever, and learn something new.
My thoughts while preparing for this workshop was to have the students get right into the painting. That meant not drawing on the watercolor paper, but instead, do the drawing with the paint brush. I also was introduced to QoR Watercolors earlier this year at the Watercolor Society of Indiana. I wanted to share with my student this beautiful, full pigment paint which is a relatively new brand. I didn't have QoR included on my supply list when I was booked for this workshop but I do know. I have a full review in an earlier blog post. CLICK HERE TO READ.
I first spent a little time lecturing on patterns of values and colors – looking for the abstract shapes first before picking up the brush. From there I asked them to gather around while I started a step-by-step painting demonstration in values and colors. Step #1 began with large bold washes working wet-into-wet allowing the watercolor simply to flow across the paper. This is the unique beauty of watercolor letting the colors mix on the paper. This is something that cannot be achieved in oils or pastels. I then let my students go back to there easels and recreate what I had first done.
Step #2 I approached the painting by cutting out shapes of the foliage and smaller areas so that it would start defining the subject matter.
Step #3, the final phase, I put in the tree trunks where they actually belonged according to the patterns that were previously painted. The students follow along really quite well. I thought they adapted to this process nicely.
The afternoon demonstration was of Pioneer Creek. This lovely little piece of Heaven is nearby our log cabin. It's one of my favorite places to just study the colors and textures – enjoy the beauty of the Great Northwoods. For this painting, I had them do a drawing as a guide. Usually, the painting can be broken down in three steps, but for this demonstration, I broke it down into five steps because it’s easier for the students to follow along.
What never ceases to amaze me is how each student working with the same photo reference ends up with a little different painting. I always judge their painting in its own frame of reference never by the reference alone.
Everyone had a good time learned a lot and came out with two paintings. I raffled off one of the demos and the other was donated to Lakeland Art League for a charitable cause.
Thank you LAL. hopefully, I will see you this fall.
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I want to thank the Lakeland Art League in Minocqua, WI for the fantastic opportunity this past Wednesday, January 2. This is a large group of passionate artists in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.
The watercolor workshop went very well, and the students were great! I was impressed with the enthusiasm and the final paintings. Oh, and the heartiness of these artists fighting the frigid temps and snow.
This eager group of artists wanted to focus on snow and pines. I demonstrated a snow scene in the morning working through the three phases of a transparent watercolor painting. Working light to dark, background to foreground and warm to cool.
After we broke for lunch, we started the second painting – a paint-along. I feel this is a great way to have the students learn watercolor in small doses. In my experience, the student retains the information they have learned.
We talked colors and which brushes to start with. This is a block-in stage, so a big brush is a key to your success. I painted the first phase, and then the students went back to their easels and recreate the first phase. I always walk around and give personal direction with every student.
I took the students through phase-two which takes twice as long as the first. I walked then through the difference of winter verses a spring or summer. The sky is different, bark on the trees and overall light.
Phase three you really slow down, and now they can go in and use smaller brushes. This is the final stage where you focus on the details. I always feel an accomplishment when I take the tape of the painting. This clean edge gives you a sneak peek of what a mat will look like on your painting
I raffled off my demonstrations at the end of the day. Here are the two winners.
I would like very much to be included in your schedule this spring/summer. Thank you.
Full-Day Workshop: Exploring Watercolor Papers and Color Palettes to make a Dynamic Painting – Next Picture Show Dixon, IL
I started this demo off with Indigo paper which is around 240 lb. It has a handmade feeling with a nice rough texture to it. It’s a softer paper, so you have to be careful when lifting—you have to use a soft brush.
This full-day workshop was crafted into three demonstrations. I wanted to share the differences of watercolor papers and how to chose your subject material that best suits the watercolor paper. As far as paints I explained to my students what you get out of a limited palette versus a full color. The first two demos took around 45 minutes. Finally, I like to have paint-a-longs because the student catches on faster by watching and then doing rather than just observing. This way I can guide them through the painting and help them through the process.
Demo #1: I started this demo off with Indigo paper which is around 240 lb. It has a handmade feeling with a nice rough texture to it. It’s a softer paper, so you have to be careful when lifting—you have to use a soft brush.
- Raw sienna
- Ultramarine blue
The limited color approach showed the students using this color palette they could create the illusion of full color.
Demo #2: I switched over to 300 lb Arches hot press. It is a smoother and slicker paper. Lifting the paint is easier with this paper.
This was a full-color study (note: full color is denoted by six color or more.) Adding just two more colors showed just a hint more variety of colors and helped accentuated temperature changes.
The afternoon demo was on 300 lb Arches cold press. This paper has a rougher surface and can take a good scrubbing. I felt the subject matter lends itself to it – the roughness would add an extra dimension.
Finally, I firmly believe in the paint-a-long when teaching students. It’s a step-by-step instruction of how to build a painting. I selected a snow scene to help my students understand how temperature worked with the white of the snow.
Checkout the great job my students accomplished in just one afternoon. Thank you Next Picture Show for inviting me to your beautiful gallery.
How to Block-In and Cover the Whole Sheet in the First Wash
This was a watercolor demonstration I did for my Mainstreet Art Center Wednesday morning watercolor class a few weeks ago. I have a great group of students, a mix of beginners and intermediates who truly love the process of learning and creating watercolor paintings.
From start to finish I took approximately 1-1/5 hours of painting/lecture time. The point I wanted to drive home to my class was to be fearless and lay color down, blocking the entire sheet in the first wash. I have my students work with one-quarter of a sheet of watercolor paper till they build up the confidence and experience for a larger painting. This particular painting I used Kilimanjaro 300 lb. cold-pressed off-white natural paper. This is an excellent paper to work with.
I have had a lot of success instructing my students with a paint-along demos. This way they watch what I do in step 1: the block-in and they then can recreate it while I am with them answering questions. I remember there was nothing more frustrating to watch my instructor create a painting from start to finish and then turning us loose, try to recreate the same painting or subject matter later that day and forget how he handed the block-in, establishing secondary masses and the final details.
The photo I used for this watercolor painting was taken during a ten-day trip with my brother, Lee, his wife, Margo, and Marilee. We flew to Alaska around the end of August 2006. We decided to drive through the interior of Alaska instead of a cruise. This way we could experience all the sights, textures, and get an intimate view of the local color. We landed in Anchorage and traveled south to Seward enjoying this coastal town and spending the night in a quaint log cabin. The next day we took a daylong cruise and was totally in awe of the fjords and icebergs. From there we headed back north to Anchorage for the State Fair, Farmer’s Market, and the Anchorage Museum to see the works by Sydney Laurence, American Landscape painter. Then north to Wasilla and Fishhook. This was a portion of our trip. Denali and our plane trip around Mt Mckinley is for another time.
This image was taken up by Hatcher Pass in early September which was during the peak of their autumn at an abandoned gold mine.. We took a beautiful drive along Willow Fishhook Road and then Hatcher Pass Road to get there. In fact this was one of the last pictures I took with my trusty Minolta film camera. Shot 20 rolls of film. Marilee shot over 2000 with her new Nikon D200 DSLR.
Hatcher Pass is a mountain pass through the southwest part of the Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska. It is named after Robert Hatcher, a prospector and miner. To learn more about Hatcher Pass CLICK HERE.
Step #1: The Block-In
I started with a pencil drawing lightly, sketched onto the watercolor paper. I recommend a 2B pencil. Don’t go crazy drawing every detail, just lay down the basic shapes making sure your perspective is spot-on. Get it right in the pencil drawing because it will be very difficult if near impossible to correct later.
I shared with the students how to block in this particular subject matter with the background coming to the middle ground and then the foreground. I painted around the buildings at first. Then went into the buildings to cover the painting completely. The colors used were:
STEP # 2: Establishing Secondary Masses
The second pass at the painting I went back to the mountains in the background starting to form the secondary shapes and areas coming towards the foreground and the ledge behind the buildings. I then went into the foreground trying to keep the background cooler and grayer and the foreground warmer and more intense. Altering the temperature in your painting helps you with aerial perspective.
STEP # 3: Slowing the Process Way Down – The Final Details
The third phase of the painting I started to develop the background to show more changes in value and modeled the slopes softening the middle area of the mountains. Then I came down to the ledge directly behind the buildings and began modeling the darker darks within that ledge to separate it from the background. I start to develop highly textured areas in the foreground. Working into the building, establishing value changes from the light side of building to the dark side, the cast shadow created by the building, and a small path for interest. I continued adding some of the detail in the building with windows, smoke coming out of the chimney, and a little bit more detail on the building off to the left.
Finally, I went back to the mountains, adjusting values to create some sort of interest in the dark areas off to the upper right. Again revisited the slopes off to the left, modeling a bit more, recreating the carved out earth during the gold rush times. I then began pushing a little more intense color and darker values alongside the ledge in the background to push the building forward. I lighted in the roof of the building through lifting to push it forward from the background. From there I began to model the front deck of the building, the side protrusion from the building and darkening the windows were needed. Adding small accents of darks to the path, out in front on and around the building itself. This completed the demonstration.
Dale L Popovich IWS
is an award-winning watercolorist and teacher who is passionate about capturing the raw beauty of the American landscape with the fluid stroke of a brush. As you will see the works selected in his portfolio represent the breath of his holistic approach to painting. You can also learn along with this talented and experienced teacher through his workshops, Palette & Chisel, Mainstreet Art Center i Lake Zurich, IL, Elmhurst Art Museum, Towering Winds Academy of Fine Arts an online art school, and Popovich Studio classes.