Watercolor, Words and Wanderings

Day 11 of The 90 Day Sky Project (90DSP)- Still trying to capture that glow of the first light of day. The sunrises in Maine are extraordinary. This time I tried using the color pink- you guessed it- Opera Pink! This painting turned out kind of muddy and non descript. I think it would have benefited from some planning and defining the clouds a bit more. I made a decision to NOT go back and “fix” the original paintings from 90DSP. Going through them like this is really honing in on how to use what I learned. Thanks you for reading!

Watercolor, Words and Wanderings

On day 10 of the 90 day sky project, I was looking at Georgia O’Keefe’s work called Above the Clouds 1. Wondering how it might work out if I painted individually segmented clouds. I was trying to create depth by having the larger clouds in the front and smaller toward the horizon line. I think I was not bold enough! I remember wiping out some cloud areas to make a more traditional sky….I lost my focus Georgia did not!

Thank you for reading- have a great week.

Watercolor, Words and Wanderings

Day 9 of the 90 day sky project. I was aiming to do a graduated wash from blue to pink. I ended up with an interesting pink “crawl” or watermark in the sky. Before I started, I flicked masking fluid around hoping that it would read like stars. I did the sky a day project in the summer of 2019 and you can see from this redo- I have learned a lot since then! I was able to achieve a much more successful graduated wash. I also felt that I needed to start with more dots of masking fluid to get a more believable field of stars. This time I applied the masking fluid with a toothpick instead of flicking it on with a toothbrush. The smallest drops created by flicking often just rub off when I put the paint on. I think the stars still look off- I will have to try again:) I used a flat brush for the wash and applied the paint to dry paper to get that vibrant glowing red color. Graduated washes are all about the right amount of paint and water and this is a skill you just really need to practice and even then sometimes a redo is needed. Thank you for reading!

Watercolor, Words and Wanderings

Continuing to paint has been my focus- getting my blog done is harder! When I am in Maine there is no internet at the place where I stay. This means I have to go about 1/4 of a mile to the public library to get service and you would think that it was hours away…I just cannot seem to get myself there. That is a first world problem. Here is some more of my flower a day project. Thank you for looking and reading! The one in the middle reminds me of a lime rickey- not because the drink looks like this but some where along the way some paint company called this color scheme “Lime Rickey”. I am starting to branch out as you can see with the white ink in the painting with the single flower.

Watercolor Words and Wanderings

I started a new project! I am doing a painting a day for ? 30 days at least. The last time I did this I went for 90 days. I am painting a flower every day. What is happening is some paintings require more time than others. Some days I start 3 or 4 and then my goal is to finish at least one a day. Below are a couple of examples.
I need to give a shout out to one of my teachers, Doris Rice, for starting me off on this path. She had us do what she calls “Drip Tulips” she calls this meditative painting. I call it sheer fun! Doris teaches on line and in the New Hampshire Seacoast Area. She also offers outdoor workshops all over the world. You can find her here- http://www.dorisrice.com/site/
Thank you for reading!

Watercolor, Words and Wanderings

Sometimes you fail. Learning to watercolor means making a lot of mud. When folks decide they want to learn to paint, their reasons are diverse. Being inspired by beautiful and interesting paintings, wanting to learn a new skill or hobby, or perhaps following their romantic dream of what it means to be a painter. No matter what the reason for the interest in painting, taking the plunge into actually painting is huge! Never mind coming to a class. It takes a lot of courage to try new things. We bring so many expectations of ourselves. Trying to get what is in our head out onto paper usually takes lots and lots of practice. Practice means making things that we would not necessarily share with others. I like to share these excursions into mud with you. I think it is important to remember everyone makes mud! Here I was trying to capture the sun coming out after a thunderstorm. Everything got all wishy washy! Have a great week- thank you for your time!

Watercolor, Words and Wanderings

I am taking a watercolor portrait class with Kim Stenberg, which has been a real stretch for me. She mentioned the idea that some of our watercolor paints are, or used to be, fugitive. Immediately the ears of a fellow student perked up. She was in law enforcement, and she said “What does that mean? I know what the term means legally but is my paint running from the law?” Artists have long been using fugitive colors. It simply means that the color fades. Watercolorists use expensive glass to try to keep the effects of light, dirt, coffee, etc. off our work and for a very long time we had a few paints that would disappear out of our work no matter how much money we spent on UV resistant glass! Today we have the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) . They rate our paint for its lightfastness using 4 methods.
Method A- exposure to natural daylight filtered through glass
Method B- exposure to irradiance from daylight fluorescent lamps
Method C- exposure in xenon-arc irradiance simulating daylight filtered through glass
Method D- exposure to irradiance from cool white fluorescent lamps and soda-lime glass filtered fluorescent UV sun lamps

Under these standards, lightfastness categories are assigned based on the color difference between samples before and after exposure to light as measured with a
Lightfastness I: Excellent Lightfastness
Lightfastness II: Very Good Lightfastness
Lightfastness III: Fair Lightfastness
Lightfastness IV: Poor Lightfastness
Lightfastness V: Very Poor Lightfastness
The lightfastness of a particular pigment can differ. For example, Vermilion has a lightfastness rating of excellent when mixed in oils and acrylics. As watercolor, it may have a rating of fair. Be sure to check the side of your watercolor tube or the manufacturer’s website. Some other infamously fugitive colors are Alizarin Crimson, Rose, Opera, Rose Madder, Sap Green and Dioxazine Violet. When you buy these colors look for a version called Permanent – Permanent Alizarin Crimson for instance. Let’s be clear the colors are not exactly the same, for instance Alizarin Crimson has a brown hue that Permanent Alizarin Crimson does not have. Some colors do not have a substitute like Opera. If you choose a fugitive color just know that in a few short years your painting may look very different.

Below is a painting where I used Opera. You can see why an artist might want to choose this color and there is no substitute that I know of.
Thanks for reading- have a great week

The “hot” pink is the infamous fugitive- Opera

Watercolor, Words and Wanderings

What’s that! Is there really dirt in my paint? Recently I heard it mentioned that Raw and Burnt Sienna have dirt from Siena, Italy in them and I just had to check that out. According to Wikipedia, Sienna is an earth pigment containing iron oxide and manganese oxide. In its natural state, it is yellowish brown and is called raw sienna. When heated, it becomes a reddish brown and is called burnt sienna. It takes its name from the city-state of Siena, where it was produced during the Renaissance. By the 1940s, the traditional sources in Italy were nearly exhausted. Sienna’s production was moved to the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily. Another place they found the proper “dirt” was in the Appalachian Mountains. The pigment is also produced in the French Ardennes, in the small town of Bonne Fontaine near Ecordal.
In the 20th century, pigments began to be produced using synthetic iron oxide rather than the natural earth. The labels on paint tubes do indicate what pigment is used, but it is clear as mud regarding synthetic VS natural pigment. According to Fredrick Kaplan, synthetic Burnt Sienna is Pigment Red number 101 abbreviated to PR101 and natural Burnt Sienna is PR102. You do have to do more research if you want to know whether your paint has dirt in it. I reached out to Winsor & Newton hoping for a chart but they did not have one.

According to Vinita Pappas ( https://vinitapappas.com/watercolor-paints-organic-synthetic-what-does-it-all-mean/ ) it turns out watercolor paint can have 4 kinds of pigment in it:

Natural inorganic pigments — mined from the earth and pulverized (no carbon)
Synthetic inorganic pigments — created in a lab using metal or mineral compounds (no carbon)
Natural organic pigments — ground-up plant or animal matter (carbon)
Synthetic organic pigments – carbon-based pigments made in a lab.
Some examples of inorganic pigments; yellow ochre, burnt sienna, cadmium, cobalt, ultramarine. Synthetic organic pigments include quinacridones, phthalos, dioxazine, naphthol, anthraquinone. This group usually tends to be more vivid, transparent, and staining. Those carbon atoms form strong, stable chemical bonds.

You can make your own watercolor paint with a few simple items: dirt,water, gum arabic powder,honey or glycerine and clove oil ( this would be to help prevent mold) and a few simple tools. OK- so it is not rocket science but it is a fair amount of work and pulverizing dirt into power makes it inhalable and so there are some safety concerns too. One of my teachers, Carol Douglas, also cautions us that many of these paints may be fugitive. Let’s talk about fugitive pigment on another day.

To conclude, yes Virginia there may be dirt in your paint too! The watercolor painting below has a bunch of raw and burnt sienna in it and is for sale on my Daily Paint Works site. You can check that out here- https://www.dailypaintworks.com/Artists/rebecca-bense-11974 I call it Rock Stalker 😉

Thank you for reading- until next week.

Watercolor, Words and Wanderings

I am putting day 6 and 7 of The 90 Day Sky Project together. These two paintings came from my head. I think they look like “cousin” paintings. When I started this project I used Cerulean blue almost exclusively when I painted skies. I like it for the granulation that occurs. It creates a little chaos in a controlled kind of way. The other color that I was using is Cadmium Red Scarlet. It is actually more like orange than red. I like to mix complementary colors to make my grays. Cerulean Blue and Cadmium Red are both fairly granulating colors and so the pigments drop out of the water solution in interesting ways. Today I often use French Ultramarine Blue mixed with Cerulean Blue for skies. The Ultramarine adds a little depth in the blue.
Thank you for reading!

Watercolor, Words and Wanderings

Tension. Songs have tension and that makes them interesting. Visual art can create a feeling of tension. Meetings sometimes have tension. Is this a sign we are getting the hard stuff done? It seems like everywhere I turn lately there is tension. I was figuring everywhere I go, there I am and what did I have to learn from these tense moments? Then I remembered, I was quitting caffeine and I bet if you came in and handed me a rainbow there would be something wrong with it! I better practice patience and tolerance. This is day 5 of The 90 Day Sky Project. It is reminiscent of a view across the street from my parent’s house. I preserved the whites of the birch trees with masking tape and then painted that “peaceful and relaxing” graduated wash of pink to yellow. I put the green area in and then I took off the tape and rendered the trees. I generally work light to dark and since the trees are darker, I could paint the branches right over the background. Be well my friend- and thank you for reading!

Day 5 of The Ninety Day Sky Project