tight enough or too tight?

Some people judge a picture by how detailed it is. That’s one way to do it, but maybe not the best. Others think it’s best not to render every detail. Another way is to just “indicate” what you are trying to show. Watercolor lends itself to this very well. I agree with that, but it’s easier said than done. One technique to do this is to use the largest brush possible and not use the small ones. Easier said than done, but it works. So when you are evaluating a picture, step back and look for a picture that reads well without a lot of detail. In other words a picture that’s not so tight. I admire artists that do this well.


Drybrush. Wait a minute. Paint is wet, so what’s this drybrush thing? Actually, it’s just one of many techniques available when painting with watercolors. Basically, the paint is mixed with less water and more pigment. When the brush is dragged over the paper, it does not flow evenly, it flows sporadically. Exactly how is determined…Continue Reading

See the light

Here is something that is often overlooked by artists and viewers alike. And it’s one of the most important elements in any picture. What and where is the light source or sources? In a daylight scene, is the sun behind you or straight overhead or in front of you and beyond the subject of the…Continue Reading

Great artists

There are so many great artists that I think it would be futile to try list them all. But if I had the resources to collect original art work, who would I choose? The watercolorists I admire the most are Winslow Homer and James Milton Sessions. Nobody does it better. Another artist that I admire…Continue Reading

What about details?

This is for beginners who want to paint: Take a good look at the subject, take note of the details, including those that are quite subtle. How detailed you want to be is up to you, but including some minor details can add a lot to the reality of your picture. Here’s an example: Everyone…Continue Reading

Where you gonna hang it?

OK, you just bought a great watercolor, it’s lovely, but where to put it? Obviously I can’t tell you that, but I can give you a suggestion where not to put it. Here’s an example: Years ago, my father and his girlfriend hung one of my pictures in his living room. It looked terrible. Why?…Continue Reading

sometimes it’s not working

It seems like about 20 percent of the time, I just can’t get a picture to come out right. I think this is because watercolors are partly accidental anyway. So I wind up fiddling around with it, but it’s still not right. What to do? Throw it away, that’s what. Just toss it out, rethink…Continue Reading

Bigger is better?

How finely detailed or “tight” should we make the picture? The range we see goes from showing the tiniest detail to very splashy or “loose” to the point where much is only indicated. Every artist does it the way he prefers and no matter how tight or loose it’s still a legitimate way to paint.…Continue Reading

gouache, say what?

What in the world does gouache mean? Pronounced gwash. It’s actually pretty simple. If we say watercolor we usually mean ¬†water based paint that is transparent. If you put one layer on top of another, you can see both. Gouache is watercolor paint too, but it is opaque. You cannot see what is under the…Continue Reading

The brushoff

When we think of painting a picture, we assume painting with a brush. Well, it isn’t necessarily so. There many different effects you can get by applying paint with something else. A few examples: If you look at my pictures Louise and Polaris, there are two entirely different skies. How did I get those nice…Continue Reading