pencils down…for a minute

I have been loving exploring colored pencils and learning more about how, when used correctly, they can give an illustration that watercolor look. I love this because I’VE ALWAYS HATED working with watercolor. It’s the most unforgiving medium I know of.
After looking at a lot of botanicals though, I see that watercolor is the medium of choice. Hmm…
Last weekend I decided to face two of my fears head on – driving in the snow alone all of the way over the hill to Bend, Oregon (fear #1) to attend a two-day botanical painting workshop in watercolor (fear #2).
The snow was a cake walk, and the workshop was a blast! Jeanne Debons is a botanical artist and instructor who lives in Bend. One of the classes she leads is a two-day workshop in the fundamentals of botanical painting in watercolor.
I attended the class with three others – all at varying skill levels, but all well above me. No problemo – I was there to learn ๐Ÿ™‚
Jeanne started me on a reintroduction to painting shapes – spheres, cones and rods…enough to learn how to shade, and ‘move paint around’.

painting shapes

First thing I learned:
I learned that not only is it OK for watercolors to touch one another (I always thought that was a no-no), but that layering the color is what gives depth and luminosity to a painting. (maybe this is just so for botanicals – not sure).
Once I practiced a bit I moved on to my piece! A pepper. I had to sketch it, and then use that sketch as a base for a more detailed picture showing the shading. Then that piece was what I referred to as I painted. My pepper started out pretty lame though.
Second thing I learned:
Paintings go through a phase Jeanne calls adolescence. In this phase paintings look awkward, and you often want to pitch it, but they’ll grow out of this phase as you continue working with them.. An earlier me would have thought this concept hokey, but I saw it firsthand and its true! The eggplant in the first pic up top is still in its adolescent phase.

Painting a pepper

I worked on my little pepper for the rest of day 1 and a LOT of day 2. Sure enough – it started to come together. It’s not a perfect pepper, but I learned a lot in painting it.

Here’s my pepper after about 2 hours.

pepper after about 2 hours work

and here’s the same pepper after about 4 or hours:

pepper after about 4-5 hours work

The third thing I learned was:

I came home and continued practicing. This little tangerine has taken me three days!

watercolor tangerine


7 thoughts on “pencils down…for a minute

  1. Wow, that tangerine just pops off the screen.

    Watercolor terrified me for years. Now I just ignore all the rules and play anyway. And you know what, nothing saves an aweful watercolor better than drawing back into it with colored pencils ๐Ÿ™‚

    Go girl, it’s about time to schedule an art adventure….

  2. I’m so proud of you ! Driving to Bend in the snow was so brave !! And signing up for the watercolor class is equally so. I enjoyed seeing how improved your pepper was after spending time utilizing what you’d learned… Very impressive honey ! And your tangerine is mouthwatering… I love the little leaf ! You make me want to go take a class and learn something new and I just might do that. OK, let’s talk soon… Love, n. xox

  3. Wow, I am impressed, you have done a fantastic job on the tangerine. I like your blog very much, it is the best PR ever. Maybe you’ll want to come back in April not wait until MAY:) At least the roads and the weather will be better. It was very fun to paint with you and see you pick it up so quickly. Can’t believe you were afraid of watercolors. I think you are a natural. I don’t know what to say but I am so, so proud! J

  4. Gina, I really enjoyed your Blog, this past weekend class, and meeting you. What fun! You are a natural. I am looking forward to seeing you beautiful beet you are working on.

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