Tuesday, January 3, 2017

You don't have to be perfect

I received an email today of someone wanting to take my online Landscape course starting January 7, but was concerned that they weren't good enough. That made me just a little sad knowing how the fear of that feeling can hold us back. My response was....

...I can hear the hesitation and worry in your beautiful story.
I do think that this course would be perfect for you, it's not about perfection but more importantly finding the essence and conveying the emotion of what you see.

Since (as you say you are a perfectionist and never happy with what you do), I'm going to say right now take a deep breath, there is no right or wrong, or one way to do it. Where we get into trouble in a painting is thinking that it needs to be a certain way. We want to imitate and if it's not perfect we feel as if we have failed.

It doesn't have to be perfect, or like someone else's, or exactly like what you see, our creative self already knows what to do, finds beauty in imperfection but may need a little help with technique.
In this interactive course we will work with the flow of water, moving color, simplifying the landscape, and working in manageable sizes. I really think you would enjoy this course and it would be perfect for you.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Water lines, Grainy Washes, Excess Water


Hard Waterlines 
Reapplying water to an area before it is completely dry can dilute color and carry the pigment to the outside edges, where it will accumulate, leaving unwanted hard lines. The obvious solution is to allow areas to dry completely before reapplying water or color. If you do form a waterline, try to soften it with a scrub brush or reapply water and glaze over it.

Grainy Washes
Mineral pigments and sedimentary colors tend to create grainy washes. Leaving your palette uncovered allows dust particles to accumulate, which may result in unwanted texture. Using a hair dryer to dry the damp pigment can flatten the sediment in the wash.

Warping and Buckling Paper
Watercolor tends to pool on lighter weight papers, often causing warping and buckling. Keep tilting your paper and moving the color to prevent pooling. A hair dryer will speed up the drying process. Hold it approximately 10 inches (25cm) away from the paper and keep the airflow moving evenly, or you can end up with areas that have dried too quickly, leaving unwanted lines.

Excess Water
To help control the drying time, remove excess water with a clean natural-hair brush. These are more absorbent than synthetic brushes. You can also use the tip of a paper towel, but don't press too hard or you may lift color, leaving an uneven dry area.

Backwashes and Blooming
Two areas drying at different rates can create back- washes and blossoming. During the drying process, water from the wetter, slower drying area seeps into the drier area, resulting in a blossom. Sometimes these are "happy accidents," but they can also be a disaster. 
If you have a very wet painting, try to keep an eye on it until it is almost dry--you never know what you will come back to. If a blossom has started to form, reapply water and pigment while it is still damp to even out the area. Remove the excess water and let dry. 
Worth Noting:
• Hard waterlines appear when an area is over wet and the pigment travels out to the edges. (above, left)
• Absorb water with a brush tip. A natural-hair brush acts like a sponge and will lift excess water out of an area. Natural hair is more absorbent than synthetic fibers. (above, middle)
• Absorb water with paper towel. The edge of a paper towel easily lifts out excess water. (above, right)

Friday, October 7, 2016

What is Fugitive color?

Fugitive Colors and Watercolor Painting by Birgit O’Connor

It’s a little surprising that many watercolor artists are not really sure what “fugitive color” means, nor do they even care; they simply want to paint with colors they like and that’s about it. That’s fine but, if you intend to sell your art or teach a course in watercolor painting, you need to know what fugitive color means.
So what is fugitive color?
A fugitive color is a pigment that, when exposed to certain environmental conditions such as sunlight, humidity, temperature or even pollution, is less permanent. Over time the color can change, lighten, darken or even almost disappear. Basically think of fugitive colors as temporary. They should only be used for fun projects, rather than in a professional watercolor painting.
Red is a powerful color that affect affects people’s emotions, so when painting you want to retain the dynamic energy and not have it fade or darken over time.
Reds are notoriously fugitive, which can be a challenge when painting a red subject. Some favorite colors that are fugitive include opera, alizarin crimson, anything with the word madder, or even gambogeLook for the words “new” or “permanent” in the colors, such as new gamboge or permanent alizarin crimson. These are reformulated pigments that are meant to be as lightfast as possible for that particular color. Even when you absolutely “love” a color, if it’s fugitive and if you want any kind of permanence to your painting, you shouldn’t use it.
What is a Lightfast Rating?
Keep in mind not all colors are fugitive. That’s why you need to look at the manufacturer’s rating system to determine your best option. The ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) is the lightfast rating of a color. It refers to the permanence and chemical stability of a color in relation to environmental factors. Some brands will use different labeling, such as numbers, letters or even dots. I recommend that you try to stay with artist grade paint with a lightfast rating of l or ll and keep in mind that student grade pigments are not as lightfast.
Ratings:
I = Excellent
ll = Good
lll = Poor
lV = Fugitive
What can you do to replace your favorite fugitive colors in the palette? Consider more of the synthetic colors such as the quinacridones, because these were originally formulated for the car industry. These are beautiful, vibrant colors that also have an excellent lightfast rating.
Watercolor painting with Birgit O'Connor | ArtistsNetwork.com
Design and movement are important elements, and when trying to achieve deep color in the shadows light-fastness and value are critical.
How to Test Lightfastness for Watercolor Painting
If you aren’t sure about the rating system you can do your own test using some or all of the colors you have on hand. Simply paint a strip of color on a piece of watercolor paper. When it’s dry, completely block one side of the strip from any light and allow the other to be exposed to sunlight by placing it in a sun-exposed window. Then in a day, week and month, take a look and see how much it has faded or changed.
Watercolor painting with Birgit O'Connor | ArtistsNetwork.com
When using lighter variations of pinks and magenta you want to make sure the color is as permanent as possible so it doesn’t fade over time. It might not fade in a month or even a year or two, but possibly in five or ten it’s better not to be surprised.
How This Affects You
When painting you’ll want to keep fugitive colors in mind, especially if you have any intention of selling your art. Even though fugitive colors can be fun to paint with, you’re gambling with having an unhappy client returning back to you extremely dissatisfied. The reason is because the watercolor painting they fell in love with is no longer the same; the colors have shifted and have either lightened, darkened or almost completely faded away. This is a situation that can avoid.
If you’re teaching watercolor painting, it’s up to you to let your students know and inform them before they make huge investments of time into paintings that can change or disappear when they could have avoided those problems by using better art materials. At least the information will allow them to make the decision that best suits their goals and budget.
I know this can all be confusing and mind-boggling, especially when just starting out, so don’t let this discourage your or become obstacle to painting, especially if you’re painting for your own enjoyment. Simply keep this in mind so you have an awareness of it because who knows where you may decide to take your artistic journey?
What are fugitive colors? | ArtistsNetwork.com
Series and Permanence Rating
Many people wonder what is the difference between two colors with similar names such as alizarin crimson versus permanent alizarin or gamboge versus new gamboge. Both have basically the same hue but when it says permanent or new, that means it’s more lightfast and permanent. For instance, looking at these Winsor & Newton tubes, notice that they have the same basic color name but different letters and numbers.
Understanding fugitive colors | Birgit O'Connor, ArtistsNetwork.com
Left: Make your own color chart by painting strips of color, let it dry and block one side with heavy weight paper, cardboard, or mat board so no light can be absorbed. Leave the other side exposed to light, place it in a sunlit window then check it in a week, month and so on. Right: Notice how different brands label their tubes with letters, numbers and dots.
Reading and Understanding Paint Tube Labels
Each brand’s label can be slightly different but they all have basically the same information. For instance, with the Winsor & Newton brand: AA = Extremely Permanent, A = Permanent, B = Moderately. The series number 1-5 indicates how expensive the pigment is with 1 being the least expensive and 5 the most expensive, and l-ll indicates the lightfastness. To get more specifics and information check the color chart of the brand you like.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How to find lost images on your SD card

What! Wiped out SD card!! All images GONE! Went into my cell service provider yesterday and the sales lady accidentally wiped off every single image I had on my phone about 1800 of them, when I asked where my photos were, she said, - sorry this has never happened before, I asked her how am I going to get them back, she again said sorry, there gone.

I was so in shock I couldn't say anything, and for those that know me (that's rare), no images anywhere?...all it said was no files found, on the phone, cloud, and SD card called tech support they couldn't find them anywhere either. All I could think about was finding a solution.

I found a program by "Wondershare" that scoured my "BLANK" Reformatted SD card and found all of them hidden deep in the card. Have to admit it, I was pretty darn smitten with myself, and I am still getting emails from my provider that are saying that they can't find them anywhere, even though I had a cloud.

Why I'm telling you this is in case you have the same problem of accidentally deleting and wiping out all of your photos in your camera on your SD card, you just might still be a to retrieve them, as long as you don't take pics and over write on the card.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Watercolor Essentials" simple solutions

Here are some fun things that are happening that you might find useful

Artists Network is sharing some excerpts from one of my books "Watercolor Essentials"  
simple solutions for common watercolor problems.  Click Here



and just in case you don't already have it, North Light is offering an awesome sale on my 
"Watercolor Essentials" book today.





Thursday, May 26, 2016

Busy week

What a busy and awesome week, wrote an article for Artist Magazine, prepared an online workshop for Artist Network University, editing 2 new online workshops for my online school and ready to start the book for North Light next week....was that all in one week? ....yes - Yikes