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.
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 |
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 |
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? |
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,
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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What's your favorite brand of watercolor paint and color?

I think I can safely say that we all "LOVE" color, so I posed this question to my student groups to find out what they like and it's been interesting to hear all the different replies. 

Through the years I have gathered lots of different brands of color and when working on my own paintings I enjoy experimenting, but one of the challenges that can happen is when you try incorporating it into the current pallet. Some artists believe that you shouldn't mix brands, but really how often does that happen?

You could work with the three primaries of one brand, but if your like me, I enjoy playing and seeing how different color flows, rewet's, granulates and blends. It's exciting giving new colors a try, after all, as are artists, color is one of the things that inspires us. 

When buying a new brand of color make sure to test it first before committing to a painting. 
  • Things to think about:
  • How does it blend with other colors and brands.
  • How is the transparency. 
  • Does the color muddy when blended.
  • How much has the color shifted when dry.

For instance I once used a beautiful purple and when it dried it turned into an acid pink, it was shocking.

Color is personal and these are only just a few of the colors students are using.
Starting with the most popular brands:
Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, Holbein, Maimeri, Schmicke, Lukas, Mission, Cheap Joe's, Davinci, Art Spectrum (in Australia) and St. Petersburg 

  • Winsor & Newton: French Ultramarine Blue,  Winsor Blue (Green Shade) Burnt Sienna, Indian yellow, Quinacridone Gold, Cobalt Violet
  • Holbein: Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, 
  • Daniel Smith: Ouinacridone Burnt Orange, Cobalt Blue Violet, Cascade Green, Moon Glow, Jadeite Genuine, Carbazole Violet, All the Quinacridone colors, All the Prima Tek colors.
  • Art Spectrum (Australian): Red earth, Leaf Green

What's your favorite color & brand?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Dot at the end of a brushstroke

Just in case you are having problems with a little dot on the end of a brushstroke, this should help you understand why it is happening and how to avoid it (from the Calla Lily Course / online workshops)

Friday, May 6, 2016

Mothers Day Sale

Mothers Day Sale
Save and additional 25% off the "Spring Flowers Online Workshop".
For 3 days only 
(Good until Monday May 9th 2016)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Whale playing in the surf

Caught a picture of a whale playing in the surf while I was taking snaps for my upcoming workshop in Mendocino
July 25–28, 2016 (Monday–Thursday, 9:30am–4:30pm)
Affordable lodging is available onsite
or at the Mendocino Hotel (European rooms $70 a night) and maybe the Hill House (check with the art center for more details) 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

What a Wild weekend painting wildflowers

What a Wild weekend painting wildflowers in the Pt Reyes National Seashore. Howling winds, lost power, elephant seals on the beach, sea lions coming into the kitchen - what an Adventure and bonding experience. on the last day winds subsided it was absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Loose Wildflower Paintings

Loose Wildflower Paintings
Looking forward to this weekends workshop where we will be painting 
Wild Flowers of the Point Reyes National Seashore. 

We will practice different techniques, loose, wet-into-wet, and more controlled painting, should be lots of fun.

San Fernando Watercolor Society

Here is our group photo at the San Fernando Watercolor Society workshop. 
Thank you everyone for such a great time.

....and yes after the workshop, I found my way to Disneyland...joined my family, and my granddaughters took me on all of the scary rides. 
After riding on roller-coasters everything else is a piece of cake 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

New friends in Southern CA

We have a full house here in Southern California at the Valley Watercolor Society.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Valley Watercolor Society 2016

First day of our workshop in Southern California for the Valley Watercolor Society, one of my students Claudia Kazachinsky did this wonderful little painting of me, just had to share.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Start Painting Now & Save 25% on Beginner Course

Save 25% on Watercolor Beginner Course

Use Code:  PaintNow

View / Enroll

Start painting in watercolor immediately, n​o drawing skills required. Get started painting in watercolor immediately and learn the basics of water-to-color blending, values, tips & techniques, brush care, what kind of brushes to use and much more, easy to follow step-by-step lessons designed just for you.
Go at your own Pace and have access to the course content at anytime with no time limit.

Covered in this course
  • Color Basics
  • Color Blending
  • Values
  • Washes
  • Water-to-Water Blends
  • Make the Color Flow
  • Simple Clouds
  • Simple landscape
  • Simple travel sketch
  • Brush care
  • No Mistakes
  • No Drawing skills required
  • Tips & Techniques
  • Add the Water Back into Watercolor
  • Over 24 different lessons
  • Have Fun

How to Tear Watercolor Paper

Have you ever had problems tearing watercolor paper ?
I think you are going to LOVE this. 

This little snippet is from one of my workshops it is such a quick and easy way to tear your paper down to size. This works well for most papers. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Where I buy my paper

Hi everyone, I was just asked by a student where I get my paper, 300 lb CP (Cold Press) paper. This is a great question because many places only carry blocks or 140lb sheets. Personally I like either Dick Blick or Cheap Joe's their prices are both pretty competitive and sometimes Cheap Joe's has amazing sales, or one place will give you free shipping, but I'll let you figure that part out. 

I like to use Natural white, 22x30 Arches Cold Press and then tear it down to size. 

You will see all the different sizes available and consider buying your paper in bulk even if 5-10 sheets at a time, or place an order with a friend

Cheap Joe's or  Dick Blick

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Update on Make your flowers Sing Course

Update: I made a couple of improvements to the "Make Your Colors Sing" course. the video lessons are now downloadable to your device so you can view the lesson anywhere.
Another change is that I have included a printable 15x22 line drawing, that can be used to transfer your drawing to watercolor paper. Let me know how this works for you. I am planning on making other courses downloadable along with the larger PDF files.
Happy Painting Birgit smile emoticon

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Meet Scooter one of my new students

Nancy one of my students, sent this photo to me and said, Meet our kitten, Scooter, a rapt student of Birgit. Makes it a little difficult for me to view the daffodil DVD!

LOVE the picture, thanks Nancy
It's nice to have students at all levels 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Tips: Tearing Watercolor paper

Are you looking for an easy way to tear watercolor paper?
Here are some easy tips
Click Here to View Link

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"Brilliant Saturated Color"

Hi everyone I just added a new course to my online school take a look at "Brilliant Saturated Color".
If you have questions or new ideas for other courses just let me know at
To view the school Click Here
Happy Painting 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Join my New Online Courses

I'm really excited to let you know that I have launched my new online school and here are just a few of the courses available. Over time, more and more will be available so of you have comments or program ideas that you would like to see, just let me know.

I love the idea of being able to reach people that aren't able to make it to one of my workshops and also make it easier for people in different countries.

You are able to go at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home studio.

View all courses here

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Brush Tips

I am always asked how I clean my brushes, all I ever do is just rinse them out with clean water, but some people feel that their brushes aren't clean unless they use soap. Be careful when washing your brushes with any detergent or too often, this can damage and dry the hair making them brittle. If you feel that you really need to wash your brush then use a mild soap, such as ivory, baby soap or brush soap (which is specifically designed for washing brushes). Start by putting a little soap in the palm of your hand and gently work it into the hair of the brush.
  • Shape: To reshape your brush, wet the tip then flick your wrist in a downward motion to remove the water and reshape the point. If you prefer not to flick your brush, remove the excess water and gently reshape it back to a point then lay them flat on a soft terry towel then let dry.
  • Storage: Between paintings place your clean dry brushes handle down in a heavy clay, stone jar or pot, keeping the ferrule (tip) side up in the air to dry. If you are not going to use your brushes for a long period of time you might want to store them in an airtight container. First make sure that they are clean and completely dry. A damp brush can create mildew and damage the hair, if you are storing them for an extend time consider mothballs to prevent against moth damage.
What Not to Do
  • Do not use your good brushes for masking fluids and drawing gum
  • Do not use your good watercolor brushes for oil or acrylic painting.
  • Do not cut your brushes to reshape them
  • Do not leave your brushes submerged tip down in water or it will loosen the glue in the ferrule and the tip will eventually come off and ruin the shape in the tip. If the tip does come off and the shape is fine, re-glue it to the handle.
Ideas for traveling
Wrap your brushes inside a Bamboo Brush holder then secure the roll with a tight rubber band, so nothing moves. Consider dipping your brush into concentrated Murphy’s pure vegetable oil soap - let dry, once dry it holds it’s shape (if needed you can try this method to reshape your brush or tame some of those crazy hairs that can happen) When you are ready to use them again simply thoroughly wash your brush with clean water to remove the soap.

Happy Painting

Sunday, February 21, 2016

FREE mini course

Enjoy this FREE mini course, release the fear of watercolor along with any idea of having to be perfect.
Start with simple 5x7 paintings, then later increase the size using the same techniques if you like. Have a better understanding of much water to use, drying time of the surface and how to use those so called accidents, to your advantage. Ask questions and post your own paintings.
Click Here

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Star Flower with Birgit O'Connor Free Webinar Recording

Published on Feb 16, 2016
In the recording of this webinar, Birgit O'Connor demonstrates how she creates the Star Flower step-by-step. Learn how to see value in shadows, how to mix colors, shape petals and more!