5 Quick Acrylic Landscape Demos You Need to Try

From snowy evergreens to rigorous waterfalls, you’ll love the simple acrylic painting techniques demonstrated in this week’s Jen’s Pick video: Acrylic Landscape Painting Essentials with Johannes Vloothuis!

After a review of materials and an insightful color-mixing tutorial, Johannes walks you through five fun landscape techniques sure to help you enhance your landscape painting skills!

Demo 1: Snowy Evergreen

Capture the allure of a snow-filled day in a stunning forest vista by learning how to establish harmony among the dark and light values in the painting through color variegation, using dry brush techniques to create exciting and realistic textures.

Acrylic Landscapes, Johannes Vloothuis, Snowy Evergreen

Demo 2: Waterfall

Using an array of essential acrylic techniques — including negative painting, color-mixing, scumbling and dry brush — paint a vigorous waterfall cascading down from a rocky cliff’s edge.

Johannes Vloothuis, Waterfall, Acrylic Landscapes, painting demonstrations

Demo 3: Clouds & Rain

By evenly spreading gel retarder all over the sky section of your canvas, you can set a strong foundation for establishing soft, blended edges as you paint dismal clouds and bursts of rain coming down over a mountainous scene in acrylic.

Johannes Vloothuis, acrylics, acrylic landscapes, clouds & rain demonstration

Demo 4: Stone Wall

Create a stone wall behind bundles of vibrant foliage and flowers in acrylic by discovering key color variegation tips and tricks, such as working randomly to ensure color shifts, establishing irregular lines in your structures and only suggesting where the stones may be protruding from the wall.

Johannes Vloothuis, acrylics, acrylic landscapes, stonewall demonstration

Demo 5: Flowers & Grass

Whether you want to paint a brilliantly manicured garden filled with blooming flowers and vivacious foliage or an enchanting meadow scene filled with striking yellow grasses and radiant wild flowers, the acrylic techniques in this simple tutorial are sure to inspire, including: negative painting and dry brush techniques to establish leaves and bushes, using a pastry brush to quickly add in the grassy field and fun splattering tricks to create wild flower blossoms.

manicured flowers, Johannes Vloothuis, acrylics, Acrylic landscapes, flowers & grass demonstration

Johannes Vloothuis, acrylics, acrylic landscapes, wildflowers, flowers & grasses demonstration

“After all these demonstrations and theory, you’ve been given some valuable tools to work with to get off to a real good start,” says Johannes. “So I hope you will give this a try and enjoy the world of art.”

Check out the preview below, and stream the full-length acrylic painting demonstration here.



Want more instruction from Johannes Vloothuis?

Join Johannes, along with hundreds of other artists, in his live online workshop, Paint Along 30: Brilliant Light Effects. Follow along as he starts and finishes landscape paintings in real time — all while sharing his expert painting techniques.

In this live online workshop, you’ll discover how to add luminous light to your paints for entrancing effects from the comfort of your home!

Learn more and register for Paint Along: 30 Brilliant Light Effects now!

The post 5 Quick Acrylic Landscape Demos You Need to Try appeared first on Artist's Network.

Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept It

An Assignment to Change the Way You Think About Painting

We have all been there—in a rut—painting what we know, choosing colors we like and using techniques we’re comfortable with. They don’t call it the comfort zone for nothing!

It’s pretty hard to grow as an artist, be it as a painter, photographer or sculptor, if we never challenge ourselves.

Sunny Morning (acrylic on canvas, 24x24) Will Harmuth, Acrylic Painter

Sunny Morning (acrylic on canvas, 24×24) Will Harmuth, Acrylic Painter

We asked acrylic artist William Harmuth to give us an assignment that forces us to work outside our boxes. William is passionate about painting on square surfaces, painting quickly (almost always finishing a painting within a day) and minimally mixing colors.

Acrylic Artist: William, you seldom spend more than a few hours on a painting—why the urgency?
Will Harmuth: I like to paint with energy and momentum and I find that if I have to return to a piece over and over that energy is lost. This is when painting turns into a chore and the painting starts to lose its vibrancy and energy. I want the paintings to feel like a spontaneous discovery. I was walking down the street and stumbled across this great scene, and I want the viewer to experience that same sense of discovery.

Once I find something I want to paint, I allow my memory and the reality of the place to settle in a bit before I bring the image and the emotion together in a painting. When everything is in synch it doesn’t even seem like I’m painting—it’s more like I’m simultaneously leading and following with the work.

AA: What’s your philosophy on mixing colors?
WH: I like to mix my paint on the canvas or panel—selecting the major colors and then going back to my paint selections to add and mix more color into the area I’m working. Many times I just dip the brush into several colors and then place it on the surface, permitting the enriched color to do its work on the canvas.

The Assignment

Your assignment is simple, paint like me. Don’t try to paint what I paint—replicating another’s work always fails. I want you to give up tight, restricted brush strokes, meticulous color blending and laborious hours at the canvas. Paint small and fast. Feel what it’s like to just let the brush go and play with paint. Select two brushes—two points or two brights—this will keep you from focusing on the minutia. Think big shapes and place them boldly.

Rules of the Assignment

If you are accustomed to painting in a tight, precise manner, perhaps planning and prepping all your colors, sketching on the canvas before you paint or spending days at the canvas, this is for you.

  1. Pick a subject that is not familiar to you.
  2. Pick a canvas or panel 12 x12 or a little smaller if you prefer.
  3. Work with these basic colors: cool gray medium, white, black, Hooker’s green, cadmium orange, golden yellow, yellow ochre, cobalt blue, cadmium red—this should be enough colors.
  4. No mixing on the palette and minimal color mixing on the surface.
  5. Use only two brushes, perhaps a 3 and 8-point.
  6. Work on an easel with your arm extended. Try not to use your brush like a pencil.

AA: What can we expect?
WH: Perhaps a hot mess, and that’s ok! Just let loose, have fun, try something completely different and allow yourself to feel what it’s like to paint freely. Be inspired by a photo or a picture in your head, but don’t be married to it. See where the painting takes you and follow. Will you ditch your ways and paint like me? Most likely not. But you may learn that you don’t need to mix color as much as you do. Or, you can let go of some of the fine detail for more free and open brushwork.

And if anything you will learn you can always try something new, if only just for fun.

For more great tips and techniques on acrylic painting and to see more work by acrylic artist Will Harmuth, order your copy of the Winter 2016 issue of Acrylic Artist, today!

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Technique Tuesdays: Watercolor for Mixed Media

Mixed-media artists are quickly discovering the creative rewards of adding watercolor to their art journal pages, collages, monoprints, and more. Watercolor’s versatility allows it to shine on a variety of surfaces, and it can be combined with other mediums and materials. Best of all, watercolor isn’t limited to pans or tubes—you can get stunning watercolor effects from pencils, crayons, sticks, and powders.

If you’re new to watercolor for mixed media or have been including it in your artwork for years, these tips and techniques are sure to add some fun, fresh ideas to your art practice.

Watercolor palette by Gina Lee Kim

A watercolor palette with wells is helpful for mixing custom shades. (Photo by Gina Lee Kim)

1. Make a watercolor stash: Danielle Donaldson is an advocate of building up a stash of watercolor backgrounds for future use in mixed-media art, and in her book Creative Girl: Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life, she explains why: “There are times when I feel less than creative,” she says. “Creating simple but beautiful colors and patterns on paper is a therapeutic way to get out of a slump with the added bonus of a multitude of starting points for future work.” To create these backgrounds, she starts with a loose wash of color on paper, then adds and blends more colors, covering the paper. As the wash dries, she flicks clear and colored water over the paper, then sprinkles salt, which pulls the color, creating a mottled effect. Use as is, or cut the background up and use in collage, art journal pages, or on canvases.

2. Powder power: Powdered pigments are hot items among artists working with watercolor for mixed media. They’re discovering the fantastic watercolor effects achieved by mixing the pigments with water; the rich, saturated colors; and the fact that a little goes a long way. Jane Davenport road tested Color Bursts from Ken Oliver Crafts in the September/October 2015 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazinecreating a watercolor palette by mixing a little bit of pigment with water in a palette and painting a portrait with it. She also used the pigment/water mixture as a spray, and in daubers to create a random, bright background.

Portrait by Jane Davenport using Ken Oliver Color Bursts, Cloth Paper Scissors magazine

The look of watercolor can be achieved with powdered water-soluble pigments, which offer saturated colors. (Art and photo by Jane Davenport)

3. All the colors: We know it’s difficult to resist new color mediums, but Cathy Johnson says that when it comes to watercolor, it’s okay to scale back. “Don’t worry about having every color in the rainbow and more,” she says in her book, Artist’s Sketchbook: Exercises and Techniques for Sketching on the Spot. “Learning to mix the colors you want is part of the fun, and a huge part of learning, period. You can get by with a warm and a cool of each primary color, or just one of each if you choose well.” She has one more great tip: Go for the best quality paints you can; if you’re on a budget, go for primaries and a few other key colors. She adds burnt sienna and Payne’s Grey to her basic palette, then mixes away.

4. Join the resistance: Resist mediums and watercolor were meant for each other. Leave it to Joanne Sharpe to add lettering into the mix. In the September/October 2014 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine Joanne shows a number of ways to create bold, unique letters using resist mediums such as rubber cement, frisket, washi tape, and wax crayons. After writing the words, lightly paint over the mask with a watercolor wash, mixing analogous colors if you wish. When dry, use a gum eraser or a clean, dry cloth to rub off the frisket or rubber cement, or gently peel off the tape. Don’t stop there—add more text, doodles, or color for an even bolder piece.

Lettering art by Joanne Sharpe

Using a frisket to write lettering creates a resist; when painted over with watercolor, the results are dramatic. (Art by Joanne Sharpe, photo by Sharon White Photography)

5. Mix it up: Another way to create a resist with watercolor is by using matte or semigloss acrylic medium. Melanie Testa recommends brushing either medium onto watercolor paper and allowing it to dry. Because it forms an impenetrable area on the paper, when painted over with watercolor it creates a resist. In her book Dreaming from the Journal Page: Transforming the Sketchbook to Art she offers even more tips: “Matte medium,” she says, “is a bit more subdued than semigloss and leaves behind a tone-on-tone quality, whereas semigloss medium creates more of a window into the previous layers of paint.”

6. Kitchen aid: Danielle Donaldson’s use of watercolor for mixed media starts with a substrate you’ve probably never considered: paper towels. To make a romantic, colorful garland, she begins by pooling watercolor on a white board, then mops it up with a scrunched paper towel, repeating the process until she has enough towels. After the towels dry she peels the plys apart, cuts them into strips, and sews them together with a sewing machine. To do this, simply layer two strips on top of each other and stitch down the center, randomly crinkling and folding the top layer for a gathered and messy look. In her article “Tumbled Blossom Garland” in the March/April 2016 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, Danielle also shows how to use watercolor to color ribbon roses and watercolor paper leaves.

Watercolor garland by Danielle Donaldson from Cloth Paper Scissors magazine

An overlooked material–paper towels–becomes a beautiful garland when saturated with watercolors and sewn together in strips. (Art by Danielle Donaldson, photo by Sharon White Photography)

7. Get blown away: Gina Rossi Armfield has taken one of watercolor’s greatest assets and turned it into a signature technique. In her book No Excuses Watercolor: Painting Techniques for Sketching and Journaling she shows how she blows on very wet paint to create random rivulets that suggest movement. To do this, paint a simple shape, like a heart, using a light color. While the first layer is still damp, drop in a medium color. Taking advantage of the still-damp colors, edge the shape with a darker color; this will cause a blooming effect. Then, lift the paper and blow air in quick, strong bursts in the direction you want the drips to go. When the paper is completely dry, use the drips to add writing with a waterproof pen.

Blown watercolor technique by Gina Rossi Armfield

Blowing on wet watercolor creates stunning drips that can be used for journaling. (Art by Gina Rossi Armfield, photo by Christine Polomsky)

8. Look to the skies: Painting a seascape with watercolor is easy when you follow Gina Lee Kim’s techniques for creating water and sky. In Art Lesson Volume 2: The Versatility of Blue, she focuses on the movement of the brushstrokes as she paints each one. For the sky, she paints in a diagonal direction to suggest a windswept look. “Using a big wash brush or a large round brush is tremendously helpful for achieving this effect,” she says. “Use light brushstrokes and try not to overwork the paint.” To that she adds, “Take your largest round brush and apply a variegated wash for the sky in an upward, sweeping motion. Make short, linear strokes below the horizon line for the ocean. This first wash creates a foundation of color.”

Watercolor techniques by Gina Lee Kim

Achieve dramatic watercolor seascapes by combining specific brush strokes with layers of color. (Art by Gina Lee Kim)

9. Words matter: Water-soluble pencil and crayon are great for writing words on a page, which can add meaning to a work of art. In her book No Excuses Watercolor Animals: A Field Guide to Painting, Gina Rossi Armfield uses this technique for adding a key word or phrase to a piece: Loosely write the word or words with a water-soluble crayon or pencil. Then, gently mist the words with a spray bottle filled with water until you get the desired bleed; the color should begin to dissolve and take on a softer look.

Water-soluble crayon word by Gina Rossi Armfield

Words written with water-soluble crayon and misted with water take on a watercolor look. (Art by Gina Rossi Armfield, photo by Christine Polomsky)

10. Crinkle, crinkle: Instead of using watercolor paper as a substrate, take a tip from Helen Shafer Garcia’s article “Masa Paper Crinkle” in the March/April 2013 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. By crumpling thin, pre-sized machine-made Masa paper, the fibers are broken down, creating a series of broken lines that offer a unique painting surface. Using a wet-on-wet technique, Helen pre-wets the crumpled paper, then drops in color with a paintbrush or spray bottle filled with paint. “You want the watercolor pigments to move through the crinkled fibers,” she says. Multiple glazes can add rich color to the surface of the paper.

Art by Helen Shafer Garcia

Crinkled masa paper is a unique substrate for watercolor. (Art by Helen Shafer Garcia, photo by Larry Stein)

Ready to add watercolor to your mixed-media arsenal? Take a look at these terrific resources below from the North Light Shop that are packed with great information, tips, and techniques:

Fun with Watercolor: Texture Effects video with Gina Lee Kim

Get more than 20 techniques for painting with watercolor and adding texture in Fun with Watercolor: Texture Effects with Gina Lee Kim.

No Excuses Watercolor Animals: A Field Guide to Painting by Gina Rossi Armfield

No Excuses Watercolor Animals: A Field Guide to Painting by Gina Rossi Armfield shows you easy ways to capture your favorite animals in watercolor.

Creative Girl: Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life by Danielle Donaldson

Learn how to fill your artwork with beautiful watercolor using the techniques in Creative Girl: Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life by Danielle Donaldson.

Art Lesson Volume 2: The Versatility of Blue by Gina Lee Kim

See how shades of blue watercolor can be used to their fullest in The Versatility of Blue Art Lesson by Gina Lee Kim.

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Olga Litvinenko’s Watercolor Cityscapes

With a self-control borne out of experience, Russian artist Olga Litvinenko knows when to forge ahead and when to scale back in glowing watercolor cityscapes that express her love of city life. “I try to let my watercolors glow—to live their lives, so to speak,” she says. I want to catch the beautiful moments, convey a warm glow of light, and create a world on the edge between dream and reality. Maintaining the freshness of transparent watercolor is most important to me.

“Walking around the city and observing the interesting stories of urban life is the pursuit that has captured my attention at the moment. I make a lot of small drawings and sketches of city scenes—as well as specific architectural details—both in the open air and in the studio,” she says. “I use the most successful elements of these sketches as the basis for a painting. But I also need the help of reference photos to draw individual objects accurately, such as architecture, trees and roads, so I take a lot of pictures on my walks as well.”

Enjoy this gallery of glowing city scenes, and learn more about Litvinenko in the February 2017 issue of Watercolor Artist, available now to order in print or as an instant download, and on newsstands beginning December 20.

Or, subscribe to Watercolor Artist and never miss an issue!


On Sretenka (watercolor on paper, 16 1/2 x 23 3/5) by Olga Litvinenko | watercolor cityscapes

On Sretenka (watercolor on paper, 16 1/2 x 23 3/5) by Olga Litvinenko


Malaya Morskaya (watercolor on paper, 16 1/2 x 23 3/5) by Olga Litvinenko | watercolor cityscapes

Malaya Morskaya (watercolor on paper, 16 1/2 x 23 3/5) by Olga Litvinenko


Taganka (watercolor on paper, 13 7/10 x 23 3/5) by Olga Litvinenko | watercolor cityscapes

Taganka (watercolor on paper, 13 7/10 x 23 3/5) by Olga Litvinenko


On the Street Komsomol (watercolor on paper, 15 x 23 3/5) by Olga Litvinenko | watercolor cityscapes

On the Street Komsomol (watercolor on paper, 15 x 23 3/5) by Olga Litvinenko


The post Olga Litvinenko’s Watercolor Cityscapes appeared first on Artist's Network.

Fundamental Drawing Strategies

Whether you emphasize line or value in your drawings (or both), applying some fundamental drawing strategies to your process will help you enrich your drawing skills and improve your results. Leading figurative artist Jon deMartin offers some tips and tricks you can use regardless of subject or medium…

fundamental drawing strategies jon demartin

Striving, Jon deMartin, 1990, Black and white chalk on toned paper


Choosing Your Orientation

Before you begin drawing, you will need to determine whether the height of the subject is greater than its width. If the height exceeds the width, then typically, you would orient the composition vertically. If the width of the subject is greater than its height, orient the composition horizontally.


Holding Your Drawing Tool

When you hold your drawing tool, grip it farther back from the point that you would if you were writing a letter. This will help you draw with freer, bolder strokes. If you use chalk, it’s a good idea to use a chalk holder to act as an extension. If you’re holding a small piece of chalk, you may work too much with your wrist; it’s better to work mainly from your shoulder and elbow.


Positioning Yourself

Stand or sit straight, far enough away from the subject so that you don’t have to raise or lower your head when looking back and forth between the subject and your drawing. You want to be able to see the subject and your drawing in one glance. This will allow you to make comparisons more effectively
and accurately.


Drawing Big

Once you’ve established your orientation, set guidelines on your drawing so that you can fit the drawing within your marks. Get used to drawing larger because it encourages you to draw all parts of your subject. Mistakes are much easier to see at a larger scale, and drawing large has the benefit of allowing you to include the small, beautiful structures of a form. Learning to draw on a large scale makes it easier to draw on a smaller one. The opposite is not true—if you get comfortable drawing small, then drawing large becomes difficult.


Sketch the Whole, Not Parts

Make your first sketch with the fewest, lightest lines possible in order to capture the general idea; it’s simply an approximation of what the finished drawing will look like. The universal rule of all drawing is not to finish any single part right away, but to faintly sketch the whole. In other words, you should give a certain visibility to all of the principal parts before finishing any single part. This will enable you to make intelligent and informed corrections. Whatever the stage of a drawing, it should have the same degree of resolution throughout.


Keep It Sharp

Always keep the point of your drawing tool as long and as sharp as possible. You’ll be in a good position to make precise and elegant strokes rather than blunt, crude ones.

About Jon deMartin
Jon deMartin is among the leading figurative artists working today. He has taught life drawing and painting for over 22 years at the some of the most reknowned academies and ateliers in the country, and has also exhibited at prestigious national and international galleries. Jon’s first book, Drawing Atelier: The Figure, was published by North Light Books in 2016 is based on his popular series of articles in Drawing magazine. Visit jondemartin.com to learn more.

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Oil Painting Demonstration: Figures in a Sunny Café

Desmond O’Hagan is your guide in this oil painting demonstration as you learn to interpret the light in this sunny café scene! Desmond’s style is bold and direct, never overworking the details. “The constant challenge of painting…a slightly more complicated scene,” he says, “is the challenge to simplify, really keeping your shapes correct, slowly building up into a little more implied detail as opposed to rendering every little thing very exactly. So that challenge really keeps me going.”

Take a peek at Desmond’s working process with this special oil painting demonstration based on his new video on ArtistsNetwork.tv, Oil Painting: Light and Color!

Step One: Choose a Great Reference Photo

Oil Painting Demonstration with Desmond O'Hagan | ArtistsNetwork.com

One of the best ways to begin the painting process is to go out and observe. Play the tourist! Interesting light effects can be found just about anywhere. Just remember to always be careful when taking pictures of people. Keep in mind that you don’t have to paint the picture exactly as it looks. “What the photo really does is remind you why you wanted to paint this scene…but you really are also going from your memory of being in that place,” Desmond says. “What inspired you, what attracted you originally to this lighting effect. [So] what the photo does is help you interpret that light.”

Step Two: Start Blocking in the Darks

Oil Painting Demonstration with Desmond O'Hagan | ArtistsNetwork.com

Start by working in the darkest areas of the painting. Don’t worry about any details at this point. Right now, you’re just painting shapes. Even though these are the darkest areas, Desmond suggests avoiding black. Instead, he uses a mixture of Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, and Alizarin Crimson. Make sure to vary the direction of your brush strokes. “This is a lot like putting together a puzzle,” Desmond says. “I want to just be able to put in those chunks…and then in some areas even connect the darks. This is a road map for the rest of the painting.”

Step Three: Move Into Mid Tones

Oil Painting Demonstration with Desmond O'Hagan | ArtistsNetwork.com

Take one step up the value scale and start to work into the mid tones. At this point, any detail should just be implied. Don’t get bogged down. Keep it very loose, using bold and direct strokes. Don’t worry about your color being absolutely perfect – you can take some artistic license. “The oil will get thicker as I go more toward the lighter colors,” Desmond says. “[It’s] fairly thin in my darker colors. So I’m starting to add a little more paint as I’m working my way through this.”

Step Four: Lighter Mid Tones

Oil Painting Demonstration with Desmond O'Hagan | ArtistsNetwork.com

As you start to make your way into the lighter mid tones, this is the time to paint the tabletops, outside shrubbery, and skin tones. Continue to keep everything very loose, slowly refining as you go. Be careful not to jump to brighter colors just yet. Look for little spots where you can bring in some color. For skin tones, Desmond likes to use a base of Viridian, Cadmium Red, and a little bit of white and yellow. “A lot of people, when they talk about skin tones, they want to know what’s the exact formula to create skin,” he says. “It all really varies compared to what kind of light is on the subject. Experiment, but keep in mind that Viridian, that Cadmium Red, warm it, cool it, and you’ll find that you may come up with the right skin tone if you just experiment a little bit more with those colors.”

Step Five: Bring in the Lights

Oil Painting Demonstration with Desmond O'Hagan | ArtistsNetwork.com

As you move toward the light values, start to define the scene a little more. Make sure your palette is very clean as you start to use lighter tones to prevent creating mud. For the light moving through the trees, create interesting patterns with light values. Add highlights in pinks, yellows, and blues, and keep the strokes bold as you continue to make subtle adjustments. “To show a lot of the heat that’s coming through the window, I’m going to come in with some orange in some of these areas, and even on the back of this person’s shirt, just to give it a little more warmth,” Desmond says. If you need to reclaim some dark areas, this is the time to do that as well. “We can play a little bit with lost and found edges by going back in with a dark. Put a couple of darks into that background just to vary it a little bit, so it’s not just one tone coming through the window.”

Step Six: Final Details

Oil Painting Demonstration with Desmond O'Hagan | ArtistsNetwork.com

Finally, it’s time to put in some detail – just enough to bring the scene to life. Hint at the figure in the background with some light skin tones, paint in the computer screen, and suggest cups and utensils on the tables. See if there are any places you can touch up with a bit of colorful gray. “A lot of this is just implying detail without really painting every little tiny bit in,” Desmond says. “So we have some interesting little spots here and there…and this is what’s nice about once you get this far into a painting. You can stand back and make just subtle adjustments to it.”

Desmond’s number one tip? “Work dark to light. That way you’ll have a better handle on your values. Values are about, in my opinion, 75% of the painting. If your values are correct, you’re in a pretty good situation with your painting. So this is a good way to keep your values in check.”

You can see the full oil painting demonstration in action right now on ArtistsNetwork.tv, or give it a try as a DVD or download!

About Desmond O’Hagan

Desmond O’Hagan was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, and was raised in the United States. He enjoys working in several media, but his primary focus is in oils and pastel. Desmond’s career has encompassed several one-man shows and group exhibitions in the United States, Japan, China, and France. A Master Pastelist with the Pastel Society of America, he has won several awards for his work, and his paintings are featured in numerous publications, including The Artist’s Magazine. His studio is in Denver, Colorado.

The post Oil Painting Demonstration: Figures in a Sunny Café appeared first on Artist's Network.

Watercolor Without Rules | Nadine Charlsen Watercolor Gallery

When watercolorist Nadine Charlsen walked into Paul Ching-Bor’s class, his first words caught her by surprise: “I don’t have rules.” Foregoing traditional technique, he started dark and worked light; he liberally scratched parts off and scrubbed others out, “and I’d never seen that before,” Charlsen says. That class challenged her own tendencies, allowing her the freedom to experiment and explore. “Within three weeks, it changed everything about my watercolor technique, and I loved everything I was doing.”

In the process, Charlsen learned that some watercolors require more effort and reworking than others. “There are so many ways you can make watercolor work,” she says. “I believe in constructing and deconstructing a painting through many alternating steps. Each time, a new focus appears, and over the course of 10 or more phases, that focus becomes clearer.”

Erasing and making changes is key to Charlsen’s method. “If I had to leave everything that I put on paper right now, it would be a muddy mess.” She protects lighter areas by saving the white as she progresses, “but I use paper I can scrub, so I can go back to white as needed.”

watercolor_landscape_The Vatican and the Tiber (watercolor on paper, 40x26) by Nadine Charlsen | artistsnetwork.com

The Vatican and the Tiber (watercolor on paper, 40×26) by Nadine Charlsen

watercolor_landscape_columbus_circle_rain_23x30_nadine_charlsen | artistsnetwork.com

Columbus Circle Rain (watercolor on paper, 22×30) by Nadine Charlsen

watercolor_landscape_toward_st-_pauls_23x31_nadine_charlsen | artistsnetwork.com

Toward St. Pauls (watercolor on paper, 23×31) by Nadine Charlsen

watercolor_landscape_showtime_moulin_rouge_30x23_nadine_charlsen | artistsnetwork.com

Showtime, Moulin Rouge (watercolor on paper, 30×23) by Nadine Charlsen



















































Find out more about Charlsen’s techniques in the February 2017 issue of Watercolor Artist, available in print or as a download and on newsstands December 20.


Get a FREE beginner’s guide to landscape painting!





























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