Warming up with watercolor

On the mornings I have free time to paint, I try to start my day painting with watercolor in my sketchbook. I think of it as a warm up. I have to admit I am falling back in love with watercolor. I love the different options you have, depending on how wet your brush, and the paint are. Every time I do a quick watercolor “sketch” I find myself wanting to work on it more (and cursing the crappy sketchbook paper). But, I’ve spent the last two months exploring acrylic painting and I don’t want to give up on it. I do look forward to the day that I dedicate my time to watercolor. I’ll be warmed up and ready! And I promise to use the right paper.


Is my astrological sign affecting my painting?

I had a bit of an epiphany, while I was working on my apple painting. I’ve written, several times, about how I get anxious on day two of a project. As I wrote in my last post,

“(On) day one, I’m excited and enthusiastic. Day two, I’m reluctant, anxious, intimidated…I have to push myself to continue with a project.” I forced myself, to get back to work on the apple painting, and as I worked, I came up with a plan for the next day. “I realized having a plan, made starting up easier. I didn’t feel as intimidated. Also, I know from experience, once I get started, I’m usually fine. I now know, that, before I step away from I project, I need to have a plan for the next day.”

I decided to search online, for traits that apply to my sign, Aries. I’m not that into astrology, but I couldn’t believe how dead on the description of Aries (on Huffington Post) was.

Aries motto is “Ready, fire, aim!” It may be backwards for others, but you’d rather figure out what to do while you are doing it. Impulsive actions, however, can bring you your share of trouble. While others are gathering information to make informed decisions, you are already on your way. As such, you could suffer from false starts. In fact, you Aries are so good at starting things that you can be off onto your next project before completing the previous one. As you Aries mature, you learn to slow down your reaction time in order to think about the consequences of your actions.”

That is totally me! Whenever, I try to put something together, and hit a snag, my husband will say, “Did you read the directions?” I, of course, am like, directions? Who needs those?! Obviously me, that’s why I’ve hit a snag!

The part about starting projects, but then moving on, really hit home. Since I started mycreativeresolution.com, I’ve been forcing myself to finish projects and it has been really satisfying.

For me, the “Ready, fire, aim!” motto, is so true, and may be the reason, I had all those unfinished paintings. I start a project, but get to a point, where I’m not sure how to finish. Instead of working through it, I put the project aside. This just reaffirms how important “a plan” is (and yes honey, those instructions). I will no longer, step away from a painting, without thinking about what the next steps are.

Today, I finished my apple painting. Words can’t describe how good it feels. I was a little nervous finishing, because I felt so close, and I didn’t want to ruin it. But, I had a plan (to add paint to the stem and the area behind the stem) and I executed it. Yeah me!


I also started the jellyfish painting, that I’ve been planning, since I took this photo. I covered the canvas in a medium tone blue/purple. The plan for next time is, to sketch in (with paint) the jellyfish and then add the water around them. I’m excited!

jellyfish basecolor

Check out your sign’s traits at:

  • Select your sign
  • Scroll down to “about the sign”
  • Enjoy! Let me know if anything rings true for you!

I wish there was an “undo” button, while I’m painting

I was very excited to try out my new easel. I was less excited, to continue painting my apple. I need to coin a phrase, to describe the feeling I get, on day two of a project. Day one, I’m excited and enthusiastic. Day two, I’m reluctant, anxious, intimidated. Whatever the word, I have to push myself to continue with a project. Do other creative people feel this way?

Regardless of how I was feeling, I got to work on my apple. I set the easel up near the window, for natural light. Logistically, it was a nightmare. I was so far away from my palettes, with my mixed paint. And even further from the computer, where my reference photo was on the screen. (The color is never as good when I print it.) I stood at my easel, and every time I tried to get closer to the painting, I’d kick one of the legs and the whole easel would tilt.

I was working on the bottom quarter of the painting, the table, where the apples sit. In order, to be able, to paint the bottom edge, I turned the painting upside down. My acrylic painting teacher told me, to make an area (like a table) less flat looking, paint it dark to light or warm to cool (or the reverse of either). I decided to darken the table as I got closer to the apples. I also added in some greens, for the stem and the area around the seeds.

I was, feeling all over the place (literally), and I was in a rush, as I had to leave the house at a specific time. As I was adding a bit more paint, before I left, I literally said out loud, “I have to stop, I’m ruining it.” Before I left, I turned the painting right side up.

While I was out, all I could think about, was that I ruined the painting. I loved it the first day. Maybe I shouldn’t have done the gradual darkening of the table? Maybe I should have left it “flat” looking? Isn’t that a painting style?

I wish there was an “undo” button. When I work, as a Graphic Designer, any time I don’t like the last couple steps I’ve taken, I just click “Edit, Undo.” There is also “Edit, Step Backward,” and “Revert to Saved.” Basically, there are tons of ways, to go back to where you started. Sometimes, while painting, I wish I had one of these options.

A funny thing happened when I got home. I turned on the light, saw the apple painting on the easel, and thought, “Wow, it looks good!” I was so surprised.

A couple of days later, when I had time to paint, I knew what area I wanted to work on. I realized having a plan, made starting up easier. I didn’t feel as intimidated. Also, I know from experience, once I get started, I’m usually fine. I now know, that before I step away from I project, I need to have a plan for the next day.

Working with the easel, was much better, the second time around. I printed my reference photo and hung it near the easel. I brought my palette to the easel, instead of walking back and forth. Be prepared to laugh. I realized the curved area on either side of my easel, is so I can comfortably hold it! I sat on a stool and didn’t kick the easel once!


As far as the painting itself, I darkened the background directly behind the apples. I added details to all the apples. The only thing I need to finish, is the stem and the area behind the stem. That is my plan, and I am excited to attack it next time!


Starting an Acrylic Painting

Before I start a project, I usually have a spark of inspiration. For my new painting, the “spark” came from my breakfast! I cut an apple in half and thought, “That would make a cool painting!” I’ve painted fruit before. One of my favorites is of oranges. The inspiration came from a painting I saw on Modern Family. It hangs in Gloria and Jay’s house. After that, I painted limes, which I don’t love half as much as the oranges.

orange limes

I took several photos of my apple, to have for reference. I cropped the photo and added a grid, to help me transfer it to the larger canvas. I often turn the photo and canvas upside down, to make sure I am drawing things correctly. I’ve heard it said, that turning things upside down, uses a different part of your brain. I definitely think it’s easier to dissect something upside down. You see the lines and shapes instead of (in this case) an apple. I think it works especially well with faces and bodies.


Before I draw on the canvas, I cover the canvas with a medium tone that I think will work well when it shows through (other layers of paint). For this painting I used an orange/yellow color. I never really know what color to paint the edges of the canvas, but I paint them at this time. This way they are covered and I can always add paint later.


A while ago, I read an interesting book, “The Acrylic Painter’s Book of Styles and Techniques” by Rachel Wolf. What I liked, about the book, was learning how different people work. Some painters cover the canvas, in one color, first. Some painters draw in detail, before they start painting. A painting class greatly influenced my process. Before the class, I worked mostly in watercolor. I know it sounds silly and basic, but I learned, in that class, how to hold and stroke, with bigger brushes. In watercolor, I was using smaller brushes and it was similar to drawing and holding a pencil. I also learned all about mixing colors. The rest of my “process” is developing as I spend more time painting.

When my base color was dry, I used vine charcoal to sketch out my composition. I tried very hard not to center the apple on the canvas, but no matter what I did, it seemed to fall mostly in the center! I am vowing here and now, not to use charcoal again. My teacher recommended it, but it is messy and hard to get off. I don’t really understand the point of it, if I’m going to erase it! If I don’t erase it, it mixes with the paint. I am probably doing something wrong. After I erased most of the charcoal, I started “sketching” with paint, which worked much better. And, as long as the paint is still wet, I can use a wet brush to “erase” any part of my “sketch.”

orangebase applesketch

After the sketch was completed, I added some of the color. The whole process, not including drying time between steps, was fairly quick – less than two hours. I was pretty happy with what I had accomplished! The next day, I realized, that this is the point, where I usually put the canvas on a shelf and walk away. For some reason it is hard for me to finish. I previously thought it was boredom. I think I am worried about ruining it and am unsure how to proceed. This month, I’ve worked hard to pick up some of these forgotten projects. Doing this, has taught me, that although it is hard to start, within minutes, I’m back “into” the painting. I am committed to finishing the apple!

apple1 apple2 apple3


I have another painting – an abstract painting – that I’ve been trying to decide how to finish. My problem with this painting is, I didn’t have a well thought out plan from the beginning. I’d love your input on how I should finish it – just fill out my online poll!