M Graham Watercolor Review and Ocean Wave Tutorial

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M Graham watercolors are the first tube watercolors I purchased. They were also the second brand of professional paints I purchased. I have been using them for two years and I have really enjoyed working with them. They are my go to watercolors when I want to do more traditional watercolor paintings.

I love how easily these paints are to reactivate after they dry,  they flow nicely when doing wet into wet paintings, and are very concentrated. These paints have colors that granulate, layer/glaze, and Lift. Most of the colors from my Hydrus Watercolors are staining which is great for how I use them however; it is nice to be able to fix mistakes easier. It is also nice to be able to get texture in your painting from the granulating pigments.

Depending on how you work and what your painting the vibrancy of the M Graham colors could be a pro or a con. M Graham paints are very pigmented and colorful but they tend to be more realistic in color where as some other brands can get a synthetic or artificial look to them. This is nice when painting faces and landscapes because I don’t have to work as hard to mix and neutralize to get them to look realistic.

I have a large collection of M graham Watercolors almost 40 colors and of my colors My favorites include their quinacridone colors ( I highly recommend this set), Gamboge, Prussan blue, Phthalo Blue, Cobalt teal, and Azo green.

For the demonstration and tutorial I decided to paint a seascape. I found my reference photo here 

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You don’t have to use M Graham paints to follow along or even use as many colors.  For fun I used all the blue M Graham colors I own but that is not necessary.   I worked in light layers of  paint to make it easier to glaze. The clear wax crayon helped preserve some of the highlights.

Tools and Supplies I used:

*Cerulean blue

*Cobalt Blue

*Cobalt Teal

*Ultramarine Blue

*Prussian Blue

*Phthalo Blue

*Phthalo Green

*Phthalo Green Yellow shade

*Dioxazine Purple

*Burnt Sienna

*Burnt Umber

*White Dr Ph Maritins Bombay India Ink

*Heat tool

*Clear Wax

*¾ Inch Flat Mimic Squirrel Brush

* #12 Round W.C. Squirrel Brush

*#8 Round W.C. Squirrel Brush

*1/4” Princeton Neptune Dagger Brush

*Arches Coldpress watercolor paper

 

Wave

Here is a closer look at the finished painting.

If you have any questions about M Graham paints please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

-Lauren

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Dr Ph Martins Hydrus watercolor Review and Speed painting

Colorful bear - Watercolor
Colorful Bear – Watercolor

I love Dr Ph Martins Hydrus Watercolors, I have been using them regularly for the past 2 ½ years. I have used them for a wide variety of paintings and thought I would share with you their pros and cons while demonstrating how to paint a colorful grizzly bear. Yes, grizzly bears are my favorite animal so I tend to paint them regularly. I Hope you find this review  and speed painting helpful.

One thing that is really nice about hydrus watercolors (and professional art supplies in general) is that they are available in in sets and as individual paints. If you want to try them but don’t want to commit to an entire set you can order individual colors from places like dick Blick. You can also order replacements as needed.  If I was going to recomend a set to start with it would be Set 1. It contains a great selection of primary colors that allow for great color mixing. My most used individual colors are the  Hansa Yellow Light, gamboge, vermillion hue, crimson lake,  Ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, and Quinacridone magenta,

If you are interest here is a list of the supplies I used for this Painting:

Hydrus watercolors

Arches Cold Press watercolor paper

Silver Black Velvet Brushes

Palette 

Masking Fluid

Rubber Cement Pickup 

To give you some other examples of what can be created using Dr Ph Martins Hydrus watercolors here are some other paintings I have created using these watercolors.

If you have any questions or would like more information about these watercolors please leave them in the comments below.

-Lauren

Sketchbook portrait

Just popping in to share a fun sketchbook portrait I did while taking a break from some  commissions I have been working on.

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Portraits and figures still make me nervous. If the thought of drawing/painting something makes me nervous it is a sign I need to keep practicing it so I have been painting a lot of portraits and parts of the body to become more familiar with them.

Here is a picture of my latest portrait. I am always drawn to faces with twinkly eyes, lots of wrinkles and facial hair. Most of my charcoal portraits include at a least one of those features but usually two. I decided to practice painting wrinkles and facial hair in watercolor. It took some planning ahead of time to mask and look at the areas I wanted to preserve the highlights in.

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Overall, I am really pleased with how it turned out.

-Lauren

Best Watercolors for Children and Beginners

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I am regularly asked about what watercolors I would recommend for this person or that, for a specific budget, or purpose. I decided I would do a series where I review various watercolors and talk about their quality, pros, cons, and who I would recommend them for.

This is my first installment in the new series and I will be talking about inexpensive watercolors I would recommend for children, teens, and beginners.  I also discuss some of the signs of when its time to start to move up in quality as your kids progress in art.

You can find these paints at big box stores like walmart, hobby lobby, and Michael’s. The crayola paints can be found on sale in the fall right before school starts. These can also be purchased online, I found Dick Blick had the best deals for them.

Crayola Watercolors

Prang watercolors

Sakura koi Watercolors 

If you have any questions or want to request specific watercolor you would like me to review leave them in the comments down below,

-Lauren

Sketchbook Tour

One of my new years resolutions has been to get better at regularly drawing in a sketchbook. I often get so busy with commissions and projects that I don’t always have time to work on personal projects or try new techniques. I am hoping that by drawing and painting in a sketchbook regularly will not only improve my skill but also give me a few minutes each day to paint and create something just for the pleasure of creating. As much as I love doing commission (it’s the best job I could have) I need to spend some time creating pieces of work that are personally motivated so I don’t get burned out.

 

I have owned many sketchbooks over the years and have never actually finished one. I didn’t like having “ugly drawings” stuck in my sketchbook so I would either rip out pages I didn’t like or just hold off from drawing in my sketchbook until I got better as an artist. I think part of me was ashamed of my skill level for not being “good enough.’ It is kind of silly to think about now as a (slightly) more mature artist because the entire purpose of a sketchbook is for it to be a safe place to practice, experiment, and grow as as an artist.

Setting this goal for the year has helped me to FINALLY finish my first sketchbook. It’s far from perfect since I bought it a few months after I got back in to art in 2016. Some sketches have been torn out because I didn’t like them or used them for other projects. But  I finally completed the pages that are remaining.

It may seem silly to celebrate such a small and silly thing but when trying to develop a new habit it is always important to celebrate the milestones along the way. It is also a sign of my personal growth as I am now more accepting of my shortcomings as an artist. I always want to improve my skill level but I am no longer ashamed of my journey as an artist.

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A landscape sketch done in 2016
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A landscape sketch done in 2018

Another benefit of using a sketch book (and not tearing out the pages) is that I have also been able to see how much I have grown over the years as an artist. Being able to see tangible proof of my progress is so helpful on days when I feel discouraged.

What about you? Do you like using sketchbooks?

-Lauren

Blue Lion

Blue Lion

Something that I have been enjoyed painting lately is hair and texture. I have also really liked using analogous color pallets (color next to each other on the color wheel) for my colorful animal paintings. The color combination used can really affect the mood of the painting.

To experiment more with color, mood, and texture I did another portrait of a lion. This time I chose to do a lion that was looking straight on. The lion in my reference photo had such sad eyes that I chose to mostly use cooler colors like greens, blues, and purples. I also had the lion’s faces completely surrounded by an exaggerated long and wild mane. With his mane taking up so much of the picture I used various a metallic inks to add to the texture and dimension to it.

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When I do a painting I typically cycle through various emotions of excitement, love, frustration, and sometimes despair ( yes, I am dramatic). I know this is part of the process and its not a big deal. I try to take it as a sign that I need to keep working on it.

Well this painting was more of a struggle to get to a point to where I liked it. Looking back on it my biggest problem was that I wasn’t taking enough brakes from it. When I get frustrated with a painting or tired I know I should stop and take a break. But I was feeling particularly stubborn that day and didn’t heed my own advice. So I worked until I was almost ready to throw it away. Then common sense kicked in and I realized I should just go to bed. The next morning I awoke with fresh eyes, flipped the painting upside down and realized what was bothering me about it all along. I grabbed my paints and made the changes it. I now love my blue lion with his long wavy mane.

So the moral of this story is that food and a nap can help you problem solve.

Have you ever let your stubborn pride get the best of you even when you knew better?

 

 

Wise Lion Watercolor painting

Wise Lion Picture
Wise Lion – Watercolor

The Other day, I took a break from designing commissions to paint this colorful lion. Between being sick for a few weeks and constantly working on commissions since October I haven’t been feeling super excited to paint lately. I love doing commissions but there hasn’t been much time to do paintings that recharge me creatively.

When I realized I was just spinning my wheels and not making any progress on any projects. I decided to do something about it. Over the years I have learned the best way to cure artist block is to paint something that inspires me in a loose and colorful style while my music is blasting away. I don’t think about any other upcoming projects or my ever growing “to do” list. I just paint. I’m not concerned about whether it turns out perfect or if other people like it. I just focus on how the paint and water interact on the paper.

So I found some lion reference photos on a commercial use website that I liked, picked a color scheme, and turned up my music. It took a few minutes to really get into it but then like dam bursting, creativity suddenly started flowing through me. I had all kinds of ideas about how to use my brushes in unusual ways, how to layer paint colors, and about which direction to take the painting.

I love how the painting turned out and even more importantly the feeling of all that creative energy flowing through gave me the jump-start I needed to finish my other projects.

What about you? Do you have a routine that you do to help you get out of a creative funk? Let me know in the comments below.

-Lauren