Colorful Bison

This past month I was asked to do a colorful painting of an American Bison. I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to demonstrate how I used Brusho and Hydrus watercolors to create my colorful animal paintings.

 

 

Paints and Supplies
*Dr PH Martins Hydrus watercolor

*Arches water color

*Black Velvet Brush

*Brusho

* Masking Fluid

 

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All links marked with a * are affiliate links. I earn a small commission when you use these links that help support my channel. I only link products that I regularly use and recommend.

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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

Wedding Drawing

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Wedding Day – Charcoal on paper

During this month of love and romance I thought I would share a little about this drawing  I did of a couple in love on their wedding day.

This drawing is another piece that was a year in the making. I was first contacted by my client about doing this drawing of her parents on their wedding day in the late summer of 2016. She was hoping to give it to her parents as a gift for Christmas. Well life happened, she had to track down the original copy of the picture so I could have a clear reference photo. We both got busy and the project got forgotten about. Well in the early fall of 2017 she contacted me to see if I could still do the drawing. It was even more important  to have done because her beloved father had past away a few months before.

So with great reverence for the project and the importance it held for the family I started. The reference photo was quite old and was tricky to work from because it was small, slightly blurry, and did not a have a lot of contrast to differentiate the details. This is a common occurrence with old photos that weren’t professionally taken. It’s why I haven’t taken on drawing my grandparents old wedding photos yet. To help the picture give me the most detail I ended up having to import it into Photoshop to try and enhance it to bring out as much detail as possible. This ended up helping quite a bit but it wasn’t perfect. After Photoshopping it I did several practice drawings of it to get practice working on the small faces and to get the shapes and shadows correct.

With the challenges this piece presented I am really proud of how the final drawing turned out. Even more importantly the family loved the drawing. I hope looking at it brings back memories of the love and respect this couple had for each other.

-Lauren

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

Family Legend Painting

In the late fall of 2016 on of  my old coworkers contacted me to see if I would be willing or even able to do a really complex and personal idea for a painting.

She told me about how her father would make up folk stories to tell his children while on family road trips. As he started telling these legends he started to give his children symbolic names related to their personality and would use them as the characters in the stories. These stories became an important family tradition and every new family member added through birth or marriage received a new name that was woven in to the family legends.

Her painting idea was to have a realistic nature painting that incorporated all 23 names in a cohesive manner. Some of the names like “Bear”, “Cascading Falls”, and “Many Bends In River” were pretty straightforward in what they could be represented by in the painting. Other names were more abstract like “Sky Writer” and “Secret Whisperer” which required me to come up with something that would accurately represent each person and why they were given that name. Another challenge was that although some of the names had a straightforward visual representations connected to them they were difficult to incorporate into the picture in a cohesive manner and had to be modified.

As you can imagine that with complex nature of this painting it was going to take a while to figure how to represent the each name, how to balance the layout, find reference photos for each item, and paint it in a manner that made it look like a unified painting and not like elements were just copy and pasted together. I had to spend a day just figuring out how I was going to do the lighting on the painting because the painting had a lot of back lighting from a sunset that was in the painting to incorporate the name “Sunset Cruiser”. I had to figure out how the back lighting would affect each element in the picture because more often than not my reference photo wasn’t a picture with back lighting. I also couldn’t let the backlighting from the sunset cause too much silhouetting and darkening of the foreground because all the name elements in the foreground still needed to be prominent.

This took months of back and fourth brainstorming with my friend, moving states for me (and countries on her part), adding more names (their family is still growing), and learning various watercolor techniques I knew I would need to paint this project. I was finally able to complete the painting in the fall of 2017.

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This painting stretched me as an artist and pushed me outside my comfort zone in every way. For a while I had a lot of anxiety when I thought about this painting. Some of the anxiety was because I knew I needed to develop my skills as a watercolorist before I would be able to paint it well. But most of my anxiety and fear came because  I knew how much this painting meant to the family that commissioned it and I didn’t want to disappoint them. Thankfully, with a lot of prayer, practice, and time to work on this painting we ended up with a finished product that we were all happy with.

The family was able to give it to their dad for christmas and later told me the painting brought tears to his eyes. That is the greatest compliment I can be given about my work. I want the art I create to bring feelings of love, joy, happiness, and peace and its thrilling when I succeed.

-Lauren

 

 

Mothers Love Speed Painting and Tutorial

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If you have been following my journey you know that one of my goals for 2018 is to start a YouTube channel and create painting tutorials. I am doing this as a way to help me get used to teaching my art process so that I can offer classes and eventually be able to travel the world giving art demonstrations. Teaching lessons online is a great away for me to develop those skills. Over the past few weeks I have been utilizing my Iphone to learn how to make videos and tutorials. I have even posted a few on to my YouTube channel.

Well today, I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone a little further and create a voice over for my latest video instead of just having it be a speed painting with music. I was super nervous doing it because I have never had to explain the how and the why of what I’m doing as I paint. It’s going to take some time and practice to get used to it but I am very proud of the fact that I did it even though I was nervous. We can’t improve on anything in life until we take the time to actually practice it. Thats why I can no longer remember how to play the piano, much to my mothers dismay.

The picture I am painting in this video is a commission I was asked to do as a gift for an OBGYN. When the client came to me with her idea for the painting I was ecstatic. I love doing bright, colorful, contemporary, and personal watercolor paintings and this fell into all those categories. It even inspired a whole series of colorful anatomy paintings that I will talk about and have available this Thursday.

Below is a list of the supplies and materials I used to create this piece and I’ve added links to where they can be purchased if your interested.

Mijello Mission Gold watercolors https://goo.gl/rNnRkt

Dr PH Martins White Bombay ink https://goo.gl/sJvcui

Mimik Synthetic Squirrel Brushes https://goo.gl/rqHEVR

Royal & Langnickel Brushes https://goo.gl/F5puvU

Arches Watercolor Paper https://goo.gl/iqjUfE

Pik Up Eraser https://goo.gl/8XShGW

Fine line Masking fluid https://goo.gl/bkaqpi

Kosher Salt

(Amazon Affiliate links)

I chose to use Mijello Mission Gold Watercolors because they were the least staining of my vibrant watercolors. The brighter the watercolor the more they tend to stain. For the techniques I typically use in my paintings I like having colors that stain because of the way they layer. However, the problem with staining colors is the obvious…they stain the paper and make it so the color is difficult to lift off. For this painting I knew I wanted add blooms to my piece using kosher salt and by dripping water on to the paper. For that to work I needed a paint that could lift off to some degree. This paint did that while still being very colorful and vibrant. The colors I used for this specific painting were: Red Violet, Bright Clear Violet, Cobalt Blue, Peacock Blue, Ultramarine Deep, and Yellow Green.

I also used Dr Ph Martins white india ink. It is a great ink to use when using watercolors because it is waterproof. You can put layers of watercolor over the top of it without reactivating it unlike a lot of gouache paints. It’s a semi-opaque when used as a watercolor but when applied in multiple layers it can become opaque.

The Mimik Brushes are my favorite watercolor brushes because they have a great point to them, aren’t to floppy, and hold a large amount of water and paint. I like using the Royal and Langnickel (R&L) brushes for ink instead of the watercolor brushes. Sometimes acrylic inks can be hard on on the fine bristles of the watercolor brush and I don’t want to risk ruining those. The R&L brushes are really economical and are sturdy enough to handle the ink without an issue.

Arches cold press paper is my go to watercolor paper. I love how absorbent it is, it helps the paint flow beautifully, and holds onto the pigment really well. Its also a sturdy paper and can handle many layers and vigorous scrubbing without getting damaged.

The fine line masking fluid is great because I can add masking fluid directly on the paper in tiny amounts without the risk of ruining a paintbrush. The pik up eraser and other rubber cement erasers are the best way I’ve found to remove masking fluid from your paper with out damaging it. In the video I couldn’t find mine so I used a clean rag (made from an old burp cloth) and rubbed it on the picture to get the masking fluid off. It worked fine but it took more work to do it that way.

For the salt I used Kosher salt because the bigger pieces create larger blooms. You can also use regular table salt for this you’ll just use a little more of it to get the larger blooms.

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Thanks for watching and if you have any questions about this painting or would like me to talk about any specific things in the realm of art, watercolors, pastels, running an art business, etc. let me know in the comments down and I will try to answer those questions.

-Lauren

Starting a Youtube channel

One of the goals I set for this year is to start a youtube channel.  This is one of my goals for the year that is really going to push me out of my comfort zone.

Last year I started videoing short time-lapse videos of my work for Instagram but I didn’t do anything that required much editing. So over the past few weeks I have been watching youtube tutorials about how to record and edit videos. Those helped give me a starting point. However, the best way for me to really learn the knowledge taught in those videos is by actually applying it to my life.  So after learning enough to stumble my way through the process I recorded my first full length time-lapse painting. I obviously have a lot to learn about producing high quality videos and will be making modifications to my recoding area in the upcoming weeks. You know what though, I did it and I am excited about that! I set a goal and I am actively working toward it and that is deeply satisfying. In the words of one of my favorite disney songs, “It’s a step in the right direction.”

So why youtube? Well as an artist youtube offers a great opportunity to expand my online reach. The more social media platforms that my work is shown on makes it so people can more easily find me and my work. Youtube is a visual based platform which really allows people to see my work and the process I use while creating.

Also one of my long term goals is to start teaching both in person and online based art classes. I wont be able to do that unless I get comfortable painting in front of people, the camera, and talking about what I am doing. Making videos is a great way to practice this skill. For now I am just trying to get used to recording and editing videos. In the upcoming months I will be adding voice overs and eventually do a more tutorial based format.

If you would like to follow me on youtube you can find me under the name: Lauren Watkins Art and hit red subscribe button.

I am nervous about starting this channel but I am more excited about the opportunities it will make available to me in the upcoming months and years.

What about you? Do you have any goals this year that make you both nervous and excited? Let me know in the comments below.

-Lauren