Friday, March 30, 2018


While my watercolor class is on a break, I am practicing all the techniques I learned by making almost-daily, small paintings. I've picked objects from my art supplies such as this paint tube and brush. It wasn't until I chose a rock that I was reminded that Small Things are Sometimes the Hardest.

When I work on a mixed media piece such as Heritage, I expect to place layer over layer. Each layer gives me a chance to find mistakes in the organization of objects, the colors, or the design layout.

layering with photos, napkins, stencils, stamps, and paints

colors are not right, too much contrast

I layered acrylic paints, paper napkins, stenciling, stamping and copies of old photos to create this piece, which I then burnished with beeswax to give it an antiqued look.

Heritage by Martha Slavin

In my daily series of watercolors, I am trying to apply the techniques I learned in class. I am aware of soft and hard edges, I think of values more than color, and try to see the object as shapes instead of a perfect representation of the object. I spend a lot of time before painting making a contour drawing and include all the edges, even the shadow edges.

I found the paint tube, the bottle of acrylic ink and the pencil sharpener to be relatively easy, but then I tried painting a small, white ceramic rock. Not only is it white, but the shape is hard to appear 3-dimensional. You would think something so smooth, round and simple would be easy, but sometimes the simple things are the hardest.

 Can you see what I could have done to improve this watercolor sketch?
Two that come to mind:  add the highlights and bend the letters on a curve.


Come join me!
I'm participating in two Internet projects:

which is part of the Sketchbook Project at the Brooklyn Art Museum

and a postcard art swap at

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  1. Just what I needed to today. Start small. Compare photo to art or vice-versa. Use a photo to learn realism in water color. Thanks Martha!! Happy Spring!

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  3. From Leslie Wilson: So creative, so thoughtful, so beautiful; shows a part of your soul, as does your art.
    You are doing great practice pieces. The paint tube is great, as is the brush and the ink bottle.. great studies and observations. YOU are doing great work and great thinking.. keep it up.
    Yes, the little rock can be difficult; white on white. Look carefully at how the curves help produce the illusion of volume (yes, the letters could have a slight curve). It's all about careful observation of shapes and how the light and shadows move across the object. Very subtle variances in color, light, shade, reflected light, and shadow.
    I'm so proud of you... letting your art happen, but being deliberate and cerebral in its production.

    1. Thank you, Leslie. You are a great teacher. I appreciate your comments about my post too.

  4. Your discipline and openness to the 'new' always inspire, Martha!


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