Friday, July 13, 2018


In the middle of hot July, in the middle of Watercolor Month, I remind myself of the decree: paint one watercolor a day for a month. A good challenge, but easy to become overwhelmed if I try too hard to "make a painting." I remind myself that I have done the same practice for a year with calligraphy. I set aside a half hour each day to work on the Chancery Cursive alphabet. I've followed Julia Cameron's advice from The Artist's Way to write morning pages each day. In both cases, practice worked for me. I think I'm better at writing and calligraphy now. I just have to set aside a half hour a day and  also my own expections of what I will produce.

Various palettes
 using both Kuretake
 and Prang pan watercolors

In the middle of hot July, in the middle of Watercolor Month, I decided to experiment with a collection of Kuretake pan watercolors. I'm used to painting with watercolors from tubes, but I have three trays of Kuretake just waiting to try. The paint is creamier than most pan watercolors, but it still takes practice to learn how much paint and water to pick up in my brush. I found some of the colors, especially the blues and violets, to be quite staining, which means I had to work fast around the edges to soften them.

The violet in the background hills dried too quickly

I started by making several palettes of places following Mimi Robinson's guiding idea from her book, Local Color. There are several good books including Robinson's that showcase palettes of color. They are beautiful to look at and a way to see how one color can change completely when mixed with another.

Then I graduated to simple landscapes on small paper using ideas from Huntley Baldwin's book, Local Color: Jackson Hole in Words & Watercolor.

All of these practices are similar to meditation: taking time to focus, being in the moment, and listening to the quiet. None of these paintings will see the light of day in a gallery or book. They are practice only. They are a way to center myself without expending too much energy. They are a way to let go of my inner critic and play.

I have heard from so many people, "Watercolor is hard," and it can be. But these small paintings and palettes are a good way to take the first step. Sometimes I end up cutting them up and repositioning the pieces into another picture to remind myself they are just practice.

Check out Mimi Robinson's website and her book, Local Color:

Two other good watercolor palette books that I found at Barnes & Noble. They tend to go in and out of stock at both B&N and Amazon:

600 Watercolor Mixes by Sharon Finemark:  at Amazon,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Watercolor Painters Pocket Palette By M. Clinch

Kuretake watercolors are manufactured in Japan. They also make Zig markers and other calligraphy supplies. Check them out:


  1. Replies
    1. Oh, thank you, Jan. Same back at you.

  2. Thanks for inspiration and information. Love your blog.

  3. From Mary: I liked your idea of setting aside a half hour each day for your art. I just don’t think I would be able to stop.

    1. Thank you, Mary. You are right, it is hard to stop. But maybe that is a good thing!


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