Watercolor Artist, February 2018 [26]

Citation preview


TopCities With A View


Tips for Choosing a Painting Surface

Paint in New York, Paris, Rome & Beyond

p. 12


12 Artists Share Their Best Tips For Studio Organization p. 22

US $7.99 CAN $10.99


Important Pointers for


Alvaro Castagnet’s watercolors capture the vibrancy of the city. p. 28


25274 02499


Display until February 12, 2018

F E B R UA RY 2 018


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February 2018 features


Painting With Passion and Savvy

Alvaro Castagnet’s light-filled paintings, grounded in his attention to technique, also rely on feeling and intuition. BY JOHN A. PARKS


Smooth Sailing

Although a passion for sailing and the water inspires much of Judy Saltzman’s painting, her subject matter is remarkably diverse.




A Memory of Place With an eye to the light, Igor Sava captures the mood and character of the great cities of the world. BY ANNE HEVENER




The Year’s Best Paintings Discover the stories behind select paintings, along with juror insights, in this celebration of society showstoppers from the past year. BY MCKENZIE GR AHAM

58 Watercolor Artist

| February 2018


February 2018

columns 4 Editor’s Note 6 Featured Artists 8 Making a Splash 12 Creativity Workshop


Which should come first? The subject or format? BY JEAN GR ASTORF

18 Meet the Masters An early Winslow Homer watercolor foretells the making of a master. BY TAMER A LENZ MUENTE

22 Studio Staples

on the cover

Twelve top professionals share best practices for order in the studio.

Top Award Winners 58


A City View 28 and 48

77 Watercolor Essentials Even when painting a snowy landscape covered in white, you still have your choice of palettes.

Order in the Studio 22





Form(at) & Function 12 The Power of Play 18

88 Picture This


Paint Wintry Scenes 77

Prague (watercolor on paper, 30x22) by Alvaro Castagnet


Watercolor Artist (ISSN 1941-5451) is published six times a year in February, April, June, August, October and December by F+W Media, Inc., 10151 Carver Road, Suite 200, Blue Ash OH 45242; tel: 513/531-2222. Single copies: $6.99. Subscription rates: one year $21.97. Canadian subscriptions add $12 per year postal surcharge. Foreign subscriptions add $18 per year postal charge, and remit in U.S. funds. Watercolor Artist will not be responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or artwork. Only submissions with a self-addressed, stamped envelope will be returned. Volume 26, No. 1. Periodicals postage paid at Blue Ash, OH and additional mailing offi ces. Postmaster: Send all address changes to Watercolor Artist, P.O. Box 421751, Palm Coast FL 32142-1751. F+W Media, Inc. Back issues are available at northlightshop.com or by calling 855/842-5267. GST R122594716. Canada Publications Mail Agreement No. 40025316. Canadian return address: 2835 Kew Drive, Windsor, ON N8T 3B7.


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editor’s note FEBRUARY 2018

Editor-in-Chief Anne Hevener Art Director Brian Roeth Senior Editor Beth Williams Associate Editor McKenzie Graham Content Strategist, Fine Art Group Michael Gormley ADVERTISING Director of Advertising Sales Tony Carrini 646/859-6599; [email protected] Advertising Team Leader, Fine Art Mary McLane 970/290-6065; [email protected] Media Sales Specialist Carol Lake 385/414-1439; [email protected] Media Sales Coordinator Barb Prill 800/283-0963, ext. 13435; [email protected] F +W, A C O N T E N T + EC O M M E R C E C O M PA N Y Chief Executive Offi cer Thomas F.X. Beusse Chief Operating Offi cer Joe Seibert Chief Financial Offi cer Jennifer Graham Chief Content Offi cer Steve Madden Chief Technology Offi cer Joe Romello SVP, General Manager—Crafts Group John Bolton SVP, General Manager—Fine Art, Writing and Design Groups David Pyle SVP, General Manager—Outdoors and Small Business Groups Ray Chelstowski Managing Director—F+W Intl. James Woollum VP, General Counsel Robert Sporn VP, Human Resources Gigi Healy VP, Manufacturing & Logistics Phil Graham Newsstand Sales Scott T. Hill [email protected]


ome. Paris. Prague. Venice. Moscow. Barcelona. New York City. Travelers are drawn to these vibrant global cities for many reasons—stunning architecture, famous museums, spectacular gardens, vibrant nightlife, tantalizing cuisine. The list of attractions is long. In this issue, we feature two artists—Alvaro Castagnet of Uruguay (page 28) and Igor Sava of Italy (page 48)—who do a lot of world travel and whose artwork celebrates the beauty and energy of bustling urban hubs like the ones mentioned above. Of course, what lures a person to visit a great cultural mecca like Paris is quite different from what inspires a person to paint there. For both artists, whether they’re painting on a sidewalk in the City of Lights or along a quiet lane in the Italian countryside, it’s primarily the quality of the light that’s the main attraction. From there, the objective becomes more cerebral, as the artists use their well-honed techniques and the unique qualities of watercolor to share a personal response to a chosen subject—a response that conveys one magical moment in a place that generates lavish amounts of enchantment.

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Alvaro Castagnet, shown here in his home studio in Montevideo, Uruguay, speaks of four technical “pillars” that make a strong painting, but the biggest challenge, he says, isn’t technique. “It’s making a painting with passion, flair and emotion that shows gut feeling, instinct and intuition.”

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featured artists

Alvaro Castagnet

Igor Sava

Judy Saltzman




Alvaro Castagnet (page 28) was born and lives in Montevideo, Uruguay, where his father first introduced him to watercolor. He trained as an artist in Montevideo, first at the National School of Art and then at the Fine Arts University. He has been exhibiting his work since 1985 and is the winner of many awards. He teaches and juries throughout the world.

Igor Sava (page 48) was born in the 1970s in Soviet Moldova. He attended a fine arts high school and earned a university degree in graphic design. When he moved to Rome, his current home, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. Sava participates in numerous international exhibitions and conducts watercolor workshops around the world.

Judy Saltzman (page 38) calls Sarasota, Fla., home. She melds “realism and impressionism to create visual intricacy, adding layers of color for harmony,” to create her sailing series, as well as other subjects. She’s a signature member of numerous art societies, including the National Watercolor Society, for which she serves as web director.

Jean Grastorf

Geoff Kersey

Iain Stewart




A master status member of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America and a dolphin fellowship member of the American Watercolor Society, Jean Grastorf (page 12) is renowned for her signature poured painting technique, which she shares via workshops in the U.S. and abroad. She’s a North Light author and video instructor.

As a professional landscape artist who works primarily in watercolor, U.K.-based Geoff Kersey (page 77) shares his love of the medium through his instructional articles, books, videos and workshops. The artist’s latest book is Painting Perspective, Depth and Distance in Watercolour (Search Press, 2017).

Iain Stewart (page 88), of Opelika, Ala., is a watercolor artist and a sought-after juror and workshop instructor. A signature member of both the American and National Watercolor Societies, Stewart has garnered numerous awards for his work in international competitions. He’s also an architectural illustrator with an international clientele.



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making a

Hidden Treasure in Gouache

An illustration of a vase of chives from Leave Me Alone With the Recipes.

The unexpected find of a fully illustrated and unpublished manuscript of recipes is reinvigorated with new life. n a stroke of luck, Wendy MacNaughton spotted a gem while browsing a pile of old books. It was a sketchbook, belonging to Cipe Pineles, Condé Nast’s first female art director and a leader in 20th-century graphic design. Gouache illustrations leapt off the pages with exuberant color and a strong sense of design, accompanied by recipes inspired by the author’s Jewish and Eastern European culinary heritage. MacNaughton became co-editor with Sarah Rich of the manuscript-turnedcookbook—Leave Me Alone With the Recipes (Bloomsbury USA, 2017)—and they, in turn, hired writer Maria Popova and artist Debbie Millman to help them. The cookbook contains Pineles’ original text and paintings, but it also presents modern-day recipe interpretations and “articles on food illustration, biography and branding from luminaries like Maira Kalman, Paula Scher, Steven Heller and Mimi Sheraton,” according to Bloomsbury. Modern-day interpretations might make these recipes more practical—I’m looking at you “Potted Liver With Hardboiled Eggs”—but even without the recipes, this book’s illustrations alone make it worthy of a spot on your coffee table or a proverbial seat at your next dinner party. Read more about Leave Me Alone With the Recipes at bloomsbury.com. 8


I M A G E C O U R T E S Y O F L E AV E M E A LO N E W I T H T H E R EC I P E S ( B LO O M S B U R Y, 2 0 1 7 )


Watercolor News & Views BY M C K E N Z I E G R A H A M

Mother Nature in 26 tubes

Fan-favorite Thomas W. Schaller has released a trio of binge-worthy DVDs— Dramatic Complements, Perspective & Design and Fog on the River—for your next night in, in which he details information he’s learned in his 20-year career. Watch Dramatic Complements and discover the power of editing; how to paint luminous shadows; how to establish a sense of depth and perspective; and color-mixing techniques for creating strong neutrals. Watch Perspective & Design and delve into one-, two- and three-point perspective until these useful storytelling tools become second nature. Finally, learn from the master of atmosphere how to make your paintings exude that evocation that makes them both compelling and mysterious to the viewer with Fog on the River. Buy them individually, as downloads or as a set at bit.ly/schallerdvds.

Mijello has just released a new set of 26 paints sure to shake up the current watercolor scene. In colors inspired by the intensity and highly chromatic hues of the earth, the Mission Gold Watercolors Pure Color Set features 24 singlepigment colors in 15-ml tubes, and two 7-ml tubes—one black, one white. The handmade paints are created with high-quality pigments, and are reformulated to make them more lightfast. Mission Gold is designed to disperse quickly, beautifully and evenly in water, allowing artists to achieve a sense of atmospheric perspective more easily. Visit mijelloart.com to read more about the new set.

“When painting en plein air, there’s a direct relationship between the artist and nature.” —Igor Sava, page 48 Watercolor Artist

| February 2018


P R I VAT E C O L L EC T I O N , C O U R T E S Y O F G U G G E N H E I M , A S H E R , A S S O C I AT E S © 2 0 1 7 A N D R E W W Y E T H /A R T I S T R I G H T S S O C I E T Y ( A R S )

m st-see show




Seattle, Wash.

When imagining the list of artists who will go down in history as part of an official “canon,” one wouldn’t expect to think of artists working in the year 2008, but Andrew Wyeth was still producing art at that time. His work spans 75 years, and 2017 would have been his centennial birthday. In collaboration with the Brandywine River Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum is presenting 110 of Wyeth’s paintings and drawings from the 1930s to 2008. They include some less well-known works on loan from the artist’s family and some studies that provide a glimpse into Wyeth’s technical process. Curators propose that these more dream-like artworks complicate longheld critical notions of Wyeth as an “out-of-step realist,” revealing how he imbued images of the places, people and things around him with his own “mysterious temperament.”

“Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect” will be on view through January 15. For more information about the exhibition, visit seattleartmuseum.org.

Teel’s Island (top; 1954; watercolor on paper, 10x23) Day of the Fair (1963; watercolor on paper, 147⁄8 x19¾)



Waiting In the Wing - Liz Walker

Apples 4 apples, Dust 2 Dust, On the Road to success, Who should one trust.

- Sharen Watson


Artists Magazine

EARLY-BIRD DEADLINE: APRIL 2, 2018 Compete and Win in 5 Categories: Animal/Wildlife t Still Life/ Interior t Abstract/Experimental t Landscape t Portrait/ Figure



Winners will be featured in an issue of Artists Magazine. Student winners will be featured in a separate issue.

Twelve finalists will be featured on our website, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visits per year—all eyes on your work!

For complete prizes, guidelines and to enter online, visit artistsnetwork.com/the-artists-magazine-annual-competition

creativity workshop


Form(at) Meets Function Which comes first—subject or format? Here’s what you need to know.

Workbreak (watercolor on paper, 20x28) is the last in a series of three paintings inspired by a photo of a house painter in New York. The first was a half-sheet, showing the subject from the waist up. The second—a half-sheet portrait—highlighted facial planes. This version couldn’t have happened without its predecessors; the horizontal format, traditionally used for landscapes, presents an interesting view.




s watercolor artists, it’s our desire to use paint and brush to create and then share our interpretations of what we see and feel, and to translate and present them effectively on a two-dimensional surface. The placement of shapes, forms and colors onto that surface requires careful planning. Before we can even begin to design our watercolor painting successfully, we need to consider the surface’s parameters, or format.

Which Comes First: Format or Subject?

It’s easy to fall into the rut of working with 12x16-, 20x24- and 22x30-inch paper. I’ve taught students who have a stock of mats and frames, and they often feel that they have to paint to fit inside them. But if we break free from these restrictions, we avoid boring ourselves—and the viewer. Just because a sheet of watercolor paper comes in a particular

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w r

discover format possibilities A square, horizontal or vertical format can be developed from almost any image. Try out all three formats for the same subject.

Excerpted with permission from The Watercolor Bible by Joe Garcia (North Light Books, 2006). Available at northlightshop.com and wherever books are sold.

size doesn’t mean that it’s the best format for a painting’s composition. The most important thing to understand is that size isn’t as important as the proportion of height to width in relation to the subject matter. Only after decisions regarding composition and format are made can the painting process move forward.

Choose a Format

So, how do we decide which format makes the most sense for the subject and the desired effect? The



three most common formats are horizontal, vertical and square. A horizontal format lets the viewer’s eye move across the painting

and is used most often for landscapes. A half-sheet horizontal format may be ideal for a panoramic landscape or a reclining figure. A vertical format encourages the eye to move up and down the painting. Although it’s commonly used for portrait or figure paintings, a halfsheet vertical format may be perfect to depict a landscape—perhaps a narrow European alley. A square format isn’t as common as the other two, but it’s ideal when the subject matter is the center of interest. This format conveys a sense of balance and proportion. Geometric forms often sit well within the square, so it’s well-suited for abstract and intuitive work. Whatever format you choose should complement and further the objectives of your painting. Don’t be afraid to try an unconventional choice, as I did in Sunny on Sixth (on page 17); it may prove challenging, but it also may result in more interesting divisions of space. If your first attempt to use a different format than usual doesn’t please you, take what you learned and move on to another proportion and/or size. Building from a foundation of earlier imagery allows for bolder strokes. See the examples on pages 16 and 17 to see how I’ve explored format.

try this at home Create a trio of paintings of the same subject in three different formats—horizontal, vertical and square. Send JPEGs (with a resolution of 72 dpi) of them to [email protected] with “Creativity Workshop” in the subject line. The “editor’s choice” will receive a subscription (or renewal) to Watercolor Artist. The entry deadline is February 15, 2018.


WHAT’S THE RIGHT PAPER FOR YOU? Choosing watercolor paper can be an arduous task, as the decision relies on many parameters. Here’s what you need to know to select the right paper for your next watercolor painting.

QUALITY All serious watercolorists should use a paper from a reputable brand that offers both artist- and student-grade paper. Why? A mill that creates high-end paper will most likely make a better student alternative. Artist-quality offers these features: more cotton content; mouldmade rather than machine-made to prevent a pronounced grain direction; deckled edges, which make the sheet look like handmade paper; and a watermark (originally invented in 1282 in the Fabriano Valley, Italy, to identify the origin of the paper). SIZING Sizing is the component that controls the flow of watercolor on the paper, as well as the ability to scrape and lift paint successfully. Both internal and external sizing are needed for total control. High-quality sizing will lead to a better, more even

wash; a substandard sizing will be more unpredictable. Most paper mills still use animalbased products, such as rabbit skin glue and gelatin, which produces a fairly unpleasant smell. (Many artists also choose to stay away from animalbased products.) The oldest mill, Fabriano (1264), is the only one that uses a non-animal-based sizing.

PROPERTIES Papers that are both acid-free and buffered with calcium carbonate will ensure that the paper doesn’t deteriorate over time. Chlorine free and no optical brighteners are also seals of quality. (Additives will at first increase the brightness of a paper, but eventually will cause the paper to deteriorate). Paper made with cellulose— usually from cotton or trees—should be sourced responsibly. If a paper isn’t made from cotton, a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label signifies that the product is sourced in an environmentally-friendly, socially responsible and economically viable manner.

SURFACE There are two industry standards: hot-pressed and coldpressed. Hot-pressed has the smoothest surface, making it ideal for detail work such as botanical illustration and architectural rendering and illustration. Cold-pressed is the industry standard, representing 75 percent of watercolor paper sales overall. It offers a fairly light texture, which allows for more painterly pigment representation, including transparency and granulation. Rough-pressed has the same qualities as cold-pressed, but provides a more noticeable texture that can be challenging for less experienced artists. Fabriano Artistico is the only watercolor paper available as soft-pressed, a unique velvety surface that’s exclusively used by some artists, such as renowned watercolorist Laurin McCracken, as it works extremely well for photorealistic still lifes, florals and landscapes. It’s also praised as a surface for pastel application.

WEIGHT Watercolor papers traditionally are available in 90-lb./200gsm, 140-lb./300gsm and 300-lb./640gsm weights. 90-lb.: This paper is actually best for drawing. It’s a little light for watercolor, because the paper buckles when wet. 140-lb.: This is the standard, as it shows limited to no buckling, will take a lot of abuse and will roll conveniently for traveling. 300-lb.: This paper is much stiffer and harder, doesn’t buckle, mounts easily without support, and will take a variety of media, including acrylic, ink, gouache and egg tempera. Because it’s expensive, some mills have introduced a 200-lb. option, which offers a substantial weight at an affordable price.

COLOR A traditional white features a sensuous creamy hue that softens a work’s impact. Extra white, which is chlorine- and brightener-free, allows for a crisp, modern look.




1 floral, 3 ways

This smaller canna is lit with an almost circular movement. Backlit Canna (watercolor on paper, 20x26) is a horizontal study of the beauty of the sun shining through the plant’s colorful leaves.

In Red Canna (acrylic on paper, 30x20), the vertical plant is sunlit, showing how the color is burned out. Wherever the light hits is shown as white paper. The vertical format highlights the strong color in shadows and complements the tall plant. I poured acrylics and then painted Square Canna (acrylic on canvas, 12x12). The square format called for some reorganization, so I placed the canna in the center for balance and proportion. An overhead view added to the intrigue.



street scenes x 3 I’ve been enamored with street scenes for several years. Instead of using a traditional horizontal format for all of my cityscapes, I determine format based on what I want to convey.

In Athens, Greece, the “plaka,” or marketplace, is a crowded, busy, colorful location. Plaka (watercolor on paper, 28x20) called for a vertical format, with the buildings framing the people and shops.

For example, I’ve painted a vertical treatment of a Greek alley, an elongated horizontal view of a New York City street and a rectangular format for a Roman piazza. The possibilities are all part of the creative endeavor.

Piazza Di Espagne (watercolor on paper, 20x28) follows a more traditional format—the full sheet. It’s a familiar and therefore easier-to-design space. The complex subject fits well into the size and proportion, with room for all of the details of buildings, carriages and people. It benefits from breathing room; a smaller size would have crowded the elements.

When we think of New York City, tall skyscrapers immediately come to mind; however, I went against the expected in Sunny on Sixth (watercolor on paper, 6x28), choosing an elongated horizontal. I halved a full sheet of paper lengthwise to highlight the inhabitants’ lower eye level. Bonus? I was left with the other half of the paper to use—perhaps as an elongated vertical.

Watercolor Artist

| February 2018


meet the masters

“I will live by my watercolors.” Winslow Homer’s early paintings reveal how he became one of the medium’s greatest masters.


B O W D O I N C O L L EG E M U S E U M O F A R T, B R U N S W I C K , M A I N E , G I F T O F T H E H O M E R FA M I LY

our boys sit in a deep-sided boat. Straw hats shield their faces from the summer sun. The water is calm, save for ripples that break reflections into long strips of color, and a breeze powers two distant schooners and a sailboat. The sky appears flat and gray, but the water

reveals bits of blue—openings in the clouds allowing sunlight through. A boy rows with a single oar, positioned almost directly in the center of the composition. The boy in front of him looks ahead, while the one in back leisurely dangles his bare feet over the boat’s stern. Winslow Homer’s Boys in a Dory (opposite) feels spontaneously plucked out of its larger context; the bow of the boat has been cropped from the picture; we can see only one boy’s face, appearing less confident than the other boys’, as he sits within the hull partially hidden by the dory’s sides. He peeks at us from beneath the wide brim of his hat. Scenes from the daily lives of common folk—especially from the lives of children—were hallmarks of Homer’s first watercolors.

Humble Beginnings

Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910)

Homer’s engraved illustrations and oil paintings of Civil War subjects cemented his reputation as an artist by the late 1860s. He wasn’t wholly

unfamiliar with watercolors, as his mother was a skilled amateur watercolorist and likely introduced him to the medium at an early age. Homer had used watercolor washes in drawings for engravings and in preparatory sketches for oil paintings, but it wasn’t until 1873 that he made his first watercolors for exhibition. At this time, the concept of using watercolor as a serious artistic medium was still in its infancy in America. Established just seven years earlier, the American Society of Painters in Water Colors, later renamed the American Watercolor Society, was slowly raising the medium’s public profi le. In 1873, the Society sponsored an exhibition of nearly 600 American and European watercolors at New York’s National Academy of Design. Homer would have seen this exhibition, and it presumably sparked his interest in using watercolor for finished works.

Inspired by Play

That summer, he left for Gloucester,

Feb. 24, 1836






Born in Boston

Apprentices in lithography workshop

Begins illustrating Harper’s Weekly

Travels with Union Army in Virginia; creates first Civil War illustrations

Spends summer in Gloucester, Mass.; makes first watercolors

Elected member of American Society of Painters in Water Colors



B EQ U E S T O F M O L LY F L AG G K N U DT S E N , 2 0 0 1


Mass., where he made his first paintings in the medium. From June through August, Homer observed and painted children playing around the wharfs and boatyards. In this first watercolor series, children haul baskets of clams, climb on beached dories and row small boats near shore. They pick berries in coastal meadows and hunt for eggs on sandy

cliffs. Perhaps most touchingly, they gaze out to sea, waiting for their fishermen fathers. In Homer’s early paintings, children seem at one with nature. They exist apart from adults as hopeful figures in an idyllic, rural world; but, in the art and literature of postCivil War America, children were seen as both harbingers of a new

Notice Homer’s careful pencil outlines in Boys in a Dory (1873; watercolor washes and gouache over graphite underdrawing on medium rough-textured white wove paper, 93⁄4x137⁄8).

era and as symbols of the nation’s lost innocence. Homer started his Gloucester watercolors with loose graphite underdrawings on top of which he






Sept. 29, 1910

Travels to Cullerscoats, England; spends 20 months on series of fishermen and women on coast

Visits and paints in Florida

Begins series of outdoorsmen in Adirondacks

Wins Gold Medal at Paris Exposition; French government purchases oil painting

Makes last watercolor; continues painting in oil

Dies in Prouts Neck, Maine

Watercolor Artist

| February 2018



acrylicworks 6 Creative Energy

Windows to the Soul – Chimpanzee, Shelley Gentry, Acrylic on canvas

Philippe’s, Tony Podue, Acrylic on canvas

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applied washes, along with opaque watercolor and gouache. He used paper with a smooth finish, but didn’t wet it first, as was the common practice among watercolorists who made tightly detailed works. Applying the paint to a dry surface caused tiny flecks of white to show through, creating a sort of sparkling effect that strengthened the overall sense of light in the works. To capture the brightest points of light, Homer either preserved the white paper or applied opaque white watercolor or gouache; both techniques can be seen in Boys in a Dory.

Homer’s Critics

The year after his summer in Gloucester, Homer presented watercolors at the annual exhibition of the

American Society of Painters in Water Colors. Critics were torn over these works, hailing them as fresh and original, but also condemning them as raw and unfinished. Some praised the subject matter as quintessentially American, while others thought it rude and commonplace. A writer for the New York Daily Tribune called the watercolors “memorandum blots and exclamation points.” He goes on: “[the paintings are] so pleasant to look at, we are almost content not to ask Mr. Homer for a finished piece.” Yet another New York critic wrote that in Homer’s watercolors, “you feel the blow of the salt sea breezes and shade your eyes from the dazzling sun glare.” None of them could have predicted that these depictions of children in a New England fishing

town marked the beginning of a lifelong commitment to watercolor that would make Homer one of the greatest innovators of the medium. In 1875, Homer made his last illustration for Harper’s Weekly, which had been his main source of income. That year, he showed 27 watercolors— including more from Gloucester—at the Society’s annual exhibition. The sheer number of works publicly declared his embrace of the medium and foreshadowed the statement he would later make to his dealer: “You will see, in the future I will live by my watercolors.” TAMERA LENZ MUENTE is associate curator of the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati and a regular contributing writer to Watercolor Artist.

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Watercolor Artist

| February 2018


studio staples

Organize Your Way How you organize your studio, like many things, often comes down to what works best for you, but it’s still helpful to hear what interesting solutions others have found to get the most from their painting spaces.


verybody’s tolerance for clutter in the studio is different. You may be someone who embraces a bit of mess (“It’s not mess; it’s creativity!”) or you may be the type who finds comfort in a tidy, orderly space. Regardless of the mind-set, there are some challenges—such as storage—that are common complaints, and some simple strategies and ways of working that can be useful. We asked top art professionals: “What has worked best for you?” Read on to hear about space-saving tactics, as well as helpful habits and other best practices for making the studio a motivating space.

There’s an App for That

“Forty-five years ago, when I first began my professional art career,” says Ken Goldman, “if I needed a particular photo reference from which to make sketches, I’d trek to the public library’s ‘photo-file morgue’ [an extensive collection of all sorts of photos and magazine clippings]. Now, although I still carry and use a sketchbook, the iPad and iPhone have made conceptualizing and problem-solving even easier— and certainly tidier. Specifically, I use an incredible app called ArtStudio, which has made a big difference. Ken Goldman and his artist wife, Stephanie, (pictured here) rely on two large, custombuilt taborets, affectionately referred to as the “mother ships,” to keep order in their shared studio. 22



Forced Simplicity

“To an outsider looking in, organization would be the last thing that would come to mind when viewing my studio,” says Iain Stewart. “I do, however, have a system in place that allows me to make sense of what my wife, Noelle, calls the ‘studio situation.’ “A few years ago, as my career began to get more chaotic, I realized that I was just shuffling papers, materials, dog beds, etc., from one part of the studio to another. The dogs followed the beds, but everything else was disorderly. “To address the mess, I decided to remove as much of my storage capacity in the studio as possible, thus forcing myself to have only the essentials within reach. What that has meant is that my dedicated studio space now has fewer places to stack or squirrel away the detritus. “As I work, my studio’s level of mess rises, but before it reaches

critical mass, I have an ‘organizational day’ when I sort and throw away things I don’t need. That day is on the schedule now.”

Have Tools at the Ready

“There are a number of essential tools that I want to have within arm’s reach when I paint,” says Laurin McCracken. “Since watercolor often paints itself and often has internal actions that can change in minutes, I don’t want to have to take time to think about where I put my small squares of blotting paper. “Likewise, I use a lot of different types of masking. I want to know where the masking fluid is, and where the drafting and X-Acto knives are. The most important of all these tools are my brushes. I want to know where my brushes are at all times, right down to where the No. 4 is placed versus the No. 6. “Therefore, I keep all of these materials in the same places to minimize disruption and to maximize my time and effort.”

Making Space

“Storage is always a problem,” says Kathleen Conover. “I had my painting tables built with vertical divisions from floor level to countertop. I can store clean paper in their boxes, as well as my many painting ‘starts,’ vertically. I always label the box ends, so I can see what I have and easily pull out what I need. The tabletop has an overhang for ‘toe space.’ It isn’t exactly pretty, but it sure works well.”

Filed Away

“I find my flat file to be very helpful,” says Jean Grastorf. “I have a drawer


“ArtStudio is a portable photoediting program—not as refined or powerful as Photoshop—but light, mobile and complete enough for my conceptual needs. Not only can I problem-solve paintings without ruining the original, I also can plot out design ideas easily, because all of my photos are already stored in the photo library on my device—a modern ‘photo-file morgue.’ And other photos can be imported via the internet. “The app has multiple drawing and painting tools, and every imaginable opaque or transparent color. Finally, hundreds of projects-in-process can be filed away neatly for later use, all within one small device.”

Like Jean Grastorf, many artists find a flat file to be useful for studio storage and organization.

for tubes of watercolor paint, another for tubes of acrylic and a drawer for brushes, among many other things.”

Set the Records Straight

“Over the last 40 years of making art, I’ve tried to keep a record of most everything I’ve done,” says Stephen Quiller. “It’s important to have this information for reference, books and articles that I write, and for collectors who want to see my work. “I have a photography setup in my studio with lights, camera and a vertical flat board wrapped with black felt. I shoot a painting, or paintings, and then insert my memory card into my computer where I rotate and crop the paintings, as needed, and place them in a permanent file. And, each year, I make backup copies to ensure permanence.

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“I want to know where my brushes are at all times, right down to where the No. 4 is placed versus the No. 6.” — Laurin McCracken

keep the joy Getting organized doesn’t mean that you have to rid your studio of everything impractical. As minimalism guru Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, explains: “Discarding is not the point; what matters is keeping those things that bring you joy.” The following are studio staples in the eyes of these artists, because they answer the question: What sparks joy in your studio?


My Brush Holders. “I have a small collection of small cream pitchers and tumblers of very colorful Deruta pottery from Italy,” says Laurin McCracken. “I use them to hold brushes that I want near me when I’m painting. Their wonderful colors and shapes greet me every time I go to my painting board—a cheerful start to the painting process.”

My Stereo. “I won’t work without music,” says Z.L. Feng. “Having a stereo in the studio to play music definitely helps with my mood and keeps me focused. It’s also important for me to have a soothing cup of green tea right by my easel. Taken together, the music and tea create a relaxing atmosphere that really pushes me forward.”

My Painting Apron. “My painting apron is my ‘spark of joy,’ ” says Antonio Masi. “It marks a milestone. I received it from Cheap Joe’s as a congratulatory gift when I became a signature member of the American Watercolor Society in 2009. Just putting on the apron puts me in a frame of mind to paint. I wear it in my studio, at workshops, when I demo, and when I’m plein air painting. I’ve adapted it with kangaroo pockets that hold my value finder, 6-inch ruler, kneaded eraser, hand mirror, iPad, sheets of paper towels and small pieces of watercolor paper to test colors.”

My Taboret. “I share a 3,300-squarefoot studio space with my artist wife, Stephanie,” says Ken Goldman. “Studio order begins with our two large taborets that I built for us [pictured on page 22]. We call them our ‘mother ships,’ because we leave them in place near our main easels and use smaller rolling taborets— our ‘space shuttles’—when working on projects in other parts of the studio. Each taboret has two separate sliding shelves for watermedia and oils, a glass palette on top, a third static shelf for miscellaneous media and wheels in case they ever need to be moved. Simply put, not only



Lilly the cat is Jean Grastorf’s indispensable “studio staple.”

are they indispensable, they spark so much joy, there’s no way we’d ever consider jettisoning them.” My Books. “When I’m stuck on a specific subject, nothing is better than a book to change my focus completely,” says Iain Stewart. “I’ll just grab a book from my library and spend a few quiet minutes looking at paintings that have nothing to do with what I’m trying to accomplish. It’s a sort of mental yoga or meditation.” My Pets. Stewart also mentioned his dogs. “There’s something particularly peaceful about the last snuffle of a dog before it goes to sleep at your feet,” he says. Jean Grastorf also referenced the joy of a studio pet. “Lilly, my calico cat, is my best helper,” she says. “She’s always on the drawing table offering her encouragement.”

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PAINTER Free US Shipping “My daughter Allison is currently archiving all of my paintings from 1972 to the present, adding keywords as to the dates, medium or media, and the subject matter and/or place where it was painted.”

You Can Take It With You

“The most helpful item in my studio is my iPad,” says Antonio Masi. “It goes wherever I go; it’s like taking my studio with me. “My iPad has tremendous uses for me. I use it to store my references and photos of my work. It assists me in the different stages of a painting in progress. When using it to view a reference, I can enlarge a section in order to see it better. “I also use it for record-keeping, sales, billing, accounts receivable, work schedule, workshop schedules, art contests and exhibition schedules, and deadline reminders.”

Keeping Tabs on Tools

“Organizing tools and materials, while still keeping them accessible, is always a goal. So, I organize tubes of paint by families of color,” says Birgit O’Connor. “You can use small plastic bags, clear plastic drawers with dividers, or to save room, even a clear plastic shoe organizer that hangs on the door. “With brushes, because different painting styles require different needs, I organize brushes by size and type. To prevent ruining a tip, I place them tip-up in large stone containers where they’re easily accessible. “I like to keep brands and weights of paper separate, too, and try not to mingle them. I don’t want to think I have one type of paper only to find

Watercolor Artist

| February 2018


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out later that I grabbed the wrong one. “For my reference photos, organizing by subject matter really helps and makes it easier for me to find what I’m looking for. So, for example, I sort by flowers first, then by flower type, and then by color.”

Organizing With Tape

“I have a lot of different paintings and pictures in the studio,” says Z.L. Feng, “along with assorted materials and frames. What helps me stay organized is to set aside part of the room and dedicate that space exclusively to a certain item. “For example, I’ll tape a border on my floor and place reference photos in baskets or folders in the left corner of my studio and then the easel somewhere in the center. This keeps references nearby, so I’m able to find what I’m looking for quickly and use it. Likewise, I keep my tools and materials blocked off to my right.”

Tubes, Tubes & More Tubes

“I was awash in paint,” says John Salminen. “Some of the tubes I’d purchased; others I’d earned as merchandise awards; and some were given to me for testing. Tubes and tubes and more tubes. The bulk of them were heaped in boxes, Ziploc bags and random piles in corners of my studio. When I needed to find a specific color, I spent a lot of time rummaging. 26


“The solution to the chaos came during a trip to the local building center where I saw these plastic stackable bins [above]. They’re probably intended for the storage of nuts and bolts, but they’re sized just right for multiple tubes of paint. The system is simple, but it has made my studio time much more productive, and I’ll never again realize partway through a painting that I’ve run out of a color.”

The Big Clean

“After 10 years of doing parental care, when both of my parents had passed on, I felt that one stage of my life had ended and another had begun,” says Katherine Chang Liu. “Over the course of that decade of caretaking, a lot of things had accumulated in my studio, and my working space had shrunk. So last summer I did a big purge. “I started with old work, tearing a lot of old paintings I’d done on paper and gessoing a lot of the work I’d painted on canvas or panel. I took a cold eye to what needed to be discarded, and within a week, I’d reduced the amount of stuff in my studio by 75 percent. “Then I did the same with art supplies and art books. Art supplies went to local schoolchildren, and art books went to the local library. “After this purge, I reorganized everything, and my studio became spacious and more efficient.”

John Salminen uses plastic bins for paint storage. “An individual bin stores quite a few tubes of paint,” he says. “And the bins stack, so they require a minimal amount of counter space. Even when stacked, it’s easy to grab a tube of paint. I’ve arranged the bins in the same color order as my palette.”

The Essential Sketchbook

“Like a lot of artists, I’m a horizontal stacker,” says Mark Mehaffey. “I can fill every flat space available to me. And, weeks later, I can remember where I put something down. Rosie, my wife and business partner, however, is an inveterate picker-upper. If I put anything down in the house and expect it to be there a day or two later, it’s not. It has been picked up and put away. Drives me crazy! “So, Rosie has been banned from touching anything in the studio, even something that has been in the same place for weeks. Drives her nuts! Having said that, I give Rosie every credit. I couldn’t do what I do without her help. “The one thing that really does keep me organized, though, is my sketchbook. It’s my place to find out if an idea might work; to see if a design is sound; to explore variations; and to make a connection. My sketchbook keeps me on track and organized. And, I always know where I put it down.”

What works best to keep your studio organized? Email your tips to [email protected] Use the subject head “Organize.”


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Color, shape, value and edges serve as the underpinnings for Alvaro Castagnet’s painted landscapes of light-filled scenes from around the world.



Paris Vista (watercolor on paper, 26x40) On previous pages: Café Brasilero (watercolor on paper, 22x30)



lvaro Castagnet paints the world with unrestrained zeal, swinging his brushes in broad, assertive strokes; building rich, glowing washes; and animating the whole with speedy linear mark-making. The resulting paintings brim with warm energy and a pleasurable sense of encounter and discovery. An indefatigable traveler who gives workshops all over the world, the Montevideo, Uruguay-based Castagnet relishes taking on new territory in cityscapes that explode with


life and light, and interiors that re-create more somber kinds of illumination. “Watercolor offers spontaneity and the freedom to succumb to the beautiful glow of its washes,” the artist says. “It’s the medium that reflects my personality most closely, and it’s the way I conceive art— fresh, spontaneous and executed in one go.”

The Four Pillars

Yet for all the speed and directness of his approach, Castagnet is highly skilled at

establishing powerful and dynamic compositions, creating light and form, and rendering a coherent and consistent space throughout his paintings. It’s the tension between this kind of control—and the sheer immediacy of his execution—that gives his work its power and authority. Castagnet’s approach relies heavily on raw energy and directness, but he also has strong feelings about the technical requirements for a successful painting. He describes these

requirements as the “four pillars” of watercolor: color, shape, value and edges.

Prague (watercolor on paper, 30x22)

The First Pillar: Color

In discussing color, Castagnet talks about the importance of finding color harmonies within a painting and staying within a family of color. “Watercolor has to be more sophisticated than simply painting with transparent pinks, yellows and blues,” he says. “You have to have color for mood and harmony, and it’s not easy

Watercolor Artist

| February 2018


Vernazza (watercolor on paper, 30x22) New York Taxis (center; watercolor on paper, 30x22)


to be harmonious. It’s not easy to maintain certain color schemes that are well integrated and that are very much a member of a family.” The artist notes that most tube colors are highly unnatural in their raw state. You rarely see a saturated viridian green in nature or a pure ultramarine blue, so Castagnet nearly always mixes more complex color on his palette, typically using Daniel Smith, Winsor & Newton, Sennelier and Holbein. “As I proceed with a painting, I have to synchronize the color,” Castagnet says. “If I come to paint a tree, I not only have to look at it, but I also have to paint it according to what’s going on in the


painting so that it’s compatible with what else is happening.” Painting in this way often leads Castagnet away from a strict realism as he makes choices based on the look, feel and mood of the painting instead of trying to reproduce the exact values of his subject. “A painting is an illusion,” he says. “It’s a view that doesn’t exist. When I’m painting, I’m able to manipulate things at will. It’s like creating poetry. If I use dark, juicy washes, for instance, it’s one way for me to express myself. Sometimes I have to be bold and brave.” Indeed, Castagnet’s courage and intuitive flare sometimes move him to enrich the color of

brush it on The foundation of Castagnet’s painting rests on his brushwork, which incorporates a wide range of strokes—from big open swatches to skittering narrow marks. “I always hold the brush at the tip, never close up to the ferrule,” the artist says. “In watercolor, you can actually say that less control is more control. By holding the brush farther back, you get a more beautiful stroke, and the paint looks better.” Eventually, he points out, an artist will get used to controlling the brush from the tip of the handle, but the stroke will retain its movement and sense of energy. To facilitate the best brushwork, Castagnet decided some years ago to design and market brushes under his own name. “Early on, I used to use mop brushes, often Japanese and Chinese styles,” he says. “Then a friend who ran a big art supply business in Australia invited me to design better brushes.” After many prototypes, Castagnet eventually elected to use high-quality, natural squirrel hair in brushes that deliver everything from broad full washes to delicate pointed strokes. He also specified a long handle for improved stroke and drag. To maximize the effect of his brushing style, Castagnet works at a tripod easel with the painting surface—usually 140-lb. cold-pressed watercolor paper—set way below his eye level. The easel allows him to change the angle at which the painting is set. “Early in the painting, I have the paper angled at about 45 degrees,” he says. “This allows for some dripping and movement, which is exciting and dynamic.” Once the painting is underway, Castagnet adjusts the angle to be flatter, although never quite horizontal. “I probably get to about 10 or 15 degrees,” he says. “I make it flatter because I want to establish values and position, but I don’t want the paint to drip or move.”

a shadow into quite unnatural territory, creating a whole new level of excitement. “We need to show our true selves when we paint,” he says. “A painting has to stand for something. I want to be an individual, and I don’t think too much about the viewer. It’s a bit like giving a radio broadcast; you speak through the ether. To be an artist, you have to have integrity and honesty. In some ways, it’s totally self-indulgent.” Castagnet’s manipulation of color can be seen in Prague (on page 31), where a city street is conjured in a large variety of close grays set against a red car rendered with maximum saturation. This burst of color not only supplies

drama and excitement, but also serves to reinforce the moody color of the buildings and the slow light that envelops them.

The Second Pillar: Shape

Shape, the second of Castagnet’s pillars, is “fundamental,” says the artist. “I always try to surprise myself with the choice of shapes. I usually choose one dominant shape for a painting, then two medium-sized shapes and then several small ones.” In arranging them, Castagnet says that he’s looking for maximum impact and surprise. “There’s no rule of thumb for this design stage,”

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| February 2018


“When I’m painting, I’m able to manipulate things at will. It’s like painting poetry.”

he says. “If there was, then you’d lose the surprise. You have forms, and you have to deal with them. It’s the total impact of the design that’s important.” The success of this approach can be seen in Vernazza (on page 32), where the most powerful shape is the dramatic shadow cast by the boat on the dock. This is reflected in the two smaller shapes of the sunlit boats in the background, which are accompanied by smaller shapes of boats and buildings. This approach creates an initial sense of focus that’s followed by reflection and discovery on the part of the viewer.

The Third Pillar: Value

When it comes to his third pillar—value— Castagnet is focused on creating both light and drama. He’s partial to views that incorporate backlighting, which yields strong, silhouetted shapes and dramatic light. In shadow areas, he’s particularly attentive to alternating warm and cool colors, often subtly. “Warm-to-cool transitions are what give a glow to the washes,” he says. And when it comes to darks, the artist isn’t afraid to build deep and full color, a strategy that produces spectacular effects. In New York Taxis (on pages 32-33), for example, the heavy darks in the background allow the yellow cabs and their headlights to leap forward in the painting, reinforcing the exciting movement of the oncoming vehicles.

in Barcelona (opposite). The crisp silhouette of the top of the buildings is contrasted with the much softer edges farther back and the blurred details of the building façade. Drama is then created with the hard edge of a market umbrella in the foreground.

The Fourth Pillar: Edges

Capturing Mood and Essence

Castagnet’s final pillar is edges. “Edges are one of the priorities in painting,” he says, “but you wouldn’t want a rigid painting where all the edges are hard.” He works to soften edges, blurring and flooding them to lose hardness and definition and then sometimes bringing back an edge, an approach known as “lost and found.” “You need a painting that bends,” he says. “It has to have dynamics, and it must have rhythm. This is only going to happen if you vary the edges.” In practice, Castagnet’s edges range from razor sharp to exquisitely soft blends, as seen

The Bridge (watercolor on paper, 30x22) Barcelona (opposite; watercolor on paper, 30x22)

Castagnet’s four pillars concept is a general way of breaking down the thinking part of his painting. “There’s no pecking order,” he says. “These pillars have to work together. I usually select a subject because I like the light. That’s my priority. Also, I must like the shapes, and the subject must have some meaning for me. As for my process, I begin with the shapes. I’m not a fussy drawer.” Castagnet’s painting process is comprised of two stages. First, he establishes a dominant hue—usually yellow ochre. “That’s to my liking

Watercolor Artist

| February 2018


because it warms up the painting and keeps the light together,” he says. “Then I put some other hues into that wash—usually warms and cools of the same kind of value or slightly darker.” In the second stage, Castagnet uses a wet-on-dry technique, working on edges and building color. “I put the dark values in at the end—pulling the painting together. I play with good brushwork and calligraphy as I go. “The most important part,” continues Castagnet, “is capturing the mood and finding the essence of the scene, discovering something with some sort of important magic to it.” It’s this last ambition that provides the impetus to paint—and it’s also the one that Castagnet fi nds the most difficult. “The most challenging thing is making a painting with passion, flair and emotion that shows gut feeling, instinct, and intuition,” he says. “All the technicalities are just vehicles that allow me to say something. Technique isn’t the challenge; the challenge is what I’m saying and the way I’m saying it.”

Back to the Studio

As for the future of his work, Castagnet clearly would like to make some changes. The artist says that his life has become perhaps a bit too full—traveling around the world to give workshops, attending conferences and judging art exhibitions. He’s considering spending more time to grow with his own work. “I’d like to think more as an abstractionist,” Castagnet says. “I want to make paintings with more passion. I want to make paintings using fewer colors, perhaps only black and ultramarine blue. I want to create mystery, not prettiness. That’s my project. I need time in the studio for myself. “A little bit of prestige is good—traveling and so on—but getting to know a lot of people can be challenging. Painting is like meditation, like silence.”

Genove (watercolor on paper, 22x30) Johnson St., Fitzroy (opposite; watercolor on paper, 30x22)

JOHN A. PARKS (johnaparks.com) is a painter,

a writer and a member of the faculty of the School of Visual Arts in New York.

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| February 2018




Judy Saltzman takes to the water— literally and figuratively—to explore a lifelong passion in a creative way. BY A M Y LE I B R O C K

Saltzman painted Potato Field (watercolor on paper, 25x41) with a masking technique, adding alternate layers of warm and cool colors. On previous pages: To keep the greens looking fresh and realistic in Usseppa Island (watercolor on paper, 22x30), Saltzman used layers of mixed transparent yellow and aureolin with manganese blue, cobalt blue, permanent blue and indigo.



udy Saltzman’s passion for sailing began when she was just a girl. In a lifetime spent on and near the water, she’s done it all—cruising, racing, teaching youth sailing programs, hosting regattas and simply “sailing off into the wild blue yonder.” It wasn’t until about 10 years ago, though, that she decided she wanted to express her passion for the sport through painting. Watercolor seemed like a natural fit, so she began taking classes in Sarasota, Fla., where she lives. Over the past decade, she has honed her skills via classes, books, videos and experimentation to develop her lively painting style. Using shapes and layers of poured color, she builds paintings that convey depth and movement. “I like to use the full scale of values, if I can, to give a painting more drama,” says Saltzman.


“I’m trying to capture emotions and take the viewer on a journey or behind the scenes of things about which I’m passionate.” Although sailing was what originally inspired Saltzman to take up painting, her subject matter has expanded quickly to include food, interiors, landscapes, portraits— all painted from photos of places she’s been and experiences she’s had. Depending on the subject, she builds her paintings in one of two ways: When she wants highly saturated colors, she paints directly out of the tube. Otherwise, she uses a wet-into-wet approach, adding colors in layers with the help of masking fluid.

Capturing the Action

In her sailing paintings (see Wet and Wild, on page 42), Saltzman wants the viewer to “feel the

wind and taste the salt,” so she puts herself into the action to capture compelling scenes. “During a regatta, I’ll follow a particular sailor around the course,” the artist says. “Something about that person has caught my eye. I’ll get right up there and snap a couple of photos at different times during the race and try to capture what it is I like. In team racing, there’s a relationship, a trust that has to be created between the captain and the crew. That’s one of the reasons I still like to paint that subject.” Although she knows it intimately, sailing is a challenging subject to paint because it has to look realistic. “You can’t have the sails on the wrong side, you can’t have boats almost tipping over and the water absolutely flat,” Saltzman says.

Charting the Course

Regardless of the subject matter, Saltzman evaluates the reference photos she takes to choose images that feature strong value changes, harmony, interest and movement. She edits the photos on the computer, often starting with four or five images, cropping and adjusting each image’s exposure, vibrancy, color and shape. “I may decide that the whole tone of the picture is wrong,” she says. “Or, it may have been a very bright day, and I may want to tone down the saturation.” She started photo-editing using the basic Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Today, she uses Photoshop and takes most of her photos using the “raw” setting on her camera. For architectural images, she uses the program’s lens correction filter to adjust the perspective.

When painting Living Veranda (watercolor on paper, 30x22), Saltzman’s challenge was to paint the greens to evoke the heat of the day and ensure there were plenty of values. “Rather than paint light to dark, I started with the darkest values and then added the light to medium,” she says.

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design, light intensity and painting method— either wet-into-wet pouring and layering or direct brush painting. Once she works out the drawing, Saltzman uses a light box to transfer it to Arches 140-lb. cold-pressed paper.

Building the Layers

Saltzman painted the background of Wet and Wild (watercolor on paper, 22x30) through a process of masking and adding layers wetinto-wet. She then painted the sailors directly. The photo references (above) helped her map out the painting.


Saltzman’s photo-editing process can take days or even weeks. To confirm there are enough value changes in an image, she converts it to grayscale. Once she’s satisfied with the result, she prints out the black-and-white image and uses it to make a detailed drawing on vellum, which she then places over a grid. “It’s not very scientific or difficult. I just work each box as I go along,” she says. Saltzman may not follow the photo exactly, but it provides a strong direction. As she draws, she makes critical decisions about


At this point, if Saltzman is planning to use a lot of water in the painting, she’ll stretch the surface and staple it onto Gator Board. Then, she’ll mask out all of the white areas using Pebeo masking fluid. Once that dries, she’ll begin pouring or spattering the paint onto the wet surface. “It’s a bit of yin and yang as I let the paint flow freely,” she says. “I’ll use basically three colors—a blue, a yellow and a red of some sort—and pour on the colors. If it’s a painting of water, I may not use any red at that point, as I’m just trying to get a really light value.”

As she builds layers, she moves from the lightest to the darkest value to create subtle visual impact and overall rhythm. Because she lives in a humid area, she has to wait at least a day or so for each layer to dry. With each painting consisting of eight to 10 layers, Saltzman uses the drying time to critique her progress and work on other pieces in various stages. She’ll then evaluate whether the painting needs more warm or cool colors. “Generally, the warm colors bring objects forward, and cooler tones push objects back. If the painting is becoming too warm in one layer, I’ll use cooler colors—cobalt blue, purple, indigo or Payne’s gray—depending on the value stage,” she says. If she’s concerned about granulation, she’ll avoid ultramarine blue. “If a layer appears too

light, I’ll add paint before moving to the next layer,” she says. “If it’s too dark, it’s time for lots of water spraying to take the value down.” When painting water, she uses these value changes to create the movement. “Marine paintings typically have a lot of blue tones and are cool in temperature, so it’s helpful to add warm tones,” she says. “I move from the lightest value to the darkest to create subtle changes, color harmony and complexity.”

The teamwork in Sisters (watercolor on paper, 27x27) caught Saltzman’s eye. She took reference photos and then cropped her favorite one to create the square format.

“As I peel the layers off, the painting reveals itself. To me, it’s almost magical.” Watercolor Artist

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Satlzman was drawn to the architecture of a food court lounge at an upscale Berlin department store for Sky Lounge (watercolor on paper, 24x26).


When Saltzman is painting an image for which bold, vivid darks are important, and she wants more control over color, she employs a dry-brushing method using fresh paint out of the tube mixed to a consistency of milk or cream. For large shapes, she’ll use more water across the paper and mix with other colors directly. Recently, she has started combining


these two methods, pouring all of the light layers first, then removing the masking and laying down the darks. You can see the results in Wet and Wild and Spirit of the Nations (at right).

The Big Reveal

If Saltzman is in doubt about what colors to use, she refers back to color-mixing charts she’s

made over the years. “Whenever I purchase a new color, the first thing I do is test the color systematically by creating a chart,” she says. “I’ll have that paint mixed with others to determine whether it pushes paint away or pulls it in, and to observe what properties it has.” She finds this approach particularly helpful when painting greens. “I never use a premixed

green. I’ve just never found something I really like. With all of the yellows and blues out there, I find that I can come up with something that looks much more realistic.” As the painting builds, Saltzman continues masking each layer; by the end, she doesn’t really know what she has. “As I peel the layers off, the painting reveals itself,” she says. “To

Saltzman received permission from an elder of a Native American tribe to be part of the inner circle at a powwow in Tennessee. She photographed the experience, which resulted in Spirit of the Nations (watercolor on paper, 41x25).

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Reminiscent (watercolor on paper, 29x21) is part of a series Saltzman started during the 2016 election season. Saltzman used 10 layers of paint in Back in Time (center; watercolor on paper, 30X22) for a glazed effect, mimicking the appearance of looking through a window.


me, it’s almost magical. In some cases, I have to go back and add some water and color because the masking has flattened the fibers of the paper, but they truly come alive.”

Pushing the Boundaries

Saltzman often explores subjects in depth through series. During the chaos of the 2016 election season, she searched for something that would feel calming to paint. What resulted was a dreamy, nostalgic series of interiors that includes Reminiscent and Back in Time (above). She also likes creating large pieces, but watercolors aren’t typically done at that scale. “When someone says, you can’t do that with


watercolor paper, I’m always trying to say, well, maybe we can,” says Saltzman. Lately, she’s worked out a compromise by doing triptychs, which in total measure up to 99 inches in width. Another finishing method Saltzman uses is to mount her work on wood; she did this with Serve It Up and Almost Calorie Free (opposite). First, she paints wood boards and sprays the paper with an archival spray. When it dries, she attaches the paper to the wood, sprays it again and then varnishes it on the wood. This method frees her up to paint much larger.

Returning to Port

Saltzman recently was awarded signature

member status in the American Society of Marine Artists, an honor that brings her full circle. “I’ve taken something that I’ve done my entire life, and now I’m able to present it on paper and give the viewer that experience,” the artist says. Sailing has given Saltzman more than just prestige and exciting subject matter from which to draw. The confidence and gut-trusting instincts she learned from navigating the water have informed her painting life. “When I’d go sailing and see a dark cloud, I’d say, I wonder if that’s a storm? Should I reduce the sail? I knew from experience that if I was asking the question, the answer was ‘yes.’

“Now I do the same thing when painting. I’ll ask myself, does this painting need more dark values? Does it need more punch? Or, is it time to stop? I trust my intuition to say, Well, if I’m asking those questions, then those are ‘yes’ answers.” AMY LEIBROCK is a Cincinnati-based freelance

Breaking with tradition, Serve It Up (watercolor on paper, 12x12) is mounted on a wood board instead of matted and framed, as is Almost Calorie Free (bottom; watercolor on paper, 20x20).

writer and content strategist.

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The luminous works of Igor Sava capture not just the sites but also the mood and character of some of the world’s greatest cities. BY A N N E H E V E N E R



A Memory of Place

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gor Sava was born in Moldova, an Eastern European country that was formally part of the Soviet Union. For the last 20 years, however, the artist has made his home in Rome, where a regular supply of sunshine has cultivated a fascination for capturing light in watercolor. Whether it’s a romantic fountain, a charming piazza or a Renaissance church, Sava’s new homeland has supplied endless inspiration for paint and brush. Sava also has traveled the world, taking his painting kit on the road to other inspiring cities, among them Paris, Barcelona and Saint



Petersburg. Wherever he goes, the artist’s aim is the same: to paint a scene that stirs the memory, evoking the character of a city and the power of place. Sava traveled to eight different countries last year to lead 12 watercolor workshops. We caught him at home long enough to answer these questions about his artistic practice. The quality of light in your work is mesmerizing. What’s your secret? I don’t have any special techniques. I think all artists become connected to a place. I’ve lived

in Italy, a very sunny country, for 20 years. For me, this is a fundamental part of my motivation to search for light. You draw viewers into your work and lead them around with carefully placed pops of color. Can you talk about that technique? By placing objects and characters on the “stage,” the watercolor becomes part of the history of the piece. I can add to or remove color from these characters and, by doing so, shift interest. Imagine a monochromatic picture and a dot of color; by creating this conflict, that point in the

Left to right: Venezia, San Marco (watercolor on paper, 21½x9) Angoli di Popoli Bollarò (watercolor on paper, 14¼x20) On previous pages: Popolo Square, Rome (13¾x21¼)

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painting the light




4 In the development of Sicilian Landscape (watercolor on paper, 15x22), one can see the attention Sava gives to value and contrast as a way to build dramatic light. A mix of soft and hard edges also adds interest to the scene.



Moscow (36x51)

painting becomes very important. Sometimes you can create a visual game inside the picture, moving the viewer’s eye. Tell us about your approach to color and value. I love observing a scene. In analyzing every detail, I see thousands of colors and the relationships between them. And all of this, I’d love to bring onto the paper. Despite all of that, however, it’s the tonal value that is, for me, far more important than the color, so I prioritize the tonal value. You do a lot of plein air work. How often do you work from photos in the studio? I often make a fast sketch en plein air, and then continue the painting back in the studio. I think that both practices are important. When painting en plein air, there’s a direct relationship between the artist and nature. Everything is more complicated when you’re working on location, for many reasons, but there’s so much opportunity for learning from the challenge. For the most part, the painting I do inside the studio serves to refine my technique, which is also important.

How does your process differ when working on site versus in the studio? Photography is two-dimensional; it doesn’t allow you to see the color, the smell, the noise, the proportions and many other things. When I paint a landscape, for me, it’s important to be in that place, even if only for a short time. In the studio, we have the situation under control. Lights and shadows don’t move. The wind and rain doesn’t bother us. We have the opportunity to take a coffee break. We can stop and continue working later. When working in the studio, we lose concentration, but we get the technical experience. How do you find your painting subjects? In the past, I sought out very specific subjects, but with the passing of time, I’ve come to understand more and more that every subject is worth admiring and is worthy of being painted. I’ve also found that very often the subject chooses you. What is it about watercolor that particularly appeals to you? Do you ever use other media? When you have a clear idea of what you want to get, you can achieve great results in watercolor.

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Timisoara (watercolor on paper, 20x8) Barcelona (watercolor on paper, 25x20)

I may sometimes paint with acrylics or oils on canvas, but the techniques for these media seem like a little dog listening to everything I order him to do. Watercolor, on the other hand, is like a cat. To get a good result, I have to find the balance between me, as an artist, and the cat that I can’t completely control. When we learn to have patience, we learn to find balance. We learn to play and express ourselves. How does your style of application play a role in your creative expression? Drawing and painting can be compared to a language. To express your idea, sometimes



you need more words or more details, but other times, all you need is a gesture to help someone understand. Do you use transparent watercolor only, or do you also use opaque colors? If you use opaque color, where and why? The great quality of watercolor, compared to other media, is its transparency. I prefer transparent watercolor, but you could choose semi-transparent or opaque colors based on the elements you want to create—sky and clouds, water and boat, trees and figures, etc. Or, you could choose one with respect to the other

constructing a cityscape




4 After working out a composition for Venice (watercolor on paper, 15x22) and making the line drawing, Sava begins with complementary tones in the sky and earthy tones in the foreground. He continues to build the painting, adding detail and a few juicy bits of color.

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based on the visual perspective. Using transparent colors creates the illusion of entering inside the picture.

artist’s toolkit Paper: Recently I started using Arches 300-lb. rough paper, but I also use Fabriano Artistico and Saunders Waterford. The format I use most often is 15x22 inches, a half sheet, or 30x22 inches, a full sheet.

Is there another artist who has had an influence on your painting style? About 15 years ago, when I fi rst started painting the landscapes of Rome, I discovered the beautiful works of watercolorist Ettore Roesler Franz. For some time, I tried to follow his every brushstroke, attempting to understand the reason behind each stroke. Afterward, I discovered many other great artists whose work I loved, and I tried to learn something from each. For days I was immobile in front of the computer, looking for new artists on the internet. At some point, I came to understand one thing: The more you look at others, the less there is to say.

Brushes: I prefer natural hair brushes and the Chinese calligraphic brushes, in particular. But in my set of brushes, you also can find the classic brush or even a synthetic.

Are there other lessons you’ve learned over the years that have influenced how you work?

Paint and Palette: I use an aluminum palette and tube watercolors from many brands: Daniel Smith, Mijello, Schmincke, Sennelier, White Night, M. Graham and Winsor & Newton.

Another important lesson is not to be afraid. Try to experience more and more. To really be successful, we must devote ourselves fully to what we do.

—Igor Sava



ANNE HEVENER is the editor-in-chief of Watercolor Artist and Pastel Journal.

Clockwise from opposite: Laguna Blue (15x22) Paris (watercolor on paper, 15x20) The Perfect Day (watercolor on paper, 15¼x23¼)

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Every winter, we look forward to putting together this feature of the year’s best paintings. Of course, “best” is subjective, but one way a painting earns that distinction is to stand out in competition. So, we turn to art societies—from the West Coast to the East Coast, Florida to Canada—to bring our attention to some of North America’s celebrated watercolor paintings of 2017.

The Year’s

Best Paintings BY M C K E NZ I E G R A H A M

MISSOURI WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Ali Cavanaugh Ste. Genevieve, Mo. Brightness Burning on the Heart Within (watercolor on Aquaboard, 24x30)

“I wanted to give an award to this particular piece because it exhibits a broad range of techniques, skillful handling and interesting subject matter: the gesture; the angle or position of the body; powerful, stunning color; and a large area of negative space. Paintings like this one aren’t forgotten but remain in one’s mind a long time.” –DONGFENG LI, JUROR

“My oldest daughter, Neve, was the inspiration for this piece. She’s been my graceful muse for many years. “Neve is poised and reserved, and in this composition, I was able to catch her in direct profile. A striking diagonal was created with her downcast head and hand placement. The two primary elements in my work are bold compositions paired with a delicate application of paint. I had hoped to achieve a sense of elegance, beauty, thoughtfulness and intimacy. “Payne’s gray is always the foundation of my limited palette. For skin tones, I use Indian yellow, cadmium red light, and a mix of sap green and perylene maroon. Neve’s hair is painted with that same mixture, with additions of burnt umber, raw umber, burnt sienna and sepia. “It’s been a challenge to find watercolor societies that will allow my preferred surface since it’s nontraditional. In winning this award, I felt excited for the progress of the medium.”

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FLORIDA WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Dean Mitchell Tampa, Fla. Carrie Mae (watercolor on paper, 20x15)

SOCIETY OF WATERCOLOR ARTISTS Xi De Liu Hong Kong Sounds of Inspiration (watercolor on paper, 30x22)

“Surprise them. It’s as simple as that, but not so easy in execution. Find a way to speak to your audience in your own voice. Look for ways to compose a familiar subject in a way that’s all your own. Most importantly, the piece should tell a story. I tell my workshop groups and anyone who will listen: Do you want to be a cover band or write your own music? My answer is always the latter. That, and never let a pencil line tell you where to put your brush.” –IAIN STEWART




“Carrie Mae is a masterful example of design, foresight and capability possessed by very few contemporary artists. The muted colors are utilized with a delicacy and deftness of brushstrokes that emphasize the sense of dignified tranquility that clearly indicates the subject is a character of strong positive influence in the artist’s life. The subject’s pose at the edge of her chair and the slight lean of her head suggest a natural listener, reinforced by her face, with its somber expression, and her clasped hands. If the painting could speak to me, it would say ‘wisdom.’ “One thing that caught my attention was the little bit of red nail polish. Once I saw that bit of red, the muted tones of the seat and wooden furniture began to reveal a repetition of the same color placed throughout the image. “Viewing Carrie Mae at 20 feet reveals an abstract; at 10, the figure becomes obvious; at five, the jewels come alive; and at one, I could sit for some time looking at brushstrokes, edge control, and all the facets that make this one to be walked around and enjoyed again and again.” –IAIN STEWART, JUROR

“Carrie Mae has been a friend of my family’s since before I was born. She was one of my mother’s professors at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. The college is about 22 miles away from the small rural town of Quincy, Fla., where my maternal grandmother raised me. “Carrie Mae became one of my mother’s mentors and beyond. In fact, she treated my mother like a daughter, often taking her to places she never could have afforded. She’s a kind, brilliant human being. She’s 97 now, and was born in Boston. She graduated from A&M as valedictorian in 1941 and received her master’s from Columbia in 1945. She got her Ph.D. from Iowa State University in 1958. “Carrie Mae’s mother owned a hotel in the Boston area for 35 years called ‘The Mother’s Lunch.’ It was one of the few—if not the only hotel—where African-Americans could stay. The list of people who stayed there is a ‘Who’s Who’ in American culture— Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Sam Davis, Mary McLeod Bethune and many others. She’s talked about her sister doing Ella Fitzgerald’s hair just before she went on stage to perform. “I’m overwhelmed with the award and being able to share with the world a truly great American whose life is deeply woven into the fabric of American culture.”



CALIFORNIA WATERCOLOR ASSOCIATION Laurie Goldstein-Warren Buckhannon, W.V.


Glass on Glass on Fabric (watercolor on paper, 30x22)

Sharon Grey Rapid City, S.D.

“Painting glass in watercolor makes for a unique set of challenges, beginning with the importance of seeing the various reflections and refraction in the glass and drawing them accurately. The challenge and beauty of glass rendered in a transparent medium like watercolor inspires me. “When I composed this painting, I wanted to use the taller glass pieces; after setting up the still life, I realized it needed a horizontal element, so I introduced the fabric with its more organic design. The scarf was a gift from a friend and fellow watercolorist, Jayson Yeoh. “Most of my works are painted from dark to light. The first dark wash covered the background, as well as the darkest values within the glass pieces. I did this by masking off any lighter values and areas where I wanted to maintain pure color. “My usual palette is quinacridone gold and quinacridone rose by Daniel Smith, and cobalt blue and Antwerp blue from Winsor & Newton. Over the years, I’ve been able to create any value and color from this palette.” “Glass on Glass on Fabric possesses a fanciful, magical quality. The artist masterfully captures the effects of light on glass, and we’re mesmerized. The sparkling highlights contrast with deep, rich darks. The luminous, complementary color scheme and skillful composition are beautifully orchestrated in this powerful watercolor.” –DONNA ZAGOTTA, JUROR

Icarus Falling Now (watercolor on paper, 28x36)

THE CANADIAN SOCIETY OF PAINTERS IN WATER COLOUR Inge Kjeldgaard Tajik Mississauga, Ontario, Canada The Earthy Traveler (watercolor on paper, 24x36)


“Enter your most personal, unique, imaginative,

creatively designed and well-put-together paintings.” –DONNA ZAGOTTA

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SOUTH CAROLINA WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Lynn Schilling Fort Mill, S.C. Distracted (watercolor on paper, 14½x18)

GEORGIA WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Mel Stabin Park Ridge, N.J. Good Morning in South Carolina (watercolor on paper, 15x22)



TRANSPARENT WATERCOLOR SOCIETY OF AMERICA June Webster Cheshire, Conn. Morning in Paris (watercolor on paper, 35x29)

“My painting was inspired by the view from my hotel balcony in Paris near the Luxembourg Gardens. Early one morning, I was struck by how quiet the city was and how the trees along the park, the poles and the lone cyclist cast such beautifully defined shadows across the painted lines on the street. I wanted to capture that feeling of calm, as well as the color and value changes created by the shadows. “My background is in the commercial printing industry, where everything is reproduced with just a few ink colors. Using masking film and working in a dark-tolight progression, the colors in my painting were created with multiple washes of rose, yellow and blue paint. The scene almost composed itself. The only changes I made to the picture were to crop it tightly and shorten the space to create more overlapping shapes.” “In Morning in Paris, the biker is headed off, but where? Why aren’t there any other people around on such a nice day? Everything is still except the cyclist. There’s almost a surreal quality to the image. By simplifying the image and illuminating the subject, the basic design and divisions of space are balanced and keep the viewer’s eye moving. It’s a well-designed and evocative image that makes one feel a sense of being alone within a city full of people.” –JEAN PEDERSON, JUROR


“I enjoy strong imagery with great content. This painting is skillfully painted with good technique and an understanding of

the basic elements and principles of design. Most artists strive to communicate an idea that engages the viewer in a visual dialogue; therefore, the image should be compelling and elicit a response.” –JEAN PEDERSON

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AMERICAN WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Cathy Hegman Holly Bluff, Miss. Insomniacs Dreamboats (acrylic on paper, 25x19)

“Insomniacs Dreamboats is a painting of symbols expressing the feelings of an insomniac. Stars represent the night. There are sheep, ships passing and a fantastical hairpiece, which could represent a cloud or the dark night. The painting possesses good graphic qualities, strong vertical and horizontal movement, contrasts light and dark values, and has good color and competent technique. Plus, it captures and conveys a message beyond surface appearance that we all can relate to.” –ANTONIO MASI, JUROR



“My paintings are always about my life or some aspect of my life. I don’t work from models or photos—just from my imagination. Insomniacs Dreamboats is inspired by my constant bouts of insomnia. I’ve done a long-running series of paintings called ‘Insomniacs’ with which I try to convey the feeling of needing to do something but being unable to. “I rely on thumbnail sketches to determine all of my compositions. I’m never without a sketchpad; it enables me to work through an idea and work out the values and placements that will best transmit my thoughts. I’m always looking for dynamic ways to place a figure in my work. “I chose a more muted palette. I wanted the painting to be soft and dreamy, but I also wanted it to have a sense of impact, so I chose to emphasize the values more than the palette. “This is the greatest honor I’ve ever received in my art career. I’ve watched so many of my peers receive this award and have only dreamed about receiving it myself— no pun intended.”

“When I jury a show, the paintings with a strong impact always stand out. In subsequent scroll throughs, I look for the qualities of a good piece of art—composition, value and contrasts. All the while, I do look for what the artist is trying to say and how well the message comes through. Then, of course, jurors can’t help but be subjective, to a point. Certain paintings just speak to us.” –CHRIS KRUPINSKI


WEST VIRGINIA WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Sidra Kaluszka Radford, Va. Summer’s Reflection (watercolor on paper, 19x25)

“Summer’s Reflection depicts a couple of persimmons that I picked in a park while walking with my inlaws, and some purple basil from my mother’s garden. I constantly seek new challenges; in this case the challenge was to incorporate the mirror on top of which the fruit is placed. I was interested in capturing the interaction between the subjects, the mirror and light. The reflection is positioned in a way that doesn’t give the viewer a straightforward view. I painted the focal point off center, with lines weaving in and out, because it invites the eye to explore.

“My first two watercolor sets were given to me in college. My mother gave me an old one she never used, and I later inherited my grandmother’s watercolors. Since then I’ve replaced some of the colors with others that have better light-fastness, but I still use a slightly limited palette. “The past few years I’ve worked hard to increase my skill set, as well as home in on a style and expressive voice. Summer’s Reflection has been accepted into several shows on the East Coast; however, it’s also received its fair share of rejection letters. It’s truly gratifying to have my work appreciated.”

“This painting is so dynamically strong. Design and composition are important to me as an artist, and this piece displays great composition. There’s a wonderful use of contrasts: value, temperature, shapes, and hard and soft edges. Although it’s a realistic painting, it has a nice abstract feel to it.” –CHRIS KRUPINSKI, JUROR

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WYOMING WATERCOLOR SOCIETY “As a judge, I check for design principles and elements, but for award-winning art, I look for even more than that. I ask myself whether the artist tried his best to explore creativity—to put his personal mark in his work. Usually that’s what speaks to me.” –KEIKO TANABE


NORTHWEST WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Bev Jozwiak Vancouver, Wash. Backstage Adjustments (watercolor on paper, 22x30)


“My youngest daughter is a professional ballet dancer, and I grew to love the art form. I helped out a lot around her dance studio— everything from designing tutus to making tiaras—and painted four 20x40-foot backdrops. My ballet paintings are always near and dear to my heart. “Dancers are extremely close to one another because they spend so much time together, and dance is intimate. I wanted this piece to convey that closeness and willingness to help each other. “I think of myself more as a value painter than a


colorist. I wanted the piece to be dynamic and bold, with confident brushwork, so I kept the number of colors I used to a minimum for the other qualities to shine through. “I’ve always been one to set goals. As I check them off my list, I think up new ones to take their place. I’ve won numerous awards, but never a best-of-show award in a big international show. This summer Watercolor Artist put me on the cover of the magazine, so that was another goal checked off my list. The prize money doesn’t hurt, either.”

Michael Holter Plano, Texas Stairway to ... (watercolor on paper, 20x16)

“This work caught my attention with its bold use of colors and brushwork that’s both unique and evocative. I gave the work a high point in design elements and composition. While Jozwiak employs a variety of traditional techniques and knowledge of art, it’s also evident she’s not afraid to push the envelope of watermedia, which I admire immensely. As a result, her work looks pleasing from an academic point of view, but also has an edgy, modern appeal.” –KEIKO TANABE, JUROR

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NORTH EAST WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Antonio Masi Garden City, N.Y. Family Walk (watercolor on paper, 37x44)



“Winning this award is a wonderful honor, because Family Walk was submitted among others painted by my peers, and the artists in this show are some of the best in the world. “My palette is laid out with about 16 colors, but I tend to select two that will set the mood. I explore value combinations I can create with my two picks,

and use the other colors to augment the purity, warmness and coolness of the original two I’ve chosen. This way, I can control the values in my painting. “Normally my compositions are suggested by the real-life scene before me— texture, chain-link fences, graffiti, and figures, like the tiny ones silhouetted under the arch in Family

Walk, passing from darkness into light. “At first, it appeared as a mass of confusion and excitement, so I exaggerated the smallness of the figures into this massive state of confusion and tried to bring order into it. I was thinking of a colorful quilted blanket; it has many patterns, but, at the same time, it’s still one unit.”

NATIONAL WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Carolyn Latanision Winchester, Mass. Flanges Bethlehem Steel (watercolor on paper, 20x20)

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PENN STATE WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Ron Thurston Coraopolis, Penn. 609 Main (watercolor on paper, 29x34)

“The white staircase in 609 Main is one of my dog’s designated stops on our daily walks. The house nearby also made the cut. I couldn’t resist including it, but the real one is white and situated too far away. “Experimenting with value choices, I decided to make the house blue and black as a support to the black dog. Milton Avery was my color muse. It’s his unusual color combinations that inspire me. “Archie, my dog, often gets in the way when I’m trying to take a photo, so he gets included in the composition by default, although rarely is a composition “ready to go” as seen in a reference photo. “I transplanted the house to line up with the steps in one of my thumbnail sketches. Where it had been too far away before, now it seemed just right. The flowering tree was from my imagination. “Winning this award means it’s OK to trust my instincts and continue painting whatever I want, however I want.”

Watercolor Artist

| February 2018


SPRINGFIELD ART MUSEUM Brenda Benson Monroe City, Mo. Purely Spectral (watercolor on paper on matboard, 30x36)

“One of the central reasons that the Springfield Art Museum created Watercolor USA was to recognize innovation in the use of watercolor. As this year’s juror, I was delighted to find an artist who conceived of a watercolor painting not confined to two dimensions, but rather that uses multiple pieces of paper.” –LAURIN MCCRACKEN, JUROR



“I was preparing paper for another piece using dour color and dark, depressing neutrals in shades of brown and gray. Suddenly I felt the need to cast off that burden and do something bright and joyful. I thumbed through my sketchbooks until I found something that would celebrate the joy that color can bring, and settled on a rough sketch of a quilt. A quilt and an open box of new crayons were my inspiration. “My process begins by painting 90-lb. Fabriano watercolor paper on both sides with a variety of professional-grade tube watercolors. At this

stage I paint with reckless abandon, employing spattering, salt and isopropyl alcohol. For Purely Spectral, I painted sheets of paper in different values of the same or similar colors. I cut the paper into rectangles, then scored and folded them into squares. Meanwhile, I painted mat board with acrylics in the design I had worked out in my sketchbook. “Taking a folded square of the painted paper, I used scissors or paper punches to cut a random design and then glued it down to its spot on the matboard grid. I chose bright primary and

secondary colors for the joy of opening a new box of crayons. Colors transition gently from one to another with analogous hues. “I’ve entered—and been rejected from—this competition for years. I almost gave up, but I knew that this particular show valued nontraditional approaches to watercolor, so I persisted. When I read the email informing me that I had not one, but two pieces accepted into this prestigious show, I was thrilled! But when I later received the email about the top award—well, I jumped up and did a happy dance.”

SOUTHWESTERN WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Ingrid Albrecht Chicago, Ill. And Off to The Park We Go (watercolor on paper, 20x26)

SOUTHERN WATERCOLOR SOCIETY Susan Stuller Midlothian, Va. Surely You Jest (watercolor on paper, 21x29)

“An artist must have a fresh idea, created using the highest standards of technical excellence. A competition painting should have a strong, instant impact on the viewer. If it takes several seconds for the juror to register its impact, it probably won’t be selected. Also, take photos with clarity and precision.” –LAURIN MCCRACKEN


Watercolor Artist

| February 2018


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A Wintry Mood Depending on your color palette, a snow scene can have a frosty feel or a warm glow.

Palette, light and perspective are key to creating a successful snow scene in Winter in Padley George (watercolor on paper).


ver since I began painting watercolor landscapes more than 25 years ago, I’ve enjoyed painting snow scenes. I think this is partly

because I’m attracted to the simplifying effect of the white cloak across the landscape. I like the way the sky colors are echoed through the thin

Watercolor Artist

| February 2018



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shadows and the contrast between the snow and the rich winter darks of trees and hedgerows. We all know that snow appears white, but as you can see from the following examples, there are numerous techniques and color schemes you can use to depict its effect in your paintings.

Pick Your Palette

Snow, of course, sets the scene for 78



many a wintry landscape, but other factors come into play—including palette selection, light and perspective. Here I share three palettes—cold, limited and warm—that I use to establish the foundation for a snowy scene, as well as how I use light and perspective to further the ambience.

Cold Palette

I’m fortunate to have some excellent painting subjects ready to inspire

me right at my doorstep. I live in the UK’s Derbyshire Dales, on the edge of the Peak District National Park. I particularly enjoy painting in the areas featuring the remnants of the Industrial Age of the 19th and early20th centuries, which have since been softened by nature. Cromford Canal in Winter (above) is a good example of this type of subject. I took the reference photo on a particularly cold New Year’s Day walk.


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Cool Palette: I used phthalo blue, which is greener and cooler than my usual sky choice, to create a sense of damp, cold mist in Cromford Canal in Winter (opposite; watercolor on paper). Limited Palette: A quartet of colors— cobalt blue, neutral tint, burnt sienna and raw sienna—in Chatsworth Park (right; watercolor on paper) lends a harmonious feeling to the painting.

I was so inspired by the scene that I couldn’t wait to get into the studio; I created the painting the next day. I chose a cold palette featuring plenty of wintry grays and darks, substituting my usual choice of cobalt blue for phthalo blue, which is a slightly greener, cooler blue. This produced a cool gray when mixed with a touch of burnt umber. I used this gray as a thin wash in the sky and as a slightly stronger wash in the background to hint at the distant, misty shapes of the trees. When I took the photo, the sun was setting, creating a soft pink glow, which I re-created by mixing Naples yellow and a bit of rose madder. Next, I put a touch of a slightly warmer color—an orange made from raw sienna and burnt sienna—at the point where we lose sight of the river as it disappears around the bend. This little splash of color leads the viewer’s eye into the scene, and is helped by the cluster of figures hunched against the cold wind. To create the dark brown in the silhouetted trees on the right, I mixed burnt umber and French ultramarine. To make the ivy-clad tree on the left, I used a rich dark green mix of phthalo blue and burnt umber. Even though they’re both representative of cold winter days, this painting has a colder feel than Woodland Path (on page 81), which relies more on slightly warmer colors for its welcome glow.

Limited Palette

In this scene at Chatsworth Park (top) just a few miles from where I live, I’m looking into the light, which reduces

much of the detail to silhouettes. When tackling a subject like this, I always use a limited palette. Here I’ve used just four colors: cobalt blue, neutral tint, burnt sienna and raw sienna. This bare-bones palette gives the scene a simple, harmonious feeling. To suggest looking into a milky, weak sun, I dampened the entire

Cooler colors in the background help create the sense of distance in Looking Down to Rowlsey (watercolor on paper).

sky with clean water, leaving just a small circle of clean, dry paper. I then concentrated the raw sienna around it during the painting stage. To achieve the “overexposed” appearance of the branches with

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winter woodland Step 1: I began by drawing the outlines of the scene using a 2B pencil, taking care not to make the lines too dark. During this pre-painting stage, I often fade the lines for the most distant parts of the scene by gently going over them with a putty rubber. Step 2: This is very much a wetinto-wet stage. I began by mixing a selection of colors: a very thin wash of aureolin; thin washes of vermilion and cobalt blue; a slightly thicker gray mixed from cobalt blue and vermilion, with a touch of burnt sienna; and a rich, dark green of a much thicker consistency made from viridian, French ultramarine and burnt sienna. I wet the entire background, except for the path, with clean water, using a 1-inch flat brush. I then put in the washes with a No. 16 round brush. It’s vital at this stage to leave the color very light at the point where the path bends out of view, so that later on, this bright light leads the viewer’s eye along the path. I left the path itself as untouched paper, apart from the foreground, which I tinted with a thin wash of vermilion and a hint of the aureolin wash. Step 3: I put in the winter trees using the gray mix. I strengthened this color gradually by adding more paint, as the trees progress from the distance to the middle distance.







I painted the larger trees in the middle distance using a rich dark brown mixed from burnt sienna and French ultramarine. I painted the distant trees with a No. 2 round brush, switching to a No. 4 for the wider, nearer trees; however, even

on the nearest/widest trees, I used the fine point of the No. 2 to paint the fine branches. Step 4: I always think it’s a good idea to mix shadow color from the same blue as used in the sky to


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give the painting cohesion and continuity. I mixed a thin wash of cobalt blue for the shadows and brushed them in, starting at the distant part of the path, and gradually increased the width of the stroke as I proceeded to the foreground. In a scene like this, shadows are a great way to describe to the viewer the contours of the landscape; for instance, note how the shadows cross the path, describing the slope of the banks and the slight dip in the middle. I slightly increased the density of the wash for the shadows in the foreground, but not by too much, as it was essential that the shadow washes be transparent. It’s interesting to see how the vermilion wash, already on the paper, warms the color of the blue glazed over it. This helps create the feeling of distance, as warm colors come forward and cool colors recede—a rule that’s always worth keeping in mind. Final: Using three quite strong mixtures—a purple-gray mixed from cobalt blue and vermilion; more of the burnt sienna and French ultramarine dark brown mixture; and a rusty brown color made from aureolin and burnt sienna—I placed the colors on both sides of the path. I used the side of a well-worn No. 4 round brush to create the broken, irregular shapes that suggest foliage protruding through the snow. The final touch was to drybrush a bit of white gouache onto the dark green bushes. I repeated

this among the foliage on the banks and here and there on the tree trunks and branches to suggest a light frosting of snow. The

gouache, used carefully and sparingly, added another dimension to Woodland Path (watercolor on paper).

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the sun behind them, I painted them as I normally would; however, once they were dry, I brushed over them with clean water before dabbing them with a tissue until they faded. This technique required a light touch, because I didn’t want to overdo things and completely wash them away. The strong use of linear perspective—not just the trees but also the shadows—leads the viewer into the painting. The small silhouetted figures add a touch of narrative and scale, and the weaker, grayer 82


mixture used on the distant trees adds to the feeling of receding space.

Warm Palette

Winter in Halldale Woods (above), while still a winter scene, is markedly different from Chatsworth Park, in that the color is much warmer. The painting is suffused with a warm afternoon glow, which I made by combining raw sienna and cadmium red. This color is then echoed on the light side of the tree trunks on the right and in the dry-stone wall on the left of the path. This

Warm Palette: Winter in Halldale Woods (watercolor on paper) relies on raw sienna and cadmium red to provide warmth.

painting proves that just because it’s a winter scene, it doesn’t have to make the viewer shiver. There’s an overarching linear perspective in this rural winterscape—from the distant meadow and fence posts on the left, to the path and its ruts in the center, to the foliage on the right. All of these elements lead the viewer to the focal point where the path disappears out of view.

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Watercolor Workshops

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Call for Entries the Transparent Watercolor Society of America

42nd Annual EXHIBITION May to August 2018 Kenosha Public Museum, WI


Cambria CA, March 4-8, 2018 St. Petersburg FL, March 20-23 Dawsonville GA, April 9-12

OVER $20,000 in CASH AWARDS Entry Deadline January 31, 2018 online entries only at CaFE www.CallForEntry.org or through TWSA at watercolors.org

ART WORKSHOPS 2018 MEXICO-San Miguel de Allende Judy Morris, Betty Carr, Don Andrews SWITZERLAND June 2018 Mel Stabin-WC SANTA BARBARA April 2018 Brenda Swenson-WC BALI-Ken Goldman August 2018

FlyingColorsArt.com 858-518-0949 Watercolor Artist

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ar tist’s marketplace Call For Entries D E A D L I N E : JA N UA RY 12 , 2 018 Watercolor Art Society-Houston 41st Annual Juried International Watermedia Exhibition, March 4 April 5, 2018. Houston, TX. $7,000 total cash awards, $2,000 1st prize. Juror/Demo: Iain Stewart. 713/942-9966, [email protected] or visit www.watercolorhouston.org

D E A D L I N E : JA N UA RY 14 , 2 018 Northwest Watercolor Society’s 78th Annual International Open Exhibition. Exhibit dates: April 16 – June 1, 2018. Awards up to $10,000 – 1st $2,000, 2nd $1,250, 3rd $750. Juror Mark E. Mehaffey. Digital entry/ prospectus available Nov. 12, 2017 at www.nwws.org

D E A D L I N E : F E B R UA RY 19 , 2 018 Southern Watercolor Society 41st Annual Exhibition. May 15 - June 22, 2018 at the Art Center Manatee, Bradenton, FL. Juror: John Salminen NWS, AWS.DF. Cash/merchandise awards. John Salminen Workshop “Realism through Design” May 15-18, 2018. Limited to member artists residing in the 18 states and DC which comprise SW. Deadline for entries through Juried Art Services February 19, 2018. Information and download prospectus at www.southernwatercolorsociety.org

D E A D L I N E : M A R C H 1 , 2 018 Ingram, Texas Watercolor Society, 69th Annual National Exhibit, April 16 - June 28, 2018. $10,000 Total Cash Awards, $2,000 1st prize. Juror & Workshop instructor Laurie Goldstein - Warren (see workshop). Prospectus: TexasWatercolorSociety.org

D E A D L I N E : M A R C H 5 , 2 018 Gibson Co Visual Arts Association, 17th GCVAA National Juried Exhibition, Trenton, TN. $2,000 cash awards. Juror: Soon Y. Warren AWS-NWS-TWSA / Workshop: April 30 - May 4, 2018. Online prospectus at www.gcvaa.org. Submit Digital entries: [email protected] All 2-D media, no photography. 731/784-4120 / 731/352-5852.

D E A D L I N E : M A R C H 16 , 2 018 2018 (60th Exhibition) Stockton, California. The 60th Juried Exhibition at The Haggin Museum sponsored by the Stockton Art League. May 17 July 15, 2018. Cash awards over $5,000. Open to all US artists. No photography or computer art.

https://client.smarterentry.com/sal. Juror: Sabina Turner. Prospectus: www.stocktonartleague.org. Inquiries: [email protected] Type “Haggin 2018” in subject line.

D E A D L I N E : A P R I L 15 , 2 018 The Woodson Art Museum is accepting submissions to the annual juried Birds in Art exhibition, September 8 - November 25, 2018. All works must interpret birds and related subject matter. Processing fee: $55 for one entry; $65 for two entries. Postmark and online submission deadline for entry form, digital image, and processing fee April 15, 2018. For prospectus/ entry form, visit www.lywam.org/2018-prospectus; call 715/845-7010; email [email protected] or write 700 N 12th St., Wausau, WI 54403-5007.

D E A D L I N E : M AY 15 , 2 018 Pennsylvania Watercolor Society’s 39th International Juried Exhibition, September 15 October 20, 2018. At the Crary Art Gallery, Warren, PA. Juror of Selection – Keiko Tanabe, Juror of Awards – Ron Thurston. Over $14,000 in Awards. Entries accepted beginning March 1, 2018. For a prospectus, visit www.pawcs.com or email [email protected]

Workshops ALABAMA Huntsville Museum of Art 2/9-2/11/18, Huntsville. Sara Beth Fair, Painting with Light, Color & Joy. 5/3-5/6/18, Huntsville. David Dunlop, Natural Elements; Painting with the Masters, Old & New Techniques. 6/1-6/2/18, Huntsville. Alan Shuptrine, Realistic Watercolor Landscapes. 8/16-8/18/18, Huntsville. Keith Andry, Strong Design & Bold Strokes in Watercolor. 10/18-10/21/18, Huntsville. David Shevlino, Alla Prima Clothed Figure & Portrait Painting. 11/9-11/11/18, Huntsville. Lian Quan Zhen, Watercolor Painting: Let the Colors Paint Themselves. 11/15-11/17/18, Huntsville. Perry Austin, Painting the Landscape in Oils. Contact: Laura E. Smith, Director of Education/ Museum Academy, 256/535-4350 x222 [email protected] or hsvmuseum.org

2018 Watercolor Workshops

Vladislav Yeliseyev AIS, NWS 5/17-5/19/18, Auburn. Alabama Watercolor Society workshop.

ARIZONA Jan Sitts AS OTHER ART ORGANIZATIONS CONTACT ME, I WILL POST PROPOSED DATES FOR UPCOMING CLASSES. 5/7-5/9/18, Sedona. Sedona Arts Center. 11/5-11/7/18, Sedona. Sedona Arts Center. Contact: Debbie, 928/282-3809

Eric Wiegardt, AWS-DF, NWS 2/12-2/16/18, Scottsdale. Wiegardt’s Painterly Watercolors. Contact: Scottsdale Artists School scottsdaleartschool.org

CALIFORNIA Tony Couch, AWS 3/4-3/8/18, Cambria. Contact: 678/513-6676, [email protected]

Flying Colors Art Workshops April 2018, Santa Barbara. Brenda Swenson, W/C Sketchbook. All levels of instruction. Class size 12. Contact: Cris Weatherby, 858/518-0949 [email protected] or www.FlyingColorsArt.com

Stephen Quiller 3/12-3/16/18, San Diego. San Diego Watercolor Society. Contact: 619/876-4550, [email protected] [email protected] or www.sdws.org

Jan Sitts 6/8-6/11/18, San Clemente. San Clemente Art Supply. Contact: Heather, 949/369-6603

C O LO R A D O Stephen Quiller 6/2-6/8/18, Creede. Experimental Water Media- Color, Composition. 4 UR Ranch. Contact: Robin Christensen 719/658-2202 or fax 719/658-2308 [email protected] or www.4urranch.com 8/16-8/26/18, Creede. Intensive Color and Water Media Workshop. Quiller Gallery. Contact: Marta Quiller, 719/658-2741 [email protected]

³3UHPLHU 'HVWLQDWLRQ :RUNVKRSV´ Janet Rogers April 16-20, 2018

2018 WATERMEDIA WORKSHOPS Hendersonville, North Carolina

Instruction - Sun.-Thu. (April 7-13, 2018)

“Behind The Scenes” - Janet Rogers, AWS

Joyce Hicks Sept. 17-21, 2018

“Westport by the Sea” - Joyce Hicks, AWS

www.PAWCS.com contact: [email protected] 84



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