Spring at last! On the way home from the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum I took a detour through Prospect Park to look for blossom trees. My handy watercolor kit came with me on the chance there'd be enough sun and warmth for a quick sketch. I was lucky for an hour or so, but just as I was finishing up there was a sudden downpour. Only a few raindrops fell on my work, so fortunately it didn't get ruined. Phew, thank goodness for small favors. Spring weather is so unpredictable!
What to do when you're learning how to paint watercolor portraits, but there's no model around? Actually there's always a model handy if you've got a mirror. And that's how the Self Portrait Project was born.
I bought an inexpensive 60 page sketchbook and dedicated it to painting self portraits. The only way to become really good at something is to practice. Like all the time. So I've decided to paint one a day, or as often as life permits.
To me self portraits are more challenging than painting someone else, because it's hard to hold the pose and concentrate on painting at the same time. It's easy to get mixed up, so that your nose is pointing one way and your chin is pointing in the other. And as much as I admire Picasso, I'm not trying to paint like him.
Anyway, I love a challenge, so here goes. At the end of this project maybe painting portraits will be a piece of cake. These are my first four efforts in the sketch book, in reverse chronological order. I'm beginning to get more comfortable with the process, and that gives me hope.
It's been quite a year. Learning to use watercolor turned out to be quite an ambitious project! But it's been exciting and stimulating too. And there's still so much to learn.
Thanks to all my friends for following along with me this past year as I wandered down my artistic path. All your encouragement and support helped to keep me going. I hope your own path is full of joy and meaning for you, and I wish you a sweet and wonderful new year.
Our Thanksgiving turkey was browning in the oven, and the guests were getting hungry. So I placed an appetizer on the table, and my sister said "Wow, that's beautiful, you should paint that!"
She was right, of course. So when I got the chance I created a similar set up in my studio. I love the sweet/salty aromas and tastes that the subject evokes. And all the gorgeous colors and textures, and the beautiful cast shadow under the plate. It really was a delicious composition to paint!
Summer is over. Plein air is over. Way too soon. Bummer. But not to despair. There's always still life! Just a trip to the market and you're in business.
Do you know that feeling, when it's summer time and you're learning to watercolor, and you're itching to go outside and paint? But it's raining! And raining and raining and raining ... Well, I do. Here are a couple of indoor watercolor efforts from those countless soggy summer days.
Most likely I'll be painting more interiors as we plod along into winter. Maybe you know of a cool, colorful and laid back venue in New York City. Where they wouldn't mind an artist hanging out with watercolors for an hour or two. If you do please let me know!
This was a complicated subject and frankly I was a little intimidated by it. Since I'm relatively new to watercolor, I wondered how I could possibly preserve the tiny white flowers in the planter and the skinny little sprays of water in the fountain ... when there was a whole forest of trees standing right behind them. Well, the answer is: I didn't.
Actually I take that back, I did, a little. With negative painting. That is, instead of painting the sprays of water directly I painted everything around them and left the paper white where the sprays went. After everything dried I used a wee bit of white gouache* on top for extra oomph. However, I didn't have the patience to paint around every single itty-bitty white flower in the planter. So first I painted the foliage and let it dry. Then I laid in the flowers with gouache right on top. I even used gouache to lighten up some of the foliage in front. Hey, Homer and Sargent did this all the time. So I guess it's all right!
*(Gouache is an opaque water-based paint, so it can be used to paint light colors over dark. Unlike watercolor, which is transparent.)
Just when I was beginning to wonder if there'd ever be another lovely, sunny day in New York City again, there were two ... in a row! Of course it's raining again. But at least there's the sweet memory of a wonderful day in Central Park with my sketching buddies.
Hey, guess who's in the September 2018 issue of Drawing Attention? That's the online zine of the Urban Sketchers, an international community of artists who draw on location. This "Cool Gear" piece shows that I jerry-rigged a portable easel on my rolling backpack. Simple, cheap and lightweight.
Story and photo by Mark Leibowitz, on page 40 of Drawing Attention.
Haven't posted in a while, but that doesn't mean I haven't been painting. It's been a summer of study and experimentation. A time to figure out how to paint landscapes in watercolor. This summer I've been working outside and coming back home with quite a few duds. Not to worry though, because that goes with the territory when you're learning something new.
After watching some helpful tutorials on YouTube, and getting tips from friends who know how to use this crazy medium, and working really, really hard ... I finally feel confident enough to share a couple of sketches that I made down at Hudson River Park. One of my favorite spots in New York City. Trees for shade, lovely gardens, beautiful views. And a cool breeze off the harbor. Such a nice place to paint on a hot summer day.
My name is Julie Kessler and I'm a representational artist. I love painting in oils with their vibrant, juicy colors. Lately I've been exploring the unique qualities of gouache, watercolors, colored pencils and other media. I started this blog to share my work and thoughts about making art. I toss other things into the mix too, such as painters that I love, and art books and exhibits that inspire me. Your comments are welcome. I'd love to hear from you!