Author Archives: Kathy Weiss
I paint from high resolution reference photos supplied by email. The best paintings come from the best images. I will review images and let you know if they are acceptable but here are some guidelines for what I am looking for.
1. Expression: Does your pet have an expression that is meaningful to you? Are the eyes bright? Does it truly display your best friend’s personality?
2. Lighting: Flash distorts lighting and destroys eye details. Please do not use flash photography. Is the animal lit well enough that hair texture is visible? Is there good separation between lights and darks? Images with contrast are far more interesting than flat lighting with no dimension.
3. Focus: This point is critical. Is the animal in crisp focus? I paint from an enlargement of the file supplied. If the resolution is low or the focus is soft, it only gets worse when enlarged and I cannot see important details that I need for a nice painting. I cannot paint what I cannot see.
4. Clear definition: Make sure the animal, particularly the head and eyes, is in full view and not cut off or blocked by another object. I cannot extract an animal from a group shot since details will be blocked from view and shadows will be visible from adjacent objects.
I often use #140 watercolor paper. Although I stretch before beginning work, oftentimes the final is not completely flat. I have been doing some research on this common problem and can offer a solution. These images show a before and after using a badly warped sheet of #140 Arches.
I carefully iron the back side with a steam iron, protecting the paper with a completely flat clean bedsheet. Gently rub the iron back and forth, covering the entire surface.
I then stack a large heavy stack of books (coffee table type books) and let the piece completely cool.
If you take to Michaels or similar, they will not take out any ripples that may have occurred. Take the time to check over your piece before framing and follow the above procedure before you take to the framer.
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. In celebration of Bird Day, I am doing a dedicated study of birds. Trying to understand body structure using different watercolor techniques from watercolor pencils, to wet on wet loose style to more detailed studies. Here are some early practice pieces. Hope you enjoy the journey.
If anyone has any specific requests, please let me know. There are many streets in my community with bird names. I will work on some of those. Egret. Horned Lark. Carolina Wren. Rusty Blackbird.
I am attending a 4 day workshop by Dylan Pierce who paints with exacting detail. Much to learn. The painting behind him look him 150 hours! He created with 12 meticulous watercolor washes.
I wanted to show some details about how my paintings are generally created.
First, I will work with you to get the image that I need. This is Shelby, a cocker spaniel from PA. A good source image makes a good pet portrait so I am fussy about having a good one. See guidelines.
Next a detailed pencil drawing is done (called a contour drawing) that marks tonal differences. I then applied masking fluid to all areas that I wanted to keep white. White can be used in watercolor but traditionalists do not use white paint but keep the paper devoid of pigment to show white areas. The image below shows the yellow tinted masking fluid and the first wash. Watercolor is applied in a series of transparent washes.
You can see in these images how washes are applied, going increasing from light tones to darker tonal values.
Here the masking has been removed and I continue to work in details
And here is the finished piece
Watercolor (also called aquarelle) is a beautiful media in which pigment is suspended in a water based solution and applied to the substrate, most commonly special paper made for this purpose. Watercolor paper is often made entirely or partially with cotton, which gives a good texture and minimizes distortion when wet. My paper of choice is Arches #140 cold pressed which I purchase in 22″ x 30″ sheets.
Watercolors are usually translucent, and appear luminous because the pigments are laid down in a pure form. Pigments can be in pan, stick and tube form. I have experimented with all and prefer tube.
OK, you have the painting. What do I do now?
Keep the painting flat and protected at all times. Creases or water will destroy a watercolor painting. Its now time to decide how it will be framed.
Many of my pieces are 11 x 15 or quarter sheet and can be framed with a stock 16 x 20 frame with a matte if desired. Glass should always be used for protection. You can pick up an inexpensive frame from Micheals or Hobby Lobby on sale that may come with a standard matte. You have many additional colored and textured stock matte options or you can have a custom matte cut and still use a stock frame. Stock frames will come with basic glass that will protect the piece from dust and scratches. Keep in mind that this type of glass but does not offer UV protection to be careful where you place in your home.
Another option is to select a custom frame to match or coordinate with your decor. There are frames shops in your area that can offer assistance in selecting a matte color and frame material. They can also explain different glass options including museum quality glass that blocks 99% of UV light so pieces remain clearer and brighter long term.
I always like to see the finished piece so send me a picture when it’s all framed. ENJOY!