Birds of a Feather


​I love January and February. Ideas that have been percolating during the holidays, when I’m too busy to paint much, rise to the top to be explored in open days. This year I spent most of my time working on my website – not my favorite pastime. Fortunately, there were two notable detours from my hours at the computer.  The Arizona Watercolor Association offers workshops by it members and invites other nationally recognized painters to come teach nearly every month, fall through spring.

In January I spent a day with Grace Haverty.  We explored her wonderful free-flowing style doing floral still lifes. 


​​The two I created at the workshop were not so great. But in the following week and a half, I tried this bird’s eye view of a floral arrangement and origami bird.


Picture​​I’d been thinking about shadows since December when my sister sent a photograph of herself cross-country skiing – well at least of her shadow skiing. I continue to work on this idea of seeing a shadow as a part of the composition, but so far “Birdseye Daisies” is the one I like best.

In February Julie Gilbert Pollard, another member of AWA, led us through her process, which results in a beautiful relaxed style. I came away realizing this ironically is born out of lots of preliminary work.  By the time you get to the real painting, you’ve painted it multiple times. She does sketches, value studies and usually small trial-paintings rearranging elements in the design. She showed us the advantage of using a small amount of acrylic early in the process to establish the darkest areas. It creates a skeletal form or sketch around which the watercolor builds. Washes can be used over these areas without dissolving or lightening up. I’m grateful to have learned even this very experienced painter, who has the relaxed style I so admire, doesn’t accomplish this quickly. I’m more patient with making studies and practicing small parts on another sheet of paper.

PictureBeyond information gained, it’s great to sit and work with other people who find this sort of thing loads of fun. I’m inspired by their skills, their effort and their desire.

Both of these painters have websites full of information. They teach in Arizona, but also elsewhere.  

​And I highly recommend looking for watercolor/ artists’ organizations near where you live.

Special thanks to Karen Reihm for so generously sharing the photos she takes at AWA events.