Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

10.5" x 7.75" watercolor
Stacy L. Rowan

May this holiday season bring you everything you've been wishing for. May you find yourself surrounded by loved ones, enjoying the warmth of their company. And may you find happiness, joy and peace in your celebrations.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Twist and Twirl

tree practice with rigger brush
watercolor 7" x 11"
Stacy L. Rowan
This past Tuesday, the art ladies and I didn’t get a whole lot of painting done. You see, we had a holiday luncheon instead of our normal brown bag lunch. (Does anyone actually use those brown bags for lunch anymore?) Everyone brought something yummy to share, and we took our time chatting and eating.

After a filling lunch, I was more motivated for a nap than for serious painting. So I was happy when one of the ladies offered to show us how to use our new rigger brush to paint realistic tree branches.

The trick is to lightly place the tip of the brush on the paper. Hold the brush loosely between your thumb and index finger near the top of the brush. Now as you move the brush in the direction of the branch, use your finger to gently and slowly twist the brush back and forth. The twisting motion is what gives the branch a realistic shape.

I'm not actually a lefty. I just had to hold the camera with my right hand to take the picture. :)

As you practice and get more skilled with the technique, try to apply more pressure at the beginning of the brush stroke and decrease the pressure toward the end of the stroke. This will make the branch thicker at the start and thinner at the tip.

You can also use different sized rigger brushes to create different line widths. I used a size 6, a size 4 and another smaller brush for this practice (see picture).

This technique was really helpful to me. I am always challenged when I need to recreate the random nature of things like tree branches. My analytical side fights to create order instead. But the twisting motion of the brush made it much easier.

So next time you want to paint a tree, give this method a try. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

You Know You're an Artist If... wander the produce section of your local grocery store looking for something to paint.

3.25" x 3.25" watercolor
Stacy L. Rowan

I painted this little pomegranate last year. I distinctly remember seeing them on sale for $2.50 a piece and thinking that was a bit steep for a fruit that is a lot of work to eat and not very filling. But as I took a closer look, I noticed its not quite round shape and I began to admire its nice red color. Hmm...maybe $2.50 wasn't that much after all. Just think of all the money I'm saving by not painting silver and crystal! A couple of dollars for reference material is a down-right bargain, don't ya think?!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


3" x 2"
watercolor thumbnail
Stacy L. Rowan

If seasons have a personality, autumn is definitely an extrovert. With its clear, golden light and bright colors it shouts, "Look at me!! I'm stunning, don't you agree!"

This arrangement of berries and fall leaves was definitely calling for my attention. It sparkled as it enjoyed the sunny spotlight and invited me to relish its blazing colors. So I accepted the invitation and quickly captured its brilliance on paper. Now I can enjoy a date with fall even as introverted winter comes to town.
(Just to clarify, a thumbnail is a miniature size drawing or painting - in my case mostly 3 inches by 2 inches - which is quickly done to test a concept. I learned to use this tool in my mentorship with Michael Newberry. You can find his excellent tutorial on thumbnails here.)