Sunday, March 19, 2023

Chilly Lessons

3/12/23 My latest class palette

 Week 4’s lessons in Kathleen Moore’s Winter Sketchbook class were a mixed bag of fun and frustration. Per Kathleen’s suggestion, I looked for Burnt Sienna in my stash, but the closest I found was Quinacridone Sienna. It’s a bit more intense than its burnt counterpart, but it mixes well with French Ultramarine to make a wide range of grays and browns, so I think it will do the job. I also added a few other paints to my palette: Cobalt, Phthalo Turquoise and Veridian (the latter was also Kathleen’s suggestion for Pacific Northwest fir trees).

Using watercolors is an ongoing struggle – getting the color mixes I want, controlling the intensity, and acting fast enough before they dry. The icicle assignment is the result of all three frustrations.

3/13/23 watercolor and Posca paint marker

The assignment to paint water drops on leaves was a fun challenge because I’ve never tried sketching water drops before. I don’t think they are very convincing, though. I touched up a few shadows with watercolor pencils where I didn’t feel they were dark enough. In No. 2, I used a
Posca paint marker (which Kathleen likes to use for any small areas of white) for the highlight, but it hardly shows here; the paint became slightly translucent instead of opaque. In the other tries, I simply left the white of the paper for the highlights, which I prefer in appearance.

3/13/23 watercolor, watercolor pencil, Posca paint marker

The water drop exercise was also a good lesson in lifting: The green backgrounds were painted first, then the oval shapes lifted out quickly before drying. Slightly more intense color was then painted inside the water drop again. I used Manganese Blue in all but No. 3, where I used French Ultramarine. Ultramarine was much harder to lift out.

The snowflakes were fun: First I painted a splotchy blue background. Then, for the smaller snowflakes, I tried using the Posca marker again. I like the result, but I’m not a fan of the Posca: It tends to flow unevenly and requires constant priming and shaking to keep the white paint opaque. For the largest snowflake, I used a tiny paint brush and white gouache. I enjoyed that one more – the tiny brush was easier to wield than the finicky Posca.

3/13/23 watercolor, Posca paint marker, gouache

Overall, I did not at all engage with the reference photos (randomly sought from the Internet). I know it would have been difficult to sketch water drops and icicles from life (you would have heard me complaining about different things then), and the snowflakes would have been impossible. Nonetheless, I would have much preferred sketching actual natural materials in the studio, like the moss and rosehips from the first week.

Another frustration has nothing to do with the class: I’m over winter, and I’m over snow and ice! Maybe I’ll move on to spring subjects and see if anyone in my class notices. 😉


  1. I've never tried painting water drops, but I think all of these are very convincing!

    1. Thanks! I guess I just had different expectations after watching the demo.

  2. Wow!! I think you are getting great value out of this class! And the water drops were my favorite. Thank you for including a description of the technique you used. You make me want to try (again) to overcome my watercolor anxiety. Anne HwH

    1. I'm learning a ton in class! And also re-learning how frustrating wc is! ;-)


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