Tangent Connection

I am always looking for something beyond basics ….technique/design/composition/color/value to sharpen my painting inabilities.  Guess I like challenges like I’m not the major challenge….make sense?  If not keep painting and you will arrive on your own front porch.

While reading a watercolor book written by Claude Croney the word tangent jumped off the page lightening fast.  I knew what it was but hadn’t grasp the broader meaning of that little word.   Tangents are common mistakes  usually overlooked because we don’t recognize their importance.  I dug out some old paintings, those hidden in a drawer only family will find one day, and had a jaw dropping moment.   The ‘tangent connection’  had not been dissected to it’s fullest in the beholders eye when these paintings were conceived.  If you paint from photos  I strongly suggest taking some extra time examining your references for the ‘tangent connection’.

What am I looking for…..two shapes sharing the same edge….bottom line.  A row of trees sharing the same edge as a mountain range/a vertical fence pale married to the tree trunk behind it….are a few examples.  All of these unexpected surprises need to be dealt with by overlapping /shrink/enlarge shapes or eliminating what is not necessary. Enjoy the photo for what it is…. a nice photo then create a great painting.  Print the photo out on computer paper then circle all the hidden tangents before you began the drawing.

Below is a nice photo of a lady selling her wares.  The photo was copied to my computer where it was enlarged and carefully analyzed.  The very first thing is the figure it  is in the center of the photo.  I don’t have a problem with her being the bulls eye as long as there is good balance with the other shapes that make up the composition.  Circles are given to each tangent that needs correction and an X on shapes that will be eliminated. When I am confident that the Easter egg hunt is over I proceed to sketch my subject which is the second image.

This is the photograph…nice color and interesting shapes…with several tangents to recognize and alter.

yarn lady tangent


This is the quick sketch with a gray watercolor stick…on cold press #140 watercolor paper.  The figure has been moved off center and because I like the red chairs they were included.  The steps needed to follow through to eliminate angels that would detract.  Pots of flowers were added behind the iron rail and the window added interest.  Only one column was needed and behind the lady would give a contrast for the head.  Although color choices were not changed values were more important.

Bead Lady Drawing

This was the first wash of colors of reds/orange/blue/turquoise/quinacridone burnt orange.  The colors mixed and mingled on the paper leaving soft edges for the negative shapes to be painted after the wash is dry.

studies 511

The paper is dry and ready for the negative darker values in the background.  There were various color changes to work with using a little imagination.  Although the original drawing is followed…I don’t always stay in the lines if color presents a different shape.  Pigment is more important than water because of the dark values that are required for hard edges.  When I am satisfied with the overall shape connection calligraphy lines are added with a rigger brush.  These lines declare or connect shapes.

Bead lady


Canvas Demonstration

It has been way to long since my last posting.  Not because brushes and canvas were on stand by, electricity/water turned off or a studio melt down…well there was that one day.  The current studio scene…painting discords overflow in the trash,  stacks of maybe’s in the bin and a messy wet palette….no question someone has been working.  Will someone identify themselves because help is needed… not more supplies.   Like most artists,  ‘most’ used loosely,  it seems there is more to do in a day than hours permit.  So thought I would share a quick demonstration born out of the chaos.  Generally speaking a brush is wet everyday except when priority calls.  The demonstration below is on a 11 x 14 stretched canvas.  A quick response to a photograph in my files of many waiting to be painted.  A yellow ocher watercolor stick was my choice for drawing.

watercolor stick sketch

watercolor stick sketch

My beginning is a sketch rather than a drawing.  This gives me the freedom to change direction while laying in color…

Beginning washes

Beginning washes

Ultra Marine Blue/Raw Umber Violet/Cerulean Blue/Quinacridone Burnt Orange are the pigments used for the first washes.  My attempt is to paint the value needed for the finished piece from the first wash of pigments.   Reason being the first washes will lift from the canvas because the pigment remains on the surface.  Paper absorbs pigment so glazing is effective.

Defining the subject

Defining the subject

Halloween Orange/Andrew’s Turquoise/Naphthol Red are added to the palette to mix and mingle with the first pigments.  I enjoy seeing the pigments engage conversation with their next door neighbors.  At this point I am ready to stop and say ‘fini’ but the painting needs line.

Finished Painting

Few dark marks for windows….lines to separate or connect…a quick touch of pure pigment and it’s done….or at least it is done for me.

Hope you enjoyed the journey…thanks for participating.

Fringe People

One doesn’t paint too long with watercolor before they understand ‘crop’.  A few reasons to crop wonderful creative watercolors: the finished masterpiece doesn’t fit your only available mat…..so crop; a muddy ugly color appears without warning…so crop; the tedious planned composition doesn’t need all the extra fluff to tell the story…whatever the case we have all cropped.  If you haven’t you probably should have.

Years ago, don’t know the exact number of years but the frame and mat housing the first Fringe painting was fifteen dollars…a bargain in today’s economy.  A floral still life didn’t fit the available framing so the bottom half of the painting was ‘cropped’.  The cropped portion had possibilities so it went into the ‘maybe’ stack.  Maybe stacks are always questionable….are they worth additional paint or my time and the biggie do I want anyone to see this maybe.   The soft wash images of fringe that was cut from the pack was a tablecloth that surrounded an urn of flowers in the framed piece.  The cloth had knotted fringe all around the edge, way to much ‘fluff’….which was sacrificed so the prima donna would fit the framing.   This ‘maybe’ was moved from one drawer to another one of those love hate relationships.  Coming across this ‘maybe’ one afternoon the tied knots of fringe suddenly became heads and the hanging fringe resembled clothing.  Immediately my brush was loaded with color and thus ‘Fringe People’.  A shadow on the cloth had to be dealt with and a door seemed to fit the scene.  I paint a variety of subjects and enjoy all but not like the Fringe People…it wasn’t planned…it was out of the blue..and hey! I finally have ‘my people’…

Below is the original ‘Fringe People..

original Fringe









A sample of other paintings from the Fringe…..

Street PeopleThe CrossingFringe Ladies

Out of the Box

Painting colorful loose shapes has been my focus for many years.  A style that seems to be recognized by those who are familiar with my work.  I am a shape painter with few details.  Reviewing some old….old notes that were written years ago when taking a workshop from Christopher Shink sparked an interest in tonal values.  Most experienced painters unconsciously paint the values needed, intuitively.   I pulled out a drawer housing half sheet watercolor paintings and began applying principles from the cold notes.  Some of the paintings were worthy to be called ‘painting’….while some could use a band-aid.  What a great learning tool when those so-so paintings are put under the microscope focusing on an important principle.  Because color is so much of who I am or want to be….it was overriding value ranges.  The painting below is a quick study painted with value in mind with color reigned in…..a corner has been turned on my journey.  As much as color dominates my creativity,  my palette has been limited to about 7 colors with a few opaques.  Sacrificing  painting those wonderful  negative shapes, which excites me, using bright opaques to enhance the neutrals…….

tonal study

Paper or Canvas?

Do I have a favorite?  No! Watercolor paper or canvas each have their own identities.  Paper absorbs water and pigment with permission to glaze over dry washes…..canvas likes to be left alone.  Pigment lays on top just daring any wash to disturb the fresh painted canvas.   


Below are paintings using watercolor canvas…students have two options…paper or explore watercolor canvas….or both….

studies 852

red pot

Lunch at Abuleo’s

A color study always precedes my attempt for finished works.  This short video shows the three step process.  It’s on a quarter sheet 11 x 15 of A’rches 140# rough paper.  The pigments are mostly transparent watercolor with an occasional opaque for body.  Enjoy….

The music in the video is one of my favorite CD’s while painting….. flamenco guitar by Armik’s…

Abuleo’s Lunch_0001

Painting with Limited Palette

Seems I have little time to keep my blog up to date.  Not sure if it is the lack of organization or too much on my plate…probably the latter.  I paint/sketch or read, art almost everyday.  Not everything I paint is worthy for publication….most of the time it begins as a masterpiece, runs off the road then quickly is tagged as experimental.  Another word often used is ‘series’  that term is used when you can’t get it right.  The experimental or series claim makes one feel as though they didn’t waste their time and supplies.  The fat stack of those so called ‘experimentals’ seems to grow in the studio faster than the debt ceiling.  I will admit learning from my mistakes has probably been the best tool in my kit.  ‘What Not To Do’ would be a perfect title for a book but a high fever plaguing my body would have to be present for me to contemplate writing the book. The longer I paint the dont’s seem to have taken more space within the pages of my note pad than the do’s.  What to do or not….doesn’t seem to keep me from that continuous passion to paint.

The painting below is 22×30 on A’rches 140# rough paper.  A brush drawing using yellow ochre, on dry paper, a limited palette, and a #10 quill brush were the tools used to start this fun painting.  The colors mixed on the paper keeping  a close observation on the strength of values with every brush load of pigment.  When dry the dark values were added to emphasize windows, doors, figures and anything of importance…experiment…paint a series….just PAINT



Chop Shop

Demonstrations from teaching or exhibits can accumulate in my studio faster than the speed of sound.  The yellow brick road can sull quickly when answering questions and talking through a demo.  So….when the print rack becomes full…it is time to add finishing touches to complete the painting or….the chop shop.  A stack of paintings with a variety of subjects became a challenge….jumping from flowers, sidewalk cafes and city scape’s….high key to dark keeps the creativity flowing .  I actually enjoy switching gears using a variety of mat sizes to create different images from the original.  Values or colors usually need tweaking because some shapes need to reconnect.  These are a few of the crops/finishes that made for a fun day.  Must confess some demos decorated the trash and others will be turned to the back side and used for studies.  Below are the 15×22 original paintings and the crops are 16×20 or 15×11… 1/4 sheet of watercolor paper.
Although I liked the subject…the white awning cut the painting in half and detracted from the the action underneath.  This was on Arches rough 140# paper.
The 16×20 crop below was more appealing to me with a few adjustments….glazed the awning with a warm yellow ochre.
Another half sheet on Arches 140# rough paper…colorful newspaper dispensers could take center stage on their own.  I chose to add a few figures and umbrella for interest.  The painting wasn’t
trash worthy but a 16×20 mat cropped out areas that were not important.
The focus on figures and newsstand’s….the windows were darkened and colors were popped up to enhance the overall painting.
This was an oblong southwest blend on hot press paper this size occasionally
creates mat/framing/hanging issues so…decided to create
two 11×14 paintings.

Twenty demos had make overs today…..hair cuts, color or new style…another advantage of cropping…paintings are simplified with a new perspective from the original…..

Fun Figures

Had a fun day…no pressure…..going through photographs chosing figures that appealed to me or provided a challenge started the ball rolling.  These are painted on Kilamengro paper, 11×15, a quarter sheet of watercolor paper.  The subject and figures were drawn with a brush…this gives me freedom to think related shapes and eliminate detail.  Hard and soft edges keeps the eye moving from one value to another.   Simplification of the story was major because the  figures are the most important.  I didn’t realize how many selections there were to chose from until I started looking through all my stacks of photos.  Hope you enjoy stepping into the scenes as though you were there…..there is enough mystery for you to imagine your own story……keep painting..JoBeth

Lamesa Figure Class

Is anyone reading this like me…..take a camera or Ipad….and forget to take the photos of your journey.  Well this is the second time I have failed to use the resources available.  Those attending came to paint and at the end of the day produced some great figures.  If those taking the class would send a photo or photos, some did more than one, I will post them.

I draw figures using the same techniques as other subjects. Starting with a proportional lose drawing with little detail is my approach to any subject including figures.  When I am satisfied with the placement of the figure and the proportions I began with light value washes of warm and cool colors….painting around the figure here and there but also using this wash over the figure.  Cutting across the figure anchors it to the background and splatters in the foreground are much more interesting than cuffed pants and shoes..  When the wash is dry the figure gets attention with color and any detail it needs to come alive.  Waiting for the colors to dry I began with background and foreground….letting the previous wash suggest the setting.  Dark dry brush marks finish the painting….lot of fun and for me a challenge…