Warm Up

Warm up is a good title today because it is about 15 degrees outside.  However the warm up I’m referring to are those days when there is window to paint and with so many ideas it is hard to focus on one subject…anyone?  The quick warm up painting below starts my creative wheels.  Sometime just putting out fresh color will ignite a particular image or making colorful shapes on any paper.

I began the quick painting below without a drawing.  Using a 1 1/2 inch brush the sky took on cool blues adding warm pigments as I proceeded across the top of the paper…leaving white shapes.  As the white shapes emerged buildings became my subject.  From that point on I began to visualize figures coming/going to their activity of the day.  Painting intuitively gives me many options…markets/busy streets/etc. letting the whites shape my imagination.  After big shapes are established, window/doors/signage began’s to identify a location.

Painting in this semi-abstract manner frees me up to paint what could be….not what is.


Something New

Although I paint almost everyday….life can become overwhelming.  It has been a while since I posted anything….so here is a recent watercolor project.

This is a study on paper for a 16 x 20 canvas.  I chose a triad of colors…purple/orange/yellow green.  These colors are the beginning of a family of colors.  Purple can be toned down with water….yellow green and orange become darker values by adding neutral tint or a darker green or orange to the original choice.  

Beginning on dry paper alternation of colors are applied in the sky painting around the buildings.  I continue down the composition using the selected colors for the shadows strengthening the value as I approach the center of interest.   The awnings and figures are the main feature.  Satisfied with the color and values the paper is set aside to dry.

After the paper is dry….dark values are mixtures of the triad colors.  Placing dark values in and around the center of interest create contrast and hopefully engage the viewer to finish the story.


Using this study for color, value, and composition…..this is the finished canvas.


Yes finally!  It has been sometime since my last post.  Life has many twist and turns….’things’ sometime have priority over posting.  After breakfast my idea of a perfect day ….is a cup of coffee in hand ignoring a long list of ‘do’s’  in exchange for studio time…uninterrupted.   Most of you can relate to my fantasy knowing all to well issues arise requiring our attention. As the song goes ‘that’s life’……

Below is the photo that was used for a quick fun study….one of those quick paintings when time is limited.

studies 961

The painting below has little if any drawing.  Of course the splashes of turquoise was the first thing to catch my eye.  Second would be the interesting furniture waiting outside for a buyer.  Next was organizing the shapes in my mind the largest to the smallest…no detail.  Painting is on dry cold press #140 paper so pigments are mixed with enough water to mix on the surface.  A natural bristle brush is used because it carries enough pigment and water avoiding hard edges.   Separate puddles of  reds/blue/yellow/turquoise are introduced to the mixing surface on the palette.

The brush is double loaded with red/blue or blue/green…to add a variety of color to the shapes.  Painting quickly is the key to keep edges soft.  The sky is painted first around the roof  shape.  As I approached the lower third of the painting a decision to add figures and preserve white paper for a contrast was executed.   The blues and yellows combine for the foliage in the lower right corner.  Laying down color and engaging my intuitive instinct is exciting.  Watching the colors run together some marrying some staying single.

Using color 1

After the paper was dry….separating shapes with line or additional small shapes were added with a round #4 brush and several size rigger brushes.  The dark lines give form or interest to the subject.  A few windows are suggested along with refining the figures and furniture for more action.  The ladder was added to break up and bring interest to the colorful side of the building.

Using Color 2

I encourage you to let go….paint the shape not a lined drawing.  It is freeing to avoid all the rules and paint with feeling….

Happy Painting!!!!




Watercolor on Canvas!

Watercolor on Canvas


  Painting on watercolor canvas is exciting and always an adventure.

I sketch then paint a loose impression of my subject with a painters eye.  Big shapes are first drawn using a photograph for reference trailed by the small stuff.   

On The StreetGreen Door Mystsery

JoBeth Gilliam

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

Demonstration Expectations

Aaaah!  I thoroughly enjoy painting demonstrations, especially when the blue light special isn’t me. Not that I don’t like to show and tell what inspires me to pick up a brush.  We tie our shoes, comb our hair, throw on lipstick drive maybe 30 minutes to be entertained by a local or national known artist with anticipation.  What are my expectations when I arrive and prepare to observe a painting demonstration, what are yours?  Is it an obligation, learning tool, social event or you somehow became the refreshment committee by default?   Some of you will relate to all of the above with certainty: there’s the obligated because the demonstrator is your ‘best’ friend, learn something new, socially comparing the latest surgical procedure and of course if you brought cookies we know why you are there.  

 Demonstrations can be filled with unexpected tips of the latest craze or it can put you to sleep.  I personally like to have a ‘wow’ moment like…duh! why didn’t I think of that. Wordy demonstrations about how many litters of puppies my spaniel has had since she was rescued can be shared at next weeks dog show. Whether I’m pitching or catching ‘cut to the chase’ is my preference.  A new combination of colors, a brush, new painting surface can inspire me and give the week old painting resting on my easel..legs.  I’m looking for something to set my hair on fire and because my attention span is just a fraction above a five year old….this native gets restless.  I tend to paint quick in that fast forwarded mode…. gravity refuses to show up when the brush is in slow motion.   Finishing a demonstration is where the action is or should be.  A painting half finished is a painting in progress.  I’m a Paul Harvey fan….I want to know the rest of the story.  

Without a doubt my demonstrations have been linked to all of the above….my apology to those who have suffered through with polite smiling faces.

Speaking of demonstrations….below is my demonstration presentation for a great group of fine artists in Brownfield, Texas.  A guest artist is always welcomed with encouragement and hospitality from these talented ladies.  A night time demonstration looks completely different the next day in natural light….this is a 16 x 20 watercolor on canvas. The demonstration was approximately 45 minutes start to finish due to a pending cool front. The next morning in natural light I made a few changes… in fact several changes….modification is the key word.  One disadvantage with watercolor on canvas is the lifting of value or hue.  If not careful the surrounding hues  may also come under attack. Which takes more than a few stabs or brush strokes to put it back……this is before and after.

BF demo 13                         demo makeover   

Abilene Demonstration

Spent 3 days with a group of talented Abilene, TX.. painters.  Workshops have a way of testing me….my weak links  forces me to push through until the link has been resolved.  I am not sure who learns the most me or those in the class.

Again equipped with a camera plus iPad I didn’t take one photo.  The only cure to this downfall is to strap one or the other around my neck like a tourist or reporter….missed a great opportunity to post some wonderful finished paintings.

Below is the finished first days demonstration….it is on canvas and watercolor is the medium.  Would never have guessed…huh?

Just One More Step


Thanks to the Abilene Reporter-News for their front page story.  It was great exposure for the Contemporary Art Club.

Never….say Never

Transparent watercolor has been my choice of water media for many years.  The sheerness that veils white paper with soft tints of  colors to bold rich dark’s is exciting whatever subject is before me.  Several pigments have graced my palette with unsuccessful results..Peach black, Payne’s gray, Indigo, and WHITE to name a few.   Well…that’ never rule’ has interrupted the playing field…there are two colors plus white that I can’t seem to paint without.  The two hues are Neutral Tint and Raw Umber Violet with white thrown in occasionally.   The value of any hue is usually moved to a darker value or neutralized with its compliment….hold up your hand if you’ve experienced that once vibrant color turn an unidentifiable grey.  Thought so!

Raw Umber Violet was accidentally added to my art supply order several years ago.  A phone call to return the tube of what looked to be dried grape jelly was answered by customer service who insisted I keep it…no charge.  Looking at the color in my hand I certainly understood why.   Shuffling that tube of color around in my paint bin for almost a year wondering why I pain,  come on you’ve had those days…..I picked it up squeezed it out and started mixing with different hues.  It was amazing what dried grape jelly could do to Ultra Marine Blue….or red, or green…it know has a permanent place on my palette.

Neutral Tint was the other color I ordered for something not sure what and again because waste is not on my menu….started mixing pure color with a touch of the ugly no color tint…wallah!  Again sophisticated changes begin to occur and colors where  more exciting and didn’t have the look of a dirty hat look of compliments.  It too made a permanent home on the palette.

As for white….nothing can replace the glow of white paper or canvas lurking around and enhancing pure color.  The use of Chinese White for small highlights on canvas paintings sometime on paper can add just that special touch.  Also nice to have when a small amount of opaque is needed…white+whatever and opaque is at hand.

Below is a chart with a few of color mixes using Raw Umber Violet and Neutral Tint:

Raw Umber Violet + Ultramarine Blue makes a beautiful gray…

Neutral Tint +  Napthol Red makes a maroon…deepens the value of pure colors….

color sample


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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

A Week in Cloudcroft

Another fun workshop with great artist…the week is almost to short….just as I get to know everyone it is time to pack and leave.  I could write a book ‘Learning from Students”…..they are always an inspiration and at times a challenge.  Below are a few photos that were captured during the week….
“Where’s the Party”
Hard work deserves a relaxing meal on the deck……..