Posts Tagged ‘prismacolor watercolor pencils’

Creating Watercolor Christmas Cards in the Man Cave

November 29, 2011

Christmas card workspace

It’s hard to find quality time to paint when school is in session.  Nevertheless, I retreated to my Man Cave (dirty garage!) immediately after school today to resume work on Christmas card #2.  Tonight, with the help of a dear friend, I plan to resume work on my “store” opening soon at  So, during this brief interlude between school and technical support, I find joy in painting once again.

Once this card is finished, I’ll post a tighter image of it and discuss what I’ve discovered in the process of rendering it.  As for now, all I can say is “Hurray for Prismacolor watercolor pencils”!  They are making the task go very quickly and efficiently.   It would be wonderful if I could finish this tonight, but I have my doubts.  Tomorrow my Philosophy class begins work on Nietzsche, and I still have plenty of prep work to do on him tonight after I finish work on Cafe Press.

What I am about to write may appear to have nothing to do with my painting, but I know in my heart that it does.  Yesterday I resumed my interior dialogue with some great minds that I had abandoned months ago.  The demands of my daily schedule, and certain priorities I had established simply pushed them out.  And to them I have now happily returned.

Since the 1980’s I have been absorbed with the history of ideas, and that particular discipline (I hope) has been able to rescue me from becoming too pedantic in the courses I teach.  I must say, with regret, that the abandonment of this fruitful dialogue more recently turned my high school courses into catalog summaries of the essential elements assigned to each discipline.  Since yesterday, I have worked to find my way back to the multidisciplinary path I once knew, and have come to miss.

My reading has been primarily in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” and “The Waste Land”.    But thanks to The Teaching Company, I have had the enriching experience of listening to VHS tapes and DVDs on Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition as well as An Introduction to Greek Philosophy.  I have been filled with lectures on the Presocratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle as well as Erasmus, Descartes and Spinoza.  Though I cannot describe how the fellowship of these thinkers has seeped into my painting, I can at least testify that they have soothed my mind and put me in a proper space for painting.  Hours pass by that feel like minutes.  I’m glad to be back once again in the company of these magnificent minds.

Thanks for reading.


Closing in on the Finish of a Watercolor Christmas Card

November 27, 2011

Watercolor Christmas Card of Sundance Square

The details on this 9 x 12″ watercolor are really slowing me down today.  It looks as though I’ll need one more day to finish it.  What a surprise–I really expected to finish this on the first day instead of the third.  Too many details and colors, I suppose.  I am getting “drawn in” as I focus on the composition, however, and I’m really finding the Prismacolor watercolor pencils to be a real asset in this enterprise.  I’ve experimented with this product for over a month now, and am finally getting some results from it that are pleasing to me.

Thanks for reading.  I really hope before another week rolls by that I’ll have two new Christmas cards ready for production.

Recapping my Watercolor Adventures in Galveston, Texas

November 14, 2011

Tree Rendering in Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils

I decided to take a break from grading papers so I could re-live some of the past four days spent in Galveston, Texas.  It was my privilege to demonstrate Prismacolor watercolor pencils in the vendor booth for Prismacolor, thanks to Shelley Minnis, a representative from that company.  I have posted the first sketch I did while visiting with art teachers from around the state.

This is the first time I pushed heavily on the Prismacolor products.  My own watercolor style is a considerably lighter touch, but I wanted to see how the D’Arches paper handled a heavy application of these pencils and a good amount of wash.  I’m not delighted with the outcome, but still want to continue experimenting with this media.  This is one of the few sketches I have done exclusively with the watercolor pencils, with no help from tubes or cakes at all.  I have not found a way to dissolve the pigments completely in water to create sky washes.  I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but I will figure it out.  At any rate, I enjoyed the experiment and would not have traded this experience for anything.

Thanks, Shelley!  It was a real honor working beside you.

And thanks, all of you, for reading.  More to come .  .  .

Autumn Trees in the Western Sun

November 1, 2011

Autumn Trees in the Western Sun

Texas weather was again delicious for plein air experimentation.  After school let out, I immediately went out in search of autumn colors, and it didn’t take long to find them.  This time I layered Winsor & Newton watercolors with Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils, going back and forth between the media.  I found a happier balance this time, and believe I have come up with one of my better watercolor sketches of fall foliage.  It’s rather small (about 9 x 12″), but I think it will have  a smart appearance once matted and framed.

In looking at this pair of trees, I was surprised to find the one with the dead leaves still sporting its full headdress, while the tree of living leaves had already lost about half of them.  I found that strange, and wanted to try and sketch the pair accurately.  Fall is coming on.  Because of the dreadfully hot and dry summer, I’m afraid that Texas will see little-to-no color this season.  Nevertheless, I still like the looks of the trees as they begin casting their leaves, even if the colors range only from green-to-brown. All the same, I’ll try to capture some of them in watercolor sketches en plein air this time around.

Thanks for reading.

Rendering Trees in Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils

November 1, 2011

Trees Rendered in Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils

This afternoon, I attempted to render a pair of trees exclusively in Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils.  So far, I have only had success in balancing them with watercolors and brush.  I’m still finding it a challenge, trying to neutralize the intense colors.  My style tries to match landscape colors with what I find in nature, and these are still coming out entirely too bright.  Perhaps my palette is too limited.  I’m working with a set of 24 pencils, and haven’t taken the opportunity to refine my palette by ordering individual colors.

Thanks for reading.

Third Plein Air Watercolor Sketch on a Rainy Texas Day

October 9, 2011

View from the Man Cave 3 of 3

And here is my third watercolor sketch from the Man Cave on a rainy Texas day.  Again, I used Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils along with my Winsor & Newton field box.  I’m ready to pop these three sketches into pre-cut 8 x 10″ white mats.  This next weekend will find me at Edom Festival of the Arts.  I’m pleased that I’ve managed to complete and matt more than half a dozen new watercolors.  My One-Man Show just closed yesterday, so I will also have some framed paintings ready to take to the Edom festival as well.

Tomorrow is Columbus Day–no school.  My sincere wish is to kick out a few more watercolor sketches before classes begin on Tuesday morning.  I’m in the mood.

Thanks for reading.

Second Plein Air Watercolor Sketch on a Rainy Day from the Man Cave

October 9, 2011

View from the Man Cave 2 of 3

This is my second of three attempts to do a plein air watercolor sketch of my neighbor’s trees and bushes during a heavy rain storm here in Texas.  I made heavy use of Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils and Winsor & Newton watercolors with this particular piece.  I also returned to my D’Arches watercolor block with 140 lb. cold-pressed watercolor paper.  The other two studies made use of a new product I picked up a couple of weeks ago: Fluid Watercolor Paper, the Easy Block.  The Fluid Paper is considerably cheaper than D’Arches, and seems to hold up O.K. on quick plein air sketches.  I like the way it receives the Prismacolor Pencils as well.

The cool breezes created a spectacular ambiance for painting in the “man cave” today.  While sketching, I felt my soul flooded with deep feelings as I listened to a production of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Mystic Fire Video.  It wasn’t necessary for me to be reared as an Irish Catholic to identify with much of what happened to him in his formative years.  The film sent me back to a book I haven’t read in over a decade, but have decided to give it another look: Anthony Storr’s Solitude.  I find it hard to experience a genuine, sustained solitude with my packed teaching schedule and weekly art festivals.  But there are those profound moments of being alone that I find myself working on some issues I haven’t faced in many years.  I keep hoping that some of this will translate into my painting.  I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Thanks for reading.

Plein Air Watercolor Sketching from the Man Cave on a Rainy Day

October 9, 2011

View from the Man Cave 1 of 3

It has been days since the last blog.  Too much work demanded from school and upcoming festivals.  I got a reprieve from yesterday’s festival due to a scheduling snafu.  My name was not on the master list.  They offered me a booth in the food section, and I decided “No thanks.”  It was nice to be home for a Saturday.

Today it rained cats and dogs all day in Texas.  I re-opened my “man cave” in the garage, with cooling temperatures caressing the environment.  The cool rains made the morning very pleasant, so I stared out at the trees and bushes of my neighbor’s front yard and began work on a series of small watercolors I’ll insert into pre-cut 8 x 10″ mats.  This is the first of the series of three.  I relied on Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils and Winsor & Newton colors from my field box.  I found the sketching to be a nice “loosening up” exercise, and therefore very enjoyable.

Thanks for reading.