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Art Lessons, Free Online Lessons

Which Red, Which Yellow, Which Blue?

Red Yellow Blue color theory is not without its limitations (deep topic ‘nother day) but when we choose to use this strategy and dive in to get our fist paints, or maybe just our first GOOD paints, where should we invest?

How much we spend, how toxic we are willing to allow our studio to be, how lightfast (permanent) we need our final work to be – all of these are good things to think about.

In this video with slides, I share my top picks for the top three of starter pigments, each with something to offer.

They may not get you everwhere you want to go (no neons) but they’ll get you really far when you mix color. Pick one from each column and you are painting with the power of mixing!

Check out the comments below this video on youtube for some palette inspirations for different painting goals.

Art Classes, Art Lessons, Art Updates, Free Online Lessons, Watercolors

Watercolor Basics: How to Neutralize Color with Three Colors – CMY color palette

Let’s press on with our explorations in my FREE watercolor lessons and look at how we can mix meaningful and original neutral colors with our three color CMY palette. I love bright and intense color, but it’s the subtlety that we can add to our painting that really helps these bright colors pop. Let’s look at how our basic three colors give us a huge and nuanced range of mixing possibilities.

In this lesson, we’ll learn how to get subtle and expressive colors in lightfast and fade-resistant archival mixtures – starting with just THREE specific colors and then tweaking the basic recipes of mixing. Let’s take a look here:

The approach to color mixing that I personally favor is the modern CMY color theory. This is based on color applications from the print industry. You may recognize it from design or from shelling out money for printer cartridges! It has some limitations, but I prefer it to the “split primary” approach which requires six tubes of paint. Even expanding this palette requires a total of five tubes rather than six, but we’ll start here with three:

C is for blue, or cyan in this case.

M is for Magenta – our preference over the more limited “primary red”

Y is for yellow (obvious enough)

and K is for black – this comes from “Key” – the black block in a block printing arrangement.

You will notice that, like many watercolor enthusiasts I don’t have a black here – today we’ll be mixing blacks, neutrals, browns and grays – infinitely useful “glue” in our palettes!

Hope this is useful!

Is there something frustrating you in your watercolor life? I’m happy to put YOUR question to the front of the line, let me know below – and happy painting!

Art Classes, Art Lessons, Art Updates, Free Online Lessons, Watercolors

Watercolor Basics: How to Mix Bright Color with Three Colors – CMY color palette

I’m adding some FREE watercolor lessons in absolute basics to my channel – I’ll cover the topics that may not be the most expressive or exciting, but are incredibly helpful to know when you paint in watercolor. How much paint? How much color? How dry is that brush?

There are so many details that really help you gain more control over what can feel like a very out-of-control experience.

In this lesson, we’ll learn how to get bright and bold transparent color in lightfast and fade-resistant archival mixtures – starting with just THREE specific colors. What are they? Let’s take a look here:

The approach to color mixing that I personally favor is the modern CMY color theory. This is based on color applications from the print industry. You may recognize it from design or from shelling out money for printer cartridges! It has some limitations, but I prefer it to the “split primary” approach which requires six tubes of paint. Even expanding this palette requires a total of five tubes rather than six, but we’ll start here with three:

C is for blue, or cyan in this case.

M is for Magenta – our preference over the more limited “primary red”

Y is for yellow (obvious enough)

and K is for black – this comes from “Key” – the black block in a block printing arrangement.

You will notice that, like many watercolor enthusiasts I don’t have a black here – that’s because we can mix them. We’ll learn how to do that, and a whole lot more – so have a watch.

Hope this is useful!

Is there something frustrating you in your watercolor life? I’m happy to put YOUR question to the front of the line, let me know below – and happy painting!

Art Updates, Originals for Sale, Prints for Sale, Watercolors

New Work: Chipmunk Watercolor and Gouache

The loose and fast fungi sketches of October have led me to a lot of passion about the forest floor – a pull in another landscape direction from the vast and spatial. Here’s what’s new:

A detailed and lovingly painted rendition of a Chipmunk in gouache and transparent watercolor.

The colors are carefully selected to be lightfast and the hot press 140 lb paper is 100 percent cotton and archival.

The piece measures a delicate and sweet 7×7 total, and the image will fit within a 6×6 inch mat window. The original will ship insured in a flat mailer and is available at my etsy shop here:

Original $265
Prints Available only $19

Art Updates, botanicals, inktober, sketchbook

Inktober #2

My unofficial month of mushrooms marches on!

I love these new(ish) gray microns SO much, but I grabbed the wrong one in the light gray for this piece, a thicker 05. The hatching isn’t making me happy – but SO WHAT? It’s a small sketch in a small moleskine for a daily drawing prompt. Showing up is the goal and so far, so good.

Also I like how these are on the page. I feel like this little format is actually a good way to get my compositional skills in shape by the end of the month.

Anyone else doing some mushroom art? I love all the forms they offer up so much, really enjoying this.

I’d love to see any mushroom based art you’ve created below, so drop a link if you have some.

Art Updates, botanicals, inktober, Paint Your Heart And Soul, sketchbook

Congratulations and More

First off, I am honored to congratulate Toni K, the winner of the free spot in PYHAS – it was SO fun seeing all the different entries and I want to thank each and every one of you for stopping by the blog and taking the time to answer.

I’ll be making some more fun announcements as we head into the year end – can’t wait!

IN OTHER NEWS:

is anyone else still doing #inktober? I finally got my act together this year – and I’m going to be doing small botanicals in a small moleskine – keeping this something I can actually get to happen.

Here’s 10/1:

I loved including some of the new grey microns – they’re a watercolor painter’s dream in addition to just being plain amazingly useful. This is 3.5×5 or whatever the little size is. I don’t love their watercolor book for watercolor but it’s nice for pen and ink and washes.

Drawing these mushrooms was a little bit of a challenge for me – I realize how uncomfortable I can be with hatching, but I really do want to use this chance to improve my comfort levels with inking.

I’ve been using adobe fresco a bit for linework (it’s a lot like procreate, shamelessly so, really) and I don’t know. I guess I’m the ultimate old dog, nothing will ever feel as comfortable as the resistance that I get from physical paper.

I also used the pentel pigment brush pen – man I love those things!

Did you do any inktober ink stuff? would love to know below.

Art Updates, Paint Your Heart And Soul

Hello Wonderful Creatives!

I’m so excited to finally let the news out – that I’m going to be one of the instructors in the amazing year-long course called Paint Your Heart and Soul 2023.


I’m especially thrilled to be a part of PYHaS2023, because I love to be part of this great team so much! With at least 50 video lessons from more than 30 amazing artists, we know that by the end of the year you will develop your own style and feel great in your painting. You’ll get to deeply explore challenging, fun, and enlightening art topics over and over through the whole year – and be joined by one of the most supportive and active painting groups as you do! (If groups are your thing – no pressure ever.)

The price is amazing! Under $2 per lesson during our Early Bird special, which is limited to only the first 500 students to sign up! Don’t wait – join now and save $80 from regular price (till the supply of 500 is gone )!

In this course I’m going to teach some more magical mixed media using gouache, watercolor and pencil. Perhaps a touch of ink. I was so in love with the projects my students created in 2022 and the relaxing and fluid sessions of painting that we enjoyed – this year I’ll be bringing that feeling back and digging into the place that drawing and painting share together. It’s going to be so fun!

Here’s a look at last year’s main lesson: from drawing to dotting we created something like this:

************************************************************************************

but wait – there’s the proverbial more
are you ready? If you’ve followed me you know what might be next….

AND what is even more exciting – is that you can win this class! Woohoo!!!

I’m going to give one of you a FREE spot in the course, please see details below!

WIN A FREE SPOT IN PAINT YOUR HEART AND SOUL 2023

To enter the giveaway raffle, do the following:
1. Share this post on your social media
2. Comment where you shared AND ALSO: ONE of the following words – no need to explain, just pick one
portrait OR abstract OR florals OR landscape

3. If you’ve already bought PYHaS2023 – comment and get an extra entry! If you win the spot, you will get a full refund!
4. Each share on a different social media counts as one entry – multiple entries are encouraged!

The winner will be announced SEPTEMBER 27th.

Art Updates, Artistic Souls Gallery, Originals for Sale

New Works Available – Preview

New works will be available this Sunday – I’m so happy to share this collection with you!
Follow me on Facebook so you can request a tag and an invite to the event. More info about each work follows!

http://www.facebook.com/denadraws

“Morning Maps”
18x24x.78 inches
Acrylic on Cradled Hardboard

http://www.facebook.com/denadraws

“Murmurations”
8x10x.75 inches
Acrylic on Cradled Hardboard

http://www.facebook.com/denadraws

“Sliding Up”
12x12x.75 inches
Acrylic on Cradled Hardboard

http://www.facebook.com/denadraws

“River Road”
22x30x.1.5 inches
Acrylic on Cradled Hardboard

Remember – if you are interested in ANY of these works, you’ll want to attend the event this weekend. This is our first “Buy It Now ONLY” event – there won’t be bidding, and beautiful new works will be available on a first-come basis.

Contact, message, or follow me on facebook for all the details.

Museum Memories

The Last Museum

My last museum outing? Before *gestures at everything*

I had a great day with my father in law at the small, quirky, and absolutely hidden-gem level of beautiful Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. This was in September of 2019. My 2020 started in 2019, as I spent the year stumbling toward a big surgery at year end. It’s a bit of a blur, but anyway –

Your immune suppressed pals are tired, folks. We are tired.

The Museum of Russian Art sits in a Spanish Mission style Church-Turned-Funeral-Home-Turned-Russian-Art-Museum – a building which sits out proudly in a pure “well that’s different” refusal to just be normal in this town, you really can’t miss it.

And you shouldn’t miss it.

If you do the Art track in a liberal arts college when I did it, you had a certain compulsory amount of art history coursework. I don’t mind – it’s a good thing and I love art history – although I think that the actual “I make art” art students had more compelling and vital art historical discourse on a regular basis than the art history majors – we were living breathing eating and sleeping theory and always made to know where we were coming from and who was the visual ancestor of just about every line we drew. It was….intense, and weird.

But my point in saying this, is that nobody teaches the Russians. (Unless you take a film class, then Russia exists and is a thing.) You can’t go through a program without exposure to Raphael or Matisse, you can’t get through it without Cezanne or El Greco, Giorgione or Giotto, but you can absolutely graduate a top program and have no idea who Shishkin is.

I mean, they don’t even teach the British, to be fair. Not one Reynolds. No mention of where Holbein was busy Holbein-ing.

So I’ve never really compensated to the extent I should for this deficit. I hadn’t made it to the Museum of Russian Art in over a decade of it being around.

The thing that got me out and motivated for this last hurrah of the almost-normal was this show:

Mystical Imprints: Marc Chagall, Ben-Zion, and Ben Shahn

The Russian-ness of Russian-born Jewish artists is…complicated. Kind of a bold idea to claim folks you drove out when they were under 18, no? Even ones who went through the bother of becoming American citizens?

I love Chagall, but not for his printmaking, you know? Worth a peek, sure.

Ben-Zion is all right, kind of dark and lumpy and very early modernism, reminded me of the art in our mid-century down at the heels working class temple. His series showing the righteous men as shtetl regulars was moving, though, and more forthright in a way than Chagall’s mysticism. These righteous men are not experiencing their oppression and limitation as a colorful dream. I appreciate that.

But I was there for Ben Shahn, not gonna lie.

Categorizing American artists Ben Shahn and Ben-Zion as anything but American is really pushing it and still sort of pushes my buttons in a not-good way. BUT – HOWEVER – ignoring where an artist spent their childhood is to ignore a bigger part of their worldview. Do you make any kind of art? Where are your real dreams hopes nightmares and preferences forged? When you’re 34 or when you’re 4?

It’s not completely unreasonable to get these three guys together as a supergroup, and frankly, I really didn’t need a reason to see more Ben Shahns than I usually can in person.

Ben Shahn Alphabet of Creation 1957 Hill Museum and Collection

I was pretty awestruck by them. I don’t know what I expected. Something illustrative, jittery, Ben Shahn-ish. Instead I got the lettering. Wow.

I don’t read Hebrew, and I think it’s actually an asset in looking at these. They possess a pure graphic knockout power – anyone with even the least curiosity about hand lettering should see them. You don’t have to read Hebrew and you don’t have to know Kabbalah to be knocked on your butt by the mystical power of the presence of Words.

We even got to wrap this last really good day up with a good enough bagel, definitely feeling my roots, and not a bad set of memories at all. Hopefully some new ones soon!



Painting Videos, Watercolors

Painting In the Gaps – Quick Loose Roses

When we talk about stealing just a couple of moments for creativity and self-care this is what that can look like.

Things that help me create quickly and consistently?

  • Putting some of my tube watercolors into a pan set – I like the inexpensive metal cases with plastic half and full pans with colors I use the most.
  • Using scraps of paper – they tape down easily and I don’t have to stretch them to paint something really small and simple. The paper in the video is Arches 90 lb cold press – cheaper than the 140 pound and fine for smaller work or for stretching!
  • Scanning things and not worrying so much about using reverse sides, keeping everything forever, having a “messed up” leaf on the same page as a really good bunch of leaves. Digitization is easier and more accessible now, and it’s a great way to help us both keep and let go in our work!

Hope you like the video!