Reflections on Lisa Spangler’s Nature Spot Challenge

I previously profiled the palette of Lisa Spangler (@sideoats on Instagram), a watercolor artist based in Austin, Texas who pioneered the concept of “nature spots,” swatches of colors in the natural world. Nature spots can be less intimidating to paint than full scenes, especially if you’re on the go, but can be a great way … Read more

Building Community

I started this blog without having any idea of whether anyone would read it. It was a place for me to gather my own thoughts and organize an increasingly unwieldy amount of notes I was taking in Google Drive about watercolor technique, supplies, tips & tricks. I’ve really enjoyed actually getting comments and “meeting” you … Read more

Loved & Learned from Kolbie Blume’s Intermediate Landscape Course Module 1: Light

After two years of painting, I am finally beginning to allow myself to think of myself as intermediate rather than a beginner, and accordingly I am working through Kolbie Blume’s Intermediate Landscapes course. (I actually started it before I did the beginner course!)

A four-module course, the first module concerned light, layers, and contrast. The paintings in this module involved planning multiple layers, making decisions about value contrast, and capturing light effects like glow, shadow, and backlighting.

Read more

Loved & Learned from Kolbie Blume’s Beginner Landscapes

Beginner Landscapes is a mini-course offered by Kolbie Blume in the course library for members of the Artists Co-op, their monthly subscription service. After nearly two years of watercolor, the most recent of which was spent working through most of Kolbie’s other products (like their 10-Day Painting the Wilderness Challenge, 10-Day Seascapes Challenge, and Wilderness … Read more

Should I only get single pigment paints?

Single pigment paints are those that contain only one pigment, or color-making chemical. By contrast, mixed paints or “convenience mixes” contain multiple pigments.  A frequently-given piece of advice is to stick to single pigment paints. But why?  What are single pigment paints? The most obvious attribute of a paint is “what color is it.” The … Read more

Watercolor Top 8

Dr. Oto Kano has a recommended color wheel palette, which I showcased in the previous Artist Palette Profile, but the colors they actually use most of the time – their subjective favorites – are the subject of their Top 8 list. They’ve actually done two Top 8 videos – the original Top 8 (2018) and … Read more

Travel Sketches: Nova Scotia

I recently took my first vacation / plane trip since pre-pandemic, visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia and the surrounding area in late October, at the tail end of peak foliage. This was also one of the first times I’ve watercolored as a travel activity, beyond a few outdoor sketches in my local Massachusetts and nearby Maine! … Read more

Lessons from “Making Color Sing”: Octanic Color

I’m working through Jeanne Dobie’s Making Color Sing, and after exploring chapter 1’s Mouse Power, I’m up to chapter 2: Octanic Color. The topic of this chapter is finding an individual paint color’s bias (e.g. lemon yellow is a “cool” or green-toned yellow), and using that to mix vibrant color. Although Dobie uses “warm” and “cool” terminology – which I notoriously dislike – I take the point that it’s important to know a paint’s color bias in order to mix vibrant paints! It’s easy to say that “red and blue make purple,” but your purple will come out different depending on which red and which blue you use.

Read more