Blue Mondays: An occasional series about one of my favorite colors

Artist Wren Allen has many shades of blue on her watercolor palette!

Shades of blue: all the blue watercolors currently in my paintbox. Clockwise from top: Holbein Cerulean Blue; Holbein Cobalt Blue; Holbein Compose Blue; Daniel Smith Genuine Lapis Lazuli; Windsor Newton Indigo; Daniel Smith Manganese Blue Hue; Holbein Manganese Blue; Daniel Smith Natural Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Genuine; Daniel Smith Ultramarine Blue; Maimeri Ultramarine Blue Dark.

I love all shades of blue: Cerulean, indigo, prussian, French ultramarine, turquoise, duck egg and sky.

Turquoise has to be my favorite of them all. I think I was imprinted on sky blue by my mother while I was just an infant. When I look at old photos of where we lived when I was a baby, the kitchen was painted a pale turquoise. So was my nursery.

Learn more about blue pigments and paint in this occasional series about this mystical color. Instead of feeling blue on Monday, let’s paint it blue!

Can this painting be saved?

Orchid painting with watercolor masque and wash.

Masque has been applied, followed by a medium dark wash.

I decided to mask out the lighter spots on the orchid leaf in order to add the darker background color as one smooth wash, using the Cool Blue Masque I had bought a year or so ago.

Big mistake.

The masking liquid had separated. Even after being shaken, viscosity differences resulted in uneven layers of resist. The dried mask refused to peel off.

Close-up view of recalcitrant watercolor masque.

Yuck! You can see the nasty, sticky, crumbly mess the watercolor masque makes. Plus, it just won’t come up from the paper.

I dashed to the art supply store for a rubber cement pick-up, but results are underwhelming so far.

Rubber cement pick up and painting with old watercolor masque

Will it work? Natural rubber pick-up is a traditional tool for removing watercolor masque.

Regardless of whether I use a rubbing motion, or the classic rolling pick up motion, the mask smears around on the surface, refusing to lift.

Results of using rubber cement pick up on a painting

Results so far are not encouraging. The outdated masque smears around on the surface. Will I be able to complete this painting?

I’m pretty concerned that I’ll totally destroy the surface. At this point, I’ll be happy if there’s enough surface left to switch to colored pencils once the masque is finally removed.


Teaching a leaf-painting workshop at HCC

Sharon Hendry kindly invited me to lead a workshop or demo for her illustration techniques class at Houston Community College West Loop Campus on October 31. I decided to have the students paint a leaf in watercolor, to learn a little about botanical illustration technique. It was really nice to hear that after the demonstration, many of the students chose to repeat the project for their nature painting assignment.

Here are some photos from the afternoon. Ms. Hendry was kind enough to take some photos for me. All photos in this post are © 2011, Sharon Hendry, all rights reserved, used with permission.

HCC illustration techniques class learns about leaf painting, © 2011, Sharon Hendry.

The students listened very intently during the workshop. Photo, courtesy of Sharon Hendry.

HCC student paints a leaf using water media. © 2011, Sharon Hendry

This student concentrates on rendering a leaf accurately. Photo courtesy of Sharon Hendry

HCC leaf painting workshop, © 2011, Sharon Hendry

I answer questions while other students paint steadily. Photo courtesy of Sharon Hendry.

HCC students discuss their leaf paintings w/Wren Allen, © 2011 Sharon Hendry

The students and I discuss how their work is progressing. Photo courtesy of Sharon Hendry


Wren Allen gives instructions at HCC workshop, © 2011, Sharon Hendry

Clockwise from left: How-to instructions; Tips on tracing a leaf form: ArtL8dy's supply kit, with a paint dot card I made; demonstrating light source and shadow. Photos courtesy of Sharon Hendry

Thanks HCC illustration students for being so enthusiastic and receptive! Thanks Sharon, for the invitation to share with your students! To see more of Sharon’s artwork, visit her blog, E-14 Studio.


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