Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Close of 2008

With the end of 2008 comes a bit of reflection and a bit of planning for 2009.  This past year, I have ventured into a variety of new things.  I did my first indoor art fair and also my first outdoor art fair.  Together my husband and I have done several art fairs this summer.  I joined the North East Watercolor Society.  I joined the Old Forge Arts Center in the Adirondacks.  My husband and I opened up an Etsy Shop together and I have sold a bunch of paintings through Etsy.  I am hoping for my paintings to begin selling more regularly and I hope a few of my husbands paintings sell as well.  I have started to twitter and also blog.  I have made new friends and contacts on Etsy, through the Etsy Teams such as Watercolor Works, ACETSY and my husband has joined the CRNY Team.  I have also redesigned my own website at and will most likely redesign it again in 2009.

I enjoy blogging.  My hopes and plans for my blog in 2009 are to include weekly features.  Once a week I would like to feature a watercolor painting technique with a few how to steps.  I would also like to feature other watercolor artists with blogs and/or Etsy Shops.  Help spread the joys of watercolor painting.

This morning, I opened my email and was delighted to find a note including a picture of one of my paintings.  It warms my heart to see how someone has taken a piece of my art, matted and framed it and hung it proudly in their home and to top it off shares a picture of it with me.  I love it!

In 2008, I started a new adventure in finding ways to promote my art and in 2009 I will continue on that path to see where it brings me.  Let's hope for the best!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cupid's Footprint

Christmas has come and gone and pretty soon we will be celebrating New Year's Eve.  I had a very quiet Christmas home alone, sick with the flu.  I did have the company of two kitties and a slew of old black and white movies.  Audrey Hepburn is one of my favorite actresses.  I'm hoping all remnants of the flu will be gone by New Year's Eve, I don't want to miss out on any champagne celebrations.  

As I was trying to decide what to blog about today, I began flipping through images in iPhoto on my computer.  I came across this painting and in the comment section I had typed Cupid's Footprint.  This abstract painting was painted on Valentine's Day 2008.  I used the wet into wet technique to create an interesting background.  Then I applied strips of waxed paper while the paint was still wet.  I allowed everything to dry completely, then peeled away the wax paper to reveal a pretty cool texture.  I drew three circles and a rectangle.  I used the lost and found edges technique, varying lights and darks to create this pretty cool abstract painting now titled Cupid's Footprint.  I think this will be the inspiration for a new series of ACEOs.  I'll keep you posted!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Wonderland

It is such a winter wonderland outside my window.  It continuously snowed from noon on Friday thru Sunday afternoon.  We braved the wintery weather on Saturday afternoon to finally get a Christmas tree.  Sunday, we spent the entire day decorating the tree, the house, baking Christmas cookies and making Swedish Jul Glögg.  Today, the sun is shining and everything is covered in bright white snow.  I finished up my work for today already and it is barely noon time.  If it weren't for the long list of things to do before Christmas Eve, I think I would break out my paints and start a few snowy ACEOs and more 5x7" snowy watercolors.  Perhaps I can sneak in some time to paint tomorrow.

The painting seen here was painted last winter during a snow storm.  Snow makes a beautiful landscape to paint in watercolor.  Woods in Snow IV is one in a series of winter landscapes inspired by Upstate New York and the Adirondacks.  

Enjoy the snow and the holiday season!  Spread the Christmas cheer! 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hot Pressed, Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper

This watercolor titled Lovely Little Floral  is one of my favorite quick little watercolor paintings.  It is only 4x6 inches, the size of a postcard.  It is one of my spontaneous paintings done quickly allowing the some of the colors to mix and mingle right on the paper.  This one is painted on 140 lb. hot pressed watercolor paper.  The watercolor paint seems to float upon the smooth surface of the paper.  

Hot pressed watercolor paper has a very smooth surface, while cold pressed watercolor paper has texture to it.  Different brands of cold pressed paper will have a different textures.  In watercolor painting, I cannot stress enough how important it is to use quality paper and paint.  I always recommend using at least 140 lb. 100% cotton rag, acid free, archival watercolor paper.  If you are not using quality materials, most likely you won't enjoy painting in watercolor or you will have a hard time learning to paint in watercolor.  Paper is super important.  I love using 300 lb. cold pressed watercolor paper, that would be my favorite paper weight.  The 300 lb. paper stays wet longer, takes lots of abuse, it is great.  Then there is also rough paper which has a rough textured surface.  

My advice: Experiment with various brands of quality paper of at least 140 lb. or more! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Floral Watercolor ACEOs

Along with painting landscapes, I love to paint flowers.  I tend to paint little free flowing flowers, occasionally allowing the colors to mingle right on the paper.  I have created dozens of these in ACEO (2.5x3.5") size, also 4x6, 5x7, 1/8th sheets ... I have tried a few on 1/4 sheets of watercolor paper but I seem to like the smaller size better for this style of flower.  Most likely, just personal preference in creating these miniature florals.  A popular series of mine were my Autumn Poppies Series filled with orange, red and yellow flowers.  

Check out the ACEO section of my Etsy shop for original watercolor florals and more!  ACEOs are definitely a popular size for artists to paint.  On Etsy, I am a member of the street team dedicated to ACEOs.   You can do a search on Etsy for the ACETSY Team to see a variety of ACEOs available there.  

Bouquet of Posies seen here, is an original watercolor ACEO only 2.5x3.5" it is one of the many little floral paintings available in my Etsy Shop:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hundreds of Paintings - Small, Medium & Large

Since I have begun painting in watercolors, I have hundreds of paintings, small, medium, large and everything in between.  Small ones the size of ACEOs 2.5x3.5", 4x6, 5x7, 8x10 ... 1/8 sheet, 1/4 sheet, 1/2 sheet and full sheet watercolor paintings.  A full sized sheet of watercolor paper is 22x30".  When learning to paint and now that I am teaching painting classes too, we normally refer to the size of the painting by the fraction of the sheet of watercolor paper being used.  I have tried and tested a variety of paper weights and brands too.  I started out painting on 1/4 sheets (11x15").  Then I ventured off to a Zoltan Szabo watercolor workshop, there we painted on 1/2 sheets (15x22").  Painting larger, really helped me hone my skills.  Once you gain the courage to tackle a full sheet painting (22x30") and it turns out to be a success, it is rather encouraging to try again, and again, and again.  Once you master the full sheet and the half sheet, painting the 1/4 sheets and everything smaller seems to be so much easier.  

The only way to improve your skills in pretty much anything is to practice.  I have done lots of practicing.  I literally have hundreds of paintings.   If you're interested in viewing just a small sampling of my work, it can be seen on my gallery website: and also a sampling can be seen in my Etsy Shop: If you see anything you like ... just ask, most likely it is for sale.

Some people wonder if it is hard to part with your paintings.  The answer would be yes, in the beginning.  But now, the answer is no ... I don't mind selling my watercolor paintings.  I am happy to share my art with the world.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Watercolor Christmas Cards

I started taking watercolor painting classes in 1995 and ever since then each year I hand paint all of my Christmas Cards.  Now, there has been only three times since then, that I did not hand paint them.  Twice I painted one painting and then reproduced the painting and created Christmas cards, that got me a little slack but not as much as the year I actually purchased a box of Christmas cards to send out.  My family and friends seem to think I have to hand paint my cards every year and if I don't they feel free to complain.  They don't hand make their own cards.  

Last year's Christmas card was a pen and ink line drawing of a barn, which was then hand painted.  I enlisted the help of my husband.  The only thing the same on each card was the line drawing of the barn.  Everyone received a uniquely painted barn and snowy surroundings.  

Yesterday I finally got the chance to start painting this years Christmas cards, I normally don't wait this long.  The theme will remain a secret, at least until mailing.  I have 20 painted so far and have quite a few to go ... I'm not sure but I think I may be on my own painting this year's Christmas cards.  Although, I was offered help if needed.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ACEO - Art Cards, Editions and Originals

In my previous blog I mentioned ACEOs.  Art Cards, Editions and Originals little miniature pieces of art that are the size of trading cards.  They are 2.5 x 3.5".  They are small.  Artists create them to show off their art, they trade them amongst themselves.  When traded the art cards are called Artist Trading Cards or ATCs.  Many people love them and want to collect them.  When they are created to sell or trade with collectors, they are considered ACEOs.  Some are originals, some are prints and some prints are limited edition prints.  Artists create them in a variety of mediums.  It seems as though there are no limits to the medium, the only limit to an ACEO or ATC is the size, the dimensions must be 2.5 x 3.5 inches.  

All of the ACEOs I have created are all original watercolor paintings.  I have become addicted to painting these little works of art, they are so much fun to paint.  ACEOs have become this craze.  Artists love to create them, collectors love to collect them.  You can display them in a beautiful binder using the plastic sleeves meant for trading cards.  Some people love to place them in a basket and flip through them now and then.  Others will frame them on their own or in groups to hang on the wall or prop on a desk.  It is great to have just a little piece of art to brighten up a small space. 

I have a bunch of original watercolor ACEO paintings for sale in my Etsy Shop.  They seem to be the hot ticket right now!  Get 'em while they're hot ... check out the ACEO section of my Etsy Shop at

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Finding Inspiration

Adirondack Inspiration I
by Rita Squier

Inspiration comes from a variety of sources, but most of all, I believe it must first come from within. You have to have the will, the need, the want to do anything, to do something, to be creative.
Glimpses of the world around you will create sparks that will inspire you even more. Whether it is gorgeous scenery, good deeds done by others or a button on the sidewalk, little sparks will ignite your imagination and inspire you to be creative. Open yourself up and find those little sparks.

Over the summer, I read about ACEOs - Art Cards, Editions and Originals. Little tiny pieces of artwork that are the size of trading cards. The only requirement to an ACEO is the size, which is 2.5x3.5 inches. Little pieces of art. They are created in a variety of mediums. The more I read about them, the more I was inspired to come up with a few of my own. I was in the Adirondacks, Upstate New York when I learned about ACEOs, I had my watercolor travel kit with me. Just a step outside, my inspiration was sparked. I trimmed down my watercolor paper to the proper size, took out my watercolor paints and brushes and I painted a bunch of little woodsy themed art cards. A little magazine article, the beauty outside my door has brought about a new interest for me. I love painting these little miniature works of art.

The painting shown here is the very first ACEO I painted. It is titled Adirondack Inspiration I. All of my ACEOs are little original watercolor paintings. Many of which can be found in my Etsy Shop.

• Sold

Monday, December 8, 2008

Frosty Watercolor Morning

Adirondack Splendor
by Rita Squier

This morning we awoke to no electricity.  It was about 2 degrees fahrenheit outside and a lovely 51 degrees inside.  Luckily my painting table is near two windows and the sun was shining brightly and reflecting quite well off the snow outside.  I was able to finish up a little painting I am donating to a charity auction.  The deadline for mailing out the painting is Wednesday and I was planning on getting it out into the mail today, Monday.  I am really good at procrastination.  The painting is complete, packaged and ready to be taken to the post office.  No power, no electricity and I can still paint! 

Of course, after I painted for a little while it really started to feel rather cold.  So, I came up with a brilliant idea ... oiling and polishing furniture and woodwork.  The movement and concentration reduced a lot of whining because it is very cold.  Then finally around 11:30 am, 6 hours and 45 minutes later, we regained power.  Hot cocoa, hot oatmeal, furnace  turned up and a quick check of our Etsy shop, emails and a blog post ... then it will be back to dusting and polishing.  May as well get it done and the place will look great and will be ready for holiday decorations.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Watercolor Painting vs Technology, Gotta Love it All

Fog & Mist, Adirondacks
by Rita Squier

Watercolor painting is a creative outlet of mine that I enjoy tremendously.  If I could I would give up my day job to paint.  I do love designing things, I love graphics, I am really good at it ... but with the modern age, it ties me to a computer.  I do love computers and technology too.  I have somehow become the family guru on what to do with mac computers, phones, gadgets, VCR clocks, digital cameras, you name it.  If it has buttons, batteries or gets plugged in, needs adjusting or programming they seem to turn to me and sometimes it even amazes me on how much I seem to know about this stuff and how many of these gadgets I have accumulated.  I still want more!  I want the latest greatest ... yet at the same time I also want to be able to get away from it all.

I love watercolor painting ... you can take a travel kit anywhere and you don't have to worry about batteries, electricity or where to plug in your wonderful gadgets.

The fine art of watercolor painting is one of the hardest mediums to learn.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons I love it so much.  It is a challenge.  Watercolor is a medium where there are rules, yet the rules are meant to be broken.  You can push the limits so long as you have learned and studied the basics.  There are a few very important keys to watercolor painting.  The most important key is quality materials.  Join quality paper with quality paint, add a little bit of talent and even with cheap brushes you can make a dent in all there is to learn about watercolor.

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Story

I am a graphic designer, who started out in a top notch advertising firm and I quickly moved on to opening up my own graphic design firm.  I designed pretty much everything and anything printed.  Business cards, letterheads, brochures, flyers, catalogs, print ads for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, logos, etc. ... if it was printed, I could design it! 

I started out doing traditional mechanicals and paste ups ... linotype, wax, letraset type, t-squares, triangles - my mechanicals were better than anyone I knew.  I was among the first to learn how to design things on a Mac in college.  Fresh out of college, the ad agency I worked for had just gotten new Macs ... but because I was just a lowly little person in the art department, one of the "staff artists" I wasn't allowed to use the computers.  They were for the art directors, who barely new how to turn them on.  So ... I decided to go out on my own.  Bought my own Mac SE 30 with a huge two page display, a laser printer and I have been in business for myself since!  I could make pretty much any business look good in two dimension.  

Then came the revolution of inexpensive home computers and cheap design software.  Why pay a talented graphic designer with a bachelors degree to create something gorgeous when you can have your secretary create it on the cheap?

I was designing so much on computers, I needed to get back to doing something more creative, something more along the lines of fine art.  So, I started to take watercolor painting classes, I attended workshops.  My most favorite mentor was Zoltan Szabo.  I took a bunch of his workshops and I have all of his watercolor books.  He is a fabulous inspiration and I will always treasure his workshops and the life long friends I made there.  If you love watercolor or if you are thinking about giving it a try, find some of his books.

My husband is an industrial designer.  He opened his own business designing and creating graphics for race cars, trucks, karts, boats, transport vehicles, commercial vehicles and more.  His business started to pick up.  I was helping him, doing my own graphic design work and painting more and more.  Something had to give ... I couldn't keep doing all three.  So I gave up my graphic design business and got more involved in designing graphics for race cars and creating the in-house graphics, web design, photography, bookkeeping, etc. for Squier Design.

My creative outlet for fine art is watercolor painting.  I do dabble occasionally in other mediums as well, however, my favorite is watercolor painting.  I love it and I now share my love for it by teaching watercolor painting classes.  I love to paint and I now have an endless supply of already created watercolor paintings and I keep on painting more!

You can view just a sampling of my art in my gallery:


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