Saturday, January 31, 2009

Watercolor Barns of Upstate New York

This time of year the barns of Upstate New York sit nestled in the snow.  Driving around the back roads of my county, I took a photograph of this barn and turned it into a watercolor painting lesson for one of my classes.  I painted two similar versions of this painting and one now lives in Germany.

Friday, January 30, 2009

In Keeping with the Winter Weather

by Rita Squier

In keeping with the winter weather, a little landscape painting of snow.  Perfect weather in the NorthEast US for snowbirds and those who enjoy a winter escape!

This darling little Winter's Day painting can be found in my Etsy Shop.  It is a 4x6" original watercolor painting on 300 lb. cold pressed watercolor paper.  It has a bright white mat and will fit a standard 5x7" frame.  Just a couple of weeks ago, this lovely little painting made it to the front page treasury of

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Old Paints

January 2009, inspired by nature and an old palette filled with strong earthy color.  This is just a snippet of a little 5x7" watercolor painting I created with my old Winsor & Newton watercolor palette.  I used this palette of colors between 1995 & 1998 and the colors are just as vibrant today as they were back then.  The paints were squeezed into the palette and allowed to dry, a few drops of water and they perform the same as ever.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Practice Trees

Here is a little painting I did on an 1/8 sheet of 300 lb.  Arches watercolor paper.  I titled it Practice Trees basically because I was practicing making trees.  It is a good example of why you should always use quality paint and paper even when practicing.  I think this little painting came out great, I have matted, framed and hung the painting.  It is definitely a keeper and will stand the test of time, because I used archival materials.

I may have to practice more of these and have them available on my website and in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday's Tips & Techniques for Watercolor Painting

Watercolor Paper
To create great paintings, you need good paper.  Even when practicing you need to use the good watercolor paper.  Cheap paper will give you bad results and it will not help you improve your skills.  The cheap paper will buckle the more water you use and it will not absorb the pigment the same.

I suggest using a minimum of 140 lb. archival, acid free, 100% cotton rag watercolor paper.  My favorite paper to paint on is 300 lb. cold pressed watercolor paper.  The weight of paper is the weight of 500 sheets of  the full sheet sized paper.  A full sheet of watercolor paper is 22" x 30".  Basically, it boils down to the thickness, the thicker the paper the heavier it will be.  The way to go is 140 lb. or 300 lb. watercolor paper.

Next is the texture of the paper.  Cold Pressed, Hot Pressed and Rough are the three basic textures available for watercolor paper.  Cold Pressed has a slight textured finish.  Hot Pressed has a smooth finish, think heated like ironing out the wrinkles..  Rough has a rough textured finish.  There are a variety of brands of watercolor paper.  In most art stores, the paper is sold in sheets.  Each full sheet will have a watermark sometimes in one corner, sometimes two corners and sometimes in the other corners you will find an embossed logo of the company who made the paper.  If you hold the paper up to the light (as shown in photo 1) you will see a watermark in the corner.  

With the different brands of papers, you will also notice slightly different textures of cold pressed and slightly different shades of color.  Some paper comes in natural white and some in bright white.  There is no standard to the natural or bright white, photo 2 shows the variation of natural and bright whites and also the textures.

Watercolor paper is also sold in blocks (photo 4).  A block is like a pad of paper, but instead of having just one rubbery end, it extends all the way around the paper with just a little non-glued section where you can slip a palette knife in to separate the sheets of paper.  Unless you have a rather dry style of painting in watercolor, I don't suggest painting on the block, you run the risk of wetting the sheets below over and over.  You can remove one sheet at a time.  

Whether you are using a block or full sheets of 140 lb. watercolor paper, torn down to 1/4 sheets (11x15").  Mount your paper on a stiff board (shown in photo 3) such as double thick illustration board, the backer board to an old block, heavy weight cardboard a tip for using these types of board is to run a few rows of masking tape around the edges of the board to help it last longer.  A piece of Fredrick's canvas board works great too.  Then using regular old masking tape, tape all four edges of your watercolor paper to your board.  No need to buy fancy artist tape or stretch your paper.  Stretching paper ... forget it!  

With your paper taped down on your board you are ready to paint.  Currently in my classes, we are using Saunders Waterford 140 lb. archival, acid free 100% cotton rag full sheets trimmed down to 1/4 sheets (11x15").  Other brands I have tried and would recommend are Arches, Fabriano, Lanaquarelle, Waterford, Winsor & Newton, Kilimanjaro.  Try different brands, different textures and you will find one that suits you well.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Have You Ever Painted on Yupo?

Have you ever painted on Yupo?  Yupo is basically synthetic paper, it is acid free and archival too.  It has a slick surface.  If you paint with watercolor paint on Yupo paper you can create some amazing textures.  The paint just sits on top and the colors will mix and intermingle.  You have to be willing to just let loose.  Yupo is great for creating loose, fun and some what abstract paintings.  

Here is a beautiful fun painting I made of a sunflower.  The colors pool and blend and create an awesome background.  I love the texture in the leaves as well. 

Yupo is a bit tricky to work with, so  you need to have an open mind and practice a bit.  It reacts like no other paper.  You also need to be careful not to get any fingerprints on the paper.  The color will repel away from your fingerprints.  You can draw your subject lightly with pencil, however, you cannot erase.  Experiment and have fun!  If you don't like what you've done, it's easy enough to rinse the colors off and start again! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday's Tips & Techniques for Watercolor Painting

Watercolor Brushes
Sometimes choosing watercolor brushes can be a difficult task, especially when you are new or fairly new to watercolor.  I teach watercolor painting classes and I have done quite a bit of research on various brushes, I have tested a lot of brushes.  I have purchased more brushes than I care to admit.  Not only are there different brands, there are different sizes, shapes, elements, etc.  

For those who are new to painting and are looking for a decent economical choice, I would highly recommend Princeton Brush Set (shown in photo 1), made up of white taklon bristles (a synthetic).  It has brushes size 2, 8, 12 rounds and 1/2" flat, plus a 3/4" one stroke.  They are inexpensive and work very well.  A step up and my favorites for watercolor class is the Winsor Newton Septre Gold Series (shown in photo 2), which are a synthetic and sable blend.  This includes from left to right WN Series 965 1 1/2" wash brush, WN Series 680 3/4" one stroke brush (this one has synthetic bristles), WN Septre Gold 6, 10, 2, 4 round brushes, all make up a perfect set of brushes for watercolor painting.  They hold a good deal of paint and water, have great "snap".  I don't think there is a better wash brush than the WN Series 965 1 1/2" wash brush, it also has the synthetic sable blend, it is worth every penny.

My absolute all time favorite brushes that never leave my studio, for fear of loosing them are my Winsor Newton Series 7 Sable brushes (black handled brushes in photo 3).  The Winsor Newton Series 7 Sable brushes are coveted brushes by watercolor painters around the world.  They hold the most amount of water and paint and are simply delightful to paint with.  Photo 3 shows the brushes I personally use most often.  I do have another larger container that holds a lot of my other brushes, which will remain a secret for now.  

As your painting skill improves ... spoil yourself with better brushes!  

Monday, January 19, 2009

Artists of Etsy Exposed

Artists of Etsy Exposed is a treasury created by VickiDianeDesigns, an Etsy member.  She gets artists on Etsy to post a picture of themselves as the main picture of one of their listings.  This weekend we (my husband and I) were featured in one of her treasuries.  Our photo is shown along with the listing for the painting shown here.  Actually the treasury is still up on Etsy until Tuesday, January 20th, it expires at 5:45 am.  So check it out quick before it disappears and you will get to see the faces behind a dozen Etsy shops.  Each shop on Etsy is run by an artist, a crafter, a jeweler and more!  You can buy almost anything handmade directly from the artisans themselves through Etsy.  You ought to check it out, it's a great place to shop!  

Start right here by clicking the link to my original watercolor painting shown here titled:  Lake Cabin.  I painted it while on vacation in the Adirondacks, in Upstate New York last summer.  I can't wait for warmer weather!  

Friday, January 16, 2009

Snow Flowers, A Watercolor

Snow Flowers is a painting I painted in January 2002.  I was attending a Zoltan Szabo Watercolor Workshop.  I believe the assignment had to do with lost and found edges.  I worked from my own photograph of a pine tree branch covered in snow in my backyard.  I often have trouble naming some of my paintings.  When I handed in my homework assignment, Zoltan Szabo looked at it and said "This looks like Snow Flowers."  For me, that was the perfect name.  Snow Flowers was entered in several art shows, each time it won a ribbon.  First entry it won Honorable Mention, then a few First Place ribbons and also a Best in Show.  Now it hangs with pride in my dining room.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Big City - Big Watercolor Painting

The Big City is a full sheet 22x30 inch abstract watercolor painting.  I love this painting!  I really enjoyed painting it too.  It is filled with life and vibrant color.  It can be a representation of almost any city, whatever city you want it to be, it is.  This painting is filled with a variety of watercolor techniques.  It includes wet into wet washes, dry brush techniques, wet on dry, dry on wet, splattering of color.  This painting is for sale, it is posted on my own website:  Email me if you're interested in giving this fine painting a good home.  If you're a watercolor painter and you haven't done a full sheet watercolor painting yet ... give it a try! 

One thing I should have mentioned in my Tuesday's Tips and Techniques yesterday ... when you're done painting, clean your palette.  It is always good to start with a fresh clean palette.  If it is dirty, you will either get muddy colors or it will take too long to clean up and by the time you're done, you may not want to paint any longer!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday's Tips & Techniques for Watercolor Painting

One of the things I would like to add to my blog this year is an occasional post on watercolor tips and techniques.  I would like it to be a weekly thing, but we will see what happens, I am going to shoot for Tips on Tuesdays!  Here we go ... 

Watercolor Paint
One of the most important things when learning to paint with watercolor or improving your watercolors is the use of quality paint.  If you're not using quality artist grade paints, you may not get the range in value in your painting.  You also may not be able to get nice rich dark colors.  Artist grade paints will have more pigment and less filler.  Student grade paints will have more fillers and they may not have as good a quality of pigment in them.  Student grade paint should be left to students of high school age or earlier.  If you really want to learn to paint watercolors, start with artist grade paints.  

My current favorite paint is Maimeri Blu Watercolors.  I teach watercolor painting classes for beginner and advanced adult students.  The colors I recommend for my classes are pictured in #1 of the photo shown, there are 10 colors total.  I prefer to squeeze the tubes of color into a Tom Lynch palette and I allow them to dry before I use them.  This method saves on paint and is more economical than using the paint fresh from the tube.  Photo #2 shows my class palette, plus 3 extra colors.  Photo #3 are my Zoltan Szabo palettes, I had taken a bunch of his workshops, which I absolutely loved.  The two palettes on the right in that photo show the colors he recommended in his workshop and the one palette on the left is my test palette for new colors.  These are great palettes for traveling.  Photo #4 is my small travel Hommee palette, great for taking along on an adventure or a hike.  Photo #5 is my very first palette and it is filled with Winsor Newton paints and more earth tone colors.  When I first started to paint with John Alderdice, he recommended the colors shown and the Winsor Newton Artist paints.  He always said to use the best quality available.  Which would remind me of my college days and the saying "garbage in, garbage out".  Photo #6 shows my scrap palette.  I have taken a butcher's tray and placed the colors I have removed from my other palettes around the edge of this tray.  I remove colors from time to time from my regular palettes if they get too low or if I decide I would like to switch a color for a new one.  No need to waste the paint!  Sometimes I will squeeze just a little bit of a new test color onto this palette.

I highly recommend Maimeri Blu watercolor paints, they are Italian.  They set up well in a palette and they refresh easily with the swipe of a wet brush.  They have excellent lightfastness, so far I haven't had a single MaimeriBlu watercolor painting fadeand I have been using the paint since 1998.  The second brand I would recommend are the Winsor Newton Artist Grade watercolor paints from England.  You can't go wrong with such a well known brand.  However, the Winsor Newton paints set up harder in the palette, I find it best to add a few drops of clean water to the tops of the colors in the palette before painting to get them to soften up a bit.  I am testing another brand of paint, I purchased only one tube so far of M. Graham watercolors which are made in the United States and so far, so good ... I really like it.  The M. Graham prices are similar to the Maimeri Blu paints and on some of the colors, the price is better.

Artist grade paint gives you rich deep gorgeous colors.  If you think it is too expensive, start out with fewer colors.  A limited palette of colors is a great way to really learn your palette.  Buy the best you can afford, you're worth it!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cupid's Footprint as Art Cards - ACEOs

Cupid's Footprint I is the beginning of my newest ACEO series.  After having come across the image of the original Cupid's Footprint which was painted last February 14th, I thought it would be great to create a bunch of these in miniature.  You can snatch them up from my Etsy Shop: along with a variety of other ACEO series I have created.  All of my Art Cards are original watercolor paintings.

Just a little reminder: ACEO = Art Cards, Editions & Originals.  They are created by artists to trade amongst each other and to sell to those who would love to purchase art from a variety of artists but do not have a large budget to spend on fine art.  Art Cards are a wonderful way to start up an art collection.  It can become an addicting hobby and luckily most art cards are sold at affordable prices, so if you don't have one to trade, they are easy to buy.  If you are an artist, create some of your own art cards to trade amongst other artists.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Log Cabin in Watercolor

This is a painting which I painted from a black and white photograph of an old camp in the Adirondacks on a beautiful lake.  The photo was taken in the late 1940s, I painted the painting in late 2007.  Today, a new cabin stands in its place, sadly the old camp was struck by lightning in the early 1980s.  I was able to recreate the colors from details given to me by family members.  Today, this painting now hangs inside the new cabin.  This is a full sheet watercolor painting, 22x30".  

Creating a painting of bygone times, is a treasure that will bring back memories for some and will be cherished for years to come.  It is possible to create a beautiful and colorful painting from a black and white photo, it may be challenging but in the end, it is definitely worth it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Watercolor Houses

 I have done a bunch of commissioned house portrait paintings in watercolor and the majority of the time they are to be gifts.  I love it when someone asks "Will you paint a picture of .... it will be a gift for ..." and of course I say yes.  I paint the painting and I am so happy and delighted when it is completed and I would love to show it off, but I can't.  I have to wait.  I would never want to spoil someone's surprise gift by accident.  Here is a painting I did several months ago.  It was a Christmas gift and now I can finally show it off.  

If you're interested in having a watercolor painting of your home, former home, vacation home or would like to have one painted as a gift for someone else, please contact me for more information.  I would be delighted to create a one of a kind present that would be cherished for years to come!

You can view other homes and buildings I have painted on my website: and there are also a couple of listing in my Etsy shop ( for commissioned house portraits.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

January 4th ... My Birthday

January 4th my birthday.  Chocolate cake with a mocha filling and chocolate buttercream frosting and lots of champagne ... makes for a perfect birthday!

Happy Birthday to Me! 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

First and foremost ... Happy New Year! 

Adirondack Winter I is an original watercolor painting 2.5 x 3.5 inches.  This is my very first painting of 2009!  Wow, 2009 I cannot believe it.  I would love to paint at least a painting a day for the entire year, but I vowed never to make a New Year's resolution, so no promises.  Besides I already have hundreds of paintings in my possession and that would mean 365 more!  Well, I already missed a day, I did not paint yesterday, although I did paint three maybe four ACEOs today.  

Adirondack Winter is my new ACEO series, this is the first in the series and I have already painted the second and third one.  You'll have to check my Etsy Shop now and then to see the rest of this series and perhaps pick one up for your treasured collection.  Don't have an ACEO collection?  Well, why not start with this one today?


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