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The Trading Post No. 7 FINAL

April 20, 2015
Hi All Artists Hearts,
After a very long delay in posting here is the reveal everyone has been waiting for so patiently.  It has been a roller coaster these last few months, in and out of hospital, but I have a breather at the moment.  I just wanted to complete our series before other medical needs arise calling for my time and attention.  It is fun to see all the individual parts of this painting finally come together as a whole, enabling us to enjoy the full story knowing what has gone before.  Ta Dah!! This was a wonderful challenge with many twists and turns. I so loved working out the detail of not only the
 The Trading Post Watercolor by Jan Howlett
Christ gives “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Is. 61:3

frills and veins on the Kale, but the garden stones with their varied angled planes and shadows as well as the textures of rust, hinges, and shine on the antique metal Creamer.  It was great to try my hand at garden soil with tiny gritty pebbles and sand. The need for several major corrections proved concerning, but definitely became a very valuable learning time.

If I were to do this painting again I would not include the pink flowers behind the Kale plant, although in my photograph that day they looked great. I would keep the flower pot for sure, (loved painting the clay pot) but, perhaps I would just fill it with leaves that didn't call for any attention. In this piece I decided to dull their color and put them further back into the shadows to fix that concern.

The longer we paint the more we know that we never stop learning.  This practical learning widens our creative process, increases our technical technique and ultimately leads to better paintings that communicate our story with greater visual information. Taking the needed time to learn the skill of how to carefully translate those interesting textures that actually help to create emotional content into our story with veils of paint will make the difference between an OK painting and a wonderful painting!  Love to learn and be inspired by it all.

I'm not sure yet as to what our next series will be about, but I'm working on a couple of ideas.  It will need to be something a little more manageable to accommodate my ongoing health issues.  I love sharing with you all so I will do my best to make it interesting. Stay tuned and please share with your friends.  Feel free to invite them to join us in our painting journey together.  If you have questions please drop me a line using our Contact Us Form from the Navigation list. 

Until next time keep painting what you love and always keep learning.
Blessings, Jan.


The Trading Post No. 6

February 18, 2015
Hi All Artist Hearts,
Today I thought we could focus on 3 individual cropped portions of our Trading Post painting.  Some of these areas were completed before I ran into eye trouble and thankfully the detail work was done. A lot has been accomplished including the intricate detailing of the Kale flower itself.  It took many hours layering in the rich colors, creating shadows and crisp edges.  There are many leaves with many gradual shadings that give them their brilliance and transparency.

The crop for the bowl of the Antique Cream Separator took some careful thought and planning in order to get the rusted areas to look pitted with a sense of depth and even  dusty look.  I used a deep staining color lightly dotted onto the paper and quickly dabbing the excess off, varying the color choices along the way.  When I was satisfied with the pitted look I then painted in several washes of the yellow oranges suggesting the rust was being hit by sunlight as well.

The body of the Cream Separator has been worked on for some length of time and after many layers needed to create the allusion of hard metal I was fairly pleased with the results.  I love the shaft of light falling across the rounded form that in turn supplies the perfect place for a sweet family of two little Purple Finches to rest on.  I think they were seriously considering the bowl for a nest!

I have also added in the textured golden wood grain doors that lead into this lovely family market place known to many in this area of the country as the Trading Post.

Next post we will put it all together and reveal the painting as a whole, ready to be matted and framed.

In the meantime I will be thinking about our next project and perhaps it will include a Spring flowering tree limb to help bring some relief from all the deep cold and very snowy days everyone has been coping with lately.  Many are beginning to long for warmer weather and the renewal of Spring.  So maybe the next series with hasten it's arrival. What do you think? :>)

Until next time, keep painting what you love and touch many hearts with your work.


The Trading Post No. 5

January 17, 2015
Hi All Artist Hearts,
Happy New Year to everyone!  I know this post is long overdue, but I have been recovering from an emergency surgery on my neck for a severe infection and tumor.  Only a few months earlier I began losing the sight in my left eye and was diagnosed with Retinal Vein Occlusion.  We pray the disease won't cause complete blindness and end my painting days. At least I was so blessed to make it home from the hospital 2 days before Christmas.
Kale rose crop Watercolor by Jan HowlettPlease know that I have not forgotten you all, I was just not able to work on the website.  I may yet face another surgery, but we are trusting that it won't be necessary.  Although 2014 was a difficult year health-wise, I am finally back on track and strong enough now to continue this series for at least another while. Painting small details has become a challenge with impaired vision.  Thanks for your loyalty and patience. 

Kale, Watercolor photo cropped part showing earth and potting soil, Stage 5 by Jan Howlett
This photo, taken before my surgery,  is a cropped portion of the painting in order to focus on the earth and planting soil at the front of the Kale plant just as it was in the garden at the Trading Post.  You can see the little bits mixed in with the earth giving it a unique visual texture.  I was able to lay in a base of soft golden browns in various tones from light to dark to capture some of the light and shadows beginning to form.  The bits were either scrubbed out and outlined with their tiny shadows in a dark brown, or later, when dry, lightly touched with a Watercolor pencil to lighten some of the surfaces on the bits to catch the sunlight without disturbing the paint underneath. 

I have enjoyed painting in the background shadows between the garden rocks.  I make sure I do just some of the areas at a time and then for a change of pace move on to other parts of the painting.  That way I can ensure that the shadow patterns and shapes don't all look the same. After doing the rocks so close up for too long a period one can lose their perspective all to easily. 

I mentioned in my last post that the flowers in the pot may have to be minimized and put into shadow to avoid their commanding too much attention away from the Kale.  Well I have started to neutralize their colors preparing them for the shadows as you can see in the photo below.  I have also darkened more of the background on the left side of the garden as well and teased out the green paint to show emerging leaves from the shadows.  I've added a little more of the gorgeous burgundy colors into the center of the Kale.  So it is really developing nicely.  I can hardly wait now to start working on the rusted inner bowl of the Cream Separator as well as the sidewalk and doors leading into the Trading Post on the right side of the painting.

Cropped Kale Watercolor by Jan Howlett Stage 5 photo
Until next time, happy painting.

The Trading Post No. 4

November 2, 2014
 Hi All Artist Hearts,
Time for an update on the Trading Post Kale garden. 

Watercolor The Trading Post Stage 4 by Jan Howlett
As you can see the painting has progressed with many more layers of rich color and detail, not only in the planting soil in front of the Kale and the earth in between the garden stones, but also inside the edges of the Kale leaves and parts of the antique Creamer Separator.  

The blue reflection of both sky and the blue Kale is quite prominent at this point, but will be toned down considerably as the Creamer is closer to completion. Each element is beginning to take on the appearance of rounded, three dimensional form and is coming forward in the piece nicely.  

I decided to paint on a small amount of masking fluid on the upper finely pointed Kale leaves until I have the dark background painted in in order to save the crisp tiny ruffles on those leaves.  Keeping those edges sharp will help push the Kale forward as it becomes my center of interest. 

I have started blocking in the background shadows on the left side as well as a portion of the lower Kale leaves just peaking in from the right.  The left side of the background will change dramatically with the next few layers and will help frame and assist the eye to travel back into the picture toward the Kale. 

One thing that has become apparent with adding the background darks is that the small flower pot with the unpainted white roses is probably going to have to be almost hidden in that dark shadow or it will, unfortunately, draw too much attention away from the Kale.  It all looked wonderful in the  photo constructed composition, but not so pleasing at the moment.  It may well pose a problem more difficult than expected, so I may have to play with the idea of reducing their size and shape was well or dulling them down completely.  Stay tuned.

Here in Orillia we just had our first snow fall and the temperature has dropped with bone-chilling winds! I know it is in fact those falling temperatures that will bring out the gorgeous rich colors of the very Kale plant we are now painting, so they do have a grand side effect. A side effect that becomes delicious eye candy to the artist hungry for Jewell-like colors! But I was still waiting for Indian Summer! However, the sun is bright and cheery, so it is a perfect time to put on the fireplace and do some serious painting.  Until next time, keep inspired and your paint brushes in fine working order.  :>)


The Trading Post No. 3

October 6, 2014
HI All Artists Hearts,
Sorry for the bit of a delay in posting this stage 2.  We were able to stay a little longer at a trailer for an extended, much needed, rest and only just got back 4 days ago.  If all goes well though, I will be able to post on time this month and so you will not have an extra long wait for stage 4 since I was able to do some painting while away.

As you can see I have made significant progress on the Cream Separator with the under-washes on the main body as well as a darker layer over the legs. I have almost competed the attached cream bowl itself in the muted grey.

I did have some difficulty in the rounded part of the small bowl in the drawing itself, but didn't realize just how much I would need to reduce the size of the right hand side of it.  When I started painting in the color I was horrified to see that  it looked like it was leaning too far to the right and drawing the eye out of the picture frame.

(The Cream Separator was actually on a slight lean in the garden that day which I rather liked as it added interest, but in order to catch the depth of the warm late afternoon sun effect on the metal and the Kale the lean became exaggerated with my camera angle.  It wasn't as apparent until I started adding the color. A lesson to remember for sure!) 

I just couldn't leave it like that, so I took a risk and began to gently but firmly scrub away the unwanted paint.  It was a major undertaking not to destroy the paper in the process.  At times I feared I would have to scrap the whole piece and re-start the entire piece by redrawing the sketch. But I kept at it and after some work I was successful in rescuing the paper and able to resize the bowl as well as smooth out the scrubbed portion of the paper and left it to dry thoroughly.

Once bone dry I was able to lay in a thin layer of New Gamboge  and to my delight and relief it accepted the color beautifully.  (If you magnify your screen by pressing Control + keys together you will see the scrubbed area before the new paint layer was added. You will see it develop next posts.)  There was a lot of deep blue cast as this appliance was out in the full sun the day I photographed it, thus the use of Prussian blue  and Thalo Blue in the under wash.

I used my various scrubby brushes as well as Mr. Clean plain cleaning pad.  I had to be VERY gentle or I would have really distressed the surface of my paper.  So it was a learning challenge, but a successful job.

Next time I will have a great deal more of the painting completed for you, especially the Creamer Separator with several layers describing the smooth metal structure.  Until then keep painting and learning your craft.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!


The Trading Post No. 2

August 26, 2014
Hi All Artists Hearts,
In this second stage of 'The Trading Post' we will share a bit later about this unique and charming country store, but first let's get started with the beginning washes of color for the leaves, store doors, a bit of the flower pot rim and dark soil in-between the stones.

The Trading Post Watercolor by Jan Howlett May 2014

The starting point on this complex sketch was fairly daunting so I chose the more simple and obvious larger leaves of the Kale to begin my first few under washes to help me get my bearings. Start simple and grow into the more difficult areas when faced with something daunting, or if you feel your task has become overwhelming. Baby steps at first lead to bigger, more confident steps along the way.

It was exciting to start setting up my palette choosing the various blues that most closely resembled the colors in my resource photo taken in the early Fall of 2009 with a warm mid afternoon sun.  Although I will be custom mixing many of the colors, I will also be using tube colors from some of my favorite brands as seen below.

How beautiful to instantly see the beginning effects using even one layer of color from part of my Windsor & Newton collection including Cerulean Blue (I still have a little of the original pigment from years ago! :>), Phthalo Blue, Prussian Blue, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Indigo, Payne's Grey Bluish,
a touch of Antwerp Blue, Alizarin Crimson Permanent, Violet, Quin Rose, and a few prized Schmincke colors of Brilliant Purple, Aureolin Modern Yellow and Indian Yellow Translucent Orange, Magenta and Purple Magenta, all coming together. I will also be using some Holbein dark greens (Compose Green & Shadow Green) as well as my regular green mixes.

I couldn't wait to get started on the white
garden stones as well and started with the soil in between the stones to see the effect I would get by mixing the earth tones using Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Sepia and Van Dyke Brown with some of the blues.

My Brushes: For this painting I'm using a No.2 & 6 Billy Showell pure Kolinsky Sable, and my Silver Black Velvet brushes, a blend of natural squirrel hair and black synthetic filament, in a No. 8 Round and a 3/4" Oval. Both types of these natural hair brushes give me excellent coverage, control of paint flow, providing beautiful crisp and soft edges.

My Scrubbers: DaVinci scrubber No.4, (part of Susan Harrison-Tustain's Signature Set) a more gentle brush for flat areas on the Kale leaves when needed, a tough Fritch No. 6 for some of the tiny white dots characteristically seen on Kale leaves, and finally an Imagia 1/4" firm fabric paint brush as a thin edged scrubber for the circular rim highlights on the Cream Separator and possibly the flower pot.

That is it for the tools and paints that I will be using for the most part.  Our next post will see good progress in this piece along with perhaps a few notes on any changes or adjustments that were needed.

If you ever get a chance to visit Port Perry, Ontario don't miss the Trading Post Quality Foods Farmer's Market.  You will not be disappointed. See  http://www.tradingpostqualityfoods.com/

It boasts of 7,000 square feet of charm and yummy foods and a petting zoo for the old and young alike.  Known for being the largest selection of gourmet & specialty foods fresh and frozen in the area since 2002. Truly a refreshing rest stop on a long trip when you need to stretch your legs or just browse the gift shop.

Until next time stay inspired, paint what you love and visit a country Farm market near you for some great ideas. And while you are there take some photos or do some thumbnail sketches for your next painting. :>)



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