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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 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 enjoy 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 3.  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. :>)

The Trading Post No. 1

July 29, 2014
Hi All Artists Hearts,
Face Book clues were "purple, antique, strange frills, trading post & Port Perry".
Anyone guess what the series would be about?  Well, it's all about a stunning decorative Kale I once discovered while visiting the Port Perry Trading Post years ago!

So as promised we are beginning a brand new Watercolor series today entitled, "The Trading Post".  As usual we will begin with my original sketch for this new painting.  It has taken me weeks to decide what elements to include, leave out or change altogether, and a further month to draw the decorative Kale in this composition.  I was going through my reference photos and found this picture taken way back in September 2011.  On and off I have played with the idea of painting it.  I just couldn't resist any longer.  So here we go!

The Trading Post Sketch by Jan Howlett Stage 1

As you can see this is a very complicated sketch, but that was the new challenge for me because I needed to include many of the details, more so than usual, so that I could find my way within each Kale leaf within the drawing. Even so, many times I lost my way in drawing the sketch, but even worse, especially as the painting progressed, it often became difficult to distinguish between what was a frill and what was clearly a dark
interior shadow space. So my reference photo was a life saver. Even with this much detail I will still have to define and re-define some areas as I go along.

(In fact, if you tap your Control button and your + button at the same time, several times, you can enlarge your screen and see just how confusing the frills get!)

However, as I began to paint in the first few layers of paint for the frills and shadows I began to find that I had taken a wrong turn in several places.   I soon discovered that the frustrating process of re-creating the drawing on the fly became a bit too nerve racking and filled with questions.

Question like, "If I take the drawing this way, then that will effect this part of the drawing. If I scrub the last color out will it take it back enough to repaint the area successfully?  By doing so will I damage the paper or dull the underlying veil of color too much?"  It was like playing a very tricky game of Chess, fearful that I would make a fatal error and forfeit the game, or the painting in this case,  all together.

The best thing I could do in those moments was to put the painting aside and study the entire composition long and hard before making any further decisions on how to advance.  It meant being inventive and very patient. It was important to make sure the bones of the painting were securely in place before moving onto the more exciting layers of adding beautiful color and details!

I must admit there were a couple of times I really thought I had ruined the piece for all together, but those times of setting the painting aside to study it always helped me to see a way to rescue it. So the challenge was constant, but with perseverance and relying on the lessons and experience previously learned I was able to rescue many of those troublesome areas and grow in the process. 

Looking back would I do things differently? Yes for sure. I learned some very valuable lessons while doing this study and I will try to pass along some of them with you during this series,
whether it be a flawed sketch technique, or working on the rust inside the bowl of the Cream Separator, the myriad of white garden stones, potting soil, small roses taking too much attention from the Kale, or the difficult center leaves of the Kale itself.  We will try to cover as many of these topics as we can in the time allotted for this series.

Until next time stay inspired and paint what you love. Be always learning.




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