Deb Ward, GWS, OWS, PWS, WSI - WATERCOLOR/WATER MEDIA - My passion is teaching adult “beginners”. Weekly classes in my home; workshops; classes for Cincinnati Recreation Commission. My work is nationally recognized and published - see “Featured” on my sidebar. I’m a Signature Member of Georgia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana state Watercolor Societies, Cincinnati Art Club, past-President of Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society. Contact info below under “Class Information”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Here is my next try with Steve’s technique, again utilizing analogous colors, in this case thalo blue, ultramarine turquoise, sap green, rich green gold, bismuth, nickel titanate azo; quinacridone rose was added (all Daniel Smith colors).

Again, I began with the miskit pour, then poured analogous colors, then put in some darks.

Here are photos of the steps followed for this painting of an agave - some of the colors are a little "off" due to my photography skills!
Miskit pour.
First paint pour.
Second pour and miskit removed.
Completed painting above; once again, I’m happy with the result utilizing this technique.

Agave, 11x15, watercolor on Lanaquarelle 140 CP

Sunday, June 21, 2009


After the pours (see previous post), I then traced my drawing onto the paper, trying to incorporate some areas of the white miskit area into the petals, etc.
Then I began to direct paint areas to separate petals, etc. Per Steve’s method, I used the paint left in my pouring cups, rinsing my brush each time I changed color. Steve says this is a “clean” way to paint – meaning that you (a) do not contaminate your colors and (b) you do not have to use your palette.
Steve has a very unique way of using his brush – it makes me think of watching a Chinese brush painter – he tends to hold it loosely at the tip and kind of wiggles it around and gets a very neat effect with it. His brushes are sable, or sable blend, while mine are synthetic nylon, so was not sure if that would work for me, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t try! (NOTE: nope, I sure don’t have the hang of that!!!)

Some areas have several layers on them to get them darker, but the entire painting was painted with hansa yellow, quinacridone gold, quinacridone burnt orange, permanent rose, hooker’s green and pthalo blue. Up close and personal the miskit lines are more obvious, but muted. I may feel the need to darken a bit on my petals on the left side, but I’ll wait on that. Overall, I’m happy with it. I’ll let it sit on the piano for a while, allowing it to be critiqued, and perhaps make some adjustments.

Steve, if you see this, I’ll take any comments and suggestions you care to make!

p.s. Well, failed mission, since it looks like I didn’t necessarily get any looser with my painting, did I!

Memorial Sunflower, 11x14, watercolor on Arches 140 CP

Friday, June 19, 2009


Here’s my attempt to use Steve Blackburn’s technique – and modify it to my way of painting. Instead of the board I’m using Arches 140# CP, ¼ sheet – (sorry Steve, just gotta do it my way!!!) I think that you should incorporate what you learn at a workshop into your own style and way of painting – I don’t believe in copy-catting the style of another painter - just incorporate what you learn into how you paint.

If you follow this blog at all, you know that I paint with a lot of hard edges and would like to learn to get a bit softer and looser. I’m not sure what those hard edges mean about my personality – I don’t think of myself as a hard edged kind of gal (I see the “gray areas” in life, not just the black and white decisions and I like to be surrounded by soft and fluffy items) but maybe deep down I am??? Anyway . . . . .

A lot of times when I begin a painting I wet the entire paper and drop paint here and there just to get something down – I call it a “modified pour”. Then I allow it to dry naturally and find that the paper will be flat the next day – in essence I have just “stretched” the paper and at the same time I have gotten the first layer of paint down. I do not normally use the hair dryer. I am convinced that the heat sets the paper into some “hills and valleys” since it won’t dry evenly overall, and I am also convinced that the heat changes the colors of some of the paints, in particular the browns. (This is probably all in my head, but I still think drying naturally is the better way to go).

However, since I wanted to stay with Steve’s technique on this painting, I started with the miskit pour. Steve marks his paper where he basically wants things to be, so I did that, too – but I sort of cheated by laying my drawing down over the paper and then just putting some light pencil lines where the sunflower head, the top leaf and the bottom stem would be in the finished piece. Then I poured the miskit. (This miskit pour creates lines running through the entire painting, creating a unity to the piece – however, in a more organic way than John Salminen’s white shape paintings). I then allowed the miskit to dry several hours.

You can see the drawing next to the miskit pour. I could see a couple places I didn’t like in the initial pour. In particular, you will see the open areas surrounding the center of interest (the sunflower center). Those areas had been full of miskit so I “opened up” those areas by removing miskit after it dried. There were a couple other spots where the miskit had made a short, straight line, so I also removed those, along with a “blop” of miskit!

First pour - I used hansa yellow, quin. Gold and a touch of permanent rose and was happy with the result. I allowed that to dry overnight, then had a decision to make – leave the miskit on and pour some darker paints, or remove the miskit and pour again, knowing that some of the lines would be lost early on. I opted to REMOVE THE MISKIT EARLY ON (this is an inside joke, since those of you who know me know that the miskit stays on until the bitter end on my paintings!).
Then I poured some of the green areas – using hansa and pthalo blue in some areas and hooker’s green in others. You will see a light spot on the upper left that I really didn’t like,
and decided to try to get rid of it now –
but can’t really notice a big change – it was a spot of pthalo blue that went around a dry spot on the paper, but later on I may like it. I also like that I was able to keep my spot of rose clean! While this pour covered up the white lines of miskit, they are still slightly visible. I also did a quick, light spray of water in the top left for texture – Steve does this in place of salt.

So far, by pouring judiciously, I think I’ve accomplished getting some of the greens that will be leaves and background and still have a good feel for the sunflower shape.
Right now, I’m in love with the colors in this painting and could call it quits! I very rarely use greens, but for some reason I’m loving these colors!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Throughout the year I will be offering affordable weekend workshops - beginning with Watercolor Batik! (Since so many people commented on the painting I had in the GCWS show, I decided to give a workshop on that technique first).
You can request a registration form via email (see the sidebar).
I'm located just west of Cincinnati, OH in beautiful southeastern Indiana - an easy, uncomplicated drive via the local interstates - just a few minutes and 4 right turns from I-74 .
Come, bring a friend, learn a new technique and have a great time!
Hope to see you soon!

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm B a a a a c k!!

Back from my painting retreat and into the "real world" again. . . . Spent the entire day doing laundry and cleaning.

Seems that while I was away frolicking with my friends there was an "incident" in the kitchen involving the refrigerator, a TV, a jar of hot sauce, a Corningware bowl full of frozen chili and bifocals. (I do NOT make up this stuff, it really happens in my house!) I was made aware of the aformentioned "incident" last night after arriving home and getting my hand stuck to the pantry door. (Bet you didn't know that when hot sauce is exposed to the air for an unknown length of time it becomes a glue-like gelatinous substance somewhat akin to "Tacky Glue")

I also no longer revile Bill Clinton for his "define" moment. I now understand that men really do define things differently than women do. Case in point - "I cleaned it ALL up."
Woman's definition - "there is not a speck, grain, morsel, drop, sliver, shard or molecule left".
Man's definition - "some, most, part of or any portion larger than a quarter may (or may not) be gone".

But, I must remember - he did lose those bifocals!!!

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Fred the Fish has survived another week of neglect, but just barely. He was in a bad state today, apparently suffering from a lack of oxygen in his water, and it took him a while to recover after I cleaned and fed him, but he seems to have perked up.

Judging by the slime covering my arm, the dog apparently missed me too, and is glad I'm back!

* * * * *

Our yearly painting retreat is now fond and funny memories - laughter, painting, good food, walking, driving, rain, sunshine, docks, "bars", birdhouses, "hey gals" and a mean game of "Painting!" - can't wait until next year!!!
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Please click on the Richeson 75 Still Life and Floral Show - FINALLY online!!!
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Oh yeah - for those of you who care - while I was gone my car was repaired - after my husband went to "visit" the shop to see my back seat and the entire contents of my trunk laying on the floor of the shop, the car completely gutted. It was something with the fuel lines. Drove it tonight and it looks and runs fine - and smells like someone cleaned the seats!!!

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I'm out the door early tomorrow morning for my annual Painting Retreat in Tennessee. (No cell phones, no computers - just painting, eating, laughing for a WHOLE WEEK!!!!)

I've enabled the "Comment Moderation" feature while I'm gone (and maybe forever, due to Karin Juricks' dilemma).

That means you can still leave comments, they just won't be posted for a bit.

And, for those of you who are too shy to comment "for the world to see" this is a great feature (!) - go ahead and leave me a comment and just tell me if you prefer that I not post it. That way we can still communicate but only I will see your comment.

Anway - hope you enjoy your week as much as I will be enjoying mine!

Back around June 16 or so!

Friday, June 5, 2009


“It was a dark and stormy night . . . . .

That’s what my Tuesday evening was – and I was living in my own personal horror show.

It all started at 4:45 p.m. – my car was loaded and I was off to my class. Or, was I???
At 4:46 the car still had not started, then it turned over, ran very rough, and died. Tried it again, nothing.
By 4:48 I was back in the house, in a panic, getting my husband off the phone.
In the meantime I had (unknowingly) awakened my son from a nap to ask if he could drive me into the city in his truck (a Dodge Ram that I have never driven – it’s HUGE). After a short LOUD discussion through the closed bedroom door, I went back into the garage, in a total panic mode, to find that my husband had gotten the car started (and where he told me that earlier he had a problem with it – hmmmmmmmm).
By 5:00 I was on the road, admonished by my husband to call him when I got there so he knew I’d made it, and to call him before I came home. And, oh yeah, don’t stall the car! (I drive a stick shift and haven’t stalled the car in recent memory, but now, of course, all I can think of is stalling the car!!!!)
That’s when I saw that my cell phone battery was dying. After a frantic dig through my purse I came up with the plug in cord, so that crisis was averted.
After 2 phone calls from my husband and trying to locate any and all downhill routes to my destination - (try that in a city situated on hills!) – I made it to class – about 5:50.
After class, by 8:45 I had loaded my car to leave and one of the gentlemen said he would stay to make sure my car started.
After a minute or so it started – just long enough for me to give a “thumb’s up” and shut the door, at which point it died.
Try after try – it would not re-start. Ron volunteered to stay with me until help arrived.
By 8:55 or so I had called my husband and he said he would come to either start the car and follow me to the car repair or tow me.
By 9:30 or so he arrived, Ron left, and between the 2 of us (after reading the car manual in the glow of the mirror light) we managed to remove the front grill, locate the tow hook in the trunk, install same by the glow of a dying flashlight and insert a tow chain.
I said we should call AAA or leave the car until morning, but . . . .
By 9:45 the tow chain was hooked to my car and around the hitch of his truck and electrical-taped so it (hopefully) would not come loose.
I got my towing instructions – “keep tension on the chain, don’t ride the brakes, be careful not to gain on me” . . . and then, we were off. . .

. . . . with thunder rumbling and lightning flickering!!!

The panic/anxiety attack hit immediately as I was yanked and whipped around the curves of the parking lot.
By the time we got to the main road I was frantic.
By the time we started DOWN HILL I thought I was having a heart attack or stroke – my left hand and upper lip were numb, and my ears all tingly.
YANK – “SCREEEEEEEEEEM” – yoga breath, yoga breath
I finally got the cell phone open, pushed the button, put it on speaker and screamed to my husband – “stop, I can’t do this” . . . .
. . . . just as the rain started.
His calm and soothing voice assured me that, why yes, I could do this and was in fact doing great!

(Visions of scenes from “The Titanic” floated into my head).

We managed to drive a few more miles, me screaming and panting and trying like #*!! to follow him without hitting anything around me – like a silver van that I missed by an inch or so – before the rain began coming down in earnest.
By the time we got under the Interstate (in a baaaaaaaad part of town) I couldn’t even see the back of his truck, nor his lights, which were a mere few feet in front of me. This time when I began screaming he really did stop – with his truck in the rain, me up against the guardrail and partly under cover and partly in the rain.

N O O O O W my husband says we can call AAA . . . .

By now it’s 10:35 (or so I’m told by the lady from AAA who wanted to know if I was heading north or south – WHAAAAAAAAAT???) and the tow truck will arrive 45 minutes from now.
My husband (now soaking wet) went to sit in his truck and I sat in my car, having pushed back my seat and kept on my seatbelt in case some idiot decided to rear end me, even though my flashers were on.
About now it dawned on me that the reason I couldn’t see anything was because, having no power, my defroster and wipers would not work – DUH.
So I sat and waited.
Somewhat calmer now, I called a friend to ask her to call our GCWS president to tell her I would not be at the meeting the next day. Then, business attended to and my windshield clear again, I watched car after car pull over and stop behind me and next to me and up ahead and couldn’t figure out why. I thought the ones by me were just concerned about me!!! Turns out it was HAILING and they were stopping under the overpass until it quit!

Two more phone calls from the tow company – and me explaining AGAIN that I was UNDER THE EXPRESSWAY – “Oh, you’re not ON THE EXPRESSWAY????” – and, by jove, he got it!

Finally the car is on the tow truck, my husband and I are both wet, but at least I’ve calmed down by now, and we are headed up the long hill to the car dealer. . . .

. . . . in my husband’s work truck – his LOUD work truck – a rattle-y step van. With a wobbly seat. And one headlight out. And one wiper and defroster that doesn’t work. (Fortunately the wobbly seat was mine. However, the missing headlight was on his side, but the wiper and defroster that didn’t work were on my side – he could actually see out his windshield – so we were good to go).
After the car was released into the parking lot and the tow truck driver paid, I shut my eyes, pretended I was on a tropical beach somewhere, listened to the screeching and thumping of the truck and magically, we made it home – about 12:20 A.M.
Now, I’m not a drinker, but when I saw my son’s Captain Morgan on the kitchen counter I went for it – one swig. The warmth hit my throat (sore from all that screaming) and I stumbled up to bed.

By the way - did I forget to mention that my husband’s car was already in for repair, so we were now totally “car-less”??? My only options for mobility were: my son’s aforementioned Dodge Ram, my son’s souped up ’91 Mustang, 2 step vans that I can’t reach the pedals in (I’m S.H.O.R.T), a huge dump truck (which, believe it or not I’ve actually driven!), various tractors and construction equipment, a John Deere Gator or 4 cows.
So, on Wednesday, I was treated to another ride in the other step van – this one 25 years old with a door held shut with a C-clamp (but at least the seat doesn’t wobble) – to the car dealer to pick up a rental car.

We will be getting his car tomorrow – and they still don’t know what’s wrong with mine!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


One of my students just won her first art prize in a local show! She got a ribbon and $$$ and sent a very kind email giving credit to all who helped her along, me included!!

I don't think she will mind (I hope not anyway) that I'm posting her painting here! I'll keep it small (for copyright reasons).
Congratulations Susan!!!