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”

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!


RHCarpenter said...

Hey hey!! Once you get that sunflower done, come on over and help me paint on my door!! It's more fun to paint with a friend, right?!? I'll make iced tea or mint juleps and will be happy to share a panel with you :) hee hee I like those greens, too, and I'm not a big fan of greens.

Vicki Greene said...

Thanks for sharing this. Looking good!

debwardart said...

Vicki - thanks - more to come soon!
Rhonda - sounds like a plan - and forget the iced tea - if I'm painting a door in this heat it will have to be mint juleps!

Chris Beck said...

This is really neat, Deb!! As a hard-edged control freak, I always think about trying stuff like this but then I succumb to my natural impulses and that's the end of that. I'll be watching with great interest to see what you do with this.

Cindi said...

whoa.. this is looking gooooooooooood!! have seen his work and was amazed by it, love the demo.. will be back to see the finish.. thanks for sharing!!

debwardart said...

Chris and Cindi - the finish for this will be coming in a day or two, then watch for more! I'm really enjoying painting with this technique.

Buckeye said...


You can view the finished (I think?) version of the sunflower I began in Steve Blackburn's workshop by going to my blog:
I have done another painting wiht his technique too, which I will post soon. My blog is brand-spanking new and I have lots of work to do on it yet - still learning. I love the poured miskit technique though, and am also adjusting it to make it my own, as the second painting will show.

Kathy Wirth

debwardart said...

Hi Kathy! Welcome to the blogging world - stop by often! (You and me both have a lot to learn!)
Love your sunflower - can't wait to see the next one!