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, March 30, 2011


Some might call this “paint by number” and they would probably be right! But I am enjoying the challenge to get the colors similar to what is in the photo. This is not photorealistic (like Jacqueline Gnott or Laurin McCracken)  but as close as I’m able to get! I thoroughly enjoy these detailed paintings. Maybe because I can paint a small area and while it’s drying I can start dinner or switch the laundry and by the time I’m back the painting has dried enough for me to continue working.
Another layer of paint over the words.

More work on the cans.  I decided to do the labels first since they are so detailed, and then I’ll do the cans all together and then I’ll mix up some black for the lettering and labels.

I have never done a painting this detailed before. I even had to buy a “0” round brush for all those little spaces and letters!
I enjoy seeing this painting come to life!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


These cans were set up on an old table in a dining area and the colorful labels caught my eye. It was a revelation to me that they had canned goods “back in the day”! (This is the source of the painting’s name). I’ll have to do some research on this! So this painting captures both a happy memory and a little slice of history in a colorful way!
I applied the miskit on the words, which took several hours! I used the miskit since I want to remove the graphite before I apply the last layer of paint to the background. When I remove the miskit it will take off most of the graphite and then I can erase any residual before I apply that last background layer.

I put on a few layers of green and blue over the background.
Then I began layering on browns in the table area.

Then I started on the cans.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


We always have a reason to create a painting and viewers want to know that reason. If you follow this blog you know that I have painted some still lifes which incorporate items left to me by my mother and grandmother; simple items that, while not worth much monetarily, have sentimental value for me. I’m told that those paintings tell a story and go beyond just seeing the objects. If so, that’s great, but I don’t usually paint with a deep psychological bent; I just paint things that have meaning for me and if that comes through to the viewer, all the better.

This particular painting is one of what I hope to be a series of paintings from my trip to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky last year with Rhonda Carpenter and another friend. (To see another painting composed from that trip go here .  It was the first time we had traveled together so I was a little concerned how it would work out. Turns out there was no cause for concern – the three of us had a blast! – and I got some decent photos to work from.
Here are the cans drawn out - the edges were taped so that when I added the words I wouldn’t accidentally trace them over the cans.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Just a quick shout out to my “followers”.
Each time I see another name go up on the sidebar I get a little smile on my face and a chuckle – makes me happy to think that someone wants to “follow” me!
I usually think I need a sign on the back of my car (or pinned to my shirt) that clearly states NOT to follow me or you are soon going to be lost or headed for the longest line in the supermarket!

However, Followers, now I’m going to tell you that I know something about all of you!
“How can that be?” you are probably asking.
Well, I know for sure that you are highly intelligent folks who appreciate good art and enjoy a good laugh now and then!!
See, I told you I knew something about you!
So, thanks to you, my Followers!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I received some favorable feedback on the watercolor pencil lighthouse tutorial!

So . . . . let me know if you created a watercolor pencil painting as a result of this series of posts! 

You can either email the info to me in the form of a small resolution photo and I'll post it, or you can send me a link to the painting on your blog.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I added some red stripes to the flag – and noticed that the tree on the right had bled into the lighthouse.
Once again I used the scrubber brush to lift that paint – see below.

After the paper had dried, I reapplied the green more carefully to sharpen up the edge of the lighthouse. I also added the blue to the flag. When that dried I used the gray pencil for the flag pole.
Then I added the lines of the blocks with the black pencil and then went over the lines with a damp brush to soften them.

I lifted out some “waves” on the water and checked the picture. I added some darker blue/green at the base of the trees – and called it DONE!

Please don’t be too critical of my work here – remember, it is aimed at *Newbies!

Hope you had fun seeing this little picture completed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I decided to combine two colors to create the roof color. I believe I used a burnt sienna and the red for the color on the left; not sure what I used for the color on the right, but that was too pink.

The colors were scribbled on top of each other and then water was brushed on.

I colored in the chimney and then used the black pencil for the windows and lighthouse markings. I wet the tip of the black pencil and colored in the black areas, then went over the right side of the lighthouse with a damp brush and blotted to lift some of the black.
I sharpened the pencil for the smaller area at the top of the lighthouse, and used an ultra fine Sharpie marker for the small black lines.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I’m ready to put some shadows onto the buildings, so I’m using the gray pencil again. Above I am wetting the tip and below you can see that I have colored in some small shadow shapes. They look a bit dark because the color is more intense when you draw with a wet tip.

Above, I have painted over the shadow shapes with a wet brush . . . .
And below I have blotted those areas with a tissue to lift some of the excess paint.

Above, I have used the gray pencil on the lighthouse. This time I have colored a line slightly off center, and then wet it with the brush and pulled the color out on either side of the gray line.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I used a drybrush technique over some of the grass area.
*Newbie Alert – drybrush is a misnomer. Your brush isn’t really dry, it’s just slightly damp. To create the drybrush effect in watercolor, you can dip your wet brush into paint, then take a tissue and hold it to the base of your brush, absorbing most of the water in the brush, then swipe across your painting using the side of your brush. Alternatively, you can wet your brush, then wipe it with a tissue to absorb most of the water, then dip it into fairly dry paint and swipe across your painting using the side of your brush.
On this painting I wiped my brush across the tip of a wet w/c pencil and then swiped it across the painting.
While the tape was still on, I darkened a few spots in the trees adjacent to the lighthouse; then I removed the masking tape. Sometimes when you remove a resist, it lifts the pencil marks, so you may have to go back over some of the shapes on the buildings or the rings around the lighthouse at this point.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


But look what I discovered when I lifted that green spot – a long, straight line on the bottom of my cloud. YUK. Again, guess I’ve ruined the painting, since you can’t correct watercolor.
Oh – but wait, didn’t we just learn that “oh yes we can”!
Here is where the scrubber brush will come in handy.
*Newbie Alert – scrubber brushes are stiff bristled brushes specifically manufactured to scrub over watercolor paper and lift paint. I like to call them “nudge-er” brushes, since I like to gently nudge the paint into lifting rather than doing what the term “scrub” implies, which is a harsh abrading of the paper. And I will always try to “scrub” the area with a soft brush first so as not to damage the paper. If that doesn’t work, then I go to a scrubber brush.

Both of these are true scrubber brushes, the left one very round, the other more of a filbert shape.

Here you can see the tips better.
*Newbie Alert - the proper way to “scrub” is to wet the area you want to remove and allow the water to sit a few seconds to begin soaking into the paper. In this photo, you can see the shine of the water on the paper.
Then take your wet scrubber and gently rub small circles over the offending paint. Then gently blot with a tissue. The paint should be removed.
Here you can see the hard line has been softened at the bottom of the cloud.

I will go through the same process on this hard line at the top of the cloud.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Ooops – well, look what I did – got green paint on my finger and then laid it down in the sky. Guess this painting is ruined, since we all know that “you cannot make corrections to watercolor”!
Or – can you?? Look below – now you see it, now you don’t!
Wow, must be magic!
Sorry to burst your bubble – but it’s not magic!
I simply took a wet tissue and wiped it over that green spot – and lifted it right off!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I colored in various shades of greens, yellows and browns for the grass area.

Then I used my flat brush to go over the area with water.
Here it is after the first colors had dried.

I decided that the area needed more depth, so I added some darker greens in some areas.
I wet those areas and blended them into the rest of the green.

*Newbie Alert - Here is a close up – you can see how some of the area at the bottom of the painting feathered up – that is called a “blossom”. A “blossom” occurs when the painting is beginning to dry and then you add more wet paint (in this case, more water). The dryer, yet still wet, area of the painting acts like a sponge and draws the wet paint (water) into it, creating an odd edge effect in the paint. Sometimes blossoms are good, sometimes bad, but this one didn’t bother me, I think it has a grassy effect.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Next, the beach and trees.

I used some yellow and some raw sienna for the base color, coloring them over each other. Then I wet a brush and painted water over the sand area.

To create a “sand” effect, I took a wet toothbrush and rubbed it over the tip of the w/c pencil to pick up some color, and then “spritzed” it onto the paper over the sand area.
*Newbie Alert – I hold the toothbrush with my 4 fingers on top, and use my thumb to pull against the bristles, which causes the paint to spray off the brush. You will want to practice doing this until you get the hang of it.
You also don’t want to hold the toothbrush directly over the painting or you can get big “globs” of water-y paint to fall onto your painting. Instead, hold your painting up at an angle and hold the toothbrush in front of it; the spray will go onto the painting and any water-y globs will drip harmlessly onto the table.

As you can see, I got some “overspray” onto the grassy area, which didn’t bother me since that will be painted later.
To protect your painting, you can hold your hand over the area you want to keep clean, or use some pieces of scrap paper or even tissues to cover up any area you don’t want sprayed.

Now I’m working on the trees. Obviously, I already added water to the right tree. Below you will see the left tree as I’m adding the water.
*Newbie Alert – use whatever size brush you feel comfortable using for the area you are working on. I used a 1 in. flat brush to paint in the sky and beach, but this round brush is good for the smaller tree area. I will usually rub the round brush in a circular motion for trees, but will stroke the flat brush back and forth for larger areas.

The trees completed – for now!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Those blank white clouds were staring me in the face so I had to do something with them. Using gray, you can see how I added some shapes throughout the clouds to add some shadows in them.

I added water to the gray marks I had made, but it wasn’t dark enough for me. I then took a wet brush and ran it over the tip of the pencil to pick up more of the gray directly onto my brush (see above). I then painted that gray onto the cloud shapes.

Now I think t hose clouds look a bit more realistic.