Clayboard verses paper, a watercolorist’s dilemma.

People write to me often and ask me why I paint on surfaces other than paper. Some folks have always challenged my methods because they are not traditional in nature. The use of heavy pigment at times almost straight from the tube, the use of spray fixative and of course the use of non traditional painting surfaces. First, I would mention that this is nothing new, people have been painting on gessoed masonite for over 40 years. I’m sure canvas, wood and other supports have always been available to watercolorists and have been used as well. I started painting on other surfaces for several reasons. I’ve painted on paper for more than 20 years and feeling like i was missing something, wanted to branch out. I’ve always like experimentation & now that I’m confident of my painting skills, wanted to see what else is out there for the watercolorist. There is a lot of work in the area of water media, which is exciting and fresh and not limited by the traditional restrictions of watercolor on paper. Even our state (SC) watercolor society changed their name to watermedia society and this made me realize that things were changing. The South Carolina watercolor society has always been at the forefront of new artistic avenues and being a part of it was important to me. I also found that sales of my paintings on clay board, canvas or gessoed masonite were selling for a higher price than the works on paper. These surfaces are actually easier to paint on once you learn their limitations and yet give the artist many ways to express an idea. Without having to plan ahead, and the ability to correct mistakes easily it helps the artist be more in the moment. It also allows the artist (especially the new artist) a certain amount of freedom that watercolor on paper can only do after many years of experience. I still love watercolor on paper and probably always will. It not that one is better than another but they offer the artist variety and a challenge. Also… why is it that we watercolor  artists feel we must restrict ourselves for traditional methods. Some of these methods aren’t even traditional but have just recently ( within the last 40 years) become rules. For instance the forbidden use of white paint, Turner, Homer, & Sargent all used white paint. I love the look of white paper but don’t see anything wrong with using white if the painting calls for it.

Here are three examples of very similar paintings on three different surfaces. Fom a distance they look very much the same but up close they have a slight variation in texture.  The one on the right is traditional 140 lb paper. The one in the middle is gessoed masonite and the last is illustration
(#100 )board.

DSCF2190 Gessoed masonite illustration board

watercolor paper

Ancient Ritual 117 Sold


4 by 4 watercolor on gessoed masonite…. abstract $25.00

This series explores the use of ritual in our lives to mark the passing of time and events in our lives.

I enjoyed my self doing the demo at cheap Joe’s today. I will be teaching a class there soon, email if interested in joining the class.

shipping is 5.50

“As the dogs watched”, watercolor on gessoed Illustration Board

SOLDthe-dos-watched.jpgSpecial of the Week $ 25.00 5.5 by 5.5 watercolor on gessoed Illustration board.Another small painting in my dog series. I have three dogs so I guess that why I continue to paint most of these in groups of three.


5 inches by 5 inches
watercolor on gessoed illustration board. 35.00 plus shipping

This landscape was painted with thick watercolor and very little water. The colors are naples yellow, primary red, indigo, pthalo blue and pthalo green .

“Nude” Michelle Washing


Watercolor on gessoed paper. 55.00   5 by 5 inches This is one of our models from my life drawing session I host on Saturday mornings.I gessoed the surface of some archival mat board and painted on it with watercolor. I drew her as she sat for us for one long pose.   I was able to get three drawings and this is one of them.   I brought two of them home to to paint.   Today I pulled out this small drawing  at my Tcal art league open studio  and decided it would be my daily painting.

Koi Games ll watercolor on Gessoed paper

Koi games ll NFS 5.5 by 8 inches

This morning I got up at 4:00 am so I could get everything finished. I’m working on my large painting ( see other blog at and of course I’m doing my regular daily activities . Anyway, I didn’t paint a small painting today and I decided to put this little painting up for you to see. I painted it a few days ago and I ‘ll be sending this off tomorrow to one of my collectors as a gift. I usually try to give my repeat customers a small gift of a painting or an ACEO every now and then. She purchased a number of my koi in the past and I think this painting will go well with some of her other Koi paintings.

Hope you like it!

Koi inka dink

Koi inka dink $40.00 US 6 by 7 inches

The name of this piece was suggested by a fellow artist and I’m sorry but I can’t remember who. It was during one of those times when I asked for suggestions and I received about twenty names.

This painting is is on Gessoed paper and I like the texture. How I make this texture is by spritzing the watercolor with water and wiping it off with a Kleenex. Where the spots of water fall onto the dry paint.. the kleenex picks up the color.

The Struggle

Most artists struggle. Either they can’t seem to get down their vision of what they want or they don’t know what they want, (they’ll know it, if they see it). I think this struggle is part of the process. Its too bad because of this constant push/ pull it sometimes seems not to be worth the effort. Its why some people give up doing their art. Also, I see people giving up their art because they don’t have enough buyers. Buyers equate “good artist”. No buyers (not counting family and friends) means not a good artist. This definitely is not the case.

We live in an age when people will buy a Persian rug for their dining area, cover their sofa in silks, and import tiles from Italy to decorate their home tastefully and expensively, yet these same people will have pictures of art rather original art on every wall in their house. They will pay more for a custom frame and mat then for an original piece of art. Go into any model home these days, same thing, prints everywhere. (Please, I have nothing against prints.. so don’t write me justifying your print purchases) Most from 18th and 19th century artists. I guess they feel pretty good or safe rather, that this art cannot be denied as good art. It has stood the test of time. The truth is… I think people don’t trust their own judgement when it comes to choosing art. They need someone to tell them what is good art. All they have to do is trust their inner voice that says “I love this” but they don’t trust that little voice so they listen to experts…But who? do you trust Gallery owners? Especially when they are getting 50% of the profits? Do you trust your own decorator who is going to choose a piece of art because it matches a sofa? You have to admit, even I may not pay some of the high prices for some art, especially when it appears to have been painted with a stick or a rag. People don’t like to be taken advantage of and they don’t like to admit they don’t “know” art. The other problem is a simple one, people don’t appreciate original art in the US as much as in many other cultures around the globe. Now as in the past, Art was OK as long as it was something to do as a hobby but not as a career. It isn’t real work. We have a very strong work ethic in this county and some parents often put creativity in the back seat while encouraging productive hard work, left brain thinking.

So, if we don’t buy original art and we encourage our kids to do anything but become artists, and we don’t support the arts in schools what we are we saying?

Its no wonder today’s artists may feel as though it isn’t worth the effort, that the struggle to produce good art is just that, a struggle. As an artist I’ll remind you, of a few important things.

1. Its takes a very long time to become proficient at something as complex as art.
In fact, if it were easy, would you still even want to do it?

2. Don’t take the advice from lay people. They won’t help you, even if they have good intentions.

3. Be a lifelong student, don’t plan to figure it all out right now. It really is about the journey not the destination. Its a journey for one, just you.

4. Do whatever you enjoy doing, even if no one buys it. Hey, its cheaper than therapy.

Big Sky Farm

Big sky farm

This is a watercolor on gessoed illustration board.  The size is 14 by 12 inches $50.00 $5.50 for shipping.

Its very cold here and I spent most of the day inside. I have been doing some planning for a commissioned piece…  I tried to get some ideas for the composition. I usually just do some pencil sketches for the placement of the focal point and for the structure of the painting. I also try to think of what I’ll do for the underpainting just so I can get started because as I paint my intuition will kick in & the rest will come.  I like to think about them as a cruciform or a triangle or steel yard composition to get started.. so I start with a logical idea but as I go along, I allow the piece to tell me what to paint.  This way, I use both my left and right side of my brain.  I think this makes for a better painting.  


Emerald Waters

Emerald waters  


This little painting is 5 by 5 inches and is painted in watercolor on Illustration board. I’m planning to paint a snow painting tonight for tomorrow’s painting so if your getting tire of all these fish, you can have a winter landscape for a change of pace.


KOI GREEN EYEDYesterday, I Painted this little painting while at the Tega Cay Art league. We meet once a week to exchange ideas and to work on projects. I’ve been so busy that my larger works aren’t being worked on… so I decided to take this small 6 by 9 inch piece of Illustration board.I gessoed it and painted it with watercolor.   Gesso makes it very easy to rework and all you have to do to make it stable after your finished… is to spray it with fixative.  I use a watercolor fixative which doesn’t alter the appearance.

Fantasy Koi 5″ by 7″ a koi painting a day

This painting is very cool because the viewer decides which way they would like the fish to be swimming. It looks great in all directions. dscf1952.jpg
This is painted on canvas panel which has been gessoed. 5 by 7 $50.00 Light fixative will be used to seal.

I am posting my paintings on line a bit later than usual because I’m learning and adjusting to some new software. I hope this hasn’t bothered anyone. For all of you artists that always want to know what colors I use….I painted this painting with these basic colors.
Ultramarine blue, scarlet lake, orange, deep purple, indigo and deep red.
The white is just the gessoed canvas showing thru.

“Friends” not for sale

Its raining here and when I woke up I could hear it hitting my skylight in my little studio. I couldn’t wait to brew up some gourmet coffee and get right to painting something. I’lll work on my large Koi painting today and try to get it finished. If you haven’t seen it, its on my work in progress weekly painting blog. Its last weeks painting.
This painting is a gift and will not be for sale.


“Perseverance” Koi swiming upstream

koi preserverance72
7.5 by 11 watercolor on Illustration Board. 75.00

Perseverance  just seems to  be the right word for these three fish.

These three koi I imagine them swimming upstream fighting the waters rushing down around them. They are painted semi abstractly but yet real enough that you can see that they are Koi.