Liz Clayton Fuller Watercolor Workshop

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9”x12” on Hahnemuhle bamboo watercolor paper.

I took an online watercolor workshop by artist Liz Clayton Fuller that was offered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It sped by, and at the end I had completed painting a female Belted Kingfisher. I haven’t used watercolor much in the past several years, so I was pleased with the end result although my brush skills are pretty awful.

Although I mixed and mixed blue, I never got the slightly green, slightly brassy color I wanted.

I’ve never done an online class before, and I have a feeling it was huge. By the time I registered, there were over 300 others who had already signed up. Before the class started, I sketched the bird to get a feel for it, and I also did a sampling of my palette to remember what colors I had available.

I have a combination of Daniel Smith (tubes and sticks) and M. Graham watercolors. By far my favorites are Daniel Smith watercolor sticks. Such bright, pure pigments. If I ever return to watercolor painting, I’ll switch over to those.

Approximately 7”x10” on Arches hot press watercolor paper.

The next day I did a very quick watercolor sketch of the same image, trying to recall the basics from the lesson. Lots of light layers lead to a dimensional effect was what I came away with. It’s a good test of my patience. This image was a bit more cute than the other. I prefer the one I completed during the class, but it was a good challenge to try it again.

American Tree Sparrow on Claybord

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6”x6”, ink on Ampersand Claybord

Once again, I drew a bird on Claybord using ink (mostly fountain pens and Faber Castell Pitt Pens) and scratchboard techniques. This time, it’s an American Tree Sparrow, one of my favorite backyard birds.

I sprayed several coats of Spectrafix Final Fixative and then poured Natural Glass Varnish over it. When it comes to pouring, I’m a novice. I found it’s easier to tape the panel to a plastic cup so I can hold it and tilt it this way and that while pouring the varnish. I catch the excess in a container. This method creates a fairly thick layer, and it takes about five or six hours to dry. I always find some dust particles in the surface, but if I truly minded, I’d sand it and do another coat.

I tried to replicate the lighting from one day to the next to show the difference between unvarnished (left) and varnished (right), but it was a little darker today, but the color is a bit richer overall. The end result has a light gloss which I love.

Goldfinch on Claybord

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6”x6”, ink on Claybord

I’m so pleased with this one, not because I like the image—I think the bird is a wee bit wonky—but because I varnished it and it turned out great. I reached out to the Spectrafix company and asked about some of their products and also asked what I could do to diminish brush marks when using Natural Glass. Delia wrote me back with a variety of thoughts, one of which was pouring the varnish instead of brushing. I gave it a try (over three coats of Final Fixative) and held my breath and it worked! I’m very happy with having this option for finishing these Claybords so I can frame them without glass.

Categories: Art Ink

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