Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Come see me during the studio tour!

The annual Chester County Studio Tour is now less than 2 weeks away -- May 19 and 20. There are 5 artists in my studio, a combination of old and new friends: Karen Frattali, Jeanne Bruneau, Sarah Baptist, Catherine Quillman, and me.


On Saturday we will have a special event at our studio from 6-8 pm, with door prizes and a light supper buffet. I hope you will come out and join us for this event.


Also, my studio has partnered with 6 neighboring studios to create a special tour passport. Download and print this passport and fill it out on the tour for a chance to win original artworks from the participating studios!

posted by Annie Strack @ 7:35 AM   0 Comments

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Testing New Watercolor Papers from Hahnemühle!

I recently received a new paper to try out from Hahnemühle USA, the Harmony 140 lb. cold pressed block. The best way I know of to test new paper is to put it through all the paces -- heavy washes, lifting, masking fluid, and other forms of abuse that I inflict upon my paper in the course of creating a painting. Here's a step by step tutorial of my koi painting, and a review of the paper in the process.

The Harmony 140 lb CP watercolor block from Hahnemuehle. 


Here's my drawing of koi with masking fluid protecting parts of the paper. I also outlined the koi with a thin line of masking fluid to allow me to work the background really wet and control the flow of water better. The masking fluid reserves the white of the paper, and the thin outline helps to keep my heavy wet washes from running out of control.

I used a variety of dark colors for the backgound, and a lot of palette mud, too. You can see from the puddles and sheen how wet the paper still is at this point. While the paper was still damp, I splashed a few drops of water onto it to create a few tiny spots of blooms. 

Next I painted my lightest values on the fish, the yellow colors. Notice my background wash is still wet -- I used a lot of water!

Here I added my medium values to the koi, namely the orange and red colors -- cadmiums, vermillion, quinacrodone rose, violet, and a little sepia for the darks. Notice how light the background appears in this photo, compared to the previous photo? That's because it is now dry. I used a lot of water to create the background, and the more water you use, the lighter the watercolor paints will dry. Adding water to watercolor paint is akin to adding white paint to oils or acrylics -- it lightens the colors. 

More dark values are added using ivory black, sepia, indigo, and violet to create form and roundness to the fish. The masking fluid comes off easily, revealing perfectly preserved paper on which I can now paint.  

The koi have a freckled appearance to them, which I added with my darkest colors of ivory black. I scrubbed and lifted some areas that I had previously painted, to show some of the lighter patterns in the fish's colors.  

And finally, this is my finished painting of the koi. 
The Harmony paper from Hahnemuehle responded beautifully, and held up perfectly despite my abusive painting techniques. It naturally buckled under my heavy washes, but then dried flat. I really gave it a workout and didn't expect it to perform as well as it did, and I was pleasantly surprised that the paper far exceeded all of my expectations. The texture is quite nice, slightly toothy. The paper is surface sized and the amount of sizing appears to be quite generous, giving that the amount of water that I used and the lifting techniques all worked quite well. The color is soft white -- not overly bright, but no hint of any yellow or cream color. 

This paper is new, and is currently available at Art Materials Online. It will be available at other retailers soon. 
Keep up with all of Hahnemuehle latest products by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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posted by Annie Strack @ 3:47 PM   1 Comments

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Plein Air Painting Workshop, May 7

There are only 2 spaces left in my plein air painting workshop at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. All of my workshops have sold out for the next several months, so this is your last chance to get in a workshop this spring!

Students will learn how to break through the confusion of choosing a plein air painting subject, and learn how to plan a landscape composition by eliminating distractions and focusing on their subjects. They will learn how to capture light and shadow in their paintings, and how t o see the landscape in simplified shapes of color and values. They will learn how to mix colors with limited palette, and depict a variety of perspective techniques to create depth and dimension in paintings. We will cover how to sketch quick values studies, and add buildings, architectural elements and gestural figures to the landscape to create drama and interest in paintings. A variety of techniques will be demonstrated, and students will receive lots of hands on individual instruction and critique.

posted by Annie Strack @ 5:27 PM   0 Comments

Monday, April 9, 2018

How to make a quick and easy shelf for a watercolor easel!

Many watercolor artists paint flat -- using a table to paint upon rather than an easel. I prefer to use an easel, and I like a watercolor easel because it allows me to tip the painting flat when I'm laying in a wash, and tip it vertically for other techniques. The drawback to these easels is that there isn't anywhere to place a palette and other supplies-- so a table is still needed.

I came up with a new idea for an attachable easel shelf, that's simple and easy to make. And really inexpensive!

This is a wire closet shelf. It is 12 inches deep, and I cut it to 16 inches wide. I choose that size because it is the same size as a 12x16 block of watercolor paper, so it will be easy to pack it with my blocks when I'm traveling. 


It is simply hung on the bracket screws on the easel's legs. The bracket screws are made to hold the canvas shelf (aka stabilizer shelf). My easel has two pairs of these brackets, and I hung my new shelf on the lower pair. My canvas shelf is right above it, on the other pair. 

This photo shows how the shelf rests on the easel. I added a larger washer behind each of the screws to help hold it more securely, but it really didn't need it. The two parallel horizontal bars of the shelf are what is holding it flat against the legs, and keeping the surface of the shelf level. The vertical connectors between the horizontal bars are spaced 12 inches apart -- the perfect width for bracing against the screws.

Want to learn more? Watch this short video for the full details on how to make and attach this shelf! Not sure how to attach it with only one pair of bracket screws? Watch the video to see how it can be secured with a bungee, instead. 



And here's another wire shelf. I found a small stack of these at the Habitat re-store, already cut to 16 inches wide and ready to hang. Best of all, they were priced at a buck a piece. Absolutely perfect.


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posted by Annie Strack @ 8:39 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, March 31, 2018

new workshops and classes!

I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Charleston, South Carolina, where I taught an advanced watercolor painting workshop. My students finished 3 paintings in this workshop, which was hosted and organized by my friend Helen Beacham.



Helen is an extraordinary artist, and after my workshop we spent a day playing with alcohol inks in her studio. I enjoyed trying out this fun new medium, and will add it to class line up soon! 


Some of my students holding up some of the paintings we finished in my workshop.


 Helen also took me out to see all the sights and sounds of the low country, and we toured Charleston, the nearby plantations, the marshes, and the waterfront. I had a blast, and I'm looking forward to going back again next year to teach another workshop!


posted by Annie Strack @ 1:58 PM   0 Comments

Sunday, March 11, 2018

When is it time to move beyond beginner level?

Something I tell my students all the time! 
Don't be afraid to use up your art supplies. When you've completely gone through your first set of paints and brushes, you will have practiced painting enough to move on to more advanced work. If you're not using up your supplies, then you're just not painting enough. You will never graduate from the level of Beginner if you never use up your materials.  

Sometimes my students are frustrated that they haven't attained artistic genius after one workshop, or after taking one semester of instruction. I have to remind them, that if they are still using the first set of student grade materials that they've ever bought, then they are still students. Use up those paints! When you've painted so much that you need to replenish all your paints at least once, you can move on to intermediate. 

posted by Annie Strack @ 4:05 PM   0 Comments

Sunday, March 4, 2018

floral paintings from my recent class

My winter semester classes are over and I have a couple of weeks to rest up before I head off to Charleston, South Carolina, teach my next workshop. Here's a few photos from my class last week,

Floral HP 2, 12x9 watercolor, $85. 
 Another one of my demo paintings, a watercolor floral on hot pressed paper.  I introduce my students to the different paper surfaces by having them paint the same subject, techniques, and styles on each of them. Scroll down to see a few of their floral paintings from my class...




Tomorrow I'm heading over to the Chadds Ford Historical Society to pick up my paintings from the plein air exhibit that just closed. I've happy that several of my paintings were sold, and I don't have much to pick up! This painting of the Hwy 1 Junction road sign is still available!
Route 1, 8x10 oil on board, $195.

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:03 PM   0 Comments

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Spring is in the air! Well, almost.

Last weekend we had 3 inches of snow here at the studio, then mid week temps rose all the way up into the 80s, and now this weekend it's raining and in the 40s. I'm more of a summertime type of gal, and I pine for the palms and beaches of my youth.

In my watercolor class this week, I gave my students hot pressed paper to work on as we painted florals. My students usually work on cold pressed paper, and in a previous class I had given them rough paper for this same subject. The lesson incorporates how paper absorbency and texture affects results, and my students love trying out the different papers and comparing them. This is one of my demos from class.

12x9 watercolor, hot pressed floral #1, $135.

This is one of the paintings that I did in the Chadds Ford winter plein air earlier this month. I painted this on the coldest day and stayed my my car in the parking area of Kuerner Farm, overlooking the meadow behind the barn. The transmission lines that cross the farm and run through the middle of Chadds Ford are as iconic as Kuerner Farm itself, and instantly recognizable by anyone who is familiar with the area. This painting is watercolor on canvas -- because I didn't want to use oils inside my car. 
Power Lines, 8x10 watercolor on canvas board, $195.

posted by Annie Strack @ 9:34 AM   0 Comments

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Valentine's Day Surprise

I got a wonderful surprise on Valentine's Day when I found that I was the featured artist on American Watercolor Weekly! They did a lovely profile on me and published several of my latest paintings. Click on American Watercolor to read it, and click Here to Subscribe to receive a free online subscription to this marvelous publication.

My students in my winter semester classes studied the techniques to paint glass last month. Here's one of my quick demos from a recent class.

And here's another quick demo from one of my earlier classes.

I was amused to see another teacher try to copy my lessons, based on my photos that I posted to Facebook. I didn't post many photos of my demo in progress and I didn't explain my painting process in detail in my posts, so the knock-off lessons do not produce the same great results that my students get in my classes.

Be sure to choose the right teacher and don't waste your time and money on copycats. Click on my CALENDAR page to see my schedule of upcoming classes and workshops.

This month I'm exhibiting my plein air paintings at the Chadds Ford Historical Society. This winter event was limited to 20 artists, and the top plein air artists from around the country vied to get juried in. Be sure to stop in and see the paintings, through the end of this month.



posted by Annie Strack @ 11:55 AM   1 Comments

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Winter Plein Air in Chadds Ford

I've been painting away during the Winter Plein Air event hosted by the Chadds Ford Historical Society. The opening reception was last night, and tons of paintings quickly sold. There are still plenty of gorgeous paintings remaining on display and for sale at the Barn on Creek Road through the end of March. 
On the last day of the event, artists were allowed to paint from inside the Brandywine Museum of Art. Here I am, with with my painting buddies Randall Graham and Yvonne Mucci. 

Every time I go out to paint I run into someone I know! It was wonderful to meet up with N. Taylor Collins at the museum!

Jerry's Artarama of Wilminton, Delaware, provided all the plein air artists with a wonderful swag bag of awesome goodies!
It was so cold and windy on Friday that I stayed in my car to paint. 

My painting of the Brandywine River.
I taught a class on Thursday morning, so I got a late start on the plein air. My first painting was this oil of the Route 1 junction sign, right in front of the historical society.
This painting was the first to sell, and I forgot to get a good photo of it before it was gone. 

posted by Annie Strack @ 7:03 PM   0 Comments

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