Thursday, February 25, 2021

In the blacksmith's shop at Fort Vancouver


Many years ago I created studies in colored pencil and always intended to go back and paint it either in oils or acrylic. I never got around to this one but I was revisiting my old drafts and decided to use one of the rough drafts to create this watercolor painting. Along the way I figured out old rough drafts are like old notes... we get better over time at recording necessary bits. While I feel like there's a lot of missing relevant information for me creating it today, it was nice to close the loop on something started many years ago.
If you were able to visit the historic Fort Vancouver site today (in Vancouver, Washinton USA) you would notice sometime between when I created the rough draft and now - they decided to paint the walls white. I've seen a lot of blacksmiths shops across the country and to be honest with you I've never seen one with whitewashed walls. It would have been excessively expensive to do at the time and if it didn’t make money, they didn’t do it. So it was a conscious decision on my part to use the information I recorded thirty years ago for this piece when it was in its original state.
Because I wanted to create a sense of stepping back in time I used just two colors to create this piece - burnt umber and prussian blue. Watercolor on cotton paper.

Sunday, February 14, 2021



A long time ago I created a series of colored pencil drawings of Ft Vancouver, a National Park replica of the original fort located in Vancouver, WA. Initially I was only using colored pencils to work out my compositions before I painted them on canvas.  Along the way I found I really, truly enjoyed working with colored pencils and stopped at the drawings.  

Way back in the way back I couldn't figure out a way around the texture of the paper peeking through the colored pencil.  It is a common problem by the way - still is especially for newbies. Although small, it is a very visible imperfection - especially when the image is scanned. I tried all kinds of solutions, different papers with different surface preparations and different techniques to try to resolve the obvious problem. There was talk of using graphite to fill in the hills and valleys in the paper. It just muddied the colors. Some folks resorted to using chemicals to dissolve the colored pencils on the paper. I resisted because in my opinion they didn't offer a stable solution to the problem and there was the issue of working with toxic fumes.  My solution at the time was to work enormously large and reduce the image for prints and whatnot which reduced the obvious problem in the piece. Working in colored pencil is always labor intensive but having to work larger made it even more so.

Fast forward a couple decades and I'm revisiting the project because I happen to really like the subject matter and I've always wanted to solve the original execution problem I encountered years ago. There's an obvious work around - create a watercolor underpainting and then colored pencil.  It is by far less labor intensive than straight up colored pencil and the results are spectacular.  Once I learned about the dry brush watercolor technique I've been wanting to work in just watercolor whenever possible because it's much faster than anything in colored pencil and when done right, the dry brush technique creates similar results as a good colored pencil piece.  

So this is one of the experiments. All watercolor pigments have staining/nonstaining properties and different opacity indexes.  I am trying out my Holbein watercolors because I needed to test specifically the brown range.  I know from experience my Sennelier brown watercolor sits on the surface of the paper and I've discovered it is easy to accidentally lift it.  Handy when that's the desired technique, truly annoying when it's not.  For this image and several others I have planned I know I need to go dark as in lots of layers for a deep intense dark so I put the Holbein paint through its paces. I still have to figure out some quirks but I'm going to say so far, it worked out well.    

Monday, February 8, 2021

You might be wondering (or not) why no posts of late.

There are two real world reasons.

One is my New Years resolution. PS - I don't believe in New Years Resolutions but it happens to coincide with the start of the year so I will give it that commonly understood annual routine. Every year I review my business plan (I know, weird for an artist to say). Normally I do this in December but after 2020 I was having a hard time figuring out what in the world 2021 would look like because my crystal ball seems to be on the blink lately. Just the mention of 2020 and everyone nods in an unspoken understanding.  So I decided to focus on the nuts and bolts of the behind the scenes because there is a lot of what I had assumed was necessary overlap in tasks, often duplicating efforts on different platforms. And of course there is a natural resistance to some of this because it means letting go of something old, often familiar, in favor of new, maybe not so familiar until it's examined from the work smarter not harder paradigm. Stay tuned for the reveal to come soon.

The other is I tweaked my knee. I've been gimping around, getting utterly lousy sleep and hoping it heals without having to drag myself in to the doctor to look at it (my resistance is going where sick people go during a pandemic). The good (make that great) news is every day is better than the day before so it's on the mend and I'm getting around a lot better than I was so as it turns out it's a mere hiccup in the giddiup. Anyway, stay tuned. I'm working just as fast as I can at the moment (which admittedly isn't all the fast just yet but making progress).

Monday, February 1, 2021

New store in the St Helens area

My postcards of St Helens are now available at:

The Real Deahl Giftshop
234 N Columbia River Hwy, St Helens, Oregon