Art Adventures

Posts tagged ‘gesso’

Mmmmm….strawberries.  Tangy, sweet, tender and warm-from-the-garden burst of freshness on your tongue. There’s nothing like them. It’s Strawberries from the Market today for Thirty-Dollar Thursday!

I took this photo when I went to Portland Saturday Market in March this year.  They were an early batch, for sure.  They called my name.  Yoo-hoo!  Yeah, you with the camera. Over here!

I had to snap a couple of photos in all their red deliciousness.  Here’s the one I used for my painting:


Strawberries at Portland Saturday Market

After a quick sketch of the yummy orbs (okay, okay, it’s not chocolate, but hey…it’s STRAWBERRIES!), I did a first wash:


First wash of strawberries and their neato turquoise containers

I had hooked up my video camera to do a video of the process, but alas, no battery.  I think my video-making is jinxed!  Next wash:


Adding more depth and color into the strawberries and their container

The strawberries…I can smell them!  I had fun with the final wash, because after I completely saturated the berries with Quinacridone Red, I covered the containers with plastic wrap and sprayed the berries with water. Then, I lightly dabbed the water off and lifted it back to white. When the berries were dry, I dotted them individually with flecks of red to make them appear to have seeds.  Cool, huh?


Strawberries at Portland Saturday Market. 8×8 on gessoed watercolor paper.

So here it is!  What you have all been waiting for!  My weekly Facebook Thirty-Dollar Thursday offering for you all lucky folks out there!  Buy it today, as it won’t be thirty dollars(plus shipping) again! 🙂 Follow me for more offers:  SBHansenART on Facebook.  Love to you all and enjoy your Thursday.  Maybe have a strawberry or two.  I know I will.



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Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers!  My mom is an amazing woman. Long story super-short:  She got married at 20, had 7 kids(!), lost her parents when she was in her early 20’s, was a farm wife/mother, held various jobs outside the home, then, when I left for college, she got her college degree in her 50’s, wrote a book and sold it in her 70’s and is now writing another book in her 80’s. She even learned to play a violin in her 80’s! Talk about the Beast Within…she has him and passed him to me!  Mom, you are amazing.  You are, and always have been, an inspiration to me.  So Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  This painting’s for you. 🙂

When I was a kid, growing up on a farm in Colorado, my mom would wake me up in the morning, saying, “Wake up, my little Chickadee!”  Somehow, it made the morning seem a little less morning-y.  So for Mother’s day, how about a chickadee painting?


Chickadee drawing on plexiglass. Yep, those are feathers

My brother takes amazing photos of pretty much anything.  He understands the terms F-stop and shutter speed, and somehow uses all those little adjustments and funny protruding knobs to produce photos that say what I would like photos to say but never do.  My photos look like a kid with a 110 camera…remember those?  So when I asked for a chickadee photo, he came through in spades…or birds, I guess. The above drawing is referenced from his photo.  Thanks, Brosky.

Then, while I planned out my painting, I thought, why not put feathers in the canvas?  Why not, indeed? Yep.  Feathers, three of ’em, adhered with gesso to the plexiglass.

Adding feathers to painting

Adding feathers to painting

Because I’m working full-time this week, I decided to work small. This is a 16×20, about half the size of my usual paintings.

Next, I had a coupon for Michaels, you know the 40% off any one item? I purchased the coolest die-cut thingy~!  I love it!  I went punch-crazy with 2″ circles and added them to my painting.

2-inch Die-Cut Punch Thingy

2-inch circles cut out of regular paper and tracing paper using Die-Cut Punch Thingy

I glued them on using the gesso:


Circles, adhered to the gessoed plexiglass painting

Here is a feather, already adhered to the painting.  You can see a smidge of a die-cut circle in the upper LH side of this photo, and in the above photo:



Feather, gessoed onto plexiglass, in preparation for my chickadee painting

Now, the fun begins.  A little Moonglow and Quin. Burnt Orange for the head…


Painting Mrs. Chickadee’s head

Moving on to the body with mixtures of Moonglow, Quin. Burnt Orange, and Cerulean.  Leaving all the whites alone.  No liquid mask was used in this painting:


Mrs. Chickadee body detail

I finished the bird, then started on the background.  The background needed to stay very neutral and cool, in order to recede away from the bird.  I debated on whether or not to add a building/vertical or horizontal structure behind the bird, but in the end, decided simple was best.

Detail shots showing texture:


Up-close shot of feather


Detail of one of the many circles of paper in the painting

In the end, super-cute chickadee:

Chickadee Mom, 16x20, watercolor on Plexiglass. $500 unframed.

Chickadee Mom, 16×20, watercolor on Plexiglass. $500 unframed.

Here’s to you, Mom.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Follow me on FB to get notices on special deals or ask me about owning a painting.  See you all soon.  Keep creating to feed that beast!


Last Wednesday, I asked my 18-year-old son how his day went.

“Mom, it was like this.  When I got up today it was like a cold lump of mashed potatoes plopped right on the floor.”  Huh? Since we have a dog and a cat, my mind immediately went to dog/cat poo on the floor.  Uh oh. “What do you mean, mashed potatoes?” I asked as I glanced nervously around on the floor. Turns out, he was describing how solidly unappetizing, unappealing and uneventful the day was.  I totally understood.  I had experienced a similar day.

I chose to paint four small, 8×8 inch single-chair paintings for a promotion on Facebook.  I knew I needed to paint quickly, as I had a full work week and was heading out of town to check out the Portland Saturday Market scene during the weekend.  I had a goal to get the paintings done, video and photo the steps, post this blog, send my promotion out to the folks on FB, eat right and cook decent foods for my family, buy my son a fishing license, go to school conferences, go to the Facebook seminar, exercise, and clean the toilets.  HA!  Needless to say, Superwoman I was not.  Some things fell through the cracks. Okay, a LOT of things.  Toilets were last on the list.  So they are still on the list.

So with all that on my mind, I began to muddle through the long list by beginning on drawings of four 8×8 inch paintings of single chairs:

Four Single-Chair Drawings

Four Single-Chair Drawings

I chose to paint on gessoed watercolor paper instead of plexiglass. This is a fun, quick way to paint in my same style, using scraps of watercolor paper.  I thought it might intrigue my Facebook fans and give them a chance to purchase one or a group of four for my Thirty-Dollar-Thursday FB promotion.  This might become Thirty-Dollar-Thursday-on-Friday (or Saturday…).

The gesso had already been applied, textured into with various tools when wet, and left to dry.  I drew the chairs simply onto the textured paper and applied liquid mask to the arms.  You can see that the mask is a little shiny in the photo below.  I have taped the first painting onto watercolor board to stabilize the painting while I paint and keep it from wrinkling.  Yuck, though.  Look at the yellow-ish color tint of this photograph!  Thought I corrected the color in Photoshop, but apparently I didn’t!  Anyway:

Drawing of Turquoise Chair

Drawing of Turquoise Chair, taped onto watercolor board

Below, my first wash is using my favorite Cobalt Teal watercolor paint by Daniel Smith, mixing with Sap Green and Quinocridone Rose.  All colors were super-loaded and wet.  They bleed and blend together on the paper.

First wash with Cobalt Teal, Sap Green, and Quin. Rose

First wash with Cobalt Teal, Sap Green, and Quin. Rose

Here, I had hoped to enter a video.  I’m such a newbie with video taping that it turned out pretty horrible.  Then, while I taped, using my iPhone, the memory ran out.  I finished the painting without finishing the video.  ARGH!  So you are stuck with just photos again for now. 🙂

Second Wash, deepening values and intensifying color

Second wash, deepening values and intensifying color

After blow-drying the colors dry, I went into the painting with deeper colors, letting everything bleed together and run on the paper.  Up at the top of the painting, I sprayed clear water to allow the paint to run more freely and get rid of the “deliberate” look. This was so much fun, just throwing color around on the paper. Love it!

Then, I removed the liquid mask after the paint dried. Here is a detail of the arm with the liquid mask removed.  Check out the amazing texture from the gesso coming through!

Chair arm detail showing removed liquid mask

Chair arm detail showing removed liquid mask

Now I needed to soften the arm edges using a damp brush.  In the above photo, the bottom edge has not been softened yet.  You can easily see the difference.

Softening the bottom edge of the chair arm using a damp brush

Softening the bottom edge of the chair arm using a damp brush

Above, the damp, flat brush blends the arm edge to soften it.  Easy-peasy.  Just don’t get the brush too wet.

Turquoise Chair finished. 8x8 watercolor on gessoed watercolor paper

Turquoise Chair finished. 8×8 watercolor on gessoed watercolor paper

I pulled out more detail in the chair, added a few shadows, further deepened the dark values, and spattered water in the foliage to add sparkling light. Finished in spite of all the obstacles this week.  And at the end of the day, I, too, felt it had been a Mashed Potato Day.  I felt lumpy, cold, and uninspired. So many things did not get done that I needed to do. But at least I finished this chair.  I finished only one, though. And Thirty-Dollar Thursdays did not happen Thursday…or Friday…or Saturday.  Maybe I’ll put it off till this Thursday. How about any of you? Did you have a Mashed Potato Day this week?






A breakthrough occurs!  Last weekend I had inspiration and energy to feed the beast!  And need I say time?  I actually TOOK TIME to paint. I dug out all the photos I had of Seattle’s Pike’s Place Market and selected a photo of beets that I have always loved.  The color contrast, textures, and composition called to me. Taking an old painting I had done on plexiglass, and covering it somewhat with gesso, here is my start:

Gessoed plexiglass prepared for beets painting

Gessoed plexiglass as prepared for beets painting.  Photo reference in lower LH corner.

It’s hard to tell in the photo, but the composition is drawn out in pencil on the canvas.  You can see paper collaged in squares on the canvas.  I ignored this, assuming that the squares would just add texture and interest in the surface of the painting.

Laying in colors and values during the initial wash

Laying in colors and values during the initial wash

This was so much fun.  I used a loaded 2-inch soft wash brush to lay in the initial colors and values on the canvas.  Because watercolor moves freely on a gessoed surface, colors bleed and blend in unique ways.  I had ideas to keep my whites totally clear of color and my darks, in the background, deep and colorful.  When painting on gesso, watercolor lifts easily.  It is best to move quickly and stay out of the wet paint.  It is possible to layer for depth, but with a light hand and soft brush.  The beauty of this is that you can lift back to white, or almost white, if you need to.

Almost finished. Beats and Green Beans. Watercolor on Plexiglass 21x30

Almost finished. Gonna think about it for a couple of days…

I had to sit on this painting for a day or so to decide what else needed to be done.  I had so much fun and love it!  The sign seemed a bit blah, so I changed the lettering to red.  I also ended up adding another beet in the lower LH corner, as well as added a shadow beneath the beets on the white table.  In the end, the background colors seemed to draw my eye too much, so I killed it a little with a dark, muddy wash.  Not sure if that was the best plan.

Here is the finished painting:

Finished Painting, "Beets 'N Green Beans", Watercolor on Gessoed Plexiglass. 21 x 31

Finished Painting, “Beets ‘N Green Beans”, Watercolor on Gessoed Plexiglass. 21 x 31

Why is it a breakthrough?  Because it was so much fun AND successful.  It says what I want to say:  Colors, fun, imagination, loose and free.  I love the collaged squares that come through on close inspection. Plus, it went so well, I immediately started to gesso a new plexiglass sheet for another painting!  The beast was fed on this day!!  What do you think?  Is the background better in the finished piece?  Do you like the suggestion of the beet in the lower LH corner?

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