Daniel Smith Watercolor: Moonglow

Without a doubt my favorite watercolor is Moonglow by Daniel Smith. I hesitate to even admit this because once you know you’ll see how much I use it in all my paintings. Sometimes I have to reign it in because I use too much. 


As you can see in the picture above there are two colors that comprise Moonglow. There is a blue pigment and a red pigment. Together the create a lovely purple, but in washes they separate a bit. When this happens the blue granulates in a really attractive organic way. 


In Half Baptism you can see the range you can get from this color. The darkest part of the hair would be the mass tone (the almost undiluted color). You can see the lighter values in the flesh and back ground in the bottom half of the composition. Moonglow works as a great shadow tone in realistically colored flesh too. You can see it in the facial hair and in the curve of the nostril. 


In Broken Vessel you can see that I used moonglow extensively in the shadowy half of the figure. Even from the picture you can see that granulation that gives a natural unevenness that really works well in flesh. Moonglow is perfect for a white shadow. Everyone knows white shadows are never grey. I think Moonglow keeps a really fresh shadow that communicates the idea of a pure white. Its also great because even though you are using one color from the tube you are actually getting two pigments that mingle together that create many colors. 


Detail from “e19″ by David Castle

Moonglow isn’t a color I would have ever thought to buy. A while back I was reading David Castle’s blog and he outlines his favorite colors. I had a a few extra bucks that were burning a hole in my pocket so I purchased Moonglow and Undersea green, which Daniel Smith says are complimentary hues. 

Look how pretty the metallic copper looks mixed with moonglow. I need to try that!

Doing what you Love

Doing What You Love  15x22 Watercolor on Paper

Doing What You Love 15x22 Watercolor on Paper

You probably know that I own my own business, GeeBerry Art Studio. As a business owner I end up having a lot of the same conversations with various people at networking events and during classes. One of the things I really hate when people say is something along the lines of "Its so cool you get to do what you love every day" It annoys the crap out of me because thats what I thought I would get to do, but the things I like doing (making art, lesson planning, and teaching) make up a tiny percentage of what needs to be done. These people who say the "do what you love" thing don't give me any credit for what I really do with the bulk of my time. So yeah my "dream job" consists of taking phone calls, and if you've ever worked in customer service you will know how frustrating that can be, answering emails, paying bills, keeping my financial spreadsheets (ok I like doing this one a little), keeping the studio clean, researching competitors and other businessy stuff. Seriously give me credit for having a real job with sucky parts just like everyone else's. 

So thats where the title originates, but the piece more broadly represents my huge frustration with having a start up business. There is one question that dominates my life right now: How can I get people to pay for my service? I have never owned a business before and I don't really know what I'm doing or what to expect. I have no idea if I'm on the right track or not. Its extremely frustrating and stressful.

So I'll just add this to the list of paintings that qualify as visual complaining.  


I need the Daniel Smith Primatek collection! Look at all that granulation in all those great earthy tones!


What makes these colors really cool is that they are made from minerals. There are colors made from tiger’s eye, sodalite, lapis lazuli and other rocks. 


Its not a super practical buy for me because I’ve got a good color palette going on, but the romanticism of painting with something taken from the ground is really enticing. I’m also drawn to their earthiness. Sometimes when shopping for paint all the colors seem garish because they are meant to be dulled down or washed on thinly. The Primateks have a calmer look, however there is still an intensity in their colors. 

Three Color Process: Foundation of Skin Tone

After I get my drawing on paper with a watercolor pencil these would be the first layers of paint.

Ultramarine Blue - I do this one first to sketch in the shadows and dark tones. Its still a pretty light layer

Quin. Coral - I would start building the warmth of the skin tone with this shade of pink. I’m avoiding the lightest parts of the face, but really just getting the color down. I’m not being super careful at this point. 


New Gamboge - The skin is purple! It needs to be balanced out by some yellow. I slap this color all over the skin. 

So this is the beginning part of the painting. I call it the easter egg phase because of the pastel colors. It doesn’t look like skin quite yet, but its a great foundation to work from.

Here it is finished


An Imbalance

I end up painting portraits of myself frequently, mostly out of convenience (I'm the only model available whenever I want). All of my painting reflect some part of me that I might be feeling at the time, as I'm sure is true with most artist's work. Weirdly though I don't consider much of my work to be self portraiture. I see it as I needed a model and I happened to be handy for it.

An Imbalance, 15x22 Watercolor on Paper, 2014

An Imbalance, 15x22 Watercolor on Paper, 2014

This newest painting though, I do consider to be a self portrait. This painting represents my relationship with my menstrual cycle. From late high school until about halfway through college I was plagued by horrible cramps every month. Then I had a large cyst removed and the cramps went down to average. I started having really intense moodiness leading up to my period. Like so much so that I felt completely out of control of my emotions and unbalanced. It felt awful to feel so controlled by my body and its cycles. Since then I got on the pill and its really helped me balance out my hormones. 

The painting reflects on having a small portion of my life spent completely unbalanced and disrupted. I chose to flip the portion of my face in the red stripe because when I would think back on my moody-ass behavior it was unrecognizable as me, it just didn't match up. I know many other women struggle with these same sorts of issues and it sucks that we are saddled with such a crappy biological function


I wanted to do a painting that illustrates the isolation I feel as someone who works alone. I spend a lot of my 40 hour a week job managing the studio by myself and it gets really lonely. I miss being around people and I also miss living in the same town as my family. 

Lonesome,  30x22", Watercolor on Paper, 2014

Lonesome, 30x22", Watercolor on Paper, 2014

Not sure how I feel about this painting. Up until this painting I haven't really included any props or background items. I would like to do more of this in the future. I will probably end up approaching the empty couch concept again. 

Still Unsighted

In January I decided that I would kick off a new year of art by repainting a favorite from undergrad just to see how much better I could do it 3 years later. I should have posted this sooner, but I procrastinated on getting a quality photo of the newer piece. 

Unsighted,  Watercolor and ink on paper, 21x30, 2011

Unsighted, Watercolor and ink on paper, 21x30, 2011

I did a whole series of blindfolded portraits for my undergraduate senior exhibition. That body of work reflected on an intense anxiety I had about what direction I would go in life after graduation. I was afraid of what life would be like without the structure of being in school. The portrait shown above might have been my 3rd or 4th watercolor painting ever. 

Still Unsighted,  Watercolor on paper, 21x15, 2014

Still Unsighted, Watercolor on paper, 21x15, 2014

There is definitely a technical improvement over the 2011 painting! I'm using more colors in my flesh tone. When you see the new painting next to the old one you see a painfully obvious lack of darker tones in the flesh in 2011. I also ditched the ink outline. 

Its kind of funny that the sentiment of first painting still rings true 3 years later. I still have anxiety about the future. What kind of life do I want, what is important to me, what kind of person do I want to be and how do I get there? My next big life step that I'm absolutely dreading is deciding about having children. Its the new deadline for me and its something that weighs on my just like graduation day did for me during college. 

My Watercolor Primaries

Here is a repost of an older blog:

So everyone knows their primary colors: red, yellow, blue. As anyone who has been to an art supply store can tell you that there are about 30 shades of each of those colors. Everyone has their own preferences but here are mine:

Quinacridone Coral


Quin. coral is a bright pink color, even pinker than the above picture. Undiluted its like Barbie pink. This color is terrific for skin tones. Its a very crisp and clean color that makes for glowing skin tones. I like that its ungranulated, because I don’t think that would look the best as a base for skin tones.

New Gamboge 


New Gamboge is a very traditional primary. Historically Gamboge was not a permanent pigment, but New Gamboge has been reformulated to have the light fastness that is expected of modern paint. Its a great buttery warm yellow.

Ultramarine Blue


Ultramarine is a great go to blue. Its a granulating pigment, which looks good in shadows. This color is very fresh which keeps the darker areas on skin from looking muddy.