Thursday, February 14, 2019

Exploring New Mediums with Watercolors

Exploring New Mediums with Watercolor Blog Graphic Christy Sheeler Artist I have new mediums in my stash.

It's like Christmas morning.  New art supply order arrives and I am a child again.  Excitedly, I search through the package for mediums for my art supply stash.  I am in love with exploring new methods and techniques.  My mind gets lost in thinking about new watercolor possibilities for future artworks.  Sometimes, I need to shake up my artist techniques a little bit.  Can you relate?  I have three new mediums to share today.  I have been testing out how they can work with my watercolor painting process.  Here's the scoop on what I've grasped so far!

I had a specific reason for trying out these mediums:

Watercolor paper can lose its sizing.  

I have experienced watercolor paper that is no longer its original best which is frustrating.  I learned to buy only the paper I need for several months.  Great changes in temperature and humidity can affect the sizing.  My art room wasn't always heated and so the range of temperatures was hard on my paper.  You might still be asking, "what is sizing?"  Watercolor papers are treated with a substance like gelatin that makes the surface less absorbent.  The watercolor pigment and water can float on the surface.  When a paper loses its sizing, the color and pigment sink down quickly and cannot be lifted out.  Many times, a strange speckled texture appears in the paper surface.

I want to add that the papers I have had issues with sizing-wise were high quality 140 lb. watercolor papers.  This is not about cheaper paper, though it can happen with any quality of watercolor paper.

If you would like to learn more about watercolor sizing:  Birgit O'Connor's blog explains this with more detail.  If you would like to see examples of what to watch out for:  Karen Sioson's blog describes these paper problems along with photos.

I have odds and ends of 140 lb. cold pressed watercolor paper in my paper stash.  I would like to be able to treat those papers so I can still paint on them.  My search began with wondering if these mediums would be an asset for this purpose.

I have been playing with these three mediums to understand them better.
For each medium, I first want to know...

Question:  Will this medium work to help with sizing problems?

Before you begin trying any of these:
1.  Set up a work area away from watercolor palette.  Don't let any of this mix on your palette.
2.  Use a water container that you'll rinse well afterwards.  You probably don't want any of this to migrate to your watercolor painting sessions.
3.  Rinse your brushes well and right away.

The Mediums I Explored with Watercolors:

QoR Lift Aid 118 ml. $8.74
Holbein Sizing Liquid Medium 60 ml.  $12.39
Daniel Smith WC Ground Titanium White 4 oz.  $8.19
(Prices at time of order from Cheap Joe's Art Stuff, 2018)

Lift Aid by QoR-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lift Aid by QoR bottle 118 ml

I am not sure why I thought this would be a possible solution.  I was all out determined to find some options.  The QoR lift aid peaked my curiosity.  Lifting back to white can be a challenge and I like the idea of having some extra assistance.  Don't get me wrong.  I am not going to be prepping all my watercolor paper before I begin paintings.  

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Watercolor Success on YUPO

Watercolor Success on Yupo blog post by Christy Sheeler Artist 2019. Are you up for a challenge?

Watercolor is an adventure all on its own but if you are up for more challenge, you might give Yupo a try.  I am here to give you some pointers that will improve your experience.  Though it may seem foreign and scary at first, after a few painting sessions, you might just fall in love with this unique surface.  Shake up your creative process and take a break from the usual watercolor techniques.  While you may wonder whether you will ever get the gist, be willing to explore the possibilities.  Do you remember sitting in a classroom as a child, looking wistfully out the window, waiting in eager expectation for time on the playground?  Time.  Time to do as you wished without the rigid instructions and limitations.

Sometimes, I need more play with watercolor.

Like me, perhaps you have a underlying wish to break out of a rut, be more fluid and less confined by the traditional methods.  I wanted to be more free to watch the watercolor pigment spread as water carried it across the surface...without the stress and guilt of "wasting" a sheet of watercolor paper.  Are you ready?  Let's get on with this adventure!

What is Yupo?

You might be asking me, "what exactly is Yupo?"  That's a good place to begin.  Yupo is a synthetic paper that is tree-free.  This surface is 100% recyclable, smooth, very durable, tear-resistant, waterproof.  It resists buckling that usually occurs with cotton watercolor papers.  It does not absorb the pigment.  There is no need to tape Yupo on a board.  Pigments remain vibrant and white of the surface is easily restored.  Most often, artists use alcohol inks on Yupo but other mediums can be used as well. There are two different weights of Yupo offered:  74 lb and 144 lb.  For the purpose of watercolor painting, 74 lb. is more than sufficient.  There's also a translucent Yupo but I have not explored watercolor options there yet.  Yupo's available where art supplies are offered.

Here, I show you two sizes of Yupo 5" x 7" and 11" x 14" with 10 sheets per pad.The smaller pad was $4.93 and the larger pad was $16.82.  They were purchased from Dick Blick.  The 20 sheet pad (74 lb.) of Yupo costs $16.99 on Cheap Joe's Art Stuff presently.

Yupo synthetic paper in various sizes.

Yupo synthetic paper in various sizes.

What I understand about Yupo so far...

 In a previous post (January 2016) , I shared my first experience with Yupo.  I will link the post titled Watercolor Adventure with Yupo here.  I had fun playing with Yupo and still do.  At that time, I needed more time painting on this new surface.  The hours spent gave me a better comfort level and results.  My favorite subjects are landscapes and flowers.  I wanted to challenge myself to be less detailed and tight with my technique.  At first, I felt like I would never have the knack for anything representative of these subjects.  I will admit it's a long stretch to find how to bring watercolor to Yupo in a way that connects with my style.  Each time that I returned to "play" on Yupo with my watercolors, I was more pleased.  The artwork is now something I enjoy looking at and displaying for others to see.

Watercolor painting on Yupo paper back in 2016.
My first major session of experimenting with Yupo back in 2016.

So, let's move on to my tips for watercolor success on Yupo.

Starting with the basics:

1.  Yupo is made from polypropylene.  It's not a paper at all.  
2.  It's an alternative surface for painting and ink.  
3.  It does not absorb color at all.  Watercolor paint can be lifted off to bring back whites.
4.  Prep the surface using a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol.  This removes oils left by fingerprints.
5.  Draw with water-soluble pencils.  Look for water-soluble graphite pencils.  Draw with watercolor
     pencils instead of graphite.  Do not erase.  Eraser marks act as a resist.
6.  Paint once to add color; paint twice and it will lift color.
7.  More watery color mixes will take longer to dry.
8.  When complete, the painting needs to be sealed with a Krylon matte sealer.

Those are the basic guidelines I understood when I first began experimenting back in 2016.  I had been aware of Yupo for quite a few years but had avoided it.  I feel better knowing many watercolor artists are still avoiding it like I did.  Still, it's worth the risk and you might find it's your new love.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

December in the Art Studio

A painting of bare branches and sunset in watercolors with Oscar Wilde quote

My Art Practice is Flourishing!

It's been a few months since I posted to share
my newest artwork.  So much watercolor action
has been happening and there's more than I can
share in a single post.  This is a quick highlight
to show a few of my most recent landscapes and
florals.  My art room has had some major improvements
with the addition of two more work tables.  I love
having so much flat work space now.  I can paint at one
table, flatten artworks at another, and mat and frame at
the third table.  I have been able to host a few art studio
workshops as well. 

In the past several months, I have felt my creative spirit coming alive more than ever.  I feel freer and braver than before.  The energy to create another painting from a loved landscape view is building with each new work.  My technique is less tight.  My manner is relaxed and fluid.  I come to the art table with a purpose of playing for 15 minutes to loosen up and relax before I begin anything serious.  I do not go directly into a painting already in progress.  I wait.  I first warm up my creativity.  Maybe because I have this mental idea in mind to warm up, the warm ups themselves are fun and lovely, too.

Today, I am sharing just a few of the recent watercolors that are now soon to be available for purchase.  There are many more but I need to get back to painting so this is a preview of more to come.  One of my 2019 goals will be a website.  I am working through my list of tasks to make that a reality.  If there is something here that you would like more information about, please email me at  I am happy to send an invoice through Paypal or Square.  Shipping costs are additional.

Summer Blessings, a watercolor painting of hollyhocks 4"x6" 2018 by Christy Sheeler
Summer Blessings 4"x6" 2018 

A Watercolor painting, Wandering Above Cave Mountain, 5"x7" 2018 by Christy Sheeler
Wandering Above Cave Mountain
5"x7" 2018

Original Watercolor Artwork by Christy Sheeler © 2018
Sunday Afternoon Drive 5"x7" 2018 SOLD
Soft Spray of Running Eagle Falls 5"x7"
Refreshed at Two Medicine 5"x7"

Original Watercolor Artwork by Christy Sheeler © 2018
Spring at the Farm 4"x6" (left)
Backyard Beauties 5"x7"
Soft Spray of Running Eagle Falls 5"x7"

Original Watercolor Artwork by Christy Sheeler © 2018
A glimpse of recent watercolors from 2018.

Original Watercolor Artwork by Christy Sheeler © 2018
Landscapes, Sunflowers, and Birds 2018

Original Watercolor Artwork by Christy Sheeler © 2018
Winter and Summer Landscapes 2018

Original Watercolor Artwork by Christy Sheeler © 2018
A few watercolors on display in my art room/studio 2018.

Price List 2018-2019 Christy Sheeler Watercolors

Thank you, as always, for stopping by to visit me here.  I appreciate that you would give up a few minutes to see what is happening in my artist world.  It's wonderful to create with my watercolors and even better that I am able to share with art lovers as well.


She must make art.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Hollyhocks Blooming on Paper

Title of Blog Post, Hollyhocks blooming on paper. The Journeys of an Artist.  Christy Sheeler Artist.  She Must Make Art.I've got an attraction to hollyhocks and it started quite a while ago.  Years ago...before I was a mom...I painted with a group of artists.  It seems like another lifetime, really.  On one of our artist get-togethers, we met at Pat's place.  With art supplies and lawn chairs, we scouted out our subject for the day.  We sat out in the sun, sketching and painting while we visited together.

The subject was an old house on the property...with hollyhocks in the front garden.  Unexpectedly, I found delight in painting the hollyhocks.  They weren't detailed but more of a suggestion, their form and creating them was so fluid.  They were more effortless than I imagined they could be.  This was a nice change from my need to be so detailed and exact.  Turns out, this has been a theme in my creative time...letting go of exact.

Reflecting on days spent with artist friends.

This very painting now hangs in my art studio and it's dear to me.  A little house with so much charm that's been maintained and cared a little bit of quaint beauty that takes the viewer back to a different time.  There was so much about it that I loved, which is how I hope it is described it on paper.  A lovely day with artist friends, captured here, has a lot of sentiment attached.
Do you see the hollyhocks all loose and fresh as they welcome you onto the front porch?

My painting of the little white house on Pat's property...with hollyhocks.  Artist Christy Sheeler

Closer view of painting with the little white house and hollyhocks.  Artist Christy Sheeler

I was just walking along, minding my own business.

Fast forward quite a number of years to summer of 2015.  I was walking down our alley and there are reseeded hollyhocks in all shades of pink.  They just grow untended along the backside of a storage shed.  I remember how the view affected me.  The tall stalks and blossoms against the weathered wood out building with full sun.  I quickly retraced my steps back home to grab a camera because this was perfect art reference material!

Photograph for My Art Reference, Christy Sheeler photographer.

Photograph for My Art Reference, Christy Sheeler photographer.

Photograph for My Art Reference, Christy Sheeler photographer.

Undeniably, I am an artist.  It's a crazy process.

I have been able to find more time and energy for my love of watercolor.  The art studio is no longer an abandoned place without life.  My life, in my mind, is described in seasons tied together with whether I was able to spend time with watercolor painting.  Does that sound crazy?  I was created with this deep desire to create and watercolors just hit the target like no other medium.  When I must place it further down on my priorities list, I feel it deeply.

I have been all over the place with several different subjects.  Hollyhocks, a black beach on Maui, and several mountain landscape views.  The hollyhocks keep drawing me back to study them, capture them with paint one more time.  There's been joy mixed with frustration.  In certain moments, I was tempted to toss the current one aside and call it unsalvageable.  Sometimes, I would rather start again than keep making more effort on the same painting.  It's hard to say which is the wiser option.  I've learned that it's worth pushing through and seeing what another hour's effort will do.  Undeniably, I am an artist.  It's a crazy process.

Hollyhocks in watercolor on watercolor paper.

I am trying to communicate through my brush what my mind wants to communicate.

In a frustrated state, I'll state out loud to no one in particular, "I guess that flower does NOT want to be in this painting?!"  And I regroup.  I rethink where I would like to go with this effort.  It happens.  It happens often.  With time I have gotten over thinking this isn't supposed to happen.  I can shrug it off and start again more flexibly than my younger self would have done.

Hollyhocks in watercolor on watercolor paper.

Hollyhocks in watercolor on watercolor paper.

Sometimes I'm just loving where the brushstrokes are moving and mixing on the paper.  Other times, I'm wondering what just happened and how should I move forward next.

Artists may work in a way that appears to be easy.  From an onlooker's point of view, the artist may seem to do it so well that we suppose they never struggle in the process.  That's just not true.  If it were, we'd probably find the art process very boring.  I don't think the level of skill matters...artists will continue to strive for improvement in their skill.  Artists want to develop and grow and capture more.  Artists have an intense need to communicate what captivates them better than they did in the past.

I've been working on Yupo synthetic surface and watercolor paper both.  I'll share my results with you.  There are pockets of joy in the results.  There are areas of struggle.  Petals and shadows that I didn't fully capture to my satisfaction.  I didn't describe it all in the way it affected me.  I'm growing in my ability to change up the composition and the forms.

Watercolor painting of hollyhocks on Yupo surface.  Brushes on left.  Tablet in background.

Something exciting is happening.

These next artworks show something changing...I am not sketching at all.  I am letting myself have freedom from being so married to the art reference photo.  Get the music playing, spray down the palette and then I explore the emotion these flowers draw out.  Their shape, the space they fill, the colors created by sunlight and shadow.  What is a pink blossom in the sunlight?  What is it in the areas of shadow?  What type of yellow green captures the leaves and stalks?  Add some water for a bloom and then some spatter of color.

Hollyhocks in watercolor on watercolor paper.

Hollyhocks in watercolor on watercolor paper.

Video taken of artist painting hollyhocks by Christy Sheeler

The learning comes in the doing.

If you are itching to pick up a brush and have a go with the watercolors, do it.  Go.  Don't hesitate.  You'll find a joy in the movement of pigment across the paper.  There are so many opportunities for learning now.  Order a book.  Watch a YouTube video.  You will fight fear and hesitation.  The learning comes in the doing.  The doing brings a peace and relaxation.  It's a therapy.  You will grow and understand it a bit at a time.  You'll never master it.  That's okay.  You'll be excited and challenged and alive.

What subject or art medium has hooked you so strongly?  What have you felt you must try creating one more time?  What do you desire to capture on paper, on canvas, or in clay?


She must make art.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Lessons in Loose and Less Controlled

Lessons in Loose and Less Controlled by Christy Sheeler Artist 2018 - She Must Make Art

Letting Go

It's been a while but I'm here today and I've got some new watercolors in progress.  Because my art time is so limited now, the most recent projects are different.  I tend to work very tight, controlled and detailed when I paint.  Stepping out of my usual habits is forcing me to grow as an artist.  (The one here on far left is described more further on below.)  Can you relate with the struggle, working more tight and detail-focused in your own artwork?  Along the way, some tips on challenging yourself to be more loose with the brush and working less controlled in your own artwork.

The two paintings below are watercolors on Yupo surface.  It's not paper.  It's a plastic surface for watermedia or mixed media.  It takes some time and patience to work with in my experience.  With practice, it's been easier to adapt my strokes for a better result.  I enjoy working with this surface very much even though I've been so tight in my style for a long time.  The genius of this surface is it can all be rinsed and wiped away for a fresh new start.  The first landscape is done with a reference photo and the second landscape is just a fun imaginative journey.

Can you relate with the struggle, working more tight and detail-focused in your own artwork?  

In this post, 10 Tips for Working Loose and Less Controlled.

Waterfall Landscape on Yupo Surface

Watercolor landscape on Yupo surface.

I have followed Angela Fehr's work for a while on Facebook and love her YouTube videos for learning to relax and enjoy the watercolor medium.  Her work is so lovely.  She has online courses so I signed up for a free course on her website.  I'll link it here: Watercolor Jumpstart with Angela Fehr  

I wanted to keep myself painting even when my schedule is working against me.  She has such a positive way with explaining and she's easy to follow when she teaches.  I would say that if you are curious about taking lessons...go check out her courses.  You will enjoy yourself and she can take you from basics to advanced skills.

Here is the beginning stage of my project following along with her instruction.  This was my first time completely soaking my paper before beginning the first layer of color.  I loved this and enjoyed the time in my art room very much!  It's a mystery what will come of it and that's the fun of it.  The second photo below is further on in next stages...once the first layer of watercolor was dry.

Mountain landscape on watercolor paper.

Mountain landscape on watercolor paper, later progress.

This is the second project done with the online course.  She provides the art reference photos and they can be downloaded onto a pc or other device.  I had the photos downloaded onto my tablet so I could see them at my art table.  

Mountain landscape on watercolor paper.

The third of my works done through her online course is below.  This was an exercise in negative painting which is painting around an object to reveal its shape.  I was familiar with the technique but not excited to use it often.  It's a challenge to be sure!  She shares quite a few tips for making the negative painting process not so overwhelming.  

Negative painting with watercolor on watercolor paper.

This is the one I've chosen to revisit today but it didn't go very well.  If I'd seen this photo (taken over a month ago) while working on it today, I'd be much happier.  I faced two major problems.  The first, I couldn't remember which photograph I'd used for this project.  I searched and guessed it to be a similar photograph to the one showing below.  The second problem, I think I turned the painting upside down.  Ugh.  See, the work doesn't always go as originally hoped for in my art room, too.  I can scrap it altogether or I can see what can be done now.  Maybe this is the time to try washing it all off?  I'm not sure what I'll decide to do at this point.  

Early stage color washes in watercolor on watercolor paper.

The two photos below were taken after my painting time today.  I see that I chose the wrong photograph but right subject.  The watercolor paper should have been spun around but it could work as it is now.  Tough decision.  Not sure what I'll decide to do now.

Watercolor in progress with problems from previous session.

Watercolor in progress from today's paint session.

Today's warm up session was a quick landscape on Yupo surface.  It's done loosely with pale colors.  I used an art reference photo taken just a few weeks ago.  I don't love this one but I'm showing it anyway because you might think I turn out nothing but work that I love in the end.  It's so much more pale than my usual work.  It's an exercise in branching out for color scheme and less vibrant.  It's also on I will probably wash it all away and try again.  Love that about Yupo!

Quick warm up session today with watercolor on Yupo surface.

 It's been more productive in the art room for March, April and May in 2018.  Spring of 2017, I wasn't painting much at all.  I've been checking back to answer comments here as well as email.  If you've got questions, don't hesitate to contact me.  I'll get back to you as soon as I am able, usually 5-7 days.  Sheesh!  It's June now!  The days just fly by now.

10 Tips for Painting Loose and Less Controlled

1.  Block out the need to have an artwork for mat and frame.  Nobody has time for that pressure!

2.  Take 10-15 minutes to play on a smaller scrap of paper.  No expectations.  
      Warm up your mind and subconscious for creative energy to flow better.

3.  Try a new way of soaking the paper.  Be adventurous!

4.  Have an open mind about supplies and tools and techniques.  What would happen if...?

5.  Watch a painting tutorial that inspires you and then GO DO it yourself.                               
      YouTube is full of great videos that cost nothing.

6.  Be more aware of your self talk.  It's not just you thinking, "oh, what should I do now," 
       or "well, that didn't work the way I wanted," and "what should I do about this area?"  
       There are unsure moments in the process.  If it's really got me rattled, I lay it aside 
        and take a break (15 minutes) or I pick up another work in progress to get 
         my mind off of it for a while.

7.  This is hard work to move out of our comfort zone.  Don't expect it to come easily or quickly.        
      This retrains the brain, the eye, the hand, and the creative process.  Learning takes a lot of energy.

8.  Give yourself a bit of flexibility to be creative.  Set aside the art reference photo 
       and ask yourself how you want to paint this.  Take a glance now and then if it helps 
       relieve anxiety of needing direction.  Ask yourself how YOU want to paint this.  
       No one will see that photo.  It will not sit beside your painting.  It doesn't have to 
       match what the photo shows for accuracy. 

9.  Find a way to not stress over the supplies you're using.  We don't want to be adventurous 
       because this paper cost a pretty penny!  Paint on both sides of the paper.  Use it up.  
       Try washing the painting off...I'm going to try this soon.  Don't use cheaper paper.  
       Quality paper 140 lb. or 300 lb. is where you need to be.  I push myself to use only 300 lb. paper 
        now and it took years for me to get to that point.  YUPO!  Yupo is amazing.  
        It's a bit more money but you can really wash away all the paint and start again.  
        Rinsing it off in the sink will not damage it at all.  Stains?  Magic eraser.

10.  Do it all again.  Go back and remember the new methods.  Write yourself some reminders.  
        Repetition and reminders help us keep the new way of thinking and creating for the long term.

Thank you for stopping by the blog today!  Be sure to leave a hello in the comments.  You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.  I'm most actively posting on Instagram these days because it's so quick and easy.


She must make art.