Monday, August 4, 2014

A nice surprise!

"Cornish Cove", watercolor, 15x22"
Quite surprised-seriously! I just received "Best in Show" at the 20th Arts Affair at Marina Bay, Quincy, MA.
(Judges: Richard Mulcahy, Edwina Caci and Virginia Mahoney)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Laying down even watercolor washes (flat, graded and variegated)

Practicing washes on good (100% cotton rag) and cheap (student pads made from wood pulp) watercolor paper will really show the difference between the watercolor papers.
1.  Tape the edges of the paper down (9"x12" or larger) to a piece of larger mat-board or cardboard covered in contact paper (1" blue painter's tape will peel off easily).
2.  Using a large flat watercolor brush (1-2") pre-wet the paper with clean water. (I use the 1.5" "Black Velvet series" flat wash brush from Silver company through www.
3.  Mix up a large puddle of juicy color (non-granulating pigments are easier initially) on your palette.
4.  When the shine of the water is beginning to disappear, gently drag your loaded large flat brush across the top of the paper and continue stroking down the sheet slightly overlapping the previous stroke of wet color. Load your brush for each stroke if needed. This can be done flat or on a tilted surface (at least 15 degrees).
5.  Tilt paper taped to board at various angles (incl. upright) to distribute the wash, if needed.
6.  Collect any pooling color at the bottom of the paper with a "thirsty" damp brush (or a corner of a paper towel) to prevent back-washes or blooms.

NOTE: Any secondary wash laid down subsequently (after the first is completely dry) is now referred to as a GLAZE


1.  To produce a graded wash, mix up a juicy mix of color in your palette and drag the loaded brush across the top of the dry (or moistened) paper.
2.  Dip brush 1x into clean water and remove excess on side of the container. (this will remove about 15% of the color)
3.  Stroke brush across paper directly below last band, overlapping slightly.
4.  Dip 1x again into water and remove excess water on side of container....repeat until bottom of page is reached.
Alternatively, your initial puddle of color can be diluted by adding water-in even increments (eg. 2 squirts from a water bottle), mixing thoroughly and adding to successive bands with the large flat brush OR you can start with clean water and gradually add even increments of color (eg one corner of flat brush into freshly squeezed watercolor), mixing thoroughly before adding successive strokes.
All these methods can work. Try which one is most comfortable for you.

1.  Make large puddles of similar concentration of 2 or more different colors in your palette.
2.  Load the large flat brush and stroke across the top of the paper with one color.
3.  Without rinsing the brush, pull a little color from the second puddle into the first color and mix. Load this directly below the last stroke, overlapping slightly.
4.  Repeat 3 until the change of color is complete or you reached the bottom of the page.
Alternatively, this effect can be produced by doing 2 separate graded washes, one starting from the top of the paper, drying completely, and then repeating the other color over it from the bottom of the paper up.

Subject matter painted over
a variegated wash
Variegated washes make great sunset scenes and can be painted over with darker colors to create drama. This is also known as an underwash/underpainting or toning the paper.

Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Mix Bright Luminous Secondary Colors.

Mixing secondary hues (colors) from a split primary color wheel (with a warm and cool red, blue and yellow) is the best way to produce the purest (clean), intense (bright) secondary colors. To do this, the primary colors chosen must lean towards the secondary color that is being mixed.

In grade school, we learned the theory that 2 primaries mixed together=secondary colors, that is:
Yellow+ Blue=Green
Red+Blue=Violet or purple

However in reality, when you mix secondary colors, they are sometimes dirty looking and mixing purple often gives something close to brown!!!! Why is that?

The color wheel on the left shows dotted lines; this divides the color wheel into quadrants which are all biased (leaning towards) a particular secondary color. Staying within these quadrant/families assures clean bright secondaries, so when the dotted lines are crossed and quadrants are "contaminated", the colors can become "sullied" and dull.

For example, mixing luminous violet/purple requires:

  • Warm Blue (Blue leaning towards violet) + cool red (red leaning to the violet) = bright luminous violet/purple. Going outside the dotted lines and mixing cool blue (green bias) and warm red (orange bias) will produce a brown-purple!

Similarly, mixing a luminous clean green requires:

  • cool Yellow (yellow leaning towards green) + cool blue (Blue leaning towards green)= bright clear green (and probably very unnatural looking!) Again going outside the quadrant lines and mixing a warm yellow (leaning to the orange) and warm blue (leaning towards violet) will give an olive green or brownish-green! (which is sullied but closer to the greens appearing in nature). More on mixing greens later!

The theory applies to all the other hues (colors)....

The purest, most intense colors come from combining colors that lean towards the color you are trying to mix. 

This includes tertiary or intermediate colors (which are produced when a primary and secondary color are mixed). eg. red and orange=red orange or orange red.
NOTE: The more colors that are mixed, the duller (greyer and sullied) the combination will become. Try not to mix more than 3 colors in any color mixture to keep colors bright and clean.

Split Primary Palette for Beginner Watercolorists.

Split Primary Palette for Beginners:
I feel it is the responsibility of the artist to use the most permanent watercolor pigments available. I have spent hours researching which pigments make the most sense to have on your palette without worrying that they will change/disappear when exposed to too much day light or fluorescent light. (colors that change are termed "Fugitive" and should not be on your palette. Certain pigments (eg Opera or Opera rose) can disappear-leaving white paper in a little as 6 months in the sun!

Here is the very basic palette (a warm and cool of each primary color) that I recommend:

Common Name      cool/warm    Pigment #         Chemical name               Brands I use    
Winsor Yellow           C                PY154     (Benzimidazalone yellow)                W/N
New Gamboge          W                PY153     (nickel dioxine yellow)                     W/N or DS
Pyrrol Red                 W                PR254     (di-keto pyrrolo pyrrol red)               DS
Permanent Rose  (Quin)   C          PV19       (gamma-quinacridone)                     W/N or DS
French Ultramarine Blue   W        PB29        (sodium aluminum sulfosilicate)       W/N
Phthalo Blue (green shade)   C     PB15:3      (alpha copper phthalocyanine)         W/N or DS

W/N  Winsor Newton
DS     Daniel Smith
H       Holbein

From these basic 6 colors (warm and cool of each primary color) most colors can be mixed which make them a great starting point for beginners in watercolor. A warm and cool is required because perfectly-balanced primary colors are not available as single lightfast pigments. The best place to check for color lightfastness is and "Guide to the Best Watercolor Paints" by Michael Cox or Hilary Page's book "Guide to watercolor paints".

Optional colors (but extremely useful) that I recommend include:
Common name                         Pigment #   Chemical name                      Brands I use
Phthalo green (blue shade)          PG7     (chlorinated copper phthalocyanine)         DS or W/N
Permanent Alizarin Crimson     PR N/A+PR206  (Quinacridone mixture)              W/N
Burnt Sienna                                PBr7  (Calcinated natural iron oxide)                     H
Burnt Umber                                PBr7  (Calcinated natural iron/manganese oxide ) H

With these extra colors, it is possible to mix rich deep luminous darks and more neutralized colors (tending towards grey).

NOTE: Until recently, the common names of watercolors have been confusing as they varied between manufacturers for the same pigment and beginners could unknowingly end up buying duplicate paint. Thankfully, paint manufacturers now provide pigment numbers and formulations so brands can be accurately compared. But the common names are still used extensively, and artists eventually will have to learn the new nomenclature (or have it easily available) to prevent ambiguity when shopping for/describing watercolors.

Mixing rich deep luminous darks

  • I do not use any watercolor paint that contains black (eg PBk6 thru 11) as this pigment is mostly soot/carbon and can give a flat dead-looking black.
  • My favorite deep dark mixed with Phthalo Green, blue shade (PG7) and perm. Alizarin Crimson (PR N/A and PR206)-if mixed up thick and juicily can represent close to "a transparent black"
  • A mix of PG7 and Quinacridone violet/magenta (PV 19) can be substituted for a cooler black. 
  • All Phthalo colors (PG7, PG36, PB15:1, PB:3) are staining, transparent and have a wide value range (from their lightest lights to their darkest darks) which allows for deep dark color mixing. 
  • Unfortunately, a perfect neutral grey is not commercially available either, but the transparent "black" listed above can be diluted with more water..... but a better method is to mix complementary colors (colors directly across each other on the color wheel). More on complements later.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My abstract won first place at Rhode Island Watercolor Society!

"Fragment of a dream" by
Sally Meding (1st place)
Watercolor, 16x20" "Fragment of a dream" did well in the "White & Abstract" show at Rhode Island Watercolor Society, Slater Park, Pawtucket, RI.
The juror was Bob Noreika.
The show hangs until Jan 4th 2014.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Took First place at Wellesley Society of Artists, Fall exhibition.

Spectral Angel by Sally Meding
Watercolor, 15x15" "Spectral Angel", was awarded first place in the Wellesley Society of Artists Fall exhibition by juror Nan Hass Feldman.
The juror kindly left comments about my painting!
"An exciting abstract image, color-filled, asymmetrical, suggestive of puzzle pieces but executed in a totally original and strong composition."
I was thrilled as this was the first time I had entered this piece in any show! I sure had fun painting all the small shapes in layers of luminous color!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Painting "En Plein Aire" in Pawtucket, Rhode Island

"Amaryllis", watercolor 11x14, one of my favorites-sold this weekend while painting en plein aire at Rhode Island Watercolor Society at Slater Park, Pawtucket!

I used Winsor/Newton permanent red wet-into-wet for the edges of the petals as this pigment explodes on the paper and leaves beautiful soft edges!

I grew this triple-flower amaryllis, it bloomed for a long time and begged to be painted!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Vibrant Day lilies inspired a watercolor for Robbin

Day lily for Robbin, 9x12" cropped to 8x8" watercolor
by Sally Meding
Just finished this small watercolor that sold before it was half way completed!

The lady who bought me the beautiful flowers (from her garden) to paint wants it for her living room. 

My neighbors daughter was over and we had fun all painting different views of the vase! The day-lilies were very inspiring!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Watercolor for Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Elm Bank) Exhibition, Wellesley, MA

"Romantic Elm Bank" Watercolor 15x22"
by Sally Meding
Beautiful 182 acre grounds at Elm Bank, Wellesley, MA are perfect for the plein aire artist!

I enjoyed roaming this area to find the sweetest spot to capture the essence of this gorgeous place.

I did not follow the local colors, but enjoyed playing with a pastel palette to create a fairytale romantic mood, as many weddings are held in this serene location.
The giant bonsai weeping spruce with its twisty shape caught my attention immediately!

Join us for Massachusetts Horticultural Society (Elm Bank) Exhibition of local watercolor paintings depicting scenes from around the gardens on Sept 22nd 8.30am-6pm. (900 Washington St, Wellesley, MA)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sold! and a requested commission to go with it!

"Sugar Maples in Morning mist"
watercolor, 15x22" by
Sally Meding
SOLD! "Morning mist" 15x22" (Image size) watercolor. Buyer would like a companion to go with it, so I am working on that commission after I finish my current piece!

I loved creating this watercolor, lots of wet-into-wet technique, with spatter, rock salt crystals and stippling!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Abstract versus Realistic Watercolors Were equally Popular on the boardwalk!

Boat for Melisa, watercolor 11x14"
by Sally Meding

During my demo, I sold small 11x14" matted watercolors on the boardwalk at Marina Bay, Quincy, MA, (just south of Boston).

Interestingly, abstract was just as popular as the realistic images!

These are some of the pieces that I photographed recently! Forgot to photo the latest ones! Oops!   Scroll to see the abstract photos below.

It was a glorious day, about 75F and lots of people were having lunch/dinner overlooking the yachts and power boats. I had dinner there watching the sun go down!
Irish  Lighthouse, watercolor, 11x14"
by Sally Meding
"Delicious" watercolor 11x14"
by Sally Meding
High Tide watercolor
11x14" by Sally Meding

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Watercolors of yacht and boat (semi-abstracted) for Marina Bay Arts Affair 2013

At the Docks 15x22" watercolor
by Sally Meding
"Perfect day for Sailing" watercolor 15x22" by Sally Meding

Click on images to view larger

Latest Boat/Yacht paintings for entering the "Arts Affair 2013" at Marina Bay Corporate Park, 500 Victory Road, Quincy, MA. August 3rd and 4th. 10-6pm. ( Everyone is welcome, if you are in the area! 

Both pieces will be for sale. I will be doing a demonstration, and will have other smaller works and original art-cards available. The start time of the demo has not been given to me yet.

Which one do you prefer?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Artwork June 8th-for my husbands birthday tomorrow!

NinthGate 5x7" watercolor by Sally Meding
I painted this little piece from a group of photos I took when we were in England. This is a view of the beginning of the Cotwolds. A pretty patchwork of fields and hills.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Painting outside your normal style helps improve your art skills!

"Country Path" 4x6" watercolor by Sally
Having fun painting many abstracts (or semi-abstracts) in intense hues! Makes using value more difficult but I enjoy the challenge! This was painted right from my head.
I was thinking of Italian countryside (Tuscan) with the lollipop Italian cypress evergreens.
It has been a while since I painted realism so I decided to practice......

see below!

4x6" Pansies" watercolor "work in progress"
"Work in progress" of Pansies, blooming here in Massachusetts currently.
Checking that I can still see value (in real life) I have a "work in progress" of realism!.....These pansies were in the kitchen of my art group meeting! I painted from life (not a photograph) and picked the best 3 different pansies for my composition!

  • Not happy with bottom was starting to fade, I should have picked a better one! 
  • Values in the green leaves still need work!
  • No shadows yet!
  • I still prefer painting semi-abstracts!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Creating a Series in Watercolor

"Perfect Day" watercolor collage 11x14"
"Exhilaration" watercolor with collage on
 embossed hand-made paper 11x14"

"Harbor Bay" watercolor with collage 11x14"

"Peaceful" watercolor with collage 11x14
 Creating a series is easy, there just has to be a common thread throughout the different art pieces. In this case, it was a "Sea theme, either sail boats or undersea view. All works are the same size, 11x14", and matted with the same museum board-forming a shadow box kind of effect. I am currently investigating a frame that would work for all of them. My first choice would be natural maple, but cost may change my mind!
Some of my smaller pieces belong in pairs or triplets and I name them accordingly.
"The Journey" watercolor/mixed media 11x14

Friday, May 10, 2013

Accepted at Clever Hand Gallery in Wellesley, MA!

My 11x14" watercolors (matted) and art-cards were accepted by the Clever Hand Gallery! They have 34 pieces and hopefully they will be popular. Mothers Day, Fathers Day and Graduation cards are available. Here is a sample of one of my small artworks. The Gallery is located at 52 Central Street, Wellesley, MA. It was founded in 1973 and is one of the oldest artisan cooperatives in New England. Everything that they sell is locally made.

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Artwork interpreted in Flowers by Joan Clipstone!

Another view of the "Morning Commute" by Sally meding
interpreted in flowers by Joan Clipstone.
15 selected art-works from Wellesley Society of Artists, Spring Exhibition at the Wellesley Community Center, Wellesley, MA were chosen by floral arrangers from Wellesley Garden Club for interpretation in flowers. This event on May 4th 2013 was called "Art in Bloom" and the arrangements were then auctioned.
  My art piece "Morning Commute" (on leftside in above picture) was chosen for interpretation by Joan Clipstone. Thank you, Joan, I love it!
"Morning Commute" by Sally Meding was interpreted in Flowers
by Joan Clipstone of Wellesley Garden Club.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Preparing for an Open Art Studio!

Flyer for Needham Open Studios.
My artwork was chosen for the advertising!
It is always a lot more preparation than I expect! Showing my watercolors to their best takes time, so I try not to leave everything to the last minute!
Here's my bullet list:

  • Order new business cards if outdated (mine were) from, delivery in less than 7 days!
  • Update Artist's Statement, or write one if you dont have one!
  • Update Bio and make copies for putting on the back of the artwork for sale. I include contact information and website.
  • if  your "Open Studios" have a website, send all photos and bio etc. in a timely manner.
  • Order acetate crystal clear bags for matted artwork from The unframed items are easy to store/transport and browse if protected.
  • Finish framing artwork and buy the cardboard corners to protect from scratches in storage or transportation.
  • Inventory all artwork for display and make sure everything has a price tag! Try to start this as early as possible!
  • Create a yard sign advertising the event 3-4 weeks ahead of time. Hand out brochures and flyers about the event.
  • Purchase fold-able tables for display and ease of transport.
  • Be sure you have enough display bins, racks, easels, business card holders and clean table cloths. If you have the room, set up a dummy table to plan your sales lay-out.
  • Design your own or purchase a hanging system for your booth/sales area. Hooks and fishing line work in a pinch, not a problem if indoors, but outside this maybe be too unstable in the wind. Keep it simple and lightweight! If you can, borrow a display system to see if you like the whole Open Studio scene before investing first!
  • Create little signs for beside your artwork showing medium, size and price.
  • Plan for a small area where you can demo what you do best! Obviously, all equipment needed for demo or a step-by-step example of how you do what you do! "Open studio" usually means the visitors want to know about the artist, they are not just buying from a store!
  • Small change/cash, calculator for sales tax, sales receipt book, cash box or cash belt with pouch. I find the pouch the easiest-as the cash box can "go walkies" if you get distracted. Push-pins, tape, hooks, price stickers, scissors, pens/pencils, wrapping material, gift bags and your name button!
  • Offer a door-prize, drawing or other small incentive, so email addresses can be collected!
  • If you offer classes, have a sign-up sheet ready to jot down their contact information.
  • Enlist a friend to help with set-up and take-down,  sales help for bathroom breaks and bringing you food/drink as needed!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How I created "Fragment of a Dream" Watercolor painting.

"Fragment of a Dream" by Sally Meding
My process is a layered approach based on the elements and principles of design.
I am driven by color and knew ahead of time that I wanted a focal area of hot bright color surrounded by neutralized cool color. (Complementary colors, reds and oranges against greyed blues, blue-greens and blue-violets)

  • I choose my value scheme.
  • Draw in the structure with pencil, (vertical strata with a low horizon) to which I overlay a smaller curvilinear "cloud-shaped" abstract layer.
  • Lay in juicy cooler colors (wet-in-wet) in patches avoiding the focal area and added salt, spatter and cling-film for texture. This is the spontaneous layer and I let the paint do its thing! I let it dry overnight.
  • Finally, I paint each shape with a graded wash while playing the "game of contrasts" (A phase coined by Jane E. Jones). That is light shape is placed next to a darker shape, or a brighter color against a duller or warm color against a cooler one while simultaneously thinking about my underlying structures.
  • I often emphasize certain areas with lift-outs, in this case, I wanted it to feel more dreamy so very small squares (mimicking stars) were lifted in the periphery that mirrored those in the focal area. (They are hard to see in this image).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Work in Progress!

Watercolor 12x16" Title: "Fragment of a Dream"
My Work in progress current

My Work in Progress last week