Learning the whole bag of tricks

This weekend is the spring Watercolor Society of Oregon convention, held at the Oregon Garden.

First, let me say, “WOW! What a show!” Held at the stunning Oregon Garden, the art STILL manages to eclipse the grounds. If you have some extra time, head out and prepare to be dazzled!

I was disappointed not to get into the show, but it’s such as strong show that I’ll be the judge had a time deciding what the best entries were! It takes a little of the sting out.

Class 1

I always think the point of conventions is to take as many classes as I can. In the last few years WSO has gone to a slightly more doable schedule of class-lecture-class (in the past you could occasionally get in photos-class-paint out-lecture-class-class-paint-out.) I still try to get in as much actual painting time as possible.

The first class of the day was by a local painter I greatly admire for her use of shape (simplified) and color (intense): Sally Bills Bailey. This class was going to focus on those issues.

Sally started us out with the color part. She gets her signature intense color by using a “skipper brush” with LOTS of color directly on the paper. She warms up by just making squares of different colors together. Here are some of my attempts.

I now want to buy a skipper brush.


Next, she does a very simple drawing in a light yellow on her paper… and goes to work! I bought some sketches from a recent meeting and did my best to experiment with her style. Two were pretty bad, but this one was only mediocre.


I do like the color intensity and that I didn’t get caught up in getting anything too realistic. I’m planning some more experiments… with a skipper brush.


The juror of this show is Kathleen Conover. If I had the time available, I would have liked to take her workshop. Ms. Conover is the “inventor” of the ice painting technique I’ve played with in the past and I very talented, experimental artist. But alas, pesky job…

In the “middle” of the Saturday schedule the juror usually gives to critiques. These are very well attended, with close to a hundred people flooding the hall to see what the juror has to say about their pieces. I was not able to get my piece into the critique, but I felt like I learned a lot from her critiques of others work. Sometimes this is not the case (see my blog post from the Spring 2014 show.)

Class 2

After the critique I went for a second class on Golden (a brand name) mediums. Normally, this wouldn’t be my thing, but the class promised to let us play with both high flow and liquid acrylics, which I have been hearing great things about.

The class was a bit of a sales pitch for all things Golden, but the experimenting time did happen.

Golden’s brand of watercolors is called Qor. There are many fancy attributes (supposedly) but I wasn’t so impressed that I’m gonna run right out and purchase anything there.


Golden also makes a variety of “grounds.” These are, essentially, things that you spread on paper to give the paper a particular texture and/or effect. We were given a sample of coldpress ground, watercolor ground, and another I can’t remember. The watercolor ground was nice, but I just don’t see the point.

We used the various acrylics on these grounds.

Liquid acrylic on Coldpress Ground

Liquid acrylic on Coldpress Ground

Liquid Acrylic on Watercolor Ground

Liquid Acrylic on Watercolor Ground

Highflow Acrylic on regular paper

Highflow Acrylic on regular watercolor paper

Qor watercolor on regular watercolor paper outlined with Highflow Acrylic

Qor watercolor on regular watercolor paper outlined with Highflow Acrylic

The thing I really want to get, from this demo, was these little bottles with a stainless steel tip.


I wasn’t able to find the exact item online, but this is close. Load some Highflow Acrylic in one of those bottles and you could generate some AWESOME calligraphic line. One gal in class was really good at it (no me, unfortunately.)

And a little business

This show, of course, is the last before “my” Oregon City convention in October. So I spent a great deal of time between my classes talking to people and making sure we were all on the same page.

Tomorrow I have my first (and hopefully last) meeting with the whole convention crew. It’s down to knitty-gritty time now.


When I got home, of course I checked my Facebook wall. A friend had posted this:


That’s a pretty good summary!

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