Personal Art Blog

Sharing the lessons I teach at the Artist Guild and the personal discoveries in my art.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dry Weed Nest and Line in Watercolor

 Dry Weed Nest
6x6in  watercolor on aquabord 
waxed. NFS

Artist Note
I was asked to explain about 
line in watercolor
and how it is used.
This one is for you, Edith!

Traditionally, water-colorists have used a pencil
to draw their subject. Often they will go over
the pencil line with a stronger paint line
where they want to describe the form
with more emphasis. Line can change from 
thin to thick, straight to round, 
over or under a mass of color.

In my nest above I used line
with opaque paint over a dark base.
It is called "form line" because it 
follows the direction of the form
A curve is a curve or  
straight is straight...etc.
I mixed different values
 to create the weaving of the grasses.

In the painting below,
Winslow Homer used the form 
line around parts of the boat
creating an outline, and 
even lightly around the sail 
at the back.
This was to create a separation
between boat and water.
So form line and outline are the same
thing, but used for different reasons.

If you look at the clouds
you will see the edges
are formed from the 
mass of the sky color.
No line. But the weeds
and lines on water are 
line. The way he painted
the dark shadow under the 
right end of the boat
could be a lyrical line...
it is expressive and 
yummy as it dissolves into an area of shadow

Andrew Wyeth, below, has obvious lines which
emphasizes the flow and direction of the water.
They merge into an area of color. No longer a line.

Sargent, below, has the lady on the right 
with lines to describe the folds of her
clothes, but on the lady on the left 
he used a softer line and
gently massed in with color.
Ask why one and not the other?
Most likely to direct the eye to her
first, but he did add a sharp line on the 
bonnet to bring some focus 
back to the other one..
 Line can be an important way to 
add some direction and emphasis.

Sargent used lyrical or expressive lines to 
describe the flounces in the one below.
And left it "as is". 

Many of the popular artists of today
like to use the line all the way through
their painting as a style -instead of using them for 
direction or emphasis. 
See Stefan Duncan below

My personal fav is
Shirley Trevena who is
at mixing all types of line and mass.
Explore all the lines in this one.
It is fun to look through art
magazines trying to find the 
different types of LINE.

If you stuck all the way through this - I thank you!
Edith - hope you enjoyed it.


  1. First Julie - love your nest painting. It is beautiful. Second thank you so much for the lesson on line. I had never really thought about it but now can see clearly what you mean about lines in all these paintings. You are such a great teacher. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. It is always so fun to learn something new about art or any subject for that matter.

    1. Wish you could see the actual nest, Debbie. It looks so soft with the grasses so full but I have a feeling it could bounce. Apparently it got caught in a windstorm, torn from its place, tossed around a good bit and still looks as comfortable as can be. They are amazing.
      Good to know you have finally started with lovely spring weather and the bounty it brings. .

  2. Once informative. Thank you Julie. And lovely nest. Amazing use of line with watercolor.

    1. Hi Helen - thanks. Once you get into the use of line - even if just for a little bit here and there- it can add so much.
      Hlad you are on the road to recovery and can get back into your routines.

  3. Your painting is just wonderful. I'm still scratching my head and wondering how you did that...

    This wasn't just for Edith. I learned so much! Thank you. And Shirley Trevena is my hero.

    1. Edith has let me know she enjoyed it!
      Shirley is AMAZING and I am happy we share an admiration for her work.
      I enjoyed your post today about the alcohol inks. Your wonderful colors just knocked me over. WOW!

  4. The most elegant of your nest series due to your sensitive use of line. This was an informative post. Of the examples, Homer's use of line is disappointing; I think some of his outline lines, albeit edges, are too strong. Was that an early work or just how he handled watercolor? Makes me want to review his work.

    1. I agree about Homer's painting but it was perfect for what I wanted to get across. I actually love most of his work - especially for his compositions and value patterns.
      Great abstract you did in Las vegas, Linda. Good for you!

  5. Very amazing watercolour painting and very interesting informations... you are a such a great painter and teacher too... thank you Julie and have a nice day !!!

    1. I appreciate your words, thank you. Your painting of the abbey in Turkey is wonderful and especially meaningful as a reminder to all of us that historical beauty exists and is protected during this terrible time of destruction by maniacs.

  6. I look at this and wonder how on earth all you fabulous artists do such things. I love the nest painting and am amazed at its intricacy and detail and would have loved to see you paint it. The other artist's works are just gorgeous too!

    1. Nests carry me into a state of peaceful absorption. I paint them because I truly "feel" something about their creation. Can't explain why, but do know how I react when even looking at them. Glad you like it. I painted this one just like the bird made it - placing a grass by grass.
      Happy you are all moved into your new place and a happier routine can finally be started.

  7. Amazing nest painting.

    Enjoyed your line exposition.

    1. Thanks Jean - you are already a master of using line in your work.
      Amazing what you do.

  8. Wonderful informative post on lines. Thanks, I plan to pass it on.

    1. Thanks, Carleen. Nice of you to comment.
      I love your Evening Star study, and hope you go further with it. You managed to capture the fading light so well.

  9. Julie, I do believe this is the best and prettiest nest I've seen yet. Your explanation on the use of line was wonderful. It's something I guess I've never really thought about or understood and it just might be the thing that is missing in my paintings.
    Enjoy your day! and Thanks!

    1. Thanks for such a lovely comment, Carol.
      I left a comment on your lovely forsythia photo, but had trouble so I hope it went through.

  10. Wonderful post Julie! I love this painting!

    1. Hi Kaethe - thanks, glad you like it.
      Hope you had a great time at the convention and hope you write about it.
      Your garden painting is wonderful and I was delighted to find a bird house in it!

  11. Love this blog first thing in the morning. Great way to start my day so, thank you Julie.

    1. You are always so encouraging - thanks Blanche. its been almost a month since...

  12. Oh Wow! Thanks for all the great information on lines. I am really enjoying your recent posts. Will definitely think about line in my next painting.
    Love your nest painting. Your lines are so beautiful and natural looking. Love it!

    1. Thanks, Bhavni I was looking at your new landscape admiring the way you did the green and saw the telephone pole. it reminded me of my first lesson in line
      Draw a straight line...and then the magic is how it can change to what you put next to it and in the case of that particular class, it became the wire between two poles a telephone wire! They are all disappearing now.

  13. Julie, this is a great post. Your painting is complex and fascinating and it's impossible not to read to the end of any of your posts as they are so interesting and informative. You really are a good teacher; thank you for sharing. I was so pleased to see Shirley's work mentioned here too; she no longer exhibits at the AOH so I miss seeing her work when we attend the Brighton Arts Festival each year. Thanks again!

    1. Shirley is truly a master of what she does. Her work always amazes and moves me. Lucky you being able to get your nose up to a real life one of hers.
      I enjoyed seeing your creativity at full blast in the card you made and loved the beautiful line in your fruit drawing.

    2. Shirley is truly a master of what she does. Her work always amazes and moves me. Lucky you being able to get your nose up to a real life one of hers.
      I enjoyed seeing your creativity at full blast in the card you made and loved the beautiful line in your fruit drawing.

  14. Great post, Julie! Thanks for opening the vault and letting us in.

    1. How nice of you to pass it on. Thanks Chris.
      Would enjoy seeing your work.

    2. You already have.

  15. Your nest is outstanding , looks so real , just WOW ! ( Again and again and again :-)) )

    1. LOL - thanks Jane, you are great!
      Are you going to do more abstracts? Hope so.
      I love the last one you did.

  16. Loved every word and image of this post! But, especially the beautiful nest! I love hearing and seeing how other artists observe things.

  17. Me too! Thanks for introducing me to the art of Armin Hansen. Brilliant!

  18. I do love the lines in your nest, beautiful color of the eggs! I love the lower placement of the nest too! I'm curious about the waxed surface, I have never heard of it?
    Thank you for sharing the many great examples! A lot of incredible art to admire!

    1. Hi celia - thanks for the compliments. Always nice to get from another artist.
      The wax I use drys immediately so the watercolor does not run or smudge. Called Renaissance micro-crystalline wax polish (English) I apply it thinly with a palette knife - like icing a cake! I do have a post on it

      Love your market scene and sketch. beautiful!

  19. This is unbelievable Julie! I can't imagine how you paint this! YOU are the master!
    And such an interesting post!

    1. A, but definitely a lover of nests and I think that comes through.
      Thanks so much Hilda. You are always so positive and I do appreciate your visits. Looking forward to you next post.

  20. You are so knowledgeable Julie and this painting is amazing.

    1. Well thank you, Sea. Stuff you already know, but if you are like me, you still like refreshers!
      Your crashing wave painting is really and truly - a stunner..

  21. Reading your interesting written on lines today, I realize how cultural education is now almost globally. You suggest the technical side of a great artists painting , not in a superficial way but deeply. Under your guidance studying these authors we can improve on its own, without need to copying them, but learning from them

    Dear Julie, your precious nest, intersection of lines and symbols strong, in our imagination  as human beings, shows how art is also transferring something intimate and personal that brings emotional answers from viewers.
    I am very grateful to you for these blog-lessons so beautiful on the line and its use!
    Lucky to be sitting in your classroom .but also lucky to be able to read what you generously put always available here for us !!!
    Have nice week end, Rita

    1. What a wonderful comment. Insightful and caring. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and the time you took to communicate your reaction to this post. YOU make me feel good - Bless You!
      The beauty of your mind and vision shines forth in your art and today's post on your blog is a perfect example of how your heart and hand work together so well.

  22. wow---what a fun and educational post! You are the consummate teacher. LOVE your bird nest. :)

    1. Nice of you to say that about my teaching. It IS what brings me great satisfaction.
      I find your thoughts on Facebook "likes" as an indicator of how well a painting is received, interesting. I have not figured it all out yet, but know that the way it changes on the daily scroll means I seem to miss a lot if I only go on it once a day or even every other day. I agree though, your landscape has a great impact.

  23. As always, I just love your nest images. Appreciate the info on line too.

    1. Hi Roseanne, appreciate knowing you always like my nests. Thank you.
      I visited your blog and love the cat painting for your daughter. I know Angel will be treasured.

  24. I have to describe this nest as visually delicious! rich color and texture draws me right in!

  25. I so love your bird nest paintings and all this information on line is perfect. I learned today...thank you Julie!


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