Live Demo GAC Friday 9/7/18

I’ve been exploring a new way to sketch, synthesizing many different approaches and methods using a variety of media in a large 12″x18″ format.  I will be demonstrating this new direction at Art Walk Fest, at the Gunnison Arts Center, this Friday, September 7th from 5:00-8:00 PM.1d1bce26-9f90-4afb-9b2e-cf818b25c9cb

In my never-ending quest to become more and more loose, I am sketching directly with watercolor or pastel, then developing form and structure from the loose shapes I set on paper.  In studying the sketches of the Masters, one can see places where the artist is searching for “the line;” the place where the contour line makes the shape correct.  Then by adding value, the form can emerge.

For me, these exercises are like a scientist performing experiments, getting results, and acting on the data sets. I will use this experience to begin painting in oils.  I want my oils to be loose and direct, not layered and classical, with a build up of glazes.


Join me in Gunnison Friday night.  My sketches from this past week will be available for $50 each.

I began the week using white gouache with watercolor, sketching with my brush directly on the watercolor pad.  Later, I progressed to sketching with pastel, and adding watercolor or watercolor & gouache washes over the pastel contour lines.  In my most recent composition, I have made an underpainting of pastel.  I plan to add the watercolor washes on Friday.  Come out to see the results of this experiment.  For now, I’ve been painting horses.  On Friday, I plan to also sketch a few flowers, as time allows.

Beginning Friday during Art Walk and continuing through the month of September, I will offer all my matted bin work at 50% off.  These works are

backed with foam core and ready for your frame.  This is a great opportunity to become a collector of my artwork.  I look forward to seeing you this Friday evening.  Besides Art in Action, a full range of Art Walk activities are offered, including a free concert featuring Niceness.


Poured Watercolor Demo

For the month of August, I am the featured artist at the Gunnison Arts Center.  I decided to do a painting demonstration for the First Friday Art Walk.  Working on three subjects: a chile market in Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico; a series of flamenco dancers; and a Norwegian Fiord horse, I need to decide which piece will be the subject of my demo.  I choose the Fiord horse, because Gunnison hashas a strong horse culture and tradition.  Additionally, I am well known for my equine paintings, so this gives my audience an insight into how I work.  Studying the ink value drawing, I decide the painting’s design lends itself to the poured watercolor method.  This will be a crowd pleasing technique!  When the paper is wet and the paint is flowing, exciting mixtures and effects occur.




The Norwegian Fiord has a distinctive black and white mane and tail, along with a dorsal stripe running from the end of the mane to the beginning of the tail.  The goal of my study is to spotlight the Fiord’s unusual and distinctive markings.








After mounting my watercolor paper on a sturdy board, I transfer my drawing to the paper and mask the areas that will remain white.   When the mask is thoroughly dry, I pour the first layer using light values of permanent rose, raw sienna, and manganese blue.  These pigments will be my primaries for this painting- (red, yellow, and blue).  Using my drawing study, (above), as my value map, I mask the areas I want to remain light.  I use both a mask pen for small areas and a mask brush for larger areas.

When the second mask is dry, the painting is ready for the medium value pour.  This I will do in Gunnison at the Arts Center during the First Friday Art Walk.  The colors are bright and dramatic, eliciting ooo’s and aaaah’s from the audience.

fiord5For the final dark layer, I choose to apply color loosely with a large mop brush.  I mix colors wet-into-wet directly on the paper in selected areas where the Fiord’s distinctive black stripes appear.

I’m not concerned with a realistic reproduction of the horse’s markings.  A camera can do that job.  My objective is to celebrate the unique and instantly identifiable beauty of the Norwegian Fiord.  For this purpose, I am using bright colors in darker values than previous layers.  At this point, I must wait for the paint to dry thoroughly before I can remove the mask.  Because it is getting late at the Arts Center, I plan to do the next steps at home.

Above Right, I begin removing all the mask layers.  This is my favorite part of the process.  I feel like I am unwrapping a gift as the image begins to emerge beneath the mask.  With the mask removed, the hard work of pulling all the elements together to refine and resolve the painting begins.  I spend as much time studying the painting as I do applying paint.

Good Hair Day.jpg
“Good Hair Day”  framed 20″x16″  $350  To purchase visit: PURCHASE LINK

Seven Days

Drawing in an investigative process; as one draws, one learns about a chosen subject.  Monet was the master of learning through repeated studies of the same subject: Rouen Cathedral, the train station Saint-Lazare, and of course his beloved waterlily pond and bridge.

Inspired by my sister’s arrangement of tangerines and tangelos, I decided to make a seven day study of the fruit.  I love the Italian desert server on which she arranged her fruit.  The fruit was fresh from the grove, with intriguing almost pear-like shapes.

The first drawing captures the arrangement in ink.

Day 1

I was very drawn to the leaves still clinging to a few of the fresh tangelos.  I knew that the contrast of the green and orange would make a striking little watercolor painting.


“Zooming in close allowed me to explore how light influences color on a form.  The red shadows from the reflected light surprised me.”

With so many shapes and overlaps, I decided to explore how that overlap would be exploited in a Cubistic manner.  I chose blue complements for the server’s outlines.


“LOOKING THROUGH- observe carefully and imagine how to complete each shape- though hidden by overlap.  Painting allows abstract pattern of color to develop.  This is my take on cubism.

Further exploring the “orange-ness” of the fruit, I played with the essence of sun and citrus- similar colors, shapes, even texture.


“An orange is a small package of liquid sunshine.”

Each day’s study suggests a new direction for the subsequent journal entry.  The oranges and sunshine reminded me of the creative approach the program CBS Sunday takes with its iconic sun.


Drawing and painting reflections, rather than object, forces an artist to search for true shape and color, instead of an object’s symbolic elements.  To emphasize the reflections, I left the rest of the drawing as minimal tonal values and details.


What better way to end this study on Super Bowl Sunday?


……….a Bronco line-up…………….

Poured Watercolor, part 2

In this post, I will show you how I take a poured watercolor composition from conception to finish.  In yesterday’s post, I noted the steps I feel are important in developing a successful poured painting.  Today, I will illustrate these points.

Critical concerns to Ensure a Successful Painting

  • The artist needs to make studies before painting.   For each mask layer to be successful, a careful drawing must be executed with accurate shapes and   values .  Additionally, the artist needs to consider all the elements, (line, color, texture, form,  and space, as well as shape and value), to insure a balanced composition.  Though pouring is primarily a studio technique and not suitable for pleine aire painting, poured watercolor develops technical skills, habits of mind, and the awareness of compositional elements that are critical in the field when an artist must work quickly to capture the light.
  • When initiating compositional studies, develop your ideas into connected shapes with three or more values.
  • Edges matter- draw and mask shapes very carefully, so the painting will read when the mask is removed.  Buy the best brushes you can afford for masking, (you will need a variety), and take good care of them, so the mask doesn’t destroy them.  Mask brushes and water containers must be dedicated for masking only.
  • Exploit lost & found edges, negative space, and counter-change when developing compositional studies.
  • Avoid details until the end, when the mask is off.
  • When the mask is off, find areas where the edges must be softened.

Make Studies:

The photograph below shows my daughter’s pony, about 17 years ago.  It is well suited for a poured demo, as it has large shapes and strong light.

Develop strong connected shapes in three values:

I made an initial drawing in three values.  You can see how the shapes connect- the white area of grass flows into the pony’s nose, and the dark area of grass flows into the pony’s legs.  This gives the painting nice use of negative space, and the lost and found edges compel viewer involvement.  In the actual composition, the white leg flows better into the white grassy area.  Without making the value study, I would not have noticed this.  At this stage there are few details, yet the painting clearly reads as a pony in his pasture.


Consider each element of art:  (line, color, texture, form, space, shape, value)

I begin designing with shape, value, and space, then I consider the other four.  The light on the pony’s back and the lighter belly areas will define a well-rounded, solid form.  I will enhance this element after the mask is off, as I soften edges that define form.

Color, line, and texture come from my painted studies.IMG_1907

Raw sienna, cobalt blue, and manganese blue all produce granulation, which will add texture to both the pony and the foreground.  This color study tells me what to expect as the colors mix during the pour.

In making a small color study, I learned that my initial primary color triad- raw sienna (for yellow), burnt sienna (for red), and cobalt blue, needed a little punch to the earth pigments.  I added rose madder, because it is earthier than permanent rose, and manganese blue for its lovely green mixing qualities and granulation.  I use a limited palette of 4 blues, 3 reds, and 3 yellows for my paintings.   For poured paintings, I limit my palette to just 3-6 pigments.


In the painted study, I connected the white leg into the white grassy shape, as noted above.  In painting the grass, I used a variety of long, short, and broken lines to convey both texture and to lead the eye into the pony, as subject.  Then I added juicy drops of color into the tail to blow tail lines that echo grass lines and blend into pasture.

Edges matter:

Shapes are carefully masked.  I use my value map, (first photo), to make order out of the chaos of masking and pouring.  Once the first mask is applied, it becomes difficult to see how the painting is progressing, so the initial studies are critical to organizing the pouring process.


Preparing for the first pour.  Each pigment cup is labeled and dedicated for only that pigment, which I rinse & save after each pour.   Large syringes work well for mixing, and small syringes are handy when pouring into small spots.













mask and first pour- raw sienna, burnt sienna, cobalt blue. Note very light underpainting of soft trees and clouds before the first mask was applied.


After the final pour, removing the mask.
After the mask was removed, beautiful passages of granulation and texture were revealed

 Avoid details and soften edges when the mask is removed:

Check back soon for how to resolve the painting once the mask has been removed.

Watercolor Demo at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts

An interested audience of close to 40 artists attended a watercolor demo by Cheri Isgreen at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts Thursday afternoon. The demo focused on the technique of poured watercolor, which exploits watercolor’s natural tendency to produce unexpected, yet rich luminous color mixtures. Cheri explained that this technique emphasizes lost and found edges, negative space, counterchange, and a strong value design. With its many layers of mask and washes, poured watercolor is primarily a studio technique. A good underdrawing, balanced composition, and carefully applied media ensure successful paintings. Though not suitable for pleine aire painting, poured watercolor develops technical skills and the awareness of compositional elements that are critical in the field when an artist must work quickly to capture the light. The demo, sponsored by the Brush and Palette Club drew one of the largest audiences the club has experienced for a demo. Elise Lind, president of the club remarked the club gained 5 new members after this demo. The club is working with Cheri to provide a Poured Watercolor Workshop in the coming year. If you are interested in attending, comment below.

To learn more about the technique and see how this demo painting is developing, follow the blog-         The series will begin tomorrow, taking the demo painting from initial studies to finished painting.

A large audience of artists await the beginning of the demo by Cheri Isgreen:cheri5

Demo #2

Besides the landscape demo, I created a surreal composition of Lipizzan horses frolicking in the moonlight.  This painting employs a number of unusual characteristics, resulting in a modern painting, though rendered in traditional representational imagery of the 3 foot phases of the canter: (hind leg strike off, diagonal pair on the ground, and foreleg lead pushing into the suspension phase.  The suspension phase was not included, as it would have made this composition crowded.)

First, the moon was pushed forward to become the fourth character in the painting.  Second, I changed the color scheme to warm, though night paintings are usually portrayed  in cool colors.  Finally, I changed the format from the traditional horizontal format depicting a group of running horses to a vertical.  The hard edges resulting from the poured technique, combined with the vertical format gives this painting the flavor of an Oriental woodblock print.

"Frolic in the Moonlight" copyright C Isgreen 2015
“Frolic in the Moonlight” copyright C Isgreen 2015

Below one can see the results of the final pour with the mask being removed to reveal the painting underneath, as alluded to in the previous post:  Poured Watercolor Workshop at Western Colorado Center for the Arts,

final pour dry; removing mask
final pour dry; removing mask

Watercolors and Wine Update

I’ve been busy working out the  composition for my upcoming workshop at the Gunnison Arts Center next Thursday night.   As part of the  watercolors and wine series, I have come up with a plan to incorporate a playful approach to watercolor, using techniques that will spice up your paintings with special effects.  Playing on the wine theme, the painting we will pursue is entitled, “Wine Pearing.”  This step-by-step class will give you confidence and techniques to create more playful paintings.  Additionally, I will give you design principles to best express your ideas.  This painting will focus on using space effectively.

“Wine Pearing” pencil and watercolor study copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015

Watercolors and Wine Workshop- registration open

"Lettuce Turnip da Beet"  copyright C Isgreen
“Lettuce Turnip the Beet” copyright C Isgreen

MAY 21 – WATERCOLORS & WINE Wine and Watercolors is not your typical art class….it’s a small art party in a fun, relaxing environment. Join this classic, very popular “AND” series for an evening of wine tasting and watercolor painting. The “Watercolors and Wine” series lead you step by step through an exciting project using a variety of unique watercolor techniques.  Bring home a beautiful painting that you created!

"April Showers Bring May Flowers"  copyright C Isgreen
“April Showers Bring May Flowers” copyright C Isgreen

In the May session, you will create a spring painting while learning a variety of techniques to  give your watercolors texture and sparkle.  Improve your artwork by understanding how space works in a composition. No experience required. Bring your creativity & enthusiasm.  Let us turn up the beat in your artwork with  “Watercolors and Wine,”  Thursday May 21 at the Gunnison Art Center.  $35 includes supplies, appetizers, wine, and fun!  Grab some friends and plan a party: Register 4 participants for price of 3 -$105

Hot Shoe, part 2

I was eager to return to this work after the painting dried.  This morning I worked on legs- the horse’s weight bearing foot; the farrier’s chaps and initial wash for his boot.  Treatment for the chaps was approached in a different manner than the very modeled and harder-edged shirt.  The leather in the chaps still had shadows and highlights, but the surface of the leather is softer, requiring a wet-into-wet approach.  Lifting the highlights while the paint was still wet also added to a softer edge.  I found I needed all 6 pigments to complete these pieces of the painting- dominant pigments: raw sienna- lower chaps; burnt sienna & ultramarine blue- upper chaps & hoof tool; burnt sienna- hoof.

Hot Shoe part 4 copyright C Isgreen
Hot Shoe part 4 copyright C Isgreen

Next steps: finish the boot and paint the jeans, then pull the painting together with final touches.

New Work; Hot Shoe

Sometimes the paintings we see in our mind’s eye take a bit of incubation before they appear on paper.  Two years ago I became inspired to paint my farrier doing “hot shoe” work.  In this work, new shoes are shaped to the horse’s individual feet with a forge.  We set a time for me to photograph him working; I took many reference photos.  Much later, I sat down to make a study for the painting.  I used a variety of media for this study, including graphite pencil, colored pencil, and charcoal.  The finished drawing suggested a pastel painting, but I knew I wanted this to be a watercolor with lost and found edges.

study for "Hot Shoe" copyright C Isgreen
study for “Hot Shoe” copyright C Isgreen

I thought I would work on it last fall or into the winter.  Instead, I studied the effects of winter storms.  We had quite a bit of snow this past winter, so I observed how the atmosphere creates lost and found edges.  I went out to paint some storms safely ensconced in my car.  Most recently, I began the painting process.  In the drawing, there is no smoke or lost edges.  I felt for a study, I needed to learn how the edges articulated and the shapes joined.  I did like the idea of using primary colors as my color scheme.  For the painting, I decided to use the following pigments- 2 neutrals- (one leaning toward yellow and the other leaning toward red), raw sienna and burnt sienna; 2 blues- cobalt blue and ultramarine blue; 2 reds- permanent rose madder and permanent alizarine crimson.  This is a rather traditional palette, and for this painting these six pigments worked quite well.

After transferring my drawing to a half sheet of Arches 140 pound cold press paper and stretching it on my watercolor board, I set out to create the background- the elusive smoke and the atmospheric effects that smoke would create.  I relied strongly on my winter studies of storms, mists, and fog.

hot shoe. step 1 copyright C IsgreenThe initial wash was laid down with cobalt blue, burnt & raw sienna, (and rose madder for the sleeve.)  When the wash dried, I felt the edges were too defined, so I lifted quite a bit of the initial wash to better express the smokey environment when the hot shoe is tested to the horse’s hoof.  (See next photo.)  Now, with no strong edges, my mind was having a hard time organizing the shapes and seeing how the final result should progress.  I needed to create some hard edges, value range, and definition.  I did this by painting the head and the hand.

Hot Shoe part 2, copyright Cheri Isgreen
Hot Shoe part 2, copyright Cheri Isgreen

Later, I added the first wash on the red shirt in rose madder.  Now the drama of the farrier placing the hot shoe on the horse’s hoof is beginning to emerge to become the centerpiece of the painting.

hot shoe step 3 copyright C isgreen
hot shoe step 3 copyright C isgreen

With the initial red wash dry, I used alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue to define the shirt.  The top peaks of the fabric folds were lifted to create highlights.  (It’s interesting how that word perfectly defines what an artist does.)  While still wet, I added more rose madder to saturate the red at the point just before the fabric moves into shadow.

Please stay tuned to see how this painting progresses………and hit the FOLLOW button to read more about Cheri Isgreen Fine Art.follow