Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Unionville Art Gala this weekend!

I'm thrilled to be participating in the Unionville Art Gala this weekend! This annual art show is a major fundraiser for the Unionville High School PTO. I hope you can come see me there -- I'll have lots of paintings and some special sale prices for holiday shoppers! The event is at the Unionville High School, 6pm to 9pm Friday evening, and Saturday from 11am to 4pm. Here's a small sampling of some of my many paintings available at the sale!

 Sunday I went to the Salmagundi Club for the reception of the American Artist Professional League. I've been a member of the AAPL for decades, and joined the Board of Directors earlier this year. It's nice that this organization now uses Skype during our Board meetings, so members no longer have to commute to downtown NYC to join the Board. A few years ago, I had to resign as President of the Louisiana Watercolor Society shortly after I was elected, because I moved to Philadelphia. I wish all societies and organizations allowed the option for Board Members to stay active by using Skype for their meetings!

posted by Annie Strack @ 9:29 AM   0 Comments

Thursday, November 12, 2015

New Watercolor Workshop in New Orleans!

I've just scheduled a new watercolor painting workshop in New Orleans! This is going to sell out really fast, so you better sign up NOW!  January 29, 30, & 31 at the West Bank Art Guild. Contact Carol Patai to register!  

posted by Annie Strack @ 4:59 PM   0 Comments

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Recent demonstration paintings, and Daniel Smith's Watercolor Ground

Here's some of my demonstration paintings from the Hands On Creativity event at the Plaza Art store in Philadelphia last month. The store asked me to lead "make and take" type painting lessons using Daniel Smith watercolors, Escoda brushes, and Fluid 100 watercolor paper. I brought reference photos of subjects that would be quick and easy for beginning artists to follow along, such as simple seascapes and florals.
Island beach, 7x10 watercolor $89.

Beach, 12x16 watercolor $125.

Sunflower, 9x12 watercolor $95.
 I loved using the Daniel Smith paints, Escoda brushes,and Fluid 100 paper! The Daniel smith paints are very rich and saturated - the colors are much more vibrant than other brands. I used a split primary palette which allowed me to mix every color I could possibly ever want. These colors are sold in a set, which is perfect for any watercolor artist whether they are a beginner or advanced. The six-color set is also a perfect gift for plein air artists, who want to be able to mix every color without carrying a lot of tubes of paint! The synthetic Escoda brushes that I used were also wonderful, as they are very absorbent and hold a ton of fluid. These brushes hold fine points and sharp edges which afford detailed precision, and the large bodies allow for loose painting as well. These brushes perform similarly to high priced natural Kolinsky hair brushes, and are the best synthetic brushes that I've ever used. The Fluid 100 paper is a brighter white than the majority of other watercolor papers on the market, and has a nice texture and sizing. It is a wonderful surface to work on, particularly for artists that like to use a truly white paper. It does have one drawback, however, in that it is harder to remove off of the blocks than other brands of blocked paper. I'm more experienced than most as I've been using blocked paper exclusively for over 30 years, and yet I tore several of the sheets as I was removing them.
Canvas panels prepped with Daniel Smith's Watercolor Ground.
While we're on the subject of art supplies, I want to tell you about Daniel Smith's Watercolor Ground. This is a type of ghesso that can be applied to almost any surface, to prepare that surface to accept watercolor paint. It can be used to cover mistakes on a watercolor painting to allow an area to be repainted, and it can be used as an opaque white paint to recreate white areas. I used it recently while painting en plein air during the Plein Air Brandywine Valley event. I prepped some of my 8x10 canvas panels with the watercolor ground so that I could use them for watercolors OR for oils. When I paint en plein air, I often switch back and forth between using oils and watercolors, and that means carrying paper and panels and different types of frames for each. With my panels prepped with the watercolor ground, I could leave the paper at home and use the same frames on my watercolors as I did on my oil paintings. I carry both oils and watercolor paints in my easel, so I could make my decision as to which I was going to use on my panel when I got to the site. When finished, I used the same varnish spray on my watercolors as I use on my oil painting, and the same frames. No glass or mats are needed. Prepping my panels with the Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground meant that I could still work in two mediums, but I had a lot less materials to carry with me and my framing was simplified dramatically. This is especially important when traveling! If you work in both watercolor and oils en plein air, you really need to give this a try.

Plaza Art also wrote a lovely feature article about me on their blog, please take a minute to check it out!

posted by Annie Strack @ 2:23 PM   0 Comments

Friday, October 30, 2015

Plein Air Brandywine Valley

I had a busy week painting in the Plein Air Brandywine Valley last week! I also hosted two visiting artists in my home, my friends Mary Monk and Laura Fischer Saxon from New Orleans.
Mary Monk and Annie Strack at Winterthur 

Laura Fischer Saxon and Annie Strack at Winterthur
 I painted from sunrise to sunset during the 4-day event, and finished 10 paintings. Each day, artists were allowed to choose from a list of 4 or 5 locations in the Brandywine valley area. The locations are different each day, and always full of gorgeous sites scenery. Many are vast private farms and estates, and some are more public like museums, gardens, or towns. This year, I painted the main street of Marshallton, Meyer's farm in Kennett, Winterthur, and Coverdale Farm. All the paintings were exhibited the following weekend at Winterthur, with a portion of the sales benefiting the Children's Beach House charity.
Any Cock Will Do, 5x7 oil $79.

Blacksmith Shop, 8x10 oil $195.

Coverdale Entrance Road, 8x10 oil $195.

Hay Bales at Coverdale Farm, 8x10 watercolor on canvas panel $195.

Coverdale Fenceline, 8x10 oil (SOLD)

Entrance Road at Meyer's Farm, 8x10 oil $195.

Hay Bales at Meyer's Farm, 8x10 oil $195.

Farmhouse at Winterthur, 9x12 watercolor $195.

Pond at Winterthur, 8x10 watercolor on canvas panel $195.

Tree at Winterthur Pond, 8x10 oil $195.
Much thanks to all the staff of the Children's Beach House and the volunteers of Plein Air Brandywine Valley for making this event so wonderful again! And special thanks to Janssen's Market for providing all the artists with delicious gourmet lunches every day of the event! 

posted by Annie Strack @ 2:16 PM   0 Comments

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hands on Creativity!

Once again I had a wonderful time demonstrating painting during the Hands On Creativity event at the Plaza Art Store in Philadelphia! This year I demonstrated watercolor painting, using Daniel Smith watercolor paints, Fluid 100 watercolor paper, and Escoda Brushes. Tons of artists and art students stopped by to try these materials for themselves and learn from my painting demonstrations. This is a big annual event, and several other professional artists and product representatives were on hand to join me in this fun filled event. If you missed it, be sure to mark your calendars for next year! and be sure to check out the Plaza Art blog to keep up with their latest news, too!
Thomas Atkinson demonstrated his Super Power (drawing!) with Copic Markers

Gamblin Artists Colors -- a favorite with plein air painters (I bought a few items while I was there!)

Marta Kepka of The Fine Art Collective demonstrating Liquitex Artist Materials!

Kyle demonstrated the different types of totally awesome palettes from New Wave Art!

Plaza Artist Materials & Picture Framing employee extraordinaire Sarah showed artists how to have tons of fun with Sculpty Clay!

Art students from all over the city stopped to try the DANIEL SMITH: Artists' Materials watercolors, Escoda Brushes Pinceles Pinzells brushes, and Fluid 100 watercolor paper demonstrated by Philadelphia Water Color Society - PWCS board member Annie Strack.

posted by Annie Strack @ 8:07 PM   0 Comments

Friday, October 2, 2015

New Tutorial! How to Paint the Scooter!

I always try to remember to shoot plenty of photos when I start a new painting, but I usually forget. When I do remember, I use those photos to write a step by step painting lesson and post them on the internet, either on my own blog or for one of my sponsors or affiliates. I love to share my techniques and help other aspiring artists hone their skills. Check out my latest tutorial on Artists Network and follow along as I paint this landscape with a scooter from start to finish. My tutorials are always filled with detail descriptions of all my techniques and each step is illustrated with photos. 
Annie Strack painting tutorial
This short tutorial is packed with tips and secrets for mixing dark colors, reserving whites and highlights, planning compositions, lifting paint, choosing colors, and more! Be sure to check it out, and leave a comment and share it with your friends!

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:30 PM   0 Comments

Monday, September 14, 2015

a couple of new paintings

I painted these two little watercolors this last weekend, and both of them sold before the paint was dry. I usually post my newest paintings on my Facebook page right away, and they often sell before I get a chance to post them here or elsewhere. The best bet to get first dibs on my latest paintings is to keep an eye on my Facebook page.

Sunset by Annie Strack, sold

Sunflower by Annie Strack, sold

posted by Annie Strack @ 8:58 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Free painting lessons at Plaza in Philly!

I'm thrilled that Plaza Artist Materials has asked me to demonstrate watercolor painting during their Hands on Creativity event at their Philly store! I'll be demonstrating numerous painting techniques on a variety of surfaces from 11-4pm on Saturday and Sunday, October 17th and 18th. I'll also be teaching short, quick and easy lessons! This is a "drop in" event, you don't need to register! All materials are provided for my lessons, and students will leave with a completed painting. There will be lots of free samples of art supplies to give away, too, so you really don't want to miss this event!
Representatives from all the major artist materials suppliers will also be on hand to distribute free samples of all sorts of art supplies. This event only happens once a year, so you don't want to let this opportunity pass you by!

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:27 PM   0 Comments

Monday, August 31, 2015

Making a color chart for referencing pigment properties!

One of my students just asked me about pigment properties, specifically, how to know which paints are granulating. The best way to know how your paints will perform is to make a color chart of your paints and test them yourself. Here's my color chart, which I keep in my studio as a handy reference.
Annie Strack's studio color chart
To start my color chart, I painted black stripes with acrylic paint on a large sheet of watercolor paper, and let them dry completely. When I paint a sample of watercolor across the black stripe, it shows me the opacity/transparency of each color.

While each watercolor sample is still wet, I backwash the color with a brushstroke of clean water. This shows me how granulating the color is, and also how much it will bloom. 

After the watercolor sample is dry, I use a damp brush to try and lift a stripe across it. This shows me how much staining strength that color has.

I write the name of color and the brand name next to each sample, as some colors are similar to others. Also, colors and their properties vary dramatically between brands.

I have a lot of tubes of paint in my studio, and this color chart helps me to distinguish which ones are right for which paintings. Cobalt, in particular, varies tremendously between the brands, and using a chart for reference helps me maintain consistency in my colors.

I started this color chart several years ago, and each time I get a new color I add it to my chart for future reference and comparison. I learned how to do this many years ago when I first started doing product testing for paint companies. Even if you're just an amateur artist or student, I highly recommend you make a color chart for yourself. It will help you to become familiar with colors and their properties, and help you to create better paintings!

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:53 PM   0 Comments

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Plein Air Brandywine Valley 2015

I'm thrilled to be an invited artist in the Plein Air Brandywine Valley again! This year's event will begin on October 19th and the paintings will be exhibited for sale at Winterthur Estate and Gardens on the weekend of October 24 & 25. There will be a special preview party for patrons on Friday, October 23rd. Most of the paintings sell during the preview party, so be sure to get your tickets to this coveted event before they're all sold out! Be sure to check out the PABV website to get your tickets and learn more about this event. 
Each day, the artists are given a choice of 4 or 5 locations in the Brandywine Valley where they can paint. I usually try to go to two each day, one in the morning and a different one in the afternoon. Be sure to follow me on Facebook to keep up with my daily posts, and see where I'll be each day. If you're in the area, be sure to stop by -- I always love to meet my fans and followers in person!

posted by Annie Strack @ 5:09 PM   0 Comments

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