"Ode to a pair of Green Doors," 9 x 12,original watercolor.
I fell in love with these quaint cottages in Bibury, the second town we visited in the Cotswolds. They're built from the traditional honey-colored stones the Cotswolds are famous for. And I especially love the green doors. It's a paint color that's authentic to the time period and the town—you see it throughout Bibury, and it's this perfect, cozy, inviting green—not quite mint, and not quite sage, and not quite celadon, but a "come sit down and have tea with me" green. These row houses date back to the 14th Century, when they were used for monastic stores. and in the 17th Century they were converted into housing for the mill workers. They're part of Arlington Row, named after the person who established them and the mill, who just happens to be the very same Arlington who later founded Arlington, Virginia, and who also has Arlington Cemetery named after him.
These cottages face a lovely, shaded pond in the center of Bibury. They also famously appear on the inside cover of every British passport.
This is #5 in my series "100 Days in Europe," (#100daysinEurope). Just 95 to go! (haha) See them all by following me on Facebook and Instagram, as well as my blogs.
For those who are interested in my palette and process, I used a traditional watercolor palette for this painting, and added my perennial favorite Holbein Lavender, plus two signature Daniel Smith Primatek pigments: Sugilite Genuine, and Hematite Genuine. Both are ground straight from pure minerals. Sugilite is a sparkly purplish grey, the perfect complement to French Ochre for creating the honey-colored stone. I started with a light wash alternating French Ochre and Lavender for the overall lightest stone base. Hematite was used for the rich darks, along with Shadow Violet.
Jana painting en plein air at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in 2018. Her painting was chosen to market the Festival in 2019. (Photo by Tom Thurston).
Today was our second Plein Air Friday of the summer! We painted on the Provo River Parkway, just above Utah Lake, and it was a perfect morning, on a shady pathway, with a delightful breeze! We all had a wonderful time! I couldn't resist taking this quick snapshot of Lori, who looked so great all set up with her apron and easel and folding stool!
I am somewhat of an art materials junkie, continually on the lookout for the best that's available. Several people asked about the equipment and materials I had there, so here is a list of what I use, plus what I recommend for those joining us on location:
1. Easel (Not required by any means). I use the En Plein Air Pro Traveler for Watercolor with Sunpak 2001 Tripod. This is the exact easel I will be taking to France next summer. The whole amazing kit is super lightweight and compact and comes with its own backpack for easy transport. It includes a tray for holding your palette and water and brushes, and has the easiest setup of any easel I've used. (This is my third plein air easel I've purchased, and is far and away the best of its kind.) My friend and plein air painting genius Brienne Brown sold me on this system a few years ago, and I have never looked back.
2. Palette (Highly recommended). I love my Mijello 18-well Palette (same as Heritage 18-well Palette). This is a total win! I ordered these for the plein air classes I taught in Capitol Reef a few years ago, and now I use them for practically everything. They are perfectly transportable, including a leakproof rubber seal, hold 18 colors, with plenty of mixing areas, including an additional pop-out tray, and are insanely affordable if you know where to look, and what to look for!
3. Collapsible Cup (Not essential, but I am in love.) I first discovered this Faber-Castell Clic-and-Go Collapsible Cup in London, shopping for a quick plein-air travel kit. Now I order them for my UVU class, and recommend them to everyone. It is completely leak-proof (which I can NOT say for other collapsibles I've used!). It opens up to the size of a small flower pot, then collapses to 1" flat. Also, it fits perfectly in the try on my easel. And the grooves around the rim are perfect for setting your brushes on, so you don't ruin them soaking in the water!
4. Paper (Somewhat expensive, but totally worth it.) I prefer to paint on Arches Watercolor Blocks most of the time. They are pre-stretched and sealed on all four sides so your paper doesn't buckle, and each block holds 20 sheets. 140# Cold-Press is the industry standard. Sometimes I prefer Rough finish for larger works. And 300# is especially nice if you're painting plein air and not sure you'll finish at the location, because the paper is stiff enough that it still won't curl up even after you remove it from the block, eliminating the need to re-stretch. I usually work on a 10" x 14" or 12" x 16" size block when I'm teaching, so it's large enough for the students to see. For beginners to the plein air experience, I recommend working smaller rather than larger. Arches blocks now come in a myriad of shapes and sizes to meet every artist's need. 4 x 10 and 6 x 12 panoramas are great for capturing the landscape. 7 x 10 is also great, because it's a common proportion, and exactly matches the 6 x 9 sketchbook proportions. Amazon carries Arches blocks, but the best place to buy them is through online art retailers, such as Blick, Jerry's Artarama, and Cheap Joe's, where they are usually available at 50% off. (Stay away from lesser brands, such as Strathmore and Canson, as their papers are not 100% cotton, and the synthetic fibers will cause you grief—especially with puddling and edges.)
5. Support (You'll need this if you're not painting on a block). Gatorboard is the best of the best. Masonite is totally old school and weighs a ton. I have several pieces of 12 x 16 gator board (perfect for quarter-sheets), plus 24 x 32 and other sizes. They are extremely light weight, and take both staples and tape easily. I use them frequently in my studio work as well, which helps me to work on multiple paintings at once.
6. Sketchbook and Markers (because if you know me you know I love value studies!) I use the Aquabee Super Deluxe All-Media Sketchbook almost exclusively, (size 6 x 9) and have been for nearly 20 years. True to its name, it accepts all media well--including watercolor, which is pretty rare. I used to use a flat pencil for my value studies, but I've recently switched to markers, for both boldness and speed. I used a regular black Sharpie, and a simple mid-range grey. (It helps to have one with both a bold tip and a fine point.)
7. Paints (The love of my life! --after Jeff, of course!) I use primarily Daniel Smith pigments, with some other brands as well. I love the extensive color range of Daniel Smith paints, as well as the creamy consistency. If you want a list of the paints I require for my UVU Watermedia 1 class (the perfect starter set and all-around palette), or any of my other kits/palettes, feel free to contact me using the contact link above. I may start selling some palettes and kits here on my website as well.
Most important: Supplies can be a big help in the process, and significantly shorten the learning curve, but the most important thing is just to show up and paint! Practice makes a world of difference! I hope to see you outside at one of my upcoming Plein Air Fridays soon!
"Charterhouse Rules," pen and ink and watercolor, 15 x 11
I was saying to a friend the other day, "Artists may have limited resources, but we have amazing opportunities." One of these opportunities is travel. In the past 5 years my husband and I have had the extraordinary opportunity of spending over 100 days in Europe (split over two separate trips). The great thing about extended trips is you get to experience the culture as more of a resident than a tourist. In addition to the plein air paintings I created while we were there, I have over 5000 photos from each of these trips, photos of grand vistas, lifestyle moments and voluptuous gardens, all just waiting to be painted.
This very Harry Potteresque building is Charterhouse. Like Harry's alma mater Hogwarts, it is a boarding school for elite British youth. It's located in Godalming, Surrey, about half an hour southeast of London. Some dear friends of ours live nearby and took us to see the campus, whose alumni are still referred to as Old Carthusians. Among the diverse famous folks who were educated there include Peter Gabriel of Genesis fame, along with his cohorts Chris Stewart, Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford, (the band was founded there), John Wesley, founder of Methodism, novelist William Makepeace Thackeray, and leader of the scouting movement, Robert Baden-Powell. Its rolls have also boasted several earls, barons, baronets, viscounts, and multiple members of Parliament.
Next summer (June 2020) I'll be enjoying yet another set of weeks in Europe, teaching watercolor workshops at Marouatte Castle in France. To celebrate and prepare for my upcoming adventure, as well as the great time we've already spent in Europe, I'm creating a series of paintings based on these travels called (you guessed it) 100 Days in Europe. My goal is to create and post 100 paintings from our travels in France, England, and Italy before I leave again for France a year from now. It's a massive undertaking, but I'm super motivated! I really want to share all this beauty with you!
Some of the paintings will be posted along with stories and/or process and technique descriptions here on my art blog. Others will appear on my two instagram feeds (@janawparkin and @janaparkinart) and on my coordinating facebook feeds (Jana Winters Parkin, and Jana Parkin Art). I will even post a few longer stories and paintings on my personal essay blog, Divergent Pathways. Be sure to follow me in all of these places if you don't want to miss any of the stories and paintings from our extensive travels. Look for the hashtag #100daysineurope. I hope you'll feel like you've been there with me!
I am an artist and art instructor working in water media. Just knowing I can watch colors run together makes it worth getting out of bed every morning! Helping students capture the same excitement is equally rewarding.