WATERCOLOR: Splish, Splash

Watercolor by Woody HansenTitle: SPLISH, SPLASH – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, click image)

WATERCOLOR ADVICE: “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salviador Dali

The above quote reminds me of  a couple who were discussing their newly purchased watercolor, which had just been hung. The guy was annoyed at his wife’s indifference to what he felt was a poor job. “The problem is that I’m a perfectionist and you’re not,” he finally said to her.  “Exactly!” she replied. “That’s why you married me and I married you!”

Splish, Splash, begins outdoors on a cool, sunny Friday at the American River Parkway,a few yards east of the Watt Avenue boat ramp. Nice as the morning is, it’s one of those times we’re faced with the question, “What shall I paint?”

I elect to begin a non-objective approach without a value plan, or preliminary sketch,or idea of any kind. The chosen watercolor technique is wet-on-dry, i.e., wet paint applied to dry, 140 pound, Arches cold press watercolor paper.

A three-inch, flat watercolor brush, loaded with clear water is stroked across a nearly vertical  support.  The water drips down the surface of the paper, each drip following its own unique path of least resistance. The goal is to create a loosely applied, light value underpainting in the three primary hues, red, yellow, and blue. Each of the several watercolor strokes is randomly applied with only minimal thought as to the end result.

Next, the three-inch brush is saturated with a couple of medium value, red hues. This will be a dominate shape that will eventually become an interesting focal point. Finally, I step back about eight feet and with a flicking motion of the wrist, fling paint drops in the direction of the watercolor paper. Gravity is encouraged to take over as the colors run and blend one into the other, watercolor doing what it does at its juiciest best. So, timeout for Connor to play in the nearby  river.

Back at the watercolor easel, fresh eyes imagine the red shape as a truncated tree trunk, or perhaps some mangled, metal auto parts, etc. Then too, there is a three-inch broken blue, rectangle at the top of the painting suggesting  a horizon line which in turn could be turned into a backdrop for the river. At this stage, it’s similar to an ink block test where almost anything goes.

The non-objective approach goes out the window in favor of the suggestion of a possible American or Sacramento river landscape. At this stage this work is heavily weighted to the left. Then I notice a trash can about fifteen yards ahead and to my right. If I add two cans that will give me a Steel-yard composition. All that remains is to tie things together, and a rather appealing, though imperfect watercolor is created. Mission accomplished.

Questions? Leave a comment here, or ar my Contact Page.  For purchase information, go HERE.

New Watercolor Classes

Watercolor classes promo signWatercolor classes begin on March 27th. Ten consecutive Wednesdays. Choose from three possible time slots, 9-12. 1-4, or 6-9. Economically priced. All levels welcome.

Woody Hansen’s “No Bull” indoor classes feature watercolor demonstrations, brief lectures, low pressure critiques, personal guidance, and time for plenty of questions.

These low-cost, affordable sessions are challenging, fun, informative, productive, and appropriately humorous. The demo, painting, and critique atmospheres are relaxed, friendly, and highly conducive to clearly learning the elements of a good painting and developing self-confidence.

These outstanding classes will help take you to the next level by stimulating your mind as well as your brush. Beyond the basics, class content is flexible and geared toward self improvement within a respectful, sharing, group environment. ALL LEVELS WELCOME. No primadonnas, please.

TOTAL TUITION: $200. A check holds your seat.

Continuing participants: Total Tuition, $100
Previous participants: Total Tuition, $150

All Participants: Receive a $50 “Finder’s Fee” for each new participant who registers on your recommendation

TO REGISTER OR TO LEARN MORE, click image above, or go here: http://www.allthingswatercolor.com/0.ClassCalendar.html

Questions? To contact me personally, click HERE.

Metamorphosis – Original Watercolor

Metamorphosis, Original Watercolor by Woody Hansen
Title: INSPIRATION – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, click image)


There is a bit of magician in most of us who paint. We sometimes use deception to suggest a a watercolor vision, or use misdirection for purposes of design, or artistic license.

A week ago last Free Friday  I find myself at the American River Parkway, a favorite watercolor location. What to paint that I’ve not painted before? I thumb through a cache of value plans and select a sketch completed last August in Mount Shasta, California.

The four-value sketch is of a scene along the headwaters of the Sacramento River, in an area south of Mt. Shasta, called Cantara Loop. Here, the headwaters are more stream than river. The water flows slow and deep through a narrow region often referred to as Box Canyon.

The sketch depicts a sandy foreground, a bit of shallow water dropping off sharply into the mid value, deep water background. The darks are a rock, large cliff, a stump, and some vegetation at the lower left corner. Plenty of material with which to develop a watercolor painting (see image below).

Metamorphosis Value Plan

An advantage of working from value sketches is that the actual watercolor can be done anywhere, at anytime! But wait, it gets even better. One value plan can be the stimulus for other creative ideas.

The end result? A narrow Mount Shasta stream becomes a wider, deeper river some 220 miles to the south. Thus, the viewer is visually entertained with the help of a watercolor painter’s creative friends, deception, misdirection, and artistic license

Questions? Leave a comment here, or via my Contact Page.  For purchase information, go HERE.

Inspiration – Original Watercolor

INSPIRATION. Original Watercolor by Woody Hansen
Title: INSPIRATION – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, click image)


What does a watercolor artist do to create inspiration and interest beyond slavishly  replicating that which is before him. It is an interesting and challenging problem.  No small amount of caution and thought is required to avoid falling into the trap of producing  just another trite, mundane watercolor paining.  Of course the answer is always a subjective one.

While I don’t pretend to speak for every artist, what follows is simply one man’s approach to dealing with the subjective problem of avoiding mundane subject matter.

Photograph of site scene

The day on which this particular watercolor begins is rather dark, cool and overcast. As I set up my painting gear it is obvious the river scene is engulfed in the most bland and boring earth colors imaginable (see above).

Initially, I haven’t a subject matter in mind. The main thought is to first set up the watercolor equipment, then to select subject matter from the immediate surroundings, or from one of several previously accomplished value plans, which are carefully tucked away in my backpack.

Photograph of painting site along the American River, Sacramento, CA.

NOTE: For purposes of illustrating this blog post,  I returned to the location the following morning to photograph both the far left and far right groups of trees that provide the basis of this watercolor composition (see above image).

Photograph of a tree used for design purposes

I forego the aforementioned sketches. But what to paint? I have painted this spot for numerous years. How can I inject something new, something beyond the obvious? Then  I notice a group of easterly facing trees, twenty to thirty yards to my right. These trees are not new to the river. Their residency is decades old. What’s so different about them this time? No leaves. Two clumps of tree limbs and branches suggest interesting shapes, each of a different size. this makes an ideal starting point for today’s watercolor.

Photograph of a tree used for design purposes

The photo above, isolates and  illustrates the larger of the two groups of trees. I note the overall tree shape which is composed of many smaller trunks is visually divided into three smaller shapes. By imagining the elimination of the right and left shapes, the center most group of trunks becomes a large design element.

Below is an overlay, a rough illustration of what will become the dominate watercolor shape discussed in the previous paragraph. The selected shape is seen loosely outlined in bold, black ink.Graphic overlay of design element

Below is a close-up view of the second grouping of trees, which are situated to the right of the main, or dominate grouping.

Photograph of trees for use as a possible design shape.


Below is another  overlay, a rough illustration of the less dominate shape mentioned in the above paragraph. The selected shape is seen outlined in bold, black ink. It is helpful to keep in mind these are only suggested shapes. At this point in the creative watercolor process there is no attempt to develop any recognizable subject, only unique shapes that inspire or in some way energize  forward progress. If anything, this early attempt  is only to find shapes that might result in a non-objective painting.

Photograph of American River, Sacramento, CA.

The next step is to freely draw the shapes on watercolor paper. In this instance, I use watercolor  line to outline three shapes of various sizes, two of which are based on personal observation and the third of arbitrary origin. The three positive areas and single negative area appear to meet the definition of an interesting shape. The result is seen below.

Linear outline of interesting shapes

The firs watercolor layer is achieved wet-on-dry, using primary colors purposely kept light in value (tints). Once the first layer is dry, a second layer, consisting of a mid-value mixture of reds and blues (purple) is laid in. In short order, the watercolor pattern of light and mid-values are loosely established (see below).

Beginning of watercolor washes.

At this point the painting itself gives the impression of a subject, so I willingly disregard the non-objective concept.  The next step is to suggest the pattern of darks. With the use of a three-inch, flat brush an eventual value pattern is established, followed by a period of compositional evaluation and adjustment.

The third layer is applied.

While  one can see a definite value pattern above, this painting appears to lack finish, as well as the visual “snap” I imagine. It falls short of its potential. Among other things, this watercolor could use bold darks to energize the light and mid values.

Therefore, it seems wise to lay in additional darks. Sometimes I hunker down and apply the darks directly with assured strokes.  Other times I use a more cautious approach,. This is accomplished by placing a piece of glass over the dried watercolor painting, which allows one to easily add and remove dark shapes or calligraphy, made with a black, dry erase” pen.

This technique of drawing on glass also encourages free experimentation without the concern of error. Any mistakes can be easily, and quickly brushed off with a cotton rag. Lots of fun! (see below).

Adjusting the dark pattern

Once the glass is removed from the watercolor a clear checkerboard pattern of darks, along with additional calligraphic marks can be seen and evaluated. This pattern then serves as a guide for further development of the watercolor. The same process could, of course be technologically adaptted (Photoshoped), but I prefer the “hands on” approach.

Black ink watercolor shape overlay

Now the darks are added to the watercolor. All that remains is the final adjustment here and there of shape, value, color, line, texture, etc. The finished painting is seen at the top and bottom of this post.

SO, WHAT’S THE POINT? The point is that we don’t need the perfect view, the ideal subject, an exotic location, to make a painting.  With a little imagination, we can find inspiration, and interesting shapes (the foundation of all painting) nearly anywhere.

NOTE: If you found this information informative, entertaining, or helpful, and would like to see more posts of this nature, please leave a comment here, or contact me by way of my web site’s Contact Page. Obviously, the amount of feedback I receive will determine future postings.

 Questions? Leave a comment here, or contact me personally via my Contact Page.   To learn more, or to purchase this painting please click on THIS LINK.

INSPIRATION. Original Watercolor by Woody Hansen

Foggy Free Friday


This Pearl Harbor Day morning, finds Sacramento with a quiet, and foggy Free Friday. we arrive at the American River to find one of those great winter mornings, no wind, not too cold, and near perfect for wet-into-wet watercolor. Fog’s limited visibility seems to intensify the discovery of simple, splendid shapes and limited color as well. Sacramento and Mendocino all rolled into one outstanding morning of painting. What’s Free Friday? Learn more …

My painting buddy Connor ( top photo) enjoys the early hours sniffing and snooping here and there. He has a great time retrieving sticks thrown into the river. Additionally, he also retrieves two, smelly, bloated, 30-inch fish that have seen better days. Proudly, he drops each fish at my feet; lucky me! Upon returning home, stinky Connor is immediately shampooed!

This could be your next painting experience . Anytime you’re in the area, you are welcome to join me for Free Friday (every Friday throughout the year).

Arts Issues

Keeping an eye on ART ISSUES

Yesterday, I saw a Twitter post that reads “Germany announces 8% increase in arts funding within overall budget cut of 3.1% “an indispensable investment in the future of our society.” I was unable to locate further updated, or supportive source information.

However, during my web search I came across a related article,  Submitted by The City Wire Staff on Friday, 08/05/2011, by John Jeter, music director and conductor of the Fort Smith Symphony Whether one is pro or con support of the arts, Jeter’s article provides food for thought:

Arts Issues: Funding the Arts

Like all things excellent, the Arts, artists and artistic endeavors need support to survive and thrive. On an international level, the Arts are supported in a number of different ways with the approaches to funding being influenced greatly by social-political and artistic history. A look at how a few different countries support the Arts can be a real eye-opener. Read more …

At the time of this post, this link leads to the rest of Jeter;s article: http://www.thecitywire.com/node/17119#.ULwlIKXBrHN


$80 billion art?

Sky full of money

The following CNBC article was brought to my attention recently. I share it here.

Will Artspace Be the Art World’s Amazon.com?

Fine art is an $80 billion global market and the co-founders of Artspace.com think an online marketplace can grab $10 billion to $15 billion of that total. The article goes on to note:

Artspace co-founder, Christopher Vroom said, “As an investment, the contemporary art market and the fine art market more broadly have been an extraordinary place to put money over the past decade. The $1 billion in contemporary art sold at auction last week at Sotheby’s (BID) and Christies lifts the value of other works …”

Sounds good. What do you think? Read more …



I saw this on yahoo this morning. I thought it was interesting, and maybe you would be interested, in case you missed it.

Veteran’s Day, 2012, 13, and 14

Recreated U.S. Flag with button stars
Medium: Collaborative Quilt by physically and mentally challenged artists.

In recognition and appreciation of all veterans, past and present. Thank you for your service.

Arnold Hansen (Uncle). Died at age 18, WWII. US Navy, April 19, 1944. Body lost at sea. Ship: John Straub.

Earlier today (2012) my dog Connor and I took a walk through the neighborhood. The American flag was prominently displayed outside 11 of the 182 homes we passed. While far from a scientific survey, 11 of 182f homes suggests that the U.S. Flag was flown outside .06% of the homes of my friends and neighbors. Lest we forget.

11/11/14: Connor and I, together walked a different part of the neighborhood, this time covering 158 homes. We saw 18 U.S. flags prominently displayed. My math thereby indicates 11% of my friends and neighbors flew the flag on this Veteran’s Day.

“Freedom is never free.” -Author Unknown

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Connor Report – 1 Year Anniversary

Photo of Connor by Woody HansenIMAGE 1: Connor’s Profile

Strike up the band! Bring on the “special celebration treats,” which in this case is extra dog cookies and the favorite … a hamburger! Our dog Connor joined the Hansen family one year ago today, Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm.    It’s been an exuberant, rambunctious, but happy year. Connor is now eighteen months old, weighs 85 pounds and is a bundle of energy and joy.

Thankfully, Connor loves almost all people and all dogs. He is a very affectionate lover boy. Everyone and everything is his friend.  Connor is very sharing, too.   Hardly a day goes by but what we don’t discover at least one bone in nearly every room. We have come to refer to our home as … Connor’s Boneyard!

Still, true to his German Shepard-Rottweiler heritage, on more than one occasion he has already proven his worth as a very serious protector of home and family. Walk softly, but carry a big bark.

Photo of Connor by Woody HansenIMAGE 2: Connor’s “Charmer” pose

Connor is eager to participate in my watercolor paint outs, Free Fridays, classes. workshops. etc. He particularly likes to go to the American River Parkway where  during painting breaks he enjoys retrieving sticks thrown into the river. More correctly he loves to bravely plunge into any body of water, pool, pond, lake, or river. Cold water means nothing to him, not even the water coming directly off the glaciers of Mt. Shasta. No problem. An eager traveler, he pretty much goes where ever we go and he is quite comfortable in a car over short or long distances. In brief, he travels well.

Photo of Connor by Woody HansenIMAGE 3: Surveying his domain

As readers of this blog know (see previous post Meet Connor), Connor is a rescue dog from Tracy California, where thanks to Bert and Mary Debusschere, he was given what amounts to a second lease on life. As a pup, Bert and Mary not only saved him from euthanization, but were also responsible for nursing him back to excellent health.

When Connor came into our family he was already named. Although we could have renamed him we elected not to. As the months roll by, my wife and I jokingly agree he is aptly named, especially the “con” part for he truly is a “con” artist. He simply has a way of charming everyone he meets, the marks of a good “con” artist. He seems to melt away the hearts of people where ever we go. He is becoming a part of each watercolor class, eagerly greeting each student and showering them with love and affection. As noted, a real charmer.
Photo of Connor by Woody Hansen IMAGE 4: I’m stunned!  What do you mean “cute ears?”

When meeting Connor for the first time, people remark about his size, also his coloring, “beautiful eyes,” and especially his amazingly white teeth. Connor absolutely has the whitest teeth one can imagine. His teeth are milk white, or to use a watercolor term … pure “Chinese White.” He would be a natural actor for a commercial promoting dog toothpaste! Hmm, maybe I need to post a photo of his teeth?

Thanks to the Internet, my wife and I feel extremely fortunate we discovered Friends of Canines Animal Rescue, and especially Bert and Mary Debusschere. To anyone looking for an excellence resource for rescue dog (particularly German Shepard-Rottweiler mix), we eagerly offer our highest personal recommendation of Bert and Mary.

Bert and Mary Debusschere may be contacted at:

Friends of Canines Animal Rescuerescue@friendsofcanines.org
Phone: (209)832-2783
Fax: (480)247-4575