Randomly generated text emphasizing the world, LEARNYOUR INVITATION and 20 TIPS FOR SUCCESS

I INVITE YOU to join me for exciting indoor watercolor classes which begin on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. These enjoyable, informative, and affordable sessions meet on ten consecutive Wednesdays. There are three groups from which to choose, 9-4, or 1 to 4, or 6 to 9. All levels welcome. Take advantage of registration incentives. For more information and 20 tips for watercolor success, please click on this link.


MANZANAR WORKSHOP, 16th Annual Henry Fukuhara workshop

Manzanar Workshop Watercolor painting of Manzanar Guard HouseWatercolor Title: MANZANAR GUARD HOUSE – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, please click image)

The annual Henry Fukuhara Manzanar Workshop is going on this month in Lone Pine, CA. The above watercolor painting, “Manzanar Guard House,” is my attempt to recognize this important event held in Henry Fukuhara’s memory. This year’s four day workshop begins Friday, May 17, and runs through, Monday, May 20, 2013. The workshop features four demonstrations, and three critiques. I’m pleased to note I’ve been asked to do the Sunday demo at Manaznar, as well as sharing that afternoon’s critique with Al Setton.

This is my second Manzanar Workshop demo and my third critique. I’m looking forward to another enjoyable gathering of artists of all levels. This is definitely an event not to be missed. I’m told, as of this writing there are over 100 artists expected to attend this year, an increase over the 80 artists who attended last year’s workshop. Registration is still open. I hope to see you there.

The current Manzanar Workshop line up is as follows:

Friday, May 17  (Manzanar Workshop)

9:00 AM  Dan Dickman demo at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center.

3:00 PM Al Setton critique at the Lone Pine Film Museum.


Saturday, May 18 (Manzanar Workshop)

9:00 AM Chris Van Winkle demo at Alabama Hills.

3:00 PM  Bill Anderson critique at the Lone Pine Film Museum.

Sunday, May 19 (Manzanar Workshop)

9:00 AM  Woody Hansen demo at Manzanar.

3:00 PM Woody Hansen and Al Setton critiquet at the Lone Film Museum.

Monday, May 20 (Manzanar Workshop)

9:00 AM Willie McFarland demo in Keeler. No critique the last day. Workshop ends around noon.


Workshop Contact Information

Michele Pearson, 310-663-9582

Al Setton,  310-428-0051.

Questions? Leave a comment here, or on my Contact Page.  For Manzanar Guard House purchase information, go HERE.

WORKSHOP: 16th Annual Henry Fukuhara Workshop

Photo of Easter Sierra mountain rage as viewed from Alabama Hills, CA. Photo by Al Setton.
View of Easter Sierra from Alabama Hills                                Photo by Al Setton

WORKSHOP OPPORTUNITY: I’m pleased to announced I’ve have been asked to do a watercolor demonstration at this year’s, 16th Annual outdoor Henry Fukuhara Workshop. This will be the second time I’ve had the pleasure of doing a demo (Keeler) and the third time i’ve helped with the critique process at this particular workshop. This year I’ll be doing a watercolor demo the morning of Sunday, May 19, on location at the Manzanar Interpretive Center, manzanar, CA. That same afternoon Al Setton and I will share the critique responsibilities for the day.

Based on personal workshop experience as both participant and presenter, I believe his is truly a rare opportunity to be part of a most enjoyable, entertaining, and informative event. Expect to share knowledge with 60 to 80 plus artists of all levels, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. This very economical workshop experience comes highly recommended.

So, I invite you to join us for the 16th Annual Henry Fukuhara Workshop, at Lone Pine, Alabama Hills, Manzanar, and Keeler, California, May 16 to May 20, 2013. This year’s annual event is organized by Al Setton, Shelly Pearson, Dan Dickman, and Phyllis Doyon. Join six workshop artists with over 180 years of combined artistic knowledge and practice. Bill Anderson, Joe Gibere, Woody Hansen, Willie McFarland, Al Setton, and Chris Van Winkle.

Workshop fee is $90 and includes 5 outdoor art demos and 3 indoor critiques of participant work; a workshop Meet and Greet party with the Paige Too band’ group art show at the Thousand Oaks Community Gallery, optional authentic chuck-wagon lunch served at Spanhower Ranch ($17).

Applications available at, call or (310) 663-9582. You may also contact me by my Contact Page.

To learn more about the history of Manzanar, click THIS LINK.

Photo of annual Henry Fukuhara workshop participants (left) and watercolor demonstration (right). Photos by Al Setton
Photos by Al Setton

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

Flora Fantasy – Watercolor

Flora Fantasy,' an original watercolor by Woody HansenTITLE: Flora Fantasy. Original watercolor by Woody Hansen 
(To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, click image)

The basis for this watercolor occurs during a trip to Mt. Shasta for my high school class reunion. Since reunion preparation does’s start until noon, I decide to get in an early morning sketching session at Cantara Loop, near the headwaters of the Sacramento River, (the Valhalla of my imagination).

Among the several sketches completed that Saturday morning is the one seen below, a quickly done, 4.5 x 7 inch value plan on standard computer paper with a fine point Sharpie pen and 7B pencil. This sketch, as well as several others done the same day is filed away, where it remains for several months.

Then, a few weeks ago while at a Free Friday session along Sacramento’s American River Parkway I decide to use the Mt. Shasta sketch as a basis for the morning’s painting. Work begins without a preliminary drawing, just paint applied to the 15 x 22 inch sheet of watercolor paper, wet on dry. A few calligraphic marks here and there and then the piece is set aside to dry in the warmth of the early morning sun.

Flora Fantasy is completed a few days later in the studio. It is the second of two paintings based on the sketch. The first painting, created on location is a disappointment, as I lose my way by making too low a bow to realism, instead of thinking about trying to create “interesting shapes, a good composition, and marks on paper.” The flower shapes in the first painting appear–as in the sketch below–weak and lack variety. The stronger, more abstracted flower shapes in this painting are more to my liking.

Sketch for Flora Fanasy watercolor

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

Seasonal Surprise – Watercolor

TITLE: Seasonal Surprise. Original watercolor by Woody Hansen  (To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, click image)

Seasonal Surprise begins outdoors, during a Free Friday session on the American River Parkway. However, location means little, as this painting could begin anywhere, in any environment, any town or city, be it indoors or outdoors. In this case, stimulus is provided by just being outdoors, the smell of fresh air, birds singing, ducks quacking; no distractions of yard work, things to do, promotion, places to go, people to see, marketing, taxes, Facebook posts, tweets, television, etc.

The creative approach is to begin a loose, non-objective composition, using a large, flat, brush on 140 pound paper. The main elements of concern are shape, value, and color. I paint quickly, without over thinking the process in attempting to make interesting marks on the surface while keeping options open. After some time passes, the painting is set aside to dry and work begins on another watercolor. Seasonal Surprise leaves the parkway in an unfinished state.

Next comes a period of evaluation in the studio. I consider possible options. This process can take minutes, hours, days, or even weeks. It is not a non stop, start to finish approach. Eventually, shapes are laid on top of shapes. Do I stay the course toward a totally non-objective approach, or do I push the painting toward recognizable subject matter? Time will tell.

Gradually, a direction emerges. Surprise! Possible subject matter begins to evolve. I see an interesting, colorful composition, perhaps an impression suggesting an arrangement of flowers bathed in sunlight? Now, it is just a matter of pushing it in the right direction, not over doing it, and of course – as always – the hard part of knowing when to quit.

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

River Residue – Watercolor

TITLE: River Residue. Original watercolor by Woody Hansen  (To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, click image)

Ever notice the residue left behind along the banks of a large river after high water of winter or a damn release? All kinds of flotsam and debris are brought downstream , including uprooted trees, broken tree limbs, branches, twigs, etc. These items are then filtered downstream by healthy trees, branches, and bushes. The elements can provide a artist some surprising configurations that are an oasis to the imagination..

Thus are the beginnings of River Residue. The painting starts on location at the American River Parkway during a Free Friday outing. Ironically, there hadn’t been any high water for several months, but apparently previous images provide fodder for the imagination.

The origin of this painting lies, not in a planned illustration, but more as a loose, non-objective underpainting. Later in the day the painting is set aside in the studio with no plan for completion. Months pass by as it remains in a pile of unfinished neglected paintings, each of which is passed over for what might be deemed as more important paintings.

Eventually, River Residue reaches the top of the “To Finish” stack, where it is taken to completion in the studio environment. At times I enjoy encouraging a painting to evolve, to allow the imagination to run free, to a state in which the painting begins to “talk” to me. In this case, as shapes, colors, and values gradually emerge, my thoughts drift to mental images of the unique areas of a large river that contain a form of chaotic beauty in their own, right. Now give it a title and it’s finished!

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).

Sound Of Sunshine

Sound Of Sunshine, an original watercolor by Woody HansenTITLE: Sound Of Sunshine. Original watercolor by Woody Hansen 
(To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, click image)

Writing about something as simple as a watercolor, especially one with a title, Sound of Sunshine during a period in which a large part of the East Coast is suffering enormous human misery and economic disaster, might suggest a lack of compassion and empathy.  However, having personally experienced the direct path, wrath, and eye of a lesser hurricane called Iniki, I know a bit of sunshine, and warmth go a long way toward helping  ease the pain and quicken the recovery.

At times like these creating a watercolor might be equated to a guilty pleasure. Still, for some people a work of art can have the power to heal and in some small way sooth the pain of loss and perhaps, even seem to hasten a return to normalcy.

Watercolor is arguably the best, most flexible medium to lend itself to the rigors and joys of outdoor painting. Appreciation of the outdoors is what led me to explore the medium in the first place. There isn’t much that is more enjoyable than painting outdoors, feeling the warmth or cool of the day on one’s body, being enveloped by a calming fog, hearing the cacophony of sounds that make up a city, or perhaps the silence of a deep forest, the musicality of a lazy surf, or the trickle of a stream or river.

Sounds of Sunshine, is based on a recent sketch done during a bright, warm, early morning walk along the nearby American River Parkway, Sacramento, CA. The subject is not any one spot, not a specific location, but a combination of several snippets of shapes gathered as my dog Connor and I walk along the many well-worn trails in the area.

The next step is to turn the sketch into a three-value plan of black, gray, and white. Some time later, the value plan is used as the basis for a class watercolor demonstration. This particular painting is accomplished in three layers.


Wet-into-wet, working toward equally distributing red, yellow, and blue tints.

  • MEDIUM VALUE LAYER:  Mostly wet-on-dry, working toward some abstract shapes, while thinking, “Marks on paper.”
  • DARK VALUE LAYER:  A wet-on-dry, checker board pattern of assured dark symbols that suggest the flora of the area and help pull the painting together.

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