STICKING POINT – Original Watercolor

Sticking Point, an original watercolor painting by artist Woody HansenTITLE: Sticking Point – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen, 15″ x 22″
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, please click image.


Sticking Point as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “Something that people disagree about and that prevents progress from being made…”

We’ve all experienced many sticking points during our lives. What are some examples you might recall? Here are just a couple that immediately come to mind.


From time to time throughout history, we seem to experience a Congress composed of a significant group of individuals who refuse to put the needs of the country and its citizens ahead of their own greed and political self-interest. The result? One sticking point after another. Perhaps the best example might be our present Congress, arguably the most ineffective group of free loaders in history.


According to the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California (JAHSSC), there is, what might be termed an educational sticking point with regard to USC, the University of Southern California and their former Nisei students. The sticking point?  Unlike the University of California (Cal), and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Southern California (USC), decided to award honorary degrees, only to LIVING Japanese American students who were forced to leave the campus during World War II, but not to those who have since passed away. Good, but not good enough.

According to the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, the evacuation (Executive Order 9066), meant that thousands of Japanese Americans would be prohibited from attending colleges and universities on the West Coast. With the urging of the University of California’s President Robert Gordon Sproul, and his colleagues, including UCLA’s Provost, Earle R. Hedrick, these academic institutions were helpful in assisting and helping transfer as many students as possible to educational facilities in the interior of the United States.

Meanwhile, USC’s, Nisei students faced a sticking point, an uncooperative USC administration, led by then-President Rufus B. von Kleinsmid. Read more about this situation by following this link.


Those of us who paint realize, if we are fortunate, every so often we get a painting that just seems to happen almost on its own accord, as if preordained.

The development of Sticking Point was completely spontaneous. There was no advance planning what so ever. Once started, the painting simply evolved in a nonobjective manner, a team effort, a symbiosis between painter, paint, and paper.

In my view, a nonobjective painting such as Sticking Point must be more than the result of haphazardly  slopping paint onto a surface and calling it nonobjective. A non-objective work must show some understanding of design, of the relationship between shape, value, and color. Whether this is accomplished consciously or subconsciously is irrelevant.

Sticking Point is currently one of my favorite works, and will most likely remain that way well into the future

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Photo0-Alabama HillsWoody kMansanar DemoLEFT- View of Eastern Sierra from Alabama Hills. Photo courtesy of Al Setton.
RIGHT: View of one of five 2013 demonstrations.

In its 17th year, the workshop is in memory of Henry Fukuhara (1913-2010) organized by Albert Setton, assisted by Michele Peaarson, and Dan Dickman. Dates of the workshop are Thursday, May 15, to Monday, May 19, 2014. Workshop fee: $110.

FEATURES: The workshop features five demos, 3 critiques, plus daily offices hours with distinguished artists: Jan Wright,; John Barnard,; Al Setton,; Dani Dodge,; Phyl Doyon,

FEE: Fee includes a “Meet and Greet” party on Friday, May 16, 2014, and a no-fee group show in Fall 2014.

HOW TO ENROLL: To enroll: e-mail your name, address, phone, and e-mail address to Michele Pearson and send your check payable to Albert Setton, 1244 12th Street, Unit 5, Santa Monica, CA. 90401. For more information call Michele at 1 (310) 663-9582, or e-mail at, or contact Al at 1 (310) 428-0051. Email:

ª Questions? Comment? Leave your message below, or on my Contact Page.

ª I invite you to visit my WEB SITE,

SPRING FLOWERS – Original Watercolor

Spring Flowers - Original Watercolor by Woody Hansen TITLE: Spring Flowers – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen, 15″ x 22″
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, please click image.

ABOUT … Spring Flowers



Spring Flowers begins as a class demonstration on a 140 pound, half-sheet of cold-press, watercolor paper. The initial goal is to create   a nonobjective painting. It will be a layered, wet on dry watercolor. As such, there is no preliminary value sketch for a guide, nor is there any thought given to subject matter.

However, there is the thought of a basic composition, consisting of a large, medium value shape over a light background, with dark accents. Beyond that there no preliminary plan other than to explore the glories of expressive watercolor marks on paper.

The above  approach will most certainly require some degree of mental shape, value, and color planning,  as Spring Flowers evolves. This might be thought of as composing “by the seat of one’s pants.” Another term may well be “High Risk, Low Gain,” but possibly “High Gain,” not normally recommended as a wise plan of attack, especially with regard to watercolor’s elusive and sometimes fickle character.

A flat, three-inch brush is used to apply the first layers of light and mid-value color while being careful to save some whites. The paint is encouraged to mingle, bleed, splash, and drip both on its own, as well as with a bit of guided help. This method is repeated several times, one layer over the other while patiently waiting for each layer to become bone dry before proceeding to the next layer.

I look to create entertaining overlapping shapes consisting of various sizes, colors, and value, while encouraging both soft and hard edges.  As Spring Flowers develops, additional brushes are introduced, mostly of the flat, two, and one inch variety. During the final stages, a small Webb Liner, and the typical, pointed, round brush are employed as well


At some point there remains a large white area in the lower, middle of the painting. This unique shape seems to suggest a vase or some type of container. That coupled with the arrangement of bright, colorful shapes is in keeping with the development of a floral arrangement, i.e., Spring Flowers. This is the point the painting evolves from non-objective into abstract. No problem, I often welcome what I think of as the painting “speaking” to me, and suggesting changes that one might be wise to consider.

These days I am more interested in the point at which communication between painter and painting takes place, than I am in having total control over the final outcome. I am not opposed to “listening” to a paining; to essentially share the process rather than dominate it.… Therefore this is the opportune time to decide to explore the suggestion of Spring Flowers as a floral statement.

Now it is a matter of evaluation, of considering and adjusting shape, value, and color. This evaluation is followed by s series of rapid, calligraphic marks directly on the paper surface with a permanent, lightfast black ink marker. The line work is often intentionally  out of register, and is intended to further clarify and define  various aspects within Spring Flowers, such as the aforementioned shape, value, and color.

When referring to the term, calligraphic, I think of it as the art of defining shapes in a loose, expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner. Whether this goal is accomplished is up to the each viewer to decide.

Unfortunately, the large white shape ends up in middle of the composition. Usually, one might prefer an informal approach over a formal one, but each to his own preference. I become aware too, that this means the measures between the left of the vase and the right  are relatively equal, thus the formal concept. However, the design of the vase-like shape and the addition of a dark vase shape to the left, and a smaller vase to the right gives, I believe enough visual enjoyment to Spring Flowers, as to overcome a boring, static appearance.

What remains is further evaluation and adjustment to shapes, values, and color. Some times this all comes very quickly, and directly. At other times the adjustments require a more lengthy process. I have come to understand the importance of trying to avoid rushing to judgement, to allow myself time to enjoy , and to further consider the process.

Often, I like to let a painting sit—in a critique frame—propped up in a corner of my studio so I can contemplate its development  as I go about the other business of the day. I suppose the truth of the matter is some paintings come easily, quickly, while others demand a bit more time to “percolate.” In time, one learns there is little need to rush things.


Despite appearance, Spring Flowers—start to finish—is completed over a six week period. However, within that time frame, actual work is accomplished in relatively short spurts of painting activity spread over about five days. Obviously, other paintings were created in between the start and finish of this particular painting.

At the point I feel Spring Flowers is complete, I sign it, and place it in the critique frame looking forward to a few days of self satisfaction. However, the next morning I am somewhat surprised to see further room for improvement. Now the question is the old, “Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” routine. Does this watercolor really need improving? In attempts to improve, might I over do the process and come up with an overworked, ponderous painting? I decide to continue working on it.

The original painting is seen below, the final, reworked painting is seen above. Can you see the difference between the two stages? Frankly, I’ve been doing this long enough to know viewers will have differing opinions as to which stage is best. Whatever the outcome its time to move on.


I often think of a quote by the late, Milford Zones, who wrote, “All art, if it is art at all is abstract.” Then too, there is the Mary Corita Kent quote, “There is no mistake, no right, no wrong, only make.” And finally, to paraphrase Frank Webb, art is to be appreciated, not judged; good advice for all.

With this in mind, what is it that I appreciate about Spring Flowers? I appreciate its deceptively simple, spontaneous appearance (including its warts).

I like the ambiguity in the work. Is the white vase meant to appear round or flat, clear or opaque? Does the form of the vase really matter? I think not. In this instance, it is the shape that matters, not the form. Is the smaller, vase to the right of the main vase sitting in front of, ahead of, or beside the main vase? I am pleased that the dark vase to the left is set back by the use of overlapping planes.

I enjoy the rakish, upward oblique at the top of the vase. I am also attracted to the color treatment of the main, red flower form to the top-left of the vase. Then there is the three patches of bright, red color that dominates the like number of detached flower forms. They create an implied, concave  line, much like the line that is suggested by the ends of the fingers of a person’s outstretched hand.

The way the values, and color of the flower forms (upper right of the white vase) have been adjusted to merge with the background seems appealing, and helps to push forward the rest of the forms.. I like that the work is not overly detailed, leaving areas to be filled in by each viewer’s imagination. All in all, this painting—at time of post—leaves me in an emotionally happy state of mind.

Okay, enough of this. Kudos to anyone who stays interested long enough to get to this point in the post (grin). As my wife reminds me from time to time, “Woody, you need an editor.”


Allow me to sum up by adding a bit to the Milford Zornes thought: All art, if it is art at all is abstract. I might add the phrase, and therefore flawed. Might I be so bold as to suggest there has not existed, does not exist, nor will there ever exist, a true work of art that is without one or more flaws, or—as some might say,“warts.” Perhaps this is a key to how art can help our attempt to better understand—and adjust—to the human condition.


ª For purchase information, go HERE.

ª Questions? Comment? Leave your message below, or on my Contact Page.
ª I invite you to visit my WEB SITE,


A HAPPY PLACE – Original Watercolor

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

ABOUT … A Happy Place



Not everyone is so fortunate as to live within walking distance of a major American river surrounded by a spacious parkway. Recently, my dog Connor and I took full advantage of our good fortune in life. We spent a beautiful, if a bit cool,morning walking, playing, working, and painting along the American River Parkway. Thus, the beginnings of, A Happy Place. 


After setting up my easel, I decide to cast aside my… LEARN MORE … Continue reading


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.


JUBILATION – Original Watercolor

Jubilation, Original Watercolor by Woody HansenTitle: Jubilation (and Joy) – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen.
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, please click image.

ABOUT … Jubilation (and joy)



“Jubilation”  is an example of one of those watercolors that might induce a painter to fail to see “the forest for the trees, and thus become an opportunity lost. Initially,  I am disappointed, and not particularly enamored with the first stages of the painting. However, at times like these I’ have learned to persevere, to lessen the chance of “missing the obvious.” It’s a large part of the enjoyment of watercolor painting.

LONE TREE – Original Watercolor

Lone Tree, An Original Watercolor by Woody HansenTitle: Jubilaion – Original watercolor by Woody Hansen.
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, please click image.

ABOUT … Lone Tree

  • Can there be beauty in the mundane?
  • See a photo of the actual location for, Lone Tree.
  • Reality as springboard for personal creativity.
  • View the 3-value preliminary sketch for, Lone Tree.
  • Description of creation process for. Lone Tree.
  • LEARN MORE … Continue reading

WATERCOLOR: Lilacs & Roses (non-objective)

Lilacs and Roses, Original, Non-Objective Watercolor by Woody HansenTitle: LILACS AND  ROSES | Original watercolor by Woody Hansen
To see a framed version of this painting or to learn more, please click image.

ABOUT … Lilacs and Roses

  • Is Lilacs and Roses an abstract or is it a non-objective painting?
  • A definition of each of the above terms.
  • How the language of painting has changed over past years.
  • How the song Jennifer Juniper helps give Lilacs and Roses its title.
    Continue reading