Saturday, December 6, 2008


Guest Speaker/Artist

Joan Miley (Programs) introduced our guest artist, Sandy Maudlin. Sandy is known to many of us who take, or have taken, lessons from her. She teaches intermediate through advanced level classes in her Lawrenceburg, Indiana studio. Sandy has a love of watermedia, and her talent is evident in her award-winning paintings.

Sandy began with a drawing of a cardinal on a branch sketched on Arches 140# coldpress watercolor paper. She had misketed around the areas she wanted to keep white and she had splattered misket over the paper.

Sandy talked about the “Good White Shape.” The Good White Shape (GWS) is a concept that was introduced to her by John Salminen, and it is a way of creating a strong foundation for your painting. Like we have a good foundation of bone structure holding up our bodies, the GWS is the foundation that holds up a good painting.

The Good White Shape has to have:
1. an oblique/diagonal thrust
2. one irregular yet connected shape
3. unpredictability in shape
By using the GWS, you take away the concept of painting things and introduce the concept of painting shapes. So Sandy was not painting a cardinal on a branch, she was painting shapes she carved out after she decided where she wanted her Good White Shape.

Sandy drew the Good White Shape on her watercolor paper using a watercolor pencil so the shape would be blended out when she added water. The GWS was one single shape that ran off the edge of the paper on three sides. Each place it ran off the paper, it was varied in size and shape from the other two places it ran off the edge.

Sandy wanted the dominant temperature of her painting to be cool with the warm bird the focal area. So, she began by painting around the GWS with a warm mix of colors.

Why use warm if you want the dominant color to be cool? Because this was just the first layer of paint. For the second layer of paint Sandy put down (after the first had dried completely and she had salted it for texture,) she used cool colors in order to grey down any area that was not the focal area (and she salted the paper again). The first layer of warm colors was painted in very juicy and pale. She let some of the color go into the GWS (just a bit) and softened areas where she wanted them softer.

As the first layer of paint dried, Sandy told us how she created her Good White Shape. She took her photograph, put a piece of tracing paper over it and then thought about where she had to keep white or bright (pure) color in the final painting. She then started at one edge, drawing inward toward the focal area, and stopped. She started at another edge and drew inward, and then a third, stopping where she wanted to keep white/pure color. She knew she wanted to have no parallel lines and no lines intersecting or crossing. And she chose a linear/straight line pattern. She also made sure her GWS took up about 1/3 of the paper (no more).

After the warm first layer dried, Sandy painted in cool darks outside the GWS but touching the GWS in some places. These darks will be the darkest part of the final painting so, naturally, they included some of the branch, the bird’s black face and tail. She used lots of pigment to get the darks, but it was still juicy paint and she covered only about 10% of the paper at this time with the darks. That had to dry before she could move on to the next step.

When that dried, she went back with cool colors over the warm colors she initially painted, and integrated the biggest shapes into the GWS, leaving whites where she wanted pure color. She salted the paper again.

By painting cool color over the warm color, the color glows, especially when all the layers of salt are removed so you see sparkles of warm color peeking from beneath cool color.

After this stage had dried, Sandy painted a warm yellow over the cardinal before painting red on the body. The yellow underpainting created a glow to the cardinal that wouldn’t have been there if she’d painted just reds for his body.

Sandy accidentally got a water drop on the background that created a blossom. This gave her a chance to talk to us about the unpredictability of watercolor. She said that, with watercolor, you have to have a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work. So in this case, she went with Plan B and created more blossoms so that single blossom didn’t look so lonely. She also said she would work more (perhaps putting more branches in behind the bird that would cross through the blossoms) if she had more time.

Once the painting dried, she removed the misket she had splattered and put on to retain the whites, she worked on finishing the feet on the branch, and she checked her edges to determine whether her hard and soft edges worked well overall. She also squinted while looking at the painting to check her values before calling it finished.

She ended today’s demo/lesson with a beautiful painting of a warm red Cardinal in a winter scene. The bird had a warm glow against the cool greyed background.

We thank Sandy for sharing this information with us and allowing us to watch her create using the Good White Shape. We also thank her for handing out information that gave us the steps to create our own painting using the Good White Shape.
Administration Reports

Shirley opened the meeting by reminding us of a quote she shared last month by Jean Michel Basquiat, a young black man who was befriended by Andy Worhol and died of a heroin overdose before reaching age 30.

“Believe it or not, I can actually draw.” Jean Michel Basquiat

Shirley then passed around a picture of a piece of art created by Basquiat that sold recently for $14.6 million. After looking at it, most of us understood the relevancy of the quote since it looked as if a 6-year-old had drawn it.

Shirley reminded us of the bad weather/closing policy. We will get emails from Marilyn Bishop and Rhonda Carpenter, and three TV stations will post the closing as soon as Shirley calls it in.

Mary Jane Noe (Membership) introduced our only guest today, Marcia Waller. Marcia has been painting for about 16 years and was invited to today’s meeting by Howard Krauss.

Carol Rekow (Treasurer) reported our current balance is $6,909.48, and that is close to the balance we had this time last year.

Shirley noted the nominations for the Treasurer position and we received ballots to vote. Alice Fossett spoke of her credentials for the job. Ron Beecher wasn’t at today’s meeting (he was the second candidate). After the votes were tallied, Alice Fossett had been voted in as our new Treasurer, beginning in March, 2009.

Shirley sent around a sign-up sheet again, asking any teachers to volunteer to facilitate the critiques in the 2009 year. She also asked everyone to consider the position of “Cheer Person” for 2009. This person would send out cards to members who are hospitalized or who have a death in their family. The position would mean you are willing to send a card from the GCWS to that member.

Art Shows/Workshops

Tamara Scantland-Adams recently received signature membership in the Ohio Watercolor Society. She had an article from the Enquirer on the back table that highlighted her portrait, which was accepted into the current OWS show.

Howard Krauss shared a poster from the Cincinnati Council of Aging show in which a previous member, Y.G. Tsuei, had won Best of Show. The poster featured his winning painting.

Sam Hollingsworth reminded us of his upcoming workshop (January 10-11, 2009), and had flyers on the back table for us. He also had flyers on the upcoming Baker-Hunt sessions he’s teaching in the new year. Remember, Sam’s workshop will be about more than just painting but will help you plan your paintings from idea to composition and drawing.

The Queen City Art Club show continues through December 17 at Baker-Hunt (620 Greenup Street, Covington, KY). Deb Ward, Susan Grogan, and Dot Burdin have paintings in the show.

Deb Ward also has paintings are in the Kennedy Heights Arts Center show which will be up through December 20. The KHAC is only open on Saturdays from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.

Marilyn Bishop’s paintings/prints are in the current show at Gallery Salveo called, “A Mixing of Media: Samplings of Eleven Artists. ” The show will be up through January 2009 at the Health Alliance offices (3805 Edwards Road, 5th Floor, Cincinnati, OH). Visit during the weekdays 9 am – 4 pm.

Kay Worz will be giving a workshop January 15-February 26, 2009 at the Cincinnati Art Club. The workshop will be every Thursday morning 10:00-12:00; it is only $100 per person for 7 sessions; ontact either Kay or Judi Clubb if you’re interested in signing up.

Other Business

Marilyn Bishop talked about our Lending Library of DVDs. The DVDs we have are from Creative Catalyst and, because we have purchased a few, we get 2 free DVDs from Creative Catalyst if we share information about the company. Marilyn distributed CC catalogs to each member, and asked anyone who wanted to be put on their mailing list to sign the sheet being passed around. In order to check out a DVD in our library, a member should sign the DVD out in the logbook that will be kept in the cabinet in the kitchen area.

Howard Krauss also said he was willing to create a lending library of his own from older style videos he has collected. If anyone wants to share in those, Howard will have a list handy for the next meeting and will take care of that lending process.
Critique Session

Sandy Maudlin facilitated the critique session for four paintings today.

Howard Krauss showed us two pieces:
The first piece was a landscape he repainted after receiving suggestions last month on the initial painting. This landscape in New Mexico featured golden aspens against a background of darker green trees. Howard’s painting was matted and framed so it was more of a finished piece but Sandy did comment on the whites on the left edge that still could be blended so the color was not white at the edge.
The second piece was of sunflowers in a vase that Howard painted during the paint-along with Nancy Neville last month. It had wonderful textures throughout and good negative shapes, but maybe it needed a touch of “hot” color on one of the rounded centers to make it more prominent than the others.

Raymonde Lamy shared a portrait she had begun. She needed to have more transition in the background color behind the girl’s head, and she needed to round the eyeballs a bit more to finish this one. It was a lovely portrait.

Janet Feuss had a very moody painting of a house and tree. The house looked unfinished in the left side which, maybe,added to the moodiness of the piece. It was suggested that she work on softening some of the branches of the tree that were too prominent, and to maybe finish the house just a bit more where it showed underneath an arching branch.

After Program Paint-Along

Sandy stayed to lead the paint-along so members could try the Good White Shape with her help. The members could create either a cardinal or another “winter” bird of their own.


We had a very interesting discussion today about copyright infringement and what types of references you can and cannot use for your paintings. Sandy led the talk about educating artists of the rules of each watercolor society and group. We talked about using our own photos or photos from friends and family members.

For more information, go to or check the watercolor society rules for entries to make sure you are following their individual guidelines.

When in doubt, check it out before you spend your time painting something you can’t show or sell.
Holiday Luncheon

We want to thank Joan and Les Miley for creating, delivering, and presenting our luncheon today. It was delicious and it provided a good time to sit and catch up with friends we hadn’t chatted with in a while.

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