Monday, June 8, 2009


Guest Speaker/Artist

Shirley introduced our guest artist, a long-time member, Leonard Williams. Leonard’s love of nature shows, not only in the name of his studio – Broken Antler Studio – but in his realistic depiction of natural scenes. He teaches both beginning and intermediate watercolor classes close to his studio in the Dayton, OH area. He has shown his work in local and national shows, and has won many awards. His paintings can be seen in galleries, on his web site at (, and in two of Nita Leland’s books, Exploring Color and Confident Color.

Leonard began as a sign painter and worked in that field for 35 years before taking up watercolor painting. He described himself as mostly self-taught but said he did take watercolor workshops from Nita Leland and Stephen Quiller, spending one week a year in Montana landscape painting, and learning. He learned how to work with casein paint from Stephen Quiller in Colorado.

Casein, by the Shiva company, is an opaque paint, used by illustrators since the 40’s. It is making a resurgence lately with a few of our members. It holds up forever, dries to a flat finish, and needs no glass to protect it when framing. Len uses a spray fixative, then paints acrylic matte medium over his pieces to hang them without glass. He brought a few finished pieces to show us the depth one can get with casein, and how it dries to a very matte finish.

Leonard had done a detailed drawing of the scene he was going to paint for us today. He normally does not do such a complete drawing before painting, but he loves to draw so he created this in addition to the painting. For the painting itself, he began with just a pencil line drawing on watercolor board (a sheet of cold press watercolor paper glued to a board from the Strathmore company). You can use watercolor paper, watercolor board, or illustration board when painting with casein. Casein pigments are completely opaque, but you can thin them down a lot with water, although you’ll never get the transparency of watercolor with casein paints.

Leonard had already started his painting with an underpainting of Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Yellow. He painted over this with a variety of greens, blues and purples. When painting with casein , he begins with the dark colors and puts the light colors in last, like painting with acrylics or oils.

Placing the green over the red (or the purple over the yellow) allowed the underpainted color to peek through in places, giving the painting more visual interest. Leonard said he often layers his complementary colors this way, and he likes to tone his paper with color before really starting, only because he doesn’t like starting with stark, white paper. Leonard didn’t finish this painting but had other finished ones to share with us. He said he enjoys working with casein because you can fix and change things as you go without fear of getting muddy colors. Using the same tools in casein as you do in watercolor (water to thin and mix the pigment, and watercolor or acrylic brushes), you still have to realize you cannot reconstitute casein with water like you can with watercolor. Once you put casein out on your palette, you have to use it or it dries up and becomes unusable in just a few days. It doesn’t dry so quickly that you are rushed for time to work on a painting, so you have a day or two to finish a casein painting before you have to start with fresh paint from the tube. Leonard stressed that you must clean your brushes thoroughly with soap and water or you will ruin a brush once the paint dries inside it.

It is always fun to see different water media, and casein is an interesting possibility for those who want to expand from pure watercolor. We appreciate Leonard taking time to share casein painting with us today.

This painting of Len’s was from Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills, OH, one of his favorite places to go locally for plein air painting.

Critique Session

Leonard agreed to lead the critique session today. We had 3 paintings from members who needed just a bit of help with their unfinished pieces.


Len stayed to lead the paint–along program, sharing his casein paints. Several members stayed to learn more about his technique with this medium. They painted small paintings on watercolor board or their own watercolor paper. Leonard asked that all who try casein at home bring in their paintings at the next meeting for some more discussion and sharing.

Administration Reports

Shirley welcomed Mary Marxen back after her health scare. Mary talked a bit about what had happened to her, and recommends everyone living alone to get a LifeLine bracelet. She will now be wearing hers all the time. We were so happy to see her back and looking so well.

Shirley then shared the following inspirational words from Lynn Powers at Creative Catalyst:

“Every year around this time I find myself out in a field with a bit of paint and whole lot of frustration. For the other 9 months I am inside painting mostly portraits. It's hard not to meet these great landscape painters and think that there is something wrong with me if I keep myself locked up on such glorious days.

But then I am on that hill or next to that lake or under that tree and while the people and place are all pleasant, I can feel myself fighting my craft and myself. I keep thinking that I should like it more and frankly get better paintings out of the experience. But then I start to consider what I've heard a few CCP artists say. George James described himself as a studio painter. I had never heard someone make that distinction. Shirley Trevena said in her latest video Breaking the Rules of Watercolor that she works on a painting for weeks, sometimes months, before she is done. Certainly she is not out in a field the entire time. She too would perhaps classify herself as a studio painter.

So would I. I am a studio painter. I need time and quiet for my work. But it makes me realize that as a studio painter, I really do love painting plein air but not because of the finished painting. I like it because I pack a tasty snack and enjoy the view and the company of my fellow painters.

This coming week as I make my way outside I will acknowledge what I love about plein air and also pay attention to all the same issues that are important to me in the studio. I'll try to stay focused and optimistic. I'll step back and think about what I'm doing. I will work on not feeling rushed. And maybe I'll pack a few extra brownies, because art is weighed on more than just the finished piece but also the experience of spending a day trying something new.”


Jane welcomed one guest today, Gaylynn Robinson. Gaylynn found out about the GCWS from Deb Ward. She has been painting in watercolors for about 9 years after starting with oils and an Art Education degree. She said right now watercolor is a hobby since she only gets to paint when her job doesn’t keep her otherwise occupied.

Leadership Positions

Shirley reported last month that there are several positions in the club that will be open March 2010. She passed around a sign-up sheet for volunteers to be on the nominating committee.

Evergreen Spring Show

Shirley reported that the Evergreen show ended with 4 paintings sold.

Springtime Art Shows/Honors

Wyoming: Taylor Bush received 2 honors at the Wyoming Art Show, winning the Pat Painter Award and receiving 2 ribbons for her portraits. Congratulations, Taylor, on a well-deserved honor!

Bethesda West: Marilyn Bishop had her art accepted into the Bethesda West Art Show. Marilyn is expanding her venues to include many new arenas for her work. (She shared 2 paintings she had done today before today’s Critique Session, both painted in the Barbara Smucker style; they were lovely and bright with soft edges and a romantic look to them.) Susan Grogan also had work accepted into this show. Congratulations, Marilyn and Susan!

Susan Grogan announced that the Queen City Art Club invited us to join them for their 1st Friday gallery hop in Covington, KY. If interested in joining in, ask Susan about meeting time, place, etc.

Before announcing the guest artist/speaker, Shirley said, “This is the time of the Summer Sizzle. Remember those words for later!”

Summer Sizzle Give-away

For the summer months, we will be doing a surprise give-away of some art supplies. We’re keeping the technique of how the winner is chosen a secret – you’ll just have to attend a meeting and see how it works! Today’s winner was Jan Hay and she received a little goodie bag of art supplies: a pencil, an eraser, a tube roller and a little travel palette already filled with watercolors and containing a small water bottle – perfect for any plein air adventure! Jan said she was going to make this her plein air watercolor kit and take it with her on her next trip away from home. Congratulations, Jan!

Who will win next month and what will the goodie bag hold? Join us in July, and see for yourself!

Programs/Guest Artists Scheduled

July – Jeanne McLeish, transparent watercolorist, will be the guest artist and speaker. You can view some of her work at:

August – Donna Clark, OWS Member, will give a demonstration and talk about her style of watercolor painting. You can get a sneak peek of Donna’s paintings at:

September – Jean Vance ( returns to share a different technique with us.

October – Ken Bowman, of Bowman’s Framing in Ft. Thomas, KY, will be here to talk to us about matting and framing. We will also have our annual flea market sale of gently used art supplies and books/videos in October.

November – Judy Anderson makes a repeat performance with something new, bright and bold to share. You can visit Judy’s webpage at .