Saturday, July 4, 2009


Guest Speaker/Artist

Joan Miley introduced our guest artist, Jeanne McLeish. Jeanne was born in Clinton, Indiana, and began painting in 1970. She works in both transparent watercolor and oils, and she is a signature member of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America. She owns and operates Color Works Custom Picture Framing Gallery in Mooresville, Indiana, where she resides. You can view her work on her webpage at

Today, Jeanne led us through her process from drawing to final painting of an Italian landscape, including several figures in the scene. Jeanne said she always begins her paintings with a very tight, very detailed drawing. She wants to be sure she has a good foundation before she even begins to put paint to paper.

Before she paints, she thinks about several things, including:

Layers – how many layers will this painting have?
Since she doesn’t use the white of the paper, how will she cover the paper. This means toning the paper with a pale – usually yellow – underpainting.
Where should she leave the pale colors showing to depict sunlight?
Where will the darkest colors and values go, and what colors will be used for the shadow shapes. Also, will the shadows be warm or cool?
Jeanne said you have to paint big – half sheet or larger – when you put figures in a landscape painting - or else the figures look like ants on the paper.
Planning her painting includes working with a good 8 x 10 color photograph, making an 8 x 10 B+W copy of that photograph, and then creating a value study or a full drawing. Her husband built a large lightbox for her, so she can trace her drawing onto the watercolor paper without redrawing the whole thing. Since she likes very detailed drawings, that has saved her hours in the planning stage. She does still make a chart of where each step/layer will be in the painting. So her tip to us is “Be mindful!” Think about the values in your painting, the color temperatures and how they change, and remember you are painting shapes. Other things to think about is how you will tie the design into the painting; where you will have the painting go off the edge; and how you will move the viewer’s eye through the painting.

The 140# watercolor paper was stapled to a piece of Gatorboard. Jeanne prewet the paper, and began her painting using the transparent triad of Aureolin yellow, Rose Madder Genuine, and Cobalt Blue. She begins with yellow, laying that down wherever the sunlight is going to show in the painting. Since this was a painting of Italy, there was a lot of sunshine!
As she moves away from the sunlit areas, she starts painting with the Rose Madder Genuine. She uses RMG next so she has the option of making the mix either warmer or cooler, depending on how much of the RMG she uses. She puts in the Cobalt Blue later when she wants to give a cool color to an area. Each color she put down, she kept very pale as this was her “first pass” over the painting. She dried the paper with a blow dryer before moving to the Cobalt Blue sky area, saying it had to be bone dry before glazing the sky color. She wasn’t worried about putting Cobalt Blue over Aureolin in the sky areas because she wanted to capture the blue-green color of the Italian sky.

When thinking about painting the buildings, Jeanne said she can add in opaque colors at this point since she wants the buildings to have a density and substance. However, don’t try to glaze two opaque colors because the resulting color can quickly become too dense and muddy looking. You can put down one opaque color and then layer over that with a transparent color, and not worry about anything becoming too opaque. Jeanne built up pale washes on the buildings, keeping the warms and pales where needed; she reminded us that you work from big shapes to small shapes, saying, “First the dog, then the fleas!”

Jeanne worked with a No. 20 Winsor Newton Scepter Gold round brush and a large flat brush throughout the painting. She had her colors separated into three trays so the colors would remain clean: Aureolin in one tray, Rose Madder Genuine in another, and Cobalt Blue in the third. When she mixed colors for shadow shapes, she mixed a transparent orange in one tray, and a transparent red-violet in another tray. She allowed the paint to mix and blend on the paper, especially when she added Yellow Ochre (an opaque) and Cadmium Yellow (another opaque). She continued to glaze over the first pass of pale colors until she got the values she wanted and the colors she wanted throughout. When she put cools in the shadowed area of the street and foreground, she added Cobalt Turquoise to her mix of colors, darkening the foreground but leaving some areas that reflected the sunlight on the cobblestones.

As Jeanne painted, she tilted her board, causing the paint to run and blend, dropping in the colors on the paper. She said what she likes is “color flowing into color flowing into color,” and you could see that result, especially in the shadows. It was a beautiful, sunlit scene with rich, transparent shadows.

Jeanne had a finished, matted painting for us to see the final stages since she didn’t finish her demo today. She pointed out the women in the painting and how their bodies and gestures told a story. Apparently, these women were having a heated conversation, with much gesturing…so Jeanne called this painting Arch Rivals!

Critique Session

Jeanne critiqued five paintings. As she viewed the paintings, she talked about using color to convey a mood. She mentioned tying your colors together to create harmony. She talked about landscape painting, and how the sky needs to be the lightest thing when painting a sky and water scene. She turned one painting upside down to prove this point.

Jeanne reminded us to keep foliage masses varied in landscapes. She said still lifes should have good, varied, colorful shadows, not just flat, gray shadows. A shadow will be the color of the thing plus a touch of warmer or cooler color but never just more color added to dull it down by using the complementary color over the base color. Shadows may also show reflected colors from the main objects casting the shadows.

Howard Krauss brought in a painting he did in the Tom Lynch workshop. Jeanne said she wished she had painted the sky, which was beautiful with lovely peach colors in the clouds. She did recommend he lighten a post on the pier to cause the eye to go to the boat on the dock, which Howard said was supposed to be the center of interest.

Marilyn Bishop brought one of her bright, abstracted pieces painted with watercolor crayons. Jeanne said she had a beautiful design and a great division of space. She noted that, if she was going to nitpick, she’d tell her she had two paintings, not one: one was a half orange/half blue complementary study and one was a half green/half red complementary study.


Jeanne stayed after the meeting to lead a paint-along, sharing more of her watercolor technique and planning process. She handed out information sheets with “seven things to think about before you begin to paint.” These seven things included thinking about what you are going to paint and why you want to paint it; making sure you’ve chosen the appropriate point of view for your particulate interest; planning an effective composition which leads the viewer’s eye into, around, and throughout the painting; and making a value study to be certain your value pattern strengthens your design.

Administration Reports

Shirley welcomed us all, apologizing for the delay in starting the meeting. Due to the closure of I-75, our guest artist was delayed as she tried to find her way around I-75 this morning.

As we waited , Shirley shared these words:

“Artists have their ups and downs…for a while, everything you do is wonderful…or you think it is…then you slide down…pulling yourself up again is the most important part of your life.”
Milton Resnick (1917-2004)


Our only guest today was Jane Navarro. Jane is an art school graduate. She owned her own interior design business for years, and was recognized by members from her decades as a docent at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Evergreen Spring Show

Deb Ward gave the final report on the spring Evergreen show, noting that 47 members entered 90 paintings in the show, with sales by Donna Cameron, Sally Wester, Leonard Williams and Deb. She thanked Marily Bishop for suggesting the theme of “Seven Year Itch” and the “Find the 7” game at the opening reception. Although the opening was not highly attended, we appreciate participation by members who gave painting demonstrations on weekends, including Sam Hollingsworth, who gave a special Sunday lecture on planning a painting. John Ruthven donated the price of his special talk to our scholarship fund, which was greatly appreciated.

The income from the show was $470; the expenses for the show were $460.74; unfortunately, that means we made less than $10.00 on the show. The scholarship fund did receive money from the Ruthven event.

Leadership Positions

Shirley reported that the nominating committee of Vicki Shepherd, Jane Hittinger, and Rhonda Carpenter will be asking for nominees for the positions of President, Program Chair, Recording Secretary and Facilities Manager. All of these positions need to be filled by March 2010. We will vote on those positions/nominations this fall. If you are willing to put your name forward for any of the positions, please let one of the committee members know.
You may be contacted by one of the committee members. Please step up and become a truly active member of the group, working behind the scenes to make the GCWS a very successful watercolor society!

Shirley reminded us that Sharon Roeder is our Publicity Chairperson. Any member who is having a show or who has won an award should send that information to Sharon.

Summer Sizzle Give-away

Continuing our Summer Sizzle, we had another surprise give-away of art supplies. Today’s winner was one of our newest members, Audrey McKinney. Audrey won an Arches Travel Journal and three tubes of DaVinci watercolors in primary colors.

We will do one more Summer Sizzle give-away, so come to the August meeting and see if you are the lucky winner of some very nice art supplies!

Misson Statement Review

Marilyn Bishop asked for one volunteer to help her revisit the GCWS Mission Statement as it pertains to exhibits and other aspects of the group. She read the mission statement:

“Formed in 2002, the society encourages the creation of watercolor at all skill levels and promotes interest, appreciation and enjoyment of watercolor and watermedia.”

The 2-person team will create a survey that will be sent to all members, asking questions about where we are going, what we want the GCWS to become, and how we are currently achieving our goals – and how the exhibit/show fits into that. Marilyn stressed that we are not suggesting stopping the Evergreen show but perhaps finding places with more traffic. Nancy Wisely volunteered to help Marilyn.

DVD Library

Marilyn reminded us to take advantage of our DVD library by signing out any DVD you want to watch. All you have to do is return it the following month. If you have any ideas for future DVDs, let Marilyn know.

Remaining 2009 Programs/Guest Artists

August – Donna Clark, Ohio Watercolor Society member, will demonstrate painting with liquid watercolors. She will provide the paints if you will bring a small piece of matboard on which to paint in the paint-along after the program. See Donna’s paintings at:

September – If you were lucky enough to attend the meeting when Jean Vance ( gave her Oriental Brush Painting talk and demo, you know how interesting this artist is. However, you may not know that she is a versatile artist and teacher. So come along for this meeting and watch as Jean paints a more traditional watercolor painting for us and discusses her process.

October – Ken Bowman, of Bowman’s Framing in Ft. Thomas, KY, will be here to discuss how best to mat and frame your watercolor paintings to show them off to the best advantage. Ken will also give any member personalized advice on any painting brought in for his viewing. The painting should be unmatted and unframed. After Ken’s talk, we will have our annual sale of gently used art supplies, books and videos/DVDs. Please bring small bills and coins to the sale if you intend to purchase or sell something.

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

December – Marilyn Bishop will give a demonstration and talk on watercolor monotype printing. You can do this without investing in a printing press so come and learn a very interesting and wonderful new watercolor technique to add to your repertoire!