Archive for the ‘Watercolor’ Category

When you drive the roads of Northern New Mexico this time of year you will see sunflowers lining many of the roadsides.  Sometimes you’ll even see fields of sunflowers.  These are the great big ones that produce sunflower seeds you feed the birds with, but a smaller variety with lots of 3″ to 4″ diameter blossoms.  

The sunflowers along the roads were inspired this mandala.  I took pictures in steps with this one.  I think it’s fun to see how different it looks at each stage.

DSCN3421The initial drawing.




I took some artist’s license by adding red and orange, since there isn’t any in the roadside sunflowers.  I almost always try to include some red in my mandalas.  Not sure what Jung would say about that. 


Turquoise for New Mexico.


Black to make the eye travel.


I decided it was a little flat, so I added some shading.

Finally, I put the lines back in with permanent black ink to punch up the whole picture. 


Taos Sunflower Mandala  —  6″ Diameter — Watercolor and Ink on Paper

Deborah Baldwin Fair 2009


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We’ve been back from our vacation in Taos now for about a week, and I finally have a few minutes to begin posting some things from vacation time.

As soon as I got to Taos I went over to the artist supply store and picked up some watercolors, paper, and brushes, among other things.  I wanted to work on some mandalas while there.  I got two finished.  It takes several days to complete each one, so that’s all I had time for.

Here’s the first one.  I had originally planned to do it in shades of purple, but discovered that I hadn’t purchased the right reds and blues to mix for a good purple, so as it turned out, the colors I did have were more southwestern colors anyway, so I went with that.


Watercolor and Ink on Paper, approx. 7″ in diameter.   Deborah Baldwin Fair 2009

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The final step on the mandala was to go back in over the drawn lines with black ink to give more depth and dimension.


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I fought the urge to do something safe and comfortable with the final spaces on the mandala and went with my gut instinct which was to add the “risky” color:  red.


And I was right.  It has added the complexity and zing that I wanted.  

When viewed from far away it appears as almost dark blue, but the closer you move to it, the depth and complexity becomes apparent.  

The final step will be to add back in the drawing lines with black ink.

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Yesterday I added a green-blue to the mandala and filled almost all of the rest of the spaces with more yellow, blue, and green-yellow.


 I’m learning how important it is to start with the lightest colors and work towards the darkest, because when a mistake is made with light over dark it really shows up.  Although the same is true with dark over light, so maybe it isn’t necessarily the case that you need to progress that way, but it definitely is not possible to get back all the way to light when you’ve put down dark.  The problem is that I couldn’t be sure where I wanted the colors until I started painting.  

BTW, a good brush makes all the difference.  I tried to paint some of the tiniest areas with a really fine brush of questionable quality and ended up going back to my larger brush of good quality.  Now that I’m learning more about brushes, I’m getting a better idea of what to buy.  I’m sure a class would be helpful, but sometimes I think trial and error on your own is a better teacher.

Tomorrow comes the addition of the “risky” color!

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I’ve added the second layer of color to my mandala.  Actually, I guess it’s the second and third layers, since I’ve added yellow and yellow green.  Yellow was mixed with the tiniest bit of blue to get the yellow green:


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One of my D.Min. colleagues did a project with a mandala he designed and then painted with gouache paint.  It’s really nice, and it inspired me to sit down and do some playing around with mandalas myself.  I’ve always used them for quilt designs before.  Here’s one I made up several years ago.  It’s somewhere between 50 and 60 inches in diameter.

The mandala I drew Saturday night is only 6 inches in diameter.  That’s a huge difference.  But then the medium is different, too.  What you can do with fabric is TOTALLY different from what you can do with paint.  But, the interesting thing is that they are equally intricate.

Using the gouache I’ve laid in the first color which is a very lovely primary blue.  I’m going to be using a palette of hues between yellow and blue on the color wheel.  And there will probably be a touch of red, as well.  Here’s the first layer:


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