Thursday, 5 January 2012

Introducing January's Artist of the month!!!

As a special celebration of our 10th Anniversary this is an exciting new feature for our blog for this year. It's a chance for you to be able to get to know some world class professional watermedia artists, be able to chat to them personally right here on our blog and ask them questions by posting right here as a comment!!!

This Month's Artist is the very well known North American Watercolour artist Jane Freeman TWSA!
I hope you will all welcome Jane to our blog :)
Isn't her above painting just gorgeous. Its called  'At Attention!'

Jane has very kindly taken the time to write you all a personal message. Thank you Jane!

"I guess I am your first "artist of the month"! What an honor to be asked to begin this new adverture of yours! Since blogs are more informal this will be alot of fun for all of you as you get to visit and ask questions of different artists.

I have been painting in watercolors exclusively since the mid 1980's. I found it challenging as a medium at first but also less toxic than my oils so was the perfect choice to use while raising a family. Little did I know that I would be hooked for a lifetime and no turning back!
I paint mostly still life and floral as that is what I know and have access to. I raise alot of flowers and paint the things in my house given to me by family members from the present and past. I do not believe in painting unfamiliar things as there is little personal connection to them and I believe that shows.

I have been published internationally in books and magazines and wrote my own book " A Celebration of Light" for North Light books. I still am amazed when people know me and my work. I think that is the most enjoyable part of what has happened to me. I have met such wonderful people and artists and it still continues to be an important part of my life. We tend to be very isolated to do our work but now through the internet, I have a circle of artists whom I can call friends and that has been wonderful to find at this stage of my life!

This is another of my paintings. Its called 'Pears on Movil' 
I hope you will visit my website at It needs to be updated but I have to learn a few new things in order to do that so it is on hold. I do alot of step by step demos on my blog at and I am active on Facebook and Artcolony which is a blog I developed for some of my artist friends at

I will be happy to talk with you through the month and answer any questions that I can. It will be fun to get to know you. Thank you so much for this opportunity. "-
Jane Freeman

Jane is going to take a peak into our blog each day this month so post any questions you would like to ask her by clicking on 'comment' at the end of this post. Type your comment or question in the white box. If you haven't got a blog account, choose anonymous in the drop down menu and then post your comment but make sure you write your name at the end of your post so Jane knows who she is talking to :)

So... to start us of. I have thought of a couple questions to ask Jane for you :)

1. Do you have a favourite colour palette that you use for your paintings or do you select your colours according to each painting?

2.  If you could give just one  piece of advice to someone who enjoys painting in  watercolour what would it be?

This is a unique chance for you all so please don't miss the opportunity to chat to these artists each month by being shy:)



Jane Freeman said...

Hello Ona! Well those two questions are loaded! ha!
First my palette! I do have a set palette pretty much. It seems every time I bring in a new color, nine chances out of ten it is just for that painting and it is gone. I use Daniel Smith colors as I like their transparency and most are single color so mixing is not such a chore! I rarely get mud using them. I have learned by sticking to a good palette of transparents and semi-transparents I know them very well and can mix most any color I need.
As for advise, I belive this has served me well over the years. I paint what I have in my home or access to in theh garden or at a friends house. There have been too many times I have taken pictures on vacation and then when home I just do not have all the references I actually need. But in my home, I can set up the arrangement and take pictures until I feel I have all I need before moving on. I can hold the actual pieces and look them over if something is confusing me. If you paint something that is confusing you into a painting...just imagine how confused your viewer will be? This has worked well for me and I never run out of things to paint this way. I have everything I need right here so I never say, "what am I going to paint next?" I have enough resources to paint for several lifetimes right here and that is a great feeling!

Bayview Watercolour Society said...

Wow Jane! I knew you worked using a limited palette but didnt realise how limited. I too, only use about 7 or 8 colours maximum any in any one painting but I vary which I use enormously... I think I have 36 in total that I rotate between :o

That's such good advice... we ,as artists, have to be comfortbale with what we paint so that our viewers are.


Tony Cook said...

I notice that Jane is a Pisces - a water sign. I wonder how many watercolourists in our midst are water babies? [I am a Cancerian]

Rebecca said...

Wow this is cool! I hope lot's of people ask questions though out the month, because they're is so much we can all learn! Big thanks to Jane for agreeing to come in here every day!

Tony, Hmm that's interesting. I wonder what is the most "creative" sign? I'm Taurus, and Mum's a Virgo, so no water baby artists in this family.

Jane, I noticed you said you mainly did still life's or floral because they stay still. In the first painting you showed us there was also a little house sparrow. Do you enjoy painting birds and other wildlife you find in your garden too? Because they don't stay still very well. :D

Anonymous said...

Hello Jane,
So happy to have you as our first "Artist of the Month". Your paintings are beautiful and certainly inspiring.
Do you always work on watercolour paper or have you used watercolour canvas, yupo or??

Lizbeth Rodger

Jane Freeman said...

First of all my palette consists of about 30 colors. For awhile Daniel Smith actually sold my palette which was nice. But I only use a few colors in a painting...I decide right up front which red or pink, yellow and blue will be used and that becomes the core of my painting.
Rebecca, not sure I paint what is I do take photos but I believe in knowing the subject and having access to it often for reference. I have painted birds but I am an avid outdoors person besides being a Master Gardener. I depend on my photos because we have long winters and I need photos to work from for the flowers and with still life set ups I like to capture a light that has wonderful shadows and bounced light, so again I need to capture that in a photo to know what was happening. But I like to have that vase or article handy to look at to make sure I am really seeing it correctly.
Lizbeth, I have worked on Ampersand watercolorbord and yupo and Illustration board...did not like watercolor canvas and now am doing some work on stretched paper and enjoy that but my main thing is 300# coldpress Arches as if I happen to paint something worthy of exhibiting in a show I want it to qualify so I keep it paper.

Karen Frattali said...

Jane, you are such a seasoned artist. I love reading your answers to these questions. I have a similar painting personae and it validates the choices I make when I read your comments. Artistry is a solitary craft but it really helps to be able to share once in a while.
Karen Frattali

Jane Freeman said...

Karen, I have been at this a long time and now encourage artists to find other artists that are similar to share their trials and joys with. I developed my own blog for some artist friends and it has become a lifeline as I do not have the time to develop alot of friendships. But online, I can visit when a wash is drying etc and it has proven to be wonderful. I did not expect it to be this way but the friends I have there are close like sisters now...and I think we need that. So I encourage everyone to try to find that group of friends who understands your need to be alone and work but also share and laugh together when you can.

Ona Kingdon said...

Oh I so agree Jane. I've made so many artist friends through the internet as well as locally through this society. Its just such joy to be able to sit down and chat to like minded individuals whether that be like this or face to face. Someone else who sees colours like I do and not just oh that's red or even worse Oh I can't remember what colour that was, or someone who apprecietes the time and effort that goes into a piece of art as we fight to compete with the multi-national chain store 'art'.

Ah now I understand about your limited palette. thanks for clarifying.


betty said...

Hello Jane
thank you for agreeing to be our artist of the month. I enjoyed looking at your work very much. They are lovely!

What is your personal opinion on work done on stretched watercolour paper? Thanks to Ona's instruction, I tried out 2 pieces and really like the feeling of being able to hang up my work as soon as they are finished. Too bad that some watercolour society do not accept work not under glass in their juried shows.

Once I started a painting, I am very eager to have it finished that I tend to rush and often mess things up. What advice do you have for me? Do you think painting a few paintings at the same time is a good idea? Thanks

Antonina Shesteryakova said...

Jane, please, tell us how do you organize your usual working day? Do you start to work at the same time in the morning or you need an inspiration to begin a work?
Have you hobbies?

Jane Freeman said...

Betty, I love work done on stretchers...I believe it intensifies the colors making many watercolors look much richer. I do like that look. However, that being said, I always hope my next painting is my best painting and maybe the one I will compete with so then I do not want it on stretchers. So only small paintings will be done that way and that is ok as they tend to sell better. People like smaller ones often and if there is no matting and framing to be done they seem to like it even better. I do not believe in my lifetime we will see stretched watercolors in shows because watercolor is a traditional medium and as such will be judged that way. However in the mixed medium competitions I feel we will begin to see more just like we see Yupo entering these shows more and more. I am a traditionalist in so many ways. I never want us to lose this wonderful method of painting directly onto paper and matting and framing in museum really to me is so formal and beautiful.
As for being in a hurry, this is what I tell my students. I once was a fast painter...but one time I decided to work slowly and really hard to capture this specific area in a painting and when I saw the results I continued to work slower to get those results. So for you I would say try to slow down, think through what you are doing, take breaks and stand back. Often we work too far too fast and cannot take back what is done. Because of alot of pain I was going through in those early years I had to start standing every 10 minutes and I began to see a difference in my work. I had time to think and would return with fresh eyes and a plan for the next step. My work improved during that winter and I saw the benefits of working more slowly and thinking about what I was doing.
Now as to a few paintings going at the same time. I have done that. In fact, a few years ago I began 5 full sheet paintings with pears in different settings. I decided to do all the pears at once. It worked to a point but I became tired of some of the paintings that were not working as well as quickly and let them go. I find with several paintings going I can get bored with one and be in love with one and then I do not get two good paintings. Now I still have several going but one is in the drawing is being painted. That way when one is done being painted the next one is ready to go for me and I find that works for me. It might not work for you however. We each have to find our rhythm.

Jane Freeman said...

Antonia, that is a good question. I use to live by a time table. Especially while I was working on my book. But I found that my life was not flexible and I was missing alot of life. So I am not that way anymore. However I get less painting done! ha! But I have now incorportated exercise into my morning and afternoon and that has been a good thing. The day seems to get shot if it is grocery day. But one has to allow for life as well and I am glad I learned that. Male artists have more luxary in this area, as someone is shopping and running errands and cooking meals! They get more painting time and what a lovely thing that must be! I do like to have some structure if I can. Today I have walked for 30 minutes, cleaned a small area of the house and then painted. I will find one small thing that the house needs and get that makes me feel better about the place and I can paint and not feel guilty. Right now I am going to lay in some large washes and while that dries I will chop veggies for supper tonight. Then when I am done it will be perfect to lay in some more washes! I do not sit and just paint anymore as often I will over work an area...I always get my painting where I can see it and think as I do something else. While I am chopping my veggies I will be thinking about my next in some ways I am always in the process...not necessarily at the painting table. Does that make sense?
Hobbies...well I am an avid gardener and love to walk as much as time will allow. But I gave up hobbies pretty much back in the 80's when I decided I really wanted to be a painter. I had to ask myself what was it I want said of me when I died. I was a designer of children's clothing for some time and loved that...but that is not what I wanted said of me. I was an avid knitter...but in the end I wanted it known I was an artist. That is what I had wanted to be since I was small. So I got rid of everything and just focused on my art and I am glad I did for I would not be where I am today had I not. It was a good choice for me but maybe not for everyone.

Ona Kingdon said...

Thank you Jane for such wonderful replies :)

Yes, I tend to think, at least for me, that my thinking time while I'm hoovering, peeling veg and all those other things I fit in while i'm waiting for paint to dry is just as important as the time spent with brush in my hand. Painting is such a dynamic process that involves the whole of the artist, not just the hand and brush.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for providing the opportunity to have a dialogue with our members! I would encourage them also to go to your website as the comments you have made for your paintings are inspiring and fun to read.

Do you use the computer to enhance an image you are working on? I found this morning that it helped me correct the form of tulips I was drawing...making me aware of things I missed. I love to draw but I can't begin to paint until the form is exact to my eye.

Jane Freeman said...

Well I was not given access a minute ago and lost my comment! I shall try again only shorter this time! ha!
I do not know photoshop so I cannot play around with my images which would be so perfect to do. But I do feel that if you use the computer to view your painting as you are progressing you can often see what the problem is alot easier...for some reason viewing it as a jpeg seems to isolate it even more and shows more accurately what is going on. I usually can see my shapes easier to see if they are nice or need adjusting.

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog. I live in the wilds of Northern Ontario and don't have access to a society like yours. I hope you won't mind me joining inhere occasionally.Its so isolating here and I found this blog by chance yesterday searching for watercolour societies in Ontario and feel like I've found like minded people.

Jane, I loved your website. Do you have a vision before you paint, an idea of what you want to create, a message almost, or do your paintings develop as you go along?

betty said...

Thank you so much for your sharing and advice. Your point about creating our own rhythm in our everyday painting is so true. I had wanted to dedicate a whole day to paint but found it was impossible. The rigidity may not be for me and the anxiety of not being able to do so makes things worse. I am glad to know that I am not alone in jumping from tasks to tasks (housework or errands etc) during the process of doing a painting - it is so hard to answer the common questions I 've been asked "how long did you spend to do one painting?" People who don't paint probably have a different mind set and think that we artists have time sheet for each painting...funny.

Jane Freeman said...

Kath, I take alot of photos, often they give me ideas. With still life I begin setting it up and taking pictures and changing things and seeing when the light is best etc until I have it. I know it when I see it as it excites me and I can hardly wait to paint it. However that said, I will make things up too. I am doing a step by step on my blog right now of a white peony. I do not mind showing my failures too! ha! I changed my idea mid stream and am making up the have found out the shading in the peony doesnt work exactly right with what I have done. This is exactly what I tell my students never to do but I just had to try it. ha! I still hope that in the end I will pull it out and will have learned alot in doing so!

Jane Freeman said...

I am going to write a post here without a question! ha!
If you are like alot of artists the number onequestions seem to be, "how do I get inspired" and "how long should I paint each day"?
The painting thing I think I covered above but just wanted to mention something. When I was in art school I recall a teacher telling me that if I wanted to be famous or even good I had to paint every day for 4-5 least! I was young and wondered how I could ever get married! I did get married and stopped painting because I thought I could not do both. Common sense won out and luckily I found watercolor. I could do a single wash on a petal for that day and if that was all I got done it was ok. I even had to go back to work but I continued to do that single wash if that was all the time I had. Well that particular year I completed only one painting. It is the white iris that got me into the AWS show...the first show I ever tried to get in to and supposedly the hardest one to get in to. That reconfirmed to me that it did not take alot...the trick was sticking to it and not giving up.
Now inspiration! I had alot of trouble with that in the beginning when I stopped my oils as I worked out of my head and with what I could see. I learned early on I needed a plan in watercolor to paint how I wanted to paint. The answer was my camera. In using my camera I began to see better...I would focus in on things even if I was not going to take a picture...just to see what was there that attracted my attention in the first place. It isolates things and helped my eyes begin to frame things. It was and still is my constant companion. Now with maybe over 100,000 photos, I am never without something to paint. And really, a good day setting up a still life, walking in the woods taking pictures or even just looking at the pictures you have taken is very gets the juices flowing and you will become inspired again! It is just not giving up again and getting back into the process no matter what it is! Even cleaning your studio might get you excited again. And remember, life is about living. We can't just live in our studios. If we are to become very famous perhaps we must but most of us are not going to be doing live life abundantly!!

Ona Kingdon said...

Thank you Jane, that is such good advice :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,

I've tried painting yellow flowers and they are so tricky. What colours do you use for the shadows in yellow flowers? I tried the compliment and got mud. Jean

Jane Freeman said...

Jean, one of the hardest flower to paint is yellow ones. They can end up looking green and brown and all sorts of strange colors! ha! First of all, I use transparents because I do not want a mix of color in my paint and often that is the case and so you might have a yellow that actually has green in then add some pink and you will have gray without knowing where it came from. Each flower dictates something else to me as I really enlarge the photo and try to see what colors are really in there. They will always be different depending on what is around them and what colors are being reflected into them. I love Transparent Brown Oxide to mix with yellows to get some shadow colors but I also like Quin Burnt Orange and Burnt Sienna. They are lovely in the Daniel Smith paints. But you might find some lavendars in the shadows and sometimes even blues so one must make sure that each layer is totally dry before another goes on and it must be transparent. I test all my colors for this and I practice layering what I think will work before I ever put it on the painting. Test your paints to see what you really have is what I say in my one just might think it is a pure color and you will see it often immediately on plastic as the colors can seperate out on that. I use black magic marker to test my paints over. Any residue on top show that is is semi opaque or opaque depending on how much stays on top of the perm. magic marker.

Ona Kingdon said...

Wow Jane! I didnt know about the plastic trick. Thanks :) Its no good, we MUST get together and paint one day. Now what juried shows are in your area I can try to get into :)

Now I'm going to have to put in a Dan Smith order. A couple of people have suggested transparent brown oxide to me and of course, their quins are gorgeous.

Jane Freeman said...

What I surprise I received in the mail today! A lovely thankyou card signed by all of you and such a beautiful print of hummingbirds from Ona! I was shocked! And Delighted!! Thank you ever so much everyone!

Ona Kingdon said...

You are welcome Jane :)