Monday, June 26, 2017

July 2017 newsletter: WC pencils techniques

Drawing a frog with watercolor pencil
For weeks now I’ve been working with watercolor pencil. It’s not easy. Sure there are some books (not many) and YouTube videos out there, but nothing that can prepare you for the patience needed to really create a believable picture.

While creating the rendering below, I found that the best method was drawing the entire frog as if it were a colored pencil project. After that, I gingerly added a light layer of water, melding the colors below--very much like adding solvent to colored pencils when blending. When everything was dry, I added more dry color and details. 

Layering: Color, Wet, Dry, Color At first, I went along with other people’s recommendations (authors and presenters). I added water to each layer of color, let it dry and then add another layer. I found this to cause a real mess for me. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good method, but I just found it to be difficult as well as tedious—color, wet, dry, color. I also didn’t get the best results.

Using lines, not so much color
Some folks use a lot of lines, hatch marks and cross hatching. I didn’t like that either 
because the marks would remain after the water was added. This may be cool if I were doing perhaps a grassy area and wanted green lines ghosting in the background. But aside from that application, I prefer to “color” in my subject using closely spaced lines or the side of my pencil.

Heavy outlines, then color
If you prefer to have your subject look like a drawing, you may opt to use heavy lines in an outline fashion. Some artists like to use this method for flowers that have dark edges. But be aware that it may be hard to pull any color away from the lines. And more importantly, you may not be able to change your mind.
 Yes, you can erase your watercolor pencils, but no matter how much you try, you’ll always leave a bit of residue and it gets worse when you use a hard line.

The picture below, which is from one of my test pages, shows how you can create a mess with heavy outlines. Unlike the garlic drawing above where I used dainty lines and light washes, these edges on the flower are hard and when water is applied, it can cause a blurry result. Notice though, that I accomplished something similar by first drawing two lines (in this example in ink, but can be laid down in pencil) and then "coloring" in between the lines. Voila! Blurry has been diminished. 

Layering: Drawing, Wet, Touch Up
While I vary my technique, sometimes adding water as I go along, I have found the best method for me, as stated above,  is to draw the object just like I were working with colored pencils. I apply all the color I can and then lay down water to blend. I let it dry completely, and add final details as the last step.

Making notes
Along the way, I've been taking notes on all the projects I've worked on. It helps me to remember what I did, what I learned and hopefully what I will or will not repeat. It is hard learning a new medium and this one is especially challenging. But once you get a handle on how these pencils work, it actually becomes a lot of fun.
I keep notes of all my experiments with watercolor pencils.

And finally
I created a pencil chart of several different manufacturers which is going into my watercolor pencil workbook. I thought it might be handy for you when you shop. Hope you find it useful.

Click on the above chart to make it larger

What's coming up!

Studio Classes and Workshops
New classes begin week of July 2, 2017*
Come join the fun while learning how to draw and/or paint in the Glastonbury Studios classes. Five-week term; limited to six students per class. Pre-registration and payment needed to secure your seat. To sign up for classes in my studio, please email me

Pencil to Brush
We will draw then paint a subject every two weeks (pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be special project.
Every Tuesday morning*

10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

The Evening DrawSketching with pen and ink
Every Tuesday evening*
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$75 per five-week term

The Morning DrawSketching with pen and ink
Every Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

Pencil to Brush We will draw then paint a subject every two weeks (pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be special project.
Every Thursday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$75 per five-week term

For more information email:
*July 4th Tuesday evening class will meet on Wednesday evening, July 5.

Glastonbury Studios One-Day Workshops
All studio workshops are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Includes supplies and lunch. The cost is $85. Class size is limited to nine students. Pre-registration is required. Only payment reserves your seat.
For full description of workshops see: 
Workshop Catalog

Drawing with Pastels/Oil and Soft
August 5

Beginning Acrylics
September 30

Stippling with ink and markers
October 14

Register by email:

Good News!

Reduced Price!
10-Day Sketching Cruise
Sydney, Tasmania, New Zealand

Come join us in January of 2018 on a sketching cruise from Australia to New Zealand. First, we will explore the sights and sounds of the city of Sydney. Then, we'll spend a day in Geelong (south of Melbourne) and another in Burnie Tasmania. By day five, we'll  sail across the Tasman Sea to the breath-taking beauty of New Zealand, where we will enjoy five ports of call, ending in Auckland.

Sunday, January 21-31, 2018
Cruise $849 (PPDO) plus fees and taxes* 
That's $85 a day!!
Workshop Tuition: $700
Registration ends August 30, 2017
*Cruise only, rate subject to change. Does not include tuition and airfare.

Friday, May 19, 2017

I’m beginning to deeply study watercolor pencils. Oh sure, I’ve used them in the past, but now I want more control over them, have a better understanding on techniques. The biggest problem I have with these pencils comes from their chalk-like appearance when laid down on paper.  So I’m taking it upon myself to use as many papers and pencils as I can afford to purchase.

In this newsletter, I will talk about two manufacturers:  Prismacolor and Derwent In my upcoming classes and/or workshops I will cover more companies.  From the top, I love Prismacolor colored pencils. They have always been soft and full of pigment. So naturally, I turned immediately to their watercolor pencils first. I was surprised. While I love the full, vibrant color in dry form, it can be a challenge in the wet form. In other words, you really have to color lightly with these puppies--create layers.  So this took some getting used to when applying the color.

When you open your box of watercolor pencils, I’d recommend creating a color chart, as I’ve done below. In that way you can get a good feel of what colors are available. Since the names or colors on some pencils don’t necessarily follow any standards.

On the other hand, I found Derwent less colorful and stiffer to apply. Their colors don’t even begin to match those in the Prismacolor set, although their Inktense brand beats them all. However, the Inktense pencils are water-soluble ink pencils, not watercolor (water-soluble) colored pencils. Back to the Derwent pencils, they do have their place. I found that using certain colors was fine. Notice below, the reds are far brighter and juicier in the Prismacolor, but as for the greens, there seems to be no difference.

Notice the greens are fairly similar, bu there is
a larger difference between the reds.

For years I've never liked the way watercolor pencils appear on paper. After you apply water to them, they always seem to have that messy line work.  You can see what I mean on the cherry below. There isn't that smoothness you get when working directly with colored pencils.

Maybe I'm too picky, but I like my work to be less muddied. That got me to start thinking about the papers I use when working in colored pencil. I usually prefer smooth (or plate) surfaces. And that was the solution. Below you will find a drawing (not complete) I've done of a bird colored with Prismacolor watercolor pencil. Notice how smooth everything is?

Drawn on hot press watercolor paper; much
smoother. Have not completed project. Notice the
lines to placed down for future blending.
Now notice the garlic picture (unfinished as well) that's been done on cold press. It's more difficult to blend the lines, which is okay because they are helping to define form.

The good news!
I am really enjoying myself. Part of my previous problems with watercolor pencils is that I really didn't give the medium a chance. I've discovered that not only the quality of pencils come into play but also the paper on which you draw. Plus, you can use different pencils in the same drawing. That gives me lots of freedom.

 Learn how Prismacolor makes their pencils:


What's coming up!

Second session of Spring classes begin next week!

Pencil to BrushWe will draw then paint a subject every two weeks (pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be a special project. Landscapes.
Every Tuesday morning

10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

New! The Evening DrawWatercolor Pencils
Every Tuesday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$75 per five-week term

The Morning Draw
Watercolor Pencils
Every Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

Pencil to Brush 
We will draw then paint a subject every two weeks (pencil and acrylic paint). Final week will be a special project. Landscapes
Every Thursday evening
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$75 per five-week term

To sign up for class, please email me, Jill Goodell, at:

Upcoming 2018 Sketching Cruises

10-Day Sketching Cruise
Sydney, Tasmania, New Zealand

Sunday, January 21-31, 2018
Cruise $949 (PPDO) plus fees and taxes*
Workshop Tuition: $700


Sketching Fall Colors 7-Day
Sketching Cruise
 New England and Canada

Friday, Sep 14 - 21, 2018
Cruise $799 (PPDO) plus fees & taxes*
Workshop Tuition: $700


Last chance to sign up for England Sketching Trip

Marlborough, England

September 3-10, 2017

Registration ends:
June 15
See details at: Travel Sketching Holiday

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Glastonbury Studio expands to full private instruction

Update on Studio Changes
As most of you already know, there have been some significant changes in my studio life of late. In the past, I taught weekly classes here in the studio from Tuesday-Thursday and my workshops at Portland Community College (PCC). I was hoping to always do the same. But as my mom always said, “Nothing lasts forever.” As of this coming fall, I will no longer be working for PCC. All of my workshops and classes will be held at my studio, located off Beef Bend Road in Tigard.

I have had a wonderful 10 years with the college and I hope that when some policies are changed, I will again be behind one of their podiums. But obviously the time is not right for that to happen now. Therefore I am going to spend this month’s newsletter on my studio and what you can expect from me, my classes and my workshops.

Anyone can draw (and paint)
There was a time in my life when I didn’t think I could draw. It’s silly really because for over 20 years I created layouts and designs for advertisements, websites, brochures, flyers, and so on. But when it came down to doing that “precision” work of a finished rendering, I always handed the job off to an illustrator. Of course, I was also able to go onto the next job that much faster--at least, that‘s what I told myself.

<<I didn't think I could draw.>>

Back 17 years ago, my family and I lived in England for a summer. Since I was unable to work (no permit), my son and I had the glorious opportunity to hike the hillsides, visit charming towns and villages and pick a hobby to keep us occupied. Alex, my son, chose model cars (great fun) and I chose drawing—not because I thought I should be illustrating for my ad/pr agency but because I thought it would fun.

I found this charming book, less than 200 pages, called, The Right Way to Draw by Mark
Linley. It was hidden away on a bookshelf in a small shop on High Street in Marlborough, England. Whenever I take a group back to the area, I always take them to this shop because that’s where it all began. My biggest lesson from that book was practice does indeed make perfect. Anyone can draw with the right tools and commitment. Although I had sketched and played with drawing all my adult life, I never really studied the craft. With this book in hand, I began my journey. Since then, I draw everyday. Yes, I am a bit obsessed, but it is my passion.

My Philosophy
I take nothing for granted. During the past 11 years, I have taught over 2,000 people—some of them incredibly brilliant and then some who needed a helping hand. Everyone who comes through my door is a unique individual who deserves my attention and respect. While every person has a variety of experiences and challenges, my goal is to meet personal creative needs and aspirations as best I can, and help students reach their goals (even if none seems to exist yet).

<<I've had my share of difficult art teachers.>>

Truth be told, I have had my share of difficult art teachers. Back when I went to school, I had this silly notion that I might major in art. This was actually my boss’s idea. I worked in advertising department of a supermarket.  I signed up for a slew of art classes, all of which he suggested. Unbeknownst to me or him, the current philosophy in art instruction was free-form. Let the student do whatever he or she wants and then come in and tell the student what’s been done wrong. Sounds pretty weird, doesn’t it. Maybe some of you have had this type of teacher yourself. How frustrating it is, NOT to be told how to do something and then get criticized for not doing it.

I can assure you that is not my method. I totally disagree with allowing students to flounder.  In fact, I tell students that I teach everything I was never taught. Once you learn the skill for something (piano, singing, tennis), you are then given the opportunity to climb mountains of creativity if your heart desires.

I do not feel comfortable giving group critiques. I critique on an individual basis. Everyone is at a different stage in their lives and in their creative process. We can all learn from each other. That is why I encourage everyone to go around the room to “learn” from each other. I do not like it when people compare themselves to others in such a way that they feel inferior to the other person. So in my class, we can share, we can observe and we can compare our works between ourselves, but only if we promise to learn, not judge (ourselves).

<<I critique on an individual basis.>>

I have seen some of the most “interesting” drawings come across my sight in class, but there is always something I see that shows me the person is getting the concept. We all learn in different ways and if someone doesn’t get the idea the first time, I’ll try another avenue. You should never feel that you must get something right away. The visual arts are hard for beginners sometimes, especially those who may not have practice “seeing.”

The difference between seeing and looking
Every day we look at the world around us. We’re usually too busy to notice much of the colors, let alone those that are reflected onto other objects. In passing, we’ll notice that there are buildings and/or objects in front of us but do we see the light and shadow. Do we consider why one object looks lighter than the other or more colorful? Of course not. We’re just too busy.  But when you’re drawing and/or painting, you HAVE to slow down and really SEE what’s before you.

<<When drawing an object, I ask lots of questions.>>

Along with developing good eye and hand coordination, drawing requires patience.  When I am preparing to draw an object, I ask lots of questions. Here are only a few:

  • Where is the light coming from?
  • What is the dominate color?
  • Squinting my eyes, I ask where are the different values?
  • How is one object set against another?
  • Should I start with my darkest dark first or last?
  • What details do I want to hold off from until the end?
  • How do I want to rearrange the subject at hand?
This required concentration on a subject, slows us down. Best of all, my worries seem to vanish in a flash. I can’t draw and worry about the world, my family or even myself. It’s like all my worries disappear and only the present moment is in front of me. The easy way to live in the NOW.

Private, small classes or workshops
Unlike most of my college classes/workshops that held 15 to 18 students each, I am now able to cover the same material with a minimum of four and a maximum of nine. That's a far better student/teacher ratio and best of all, most of the events are less expensive.

Here is the link of my class schedule for the balance of 2017. Additionally, since my Wednesday morning drawing class is always full, I am going to open up a Tuesday evening class offering the same subject matter. 
Here is the link to the workshops being offered 2017. 
I appreciate your continued support
It’s been eleven years since I started teaching, beginning the studio classes a few years later. Today I continue to offer drawing and painting classes, local workshops and sketching tours domestically and internationally. 

And it's all because of you! I cannot even begin to express my appreciation for the support you have given me over the years. I hope that I can continue to offer the best in art instruction and open doors to a new creative life.

What's Coming Up?

Glastonbury Studios Weekly Classes begin May 21st
  • Pencil to Brush Every Tuesday morning |10 am to 12:30 pm | $75 five-week term
  • New! The Evening Draw Drawing with watercolor pencils |Every Tuesday evening | 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm | $75 per five-week term
  • The Morning Draw |Drawing with watercolor pencils | Every Wednesday morning |10 am to 12:30 pm | $75 per five-week term Full
  • Pencil to Brush | Every Thursday evening | 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm | $75 per five-week term 
Register by email:

Glastonbury Studios One-Day Workshops
All studio workshops are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Includes all supplies and lunch. The cost is $85. Class size is limited to nine students. Pre-registration is required. Only payment reserves your seat.
For full description of workshops see:
Workshop Catalog

Sketching Flowers
May 20
Nature Sketching
June 3
Register by email:

Sketching  Holiday Workshops

Back by popular demand!
Britain Sketching Tour

Marlborough, UK
September 3-10, 2017
Final registration is June 15, 2017


More to come in 2018

 If you are interested in any of the tours listed below, please contact me by email: I should have more details and costs for the "Down Under" and New England cruise trips by June.

10-day Australia/New Zealand Cruise
January 21-31


New England/
Quebec Cruise 
September 14-21