New Work Completed

In continuing with my satellite / modern landscape paintings, I have a new painting up on my website, "Desert Breezes Gated Community: Not Just Living, Living it Up". This ongoing topography focused series incorporates images of land use of suburban and manufacturing locations in desert, mountain, and shoreline terrain. What we live near, what resources we pull from and even some of the things that occur in nature that we refer to as "natural disasters", interest me and have been inspiring my landscape series from the last couple of years. I have just started using panels again for my paintings and I have really enjoyed working on the wood surface. I feel that the wood enhances my messaging and landscape implications.

Desert Breezes Gated Community: Not Just Living, Living it Up     12" x 12" | watercolor, ink, gesso, on wood panel   ©Beth Ortman 06/2018    

Desert Breezes Gated Community: Not Just Living, Living it Up

12" x 12" | watercolor, ink, gesso, on wood panel ©Beth Ortman 06/2018





Process Shots

I want to show some of the process shots that I take as I create a piece. Taking quick photos of artwork unexpectedly helps with composition and color decisions. There is something that the camera does not pick up - maybe it is the micro marks and colors that we pick up - that helps pull me out of the "making" mode and into the "solving" mode.

Completed painting: "   A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

Completed painting: " A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

Once the primary area blocks were defined, I started adding the white gesso. I am find that using a panel instead of paper forces me to think of the white areas as the highlights. Normally with paper and water color mediums, the paper is the white. Kill the white and it kills the luminosty of the work. Immediately. And it sucks to have that happen.

Process for the painting: "   A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

Process for the painting: " A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

The images above show the topography mapping and then the build up of white. I am painting straight onto the panel, so the gesso sinks in and I have to build layers of white on white to get the luminosity. I can seal the whole panel when I am done. Painting on the wood without the sealant gives a nice affect when the color bleeds into the wood grain.

Process for the painting "   A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

Process for the painting " A Shallow Estuary (Earth Day 2018)

I added the blocks of colors based on a grid, which I decided to highlight more. The mandala (inspired mandala) is then encircled with a pattern of more white, letting the wood be a major star of color, texture, and composition.

12" x 12" | watercolor, ink, gesso, graphite on wood panel | ©Beth Ortman 4/2018



New Travel Palette (or I dream of outdoor sketching supplies)

I just received my Whiskey Painters Standard Palette that I purchased from and I wanted to show it off before I got paint up into the nooks and crannies. I will do a follow up once I start using it, but this thing is small and impressive, so I wanted to give my first impressions.

Whiskey Painters Palette

Whiskey Painters Palette

The overall size of this little booger is 2.5" x 3" x .5". Yes, the total height is only half an inch. It is super heavy and it has a ring under the bottom to hold on your thumb if you need to. It is sturdy and the weight is evenly distributed. It comes with the 8 pans, though I believe you can buy more 1/2 pans. I did buy a set of full pans from the same company, but I cannot get them in the middle tray. The bottom of the full pan is too wide for the track. I do have a package of half pans that I have set aside to order, so I am going to try to get four more in there. The pans themselves are a bit thicker than pans I have ordered in the past for other palette experiments. I will still use the full size pans for other colors or gesso, as they have a good weight to them and I trust they won't blow around. (I paint outside most of the time and though I have a slightly enclosed balcony, wind can me an issue.)


Size Reference: A Sailor Standard 1911 Fountain Pen & an iPhone 5S

Size Reference: A Sailor Standard 1911 Fountain Pen & an iPhone 5S

The photos above show the overall size reference. The pen is a Sailor 1911 Standard (in Fresca Blue in Rhodium Trim) and the phone is an older model 5S (I like the smaller size and have been holding off on getting one of the larger upgrades).

The center metal strips come out and essentially hold the pans in place. You could also get some magnets to glue to the bottom of the pans and leave the metal strips out completely. The full pans fit on the outer tracks, not the middle one, but you can't put the metal runners back in. So magnets are the best option if you want to fill all of the tracks or to add the full pans in on one or both outer tracks.

I will be back to add my review once I get it all inked up, watercolored, and art abused to give my final impressions. So far though, the quality is pretty amazing. I did buy this on Amazon, so I will share that link below. The price seems to fluctuate as I bought it for $49.00, but now I see if for $29.00. The change in price sucks, but the product is worth the $49.00 and it is a steal for $29.00. I currently use a Schmincke Horadam Aquarell Half-Pan Paint Metal Compact Set (12 colors size). I love it and it has my most used/loved watercolors in it. I pretty much us Schmincke Horadam exclusively. The new palette is for my inks and liquid watercolors. 

If you have used this palette or have another fav set up, let me know. I would love to hear about the artist tools you use or have created... Altoid tin watercolor palette anyone??


Links to the Products Mentioned Above:

Whiskey Painters Standard Palette (link to Amazon)

Schmincke Horadam Aquarell Half-Pan Paint Metal Compact Set / 12 half pans (link to Amazon)

Sailor 1911 Standard Fountain Pen (in Fresca Blue in Rhodium Trim from Anderson Pens (they are a great company and have awesome customer service)

Also pictured is one of my fav watercolor brushes, Escoda Kolinsky-Tajmyr Kolinsky Sable (links to Dick Blick)

Spring in LA

This weekend I worked some more on a new piece. Everything felt like it was coming together and I was meant to be in this place, in this seat, working on that painting. The wood, the colors, the filling in, and even the fussing over. The sun was out, and the blue skies felt like they were witnessing everyone being alive. As spring is opening its door in LA, the smells are different. The seals at the marina are bitching at each other and making way (or not) on their docks as they insert their dominance over each other.


So, this painting reminds me of when I painted back in school. But it is also everything in between. The years of drawing, the marks, the paintings that never made it out of the room they were painted in until I moved and destroyed them. The new work combines my weird sense of color, the precariousness of watercolor I have come to love, the gesso that allows me to celebrate history in its ability to build on a transparent base. I have gone through a period of quiet and a slowness getting back into my groove. I will keep showing up as I know that is the key, even when it is hard, because, like spring in LA, showing up opens the door to the subtle changes and smells of a leap of time.