I have been in between contracts with work, and while I am about to start a new one this week, I was taking the extra time I had last week to explore a drawing direction I wanted too follow. I took my older drawing style and gave it an update. Here are two of the larger pieces that I did.

I will say that make these have been a nice break. I love to draw and to feel the ink and paper. It is giving me a chance to explore white space and hints of color. Any time to push the boundaries of composition is great to take advantage of.

"Supernova" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper

"Supernova" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper

"we are all stardust" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper

"we are all stardust" 12" x 12" mixed media on watercolor paper



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 Amazon.com 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)

Work In Progress (WIP)

I have been working on a series that has been evolving from an exploration of maps and topography of the California terrain. For now, I want to talk about the progress of working on the wood panel again (I started my painting career doing large panel paintings) using watercolors and gesso. The wood has such a tactile surface. I am leaving the wood to show through and am adding the gesso to create my white. I have been working in inks and watercolor lately, so this new series has me replicating the white of paper with gesso and gouache. 



My source material is the topography maps and a lose interpretation of Yosemite Park. The other material is in the form of satellite views of some type of industrial storage facility. This mashup of man and environment is something that is super stimulating to me and it allows me to look at this as a beautiful painting while taking these serious and consequential issues to the foreground.   


Materials used:

Dr. Ph. Martin’s watercolors - I am using them for their brightness and their viscosity as they are a bit thicker and almost gel like in their consistency. 

The panels are 12” x 12” wood panels from Art Alternatives. I am going to do some more research on wood panels to see if I will continue to work with these (or even go back to paper). For now, they are working out great and I can seal them with Golden’s matte medium. 


Using the wood panels as a surface for this exploration is a great support for the environmental impact of man on our natural surroundings. I have been looking at the question of “What is a natural disaster?” Since that is such a human centric question and it comes up when nature impacts man, even to the benefit of the land, air, and water we need to live off of.