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PrimaTek Demonstration, JOYFUL CAL 46
with Brenda Swenson, WW, NWWS, SDWS

PrimaTek paints are made from natural minerals. The pigments are heavier in body and settle into the valley of your paper leaving behind exciting granulation and textural qualities. The PrimaTek Set was carefully selected to give you a range of interesting textures and colors. The pigments mix with other paints on your palette and bring excitement to the surface of a painting.

  • Watercolor Paper: Arches 140lb Cold Press
  • Pen: Pitt Faber-Castell, Brown Medium tip (waterproof)
  • Watercolors: PrimaTek Set and The Essentials Set

My fascination with old trucks goes back to my youth. My husband Mike encouraged my interests and we purchased our first truck, a 1952 Chevy. It started innocently enough but quickly consumed our thoughts and most weekends. We currently have four classic trucks, two beautifully restored (52 & 58), and two waiting their turn (41 & 46).
It’s a good thing Mike is a master mechanic!`


A foreshortened view requires attention to proportions. It’s important to note cameras distort images. I don’t feel bound to any photo and feel free to make changes. Contour drawing is a good approach to draw the overall shape without getting pulled into the details. I added the license plate to redirect the eye out of the corner and a string of lights to complete the holiday look.

On my palette I make a large puddle of Jadeite Genuine. I paint the big shapes first. I begin at the top of the truck and work my way towards the fender. I vary the saturation of paint for more or less value and texture. Before the paint has a chance to dry I drop in a small amount of Rhodonite Genuine for the area that will have an undertone of rust.

The truck cab and weathered chrome are painted next. On my palette I make two puddles of paint: Mayan Blue Genuine and Hematite Genuine. The Mayan Blue is the base color and I drop Hematite into the wet passage as it’s drying. For the license plate I use a dark value of Hematite and drop Mayan Blue into the wet area.

You’ll notice the granulating effects of PrimaTek paints is more apparent when you apply heavier pigment. If you are hesitant of getting dark to quick you can build in glazes. Either way you’ll achieve the granulating effects.

At this stage the truck looks flat and lacks a 2-dimensional quality. I call this the “adolescence of a painting”. It’s no longer new and full of hope or complete and mature. Its that awkward stage in the middle that all paintings go through.

To give a more dimensional look I use glazes to sculpt the different planes of the truck. On the side of the hood and on the fender below the headlight are form shadows. In these areas I use a darker glaze of Jadeite. This darker value brings the fender forward. For the headlight I do an underpainting of Mayan Blue and a touch of Rhodonite. The turn signal is Rhodonite.

Inside the truck grill I have my darkest darks. I want the darks to have life so I stay away from browns. I use a rich mixture of Mayan Blue and Amethyst Genuine.

I like contrast in my paintings: hot & cold, light & dark, hard & soft, old & new… In the final stage I paint the cast shadows. The edges of cast shadows are hard compared to earlier form shadows which are soft. The largest shadow is from the headlight and goes all the way across the grill. The turn signal and hood also have cast shadows. The shadows are painted with the same color beneath, Jadeite on the truck and Mayan Blue across the grill. The PrimaTek paints created a wonderful feeling of weathered paint and metal. Just what I wanted!

Now, I want the feeling of clear bright light. The Essential Set has six transparent colors. A warm and cool: red, blue and yellow. The range of colors and mixing possibilities are endless. The string of Christmas lights adds warmth and life to a predominately cool painting. I paint each light bulb with one of the Essential colors. I also glaze directly behind the bulb with a lighter glaze of the same color. When the paint drys I use a stiff brush to lift a little paint off the bulb. I finish off by adding JOYFUL to the license plate and adding details to the large headlight.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this demonstration. If you were unfamiliar with PrimaTek paints hopefully I’ve opened your eyes to their textural quality, richness and mixing ability! And perhaps I’ve inspired you to try something new. Friends and family have grown accustom to my truck themed holiday cards. You could say it has become a tradition. Here’s a short video about the first truck we purchased and how it changed the direction of my artwork, the video is titled, Finding My Creative Voice.

Happy Painting!
Brenda Swenson NWWS, SDWS, WW
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Brenda Swenson is the artist author of two books, Keeping a Watercolor Sketchbook (Award of Excellence Finalist) and Steps to Success in Watercolor. Her paintings and sketches have been featured in Splash 11, 12 & 14, Artistic Touch 4, Watercolor Artist, Watercolor Magazine, Watercolor Highlights, and numerous other publications. Brenda has been awarded signature membership in Watercolor West (WW), Northwest Watercolor Society (NWWS), San Diego Watercolor Society (SDWS), and she has won numerous awards for her paintings. An active participant in the arts community she has served on the board of directors for the National Watercolor Society and Watercolor West. She is in demand to teach and demonstrate her painting and sketching techniques to groups nationwide and abroad.

Brenda's Website: http://www.swensonsart.net/ Blog: http://brendaswenson.blogspot.com/