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Don't Carpet Your Rut
with Brenda Swenson NWWS WW SDWS

Any form of repetition can be a rut: technique, subject matter, perspective, lighting or paint colors. The quote, “Don’t carpet your rut”, reminds me not to get too comfortable doing the same thing. Painter’s can get in a rut because we want a successful outcome every time. Anything that’s repetitive is playing it safe. If you want to grow it means you have to take a risk. The risk can be large or small.

If you find yourself in a creative rut…start climbing out! I begin by thinking, What if? How many ways can I sketch or paint a subject differently? The answer is countless.

The more effort and imagination I put into exploring a new approach the better the experience will be. The object can be quite simple. The images don't need to be very big, 4x6 or 5x7 will do. I sketch the subject numerous times mixing drawing and painting techniques. This is a great way to explore new ideas by investing a small amount of time.

  • Pens: Bamboo Reed, Fountain, Disposable, Ballpoint…
  • Ink: waterproof , soluble, colored…
  • Drawing Tools: Pencil, Charcoal, Markers, Brush…
  • Papers: Watercolor (cold or hot press, rough) pastel paper, Japanese papers…
  • Paint Colors: Regular Palette, Triads, Tonal, Warm or Cool…
  • Painting Techniques: wet-into-wet, flat or graduated washes, glazing…
The examples are listed in the order completed. Each drawing took less than 3 minutes and were painted in 10 minutes or less. For me it is important to keep the exercises quick and fun.
  • #1 Drawn with a bamboo reed pen dipped in liquid watercolors. Painted with regular palette of DANIEL SMITH Watercolors.
  • #2 Drawn with a fountain pen dipped in sepia waterproof ink. Value study with sepia pencil and painted with Lunar Black.
  • #3 Drawn with pencil. Painted with regular palette and Payne’s Blue Gray. The new Payne’s Blue Gray mixed beautifully to create rich glowing darks in the background.
  • #4 Drawn with a fountain pen with blue waterproof ink. Painted with the newest 8 colors from DANIEL SMITH Watercolors. I love putting these new colors to work!

Now it’s your turn. Once you start, you’ll see endless possibilities.
I’m sure you can add a few of your favorites to the list!

Happy Sketching!

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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. http://www.swensonsart.net/ www.BrendaSwenson.blogspot.com