Betty Graham, a well known watercolorist from Clifton, presented our program. She brought several examples of her watercolor florals. She said that her florals sell well and are fun to paint, so lately she has concentrated on painting them. She takes photographs of the flowers she wants to paint and uses them to choose colors, compose the painting, and provide details. She enlarges and prints the photograph, places it in a clear vinyl sleeve, and traces the edges of the flower with a marker. Then she draws the image lightly on 140 lb. Arches cold press watercolor paper using a mechanical pencil. She draws freehand, using her marker tracings to show her the details of the flower. After choosing her palette and making her pencil drawing, she only uses her photograph occasionally as a reference. She feels free to deviate from the colors in the photograph by intensifying, enhancing and exaggerating, so none of her paintings are literal copies of the photograph. Before she begins painting, she chooses a format horizontal, vertical, or square, selects what she will use from her photo reference, and decides on the colors she will use from her palette for each area of the painting. She thinks ahead!

Betty stressed that most watercolor pigments are identified by a standard number. Companies develop colors to sell by blending some pigments. If there are two or three pigments in a paint tube, the artist has to be careful about blending in any more colors or a dull muddy effect will appear on the paper. It is safer to blend colors from paints containing only one standard number. Artists should disregard names that the companies use and look for the pigment number(s) on the tube. She passed out reference sheets which matched pigment numbers to common paint colors. She showed us four ways to apply watercolor paint: wet paint on wet paper, dry paint on dry paper, wet paint on dry paper, and dry paint on wet paper. As she worked we viewed other works that she had painted, including exercises she did for Diane Maxey. One was a very intense red, and her backgrounds were very dark in several paintings. She said to achieve dark intense colors you need fresh paint on your palette and only a little water so that the consistency is that of whipped cream.

Betty began her demo with a completed drawing of an iris bloom attached to a piece of foam board using pieces of 2 masking tape doubled back and placed on each edge of the painting. In this way she can paint all the way to the edge of the paper without having paint run under masking tape and creating unwanted effects. She concentrated on one petal at a time, using the wet on wet technique. She first laid on the water (upper right), always following the contour of the petal. Then she applied blue pigment on the wet petal, again following the contour of the petal, starting at the center where the deepest color would be and drawing out the color in a continuous stroke (upper left). This creates desirable variation in color. As she worked on other petals she turned the paper to better control the paint (lower right). To make the paint a little darker, she squeezed water out of the back part of the brush away from the end that held the pigment. Time didn't permit her finishing the painting, but it was well along (lower left).

We thank Betty for sharing many tips that she had learned through the years, and we enjoyed seeing the masterful way in which she painted with watercolor. Also due thanks are all those who brought refreshments, and those who brought art for Show and Tell, some of which is shown below.

Show and Tell


Pat Blackwell         Nancy Cagle       Deannie Chastain


Judy Franklin          Linda Green       Christine Niekamp