Saturday, November 11, 2017


It has been soooo long since I last posted, and soooo long since I produced anything substantial in my studio! I'm not even going to try to make excuses. When artist's block strikes, the solution is to either teach a class or take a class. So, I signed up for a five-day workshop taught by Sandy Maudlin and hosted by the Fairborn Art Association. Yesterday was the final day, and I'm reporting in to you, my patient followers.

We were working on Yupo (a plastic-like "paper") with watercolor and liquid acrylics. There's a heavy learning curve, and the process was incredibly frustrating. You should have heard us whine and groan! Here's the beginning of my first painting:

All the dark blue is painter's tape that masks the parts of the painting that should be white. The paint bleeds under the edges, which is part of the process, and you have to plan for that. After the whites are taped, the entire surface (including taped areas) is covered with the first layer of color. There is no controlling the paint as it puddles, bleeds, and streaks.

When this layer is completely dry, apply another layer of masking tape to protect the areas that should be light in color. Then, apply another layer of paint. Then another layer of tape to protect the mid-tones, followed by another layer of paint. Repeat as many times as you can stand.

The frustration comes from tearing all those itty-bitty pieces of tape and the fact that more and more of the painting is covered by layers of blue tape. After a couple of layers, it's impossible to tell what should be covered or painted next. Unfortunately, I didn't photograph the stage after the tape came off. What you end up with does indeed look like a batik print, with paint that has bled through the "cracks" created by the tape.

If you did a good job with your planning and taping and layering, the painting will be close to completed when the tape comes off. Me, I ended up painting maybe 80%. At the end of the all the hours and hours of work, this is what I was left with:

Sandy was honest with her students. This technique is tedious, frustrating, scary, and extremely time-consuming. But the end product has a texture you can't get any other way.

Will I ever paint another painting using this technique? I seriously doubt it! I'm not that much of a masochist. For good examples of what can be achieved using masking tape batik, see Sandy's blog.

Tomorrow, I will show you my second painting, which uses an entirely different technique.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Starling Flight

"Starling Flight" watercolor 9"x6" (c) Susan Bertke
I'm in the process of setting up my gallery at Daily Paintworks (DPW). This may take a little time (a day or two), but it will enable me to actually sell my paintings online!

Like most artists, I have a terrible time pricing my work. Several artists have told me I'm pricing way too low. (If so, why aren't my paintings flying off the wall like hotcakes?) DPW offers an online auction as well as straight purchase, so in the beginning I may put some things up for auction to see what my "market will bear."

Also, any painting I post here on Blogger will automatically be picked up by DPW. So if you see something here, you can buy it there! That includes my "Starling Flight" shown above.

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 19, 2015


I've been working on this commissioned piece for a while, and it's finally finished and delivered.

I know next to nothing about sailing ships, so that was a challenge. The transition from storm to dawn was a major part of the concept, and I found no reference as to what that might look like--so I studied lots of photos and just made it up. As you can imagine, this gave Inner Critic lots of material to torture me with; but then, she is never satisfied and can just shut up, thank you very much!  The client is thrilled with it, so I consider it a success.
Melchior, acrylic on canvas, 36"x24".

Thursday, September 4, 2014

 One-Woman Show
by Susan Bertke
Sundays,1:00-4:00 PM
October 5, 12, 19 &
26, 2014
In the rear of the
Fairborn Senior Apartment Building
221 North Central, Fairborn, OH
Watercolors, Acrylics, Pastels, and Drawings representing over thirty years of art-making.
Demonstrations by the Artist!

Keep me company!
Tables will be available for anyone who wishes to bring their own supplies and draw or paint with me.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Meetup at Carriage Hill MetroPark July 12

I don't think I've specifically mentioned that I started a Meetup group called Draw, Pardners! for artists or wannabe artists in the Dayton area.We meet on the second Saturday of the month to draw, sketch, and/or paint at various locations. The painting of Cemex Reserve was done during a Draw, Pardners! Meetup. (See earlier post.)

This Saturday we're meeting at Carriage Hill MetroPark in Huber Heights, OH. If you are reading this post and want to join us, feel free. See the meetup site for information.

"Spring Rain" demo

Misuk Goltz recently asked me to do a demo for her Thursday Paint-In at the Fairborn Art Assn. "Twenty to twenty-five minutes," she said. And this is what I came up with.

The subject has been one of my favorites since my first watercolor class. I love the way the paint flows down the page to create the illusion of rain and wind. And I've loved painting small trees since that first instructor showed me the wonders of liner/rigger brushes and how the small branches grow out of the big branches wherever there is a convex curve.

The ivy growing up the left tree trunk was the result of an accident. My paper wasn't quite dry, and the paint bled when I painted the trunk. I couldn't clean it up without it being obvious, so I overpainted with some Terre Verte (a fairly opaque green), et voila! -- ivy.