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Testing matching colors with watercolor

I hope y’all have at least one watercolor journal. This is the most affordable way to do this.

We’ll be doing a simple experiment. We want to test color matching. We simply pair two colors. And see if they work.

For this experiment, it’s a simple exercise in dualchromaticism. If you don’t know what that is, it’s monochromaticism except with two colors instead of just one.

I’m drawing a simple octopus. His name is Charley. Say hi to Charley.

Charley Octopus
This is Charley Octopus. You can just call him Charley

If you want, you can do a simple flower, or even print out Charley. Click here for the PDF.

Dominant color and the accent color

There are many ways you can do this. If we wanted to do the example with Charley, it will be a dominant color and an accent color. The dominant color will be most of Charley. The accent color needs to pop a little.

So you can hypothetically try using a cool color for the dominant color and a warm color for the accent color. I go over warm colors vs cool colors in my color theory article.

Colors that blend

Or the second way to look at it are colors that blend together. Neither pops. They just blend. Like for instance, you can take a purple and a deep blue and see how well they blend. Which purple? Which blue? Depends what you have available.

No guarantee they’ll blend as if you’ve been doing watercolor for awhile, you’ve probably accumulated quite a few blues over the years.

Or just pick two colors without thinking

Sure, sometimes artists overthink things. Sometimes, you should just do things on a whim, without thinking about dominant colors, accent colors, warm colors, cool colors, or any of that jive.

Just paint.

That’s what I’m going to do with my Charley. I’m picking two Daniel Smith colors – Iridescent Ruby and Moonglow.

Now, Moonglow, I absolutely love. It’s one of my favorite colors because I can get it to work in so many different ways. However, of the dozen DS colors I own, Iridescent Ruby is my least favorite. It’s the only DS color I don’t like. I have three from the DS Luminescent collection and love the other two, hate this one.

That’s why I chose these two. One color I love. The other one I hate.

Do they work?

You decide.

Charley Octopus painted
Charley painted

Pick two colors you want to test

Now pick two colors you want to test. Either you feel they work or they don’t.

Note that there are no right answers. Once again, either you feel they work or they don’t.

This is subjective. You may love it. I may hate it. And vice versa.

All that matters is that it’s pleasing to your eyes. Or if you want to sell it, pleasing to someone who’s walking around with a credit card and looking to buy an art piece or two.

So if it’s purely for you, if it passes your own eye test, you’re successful. If you’re planning on selling it, you may want to study a little color theory.

Note that I even take this all with a grain of salt. No two humans are alike and no two humans have the same taste. The painting Interchange sold for $300 million recently and I wouldn’t pay $100 for it, (unless of course I knew it would resell for millions).

So back on topic, I believe the best test of all is the eye test. Either you like it or you don’t.

Pick two colors. And try them out.

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Jealousy is poison for your art career

I thought “one more time.” And I co-formed a band, two guitarists, a bassist/vocalist, and a drummer. I played lead and rhythm and the other guitarist played rhythm and lead guitars.

We struggled. Barely got by. I was delivering pizza to make ends meet.

The most we ever made in one night was $43. Four people. $43. On sub-standard equipment.

We argued a lot, and on our very last show, we got into an argument mid-song, fighting on stage. The four or five people watching the show probably left by then anyways.

Metal was already dead in the States. Even grunge was about to be on its way out. But we refused to budge. We were Metalheads, God dammit. Lack of audiences be damned.

It ended just like that. After breaking up, I sold my equipment and never touched a guitar again.

(Well, that never lasted 13 years but that’s another story for another day).

Wasn’t always that bad

Five years earlier, I was in a rising band. We were actually writing some pretty cool music and wanted to ride the wave of Bay Area Thrash.

I played guitar 100 mph. Super fast with amazing technicalities. Harmonic minor appegiations at lightning speed? No problem.

But there were also the haters. Bands that we surpassed. So of course, rather than making themselves better, they said bad things behind our backs.

I remember going up to one of the kids who I heard bad mouthed me. Introduced myself and held out my hand.

He made the mistake of putting his hand in mine. I crushed his hand and he almost started crying. I said “I’m sorry. I forgot how strong I am.”

He learned to be careful who to badmouth our band to behind our backs. Definitely not someone who would tell me about it.

But just like that, we never got a good singer. And without a good singer, you go nowhere.

Our manager tried to argue with us that we should be purely an instrumental band. I was proud of my lyrics and wanted them heard.

Looking back, they were cheesy as heck but when you’re 19, you think everything you do is super cool and anyone who says otherwise simply doesn’t get it.

Regardless, their jealousy just made them look like complete idiots. They were jealous of a band that got nowhere too. Just had a few more fans than they did. Yay. Neither of us made any money. Neither of us got famous. It was all for naught.

Happy ending?

Several years and several bands later, I knocked a woman up, initially splitting custody, and ended up getting along. We later got married and raised the kid together.

He turned out emotionally healthy. Served his country and is doing really well in life.

But when he was in high school, I got the itch one more time. This time, just a band that recorded.

The problem was, a million other bands were doing the same thing.

Music was a money pit. Just threw more money in and got pennies back. I probably got 2c for every dollar put in.

After awhile, I decided enough was enough. Plus, my dear friend Joe said “your Metal is run of the mill but your Classical is excellent. You should really pursue a Classical route.”

Honesty. Don’t get much of that around these parts these days.

So that’s exactly what I did. I still and always will love Metal. But enough’s enough. I’m too old for this.

So I switched to painting.

“What does this have to do with jealousy?”

We’re you reading between the lines? The jealous people were jealous for nothing. Jealous of a nobody that nobody’s ever heard of. If I rattled off all the bands I was in in the 80s and early 90s, you’ve never heard of a single one of them. Not one of them recorded anything and not one of them packed a single house.

You know what’s even more pathetic? Being jealous of someone who nobody’s ever heard of.

Yet, those jealous losers did exist.

“What about jealous of bigger people?”

At least that would make a little bit of sense. But think about this for a second. What would that get you? You get absolutely no gain from it.

You’re jealous of someone who doesn’t even know you exist? Think about that. They don’t even know you exist. Why should they care? Why should you care? And why not use that mental energy instead on improving your own self?

Develop some skill sets. Get good at something.

Jealousy accomplishes absolutely nothing. Plus, if you tell someone else how jealous you are of someone, you just come across as a complete loser. Unless that other person is also jealous. Then they’re a loser and you need to pick your friends better.

Surround yourself with people who want to improve. Who want to get better.

The jealous mindset is a poison mindset, and if you’re an artist who is jealous, you’re being an idiot. Instead, spend that energy on improving your art.

Burning bridges

You’ll find that it’s a small world. Especially today with social media.

You can find everyone you went to high school with somewhere. And you know what? Some folks forgive. Most don’t.

You don’t want to burn too many bridges, especially when you need contacts.

If I’m running an art gallery and I really don’t like someone, their work isn’t going in the gallery unless they can make us a lot of money. But if it comes down to that person and someone I’m neutral with, you can guess who I’d pick.

Same thing with anything. Like I said, some folks are forgiving, some aren’t. Jealousy is especially poisonous in the art world because it’s a small world. I personally can’t stand jealous people. I know I’m not the only one.

Even failing is a good thing

Were you able to ride your bike successfully on the first try? Of course not.

But you didn’t quit, right? You can ride a bike today, right?

You get good at something by doing. And even if you fail doing it, no one can take it away from you.

So you didn’t come in first place in your Karate competition. But, you still know Karate. By not winning it all, it’s not like your knowledge of Karate evaporated.

Same thing with me and guitar. I learned to play guitar. I got really good at it. I even know how to read notes.

Guess what? I now use guitar to write the violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, and horn parts for the orchestral musicians.

Sure, I failed in Metal. But I got really good at composing because of all the past practice I had.

The same thing with painting. Sometimes, my painting doesn’t turn out that good and I end up giving it away rather than putting it up for sale. But if I like the concept, I’ll paint the same painting twice after I figure out where the first one went wrong.

You should be competing against your past self. Constantly. Constant improvement.

That’s yet another reason I enjoyed my four years of weightlifting. The first two were lame, but I finally hired a coach and started doing things the right way. With the coach, I made insane progress.

Which of course led to co-worker jealousy. I lost my dad bod and started looking good. And got compliments from female co-workers. Which pissed off a jealous beta male.

So tell me – don’t you think rather than getting jealous, he should have hired a weightlifting coach and did the same thing I did?

Now apply this article to your own art and you’ll see some pretty insane improvement, no matter what your art medium is.

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Ode to Belly Dancers

I’ve already written belly dancing music. No, never published it. Just written it.

It’s something I need to get around to.

But I’m sitting here thinking that here I am with two gorgeous models who both are damn good dancers. Both of them know a little bit about belly dancing. Yes, neither are belly dancers. But they can duplicate the poses.

YouTube is full of videos on it from all over the world. Some of them are good. Some of them are great.

I got money for outfits.

Then, why haven’t I painted a belly dancing model?

That, my friends, is the million dollar question. Why haven’t I yet?

I’m currently working on illustrating one of my Opium Tales. Roxy is modeling for the character Alicia. In the story, she does a dance for the villain.

Roxy modeled the character and the dance. I painted it here.

Roxy belly dancer
Roxy modeling as Alicia

So after finishing the painting, I immediately thought to myself “I need to do at least a dozen of these!”

Allie’s belly dancing coming up!

I texted Allie the other day and asked if she belly danced. I’ve seen her dance before and she’s excellent. Very loose, flowing, and free. Kind of like a girl version of me. Yes, I can dance quite well.

Not to toot my own horn. I’m bad at a lot of things (shooting baskets, learning foreign languages, etc). But another story for another day.

Dance is something I’ve always been fascinated about. My wife and I are supporters of the local ballet. I love the music and the dance, she loves the dance, the outfits, and the whole scene. I also love being surrounded by graceful people because graceful people are rare nowadays. We live in a society where grace is almost a thing of the past.

Watching girls around here walk in heels is pure sadness. Now ballet girls, they can walk in heels. They can walk with lead shoes and look graceful.

Ballet is the antidote to lack of grace.

And you know what’s just as good as ballet? Belly dancing. Same side of the coin from different parts of the world.

Now I need to work on publishing a belly dancing song or two.

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John William Godward – The Last Great Classicism Artist

John William Godward was a Neo-Classicist English artist. Born on August 9, 1861 in England, he was the oldest of five children.

He was successful enough in the late 19th century to exhibit at the Royal Academy. But towards the end of his life, Neo-Classicism fell out of favor as it got replaced by Modernism.

John William Godward - A Pompeian Bath (1890)
John William Godward – A Pompeian Bath (1890)

John William Godward’s women

I like his artwork for his Classical women – Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece. His paintings were flawless. His women looked three dimensional and very lifelike, and I love everything from his water to his marble in the background.

In 1912, he moved to Italy with one of his models and his family disowned him, and even cut his image from family pictures, like what the Blacks (in Harry Potter) did to Sirius Black.

For the record, Godward was not a Pre-Raphaelite. He was often mistaken for one.

His art style fell out of favor when Modernism took hold. He killed himself at the age of 61 and wrote on his suicide note the following – “the world is not big enough for myself and a Picasso.”

Athenais (1908)
Athenais (1908)

My thoughts on John William Godward

I love his artwork because of the way he does women. You already know how much I love women and the female form.

He’s probably the most realistic painter of women without the art piece looking too much like a photograph. I’m not into too much Realism. But that’s just me. Personal taste.

I do see why he fell out of favor. His artwork is aesthetically gorgeous, but meaningless. Academically, it’s brilliant. But does it move you?

I’m actually somewhat a fan of Picasso. I went to the Picasso Museum when my wife and I went to Barcelona a few years back. That said, I’m not too crazy about Modern Art because it is all meaning and no aesthetics. They went the opposite extreme.

I happen to love beauty and aesthetics. Most Modern Art and especially Post-Modernism is pretty fucking ugly.

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Upcoming next month

I got some good news.

Next month, I’ll be releasing my first purely digital product. It’s a package. Five songs, including two dance songs, two waltzes, and one ballad. All full orchestrated.

There’s no band. Just a bunch of session musicians. I play guitar, piano, synthesizer, and harmony vocals. Sarah Kay is your lead vocalist. She also layers harmony after harmony, making her sound on some of the songs like a chorus of angels. Randy Burk plays drums and percussion.

We have a lot of orchestral musicians. Some songs have 8 Violins I, 7 Violins II, 5 Violas, 3 Cellos, and 2 Double Basses. All the songs have at least strings.

So besides the music, I’m also including two booklets. One fiction. The other personal. I decided to talk a little bit about what makes me tick. I actually get pretty personal. Which for me is weird because I’m the type of guy who’d rather listen to you talk about yourself than me tell you all about myself.

Oh, and of course it will include artwork. Lots of artwork. The fiction will be fully illustrated by yours truly. Ink and watercolor. Roxy modeled for the main girl and one of my Twitter friends modeled as the tall, dark stranger.

I’m also trying to get back into shape

We haven’t had gym memberships since 2017. So much has happened since then. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t really had time to do much physically.

Yeah, I know. You only get one body. You don’t have to remind me. I’m well aware of this.

I do start off every morning with 50 push-ups and 25 squats. So at least it’s something.

I also need to stretch more. I think this is why my body sometimes feels like shit. I don’t stretch at all.

I’ve been running for a few months. But I haven’t run in two weeks because it’s been so freaking hot. Still, that’s a lame excuse. There’s always mornings. I’ve just been using that as an excuse.

While I still had a gym membership, I was in really good shape. At 150 pounds, I did 14 pull-ups, benched 185×5. Dead-lifted 315 once. And squat – 210×5. All the way down too.

I was well-rounded. None of those were elite numbers but all of them are good. A lot of folks are strong here but weak there. I’m not. I’m pretty well rounded.

Well, not anymore. Like I said, I haven’t touched a gym since 2017.

Next weekend

Randy also doubles as my Producer. I don’t know a thing about Sound Engineering. He’s the drummer, percussionist, lead Sound Engineer, and Producer. Wears a lot of hats.

This project is so big that we’ve worked with a lot of Sound Engineers. Chris Hughes deserves a mention. I wish I remember his interns names as I’d love to credit them too. Those guys worked hard, for college credits. Didn’t make a penny.

I tried to buy them lunch but they brought sandwiches and worked through lunch. Yes, seriously.

In case you don’t already know, I’m not just an artist. I’m also a Classical composer. I write a neo-Romantic style. My faves are Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Brahms, and Wagner. I also really like Mendelssohn, Chopin, and lately have been getting heavily into Rachmaninoff.

I’ve played in tons of Metal bands as well. No, none you’ve ever heard of. Last time I played live was 1994 and we literally broke up in the middle of a live show, fighting right on stage.

It was super lame. I haven’t played anywhere since.

Anyways, look out for it. I’ll give you plenty of notice when it happens.

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Watercolor isn’t for everyone

I recently changed this website’s tagline. It used to be “we paint beautiful women.” I liked that for awhile. But then, I started thinking that it was too vague.

Beautiful women? Yes. Painting? Yes. But that’s too generic, don’t you think?

Sure, I incorporate gouache with my watercolors. However, I’m mostly a watercolor artist and half this blog is about watercolors. So I decided to change the tagline to “not your Grandma’s watercolors.”

Why that?

Think about it for a minute. It still mentions painting. But watercolors do have a stereotype. When people think of watercolors, they generally think of some old lady painting a seascape. While that’s beautiful and all, it’s kinda boring.

So why not break the stereotype? I’ll keep it opened ended though.

My name is starting to get out there anyways as a pinup artist. Almost nobody does pinups in watercolor. They almost always use oils or nowadays digital art. A computer.

Not me. Give me watercolors because I could do layer after layer. Plus, I like the chaos of the water. I don’t like the perfection of a computer. It’s not human.

The chaos of the water

If you’re a control freak, you’re not going to like watercolors. The water has a mind of its own. You’re constantly either fighting the water or working with it. Sometimes both. At the same time.

A lot of people can’t handle the chaos. They’d rather have something definite. Like oils or acrylics. Or computers.

That’s fine. That’s them. More power to them.

Not me. I’m totally a water person. Nothing I’d rather do than spend the whole day in the Caribbean with a pair of beautiful women. That’s the life right there.

Yeah, I drink too much and I like beautiful women. Sue me. I live my life unapologetically. I’m not going to change because of today’s weak ass political correctness.

Most people can’t keep up. Actually, most is an understatement. Even in my advancing age, I’m having trouble finding people who can keep up with me.

Easy to start, a lifetime to master

Another beauty of watercolor – it doesn’t take much to get going. We live in a tiny ass apartment with literally no space for anything. I paint on the floor. I own a collection of paints, some brushes, and a various assortment of generally hot press watercolor paper. But lately, I’ve been doing a lot of painting onto watercolor boards.

Regardless, it doesn’t take much to get started. I use Kimchi jars for the water jars and I own one single porcelain watercolor palette.

Then I have a collection of pencils and inks. None of this stuff breaks the bank. Also, none of it takes up that much space.

You don’t have to be rich to get started. That’s why I’ve always said that watercolor is a working class’s art form. Just get started.

Roxy as a mermaid
Roxy as a mermaid

Mastering on the other hand, that takes years. Draw and paint every single day for a few years, then get back to me.

Randomness and/or Chaos

I’ve always said there are four types of people. There are water people who are very fluid and can go with the flow in most situations. There are air people who are ethereal. They often make the best artists.

There are earth people who are solid and grounded. They’re like rocks. They’re dependable, and make excellent accountants. Then there are fire people. Uh oh. They range from hot tempered to passionate and can either be the best leaders or the worst psychos.

Those are gross generalizations. We’re all different percentages of each of the four. But you know what? Sometimes it’s fun to play along.

You can already guess who watercolors appeal to. If you can’t handle the randomness and/or chaos of water, watercolor won’t be for you. It’s as simple as that.

The water does what it wants to do. You merely guide it.

I do suggest everyone try it. See if they like it. See if they hate it. Either way, it’s best to at least try it.

Even if down the road I make the switch to oils, I know deep in my heart that I’ll always do watercolors. At least on the side.

For now though, I don’t see myself switching over any time soon.

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Absinthe and Watercolor

I drink. Unapologetically.

I’ll still live to be 100. Why? Because I want to live.

My Grandma is turning 102 next year. I recently made her a watercolor postcard. Speaking of watercolor postcards, I should make her another one. Maybe just an octopus in an aquamarine blue background.

Grandma lives life. That’s why she’s lived so long. I’m convinced that’s the secret to longevity. I’ve seen her eat a hundred times and whereas it’s definitely not too much, she eats just normal food like everyone else. If anything, her portion sizes aren’t too big.

And there you have it. No dietary change. Just decent portions. More importantly, the love of life.

So like Grandma, I like new things. She’s traveled and seen the world. She likes new things.

How I drank absinthe

Some folks light the sugar cube on fire. I didn’t do that. All I did was:

  • Pour absinthe into a glass
  • Put that absinthe spoon on top of the glass
  • Put a sugar cube on the absinthe spoon
  • Pour water over the sugar cube and let it partially dissolve
  • Dump the remaining sugar cube into the glass and stir with that absinthe spoon

Easy peasy, right? I had four different types of absinthe. All of them are legal in America. So that means they got all the alcohol but lesser amounts of wormword than what you can get in Europe.

So no, I didn’t see the green fairy. However, I did have a strong buzz all through painting.

the first absinthe
Watercolors go great with absinthe

That was the first of the four brands of absinthe. I only tried the first two as I still had to paint.

“What’s it like to paint under absinthe?”

Well like I said, I didn’t see the green fairy. When we go to Europe next, I’ll try to setup a watercolor with European absinthe day. We have different laws than they do.

That said, I had a strong buzz throughout the whole experience. I could barely walk.

However, I was absolutely kicking ass with the watercolor.

You’ll see a lot of those wine and paint shops pop up all over the place nowadays. You can pop inside and the clientele is 40+ female with money. They’re pretty loaded on wine and have a little bit of money to spare on enjoying life.

Usually, they’re chill enough that they can whip out a painting in a day.

That’s what it was like to paint under absinthe. I was chilled. Didn’t overthink. Was totally relaxed.

I liked it, and will definitely do it again.

However, this morning, I spent about four hours doing touch ups. I was probably a little bit too relaxed.

With watercolors, clean up isn’t exactly an exact science. I had to clean up to the best of my ability. That’s why it took four hours doing clean up and touch ups.

Was definitely too relaxed.

I used an old sketch of Roxy. I’ve already painted this one before. Long story short, she had a little bit of drama recently. I won’t get into details. Don’t worry though, it didn’t involve me. She and I are good.

But I didn’t see Allie until today and had to paint yesterday. Thus, an old sketch of Roxy instead.

And here it is. Roxy, painted on copious amounts of absinthe. I’ll mount it on wood later.

Mermaid Roxy painted under the influence of absinthe
Mermaid Roxy painted under the influence of absinthe
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Me and Ozymandius

I’m well listened. I know my symphonies, concertos, and ballets. I have a pretty strong knowledge of them from a technical standpoint as well as I’ve actually studied the scores of a lot of great Classical music.

But, for poetry? C-. Maybe even a D+. I don’t know my poetry.

It’s a weakness.

I’m also not as literate as I should be. Last cruise I was on back in May, I was bragging to the Russian bartender that I was a big fan of Russian culture. I’ve studied the scores of Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov. One of these days, I’ll get around to Rachmaninoff and Borodin as well.

Then, she asked me if I’ve ever read Russian Lit. I gave a blank stare and she gave me a shameful look.

But, like life, work in progress. Some day, I’ll be well-read.

I want to whip out my favorite poem of all-time. It’s from Percy Bysshe Shelley and since he died in 1822, I think we can safely say the copyright has long expired. So, I can legally print it in full and his descendants can’t sue me.


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Why I liked it

I was absolutely obsessed with fame as a teenager. I wanted to be the greatest quarterback there ever was back in junior high. I was awesome. The best football player in my grade.

Then, everyone else grew. I didn’t.

I had some empty years. Treated everyone like shit because I was bitter and lost.

Then we moved to the South. In the middle of my high school years.

No loss for me though. Like I said, I was bitter and lost. Totally empty. I had no purpose.

Then out of the blue, second day of my new high school, this guy sits right behind me. He just got out of jail, and nobody would talk to him.

So of course, he and I became immediately best friends.

He taught me to play guitar, then disappeared six months later.

I moved back to California alone after high school. Obsessed with fame with my newfound gift, I went from band to band. Each one rising. Each one with dreams of being the one that made it. Then, each one faltering. And I became Ozymandius, except, without the statue in the sand.

Decades later

I read this poem again to be reminded of the futility of hubris. Was I creating music for fame and fortune? What if I had made it, become a larger than life figure, and realized in the end that I did it for all the wrong reasons? Knowing the music fell short and I did it for fortune and fame rather than for the art, and died in despair?

Now, decades later, I come to art once more, as a humble student. One without a quest for fortune or fame. But rather one with a trio of muses, and a passion for the art for art’s sake.

Now, whether I die as a regular man or as a famous artist, I can die without despair. I’ve lived a worthy life. And did art for all the right reasons.

I am not Ozymandius. I am me. Finally.

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Classical Music for Newbies

What are the absolute best Classical pieces?

Wrong question to ask. Rather, this article is Classical music for newbies. So, we expect the reader to not know Classical that well. And you don’t want to introduce them to hard-core Classical music that will just turn them off to Classical music.

For instance, I’m not going to say “dude! You need to listen to Wagner’s entire…”

That will guarantee the newbie won’t listen to Classical for another five years.

So instead, let’s start with something accessible.

I’m not a fan of Baroque. But a few Baroque pieces make sense for the Classical newbie. Start off with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue and Air on G String and Pachelbel’s Canon. Then work in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Those pieces are great to get started with, simply because they’re accessible.

Then I’d dive into Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and 1812 Overture. Once again, we’re shooting for accessibility. They’re not his best works, but the easiest to get started with.

I also think some lovely piano pieces would be great to get you going. How about Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 9 No 2 and Beethoven’s Fur Elise? Both lovely pieces, and both accessible. If you like those two pieces, you could try Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, which is a little bit more involved.

Then I would recommend Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture. It’s a very accessible piece.

I’m not going to recommend symphonies, concertos, or operas just yet. These are after you got some short pieces under your belt.

So yes, this is a very short list. It’s just a splash. It’s a list to get you going into Classical music.

I’ll write a part II to this later. Stay tuned…

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Painting on a watercolor board

Opium Tales watercolor board

Am I painting on a watercolor block? Or am I painting watercolor on wood?

The answer? Neither. I’m not painting on watercolor paper either.

What is it then?

It’s called a watercolor board, and I absolutely love painting on one! This specific watercolor board is made by Canson and it’s 16″x20″. It retails for $5.99 and it’s made in France. That’s as much as I know about it.

As for painting on it, I’m using both watercolor and gouache. It doesn’t suck paint. It doesn’t puddle either.

Best of all, I don’t have to prep it in any way. I just simply start painting.

Watercolor boards vs watercolor paper

Easy to draw on?

Anyone who’s been following my career knows how seriously I take inking. I think inking is absolutely essential for my brand of pinup art. And whereas it’s not as easy as hot press watercolor paper for drawing then inking, it’s not that much more complicated. I think it’s about as easy to draw on as cold press.

That’s not enough to make me not want to use on it. It just took awhile to get used to.

Quality of the surface

Someone was saying it’s really watercolor paper glued to a board. If it is, I can’t tell. It seems like it’s its own thing.

The board holds colors really well, just like a watercolor paper. But the biggest benefit of all is it’s simply ready to go.

I like the size. This one specifically is 16″x20″.

I haven’t used any other brands besides Canson, because that’s what the nearby store has. But this really does the trick. I don’t have to fight buckling.

Bucking watercolor paper will drive you nuts if you’re using a lot of water. And I use a lot of water. When I’m painting Allie or Roxy, I’m using seven layers of paint for their skin color. That’s the simple secret what gives them that soft look.


I’m the wrong person to ask here. I’ve mounted watercolor on wood for most of the works I have for sale. But for this, it’s too thick to cut with with my X-Acto knife. Yeah, maybe I could, but I’d really have to work and I don’t want to do that.

So, so far, I’ve finished three paintings on this. The first one, I’ll give away because I don’t think it’s my best work by any means. It’s nice. But not up to par.

But the other two, I’ll get professionally mounted. Then I’ll put them up on the store.

So the answer – no, it’s not as easy as mounting watercolor paper because it’s really thick. You can’t bend the board without ruining it. You already know you can bend and fold watercolor paper (well, sort of – if you know what you’re doing). With the watercolor board, you’ll ruin it if you did that.

“Would you recommend it?”

Well, let’s just put it this way. I’ve done two of these in a row and I’m just about to go out and buy yet another board today. I’m also going to buy some absinthe and paint while on it. But that will be on watercolor paper and not the next board. I don’t have an idea for the next board. I just know I want to paint on it again.

Can you handle 16″x20″? It doesn’t fit on my wife’s art board though, so I’m literally painting right on the floor rather than on top of the art board.

Yeah, I know, I’m a freak. I don’t sit down while painting and paint on an easel like a normal person. I got a messed up back and painting on the floor is way easier for my back.

This is what happens when you play violent sports as a young person. It catches up to you. Not at all knocking them though. It’s why I’m so competitive today, which is a not a good thing for an artist, but a great thing! I see so many artists with loads and loads of talent who quit because they’re all butt hurt that they didn’t get famous overnight. But that’s another story for another day.

This one’s $5.99 retail. Try it out. It’s expensive for one’s daily habits. But considering I sell my works, I’d rather pay for something I want to work on.