Postcard Painting Inspiration ~ Life Affirming Action

Postcard Painting Inspiration

How Could One Small Painting Make Such an Impact?

Will this story inspire you
to pick up the brush
and try an experiment?

postcard painting inspiration
experimental watercolor postcard, Hollyhock Dream

I haven’t thought about this postcard painting inspiration since I painted it two years ago in France. I found it stuck down in a drawer when I went searching for my Tuscan Sun watercolor. When I pulled it out, it looked better than I remembered it. I threw it on the worktable thinking I might mount it and hang it beside my bed.

It floated around on my studio worktable niggling at me for a week or so. Finally the urge to paint it again ~ bigger ~ became so overwhelming it distracted me at every turn. I figured if I just gave in and painted it I’d get it out of my way. Wow, was I in for a surprise!

postcard painting inspiration
Hollyhock Dream, oil on canvas

When I set up the first canvas, two others nearby shouted to be next. I gave in and blocked them in with toned primer. Letting go never felt so comfortable!

It was then that I remembered planting a small water lily in a crock on my deck last summer. I  had just moved it to a pond of its own because its roots overflowed the small crock. When I repotted it I discovered it had sprouted four lilies. Recognizing myself in the lily made me smile inside. Assured I was in the right place I kept painting.

postcard painting inspiration
Something Blooming, oil on canvas

It took a week or so to finish painting all three of these. Snippets of time between other obligations were hard to find. Yet each time I touched them ~they came to life ~ and so did I.

 Hollyhock Dream led to Something Blooming, then to A Lily Pond of My Own. ~ I am astounded to see the abstract floral landscapes I painted in pastel as a young woman dripping with wet paint before me .  I never dreamed I would find her again. I truly thought she was lost forever.

postcard painting inspiration
A Lily Pond of My Own, oil 

How is it that painting such a small insignificant watercolor could be such a life affirming action?

This is the inspiration that leads me to create The Painting Lesson Virtual Artist Residency. If my small story inspires one person to pick up a brush and stroke color on paper, to feel the color energy beating in their heart a little faster ~ my joy will double.

perhaps you will pick up a brush and try an experiment.

Play Along with the Muses

Postcard Painting Inspiration
Create Your Own Experimental Watercolor Palette 

Painting Dreams>

Experimental Watercolors ~ It’s all About COLOR!

Experimental Watercolor Palette

Setting Up for Success ~ It’s all About COLOR!

watercolor supplies
My watercolor satchel holds a flat 9 x 12 plastic palette, 2 brushes a few watercolor postcards and a plastic cup and water bottle.. 

The important thing about experimental watercolor painting is using good pigments. Not because you think you are going to make good paintings ~ because good pigments give rich colors your heart can feel. THIS is important!

If your heart doesn’t beat a little faster when you see the color hit your paper, you haven’t made the connection!

You will know you’ve made the all important connection when you feel your heart say, “oh wow I love that,”

Artist’s paints are true pigments with rich formulations. Student paints are not. They are diluted synthetic substitutes. It will be very difficult (if not impossible) for your heart to feel the energy of color resonance with them. If you are trying to save money, buy only a few good artist’s colors and use them. Don’t waste your money on student grade paint.

Artist Quality Pigments

experimental watercolor
Three Primary Colors 2 reds, 2 Blues & 2 Yellows.

My watercolor palette consists of only 6 colors. I use two reds, Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Red Medium; two blues, Ultramarine Blue and Cerulian Blue; and two yellows, Lemon Yellow and Cadmium Yellow Medium.  With watercolor you do not need white paint.

One small tube of each will last a long time. Each brush stroke is 80% water and 20% pigment. This is another reason good pigments are so important.

My palette will help you learn to mix colors. The three primary colors, red, blue and yellow, are used to create most secondary and tertiary colors. By the time you need other colors on your palette, you will know which ones you can’t mix with these.

What to Paint On?

experimental watercolor
Experimental watercolor postcards in this photo are one from the New Hampshire coast and Hollyhocks from Provence, France. The Hollyhocks one inspired a whole series of large-scale paintings two years later. See more about this>

How color feels depends on what it is next to. If you paint a stroke of brilliant red paint on a greenish sheet of paper, it will look dull and lifeless. You will think you can’t paint! And you will give up and never feel the thrill of color beating in your heart.

Use good quality watercolor paper like ARCHES. Or make your own painting panels with Absorbent White Gesso so your colors will make your heart sing. This is why you are painting in the first place?

When I picked watercolor back up after 30 years, I bought 4 packs of Strathmore Watercolor Postcards for pocket change. Painting 30 of them changed my life.

Brushes, Pens & Palette


experimental watercolorTwo brushes are sufficient. I use one 1/2″ flat and one #8 pointed round brush. I currently use Creative Mark’s Minik brushes because they are less expensive than sables and hold up well to my abuse.

The biggest mistake is using a brush that is small. My two brushes look too big to many beginners. A big brush helps you see the big shapes of color. Keep it simple, bold and big ~ especially on a postcard sized painting.

Felt Tip Pens

On my way to France, I picked up two felt tip pens, one sage green the other sienna. These colors are earthy, so when I draw back into my painting with a few squiggly lines it grounds the fluid dream to the page. You might prefer different colors. Use your gut and pick two.

experimental watercolor
Two brushes and a couple felt tip pens

A flat 9 x 12 plastic palette is inexpensive, less than $8 and can be slipped into a plastic bag. It does not matter if the watercolor paint dries out on the palette. Just add water to soften the paint. To wash it off, simply rinse under a faucet and wipe with a paper towel.experimental watercolor

Eight small wells are for paint squeezed from the tube. 12 large wells are for mixing colors together with lots of water.  LOTS OF WATER is the key to painting with watercolors.

I have seen people use white plastic plates as palettes. This could work, but would be awkward and get expensive. Without separate wells to mix colors, you would going through plates quickly.

Postcard Painting Inspiration
Create Your Own Experimental Watercolor Palette and Paint Along>

Tuscany Residency Artist’s Dream Come True

Tuscany Artist’s Residency

I invite you to follow my Tuscany Artist’s Residency online. Join me for plein air painting and Tuscan lifestyle-infused painting lessons.

Follow the creation of my book, Muses of Tuscany, infusing life with paintings and the Tuscan lifestyle.

I have invited two muses to visit my Tuscany studio. In Greek mythology, muses are goddesses blessed with great artistic talents ~ grace, beauty and allure. They help the gods and mankind forget their troubles and inspire artists to greater artistic and intellectual heights.

My muses are very dear friends who have inspired me over the years. I have asked them to show me Tuscany ~ what inspires them ~ the hill towns, wineries, Tuscan life style. I am hoping my time in Tuscany will re-program me ~ the workaholic who doesn’t know what else to do but work!

I cannot move this mountain, I CAN embrace it.

Embrace of the Mountain
Embrace of the Mountain, CANVAS PRINT

When I titled Embrace of the Mountain, over a year ago, I was thinking the mountain was embracing me. Now I see how I am already embracing it.

Our apartment is 20 miles south of Florence. It is owned by a chef who teaches cooking and runs a private restaurant for residents. We’re leasing a car, which my husband Jim enjoys driving, the Italian way. Sneakers is on her own playdate with the grandkids.

Dorothy Fagan watercolor
Tuscan Sun, original watercolor, 8 x 10

People have always looked at my paintings and asked if I had been to Tuscany. Evidently they saw more in my paintings ~ unfulfilled dreams ~ than I did. My dream? Your dream? The collective consciousness is powerful ~ I invite you to tell me what inspires you and to enter to win my Original Tuscan Sun Watercolor.