Mystery Technique

Mystery Technique #66



Curious to know how this was done? You can find out about the special techniques I used if you’ve signed up for email updates; I’ll reveal the details next month!



Last month’s Mystery Technique demonstrates the varied strokes you can make with Liner brushes. Here’s my collection, with the Universal Liners on the right:




First I partially wet the paper with a spray bottle and applied yellow with a Universal Liner; next I repeated the process with yellow-orange and red-orange. The final layer is a wet-in-wet mix of several different browns and red.




It’s hard to believe that these 2 Isabey brushes started out the same shape. The one on the right is a replacement for the other one; 20 years of use can really wear down the tip!




New Workshop and Another Narrow Escape!



Take a break from winter with watercolor! My January workshop was a big success, so I’ve added another one for February: Watercolor Basics, Part 2. We’ll be meeting on Sunday, February 25 from 12:15 – 4:15pm; hope you can join us! You can find all the details here:

Workshops & Classes




Look at the hole in center of this maple! It lost a lot of limbs when the other trees fell, so we had to have it taken down; it would have done a lot more damage to the house if it had fallen on its own. I’ll really miss it, especially in the fall!

Mystery Technique

Mystery Technique #65



Want to know what special tools I used to paint this? You can find out next month if you’ve signed up for email updates!



Here’s my Japanese paperweight in action!



Although these are typically used to keep lightweight papers from shifting during delicate brushwork, mine help me manipulate how the paper buckles. I like to work with lots of water on unstretched paper, which makes the paper form hills and valleys that evaporate at different rates. The patterns preserved in the paint remind me of the traces water leaves behind in the landscape.

Announcements Classes/Workshops

Narrow Escapes and Upcoming Classes!



Unexpected visitors certainly changed all my plans for the end of this month — early on the 23rd, a big oak in the woods toppled and  brought parts of several other trees with it to crash into the house! Fortunately, the downed wires didn’t cause a fire and my car only suffered minor damage. I felt incredibly lucky when I saw this hole in the ceiling right over where my bed had been; we moved it on the 19th!




I’m hoping for less drama in 2018; I’m certainly looking forward to teaching a wide range of classes, including a Beginning Watercolor workshop on January 20th. This one sold out the last time I offered it, so sign up soon if you’re interested! Find out details about all my Winter and Spring classes here:

Workshops & Classes

Mystery Technique

Mystery Technique #64



I bought this handy tool years ago; want to know what is and how it helps me paint? You can find out next month if you’ve signed up for email updates!



Both #62 and #63 use white fluid acrylic paint and part of a thin plastic bag to create texture. Last time, I put the white layer down first; this time, I started with a wet-in-wet layer of blue-gray with a little magenta. After it dried, I got the paper wet again and applied the diluted white on top of the dark layer. I then pressed part of a thin plastic bag onto the wet paint and manipulated the wrinkles in the plastic to vary the shapes. After the paint dried, I peeled off the plastic.


Announcements Classes/Workshops

Sneak Previews!

My 2017 classes are over, so here’s a sneak preview of what’s coming in 2018! I’ve added a Beginning Watercolor workshop on January 20, and I’ll be offering 3 different ways to take Mixed Media, including as a weekly daytime class on Thursdays. Find out more next month!


tree8, ©Elizabeth Sanford


This has been a very different kind of Fall; instead of hiking in the woods, I’ve been recovering from my injuries. Luckily, I have plenty of memories and photos of other Falls; so I’ve just started a new painting series called Missing. You’ll find out  more about it next month.

Mystery Technique

Mystery Technique #63



What’s the connection between this month’s technique and Mystery Technique #62? You can find out next month if you’ve signed up for email updates!




I started by applying white fluid acrylic paint to wet watercolor paper. Next I pressed part of a thin plastic bag onto the wet surface, manipulating the wrinkles in the plastic to make varied shapes. After the paint dried, I peeled off the plastic and glazed it with thin wet-in-wet watercolor washes. While the watercolor soaked into the white paper, it only stained the top of the white acrylic shapes, making it easy to lift and manipulate with a wet brush.

Announcements Classes/Workshops

Watercolor Workshop at Owl’s Hill and More!



It’s a beautiful time of year to visit Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary, and I’ve got a watercolor workshop there this Saturday!

Find out all the details here:







And on November 18, I’ll be at Plaza Artist Materials for a Natural Abstractions workshop. Learn more here:



Happy Painting!

Mystery Technique

Mystery Technique #62



Curious to know how this was done? You can find out about the special techniques I used if you’ve signed up for email updates; I’ll reveal the details next month!





These are 4 different views of a volvelle demo I made for a workshop I taught last month. A volvelle allows you to add a surprise twist to your story by slowly dissolving one picture into another, and it’s all made out of paper! Interested in making your own? Helen Hiebert’s Playing with Pop-Ups has templates and excellent directions. You can find animated versions of 2 volvelles from a wonderful pop-up book about Leonardo da Vinci here: read more »

Mystery Technique

Mystery Technique #61










Curious about these images? Watch for the explanation next month!



This is part of an experiment in various ways to “save” a circle before painting over it. I began by cutting a few circles out of clear contact paper, sticking them on hot press watercolor paper, and then rubbing them with my burnishing tool to keep paint from seeping under the edges. I painted the other circles with either a thin layer of permanent masking fluid, white acrylic ink, or yellow acrylic. After these dried, I got the paper wet and painted it with blue and green watercolor. I alternated layers of blues and greens with ribbon-like shapes of diluted yellow and white; removing the contact paper halfway through the process varied the depth of the circles. I used some of Daniel Smith’s PRIMATEK Green and Blue Apatite in the final layers for some texture and added shading to some of the circles for a little more dimension.



Announcements Classes/Workshops Exhibitions & Events

Workshops at Owl’s Hill, Watkins & More!




I’m delighted to announce that Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary is hosting one of my Art & Nature workshops on September 23! You’ll have the chance to make and decorate your own nature journal, go on a special kind of hike, and take a turn with The Box of Wonders; find out the details here:

My volvelle workshop at the Main Library is full, and you’ll have to wait until October for my Plaza workshops; but there’s still room in my 9-week Mixed Media class at Watkins on Wednesday nights! I’ll also be teaching a 2-day Natural Abstractions workshop on September 30 and October 1. Learn more about both here:

I got great feedback about my Installations at the Richland Park Library Branch, so it was sad to see them come down this week; there’s still time to see the ones at the Bellevue Branch, though!