Monday, August 15, 2016

Yay! Value Finders are Here!

For many years I've been telling my students about the benefits of using a Value Finder while painting. Unfortunately, these things are extremely hard to find! I finally found a great wholesale source, and now I'm offering them to my students and other artists.

4x6 Value Finders, $5 + S&H

4x6 Value Finder (red acrylic)
$5 plus $4 shipping and handling




You can save on the Shipping and Handling charges by buying direct from me at my demos and workshops, although I only bring a limited number of them with me to events so there is always the possibility that I may sell out early and there may not be enough to go around.

When you look at your painting through the Value Finder, the deep red color works as a filter to cancel out colors and show you the true values of your painting. It works equally well when you hold it up to look at your subject through it -- it will filter out the confusion of colors and allow you to easily see only the value transitions of what ever you are painting. These are ideal for plein air painters and studio painters alike, and work for every medium. 

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posted by Annie Strack @ 6:28 PM   0 Comments

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New pens for plein air watercolor painting!

I just tried some new products for watercolor painting en plein -- opaque white gel pens. These pens are lightfast and archival, making them ideal for watercolor painters. The Uniball pen was a given to me by my dear friend, artist Deb Watson. The Sakura and Marvy pens I found in the crafts department of a fabric store chain. Both the Uniball and the Marvy are 1.0 mil wide, and the Sakura is .04 wide. The wider ones are better for watercolor. Because these are opaque, they cover very well and can be used to add whites to a watercolor painting at the end. This makes it perfect for painting en plein air, when it's inconvenient to use masking fluid. 


 In other news, my workshop in Spain next Spring is almost full! There are only a few seats left, and prices go up after November 2016 so you don't want to wait until the last minute to reserve your space!

As an added bonus, I'm giving away white gel pens, traditional sketching pens, and a special sketchbook to each artist in this workshop!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 8:37 AM   0 Comments

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Plein Air Painting at the Brandywine Museum of Art

I had a wonderful day last week at the Brandywine River Museum of Art during their "Inside Out Plein Air" event. Three other artists and I were invited to paint inside the museum, which was especially nice since the outside temperature was in the high 90's with a heat index in the triple digits. I quickly painted a couple of watercolors of my view of the river, and then a small watercolor of the vase of white hydrangeas in the lobby.

Brandywine River Plein Air, 12x9 watercolor $89.

Brandywine River Plein Air, 9x12 watercolor $89.

Brandywine River Museum Interior, 6x4 watercolor $49

I don't often get the opportunity to practice painting live figures, so I was thrilled to be able to get out my sketchbook and fill several pages. People standing around and walking about the museum lobby were perfect models, and because I was there with permission I was able to paint to my heart's content without any intrusions. Afterwards, some of my students saw my plein air figure sketches and have asked me to add the lessons to my schedule. Ask, and you shall receive! Figure Sketching in Watercolor is being added to the curriculum of my upcoming workshop in Spain, and one-day classes will be added to my lineup of studio classes.

Plein Air Figure Sketching in Watercolor

 In other news, merchandise is still arriving for the Plein Air Brandywine Valley event in October! Cheap Joe's Art Stuff just sent us a $100 Gift Card and fashionable painting apron that some lucky artist will win as a Merit Award at the event. The name of the comapany -- Cheap Joe's -- is quite an oxymoron as anyone who's ever done business with them knows they are as generous as the day is long.

We're now up to 14 Merit Awards, in addition to the top awards which total over $10,000 in cash! There's still time to apply, although the entries will close in a week so that notifications can begin.

$100 Merit Award for Plein Air Brandywine Valley from Cheap Joe's

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posted by Annie Strack @ 3:59 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, July 16, 2016

another new painting!

Here's my latest watercolor painting! I just finished this one, and sent the image off to the National Watercolor Society for jurying. Wish me luck! I've been recovering from surgery for the past month, and spent the time in my studio working on the complexities of this painting. I'm writing a step by step tutorial using this painting, and soon I'll post the link to where you can find that free tutorial. Many thanks to my friends on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter who come to my rescue and help me with the titles for my latest paintings!
A Tug at My Heart, 20x14 watercolor $1195.
 More sponsorships are rolling in for Plein Air Brandywine Valley! We are now up to thirteen Merit Awards of fabulous merchandise and gift certificates, including the latest from Vasari Oil Colors. Vasari oils are completely hand made of the finest oil and pigments and made in the US. Two lucky artists will win $250 Gift Certificates from Vasari, who has also generously provided two $100 Gift Certificates to be used as awards in the Quick Draw and the Nocturne painting competitions!
Merit Awards provided by Vasari Oil Colors

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posted by Annie Strack @ 1:00 PM   1 Comments

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

1-day workshops and classes for artists!

July is a busy month, with three classes coming up in my studio! There's still a few spaces left in all of them, so sign up now before they are all sold out!

July 12, -  "Social Media Made Simple!" 1-day workshop in my Kennett Square Studio. Learn how to improve your business and sell more art through positive interaction with potential and current customers on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Pinterest, Linked In, g+, Blogs, and more! Make your posts go viral and get people talking about your business all over the internet! wi-fi is available, so bring your laptop (preferred) or mobile device! 9:30 am - 3pm. Lunch included, $58 per person.  Email me to register.

July 14, - Plein Air Workshop at my studio in Kennett Square. Join me for a day of painting in my studio gardens. All mediums welcome. Learn how to choose subjects and plan plein air compositions, use color to the best advantage, strengthen values, and create better plein air paintings! 9:30 - 3 pm, lunch is included. $58 per person, email me to register.


July 28, - Mix Stunning Colors with a Limited Palette! A 1-day workshop in my Kennett Square Studio. Learn how to identify colors by temperature and value and how to mix every color needed from using a split primary palette! This applies to all color mediums, so all mediums are welcome in this workshop. Participants will gain a stronger understanding of color theory and will learn to use the right colors to create better paintings. 9:30 am - 3 pm, $58 per person, lunch included. Email me to register.

Annie Strack leading a plein air painting workshop

posted by Annie Strack @ 8:38 AM   0 Comments

Friday, July 1, 2016

Adding more awards!

I forgot to show you all my recent painting of Sheffield Mums! I strayed away from my usual painting subjects of seascapes and landscapes, and did a few florals. I entered this painting in the Philadelphia Watercolor Society juried show -- wish me luck!
A Break from Boats, 12x16 watercolor $295
 Lately I've been busy working behind the scenes on the Plein Air Brandywine Valley competition. This year is shaping up nicely, as we've secured Steve Doherty of Plein Air Magazine as our juror, and we added over a dozen extra awards and some new events. New this year, a Quick Draw in Marshallton and a Nocturne in Chesapeake City are added to the lineup. New locations are being added, too, and this year Jamie Wyeth has invited us to paint at his house! I've been working hard to get lots of additional awards for this event, and I'm working with numerous art supply retailers and wholesales to get tons of awesome merchandise for both the artist swag bags and Merit Awards. Check out the totally awesome Williamsburg Oil Colors and Qor Watercolors that will be awarded to some lucky artists!
Williamsburg Oils and Qor Watercolors, Merit Awards for Plein Air Brandywine Valley

posted by Annie Strack @ 12:52 PM   0 Comments

Monday, June 6, 2016

latest paintings!

Last month went by in a blur! I'd like to take a vacation and rest up for a week or two, but the rest of my summer is booked solid with classes, workshops, and events. Here's a few photos from my recent painting demonstration for the Glouchester County Art League in New Jersey. I started two paintings and worked on both simultaneously, but it was very humid that day and my paint just wouldn't dry so I didn't completely finish either one of them before the end of my demo. I continued my demos during the Open Studio Tour that same weekend, and finished them up.
Annie Strack beginning her demo for GCAL

Annie Strack demo at GCAL

Annie Strack Painting demo

Annie Strack demonstrating painting
Untitled boat painting demo, 12x16 $145.
 I also spent a day at Kuerner Farm with the Philadelphia Watercolor Society last week, and although I had to leave rather early to get ready for the Open Studio Tour I still managed to complete three paintings.
Kuerner Farm 1, 6x12 watercolor $79

Kuerner Farm 2, 6x12 watercolor $79

Kuerner Farm Springhouse, 7x10 watercolor $79
And in other news...
as most of you know, I work with a lot of different artist organizations as a volunteer. One of my current projects is Plein Air Brandywine Valley, and one of the things I'm doing for that group is getting merchandise donations from art supply companies that will be used as Merit Awards. In addition to sending fantastic items that will be given as awards, some of the companies are also providing samples of their products that will go into the swag bags that are given to the 100 artists who are juried into the event. I got this enormous shipment from Michael Harding Oil Paints today, containing over 100 wonderful tubes of Ultramarine Blue for the swag bags! I'm so excited to that Michael Harding Oil Paints has sent such a gift! All the artists in the event will get one!
Sample tubes of Michael Harding Oil Paints!

posted by Annie Strack @ 4:18 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

a busy week ahead!

When it rains, it pours! Spring is always a busy time of year for artists, and this year is busier than most. Winter and Summer are my slow seasons, so I'm happy to book extra events in the Spring and Fall to make up for the slow months. Next week, I'm booked at four events in three different states!


The fun starts this weekend with the Hands On Creativity event at the Plaza Artist Materials store in Rockville, Maryland. I'll be demonstrating Amsterdam Color acrylics, and conducting "Make & Take" classes with these awesome paints. and giving away free samples! There will be representatives form other artist supply companies, too, making this the perfect opportunity to come out and try all the latest products.


Wednesday I'll be at Kuerner Farm in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, painting with the Philadelphia Watercolor Society. Kuerner Farm is less than five miles from my studio, making this an easy event for me. I always open my home to guest artists during plein air events in this area, so if you've registered for this event and need a place to stay be sure to contact me. 


Thursday evening I'll be demonstrating watercolor painting at the Gloucester County Art League. I explain my processes in great detail during my painting demonstrations, just like in my classes and workshops. Learn how I mix colors, plan a composition, use values, manipulate the properties of pigments, use different types of brushes for effects, and more! I'll be bringing some of my DVDs and some free samples of art supplies from my generous sponsors to give away, so you won't want to miss it! Free admission! May 19th, 6:30 pm at the Zion Community Church 242 Kings Highway in Clarksboro, New Jersey.


Next weekend is the annual Chester County Studio Tour. I've invited four other artists to exhibit in my studio with me this year, so visitors are in a real treat! Deb Watson, Karen Frattali, Judy Jarvis, and Tom Dempsey have bought tons of paintings and prints to display and sell. All the best artists on the Studio tour are in one place, at 105 Kabob Lane in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. You won't want to miss this! May 21 & 22. Lots of nibbles and sips, painting demonstrations, and door prizes, too!

posted by Annie Strack @ 10:39 AM   0 Comments

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Plein Air Essentials for Watercolor Painters!

Springtime is upon us, and that means it's Plein Air season! Several students have asked me what they should bring on our plein air excursions so I've written up a little article here with some photos to show you. The items shown here are for a simple day of plein air using watercolors. When I paint in plein air competitions, I pack much more supplies. See what and how I pack for plein air competitions, here. And when I pack to teach watercolor workshops or demonstrations for art supply stores,, I pack completely differently and take a lot more supplies and a totally different set up. See what and how I pack for watercolor workshops, here.

But when I want a relaxing day of painting en plein air and I don't want to schlepp a ton of gear around, this is what I pack...

Basic supplies for watercolor plein air
1. blocks of watercolor paper.
2. folding palette of watercolor pans with brushes and other supplies inside.
3. bottles of water
4. collapsible pet bowls for water containers.
5. folding penknife to remove paintings from the watercolor blocks.
6. sunscreen
7. snacks
8. cell phone (a no-brainer, really)

Not pictured, a folding chair and a roll of paper towels that stay in the trunk of my car. I don't take a whole roll of paper towels with me when I go out to paint, rather, I tear off just a few sheets and shove them in my pockets. Two or three sheets of paper towels will last me all day. And, I don't always carry a chair out with me, either. If there's a nice spot of lawn to sit on or a bench, that's much more convenient.

The collapsible pet bowls are the best water containers that I've ever found. The bases are much more broader than other collapsible containers, making them very stable. Also, the rims are much thinner than anything else I've discovered, so when they are collapsed they are less than a half an inch thick. I have bought several of these, and I now keep some in all my plein air kits and in my travel kit for teaching.

My folding palette, opened
 I keep a lot of little things inside my folding palette, ready to go for a day of painting. Some people pack their brushes and supplies separately, but I like to keep everything I need together, so I don't forget anything when I go out. My palette contains my favorite colors, some in full pans and some in half pans. Most travel tins come with a selections of half pans, but you can always buy individual pans and replace the colors, or even buy empty pans and fill them yourself.

Detail of the items in my folding palette
Here's a detailed photo of the brushes and other items in my folding palette.

The brushes are collapsible travel brushes so they take up less space, and I only take three rounds and a flat. The rounds are #4, #8, and #12, and most are natural hair squirrels, sables, and Kolinsky's. The natural hair brushes are expensive, but the extra cost is worth it as they hold more fluid so I can get them to perform like much larger brushes when I want them to. The flat moppy looking one is actually a little makeup brush, the kind that come inside a compact of cheek rouge. These little mop brushes are useless for applying makeup, but are just the right size for adding to a watercolor plein air kit and using for washes! 

I save my pencil stubs just for the sake of having short pencils for my plein air kits, and I keep a little pencil sharpener in the kit with it. 

I often start my plein air watercolors with an ink sketch, and I carry a Uniball roller pen for that. I discovered this brand of pen back in my days of doing architectural renderings and other commercial art. The ink is highly light-fast and doesn't bleed when wet. 

The little scrap of sandpaper is for getting extra texture in my watercolors, and so are the packets of salt which come from fast food joints. 

I work fairly small when I paint en plein air, so I don't need much of an eraser. I cut one up and just carry a small piece of an eraser in my kit. 

Finally, I like to test my brushstrokes when I'm painting, so I always carry a scrap of watercolor paper in my palette. A thin strip fits nicely on top of it all, and also helps to absorb any excess drips when I close up my wet palette at the end of the day.

 I started painting en plein air in California, back in the 1990's. Back then, we didn't have the competitions like we do today. We didn't even call it "plein air" back then, we used to call it "hey, let's get together and paint out this weekend." I belonged to two groups in California that used to go out and take advantage of the warm dry natural light to paint outdoors -- there were only two groups back then, in the central coast area between San Luis Obispo and San Franciso . One group met on Saturdays, and we would go to Carmel, San Juan Batista, Monterey, Salinas, Hollister, Pinnacles National Monument, and other areas within a short drive of the San Benito valley. The other group was based further north near San Jose, and we go out out once a month to nearby seed farms and vineyards to paint. Both groups were informal, and we would have anywhere from just two artists to maybe ten at the most, on any given excursion.

I love taking my paints outside and spending a relaxing day painting in the fresh air. I hope you can join me!


posted by Annie Strack @ 2:13 PM   0 Comments

Friday, April 15, 2016

plein air painting at Audubon tomorrow!

I'll be demonstrating painting en plein air at Mill Grove, the home of John James Audubon at Valley Forge tomorrow. I'll be painting with both watercolors and oils from 11am to 3pm, and I hope you will come out to watch! This event is free and open to public. 
Annie Strack painting in the Cedarburg PleinAir

In other news, I'm thrilled to show off these fantastic brush sets from Dynasty Brush! These aren't mine -- these wonderful sets are going to be awarded as Merit Awards in the 2016 Plein Air Brandywine Valley! Each of these 4 awards contains over $200 worth of awesome artist brushes in a canvas roll.
Dynasty Brush 

As many of my closest friends know, I serve on the Board of Directors of numerous artist organizations and I volunteer countless hours in the arts communities. I love that my decades of experience organizing juried shows, plein air events, workshops, and my years of teaching, writing, marketing, sales, and my business skills and computor skills, and so on, can go to good use by helping artists to succeed. I'm thrilled to join the committee of Plein Air Brandywine Valley this year, and one of the things that I am coordinating is donations of top quality artist supplies and equipment for Merit Awards in this year's competition. The incredibly generous gift from Dynasty Brush is the first of several to arrive. 

In addition to getting great merchandise for awards, I'm also helping to organize a Quick Draw and a Nocturne event to be added to the line up for the first time this year, and we've already secured a top judge for the event, Steve Doherty. It's going to be our best year, ever, and we're just getting started!

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:20 PM   0 Comments

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