Thursday, September 23, 2021

Viviva Color Sheets are here!

 The Viviva Color Sheets have arrived! For a limited time only, I am offering Viviva Color Sheets for $17.95 + shipping and handling. I only have a very limited number of these, so order yours quickly before they are all gone! 

Each book of Viviva Color Sheets contains 16 highly saturated watercolors, equal to a set of 16 half pans! The book is approximately 3 x 6 inches and easily fits in a pocket or purse, perfect for artists who travel or just want to be ready to paint anytime. 

These won't last long at this price, so order now while they are still available! 

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posted by Annie Strack @ 11:39 AM   0 Comments

Monday, September 20, 2021

Fall is busy with lots of events!

 Fall is always my busiest time of year, and this year seems to be crammed full with even more exhibits and events. 

Annie Strack painting at Winterthur 

I painted live, en plein air again last Friday at Winterthur duing the Wine Trail event. I'll be there again this Friday, for the Mixers and Elixers cocktail party. 

Koi, 8x10 watercolor on panel by Annie Strack

This Saturday I'll be painting in the Glasstown Plein Air event in Millville, New Jersey. The paintings will be on exhibit through October 15 at the Rivertown Arts Center. 

Peter, 14x20 watercolor by Annie Strack

I also just got the news that my painting "Peter" is juried into the Philadelphia Watercolor Society 121st International Show, which earned my 22nd Signature Membership! The exhibit will be at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, in October. 

And next Monday, I'll be demonstrating watercolor painting for the Salem County Art League over Zoom. My subject for that painting will be seagulls, so be sure to tune in to watch!

posted by Annie Strack @ 11:54 AM   0 Comments

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Lots of new exhibits this summer!

 I didn't schedule too many activities this summer, and it's a good thing I didn't! I've been overwhelmed with framing and shipping paintings off to exhibits. 

My painting "Toes in the Water" won Honorable Mention in the Alaska Watercolor Society 47th National Juried Show. This acceptance also earns Signature Status for me in AKWS. It is the 21st Signature that I've earned in various artist organizations.

I just shipped off "Dinghy Dock" to the Missouri Watercolor Society 2021 International Juried show. 

"Cooling my Heels" won an Award of Merit in the Hawaii Watercolor Society National Juried Show. 

"A Tug at my Heart" is currently on display at the 51st Annual Garden State Juried Open Show in Princeton, New Jersey. 

"Point Guard" is on it's way to the Northeast Watercolor Society 45th International Juried Exhibit in Connecticut. 

In other news, I painted at Winterthur again last month for the Mixers and Elixers series of summer parties, and my painting sold right off the easel just as I was finishing it up and framing it. I was set up next to the koi pond, which is one of my favorite subjects to paint. I'll be at Winterthur again next Friday, stop by if you're in the area! 

posted by Annie Strack @ 4:32 PM   0 Comments

Monday, August 2, 2021

Packing light for plein air travel

We still have plenty of time to get ready for our next trip pleinair painting trip, which is next June to Brittany with Mathieu of Provence ArtExperience and Yves-Marie of Sennelier (and we still have 2 spaces left, if anyone else wants to join us!). But it’s never too early to start planning! I’m writing a series of posts about preparing and packing for our trip, and I’m starting off with this article about what to pack in your main suitcase.

Depending on which airline you use, you might be limited in the size, weight, and number of suitcases you can bring. Usually, you are allowed at least one medium size (25”) suitcase up to 50 pounds, and one carry on bag. More expensive flights might allow you more than that, but I have found that the medium suitcase plus a carry on is always enough for everything I need, including my art supplies. I use half of my suitcase for art equipment and supplies, and the other half for clothes and personal items. It still leaves me plenty of room to pack souvenirs later for the return trip. I always pack my portable luggage scale so I can make sure I don’t exceed the weight limit when I pack for my return flight home. Check with your airline (including the code-share flights!) to see which baggage limits will apply to you and your flights.


It helps to limit your wardrobe to separates that can be mixed and matched. Personally, I limit mine to just black and white items and I add color with a few scarves. Our lodgings always have a washing machine so there’s no need to pack a different outfit for each day of the trip. We always have plenty of shopping opportunities and you’ll want to save room for clothing and other items purchased while touring the village market stalls and charming boutiques. Pack comfortable shoes, but don’t worry – we won’t be hiking up mountains or running any marathons. Your normal, comfortable, everyday footwear will do just fine. However, stay away from anything with leather soles. The surfaces of the cobblestones of European streets are worn down as smooth as glass, making them slick as snot! Leather-soled shoes or sandals will send you flying (I learned this the hard way, and still have the scars to prove it).


In addition to your usual travel toiletries, pack a small bar of soap. Guest houses often do not supply them. For your toiletries (such as toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, moisturizer, etc.) bring small sample-sized products, or items that are almost empty. Plan on using them up and throwing them away before you come home. This allows you to have even more space in your suitcase to pack souvenirs on your return trip.

Electricity: adapters versus converters:

An adapter is something that goes on the end of a plug so it will fit in an outlet. A foreign voltage converter does that as well, but it also converts the current down from 220 to 110 volts. Your phone, laptop, tablet, and other rechargeable battery powered devices already have a type of voltage converter built into their charging cords – that’s the big boxy-looking thing on the cord or on the plug. In those cases, just adding an adapter will work just fine. However, other appliances without a built-in converter will overheat and quickly burn up if plugged in with just an adapter. I mean that literally – they will start a fire. In particular, hair dryers, curling irons, flat irons, etc. These need to use a converter. Converters cost quite a bit more than adapters, but may be necessary for some electrical devices you pack. Make sure you have what you need. If in doubt, err on the safe side and use a converter.


It rains. Bring an OLD umbrella; one that you can use while there but then leave it behind if you need to free up space in your suitcase for your return flight. It’s also sunny. Bring a hat or a plein air umbrella for shade when painting or sketching outside. If your plein air umbrella can double as your rain umbrella; all the better! There is always a beach or pool nearby, so pack a bathing suit if you want to go swimming.

Our tour guides always provide folding lawn chairs, so you don’t need to worry about having to pack folding stools in your suitcases. Although you will be expected to be able to carry your own gear, our daily excursions will never be too strenuous. I suggest packing a small backpack or tote bag for carrying your plein air gear to the daily painting locations. I use the same tote bag for my air travel carry-on as I do for my daily excursions.

Anyone have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them, post them in the comments!

We’ll talk about art supplies next time!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 3:55 PM   0 Comments

Monday, July 5, 2021

Painting Koi -- A Virtual Workshop on Zoom!

I'm teaching a 2 - day virtual workshop on Zoom -- Painting Koi in Watercolor! This workshop is August 14 - 15, 12:30 pm to 4 pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) each day. (Can't make our workshop dates? No problem! Register anyway and you'll be sent a link to a recording to watch for 30 days.)

The host is Helen Beacham of Workshops in Charleston. Contact Helen ASAP to sign up, as this will fill up fast! The price is $125 per person. The day before the workshop, you will receive an email with the Zoom link. You will have access to a recording of the workshop for 30 days. 

Slipped Away, 9x12 watercolor by Annie Strack

Using the reference photo provided, students will draw the koi onto their watercolor paper and have all their supplies ready to go before the class begins. The first day of the lesson will start with layering an underpainting of shadow color on the fish to depict dimension or “roundness.” Then we will paint the background water. This is painted very wet and is done in layers with lots of paint. We will do at least one practice painting of the background techniques, so have at least one extra piece of paper to practice upon. The practice sheets can be small student grade WC paper, but at least 8x10. We will use masking fluid to mask out a few scales on the fish. On the second day of the workshop, we will paint the details of the koi using bold brushstrokes and bright colors on top of the underpainting, which allows the shape of the fish to show though the colors and completes the painting. 

Garden Jewels, 9x12 watercolor by Annie Strack 


Cold pressed watercolor paper. Either blocked or mounted, at least 140 lbs. At least 9x12 in size, up to 12x16.

Making fluid, Paper towels.

Scrap paper for testing brushstrokes, and at least one piece to practice the background upon.

Paints:   You must have Indigo, Green-Gold, New Gamboge, Chinese White, Payne’s grey (or any other black), Cadmium Red (or a similar bright red), Cadmium Orange (or similar bright orange), Lemon yellow (or any bright yellow), Alizarin (or any similar cool shade of red). Also, bring along any other colors you like to use. I will use a lot of different colors of blue and maybe even some browns and purples or other greens, but it’s mostly about value and chroma not so much about color! So, bring your regular palette of colors in addition to the necessary ones I listed. The colors of the fish are spontaneous – I only use the photos as reference for the basic shapes and never match the colors exactly!

Brushes:  You’ll need a big soft mop to paint the background. I use squirrel mops, about a size 5 or 6. For the fishes, I use a smaller mop – about a size 1 or 2. I also use some kolinsky rounds in smaller sizes about 4 or 6 for the details in the fish. The size of your brushes will depend on how large is your painting. If you are painting a 12x16, you might want to go up a size or two on the brushes.

Reference photo for workshop!

This is my reference photo that we will be painting in this workshop. If you have any questions about the workshop, the supply list, or about preparing for the workshop, contact me! 

posted by Annie Strack @ 4:40 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, June 26, 2021

lots of Plein Air Painting going on!

 This have been a busy month, with plein air painting events cropping up everywhere! I went out with the Delaware Urban Sketchers to Delaware City, where I found a lovely riverfront with plenty of boats to paint. 

Annie Strack painting en plein air in Delaware City, DE

Sailboat at Delaware City riverfront, 10x8 oil $195

On another event, I went out with the Delaware Watercolor Society to paint en plein air at Lavender Fields in Milton, Delaware. 

Annie Strack painting at Lavender Fields in Milton, Delaware

Lavender Fields, 8x10 oil $195

And at another event I painted at Mt Cuba, a native plant botanical garden in Yorklyn, Delaware.

Annie Strack painting at Mt. Cuba.

Mt Cuba vista, 8x10 oil $195

Earlier this week, I hosted a plein air picnic at my studio for local artists who are traveling with me to France next summer. We also Zoomed with Yves-Marie of Sennelier, who then took us on a video tour of the Sennelier showroom at their headquarters in St. Brieuc (Brittany), France. 

Artists painting en plein air at Annie Strack Studio

Last night, I painted at Winterthur for their Mixers and Elixers event. I was the only plein air artist at the premier event, but they are going to hold this event every last Friday each month this summer and they will now invite more artists to paint at future events.  

Annie Strack painting at Winterthur

Winterthur Gazebo, 12x16 oil, framed, $495

posted by Annie Strack @ 5:48 PM   0 Comments

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Viviva colorsheets

 Several weeks ago I received a new product to test and review, the Viviva color sheets and sketch book. Although I'm still recovering from cancer treatments and haven't returned to a full working schedule, I still didn't find the time to test them until today. I'm so glad I did! I'm having a fabulous time, playing with the pigments and filling up sketchbook pages! 

These new Viviva color sheets are perfect for traveling. They offer two palettes in book form, Original and Spring. The Spring includes a selection of metallic/iridescent colors. Each palette "book" contains 16 colors and includes a mixing area, yet it weighs almost nothing -- only a little more than an ounce -- which makes it an ideal choice for air travelers or just to keep in a pocket for painting anytime, anywhere. 

I was amazed at how saturated the pigments are on these sheets, there is easily enough paint to fill several sketchbooks with paintings! The company claims that one book of 16 colors is equal to a set of 16 half pans, and from my experience that would appear to be correct. I can't imagine some of these pigment being so intense, and I suspect there may be dyes involved as well as pigments. Whatever the case, the paint is formulated to quickly reconstitute with water which makes it easy to use. These have become a new favorite of mine, and will go with me everywhere. 

Paired with a small sketchbook (the 4x6 Viviva sketchbook is perfect!) and a water brush, it's everything I need for a day of colorful creativity. I highly recommend it!

The 4x6 Viviva sketchbook contains medium weight cold pressed paper and is perfect for water based media. The Viviva color sheet books fit nicely inside, making it a compact and very practical painting kit. 


I'm going to be offering a special promotion of these in a few weeks, so be sure to check back!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 5:15 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, May 22, 2021

more new paintings!

 Here's a few recent paintings from my studio... 

Cooling my Heels, 9x12 watercolor 

This is painted on the new Collections cold pressed watercolor paper from Hahnemuehle. The 140# paper is bright white and has wonderful texture.

Weary Traveler, 12 x 16 watercolor

I painted this one on the Hahnemuehle Cezanne 140# CP paper.

Staying close, 12x9 watercolor

Also painted on the Hahnemuehle Collections paper.

Get Well Soon, 12x9 watercolor

My students in New Jersey recently sent this wonderful bouquet of flowers to me. The blooms lasted several weeks, and it was fun to paint while I was recovering from the cancer treatments. This is also painted on the Hahnemuehle Collections paper, this time using the 140# Rough.

Out of the Darkness, 12x9 watercolor

This one is painted on the Hahnemuehle Leonardo paper, which is a luxurious 300# surface. Although more expensive, heavy weight papers are much easier to work on and I prefer them over 140# papers. 

Notice the pattern? Yep, all are painted on various watercolor papers from Hahnemuehle, my favorite paper manufacturer. All were also painted with my favorite watercolor paints from Sennelier, using my favorite Water Lily line of brushes from Dynasty Brush

I could use other materials. I could use ANY materials. But I only use the absolute best. 

posted by Annie Strack @ 12:03 PM   0 Comments

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Plein Air in New Jersey

 I had a great weekend of painting with friends in the Olde Stone Village Plein Air in Sewell, New Jersey this weekend. 

Annie Strack painting en plein air

The weather was lovely in the morning but a sudden rain after lunch shortened the event, so I only did one painting.

Smoke house, 8x10 oil

It was fun to hang out with friends again, and I always enjoy painting with my dear friend Yvonne Mucci, who lives in New Jersey. 

Annie Strack painting with Yvonne Mucci

I also finished another studio painting of koi, and I've already entered this one in a juried show. Wish me luck!

Le Grande Amore, 12x16 watercolor

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:31 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, May 1, 2021

May news


Toes in the Sand, Watercolor by Annie Strack

I'm thrilled to learn that my painting "Toes in the Sand" won the Ampersand Merit Award at the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society's 2021 International Juried Biennial Exhibit! 

Last week I was invited to paint en plein air at Winterthur as part of their Daffodils and Wine celebration. It was my first outing in over a year, and I had a marvelous time. 

It was a warm sunny day and I painted two watercolors while enjoying the weather. 

I also recently finished this pen and watercolor in my Hahnemuhle Carnet de Voyage sketchbook...

Kuerner Farmhouse, 6x9 ink and watercolor by Annie Strack

and I just got this certificate of Signature Status in the mail from the Western Colorado Watercolor Society -- this is my 20th Signature in an artist society! 

Later this month, I'll be going traveling over to Olde Stone Village in New Jersey for a plein air painting event. I'm also almost ready to start teaching again, and I'll be posting a new class and workshop schedule soon. 

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:32 PM   0 Comments

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