Thursday, April 9, 2020

Watercolor Painting of Wisteria at Mohonk Step by Step Process

"Wisteria at Mohonk" 11x14 watercolor by Mira Fink

Here is a demonstration on the process of creating the painting above, "Wisteria at Mohonk".  Please let me know if this is helpful and please comment and subscribe to the blog on the right if you want to be notified of future posts like this. 

From this photograph, I made a sketch in my notebook of my composition and color plan. I wanted to paint this because I love the lavender color of Wisteria and wanted to create the contrast with the yellow in the flower beds below.  I used a reversed L shaped composition with a center of interest on the top of the top of the structure.  I wanted to create the misty magical feeling of being in this garden with all the pastel colors and the background disappearing into the mist. 

After drawing the image onto my watercolor paper, I applied the first washes using wet on wet technique (see below). This means that I made the paper wet and then added the colors so they would blend together.  This first layer will establish the lightest washes. I didn't want all the background color to flow into the gazebo top, so I painted around this triangular area. 

First wash
After this layer was dry, I went back into some of the areas with more color establishing darker lights and some mid-tones. I used some white mixed with purple to create the lavender color of the Wisteria which I hope will create a nice contrast to the yellow greens.  I have left the background mountains and trees alone, but have built up the layer in front of it to create depth.  At this point, I am working some areas wet on wet and some wet on dry where I would like more definition, like around the flower shapes.

Second washes
In the next stage (see below), I add my mid-tones by using color with more paint and less water.  You can see this in top part of the painting.   I have added shadows under the top of the gazebo and under the foliage, and forms are starting to get more volume and definition. After this, I will do the same treatment to the lower area of the painting.  I am working more wet on dry at this stage (wet paint on dry paper).

Third layer of washes 

The painting will get finished by adding darker mid-tones and the darkest colors.  In the last stage, I am using the paint more full strength, with the least amount of water. I am giving some areas more definition and have added more color and details.  Some areas have even changed colors.  I have added some opaque white to suggest tinier whitish pink blossoms on the pink trees.  Details like branches and some leaves are added as well.   

Here is the finished painting. Hope you enjoyed this demo!  We are still in lock down during the COVID 19 Pandemic.  Please email me if you would like a private lesson on zoom, or a critique by phone or email of your work.  Contact info is on my website. Don't forget to subscribe to my blog to see posts like this in the future.  More art on my webpage.  See link above.    

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Spring Art and Nature Activities for Pre-K Children (and their parents)

Hello parents with children at home! Here are a few ideas of Spring things to do while you are sheltering in place with young kids during the COVID 19 pandemic. 

Activities were inspired by my desire to help out our family who we are not able to visit now.  They are short activities, some with multiple parts that can be done separately or together depending on your time. Young kid's attention span is very short, so I suggest doing an activity for only as long as the kids are interested and then moving on to something else.  These 5 activities can build on each other and will promote awareness, sense of play, color observation, nature connection and more. Enjoy!

  1. Color Walk
Go for a color walk and ask the children to point out everything they see that is a particular color. These can be natural or man-made objects. Right now with spring emerging, yellow is a good color to look for, as Daffodils and Forsythia are starting to make their appearances. Willows also look yellow this time of year.  Encourage them to look at things that are more subtly yellowish.  Ask: Is dried grass yellow? How about objects like moss that have both yellow and green colors? There are of course, no wrong answers. Or they can look for the first signs of green things starting to come up. As kids 4 and under have a limited attention span, they may only want to do this for 5 or 10 minutes, but as they start looking for things they may see other things that are interesting to them. Let them explore anything that they notice and touch it, if it is safe to do so. Repeat another day, focusing on a different color. You can also do this indoors.

Variation: Bring a camera and let them take photos of their favorite things. Or ask them to pretend they have a camera and snap a photo of something they like with their hands. Then ask them to explain to you, why they chose that thing to photograph.

  1. Toothpick Search  Disclaimer: Not recommended for kids under 3 unless the adult is closely supervising.  i.e. We don't want them to stab themselves or eat the toothpicks. 😃
Get some colored toothpicks and scatter them in your yard. Ask the children to collect as many toothpicks as they can find in 5 minutes. When they bring them back, help them to sort them by color. Which color do they have the most of? Are some colors harder to find? Why? Which is their favorite color? After the discussion, send them out to find objects that are the same color as one of the toothpicks. Or, you can send them out to find ones that they didn't find the first time, encouraging them to look closer and  giving them clues, like hot or cold as they get closer or further away. Don't have colored toothpicks? See the next activity below.

    3. Painting Toothpicks and painting with toothpicks Have the kids paint the toothpicks one day and search for them outdoors later when they dry. Young kids will love dipping them into the paint. Use 3-4 colors of washable acrylic or tempera child safe paints for this. Put the paint in small bowls and have them dip the toothpicks in the paint. Put them on a piece of wax paper to dry. Or they can try painting with them on white paper. They can make dots with the toothpicks, lines, or just smear it around with a lot of paint. When the toothpicks dry, use them for the hunt above or have them glue them onto a piece of paper with tacky glue.

      4. Painting with other common household objects
Give the children, a few colors of washable child safe acrylic or tempera paint in small bowls or in a used egg carton. Use Q-Tips to paint with. These are a lot of fun to dip in paint and make dots with on white or colored construction paper. They will take more paint then the toothpicks. They can also use them to draw lines. If you have old toothbrushes, use these to paint with and splatter paint. They can draw with the tooth brush to get interesting texture or run their fingers over the painted toothbrush to splatter the paint. Place the toothbrush brush side down to keep the splatter on the painting. Be ready for a big mess and use old clothes, newspaper and cover anything you don't want paint on! Or let them, splatter with two paintbrushes or chop sticks dipped in paint, lightly tapping one with the other. You can also cut shapes from old manila folders to place on or tape down on the paper before splattering or use stencils. Experiment with positive and negative shapes. When the paint is dry, have the kids remove the stencils or manila folder to reveal the shapes on the page. They can of course, just use their fingers to paint with too!

  1. Spring Paintings
Choose one color you saw on your walk and give the kids just that color, for example just yellow paint and a brush. Give them a piece of drab construction paper like gray or brown. Ask them to think about something they saw on their walk, like the Daffodils or Forsythia and remind them that they were the color yellow. Ask them to use the yellow paint to paint with Daffodil color on the paper. Give them brushes or Q-Tips or a toothbrush and let them paint or splatter and just have a good time with the painting. Avoid the desire to make it look like something. It doesn't matter. Just let them enjoy using the paint and the color. If the yellow doesn't show up on the paper, mix a little white into the yellow paint to make it more opaque.

Variation for older kids: Give them brown or gray paper and let them use only black or dark brown to make tree lines on the paper. After it is dry, give them yellow paint to splatter or paint Forsythia flower shapes on top of the Forest scene. They can also use toothpicks to make thin lines for branches if they like. Have fun painting!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Art in the time of COVID

Hello Folks,

I have not blogged for a long time.  Usually I am too busy. But all that has changed as the virus pandemic has led to the temporary cancellation of all my classes and exhibits till further notice.

As I regroup, I am thinking about what positive contributions I can make and am currently exploring putting up on this blog some painting demonstrations for adults and some simple projects for kids to do at home.  So bear with me while I attempt to learn how to do some form of teaching from a distance.  If some of you have the ability to take photographs of your work or have access to video conferencing software that may be another option for private lessons or critiques while we are home bound.   I am also taking on some commissions at this time.

I have been thinking lately about composition and color harmony in painting.  I have found that doing a value sketch on location to determine composition is immensely helpful.   While it is easier mentally to just leap into a painting without a lot of thought, taking the time to plan ahead can often yield some better painting results.

"Hurley Mountain Fields in Winter" 

The watercolor painting above came from a sketch I did on location.  That day I was actually more interested in a landscape on the other side of the road, but as I turned around, I saw the light on this field.  A warm yellow light at the end of the day was just hitting the edges of the silos and part of the field.  I sketched the composition in pencil and took some photos.  Here is the original sketch, it includes some color notes and arrows indicating the light direction.

The photos were very dark, so I relied on my drawing and memory and I took some liberties with color.  This painting emphasizes contrasts; warm colors versus cool colors and  shadow areas versus light areas.   I limited the palette to just primary colors, but I also used a little bit of neutral tint and opaque white.  I let the paint get very dark in the shadow areas to contrast with the lighter areas and used complementary colors to build interest.  More on complementary colors to come in future blogs.

Subscribe to my Blog to read future entries.  Hope this was useful!  Stay home, stay safe.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fall Watercolor class and Exhibits galore!

I can't believe I haven't posted since May! This summer was so busy with teaching arts camp and paint outs and I have not stopped moving since.  And of course with the Fall colors out now, I am painting as much as I can, racing the leaves before they drop.  Here's a new fall painting.
View of Hudson River from Port Ewen
My Fall Watercolor Class at the Town of Esopus Library starts next week on Saturday Oct. 18th. Here's the info.  Register as soon as possible if you can join in and let others know about it too.
Sat. Oct. 18, 25, Nov. 1, 8, 15 & 22nd    12:30pm-3:30pm 
Learn to paint in watercolor for the first time or continue to improve your skills.   Through demonstrations and individual instruction you will learn about using watercolor materials, techniques, composition, creating color values and more in a fun and supportive environment.  Beginners and painters at any level welcome.  Some previous drawing experience is helpful.  Material list provided upon registration.  Register in advance at the Esopus Library (845) 338-5580.  $150./ 6 classes or $30. /class).
What else have I been doing you may ask?  
Well besides teaching art play classes and kid's classes, I have art on display at four different locations! Choose the one closest to you to get a look at more art. 

In New Paltz, NY, I just brought new fall and winter paintings to the Gray Owl Gallery at Water Street Market. They will be on display in a group show for the next few months.

In Red Hook, NY  I have a solo exhibit till the end of October at the Bread and Bottle Bakery and Wine Bar.  This includes my paper quilt mixed media work and watercolor landscapes.

In Millbrook, NY The Cooper Finn Gallery has a stunning show of plein air art by Hudson Valley artists on exhibit up till next weekend.  It comes down on Oct. 19th.  I have paintings of area historic sites and gardens all done on location.  Here is one of them.
InnisFree Lotus Blossoms and Pond
In Stone Ridge, NY The Family Traditions Gallery and Gift Shop has some of my still life work as part of a Farm and Family exhibit which is up for the next month.  

And lastly, I have two new giclee prints available of the gorgeous landscape by the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY   They carry my prints and cards at the Gift shop, but of course you can also order them through my website at  Here is sneak preview of one of them.  You can also see the original of this one at the Gray Owl Gallery.  
Mohonk Winter Gazebo
Well that's all for now! Thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Mohonk Preserve Now Carries my Greeting Cards!!!!

News Flash - The Mohonk Preserve Visitor center in New Paltz, NY now carries my greeting cards! I did a set of 4 of my watercolor paintings of places on the Mohonk Preserve for them. Included are views of Bonticou Crag, Pitch Pines on the Milbrook Ridge Trail, A view of Clove Valley from the Undivided Lot trail and a winter view of the Coxing Kill just downstream from Split Rock. They are $4./each. Stop in and check them out. You can also buy cards from me directly too.  Leave me a message below or contact me via my website contact page.

Here are the Preserve Paintings on the new Greeting Cards:

Bonticou Crag in Fall, Mohonk Preserve

Pitch Pines on Millbrook Ridge Trail, Mohonk Preserve

View of Clove Valley from The Undivided Lot Trail, Mohonk Preserve

Winter Stream, Coxing Kill, Mohonk Preserve

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Student Show at Duck Pond Gallery a Huge Success!

Here's some of the artists who exhibited at the show. Some took my watercolor class and some took my Art Play class. 

Anita and Josh with Anita's art in the background.

A close up of some of the artists

Carolyn and her art
(wish there weren't so many reflections)

Amy K. and Jim and Amy's Fish painting

Amy M. and her art to her left. It is a collage print she did in Art Play class.

John and his painting, wish that there weren't so many reflections in this one too. 

Here is Jane and her daughter who is the subject of the painting between them.

Deb and her Sandpiper monoprint.  This was one of the projects she did in Art Play class. 

Thanks to everyone who came to the opening and contributed food and helped hang the show etc... If you haven't seen the show yet it will be up till April 26th at the Duck Pond Gallery, Town of Esopus library in Port Ewen, NY call 338-5580 for more info.

Want to be part of the next one? Take a class!!  Art Play class starts tonight at 6:30pm call 845-338-6503 to register. The next watercolor class starts April 26th. Register at the library. We will painting outdoors, weather permitting.  For more info go to classes at

Friday, April 4, 2014

Opening Reception for Student Show Tomorrow Apr. 5th!!!

"Kayaking at Paradox Lake" by Mira Fink  
Today is hanging day for our student show at the Duck Pond Gallery at the Town of Esopus Library.  We are putting up about 45 pieces of really excellent artwork by my Watercolor and Mixed Media Art Play students.  These are adult students who have taken classes in the last three years at any of the places that I have been teaching including the Esopus Library (Port Ewen, NY), The Art Society of Kingston, Family Traditions (in Stone Ridge, NY) and Woodland Pond Senior Residence in New Paltz, NY. Here are a few examples of the quality work you will see if you come to the reception which is April 5th 5-8pm at the Esopus Library's Duck Pond Gallery. Esopus Library 
Shorebird by Deb Welsch

Carousel by Jane Birmingham

Trees by Kristine Logan

Winter Meadow by Maggie MacDowell

Interested in taking a class? Sign up soon! The next Art Play class starts next Wed. April 9th at Family Traditions.  Call 845-338-6503 to register. Next Watercolor class starts Apr. 26th at the library.  For more info on classes and the show visit MiraFink.Com go to the classes or exhibits link. See ya at the show!!  I will post pictures after the opening.