I continue to be curious and entertained by the notes I find attached to Betty’s painting supplies and among her papers that I moved into my studio when she left her home to be close to her children in Ohio.  Betty Stroppel is the artist who introduced me to watercolor thirty-one years ago.  The lessons I learned from Betty were the foundation upon which I built my own approach to watercolor.

For myself, I need a place to document all the little scraps of paper, the words of wisdom, the checklists, suggestions, and the trail she left behind of a journey through each day as an artist who continued to challenge herself to learn more about the medium she loved so much, watercolor.

As I find the little notes I will add them to the page.

1) “The first step in any watercolor is to not be afraid of the medium.  Don’t be afraid to push, be sloppy or allow things to happen on the paper in front of you.  If you take a chance, you just might end up with an award-winning work, as I did in Echo (26 1/1 x 42), which won the A.W.S. Gold Medal of Honor and $1,300 in prize money.”  A clipping from a magazine (I assume) taped to Betty’s white, enamel worktable.   The artist quoted is Henry Casselli.

2) “” so easy when you remove color from the paper.  Whenever I try it the paper tears and I can’t go back and paint in the area like you do.”

Fran, it sounds like you are working on a student grade of paper which is designed to take one layer of color without the intention of removal.  You need a more durable watercolor paper.  One that has enough sizing that will allow you to go back and re-paint after scrubbing.  The technique is simple.  Permit the non-staining color to dry.  Then re-wet the area with water.  Let it set for a few seconds.  With a cloth towel, blot the are and then rub hard.”

Taped to the lid of Betty’s John Pike Watercolor Palette.  Looks to be a clipping from a question/answer column in a magazine.


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