My name is Barbara Rosenzweig and I’m from the USA, cherishing art in all things, all my life. My love of nature and art began as a child growing up in culturally rich Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There, I had the opportunity to hike through the woods, walk through the creeks, appreciate the unique wildlife I found, and still take advantage of the wealth of museums the city offered.
I was very fortunate that at the time I was going to public school, the city fostered an appreciation of art by giving free classes to anyone who wanted them and was willing to spend Saturday mornings studying at the School Art League. I was exposed to all art media and joyfully experimented, creating many kinds of art forms. Much to my surprise, at the end of my senior year in high school, I won first place in the city-wide art show for an oil painting that I thought may have been too strange for the times, but I guess it wasn’t. Unfortunately, that wonderful program, though immensely valuable to so many students, no longer exists.
Even though training as an undergraduate for a medical career in college, I continued my art studies at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Tyler School of Fine Arts. Along the way, it struck me that I’d really prefer to share my knowledge and love of nature with children, rather than practice as a physician. Once I started teaching science to middle school children, doing my graduate studies at night, I found that there was little time left for art classes. Soon followed marriage and a family, making that option impossible.
However, I was not about to totally abandon my love of art. Throughout my 36 years, I had students draw and write observations about everything we studied. That included the amazing organisms we saw under the microscope, fungi and plants my students and I brought in, and preserved animal specimens the school district provided. When we studied fish, I brought a few in so that we could make prints by the traditional Japanese method, Gyotaku. During all those years, photographing my garden and travels were my other creative outlets. Once retired, it took me another five years to get up the courage to start taking watercolor classes.
I had taken a 45-year hiatus from formal art lessons and was nervous that since I had concentrated on oil painting as a youngster, this would be too difficult a challenge for me to succeed at. I persevered, though, because I loved the luminous quality of watercolors and its convenient portability! This was very important for someone who still loves to travel!
That was about ten years ago when I took as many classes as I could, started painting every day, and attended watercolor demonstrations as often as possible. I still paint with two different groups twice a week. In each, the teacher and other students critique each other’s work. Hearing other perspectives and suggestions helps me keep an open mind as to the possible approaches that may improve my paintings. That keeps me committed to improving my skills. (Below is an example of my “beginner” watercolor when I was 63.)
Over the years, I’ve found that the synthetic Loew-Cornell La Corneille 7020 Series Ultra Round and flat brushes have served me well. I mostly use Holbein, but also Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton professional watercolors. My paper preference is Arches 100% Rag Watercolor Paper 300 lb. cold pressed. This thick paper can take a lot of abuse!
Since I rarely “knock out” a painting the first time around, I find that I can lift the paint either with a water-filled brush and soft paper towel to blot, a “scrubber” (fabric dye brush), and/or Mr. Clean Original Magic Eraser when I have a large area to “adjust” without damaging the paper. I can just imagine that those proficient and experienced watercolor artists reading this are probably pulling their hair out about now, but remember, I’m still in the learning process. Hopefully, in a few more years, I won’t need to go to such drastic lengths to get the results I want.
A favorite watercolor technique of mine, mingling, allows me to keep colors bright, yet combine them to make a rainbow effect. To achieve this look without muddy results, I lay down one color, then quickly rinse the brush, add another color and place it just touching the previous one before it dries.
This can be repeated allowing the colors to gently mix, but keeping their unique qualities, too. Besides the rich shadows in many of my paintings, I also use this technique to create my Rainbow Animals and Sports Series watercolors. The results are always surprising and fun! That’s the beauty of watercolor – unexpected splendor.
My garden of almost 50 years has given me much to enjoy and still provides an almost endless variety of plant material to inspire my paintings.
Even the local produce market and objects around my home are fair game for me to practice with.
Florida remains the greatest source of inspiration not only for the natural beauty of the ocean, beaches, tropical foliage, wildlife, and fabulous sunsets, but also for the vibrant beach life of families making lasting memories.
By age 64, I started sharing my watercolors professionally. Since that time, my work has been featured in galleries and art shows. I’ve enjoyed sharing my original paintings, fine art prints, and commissions on Etsy and Facebook (links below), and still treasure the wonderfully appreciative and inspiring notes I receive from my clients.
Now at 73, I continue my love of the rich color I achieved so many years ago in the oil paintings of my youth and try to bring that vibrant color to my watercolor paintings. My work is heavily influenced by artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Van Gogh, but I can’t seem to get too far away from a realistic style. Perhaps all my years as a science teacher and photographer won’t “allow” it! Every painting, even after all this time, is still a challenge, taking me weeks to complete!
In my watercolors, I try to express my love of nature’s vitality and convey those special moments that families share together. I still consider myself a novice and continue to enjoy my journey of exploration in watercolors.Recommended3 recommendationsPublished in