Springtime Awakening watercolor by Debbie Friis-Pettitt

GUEST ARTIST: “Watercolors That Glow!” by Debbie Friis-Pettitt

Hello! My name is Debbie and I have been a watercolor artist for about 15 years. Before I jumped into watercolor, I was a pencil artist specializing in images of the southwest where I live. I sold my work in galleries and art shows.

When I started with watercolor I was confused about all the conflicting information. I took a lot of watercolor workshops and bought 125 books about watercolor. I learned how to paint an image step by step, but every book and workshop had conflicting information and a new group of colors I had to buy. Nothing really ever showed me the “WHY”. Why am I using this color? How do I choose colors?

Rose#3 watercolor by Debbie Friis-Pettitt

I realized it was because after a year or two I had a palette with 30+ colors! It was total confusion. Which one was the color I needed? So I learned how to simplify the painting process, reduce color confusion, and create harmony in my paintings with a simple limited palette of 3 transparent, staining, and permanent colors. No more confusion about what yellow or what green I should use. Just 3 to 5 colors and my color recipe cards!

Peonies watercolor by Debbie Friis-Pettitt

I try to stick with 3 colors, and at the most 5. All transparent, staining and permanent colors.

I always use:
1 yellow: Nickle Azo Yellow PY150.
1 or 2 “reds”, Quinacridone Rose PV19 and Quinacridone Magenta PR122. 1 or 2 blues, Phthalo Blue R/S or G/S PB15:5 and Ultramarine Blue PB29.

Springtime in bloom watercolor by Debbie Friis-Pettitt

My favorite brand is M. Graham. I live in the very dry state of Arizona so the honey added to M. Graham paints helps the colors stay moist ofor a few days. I also like the pigment load in the color. I also use Winsor & Newton.

I use Silver White inexpensive synthetic brushes for detail because I love the bounce and have more control than with natural hair brushes. I do use Cheap Joe’s Dragon’s Tongue natural hair brushes for my backgrounds and occasionally a Hake brush for bigger areas.

Rose#3 watercolor by Debbie Friis-Pettitt

I also use Wonder White scrubber brushes. I use scrubber brushes almost as much as my regular brushes when I am painting an out of focus background or lifting highlights and softening edges in my foregrounds.

I always paint on Arches 300# bright white cold pressed paper. I don’t like to stretch paper and I don’t feel like 140# can take as much scrubbing as 300# paper.

My painting Cherries and Limes is in the 21st annual edition of the Watercolor Splash book. I was just accepted into the Splash 23 annual edition with my Lemons and Plums still life.

My favorite subject is florals. I like to get really close and look at all the beautiful details and subtle colors. Sometimes I will stop on the side of the road and take a photo of a flower in a ditch or in abandoned parking lots. Beautiful flowers are everywhere!

Strawberry Still Life watercolor by Debbie Friis-Pettitt

I also love still life painting. Fruits, and fabric and interesting classic tea sets are some of my favorite things to paint.

My passion is passing on what I learned to beginners and more advanced painters. I have recently started doing live streams with a few hundred people painting along and creating fun paintings with a limited palette, and I have a learning platform with lots of tutorials teaching how to paint with a limited palette.

Debbie Friis-Pettitt
Tutorial Website

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21 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Watercolors That Glow!” by Debbie Friis-Pettitt

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed looking at my paintings. Now that I am teaching I don’t have as much time to paint. Painting just brings me great joy!

  1. Wow Debbie – oh my gosh I am so happy that I found you. Your work is amazing and I went right away to your website, Instagram, FB and You Tube. Not only that but I signed up for one course and did the paper tutorial. Debbie, I am a complete newbie having only 2 watercolour tries after a year and a half. I absolutely love watercolour, but like you do I have been trying out several courses and teachers. I honestly thought that I had “learned” about paper after too many teacher than I can count but I have never heard it described as succinctly and in such a short period of time as you did. Not only that but I have never, from anyone, received instruction on prepping the paper that you gave. I can’t wait to have time to dive into more of your courses and maybe I’ll actually be able to contribute to Charlie’s watercolour month this year 😉 !!!! Flowers and still life aren’t my thing really, but I am excited to try your courses just the same, I know I will learn so much. Thank you Charlie for having Debbie as a Guest Artist. I am so excited to have found her.

  2. All of your paintings are so beautiful, I thought they were real. Congratulations on all of your successes. Someone as talented as you certainly deserves them all. Thank you for the peek into your creativity.

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