GUEST ARTIST: “An Eclectic Collection Of Watercolor Possibilities” by Patricia Lee Christensen

Autumn Squirrel - Watercolor Painting by Patricia Lee Christensen - Doodlewash

I am Patricia Lee Christensen, artist/illustrator.  I reside in Layton, Utah, USA, transplanted here after raising our family in the Seattle area. Over the years, I have worked in most all mediums. My college education was in advertising art where varied styles, mediums and techniques were introduced.

Out of college, I worked as a graphic artist for two school districts in southern Oregon and Washington state.  Later, while raising our family,  I did freelance work along with on-the-spot pastel portrait work and commissions in art festivals and street fairs.  This was a rewarding, interesting, invigorating, stressful and exhausting period.  You can only do so many portraits in a day, and I always had a line of people waiting.

Discovering Watercolor

Farm House - Watercolor Painting by Patricia Lee Christensen - DoodlewashI am one of many who have resisted watercolor due to the impression it is the most difficult.  After experiencing many watercolor workshops taught by excellent professional artists, I have come to love this fluid, often unpredictable method to create artful images.  It is a clean, no fumes or dust way to paint.  It’s beautiful that we can create with water!

Chickadee Lilacs - Watercolor Painting by Patricia Lee Christensen - Doodlewash

Subject matter for my work is quite diversified.  Perhaps this is due to my educational background.  We were trained to please the client.  Of course this is true in most professional settings.

Bridge - Watercolor Painting by Patricia Lee Christensen - Doodlewash

The challenge for me has been to settle to one theme or motif to be recognized for;  landscapes, people, wildlife, street scenes, whimsical illustration?  They all hold my interest at one time or another.  I love them all!

My Watercolor Supplies

I carry a sketchbook with me most of the time and always on any kind of road trip, long or short.  I have included images from a few of my meanderings.  Luckily my husband is happy to drive, rarely needing me to give him a break.

So I have my little plein air travel kit handy to sketch the passing visual images.  My sketches are mostly elements put together from along the way and not of one particular scene.  There is so much around us each day.

Watercolor Paper

I have tried many watercolor papers and realized they are not all created equal.  My paper of preference is the French-made Arches 100% cotton – 140 lb Cold Press watercolor paper.  It has a wonderful texture and gives you needed ‘open time’ to create wonderful wet runny blends of hues – with practice.  However, if I know I am going to do a lot of pen work I may choose the Hot Press paper as it is smoother. 

Country Lane Process - Watercolor Painting by Patricia Lee Christensen - Doodlewash

Speaking of inks, there are many varieties.  I mostly prefer using acrylic inks or India inks with dip pens as they are permanent.  Brands I use for acrylic inks are Daler Rowney (UK) and Royal Talens Amsterdam (Denmark).  Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay inks are great colorful India inks.  If you like your ink lines to be water soluble I highly recommend the ArtPen, fountain pens made by Rotring.  However this could be a subject for another day.

Watercolor Brushes

My brushes are mostly Grumbacher and Princeton, sizes 1” Flat, Rounds #14, #8, #4 on down to small liner brushes.  Good brushes are your best friends!

Studio Set-Up - Watercolor - Patricia Lee Christensen

I have illustrated in the photo above two main palettes I use.  The smaller, of course is for plein air painting and travel.  I can set up my water in the drink holder of the car and paint randomly as the scenery unfolds along the highway, or in a café, park or most anywhere!  I use a simplified number of colors in this palette of course.  A more complete list for my larger studio palette follows. 

Watercolor Paints

Table - Watercolor Painting by Patricia Lee Christensen - DoodlewashI use various brands of watercolors. I keep the following paints on my palettes – listed not in order of placement:  Daniel Smith watercolors of Sap Green, Permanent Orange, Opera Pink, Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue. 

I also use M. Graham & Co. Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Red, Quinacridone Violet and Cerulean Blue.  From Winsor & Newton, I use New Gamboge, Burnt Sienna, Indigo, Cobalt Turquoise and Payne’s Gray.  From Dick Blick I am currently using Brown Madder (a wonderful strong, rich reddish brown), and Cadmium Yellow Light Pure.   

Collecting Quotes

I collect quotes and I love this one by Edgar Degas, “Art is not about what you see, but what you make others see.”  Artists can enrich the lives of all. So many people do not really ‘see.’  Consider the trees.  Lately, I have been thinking about and painting trees.  They have been important to me since I was a child.  John Muir said, “I never saw a discontented tree.  They grip the ground as though they like it…”  They are all around us, each unique in form and hue.  They give us shade, fruits, shelter for animals and beauty.

Country Lane - Watercolor Painting by Patricia Lee Christensen - Doodlewash

A tree absorbs carbon dioxide through its leaves, extracts the carbon to contribute to its growth, and releases the oxygen through its leaves.  It’s no wonder they are included and featured in innumerable paintings.

Speaking of collected quotes, I have included a couple images with my hand-lettered text by Claude Monet and John Muir, worked into the art.

Finding Inspiration

Here in Utah, there are many beautiful country vistas with fields of sheep, horses and cattle.  It’s been an adjustment for me to relocate from the lush green environment of the Pacific Northwest to a dryer, but much sunnier climate.  I love the countryside and have definitely been influenced by the historic towns, homesteads and farms which are abundant.

The illustrations are a reflection of my life as a young girl.  I loved spending hours in the summer curled up with library books, climbing trees and riding my bike all over the country.  Flowers were always present in my childhood between my home and my grandmothers’ homes.

Street scenes are always popular as they reflect the local cultures.  The Italian watercolors were completed as gifts to our daughter and her husband after their recent visit to Italy.

I would encourage anyone to dive into watercolor!  There is so much free information onlineFind a painter whose work you admire and research their work – perhaps even take a workshop from them.  If you have the desire you can do it!  I will close with one of my favorite quotes:

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”
– Robert Bresson

Patricia Lee Christensen
Etsy Store

Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. glacken2016 5 years ago

    Patricia, I love the various type of strokes in your ink work and the way you combine it with both wash and white space. Such cheerful sketches! Just Lovely!

  2. Lyn Anderson 5 years ago

    OH! Thank you for all this wonderful inspiration and knowledge you have shared. It is a joy to see so many of your beautiful art pieces here. It is so fun to see what other artists use for their tools of the trade and read about how and where they are inspired.

  3. Sandra Strait 5 years ago

    Your work is beautiful, Patricia! As an life-long Oregonian, I can imagine the adjustment needed for Utah! At least, you have the beautiful mountains (or hills, as a Pacific Northwester might see them, lol). It’s been interesting to learn about you. Thank you for sharing your artistic journey with us.

    • Patricia Christensen 5 years ago

      Thank you for taking time to comment, Sandra. Our youngest daughter still lives in Portland so we have excuse to come up that way a few times a year. 🙂 Thank you for your kind comments!

  4. Rod Fletcher 5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing Patricia. So much information in such a small package – it’s almost overwhelming.

    • Patricia Christensen 5 years ago

      Rod, Thank you! I hope you find this article helpful. True, there are lots of details and yet I find watercolor to be one of the easiest mediums to take on the go. 🙂

  5. SHARON A HASCHALK 5 years ago

    I just love the vibrancy and colors of your work Patricia! That little squirrel in particular – that’s adorable – thank you so much for sharing your art!

  6. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    I love your whimsical style with the bunnies and birds. Thanks for sharing your work!

    • Patricia Christensen 5 years ago

      Sharon – Thank you much for taking time to comment. So glad you enjoy my paintings! 🙂

  7. Sandra Gilbert 5 years ago

    Beautiful paintings and quotes I love your work.

    • Patricia Christensen 5 years ago

      Thank you, Sandra for taking time to leave your nice comment! Glad you enjoyed the quotes! 🙂

  8. Jean Marmo 5 years ago

    Your pieces are just delightful! Love your style!!

  9. Priyanka Maruthi 5 years ago

    Beautiful squirrel. 👏👏😃

  10. Priyanka Maruthi 5 years ago

    Wow great work✋👍👍👌

  11. Carrie Groneman 5 years ago

    Patricia your work is extraordinary and your talent is beautifully unique. You have a gift for sharing your art in such a an inspirational and uplifting way. I appreciate the encouraging and heartfelt brief story of your life, family and art. There must have been difficult times; thank you for never giving up so that we can appreciate your striking and charming skill.

    • Patricia Christensen 5 years ago

      Carrie – Thank you so much for your positive comments! I have been blessed with many wonderful, encouraging people in my life. There are times when feelings emerge that question whether creating art is a valid way to spend time. Then realization that we need to let our light shine conquers the doubts. We all have something to share. I appreciate your insightful, articulate observations! 🙂 <3

  12. Loved this post, esp the last quote at the end. Your paintings are wonderful and its incredible you can paint in a moving car, i’m still struggling with painting on a fixed surface! Lol! Thanks for sharing all the products you use too.

    • Patricia Christensen 5 years ago

      Thanks so much! I love that last quote too – even had a version of it on my business cards. The moving car paintings aren’t usually frame-worthy but still fun! 😉 I hope you enjoy your watercolor adventures! 🙂

  13. Lisa Spangler 5 years ago

    I love all of your work and the different styles, but especially the ones with pen detail and then the washes of watercolor like the house and the winding path lined with flowers! Just lovely. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Patricia Christensen 5 years ago

      Lisa – Thank you very much for your kind comments! I hope you enjoy using some of the suggestions with pen work integrated in your paintings… 🙂

  14. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 years ago

    Patricia, I love your philosophy of life and the way you’ve absorbed it into your art. Your watercolor paintings are beautiful and imaginative. Thank you for your description of painting while riding in the car.

    • Patricia Christensen 5 years ago

      Sharon – Thank you for your nice feedback! Life is so busy, you have to fit in a little fun / creativity. Sounds like Pollyanna but as Abe Lincoln is credited with saying, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” 🙂

  15. Erin Vaganos 5 years ago

    I love the ones with the pen and ink…so delicate but very well rendered. And the colors are great!

  16. Linda Young 5 years ago

    Beautiful collection of paintings and styles. I’d like to know how or where you got the watermark for your paintings. Your illustrations are gorgeous.

  17. Patricia Christensen 5 years ago

    Linda – Thank you for your positive comments! 🙂 I have been asked the watermark question many times – I have just put my process together and posted it on my art Facebook page. The link is listed above. I tried to publish it here but perhaps it was too long as it came up with an error each time. I hope my post on Facebook is helpful. 🙂

  18. Janneke Booister 5 years ago

    I loved reading your story and seeing your art! So gentle, friendly (what is the right word in English?) 🙂

  19. Bekki Page 5 years ago

    Your work is fresh, lively, and colorful–thank you so much for sharing!

  20. 4eme2 DOGHMI Ibtihal 3 years ago

    i wanted to ask ur age cause im working on a presentation and i liked ur work and i wanted to chare it with my classmate if it dosnt bother u thxs

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