About Lynne Furrer Art

it's all about the journey...

Daily (Almost) Painting

Having just come off the Inktober challenge in October,  I found myself pretty uninspired to create anything. EEEK! I was in the proverbial artist’s block. I’d read it took some artists 5 years to get out of their own way…that was way too long for me. What to do? I tried several large portraits, tried some watercolors…all flopping and I just felt like I had forgotten how to paint!

My husband suggested I try some small florals since I had done these in watercolor (ACEO) and they were wonderfully fun and successful, but after hundreds of them, I got bored making them and needed a new challenge. And I was trying to use new mediums, like acrylics and oil. In watercolor, you work from light to dark. Acrylics you work from dark to light…

It got me thinking about Daily Painters, ones who’ve been at it for years; (not days) painting daily. Artists like Lisa Daria and Carol Marine.

I like the looseness of Lisa’s style which led me to another artist, Stanley Bielen, who makes a simple little flower in a vase look astounding. Too simple for some, but looked just perfect for me. And who doesn’t love the colors of Dreama Tolle Perry and the nostalgic teacups from Elena Katsyura? These artists have all spent years perfecting a simple little vase of flowers or teacups into something mystical and magical to view. I felt I’d accomplished that in watercolor, now it was time for a new challenge….with acrylics.

Here are some my first attempts to get back into smaller florals in acrylics. These were done in the last week or so…at least the ones that survived! The best thing about acrylics, which I can’t do with watercolor, is just wipe it off, or cover over it…and go again. I’ve painted these small artworks before, in oil, watercolor and acrylic, but not really on a regular “daily painting” basis. I have high hopes the daily (almost) painting will work for me a bit like a challenge does…to keep me in the studio, exploring and discovering if nothing else.

All of these are still too tight for where I want to be, but I’m trying to remember that I’m exploring and every time I do, there is something to learn. And it may end up that this is just as loose as I’ll ever be…and if so, that’s okay too. These words sound trite, but they ring so true.


So, this is the “official” start of my daily (almost) painting journey. I don’t know where it will go, but I’m on the road. Maybe it’s just for a short time until I stop and try something else. Maybe it will become my fall back position…and how I get re-inspired when blocked.

Or maybe it’s just a get on/get off journey, but it’s now part of my history and evolution as an artist. I know how hard challenges are to “stick with” and at this point, I’m not committed to making this an EVERYDAY practice for years and years. One baby step at a time…which makes Daily (Almost) Painting feel just right.

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Date Your Colors

Many times, I use those color palettes littered throughout Pinterest that show a nice photograph accompanied by a series of 5 or more colors. I love these color schemes and pin them as much as anybody else and also use them as inspiration for paintings. Here’s one from Design Seeds.

Copyright Design Seeds

Most of these pre-made palettes are gorgeous to look at in their own right, but they don’t transfer well to an art palette. Why? Because in artwork, we need light, dark and mid-tone values to make the art sing. I’ve tried many times and get inspired, but not made artwork I love by following the exact same values in these pre-made palettes. I created a new palette inspired by the one from Design Seeds to create “Hisako” (below).

“Hisako” by Lynne Furrer 24×24 inch acrylic on canvas

How to Create Your Own Palette

Today, I did something different, I “dated” my colors. I have a shelf full and I’ve never taken the time to get to know these colors. I don’t know who their friends are or those they avoid. But making color charts is boring as heck! Only I do like a challenge…

I came across this lovely artwork from Fanny Nushka Moreaux. She does these “no face” women in soft tones with wonderful brushwork. The challenge was now clear to me: build a palette using my shelf colors using her art as a reference. I was drawn to this artwork first because I love purple. Fanny used a rich, deep purple with earthy brown-red overtones. Her gown looks almost black, but I can see from the tiny triangle created by her arm and hip that it was a reddish-purple. I know how to make purple, red + blue. But which red? Which blue? Date them!

Copyright Fanny Nushka Moreaux; all rights reserved. Title Unknown

I use Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylics. I like their creaminess and that the caps are large enough and screw on/off easily. I dislike other brands primarily because of caps; weird but true. All colors described herein will be this brand/type of acrylic.

Setting Up

I use acrylic paper sized 6×9 inches. I needed a plan on how to setup the paper because I felt I’d be making a lot of these. The primary pure color I’m dating is always in the top left corner. Other colors I’ve invited to the party are to the right. Under each pure color swatch, I put in the original color name, it’s transparency rating. Below the pure color row is a mixture of the primary pure color with one of the invitees. The pictures below show these far better than words.

Date #1

I pulled out Napthol Red and the two ultramarine blues I have – red shade and green shade. The 1st row are pure colors. In the 2nd row, I mixed Titanium White with the red and for the blues, I mixed Napthol Red with both. In the 3rd row, I added white to the 2 blue mixtures.

Analysis: The 2nd row purples are very close to the reference photo and I like them. There’s not much difference between the 2 pure blues even though one leans red and the other green, until you see white added. I probably won’t use the lovely, bright pink in the 2nd row and dusty blue/purple in the 3rd row, but now I have them on a card and can revisit whenever I need these colors. A very successful first date!

Date #2

As there was little difference between the 2 blues, I kicked out Ultramarine Blue (Green Shade) making room for Quinacridone Blue Violet. I also swapped Napthol Red for Quinacridone Crimson to see if I could get some even better purples.

Analysis: That middle purple was glowing deep and rich magenta purple; I loved it! Why was it better than the middle purple on the first date? Because the red in the first date was semi-transparent. It absorbed the light from the white paper underneath and therefore kept the rich purples from glowing. So 2 options, depending on what’s beneath the mixture when I apply it to the canvas or if I use the transparent mix over white. And look at all the other gorgeous purples and pinks on this date! Even if I don’t use any of these for my next painting, I’ll have lots of reference colors already mixed up and ready to choose from.


So, I’ve found the gorgeous magenta purple in the reference photo. I only want to create a triad color palette (3 colors). Now, I need the other 2 colors. In a triad, the 3 colors form an equilateral triangle on the color wheel, but it won’t tell you shades/tones of the colors that go well together. On my color wheel, I need a lime green and a deep orange-yellow. In the reference photo, I see some yellow and greens…but they are really light and dusty. There are also some dusty purples, blues and pinks, which I know I can make by adding white to any of the combinations I’ve already discovered on the first 2 dates. Now, I need to date some yellows and greens…

Date #3

Studying the reference photo again, the pinks are more apricot, but they are dusty and light in value. The green is more minty. The yellow is earthy, not bright like a sunflower. This yellow makes me think of Transparent Raw Sienna, so I try it with the 2 Ultra blues…ugh…it comes out like Irish tartan green/blue (not shown). Not any shades I’m after, but all is not lost. I have a new card swatch to add to my file! Now I’m stuck…how in the world to get green if I don’t like it with Ultra blues? I don’t think adding another blue is right. OK, I cheat… I invite some Green Gold and Unbleached Titanium to visit with Ultra Blue RS. 

Analysis: This was a stellar date! Look at all the great new colors!!! I found a minty green that can be made even more subtle with a wash of white over the mix, or I can just add more white to make it a lighter minty green. And look at that yummy gray blue…last one in the 2nd row. I can use it or not, but I’m definitely keeping the green which gives me 2 of the three colors in the triad palette. (I don’t count neutrals like white, unbleached titanium, black and gray).

Date #4

On this date, I’m looking for the earthy yellow to round out my triad palette. I stick with raw sienna and put it next to my purple and minty green. I decide it’s a perfect triad and so I look no further for my yellow. But I do see in the reference photo an apricot tone. Looking at the colors I’m using so far, I know that there’s a red I used to make purple. Will that Quin Crimson play well with Raw Sienna? I test it…and sure enough, by mixing those two colors and a bit of unbleached titanium, I can get a wonderful apricot that I can tint lighter or darker with white for whatever I need. So I have my triad and I’m done, right? Nope…one more date…

Analysis: Transparent Raw Sienna is perfect as is.

Date #5

There’s one last color in the photo that’s very obvious to me – a brown used for her hair and probably also tinted lighter and used in her skin. EEEEEK! how to make brown? I cheated here again and searched the internet…ugh, there are so many recipes! Sadly, I know those recipes won’t work for me because of the particular colors I’ve already chosen, so no shortcut… I have to get back to the date. I invite Transparent Raw Sienna, Quin Crimson, Ultra Blue RS and Green Gold to lunch.

Analysis: In the first row, I’ve added a double dose of Trans. Raw Sienna, and 1 part each of the other 3 pure colors. That comes out kind of reddish brown, very earthy and a very useful color somewhere, but too reddish to complement my purple. I cut back on yellow and add 1 part of all four colors….yummy!!! rich, deep, forest brown…a perfect blend layer over my purple to make it darker or wherever a rich dark value. In the 3rd row, I lose the yellow, mixing 1 part crimson, blue and green gold. This too leans red, but I still like it and may consider it where I need a warmer brown in the artwork.

Just for fun, I pulled out Raw Umber from the tube, to compare. It looks a bit green when wet, but after drying resembles the middle brown, but not as rich looking as my date mixture. I decide on my last mix for warm browns and the one above it for a darker, cooler brown.

A Triad Palette is Born

I don’t have plans to paint a portrait with this new palette, but I may do a still life or landscape. These new colors will sing, have life and depth. They get along well and I have several cards (not all shown) where I tried new combinations…learning what worked and what didn’t. I spent about 3 hours, but it never felt like it.

Here’s the final triad palette I chose:

  1. Purple made from 1 part Quinacridone Crimson and 1 part Ultramarine Blue Red Shade
  2. Yellow using straight Transparent Raw Sienna from the tube.
  3. Minty Green using Green Gold, Unbleached Titanium and Ultramarine Blue Red Shade

I’ll make other tints and washes to get apricots, grays and browns using the 3 colors from my triad palette. And I have the recipe card to refer to anytime I need it.

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Stepping Into the Abstract World

Abstracts are fascinating, aren’t they? They look so simple, but like any good art, they come with a set of rules which are yours to learn and break. After reading Realistic Abstracts, (several times!) I was willing to give it a go. Poppies had just passed the season here, but I had several photographs to work from. Now, I needed a palette.

I’ve been keeping my palettes simple lately, generally 2 complementary colors and then various shades of each color. In search of the perfect palette, I found this lovely seafoam green, red and black palette from colorpalettes.net that seemed perfect.

I also watch an acrylic video by Jodi Ohl and studied the abstract artwork of Jeanie Gebhart, a fellow Denver artist. She has some lovely inspiration in her gallery. With all the above, I covered a 12×12 deep canvas and covered it with black gesso (like frosting!), added some titan buff and then a layer of seafoam green. Loved it!

When I applied the seafoam green in the sky, I accidentally gouged out a V which ended up looking like a bird, so I added 2 more. Happy accidents! I got very attached to these birds and had a hard time letting go of them, but in the end I covered them over. Maybe next time…

V grooves like birds in the sky

Next step, block in the flowers with red. I chose 2 reds, a deep cool red and a warm orange red called napthol red light a heavy body acrylic by Liquitex. This is a gorgeous color and really blends well with the cooler red to make the perfect poppies.

I had in mind a field of poppies in the lower left, peaking just above midpoint and then s-curving down to the lower right. So far, so good…but now comes the hard part.

I’m stumped, what to do next? eek! I had no idea how to go forward. I knew if I painted flowers in detail then I’d be missing the abstract challenge…what to do, what to do…

applying color to infer a field of flowers

Flowers aren’t that hard, some lights, some darks and a little deepest dark middle, right? Not if you want them to look abstract! So how do you make a flower look abstract? I’m learning…but the answer is somewhere in simplify, simplify, simplify. When I figure that out, I’ll be sure to post about it!

But carry on, I did with what I know and has worked for me in watercolors…some lights, some darks and a deepest dark center. Surprise! It actually had some wonderful appeal. The olive green was a good choice to set off the reds, but I like it so much it started going everywhere. Something was not quite right. I thought at first it was the sky, then the s-curve, then the flowers going off the right side, too much green..ugh! To tell the truth, I had no idea, but I wasn’t sold on it. So I put it up for the day and went to bed.

light and darks, trying to get a feel for simplicity

Fresh eyes, fresh morning and fresh composition. I decided it all had to go, including the birds! After all, I was just learning and playing, right? Out comes the black gesso, the titan buff and the seafoam green. I’ll spare you the details, but I had a double flower composition I thought would work…I was wrong. It got covered over as well.

On the third try, I remembered the mantra, simplify, simplify, simplify. So I reduced the field of flowers to 2, and then to 1 with a couple of buds to keep her company. I realized the green in the sky was overpowering, but I knew you needed to repeat colors in different areas of the painting to unify it, so I kept a bit of it.

simplify, simplify mantra compelling action

The rest is just try a stroke, leave it or wipe it off, or partially off, scrape it, water it down, try any technique I’ve learned and if it doesn’t work, try again until I liked it. After a while, I had a lower half that I was thoroughly happy with. A reward to keep me going! 

Really different, isn’t it? But so much simpler and cleaner and more minimalist. I liked where it was going!

While I liked the minimalist appeal of the poppy, I was missing that wonderful napthol red orange. And I knew I couldn’t finish the background until I had it added so I could check my lights and darks for balance. Rather than a brush, I used some palette knives that were successful in the lower part. If you’ve never tried working with palette knives, they really keep you from getting too tight. I highly recommend them when you’re getting stuck.

I worked on that left side sky for the longest time. I thought I wanted black, then green, then a bit of red…over and over until I finally liked it. I know this is trial and error, but it’s also practice. How many times have we heard just practice as much as you can and oh, don’t forget to have fun too!

12×12 deep canvas, mixed media entitled “Poppy on Seafoam”, ready to hang. SOLD!

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Vintage Collage

I’m more than a little infatuated with the wonderful texture of collage…tried a few flowers and went way overboard… In “Ruby Tuesday” (below), I pulled way back with a minimalist attitude toward the collage pieces. I’ve used a gorgeous Vermillion from Van Gogh and Peacock Blue from Holbein. Mixed together, they made a wonderful brown that matched the greeny-brown in the wallpaper on her left sleeve. She definitely has a vintage feel about her. SOLD!

“Ruby Tuesday” by Lynne Furrer Mixed Media SOLD!

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Ever Wondered What a 30 Day Challenge is Like?

These challenges can be intimidating! It’s sounds like a lot of work, and to be honest, it can be (more on that below). I was not looking for busywork, but with the challenge of Wendy Ann’s Mindful Drawing Month, I felt it was something I needed to do.

30 Days Seems Like a Long Time

On Day 1, listening to Wendy Ann’s free guided meditation, I easily fell into a rhythm moving the pencil on paper. No goal, no “thinking”, just feeling the breath, the glide of pen on paper and arm’s movement. Of course, my critic was with me the whole time…”this is ridiculous, no one will ever like it”, but no one has to like it. It’s just play!

The Inner Critic

On Day 29 I was terribly frustrated. I had followed my new process: meditate, draw, paint and I just hated what came out. I added black ink and watched it mix with water (always so mesmerizing) but no amount of ink and water proved fruitful. I pitched that and started 3 others…threw then all in the trash can and then just sat for a while. I’d had lost the breathing meditation….and my critic was back…eek.

Finishing Mindful Drawing Month

There’s good that comes from a “stick-with-it” challenge. You discover things about your art’s expression that you never even guessed at. There is frustration, but without a frustrating day, I never would have ended up with something I really love.

I discovered a new process of drawing with pencil, adding water and color that I just fell in love with. I can use that process to abstract and even more abstractedness. Experimenting is fun!

What I never expected from this challenge was an answer to why people love to draw. Now I know why people sit for hours and hours with their pencils and notebooks. I know why people doodle. I know what a pencil feels like as an extension of my arm in a quiet moment. I am happy to be one of them.

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Where It All Began

These pears are the first watercolor I ever did and it’s still hanging on my dining room wall. Entitled “Fruition”; the memories are like deep, entangled roots and I’ll never sell this piece (but prints are available!) 

Here’s How it Happened

In November 2011, I took a watercolor class to learn techniques to apply to my digital photography. Instead, I fell in love with the magical and mysterious flow of pigment and paper. I was smitten and could not stop. For 5 years, I painted only watercolors and branded myself as “Watercolor Bloom”, a name that suited me at the time. I went through many phases including a “purest” stage where I only used long lasting, archival pigments vs. something like Opera Rose which is a fugitive (fades quickly) color. I quickly abandoned that practice because curtailed my need to discover and explore; it was too restrictive. There were just too many lovely colors begging me to pick them off the shelves and give them a spin! Which I did in plenty.

I settled primarily on Holbein’s watercolors. The pigments are rich and saturated. The caps were easy to screw off and on…something that discouraged me from using other brands. Holbein doesn’t have it all though. Daniel Smith has the most gorgeous, bluish Payne’s Grey – almost indigo… I keep that in my stash.

Alizarin Crimson was hands down better in Winsor Newton, but Holbein has a gorgeous deep, ruby red called Carmine. Some colors I could not see any difference and I stayed with Holbein for those colors. I made color charts and more color charts as a way to get to know each color; highly recommend.

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