April 11, 2024

In-Person Demo by Steve Sheehan


NorthStar member and watermedia artist, Stephen Sheehan, delighted attendees with an innovative way of depicting birch trees in fall at our April meeting.  Armed with several 8×10 stretched canvasses, Steve dove right in starting with a canvas he had painted with bright yellow acrylic paint beforehand. His first step was to mix some raw umber acrylic paint with a bit of water and, then, using an ordinary painting brush “shmooshing” it sideways, back, and forth over the canvas.  The next step was to sprinkle small waterdrops on top of the raw umber paint, for which he used a small nailbrush. Making sure big drops wouldn’t fall off the brush, he held it with a paper towel underneath and, with his other hand, flicked droplets onto the canvas.  At this point, the magic was about to happen: with a crunched-up paper towel he started to press down (with varied pressure) on the top half of the canvas revealing yellow birch fall colors.  To further indicate birch trees, he started “ghosting” in a few white trunks underneath the yellow leaves as well as painting in branches in some of the areas.  To make the trees look more like birch, he dropped in some darker colors to indicate the bark.  The final touch was to paint some grass on the bottom part of the canvas using an old or cheap hardware ½” brush, brushing upward with quick, small strokes of green and some yellow acrylic paint thus indicating the grass.

All in all, Steve’s method was quite a revelation.  Upon completing the birches, he showed a reddish painted canvas for creating fall maple foliage using the same technique as well as a green canvas for a summer tree interpretation.  

Thank you, Steve, for sharing your self-invented method with our membership and for providing such an entertaining evening.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to showcase the demo on You Tube, since we ran into a major obstacle with our recording equipment.