Step By Step…ooh babayyy

Yes, I just gave a shout out to NKOTB as we get into this art tutorial.

I’m betting a lot of people I know would be excited if they picked the Drawing & Painting Badge. Or maybe they would even choose it themselves. Here it is, in my lap, and I’ve been such a baby about it. I love art! Is this something I should talk to my green doctor about so I can get over myself and just do it? I haven’t tried yet. That’s the whole issue. I haven’t tried. I’m still here, just freaking myself out as usual. Straitjacket please.

I knocked out some other requirements of course, and low and behold, I feel like my one stab at creativity this round seems semi-lame (see flower arrangement). Here they are below:

7.) Make an arrangement of flowers, taking into consideration color harmony, composition, and suitability of the container.

I dragged Shawnté to a Floral Design class at the LA County Fair, and I’m pretty sure it sounded to her like the least appealing thing we were going to do that day. Luckily, Ray Tucker, Floral Design instructor (Mt. San Antonio College, Citrus College, Descanso Gardens) changed our lives.

Besides being incredibly enthusiastic about learning in general (look at how fast this mad genius works. That’s why this photo is so blurry), he put together a beautiful floral arrangement, teaching us a few very basic, but very important things I had no idea about.


Ray Tucker, Floral Design Extraordinaire

– Odd numbers work better than Even numbers in an arrangement

– The basics of floral design should always include the following:

FORM – Has a distinctive shape. ex: Lily or tropical flowers

LINE – Determines the height and width of an arrangement. These are usually placed in the arrangement first. ex: Snapdragon, Liatris

MASS – Usually a big round flower on a single stem. The centerpiece of an arrangement. Adds mass to the arrangement. ex: Daisy, Chrysanthemum, Carnation, Rose

FILLER – Self-explanatory. Fills in the space in an arrangement. ex: Baby’s Breath, Ferns, etc.

I went to the Flower District in DTLA, my new favorite place, and picked up three different kinds of flowers. To be honest, I can’t remember what they were, but I made this ‘arrangement’ below. It took forever for what it ended up being, but hey, I actually thought about it for once.



My very basic floral arrangement. Odd numbers! Mass, Line, Filler included.

9.) Learn where to obtain, how to select and use painting materials: paper, canvas, stretchers, easels, brushes, palettes, finders, sketchbooks, pastes, crayons, fixatives, and so forth.

I happened upon the lovely Anna at Raw Materials, an Art and Architecture Supply Store celebrating it’s 5 year anniversary in DTLA. She gave me a mini-tour of everything the store had to offer, and I bought a pad of disposable canvas. Not yet touched, but soon!


Raw Materials with resident muse/puppy Wonton


Anna at Raw Materials

10.) Know how to do at least four of the following: (a), stretch a canvas for oil painting; (b), prepare a piece of paper for water colors; (c), set up a palette for oil colors; (d), clean brushes; (e), arrange colors, brushes, oils, and so forth, in a sketch box; (f), “fix” a charcoal or pencil drawing.

Thank goodness my cousin Janelle majored in art in school. I got a most excellent Skype tutorial from her for this. I wish it could’ve been in person so she could just walk me through my fears of actually putting this to use after teaching me everything. She started enlightening me a bit about Color Theory and the Munsell Color System, but I think I’m going to have to dip in step by step here. I also realized I went for all six, rather than just four. Accidental Overachiever. My new band.

(a) Stretch a Canvas for Oil Painting

Me being the bourgy art outsider that I am, I always thought – why not just buy a canvas rather than stretch your own? Then I realized if this is the sort of thing you do all the time, it’s obviously much cheaper to stretch your own canvas and buy a roll of it. Right. Here we go.

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 3.49.42 PM

Start with the pieces of wood to make the frame, fitting the interlocking corners together using a door frame (which helps with the 90 degree angle) and staple it. Then cut off a piece of unprimed canvas, stick the frame in the middle and staple the first staple in the middle of one side and wrap the canvas around it.

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 3.54.35 PM

Janelle stapling the first staple in the center of the frame

Then do the same with the opposite side. Outline the staples an inch apart from the middle out. Be careful you don’t end up having to make too many holes, otherwise it compromises the quality of the structure. Canvas pliers are suggested so your thumbs don’t go raw trying to hold down the canvas. When you get to the corners make a diamond shape, then folded square.

Once canvas is stapled:

– Tap on it so it sounds like a drum

– Smooth it out with fine grit sandpaper

– Apply two coats of Gesso primer white paint/primer, starting from the middle

– Once dry you sand it again for imperfections, then POOF. Ready.

(b) Prepare a Piece of Paper for Water Colors

Cut four strips of gummed brown tape, one for each side  of the paper. Soak one sheet in cold water for a couple of minutes, then lift the sheet of watercolor paper and shake off the excess water. Place the paper on a drawing wood board, which must be lying flat. Smooth it out with a sponge. Staple the paper down at the edge of the board, then leave it to dry.

Sounds complicated for what will likely end up being a painting of flowers.

(c) Set Up a Palette for Oil Colors:

Prepare your “Medium” = the oil you add to pigment

Mix in an empty pickle jar, the following:

Linseed oil
Damar varnish  – seals and protects – gives the paint a nice sheen
Turpentine – what you also use to clean your brushes when doing oil paintings (which I’ll get to)

Then shake. Medium can last for up to 2 years without going bad.

Set up the palette. Typically glass with foam board/core duck taped to it, which makes it easy to scrape the oil paint off of.

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 4.11.49 PM

Gather your colors. Use a layout of natural earth tones in addition to primary/secondary colors. Put them on the left side of the board in an L shape.

Start with a big blob of Titanium White in the upper left hand corner

From L-R on the Top: White – cadmium (Yellow) – Orange – Red – veridian (Green) – ultramarine (Blue) – Crimson – black

From Top-Bottom along the left side: Yellow Ochre – Raw Sienna – Burnt Sienna – Raw Umber

Tools for blending – palette knife, brushes.

(d) Clean Brushes

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 4.18.50 PM

Soak them in turpentine. In a coffee can, put an inch and a half of turpentine, dish soap and water, and let sit.

(e) Arrange Colors, Brushes, Oils, and so forth, in a Sketch Box

Janelle showed me what her portable easel looks like. She keep her earth tones together, and the other colors together, but it’s a personal preference. The brushes are kept in the bottom – along with her palette knives. If  using a round and flat tip, she recommends keeping them separate, or storing the brushes for darker pigments separated from lighter pigments. Lot of common sense there.

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 4.26.24 PM

Janelle’s Portable Easel

(f) “Fix” a Charcoal or Pencil Drawing

Spray it with this! (or a high gloss sealer)
Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 4.29.16 PM

And last but not least, I did draw one thing when I was at the LA County Fair. A very basic Wile E. Coyote, but hey, that knocks out 2.) Make a drawing or a painting of any of the following: (a) Animals.

Like I said, baby steps. Until next time…


Wile E. Guide


Drawing with poor posture, much like being at my computer


Et Voila! I’m so talented.

One comment

  1. I’m glad you accidentally overachieved; I had no idea preparing watercolor paper was so…involved. I’m also glad that you dragged me to see Mr. Tucker, Floral Guru – that was a total surprise highlight of the fair! I think your arrangement turned out awesome…as did your Wile E. Coyote 🙂

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