A Glass Ornament and Watercolor Ground Demonstration with Lorraine Watry

Watercolor Bird Ornaments painted on DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Ground by Lorraine Watry

DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Grounds with glass ornaments. Lorraine Watry

DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Grounds with glass ornaments.

At Christmas a few years ago, I started painting images on glass ornaments to sell alongside my watercolor paintings. For the first few years, I painted the ornaments with acrylics. I have nothing against acrylics, but my favorite medium is watercolor; so, this year I decided to try the DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Grounds as a base on the glass ornaments to paint with watercolor instead of acrylics. I am very pleased with the outcome of this new process. This is my step by step demonstration.

I paint bird images onto the ornaments because they have fun personalities and are often seen perched in trees (Christmas and otherwise).

Step 1: I purchase glass ornaments either at a local craft store or online. I like the flattened circles. They are easier to paint on because they don’t roll away from you. The ornaments are about 3 1/8” in diameter. I prefer glass ornaments over plastic because they give the ornament a higher quality feel. I also found some flattened squares that I am going to try

Step 2: Clean the ornament with a dry paper towel or soft cloth to make sure the watercolor ground will adhere to the surface. Using a ¾”, soft, flat watercolor brush, I then paint DANIEL SMITH’s Titanium White Watercolor Ground with two or three coats to completely cover the surface. A soft brush is important if you don’t want to see a lot of brush strokes in the image when painting. I only paint the fronts of my ornaments. I also tried painting the Transparent Watercolor Ground over some white acrylic on an ornament and I did one with the Iridescent Gold Watercolor Ground over white acrylic on a second ornament. My favorite process out of the three is the Titanium White Ground by itself. I like the soft surface it created that felt very much like painting on 100% cotton watercolor paper. I haven’t tried the Transparent Ground straight on the glass ornament yet. I would think the final image would not have as much depth. I liked the Gold Ground over white, but would have to pick and choose what images I use it with.

Cardinal, House Finch and Nuthatch bird ornaments by Lorraine Watry

Cardinal, House Finch and Nuthatch bird ornaments by Lorraine Watry

Step 3: Let each coat of the ground dry thoroughly by following the directions on the jar. If it is not completely dry, you run the risk of it lifting off with the next layer of wet ground or paint. After the ground is completely dry, I use a mechanical pencil with HB lead to draw my subject onto the ornaments.
A tip for applying the Watercolor Ground is to use a soft paint brush and the first coat can just be painted on quickly. Try not to go back into it because as the strokes start to dry, they will lift back off if you go over them. I found the second layer needs to be applied when the first layer has dried completely. It’s best to follow the directions on the container. The second layer can be applied with light brush strokes and I went over it in both directions to help smooth it out. Painting on the grounds with watercolor was no problem. They perform just like watercolor paper, allowing layering, lifting, and wet in wet washes.

Painting the Blue Jay on the ornament, 2 steps. Lorraine Watry

Blue Jay step 4.

Step 4: Next, I block in shapes with watercolor. I paint these ornaments just like I would one of my watercolor paintings. I use smaller brushes ranging from a #1 to a #10 and begin by placing color around the image and I often start with the head and eye. The watercolor grounds made it easy to add layers or glazes and I also lift color off when needed. I use the wet in wet technique and get soft edges when I want them. I do not use any masking fluid on these ornaments, preferring to just paint around the whites.

Blue Jay and Owl painting step #5. Lorraine Watry

Blue Jay and Owl step 5

Step 5: As you can see in the blue jay, using layers helps me build up the feeling of feathers and depth. The DANIEL SMITH Watercolors that I use on the blue jay are Cobalt, Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue Chromium, and mixes of Ultramarine and Burnt Umber (for the black), Cobalt and Italian Burnt Sienna for the grays, and Italian Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Gold, and Ultramarine Blue for the branches. For a variety of grays and browns, the owl has mixes of ultramarine blue and Italian Burnt Sienna, Cobalt and Italian Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine and Burnt Umber. I paint Hansa Yellow Light as a first layer on the beak and then after this dries, add layers of New Gamboge and Quinacridone Gold to give it form. The owl also has a touch of Cobalt Blue in highlights on his eyes.

Step 6: I have around 4 to 6 layers in some parts of the blue jay at the end. I also chose to use some of the DANIEL SMITH Titanium White Ground to create some snowflakes on top of the watercolor. When the owl was complete, I use a semi-stiff, #0 flat brush to lift back a few of the lighter feathers.

Blue Jay step 6, Owl step 7

Blue Jay step 6, Owl step 7

Step 7: I like to decorate the top of the ornament with miniature glass beads. I can no longer find the beads in my local craft store, so I buy them online. I apply school glue to the top of the ornament and then sprinkle the tiny glass beads on top. I prop the ornament up and let the glue and beads dry.

Step 8: After it is dry, I use an archival, acrylic gloss sealer to spray the ornament with 3 to 4 coats. This will protect the painting, but also makes the surface look shiny again.

Step 9: When the sealer is dry, I add shiny silver ribbons to hang them on a Christmas tree or to display.

DANIEL SMITH Colors for the House Finch:
Iridescent Gold Watercolor Ground over white Acrylic paint
· Carmine
· Permanent Alizarin Crimson
· Ultramarine Blue
· Italian Burnt Sienna
· Green Apatite Genuine
· Cobalt Blue
· Quinacridone Gold

House Finch and Cardinal bird ornaments, Lorraine Watry

House Finch and Cardinal bird ornaments by Lorraine Watry

DANIEL SMITH Colors for the Cardinal:
Transparent Watercolor Ground over white Acrylic paint
· Carmine
· Permanent Alizarin Crimson
· Pyrrol Scarlet
· Ultramarine Blue
· Italian Burnt Sienna
· Green Apatite Genuine
· Cobalt Blue
· Quinacridone Gold

DANIEL SMITH Colors for the Nuthatch:
Titanium White Watercolor Ground, two coats
· Cobalt Blue
· Ultramarine Blue
· Italian Burnt Sienna
· Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet
· Green Apatite Genuine
· Burnt Umber

Nuthatch and Blue Jay bird ornament, Lorraine Watry

Nuthatch and Blue Jay bird ornaments by Lorraine Watry

DANIEL SMITH Colors for the Blue Jay:
Titanium White Watercolor Ground, two coats
· Cobalt Blue
· Ultramarine Blue
· Cerulean Blue Chromium
· Transparent Pyrrol Orange
· Italian Burnt Sienna
· Burnt Umber
· Quinacridone Gold

Owl, Lorraine Watry

Owl bird ornament by Lorraine Watry

DANIEL SMITH Colors for the Owl:
Titanium White Watercolor Ground, two coats
· Cobalt Blue
· Ultramarine Blue
· Italian Burnt Sienna
· Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet
· Burnt Umber
· Hansa Yellow Light
· New Gamboge
· Quinacridone Gold

My favorite colors for these ornaments would have to be Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Italian Burnt Sienna and Green Apatite Genuine. I like the first three because I can use each of them separately for a pure color or I can mix the Cobalt and Italian Burnt Sienna to create a cool or warm gray. I can use the Ultramarine and Italian Burnt Sienna to make a dark gray or almost black. I find that the Italian Burnt Sienna is not quite as granular as regular Burnt Sienna, so if I want a smooth looking gray mix, I’ll use Italian Burnt Sienna. I also really like Green Apatite Genuine. It is a beautiful granular green that makes great pine needles by itself or it can be combined with the Ultramarine Blue for a cooler green.
-Lorraine Watry

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Lorraine WatryLorraine is a watercolor artist painting waterscapes, birds, and reflective objects in a realistic style. Lorraine’s watercolors are characterized by bright colors, dramatic light, and realistic reflections. She likes the challenge of painting water, glass, and metal and recently has become captivated with birds. Lorraine has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Colorado in Boulder and after college designed clip-art for a graphics company for a few years. Lorraine began working with watercolor 24 years ago and taught the medium at Pikes Peak Community College. She currently teaches watercolor and drawing in her studio and at other venues.
Lorraine is a Signature member of the National Watercolor Society, Rocky Mountain National, Colorado Watercolor Society, and Pikes Peak Watercolor Society. Lorraine’s painting of a pelican, “Splish Splash”, was juried into the 2017 42nd Birds in Art Exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Her painting, “Sonata for Horns” was juried into the prestigious, International exhibition – the Shenzhen Biennial in China. Lorraine’s painting, “Shows Over”, was juried into the Best of Watercolor Book Series – “Splash 14 – Light and Color”.
Lorraine enjoys the challenge of watercolor and starts her paintings with a detailed drawing. She likes to use intense color and many layers to build up the depth in her images. The Daniel Smith pigments are her favorite watercolors for their intensity of color, range of pigments, and beautiful granulations. Lorraine prefers to use the white of the paper and does not add opaque whites to her paintings. She is intrigued by reflections and how they interact to create abstract patterns in a realistic scene.
Website: LWatryStudio.com
Facebook: WatryWatercolors
Blog: LorraineWatry Watercolor Reflections
YouTube Channel: Lorraine Watry Watercolors
Instagram: @LorraineWatryWatercolor