Illustration Students’ Tulip Festival Artwork

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Yuko Miki's Tulip Festival poster © Yuko Miki

I’ve been offering a new class at Bellevue College for illustration students to build portfolio samples in their own styles. By the end of the 5 week class they should have 4 new portfolio pieces.  We critique and discuss the works in depth to help students get lots of feedback and direction for making their work unique, consistent and viable for the illustration market. Last quarter they were assigned poster art for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and the results were so diverse and well executed that I want to share it here.

Ashba Zulfiqar's Tulip Lady © Ashba Zulfigar

Jessica Brown's Tulip Festival poster © Jessica Brown

Victoria Peters' Tulip Festival poster © Victoria Peters

Alexandra Browning's Tulip Festival poster © Alexandra Browning

And from Fall quarter:

Lee Ready's Tulip Festival poster © Lee Ready

Bellevue Student Watercolor Paintings

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Bellevue Skyline © Juliette Fiessinger

Shanghai Clothesline © Jessica Brown

Blooming Cactus © Rodney Hill


Frog © Joseph Doll

Camel © Nicholas Butcher

Sidewalk Tulips © Shannon Olszewski

Woods Walking © Sara Franzen

Sara at the Wall © Ibetth Baltazar Salazar

I continue to be impressed by the student paintings from my Watercolor for Illustration class at Bellevue College. The first 3 are Fall quarter 2013 students. The others are winter quarter 2014 painters. Most are first time painters in watercolor and show great promise. The students learn a methodical approach to painting with watercolor, using their own photos or illustration concepts as guides. They learn how to soak and stretch the paper, use masking fluid to protect the white of the paper from background paint colors, and apply washes and textures to get the desired colors and special effects. The variety of subjects keeps me on my toes in guiding them to these wonderful results. I’m inspired and I hope they all continue to paint for illustration or for personal pleasure.

Bellevue College Summer 2013 Watercolor student paintings

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Once again I had a great group of students for my Watercolor for Illustration class at Bellevue College for the summer session.  Many paintings weren’t finished so I will save those for future posts if they are submitted, but I’m pleased to present these fine examples of mostly first time watercolor painters.  The variety of subject matter that the students choose always makes this class interesting and challenging for me as a guide for each painter’s process.

Alexandra Albu's Favorite Beach Entrance

Ellen Zweig's Blue Hydrangeas

Yulia Urnysheva's Dancers

Marlow Mercer's Rainbow Flag

Grace Nimmer's Landscape Memory-unfinished


Bellevue College Spring 2013-Student Watercolor Paintings

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

We had such a fun group of watercolor students this spring at Bellevue College with a wide range of painting subjects. The chemistry in the room was alive with interaction and camaraderie of an international flavor. Here are the amazing results. It’s hard to believe that many were first time painters who worked on these large paintings, mostly 14 x 21″, for the 8 week course. Teaching continues to inspire me to paint more!

Briand Sanderson's Hummingbird

Howard Frank's Outdoor Cafe

Elisabeth Jenni's Tropical Flower

Veronique Bajzik's Family Walk in the Park

Yael Yanich's Water Lily

Matthew Mariano's Wife

Kryssta Riley Rainbow Eyes

Kryssta Riley's Woman in Hat

Neele Boye's Rainbow Rose-unfinished



Student watercolors-Bellevue College fall 2012

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Enjoy these finished paintings from the students of my Watercolor For Illustration class at Bellevue College this past fall.  My recent enthusiasm for flower painting is evident in several of these, all working from their own photos.  As first time painters its a challenge to jump into painting large, but the scale and use of photo reference encourages the commitment needed to learn control of the medium and finish a painting on a deadline, as an illustration assignment would require.  A finished work of art is the happy result and readiness to tackle illustration or commission assignments. These are all half sheet paintings, about 14″ x 20″ in size.  My next class starts January 14 for 8 weeks.  It’s a great way to spend the dark days of winter immersed in color.  Here’s the work from the fall students and a couple of bonus paintings sent to me from earlier students!

Rimma Oks's Orchid - Watercolor © 2012

Yuko Miki's Water Lily - Watercolor © 2012

Bonnie Bruenderman's Calla Lily - Watercolor © 2012

Melissa repeated the class to do the sunset below after her earlier Methow Valley sky painting last winter.

Melissa Firuz's Ocean Sunset - Watercolor © 2012

Poorwa took my class in the spring then applied her skills in a Children’s Book illustration class creating this painting.  Scroll through my teaching posts to see her spring 2012 painting of the Coliseum.

Poorwa Sarkari's children's book illustration - Watercolor © 2012

Anthony was also a student from last winter who sent me his next beautiful mountain landscape.  You can see his previous landscape and Melissa’s by scrolling through the teaching posts to winter 2012.

Anthony Marquez's Big Jim Mountain - Watercolor © 2012

Thanks to all my students for an inspiring year. They are amazing!

Yellowstone Aspens in Autumn: exploring the background tones

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Yellowstone Aspens watercolor © Sandy Haight

A trip to Yellowstone in mid September brought me up close and personal with the turning of the Aspen leaves to all shades of yellows and oranges.  Their bright colors can’t help but make you feel sunny as they flicker in the breezes.  Getting close, the masses of color aren’t the only theme as the spaces in between the sprigs take on more importance.

I used this composition to teach a glazing process for creating colorful neutral backgrounds to my fall students at Bellevue College. I layered a thin flat glaze of Aureolin yellow, followed by thin glazes of Rose Madder, then Cobalt blue after each layer dried to create a luminous gray. This was too pale and flat alone for my interest, but made a foundation for adding more color wet on wet to blend and flow to enhance the neutral foundation.  After 6-10 layers of color here’s what the background looked like before I even started painting the main attraction….the leaves.

Luminous neutral background washes © Sandy Haight

Luminous neutral background washes-Yellowstone Aspens © Sandy Haight

In the beginning I masked out the leaves so I could brush the background colors freely over the whole surface.  This image shows the mask removed, the veins sketched in and ready for color with additional masking fluid added to the lightest areas preserving the white of the paper. Still, when the leaves were painted, the background needed to have more blues and greens to tie in the green leaf in the lower right to make it feel like it belonged to the painting, so more layers were carefully added to unify the painting. What do you think? I think it works and I’ll add it to my watercolor gallery on http://sandyhaightfineart.com and enjoy the rest of the yellow Seattle autumn.

Bellevue College summer watercolor student work

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Summer is over and I’m getting ready to start teaching a new group of watercolor artists tonight.  I had an enthusiastic group for my first offering of Watercolor for Illustration in summertime and it shows in these paintings.  It’s hard to believe that most are beginners with this challenging medium.  I really enjoy the variety of subjects they choose and range of watercolor techniques they use to gain control and get glowing results.  Aren’t they amazing? Kudos to these artists!

Elyse Kearney's Hot Air Balloons

Amy Weber's Songs About Rainbows

Kelsey McCornack's Castle

Candice Covey's Circus Horse

Lee Ready's Evening in Glasgow

Lee Ready's Cowboy Classmate




A Seduction of Lilies

Friday, August 24th, 2012

A Seduction of Lilies - Watercolor - 19" x 14.5" © Sandy Haight

It was a total joy to paint this close up of lilies that I saw in Vancouver’s Granville Island Market.  The sensuous shapes, vibrant colors, and minimal texture were fun to build up with my glazing techniques making them richer with every layer.  Dark color, such as the background and the deep wells of the flowers, are always difficult in watercolor because the paint dries many shades lighter than when applied. It can take 5-10 glazes to build up to the dark value that I envision. I wanted the background to be dark and neutral yet still glow with luminous color to compliment the oranges and reds in the flowers.  Certain colors lift and move around when re-wetted making it even more challenging to keep from streaking a large smooth area like the background or blending into a gradient area like the left two lilies.

Flowers are a constant seduction for me.  They can be beautiful, ephemeral and oh so fragrant in nature. It’s another pleasure to capture the colors and the mystical designs within them to enjoy as art, larger than life.

This painting was just added to my Watercolor Gallery on my fine art site at sandyhaightfineart.com. There are a few other flower paintings there and more to come!

Watercolor process. Young Elk painting step-by-step

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Young Elk, watercolor by Sandy Haight

I decided it was time for me to record my painting process from reference photo to finish when one of my students, Rodney Hill, documented the different stages of completing his class watercolor painting.  His printouts were of great value to future students explaining the steps they would use to paint realistically using photo references.  Watch how my watercolor painting of a young elk evolved. The reference photo is at the end of this post.

1. Once the paper is stretched by stapling soaked watercolor paper to gator board, dried, and outlines of the shapes transferred to the paper, a mask is applied to the foreground subject to preserve the white of the paper.  Some of the flowers and lighter grasses are also masked to allow a free and loose underpainting. The mask has a yellow tint in order to see where it has been applied.  (This 1st  photo is not lit correctly).

1. Mask and 1st Underpainting


2. More background is added including the mountains and the dark forested hillside.  More washes are layered onto the underpainting of the field.

2. Background added


3. Not being a landscape painter, I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle all the texture of the field but was eager to paint the subject. I procrastinated dealing with that dilemma and I removed the mask a bit early.  Usually I build up the background to a near finished state before removing the mask. Now all the whites are available for adding in pure color or lighter tints.

3. Masking is removed


4. At this point, the elk is painted (my favorite part) and the background herd, rocks and bushes are added as well as more foreground layers of washes and textures to make all the masked grasses blend better into the field.  Now that the animal is developed, though, I realize that the dark background hillside is demanding way too much attention, distracting the viewer from the beauty of the elk by advancing with its strong values.  Do you agree? I need to tone that down. My other concern was that having applied mask to details in the field I was stuck with the task of defining the grasses and wildflowers more clearly than I might have liked. Since this started out as a demo painting, it worked well for teaching purposes by showing various ways of using and applying masking fluid.

4. Elk & more grass textures painted in


5. Yes, it is possible to fix watercolor errors, to a point.  I scrubbed away at that dark hillside to force it to take its proper, more subtle place in the back of the picture.  I tried to straighten the horizon line a bit which was at an awkward downhill slant.  This was as light as I could get it, and it still has some room to create a sense of the trees by adding more glazes of color.

5. Background hill scrubbed lighter


6. I masked the yellow flowers again so that I could intensify the foreground with further washes and grass detail while preserving the color of the flowers. It’s hard to see the little blobs of mask over the flowers.

6. Flowers masked again


7. Here’s the finished painting again from top of the post, with trees suggested in the hillside, grasses more defined and yellows enhanced. Another layer of sky was added and more layers of washes in the mountains to finish it.

7. Young Elk, final watercolor by Sandy Haight


8. Below is the photo I used for reference.  Driving out of Rocky Mountain National Park we passed this brave young elk, grazing right by the roadside.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be a landscape painter…it’s hard to improve on Nature, but I loved painting this beautiful animal who let me get quite close for a photo.

8. Rocky Mountain Elk photo by Sandy Haight


AMAZING watercolors! Student paintings-Spring 2012 Bellevue College

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Once again my students impressed and inspired me with their watercolor paintings. We met one night a week for 10 weeks at the Bellevue College north campus. Most are beginners at using watercolor, some with other art experience.  Working from photos of their choice to practice matching colors and controlling the media they end up with a half sheet sized painting suitable for framing. Here’s a display of the finished paintings:

1. A returning student, Rodney Hill did 2 atmospheric seascape paintings this term, really capturing the surf.  At the end of the post are his paintings from winter term 2011.

"Beach Scene" by Rodney Hill

"Waves" by Rodney Hill

2. Margie Holzer completed her second painting on her own taking on 2 difficult subjects, babies and furry creatures.

"Magic Kisses" by Margie Holzer

"Sadie" by Margie Holzer

3. As a lover of Italian architecture, Purva Sarkari took on a very complex image of the Coliseum in Rome and made it beautiful and intricate spending time outside of class to accomplish this.

"The Coliseum" by Purva Sarkari

4. Ketheren Zanaqui honored her boyfriend’s Iron Man medal in this double portrait of him with his dad.  She persisted for many, many layers to get a rich, glowing dark background by mixing colors…no black paint allowed….and paid tight attention to detail in the faces and graphic details in the shirts and signs.

"Iron Man" by Ketheren Zanaqui

Congratulations all!

Rodney Hill, who painted the above seascapes, took my class last year and documented the steps of this painting from masking, developing the sky, figuring out how to paint the branches and finally the bird.  I use his documentation to introduce students to the process, from photo reference to painting.  Here’s his first painting from a photo he took from his deck.

“Jay in Tree” by Rodney Hill

And another small study of the Stellers Jay:

"Stellers Jay" by Rodney Hill, 5.5" x 9.5"

Ozzie the Cat, watercolor

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

I just added a new painting to my fine art site in the watercolor gallery.  It’s a portrait of Ozzie, my cat for 15 years, whose grace and presence enhanced whatever space she chose to occupy. Ozzie The Cat is my first attempt at painting a furry creature in pure watercolor, and I found it extremely challenging to represent the texture yet softness of the fur and the complexity of the background patterns.  With a subject for painting that is close to my heart the magic of bringing it to life in a new (and permanent) way is very gratifying.  It goes beyond the representation of beauty in art to warming the spirit of love.

As a watercolor instructor at Bellevue College I get to start a new half sheet painting every quarter in order to explain the process of developing a painting from a drawing or photo.  I need to pick compositions that require some masking and texture to demonstrate, then, after that, its up to me to finish my paintings as my class time and attention is focused on coaching each student’s process.  Teaching has spurred me back into painting realistically from photo references, which I did early in my own training as a watercolor painter before stylizing my art for a career in the illustration market.  I’m trying varied subject matter that will help me coach my students through working on their own chosen images, which have included beloved pets. I’m starting to discover what subjects I enjoy spending lots of time with through painting.

Some of my student’s work from recent classes is posted on this blog.

Bellevue College Watercolor students-Winter ’12

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Once again the Watercolor for Illustration students in my class at Bellevue College came up with some very accomplished paintings, many for their first try at watercolor.  They worked on half sheets of Arches 140# cold press paper (15″ x 22″) enlarging compositions from a photo or photo collage and practiced a variety of watercolor techniques to create finished paintings. Many were not quite finished by the end of the course.  I’ll post those later if they are sent to me.  Here are the paintings that were finished, or close enough, to see the skill and challenges they brought to their chosen image using this difficult medium.  I’m so inspired by them!

Reflected Mountain watercolor by Antony Marquez

Fallen Leaf watercolor by Ashba Zulfiqar

Above the Methow watercolor by Melissa Firuz

Cottages watercolor by Chelsea Lasater-unfinished

South of the Border watercolor by Kalen Lily Wong-unfinished

BC Watercolor Student’s-great autumn work!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

My Watercolor for Illustration class just wrapped up at Bellevue College with amazing results. I can’t resist posting this ambitious student artwork.  Most are first time watercolor painters! As an 8 week class students often don’t quite finish their half sheet paintings.  So, next quarter we’ll be adding 2 more weeks. The process involves methodically developing the work from a concept or photo of the student’s choice through paper stretching, drawing transfer, masking then building and glazing the painting to completion. Check these out!

Martha Geoghegan’s Mexican cat:

Nadia Erdolan’s doorway painting:

Two paintings by Lee Ready:

Monica Sanchez’s children’s book art:

Jingwen Yu’s Mardi Gras mystery:

Adrien’s Tooth

Friday, October 7th, 2011

It’s the day after a horrible accident where my son was hit by a car breaking his perfect front teeth. Following an evening in the ER and an afternoon at the dentist, I found myself showing this painting to my watercolor students.  I’d brought it to discuss the usefulness of color comps to explore background color options before starting to paint, as I’d saved the studies. Then the tooth connection clicked! Remember when it was exciting to lose your teeth?  It’s no fun when you are 27. May the tooth fairy bring you a generous treat, Adrien. That’s her in the window of the house across the street, witnessing the loss of your tooth.  The painting was part of a proposal for a children’s book by Cooper Edens.

from a student’s blog-Dana Sullivan

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Watercolor Class

I recently finished a watercolor class with Sandy Haight. She’s an excellent local watercolorist and illustrator and she always pushes me to get more painterly and to “quit using your goddamned black lines!” (okay, she’s never really said that out loud, but she’s got that thought balloon above her head a lot). I painted these from some photos I took when Vicki and I visited NYC (did I mention that’s where my agentworks?) a few years ago. Thanks, Sandy!

And to think, my illustration style DEPENDS on those black lines!
Thanks, Dana!   Here’s his blog

I’m teaching!

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Yes, I’m teaching Watercolor for Illustration to an enthusiastic group of students at Bellevue Community College.  My next class starts April 14 for 8 Thursday evenings.  Go to the Bellevue College web site to read about it and sign up if you are interested.