AnimalScapes art show opens tomorrow!

Greenwood Side (Created for “Animalscapes of the Sierra Nevada Foothills”
30″ x 24″ watercolor on Aquabord
© 2016 Margaret Sloan

I was fortunate to be selected, along with 54 other (excellent) artists and writers, to create a painting for a show called “AnimalScapes of the Sierra Nevada Foothills.” This show was a huge undertaking for the arts councils of our tri-county area, and it was with the generosity of many donors that it happened at all. As one of the artists, I’m very grateful.

Tomorrow (Saturday, January 16) is the first opening for the art show at Ironstone Winery in Murphys, California. The paintings, sculptures, and writings will be at Ironstone until February 15, then will move to Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek (Feb. 17 – March 13), then will move once again to Black Oak Casino Hotel in Sonora (March 15 – April 3). If you are near, I hope you’ll attend, drink some wine and view (and maybe buy) some art. I think it will be worth it.

A couple of the organizers voiced their hopes that this large group show might help our area heal in some small way from last summer’s nightmare Butte Fire. I hope that it might, if art can help in that way.

Here’s the official press release: ““AnimalScapes of the Sierra Nevada Foothills” is a Tri-County Project of the Calaveras County Arts Council (CCAC), Tuolumne County Arts Alliance (TCAA), Amador County Arts Council (ACAC) and its 2 other major partners: Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife. This project is partially funded by the California Arts Council (CAC) through a “Creative California Communities Grant” and the National Endowment for the Arts. The $23,200 CAC Grant is a “matching grant” dollar for dollar. There are also opportunities once more than half of the match has been made for in-kind donations.”

30-in-30:Time behind the brush


Deer painting
Deer in landscape study
Watercolor on Ampersand Aquabord

Lately I’ve been working on Ampersand Aquabord. I don’t totally love it the way I love Arches #300 hot press, but I’m fond of the idea that I don’t have to frame it behind glass. That makes it far cheaper, even considering the cost of the board. And I also like that I can rub the paint away more easily to correct mistakes (although it’s surprisingly simple to blot out errors on the Arches).

For today’s painting, I experimented on this 9″ x 12″ Aquabord with some tried and true watercolor cheats techniques: Salt, alcohol, and masking fluid.


watercolor with salt on aquaboard
Detail: Watercolor with salt on Aquabord

Paint doesn’t really soak into the Aquabord, so it was difficult to rub off the salt without rubbing off the paint. But it does make an interesting dark texture.

Watercolor with masking fluid
Detail: Watercolor with masking fluid on Aquabord

I don’t normally use masking fluid, but occasionally I find a use for it. The texture of the board makes it hard to apply the mastic in an even stroke, and the rubber cement pickup picked up the paint too.


Watercolor with alcohol on Aquaboard
Detail: Watercolor with alcohol on Aquabord

I’ve never been happy with spraying alcohol on paper, but on the board I liked the random, irregular marks it made in the paint. It bears more experimentation.


I like these quick little studies. I try not to think about the end result, but rather try many different things. If you’re participating in Leslie Saeta’s daily paint project in January, I hope on some days you’ll just have a fling with your paint. Who knows what you’ll discover?