Log in

No account? Create an account

September 2013



Powered by LiveJournal.com

And in other news--got the first installment of my book off!

gouache geranium, originally uploaded by Cathy (Kate) Johnson.

I've been not posting all that much since I was trying hard to meet my August book deadline!

Revising and updating my 20-year-old Watercolor Tricks & Techniques is almost more challenging than doing a book entirely from scratch. Of course, the manuscript being 20 years old, I couldn't find the original version on my computer (4-5 generations down the line or more), nor a disk with the manuscript on it (and yes, I do still have a small floppy disk on my computer for just that reason, though I no longer have one that would take the old 5" floppies, which was probably what that book was on...)

Because we're using some of the original art and text, my only choices were retyping the whole book, then editing; hiring someone to retype it; or, finally, what I did, get new OCR software and scan the whole thing. Time consuming, but not nearly as bad as retyping--and much easier to edit, this way.

My style has changed a lot in 20 years--not my art so much as my writing. Lots of passive-voice instead of active in the original version, and truthfully it's not as approachable as I tend to write, now. I've taught for 30 years and have a much better idea of what people want to know and how best to present it. Trying to sound halfway educated is fine if you're also clear and easy to understand, but I'm not sure I always was, in the early books!

North Light's style has changed as well, and how they want manuscripts submitted, so I've been editing, re-writing, and adding, trying to bring things into the 21st Century.

That includes, of course, the main reason for revising this book in the first place--dozens of new tools and techniques and materials to explore! The new version will have lots and lots of new art, mini-demos and demos, step-by-step and otherwise.

I'm reusing some of the original art, no reason to reinvent the wheel if it still works fine. But some needed replacing because I wanted to explore a new direction, some I just wanted to punch up, and some of the original stuff was too badly foxed or discolored from being stored in my attic for 20 years!

So all in all, organizing, re-organizing, re-ordering, mounting and re-illustrating graphics as well as doing a raft of brand new stuff should make this book much more useful than the original version.

And it was my best-selling North Light book ever, so I've set my sights high.

My darling husband has been a huge help with all of this, scanning a 5 lb. pile of new and old art so I could provide a DVD with the manuscript--BLESS the man!

Publishing has changed a great deal, and now instead of shooting bracketed 35mm slides to make sure I get a good exposure, and waiting on tenterhooks to get them back from the developer, I can shoot or scan TIF files to send. I know immediately if I've gotten a good one, and can just go re-shoot if I haven't!

The art, here, is a new piece to illustrate the use of opaque watercolor or gouache on toned paper--I really liked the effect! It sparkles...

Getting down to the wire, trying to check and re-check the manuscript and art, making sure it's all numbered, matching the captions, in proper order, DVD burned, art well wrapped for shipping, and all the attendant last minute stuff made me crazy, the other day! I thought I could burn a CD, of which I have dozens; instead there was too much art, too big, and my sweet husband raced off to buy more DVDs--just barely made it to get everything in the package and sent off when I'd told my editor it was coming!

(She's wonderfully supportive and understanding, but I DO like to meet my deadlines!)

Now I've jumped feet-first into the second installment of the manuscript, and J. will be helping with this, too...it makes it SO much easier.

I'm happy with a lot of the new art, and hope my readers will be, too...



Your Manuscript

Your geranium is magnificent. Is that really gouache on black paper?
I've published multiple chapters in medical textbooks and appreciate/sympathize with your comments. My first chapter ever was written in multiple sections on an Apple 2+ because it had such limited desktop memory. Technology has changed really fast. I can't even get my images off the Zip disk I carried around for several years. Can't wait to see your new book!

Re: Your Manuscript

Thanks, Shirley! Yes, it's on Strathmore's black Artagain pad--worked well!

And yes, it's almost more work to revise than it is to work from scratch, when the ms. is no longer available!


This is gorgeous Kate.
Thanks, Anita! I liked the contrast a lot!
Thanks, girl! I guess they are just different--the nature books are so different, given the subject and intent, I'm not surprised at how different they are. The art books, on the other hand, I didn't realize how changed my writing is!
the light in this plant just takes my breath away. again--i can smell it! i can smell that slightly harsh insistent green on my hands after weeding them, the odd scents from the "chocolate" and "rose" geranium.. i love those simple, ordinary plants that filled our childhoods.

this is beyond lovely--it is exquisite!
Don't you love the smell of geraniums? I haven't thought of chocolate geraniums in years, thanks for the reminder! And yes, I'm so fond of baby's breath, lilacs, jonquils, violets, and all the other sweet and spicy flowers I remember...


Congrats Kate, for getting some of the manuscript off.
Brilliant colors against the dark. A totally new idea
to me that eventually I will have to try (It keeps me
busy watching your 9 CDs and these 5 books + all the
free "tutorials" on flickr). One of the books is your
old technique book. I haven't noticed a difference in
your writing except in ONE SQUARE MILE. I think I must
be concentrating on pictorial descriptions, instead.
I have a big file of your flickr posts on BOOKMARK
that I study as much as I do the CDs and books. It
DOES seem that you anticipate the questions that I
have as I study all your stuff. The only other person
that seems to do this is Russ Stutler who has started
an evolving "book" on his website. For a beginner, it
is exciting but comforting to have a teacher understand
the many things we need to know or to have clarified
when we feel so dumb and are muddling along, even though
it is a happy journey.

on my Toolbar.
Hi Annie! Yes, my natural history and other non-art books are different.

I'm really glad my books and CDs are useful! I've taught so long I do sort of know by now the kinds of things people usually ask, but of course the NEW questions keep me on my toes! ;-)

I'm glad you're enjoying the ride, too.


Gorgeous beyond words! I absolutely love the drama, the light, the lyricism of this, Miss Kate! And many, many congratulations on completing your first installment! This book is going to be a masterpiece.
Thank you, sweet thing! I hope it will be inspiring, that's what I'm aiming for...
I LOVE this! I have just picked up some basic gouache tubes that I want to try because opaque is more the way I think/feel/see than transparent. This is an inspiration and sings out from the page - when I first glanced at it on the screen it seemed to be a photograph with many motes of light shining through the foliage!
Natalie, you are going to have FUN!
I love your book and remember using it when I first started working with watercolor. I look forward to seeing the new version.

Maybe this new format will make it easier to leave a comment for me. I have trouble every other time for some reason.

Wow, Dee, thank you! I think it will be more inspiring, now--and I'm freshening a lot of the earlier examples, too.

And I do hope this format makes it easier, I always like to hear from you.


I love the vibrant colors

I've always wanted to try gouache and this really inspires me to!

Re: I love the vibrant colors

Thank you! Gouache is quite fun...just need to be careful not to put it on TOO thickly, or it will crack.