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  Susan Cowen

May 2, 2024   10:00 - 2:00

"Acrylic Negative Painting Using Wet on Wet Underpainting"


     Our next SHA demo, provided by aquamedia artist Susie Cowan, is Thursday, May 2, 2024.  Susan will lead us in a workshop of acrylic painting titled “Acrylic Negative Painting using Wet on Wet Underpainting.”  We will be developing images from abstract beginnings, using acrylics.  It is suggested that we prepare at least one quarter sheet or smaller with gloss medium before the demo.  Please see the newsletter attachments for a complete workshop description, supply list, and artist’s bio.











     This Acrylic Workshop will include some ways to begin an abstract underpainting on paper and follow up with some fun ways to explore imagery development. Print outs of birds and underwater life will be available to use in class, or bring your own source photos, or wild imagination!


     I will be working on BFK Rives printmaking paper...the closest thing I’ve found to my favorite paper, Strathmore Aquarius II, which has been discontinued, sadly.  Hot press 140lb watercolor paper would be another option, as the smoother surface is great for the stamping and stenciling we’ll be doing.















AM:  We will create 4 underpaintings (1/4 sheet or smaller), exploring wet into wet, drizzle textures, stencils, stamping, and alcohol patterns on paper pre-glazed with gloss medium.


PM: Once our papers are dry we will explore imagery development  on 1 or 2 of our underpaintings through the use of stencils, stamps, and negative/positive painting with transparent, semi opaque and opaque glazes.


A friendly, final sharing of work will end the Workshop.









Supply List


  • Paper: A minimum of 4 quarter sheet or smaller pieces of either BFK Rives printmaking paper, or 140lb Hot Press watercolor paper

  • Bring one piece of this paper already glazed with a couple of coats of gloss medium so a glossy surface is achieved.

  • Acrylic paint: Golden fluid acrylics in a variety of your favorite colors would be first choice, but any acrylics will work.

  • Painting palette: the small Masterson Sta-Wet Palette is my go to, but a white styrene meat tray in a zip lock will suffice!

  • Small spray bottle that makes a good droplet pattern, not too fine a mist but not giant drops, either.

  • Brushes: a wash brush (1 to 2” is fine since we are working small), a small round brush, and a smaller detail brush. I use watercolor brushes as I am using my acrylics more like watercolor than oil paint.

  • 4” white foam roller (like Home Depot sells)

  • Water container (yogurt containers are great)

  • Roll of TP or Kleenex

  • Painting board (Gatorboard, Plexiglas, or any hard surface that is slightly larger than your


  • Source imagery: if you would rather have your own source imagery, please feel free to explore subject matter that interests you!

  • Drawing supplies: pencil, General’s white charcoal pencil, kneaded eraser

     One more thing you might want to have for the workshop...a flat tray to spread your paint in that the foam rollers will fit into (small butcher tray, styrene meat tray, square cake pan, etc.) or a piece of plexi, glass or anything flat that can be wiped clean for color changes. If it is clear or white you'll be able to read your colors...if it's aluminum, it will be harder to judge your colors.


     Also, if you have leftover hand sanitizer, it works really well to clean up acrylics on most surfaces, including your hands! I will bring one large bottle to share.


     Reminder: any acrylics will work for this class, just bring what colors you like! Pre glaze a couple of sheets of paper with gloss medium before class to save drying time. I usually do 2 or 3 coats to really seal the paper. (We'll be working on 1/4 sheets due to space limitations).

Wear painting clothes or bring an apron!



Susan Will Bring: To Share


  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Stencils & stamps

  • Stencil paper to cut (manila paper)

  • Exacto knives, 3 cutting mats

  • Scissors

  • Tracing paper

  • Xerox Images of birds and underwater life


Feel free to email or text me if you have any questions prior to our Workshop. I look forward to seeing you all!

Susie Cowan



Susan Cowan - Bio 2024


     Born May 9, 1953 in Tacoma, WA, Susan has been painting professionally since the late 70’s, finding her niche in the world of Aqueous Media.  Her work has won many awards over the years and is collected both regionally and abroad.  Inspiration for her magical imagery comes from her love of travel and the Puget Sound, spun with the threads of her personal life and imagination.  She taught Watermedia in the Mature Learning Department of Clark College in Vancouver, WA from 1986 until her retirement in 2019; and led painting tours regionally and abroad with fellow artist Lee Baughman ( between 1995-2021.  Her primary studio/home is now on Day Island in Washington State, returning to her roots and love of the Puget Sound, but she maintains a studio in Portland, OR. 


     Susan and her husband, Dan Parker, shot photographs for Vigor Industries in Portland, OR and produced a calendar of Shipyard Images for Vigor between 2010-2016.


     She is a signature member of the NWWS (Northwest Watercolor Society) and a charter/founding member of the SWWS (Southwest Washington Watercolor Society). She exhibits regionally and is represented by the Rental Sales Gallery of the Portland Art Museum.


     She is currently Exhibiting at the Dee Denton Gallery in Lake Oswego, as part of the Lake Oswego Reads Invitational Program, which will travel to Oregon libraries throughout the year.  Her work will be featured at the Harbor History Museum June-August 2024 in Gig Harbor; and a large underwater diptych, which won Best of Show in the Peninsula Art League Annual Exhibition in 2023, is on view currently at the Harbor Wildwatch Center in Gig Harbor.


















































































ex1 Amsterdam drizzle pours, stencils.jpg
ex2 Aurora wet to wet, stamping.jpg
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