Dorrie Rifkin Shares Her Watercolor Techniques

Ground Zero, 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media
Ground Zero, Dorrie Rifkin

By Dorrie Rifkin

I spent the first half of my life searching for the perfect paper to achieve my painting style, "Controlled Chaos." One day I was in an art supply store in Kingston, NY. This is where my love affair started with Strathmore® Illustration Board.

Last year I discovered the 500 Series Illustration Board for Wet Media. This paper keeps the color intense and it lets me rework parts even after it dries. It can take a beating, which I give it.

I'd like to share my 4 steps to watercolor success.

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Step 1: Have a Full, Great Life
I am lucky enough to live close to NYC. I always bring my camera and take lots of photos. The more you experience in life, the more opportunities for a painting. Before I start painting, I open up the images in Photoshop, where I crop and alter the colors.

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Step 2: Structure and Planning
I then make a very tight, detailed sketch. I review, and determine which parts are going to be most challenging. Without a strong foundation, there is no way to create a good work of art.

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Step 3: Painting and Trust
My greatest concern is making sure I don't stick my paintbrush in my Diet Coke instead of my water. Add blacks and bring back the whites (by dabbing water with a paper napkin or paintbrush). Remove the tape and then after a few days I declare a painting complete.

Step 4: Go Back to Step 1

About the Artist
Dorrie Rifkin's work is often influenced by her career as a talented and award-winning art director. Many of her paintings feature unique local signage that

adds a personal touch to each piece. Rifkin was profiled in Watercolor Artist magazine's

December 2010 "Ones to Watch" feature. Her paintings have won prizes in many international and national juried shows. She is a signature member of both the Transparent Watercolor Society of America and the Northeast Watercolor Society.

To see more of Dorrie Rifkin's work, check out our Artist eNewsletter or Dorrie's Website:

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