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How Do You Do [It]

Colleen Frerichs ’17

Some of the most popular YouTube and Google searches these days start with “How to … ”

In this Pinterest/Tasty/DIY world, sharing tips, tricks and tools of the trade has become the trend. We know Dickinsonians are incredibly talented, and often those talents lay outside their major, profession or field. So we’re putting together a how-to issue! Email to nominate yourself, a classmate, a professor or a staff member who knows how to do something worthy of sharing with the entire Dickinson community!

To get the ball rolling, we asked Colleen Frerichs ’17, co-owner of It’s Our Side Hustle print shop, to document for us the process she used to create the stunning image you see on the cover of this issue (and two other options, shown below).

UPDATE! The snow-covered campus cover art from the winter 2018 issue generated such a positive response, you can now purchase a print as well as notecard sets (featuring four different images) through the Dickinson College Bookstore (in store and online)!


1. Where and When: I usually paint before work at either the desk in my D.C. apartment, or at a cafe around the corner from my work. Most of my painting is done between 7 and 9 a.m. before the work day (I’m interning in public affairs firm in D.C.) and on weekends. Frerichspencilvert

2. Gather Photos: Before starting a new piece, I gather a bunch of different photos of the location or subject that I’ll be painting. When doing landscapes, especially if it’s a place I’m unfamiliar with, I like to look at the subject from a bunch of different angles to see all the possible perspectives. I like to find photos of different times of day and times of the year. Sometimes I end up using one photo. Sometimes I mix 10. Sometimes I paint from life. It all depends and varies. Although my style is “illustrate-y” and whimsical and not super realistic, I still want my photos to have a likeness to the subject. 

3. Pencil: I start all my paintings out with pencil. I don’t do any specifics or details with pencil, but use it to help me feel the space out, getting sizing and perspective as close to right as I can. I plan commissions way more than paintings I do for fun. 

4. Ink: After large objects are penciled in, I go over the lines with ink pens. Sometimes I follow along exactly and trace what I already drew, and sometimes I completely disregard the lines and make new ones. I ink the majority of the picture here, leaving some last minute details. After I paint, I go back and re-ink a lot of lines, adding lots of tiny detail, lines, marks, and scratches. Frerichswatercolorvert

5. Watercolor: I have used the same watercolor palette for 9 years and haven’t washed it once. It’s covered in every color and I rarely add any new paint to it before each painting. Because the paint is so old, it’s lighter and duller, so it’s perfect for a first layer. I start with very dull, broad strokes to help me separate the areas of the painting. For example, this morning I was painting a cabin scene in the woods for a holiday present. I paint the whole forest a light green, before going back and adding all the yellows, browns, blues and reds. 

6. Alternating Ink and Watercolor, Round 2: After my initial layer of ink and watercolor, I alternate going back between the two, adding darker colors and more detail. I use less mater with my paint in this stage to make the pigment stronger and colors bolder. There is hardly a method to this stage and I barely look at the reference photo(s). I just add strokes and marks everywhere with zero plan! It depends on the subject and if the piece is a commission or just for fun, but the duration of the process varies. Sometimes my pieces take multiple sittings and many hours, but for the most part, I prefer to do the whole thing in one sitting of two or three hours.

Read more from the winter 2018 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published January 23, 2018