116. Podocarpus

Our backyard was filled with about 18 trees, far too many for the allotted size.  We had 5 trees removed and the remaining pruned backed.  Eventually all but 2 will be removed, roots dug out, stumps ground down.  I don’t know what this guy was thinking when he put in all these trees – I had neighbors I didn’t even know I have stop to tell me how much nicer it looked and they had “told” him he was putting in far too many.  We can actually see the sky at night!

That said, after the crepe myrtle, I moved onto the podocarpus, which are rather lovely or ugly trees, depending on my mood!  For now,  I’m just doing simple things – not that these leaves were simple.  The leaves of the podocarpus in our yard have leaves that grow in clumps, rather like bamboo in shape, but totally not bamboo.  Still, the leaves may be painted with the tip of the brush, a bit of downward pressure, and then a rise to complete the shape.

I tried to paint around highlit areas – making a leaf or leaf shapes with green, and then working toward the darker areas.

I keep forgetting what a challenge watercolor can be, but it makes me so happy to do it, whether or not I am especially successful!

115. Crepe Myrtle

For the first time in weeks, I have had the wherewithal to paint.  These past few months have been rather nuts, and the mental space to focus on the simple pleasure of painting has not been mine to enjoy.

This morning, I sat down under the big umbrella in the back yard, pulled out my iPad, and took a few pictures of some low-growing crepe myrtle branches and flowers.  A water brush, a sketch book, and no expectations.

Parts are good – parts not so good – contrast is lacking – but I am feeling pleasantly surprised about this small sketch.

More tomorrow!

114. Kitty Bliss

Charlie over at Doodlewash set up a September paint-along calendar – something I think he does every month.  September 1st is orange cats.  September is Pet Rocks.  Initially, I thought I would combine the two, but the fact is, Pet Rocks are not in my lexicon of “things I like” so I thought I’d just go with the orange cat.

I think it will be fun to at least get some inspiration from whatever subject near the date I pick up a brush.  Sometimes some structure or direction helps you get off your dupa and get moving.

Have you ever tried drawing animals?  Cats and rats or mice seem to be ones I “get”!

 

112. Window in the Wood

Another window, this time set into a log building.  The logs were fun to paint – just broad swooshes with a brush, and then some detail.  (I think I could use a few more wider dark swooshes in the upper 1/2 of the windows for the logs.)  Here, as in yesterday’s painting, detail is important, but still needs simplification to express the window and the logs.  Overall, I am rather pleased with this picture.  My palette was very limited – burnt umber, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue.  Oh, I threw in some zoisite (DS) because I love its granualtion!

111. Blue Shutters

The other day I was trying to paint a something-or-other, and realized I had no idea how to paint something to suggest it, rather than give all the gory details.  It may have been yesterday’s rocky cliffs.  In particular, I started to think about buildings and windows.  Stucco – brick – stone – how to express it without excess?

I decided lets start with just windows.  Here is one set deep into a stucco building.  I had to look at the shutters, the shadows, the casement, the small details such as hinges and cracks in the wood, as well as the shadows between the louvers.

110. Rocky Coast & Post Production

I’ve taken photos for years and use different software to enhance the final results to express what I want.  With this painting, I was not quite sure about the distant cliffs and the depth of color in the ocean.  Too light?  Darken?  My instinct was that darkening both would make a better painting in the sense of contrast.

Overall, I like the above painting – it looks pretty good.  In the one below, I used a brush in Lightroom to darken the cliffs and the sea.

I like the second choice better.  I haven’t painted over the cliffs or ocean to make them darker, but if I were to publish things, I could do some “post” in a digital format.  If you look at the frame of the above image, you will see parts of it are darker, the result of using the LR brush.

I wonder how many other artists do post-processing of their paintings.  I have taken scans and turned them into black and white images to check contrast and value – so why not for making painting decisions as well?  It’s all a learning process.

109. Olive Orchard

Living in a “Mediterranean” climate means living in a dry, temperate climate.  Locally, we have a number of olive orchards which produce local oils that are tasty and delicious.  Here is a tribute to them.

Besides commercial uses, olive trees are often used as decorative trees in one’s yard as they do require a lot of upkeep in terms of water – but the downside is a messy yard as the olives drop.  Most people never consider using the olive fruit for anything at all.

I tried to simplify everything in this painting – trunks, field, crown of trees.  At the same time, I tried to work on contrast and failed overall.  It’s really a talent to get something dark enough on the first take!  The trees on the left look like one in the foreground in overlapped by the leaves of the one further distant.  And so on.  However, getting out the paints every day is the goal, and practice, not making a “completed” painting is the whole point.

108. Venetian Red and Wisteria

I have been looking for a lavender watercolor . . . and liked the color of Daniel Smith’s Wisteria.  So I bought it.  Lately, too, I’ve been reading a lot about Venetian Red.  I bought it, too.

Here are some sketches using the new colors.  The Wisteria works out quite nicely – it’s a good lavender overall.

It plays well with blues and other colors – but I’ll need to putz with it a bit more.  So far, so good.

Venetian Red is an interesting color.  It granulates, it ranges in value, and varies, it seems in transparency and opacity.

I threw a lot of colors into the stones and the buildings, all sorts of things.  Another new color to play with.

I spent a week up in Reno and came back with a stomach bug, so another week out of commission.  Not fun at all!  But painting is again on the horizon, and that is definitely good news.