79. Creek’s Edge – Another Study

Once more, Rick Surowicz has produced a video for study, and I did it.  This time it was more successful than the one on negative painting, probably because I used better paper and was not too fussed about things.  I had been to a workshop earlier in the day, and though I didn’t produce anything noteworthy in the workshop, I was warmed up and ready to go!

I watched it three times!  First to just see it, second to take notes, third time to follow along.  The biggest point to it, for me, was the cool greens used in the beginning were nicely complemented by the warm green glazes at the end.  I used a 300# paper, which is the first time I have ever used a paper that weight.  I was pleased with the end result.

The color differences are notable.  Surowicz used colors I don’t have, such as royal blue and peacock blue.  I’m not sure what the colors in my palette were as my color reference wheel is packed up some place.  I do know that I used cobalt teal in place of turquoise and a lot of Hooker’s Green, while he stuck with sap green, which is more yellow, and a lovely color.  I also mixed some greens differently, such as using cobalt teal and quinacridone gold.  The colors, while important, were not the main focus – the focus was to follow the steps and get an idea what to do!  The photo Surowicz used is for compositional suggestions only – the execution is very individual.

78. Pens & Crumpled Paper

Boy, I do need to clean up my desk!  Pens, crumpled paper, all pushed up to the side so that I can drink coffee and read the news.  As a morning sketch or painting seems to be emerging as part of the daily routine, I looked around.  There they were . . . and here they are.

I’m not always a slob, but from Monday to Thursday, working 10-hour days, who has time to do much cleaning?

77. Cell Phone Reflections

Direct watercolor, paint what’s in front of me, no lines.  Those were my morning thoughts.  What is always in front of me in the morning is my messy desk, full of different debris, depending on the day and whether or not I’ve done any tidying.  As I pondered, oh so profoundly, I looked at the cell phone on my desk and really liked the reflections from my monitors . . . and here is today’s subject.

I worked to think more consciously and conscientiously about what I was doing.  First, the outline of the phone, on my rather ochre-colored desk, then the darks of the phone itself, followed by reflections and shadows.  I tried to be selective of where to touch different colors for bleeds.  Finally, I went back in and did some shadows and contrasts to make a bit stronger image.  In between, I worked carefully to avoid blooms and hard edges from backwash.

76. Coffee Cup

Instead of just sketching in the morning, like a flower or something, I thought about just painting things.  The most prominent and important thing on my desk at 6 a.m. is my coffee cup!  This is one of my favorites, too, even though it is quite chipped and so on.  I’ll keep it until it dies.  Now it is immortalized in a “direct watercolor” – no lines – and in a rather disproportionate manner, but here you go.

75. Redbud in the Morning, and I’ve Been Thinking

Today, Marc Taro Homes announced a 30-day direct painting challenge, and started a Facebook group dedicated to it.  I’ve also been reviewing the work of an artist I admire, and who paints everything, from weird objects to seascapes to people.  It made me think about watercolor painting in general.  It becomes something of a sacred cow – so sacred you never experience it!  So, just do it and do it and do it.  Morning sketches are helpful, and so will the days of direct painting.

Outside my studio window is a small redbud tree.  The leaves are heart-shaped and vary in color from pale green-yellow to a rusty red, depending on the way the light hits.  This is my homage to starting direct watercoloring.  I didn’t catch the transparency of the leaves this morning, but I did paint.  Maybe I will paint it again tomorrow morning.

74. English Lavender

I guess I’m a hippie – you know, “flower power” and all that stuff.

The fact is, I love flowers and want to have a flower garden again.  And a vegetable garden.  As retirement approaches, it look more of a reality than before.  And as our backyard gets cleared out, too, that will help.

So, today’s sketch is really last night’s sketch.  I went out with my tablet of tan paper and took a look.  Almost all green except for the lavender plant.  I used ink for the initial drawing and then Derwent’s InkTense colors.  Then, for the ones on the left, I just painted to see which looked better – pen and color, or just plain color.

73. Penstemon

Penstemons are simple flowers – tall, elegant, plain – with an incredibly beautiful red-orange flower.  They are another one I photographed last weekend at the botanical garden.  Maybe today I’ll venture out to the cactus garden to see what blossoms may be up there!

Here, I decided simply on using a brush, a stiffer one than a red sable, to focus on how the brush responds to pressure, paint, and amount of water.

71.1 Old Shack

I went out to lunch, so that is why interrupted the first part of this post.  And, there were a lot of pictures to look at.  Now, back from lunch, and awake from a 2-hour nap, here I am.

The next step was to put in the grasses on the lower and the left of the picture, and the trees in the background.  Shape and contrast were the goal.  The grasses, again, were straight lines with a bit of curve.  In the background, I used 3 different colored pencils, and drew small, tight circles to convey the thick foliage of the trees in the distance; this was repeated in front of the shack.  Longitudinal lines were used to create the direction of the fields.

Once the grasses, field, and foliage were put in, I used water.  Short straight strokes for the grass were done vertically, some blending into other grasses, too.  The trees in the distance on the left and right were next, being careful to work around the straight lines of the building.  The sloping fields to the left and right were worked with short brush strokes, to keep the colors isolated in some areas, and blended in another.  If you look on the right, you will see the fields are yellow, blends of yellow and browns, and finally, below the trees, varying shades of green.  Lastly, I worked the grasses in the foreground, top to bottom left to right.

 

Next?  The sky!

72. Bush Anemone

Another flower from my ramblings in the botanical garden last weekend.  I may go back tomorrow.

The Bush Anemone – carpenteria californica – is a rather pretty little flower.  Not gaudy, just soft, subtle, and short-bloomed.  I penciled this in first, then used a brush to dab paint off of the tips of my Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils to see how that worked.  Not bad for a small touch here and there!  I then used a light touch with a very fine pointed pen.

71. Old Shack

Pictures made with only watercolor pencils seem insipid to me.  The contrast is not strong enough to be interesting to my eye.

So, I decided to set out to make this a lie!  But, I started out by acknowledging that I would be using whatever means it took – pen, ink, watercolor paint, white pigment – to make the contrast I desire.

What I like about watercolor pencils is the fact you can draw with them, and they create lovely textures.  Working in conjunction with other media, I hope to create a picture I like.  I am using a 60-pencil set of Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer pencils.

I put down a pencil drawing, and then sketched in basic colors, and then wet them to blend.

The next step was a bit of a gamble – putting down darker values and colors as texture.  Some colors were overlaid with one another, such as the blue shadows on the shack.  This is what it looks like before the water is added to blend the colors.

When wetting the picture, I decided to do two things.  First, work light to dark – that is, wet the lighter areas and then the darker.  The second was to follow the direction of the pencil lines.  Between colors I tried to be sure to rinse off my brush, and to blot as necessary to keep the paper from getting too wet.  I am also trying my best to preserve my white areas.

Next, establishing the pattern of the grasses in the foreground.  Here, I worked in the light colors to the lower right side, where there are white areas.  I drew the lines in the direction of the grasses, including white pencil to lighten the overall colors of the yellows used.  The lines are seen below, followed by the application of the water.  I laid the lines of the grasses down with some pressure, the idea to make them more distinctive and for the color not to dissolve into a blur.

Here, as before, I used water in the lightest areas and then in the darker areas, following the pencil strokes.  The lighter areas I did horizontally, and the darker areas more vertically.

To be continued!