Mellow Yellows

Today I did what I had hoped to do yesterday, but I painted a temple instead.  So, this afternoon, I sat down with my studio palette and decided to take a good look at the yellows I have, use them individually, as well as mix them.  The colors include aureolin, new gamboge, raw sienna, cadmium yellow, hansa yellow, quinacridone gold, raw sienna, and “mystery yellow,” named thus because I didn’t label it!

Above are my first paintings, mixing colors and not happy with the results.  So, I did pure color studies of the lemons to see what I could get.

Above, pure colors in varying densities to see what they could do.  It was quite interesting!

In the studies using only one yellow, I varied the density of the paint from very watery to rather heavy.  I did the same in the above picture with sap green.

In this one, I used pure hansa yellow, sap green blended into the yellow, and cobalt blue for the shadows, with some bleed from the lemon.  The stem was pure sap green.

Heirloom tomatoes are always interesting – they are rather like aliens in the produce department!  Again, limited palette with varying uses of the colors individually and mixed.

Another alien, but this time I created a swatch of the colors as I did the painting.

If you want to scroll through the paintings, click on an image above.  I like doing that because I see things in a sequence.

Anyway, I really got a better sense of the yellows and how I might use them.  Cadmium yellow, hansa yellow, raw umber and raw sienna are my most-used yellows, but can see where others may be valuable, such as in shadows and so on.  Hansa yellow is a cold yellow, in my opinion, and the warmth of the cadmium yellow cannot be beat.  For rotten bananas, raw sienna isn’t too bad!

 

Temple Sunrise

This is a rather eclectic picture as far as technique.  Pencil drawing, ink, watercolor, more ink, more water, and so on.  Paper is Arches cold press 140#, 9×12 inches.  I thought I would use a better quality paper this morning because I knew I would be using a lot of water.  It paid off.  A picture of a Japanese temple was the inspiration for this mish-mash, as well as the fact I felt like drawing more than anything else.

A Bowl of Tulips

Today I had a morning appointment.  After I came home, I had lunch, took a nap, and then migrated all sorts of toys to the patio.  My neck got sunburned!  Amongst the toys were a set of Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils by Caran D’Arche, a bowl of tulips, a brush pen, ink pen, and paper.

This is probably the third time I have used these pencils, and this time around I am happier with the results.  I have watched a few videos from YouTube on using them, and the tips were worthwhile.  For example, layering and laying down glazes to get better results.  Being patient!  My own painting skills are better than they used to be, so my sense of light / dark is not as klutzy as it was a few months ago.  And, without having the need to produce some work of art, I was a lot more relaxed.  Of course, sitting in the sun didn’t hurt any.

In general, my own experience with watercolor pencils is that they are not strong enough in color to produce the type of strong contrast I seem to prefer visually.  Maybe it’s just my limited experience.  Nonetheless, I am happy with the results demonstrated in this little study.

Redbuds in Bloom

Outside my studio window is a small California Redbud.  It really needs more sunshine to show off its flowers – there is too much shade on the western side of my house, and so it does not bloom very often or very much.  Still, it is a lovely tree.  Slender branches, heart-shaped leaves that change color and drop in the autumn.  Local birds like to hang out in its branches.

Today, I tried to express the beauty of several redbuds in bloom, with spring growth abounding in new leaves.  I drew the trees first, then used frisket – a lot of it – in the forms of lines and dots.  From there, the background was laid in, using varying colors to represent leaves, flowers, and other trees or branches.  The frisket was then removed, and trunks painted using warm and cool greys.  Afterward, magentas and yellow greens, warm and cool.  It was all rather splattery!  Finally, after everything dried, white dots applied to suggest spring insects and twinkling sunlight.

Not entirely pleased.  As a realistic painting, it fails; however, as an abstract, it has potential.

This Morning’s Disaster

This morning I set out to do a couple of things.  First was to do another ink / pen drawing.  I used the same sketchbook as I did yesterday, one with lightweight paper that worked very well yesterday.  Second, the attempt to stretch myself a bit and do a beach scene.  I find waves incredibly difficult.

The sketch itself was okay – nothing particularly challenging in and of itself.  I rather liked the composition.  However, if you look at the sketch above, do you see those little greyish streaks in the lower left and center?  That should have clued me in then and there – the paper is very thin.  Water?  What was I thinking of?

And here we are, with washes applied with a lot of water.  Even though you cannot see it, the paper became mottled in appearance, buckled and crumpled.  Ugh!  But, what the hell, I may as well try something.  And thus, I picked up my box of Caran D’Arche’s Neocolor II crayons, and carried on . . .

Having never really used the Neocolor crayons before, I will say I liked them.  I scribbled in colors which I thought might work, and then laid other colors on top of them to blend before using water.  And then with a waterbrush – not a laden brush – I smoothed and shaded.

I am not pleased with this picture at all, but I still learned something about a medium I haven’t really explored – the watercolor crayons. On a heavier paper designed to take water, there is a lot of potential here.  I love coloring, so I can see myself moving into this area, perhaps more so than with watercolor pencils, which seem more delicate to me in their color rendering, but perhaps that is wrong as I have limited experience with them as well.

Oh, well.  The picture was a disaster, but the potential far outweighs it.

 

Daffodils

Today was just too nice of a day to stay home, so I headed out to the local botanical garden, cameras in hand, pen, and paper.  Bulbs are up and beginning to blossom; the ones in the shade are getting there – more for later visits!  Birds, butterflies, bees, cool breezes.

Since I have been playing around with the exercises in Alphonso Dunn’s fine book today, I decided to continue the adventure and draw some daffodils with pen and ink, but follow through using watercolor pencil.

I laid down the major lines in pencil, and followed through with a fine pointed Namiki pen with waterproof ink.

Next, direct application of Faber-Castell’s Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils.

And finally, using a water brush, I wet the colors, taking time to use a light touch.  A few lines of extra ink, and it was done.  Below is a gallery if you wish to cruise through the sequence from pen, pencil, and water.

Lines

Every now and then an outstanding artist and instructor shows up on the scene.  When they write books that are accessible and practical, it’s even better.  Alphonso Dunn is one such person!  He has a personal website, a YouTube channel full of information and wonderful tutorials, and two fantastic books.

The workbook was published after the simple guide, but is used in tandem with the exercises found in the workbook.  Besides using the two together, head over to YouTube for a really great set of instructions.

Today, rather than paint, I finally sat down and did some exercises from Dunn’s books.  The exercises were on lines – direction, shape, shift.  It takes a bit of patience and time to understand what may be going on.  I had to think about how I had my pad of paper, how far up or down my fingers were on the pen, whether to use my fingers, my wrist, or more of an arm movement.  In many ways, doing these exercises made me think of learning printing and cursive back when I was a sweet young thing.  Lines, repetition, thinking about how to do things, and doing them over and over.

Skill is bought with repetition – but repetition of itself is rather dull.  Rewards sure help!  Thus, a few drawings – one of a hat from Dunn’s book, and one of a Christmas cactus on my patio.  In each, I used straight lines, or slightly curved ones.  I thought about light and dark, repetition and straight or curved lines, or placing more lines over ones already laid down.  

To aid with the line studies, I ruled pencil lines onto my sketch paper.  It helped.  Sometimes I also drew vertical lines, or extra horizontal lines, either in pencil or pen.

Nothing like a pen in hand to make me happy!  Altogether a pleasant way to while away an afternoon.  I shall continue!