The Alabama Hills in California are stunning. Seasons are harsh and beautiful. Here, pen and ink to get away from perspective and buildings! Why is it that nature is so much easier and relaxing to paint?!
Let’s start with the flowers I did that I like. Spontaneous background, flat brush, working on edge of brush for dots and lines of stems and flowers. No pencil drawing. I liked painting this one a lot. Not so icky.
This one absolutely sucks. Pencil drawing. Overworked. I was ready to snap the brushes and burn down the house. I really hated doing this painting as it so uptight. Icky. Icky. Icky.
This is the second scan from the final one below. I changed a bit of the elements after doing a preview scan – don’t know why the one on the bottom of this post is so, er, intense!
Now, let us continue . . .
More perspective studies! Today I did a single point study.
This time I created a single vanishing point. This one is below the building, and above the road. The idea for this is that the road ends up going over a hill or slope before the horizon, at eye level, is met. I did a pencil sketch and erased it a billion times. Finally, when I liked what I did, I erased most of the lines after inking it in.
Sort of a value study combined with a color study to see what I might like for color mixes in watercolor. This paper is mixed media paper, so it is not the heavy Arches 140# cold press I like for most work. I think the perspective works pretty well.
Well! Aren’t these colors intense! The scan for some reason just came out like this – the original is a bit more subtle – but I rather like it as I think it expresses the intensity of color that sometimes comes with lowering clouds and a storm. Makes me think of my time as a kid on the plains of the midwest.
So, the final study does have decent architectural perspective, and perhaps even some atmospheric (lots of atmosphere, but more like pressure type!) insofar as I tried to simplify things.
I will continue my focus on perspective, and using it in different media. Watching videos, referring to books, and just doing it is helping.
Another perspective study from hell. Where do you put the vanishing point on paper where the horizon doesn’t provide one!?!
I used 2 point perspective here for the most part. To figure this out, I drew the basic sketch onto a piece of paper that was larger than the final sketch. I decided my horizon line. Then I drew the building, uprights and then angles for the roof line and base of the building, both on the left and the right. For the wall, I did the same thing, aiming it at the horizon line and trying to get the top and bottom to line up.
Ummm. Not sure. It looks okay in a lot of ways except for the wall – too wide nearer the building perhaps than it should be in the lower left foreground.
And getting into perspective. I don’t have depth perception – eye docs confirm this. But I do get distance – I can guestimate a distance and when it is measured, I am pretty accurate. This makes me think that a sense of distance and depth perception are two different things entirely.
If you follow along here at all, you know two things about me. One is a lack of real depth perception. The next is my ongoing struggle with perspective. I have learned that my poor drawing – sloppy drawing, really – due to impatience – ruins a lot of my attempts at perspective in paintings.
I have decided to work on perspective, particularly architectural perspective. That means buildings! As a country girl at heart (no cowboy hats, though), I like the idea of buildings in a non-city setting. No skyscrapers for me. Instead, a boat house, a farm house, a barn perhaps. A building along the waterfront, even suburbia. Why? I want a few trees and some water.
This is the first in a bunch I intend to do to really work on perspective. Looking at things dead on is easy, but looking at something with angles is different. Also, looking down on something from above, or upward from a low vantage point.
Here, gouache. This took hours. About an hour drawing and probably three hours painting it. It works to a degree. All this for a 5×7 painting!!
The thing is more than anything is to just get out there and do it, no matter how icky it turns out!!
As the watercolors were still out, I decided to play around with perspective, specifically architectural perspective. I think I get atmospheric perspective now – cooler colors, less detail, etc.
I did this one above some time ago in 2019. I focused on the roof of the hut, but also wanted to try a bit of the atmospheric element of perspective. It worked out okay. Broad strokes, too, were worked on as I tend to do fiddly little dabs with a brush.
Here I did a few buildings linked together from somewhere in Maine. I tried to use one part of the painting to connect the other parts. By this I mean I looked at the roof slope of the building on the right in the picture, and tried to match in my painting. From there I tried to create perspective and proportion in direct relationship to it – walls, windows, etc. The road, too, was important as I wanted to show it narrowing the further away from me it became. One thing I found intrinsically challenging was the roof line on the right – the slope of the roof moving onto the side of the building. From one angle to another angle, yet no roof on the right showing. That was a real eye-opener when I realized what was going on.
Finally, architectural perspective mixed with the natural landscape. What a bit of building this is! Boat launch / beach moving up a hill with a roadway that hairpins right and left, as well as castle or fortress walls descending into the hillside. I rather liked this one – and it was fun to do some pen with watercolor drawing.
Altogether, I can see some progress, as well as areas for improvement. Lately, I am so unconcerned about the final results of what I paint. Rather, if there is an area that works or I see improvement, I am thrilled! Wabi-sabi. And if the whole picture works, man, that makes my day!
Here is the third painting in the series of three different media, this in watercolor.
For this painting, I used a piece of 16×20 Arches cold-pressed paper. I laid down some frisket to keep the paper white for sunspots of leaves and the edges of the trees. From there, multiple initial light washes to establish areas of color (ie sky, leaves, leaf mould, trunks) and from there just sort of let it happen until I was ready to remove the fisket. Once that was done, greens and darks, and finally the rigger brush for tree branches.
Each painting has it good points and bad points. Watercolor is the least forgiving of the three, but here I think I did a pretty good job as I do get a sense of the flickering light through the new leaves, and that really was the main point. This painting and the gouache are my favorites of the three.
It will be interesting to perhaps try the pastel again as I ordered a set of 25 greens and just took possession of a Terry Ludwig Darks 2 set the other day. The greens are Mount Vision and will arrive Friday. The pastel was the first in the series, and now that I am comfortable with the values of the painting(s) more, a 4th try and a 2nd pastel may prove to be a good exercise!
The second painting in my series of three, in three different media. Today this is in gouache. My previous post showed the photo from which these paintings are derived, as well as the pastel which I did the other day.
To date, I think this is one of the better paintings in gouache I have done. Two differences here: 1) I used hot pressed Arches paper rather than cold pressed. 2) I made sure I kept my paints moist by spritzing them, and covering them with saran wrap between painting sessions – keeping the paints moist made the job of painting much easier.
Smoother paper (hot pressed) allowed the paint to move more easily on the paper. Keeping the paint moist added to that experience. I really put effort into keeping the paint about the consistency of cream and spritzed the paints when they stopped looking glossy. The only area I rather wonder about is the right middle ground – I may want to redo that a bit.
Another series of three to emerge from this Land of Pandemica, where house arrest prevails and imagination runs wild!
I took this picture about a month ago, just as the shelter-in-mandate order came down from on high. I really like this picture because of its moodiness and the brightness of the leaves. It looks pretty mysterious, but in reality that is an effect of the editing. Still, I like it enough to give it an attempt for a number of reasons! There is a rhythm in the trees and their curves. The leaves on the ground lie fairly horizontally, while the green leaves are vertical. All these conspire to challenge me . . . So, without further ado, below is the first attempt, in pastels as today is dedicated to pastels!
As you can see, I moved the leaves from vertical to a bit more diagonal. I also added some “stuff” to the lower left corner as the original photo was pretty dark and lacking in detail. The floor of last year’s leaves are more orange than beige. I tried to pay attention to my marks – the stroke of the pastel stick – as well as to doing some negative painting to help the lighter areas stand out.
I am a fairly pleased with this painting. Pastels are more forgiving than either gouache or watercolor – especially watercolor! – and because of this, I can think about contrast and structure a bit as I go along. It may make the final one (watercolor) easier to do after the next one, which will be in gouache.
The last version of “The Slough, II” – at least for now! This is in watercolor, and it was actually fairly easy to render as I have now painted the same image 3 times, 6 if you consider the first series. Perspective is okay, but rendering of distance along the beach across the water is a bit problematic. Rather than using a pencil to create the drawing, I used a dagger brush and Quinacridone Gold to outline the shapes. I left the cliffs totally white and then added crevasses and such with varying colors.
Doing a whole series, in different media, of the same subject has been so much fun! I expect I will continue to do so. Daily painting – pastels, gouache, and watercolor – is becoming the central focus of most of my days, unless I am sewing masks or just need a change of pace. Too much of one thing doesn’t sit well with me – that’s why I use so many different media! I get bored easily and the monkey mind screams out . . .