Round two of the creek, this time with a bit of a different approach. Glazes on the mountains, from the light one in the back, to the darker ones behind the trees.
I used frisket to block out whites for the sycamores and rocks in the foreground, along with some of the white areas on either side of the distant creek. This allowed me to splash in color more freely. I tried to make masses of color for the leaves, and left areas on the left distant mountain white, unlike yesterday’s painting, to get better foliage colors. The same with the reflections, as with yesterday – color masses. I also used a bit of white gouache to help define branches of the sycamores on both sides of the creek.
It’s been a real challenge for me to work at simplifying shapes into colors without finicky detailing. Sooooo against the way I see the world. I go chasing those sparkles, in the air on leaves, on water. Magpie Me. Anyway, more to come of a local state park!
I tried to simplify things more in this painting by using washes and bleeding colors into them. The foreground was tricky as there was a lot of texture from the brush on the lower left. The same brush is on the opposite shore, but, as you can see, with a lot less detail. Also, I decided to try to use a bit of white gouache mixed with watercolor to represent the white brush – baby sycamores? – as well as the branches of the sycamore trees. Sadly, I didn’t really think about the leaves of the sycamores until after I had painted in the mountain in the distance, so I tried to retrieve a bit of lighter leaves in the foreground. Not super successful, but am pleased with the effort of simplifying.
Malibu State Park is a vast area that spreads out across bits of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. You can feel like you are lost in the wild west. What is so enchanting about it is the land itself – hilly, flat, study with oak trees, a creek or two. It’s a great place to hike, to explore, to do photography, and to paint. In spring it is stunning, and after a rainy season you can walk through fields of butterflies. In fall, the sycamores change color, the grass is brown, but the hills can remain green. Definitely a land of contrasts.
I decided to use a study by the watercolorist Vernon Nye. He caught the back country of California perfectly – the hills and trees in particular. It was a fun study and I liked it because it pointed out to me how deceptively simple the hills can seem, but they really are not. The road, too, was another eye-catcher. I have driven along a number of back-road highways throughout the state, and you feel like you are the only person in the world. The perspective was a great challenge, too. Altogether, a good study of something in my own back yard, and I can take what I learned into future paintings.
More water and reflections!
Ormond Beach is located on the coastal side of the county in a flat, rural area near two navy bases. The sky is often dank and cloudy and it can seem like another world compared to my hot, dry corner. Here, I wanted to catch the dreary grey sky along with the rows of palm trees on the horizon. I think this one is one of my better ones of late.
Yesterday was a watercolor day! I warmed up with a copy of Wesson’s painting, and then moved on to more water. I am not intimidated by water in the form of lakes or streams, but do need to learn how to do oceans and waves and white caps. I am trying to get a grip on reflections and how water and reflections interact. I think reflections appear longer when the sun is behind you rather than in front of you, like shadows.
Here, a mountain and a lake, with some very deep shadows. The distant mountain is quite bland to my eyes and would like to liven it up with deeper greens and richer browns. I didn’t. I tried to keep it more simple than the actual photo. I did to a point.
I think most painters will always find faults as they know, as they paint, what challenged them while they painted and what their vision was, versus what they put down. My life.
Edward Wesson was a master English watercolorist. He is renown for the simplicity of his work – clear color masses, defined work. It is his economy of color and shape that are attractive to many painters as he says a lot with very little.
I, on the other hand, am prone to overdo and use rather bright colors. My perspective is often wonky. To counter this, I look for painters, such as Wesson or Seago or Hannema or Kautzky whose work I admire for its elegant use of colors or lines or both. Copying another artist is good intellectually, as it requires thinking about what the artist did, and how. Great practice! Today, I chose Wesson. Below is my interpretation.
My mountain in the distance is more detailed than Wesson’s. I chose to make the trees on the shore in the midground lighter than in his painting as I think he meant to do it, but had laid in the dark of the hill on the left already. My beach comes nowhere as beautiful as his – too much detail.
My husband remarked that this is definitely something he would define as NOT “my” style. I agree. I was looking to create something a bit spare, and to a degree I did, but I had to blot the sky (too dark) and re-wet the mountain. I like the middle ground green hills, and the reflections on the water. My beach sucks! All in an afternoon’s work.