Flower Pot (from a Rick Surowicz Video)

Lacking in the lovely simplicity of Rick Surowicz’s painting “Flower Pot” from his YouTube video of the same name, this is my attempt to work with negative space in painting. He is a master – I am not.

Flowers are ridiculously difficult to paint because of their bright colors and unique shapes, not to say their varying leaves as well. And, it is truly difficult to convey a bouquet suggestively. I overwork flowers all the time. Follow below to see Rick at work.

Coastal Hills in Late Summer

Since I had all the pastels out from Tuesday’s class, before I straightened up the mess in the studio, I decided on another study. This time, the oak-covered hills of California. In spring, the hills are brilliantly green, often covered with wildflowers, such as poppies and lupines. As spring gives way to summer, the heat comes, and the grasses dry out. Perfect conditions for all these dreadful wildfires of late . . . Anyway, the coast can be socked in with the summer fog, but inland, the hills are under the brilliant sun. As you look toward the Pacific, you can see the “fog monster” lurking on the other side of the range.

Poppies in Pastels

This is the second week of an online class in pastels, through the local adult school. I had begun the class last spring, a couple of weeks before the pandemic lock down hit California. I got my money refunded, which was good as I’d only had 2 of 8 classes under my belt. This fall, the same school and same teacher are available as a virtual class, using Zoom.

I am not a big fan of online classes that are live simply because I love the real-world interactions of students and teacher. Being able to wander around a classroom, have a conversation or two, discuss things with a teacher in depth (and close up!) when painting are all big, big advantages to a lap top and a poor monitor, as well as limited video capabilities. Still, learning does happen! I just like real life better than virtual. Nonetheless, critiques are possible as are good suggestions, some of which helped my painting out a lot.

That said, it is fun to paint in pastels. Here, the California Poppy Reserve was the subject matter, particularly wonderful after the beautiful, wet spring and “super bloom” we had. I used 400 grit Uart sanded paper, Rembrandt and Nupastels with a bit of charcoal, and sealed it with a Krylon semi-gloss acrylic finish.

Under the Summer Sky

As summer fades away, the fires are burning along the west coast, and the clarity of the air has gone murky. This is when I dream of being somewhere along a river, with sun, blue skies, flowers and birds. I’m a country girl at heart, stuck in suburbia! (But there are advantages of the ‘burbs, too.)

I used Arches Rough 12×16 140# paper. The texture is not as smooth as what CP or HP provide. There is a lot more “tooth” which is great for dry brush and texture, such as in the foreground grasses and middle ground trees. I used one of my hake brushes for the general grass shapes, and a larger, harder brush for the sky. Before I painted any large area, I used the hake brush with clear water, letting it soak in a bit to help the paint to spread more easily on this rough paper.

In general, I am pleased with this painting. DOF works fairly well. I put in a building, too! For me, the most flawed area is the squared-off top of a tree to the left of the building – maybe I will go in later to correct it, but for now, I’ll let it be, cuz it’s time for a nap!

Sea Oats

Vegetation that thrives in sand dunes help protect inland areas. Sadly, a lot of our native coastal areas have been destroyed by development of one kind or another. During the hurricane season, the loss of these dunes and plants allows the seas to surge across the low lying areas they once protected. Sea oats are found in the southeastern parts of the US and throughout the Caribbean. Beautiful and useful in many ways, sea oats, mangroves, and other coastal vegetation play a bigger role in our world than is often acknowledged.

Hurricane Weather

Another beach scene, and a building! Am I on a roll or what? Here, something very simple, but when you think about how the painting was made, perhaps not so simple.

The lone, cylindrical shape heeds shadow and sun, and standing against the sky, It needs to be obviously separate. I could have used masking fluid to create the hard edges, but I didn’t. Instead, I painted around the lighthouse, starting at an edge and then puling the colors out. I did okay on the left side, but the right side was more problematic. Oh, well. Still, I rather like the end result given the challenge of the multi-colored sky.

Fires, hurricanes, and now snow in the middle of the country. What’s going on!?

Church in the Dunes

Southern beaches, from the Carolinas around Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico coast, have a quality very unlike that of California or New England. Soft white sand, beaches beautifully wide and flat, sea oats, and dunes that catch the breath. The sky is vast and expansive, clouds build up, and there is something grander than can be described. I am trying to capture this, from reality and from imagination.

If you have noticed, over the past several months my paintings, in pastel, gouache, and watercolor, have been centered on the theme of water. Rivers, ocean, lakes. I am beginning to feel comfortable with water now, and it is time to expand the subject matter. Now, simple buildings are going to be included, and sand. Sand is remarkably hard to paint! It varies from dark beige-brown to incredibly bright and white. There is also black sand, but I’m not there yet!

Today’s painting is a church, tucked in the dunes of some coastal island. Sandy, dirt roads run between dunes with scrubby vegetation. It works.

Last Spring

We live in an area with multiple mountain ranges, some which run parallel to the coast, and other which run perpendicular. As a result, the terrain and weather varies in each quite a lot. Here, a view of Mt. Boney in the spring, as a storm comes in. The wildflowers are in bloom and all is right with the world!

Summer on Mt. Diablo

The end of summer and the brilliant greens of summer fade to brown and beige . . .

Here, I just wanted to make a light painting with simple washes. Usually I go for really intense colors, and it took a bit of work to get the sky light, as well as keep the colors of the distant mountains and grasses paler than my normal approach. The sky was easiest as I just blotted up my colors with tissue and used a lightly damp brush.

I’m rather pleased with the results, I must say.