Month: December 2022

The Strange Edges of the Sea

I got a few painterly goodies for Christmas, and one was a new tablet of watercolor paper, one which I have never heard of before. Of course, it needs checking out. How does it handle wet paper and washes? Dry brush? Bleeding? Etc. It is not an expensive paper – $20 for 32 pages of 9×12 pure cotton paper – but it is actually a decent one. I can lift colors from it pretty easily, too! It is a rather nice bit of paper overall, and while not Arches or Fabriano, I think it will do quite well for studies, and probably gouache as well.

Besides playing with new paper, I have also attempted to lead the eye in the composition to a small area of white. Rocks, waves, clouds, land masses, sand, whatever are all designed to catch your eye. I think it worked out pretty good. I also am rather pleased with the movement of the sand in the lower right hand corner.

9×12, CP 140# paper, watercolor.

Heartfelt

Flowers in the shape of hearts – why not? I thought of this as I was drawing some cards for my SIL as a Christmas present – something she always likes. It’s a chance to play with ink and colors, too. Some are more successful than others. Strathmore makes boxes of blank cards which are perfect for this – and it includes envelopes, too. For some reason I always have more envelopes than cards . . .

Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star ink and watercolors.

Winter at Great Dunes

More iron gall ink and opaque watercolor. The watercolor is a small set of 24 “Angora” pan paints, probably meant for children as the colors are nontoxic and bright. Sets come in groups of 14 colors to 36. When I was a kid, I had a set of pan paints my mother bought for me – my sister had the same – and I just loved them. The set my mother bought was transparent watercolor, but diluted enough, these are equally transparent. There is something that I always love about paints in a pan – I think it is because it is more play than serious.

I have become enamored with the Great Sand Dunes National Park – so much to see, so many seasonal variations. Here, winter and snow on the dunes with clouds dropping down between the dunes and distant mountains. The river is cold, and there is a dusting of snow in the high desert plants. Winter is at hand.

Rainy Night

I’ve always loved pen and watercolor drawings, long before urban sketching became connected with it. The ink here is some of my homemade iron gall ink, waterproof and dark once dried. On top of that, opaque pan watercolors I picked up at a little store in Decorah, Iowa, this summer. The paper is 100% cotton Bee paper – nothing great, not expensive, but fun to use and responsive to both ink and color. Illustrations like this are fun because they aren’t “serious” – I get to play, practice, explore. Not a bad way to spend some time before lunch.

A Bit of Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is located in south central Colorado. It is, as the park site states:

The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Stay on a moonless night to experience this International Dark Sky Park’s starry skies.

I never ceased to be amazed by the beauty of the natural world.

9×12 hot press Arches, 140#, gouache.

Tracks Across the Fields

I do love the bleak look of winter. With watercolor, a limited palette of 3 or 4 colors can express so much. Admittedly I used more, but I usually like alizarin, ultramarine, burnt sienna, and Hooker’s green for the colder time of the year.

Following through on points for some of the classes I have been taking, I am working to simplify subject matter, colors, and lead the eye. I think I managed to do this here, leading through the fields to the houses on the hilly horizon. I tried to contrast warm and cool colors, with a bit of warm on the buildings with the hope it will draw the viewer in. I also used wet in wet and dry brush, working from general shapes to more specifics; light to dark in general.

In addition to the painting, I am trying to make myself do a preliminary drawing before I touch brush to paint to paper. I did this one today. Lesson – it is actually worth the time, and I have been a silly bunt not to take on this fine habit sooner!

Watercolor, 9×12 CP Extra White Fabriano Artistico 100% cotton paper.

Changing Seasons

It is really important that if you study art that you make studies! I’ve been following along in my haphazard manner a number of teachers I like, online, and am trying to implement what I am learning. Or what is being taught – and then working conscientiously to absorb some of it. Being a magpie doesn’t help as I am so easily distracted by this and that. Focusing on one thing really helps bring mastery, but I get bored with doing only one thing. I know a lot of single-minded people, and I rather envy them. However, we all have to follow our own drummer.

The focus here is to lead the eye to the orangish, autumny trees in the distance. The water does it primarily, but I hope the curves of the field do, too, as well as the lines along the horizon. I am not too thrilled with the trees on the right, but c’est la vie.

So many artists say a value sketch is important. I like to think I can create the values in my head as I become more sophisticated in my abilities. I have decided to create some kind of preliminary sketch before painting as a habit and that is not an easy task for me – even if it only takes a few minutes. Well, the one below is not really a value study, but it did help me work on some compositional elements. Hmmm.

Kilimanjaro rough 140# paper; watercolor.

Sycamore

Yesterday was a meeting of the Pencil Portraits in the Park group, but drawing people held little appeal for me. So, I decided to try something I had briefly seen somewhere and thought interesting: during their travels in the 19th century, many people sketched in pencil (graphite) and then colored the drawings with watercolor. These days most people sketch with waterproof ink and then color things in, but I rather liked this idea. A sycamore tree in our park, dressed out in autumn finery made a nice portrait, methinks.

9×12, hot press 140# Arches. Graphite and watercolor.