Author: -N-

Winter in Hill Country

I needed a change of pace – a way to relax – after yesterday’s very intense painting of buildings and people. It’s nice to visit familiar territory. But, I was not without goals. Here I worked on subtle gradations and color change in the sky; misty / soft trees in the horizon using moist paper to blur and indicate distance; a couple of buildings with subtle rooftops; snow. On Arches CP 140#, 9×12.

Improving My Social Life?

I never paint people in any form. Draw them, yes. Now it is time to add them to paintings so that I can pretend to have a social life!

Watercolor is the first area to which I am adding them. The reason is that watercolor in many ways is very forgiving. As well, there are a lot of photos with people in them in Andy Evansen’s class, so I figured I better stop being intimidated.

And you know what? After watching a lot of videos, and hearing that the general shape of people in a crowd is that of an elongated carrot (supposedly said by Frank Clarke), I had a laugh, and then it began to be fun, not a horror story I had to live.

Before beginning though, I felt it was important to get an idea of where things belong. Yes, I do know the general proportions of the human body – 7.5 to 8 heads tall, depending on your source. But where do elbows go? What level is the wrist? And so on. A bit of research and then the fun began.

Different ways to portray people, too. Blobs of color with some suggestions added, such as darker color to separate figures. Negative painting to show off highlights, back lighting, or light-colored fabric.

And so, people are showing up in my watercolor life. It was a lot easier than I expected it to be. Proportional formulae help and just playing around, letting go, and practicing.

About time!

Up the Hill – Final, Finally

Up the Hill – Final Painting – Signed on Lower Left in Liquitex Acrylic Black Marker!

Finally! I am dee-oh-en-ee. I took the painting I thought was sorta done, talked with my teacher, and we decided to add a few more flowers. So, I did, and signed my name on the left. On the right I have my digital signature.

I really enjoyed doing this painting. It is on 12×16 Fredrix canvas pad, primed with gesso, and painted over about a 3-4 week period. It is a pleasant break from monochrome – but that is for another time. Today, let’s enjoy Spring as we go up the hill.

Up the Hill – Round 2

I asked for some criticism on this painting I did a few weeks ago. Below is the original scan.

Posted April 2022

Some opinions were that it was lacking in depth, and that the right and left sides needed to match better. So, today, finally got around to doing some modifications. Here is the new painting.

Round 2 – 5/2022

Let me know what you think. The newest scan is a bit more vibrant than the other, so keep that in mind. My class is tomorrow afternoon, so I will talk to my teacher, too.

Monochrome

For the past few months I have been taking a number of classes in watercolor and painting. Throw in an occasional Pencil Portraits in the Park classes, and you can see I get a bit busy.

Magpies like bright things, and I am convinced I am a magpie reincarnated. Hawaiian shirts are a particular delight. Color in any form, the brighter is usually the better, even if it borders on poor taste. Oddly, I do enjoy black and white photography – it can be quite beautiful and dramatic – but painting value studies, monochrome, has eluded me as something to enjoy – until now!

I have been taking an online class from Ian Roberts for the past few months. It began with value studies in pencils. Now we are doing value studies in paint. Some people are painting in watercolor, others in acrylic or pastels; I decided to try out oil paints for the first time in years – nay, decades – and am pleased with the results. It is a hell of a lot of fun to moosh around paint and be able to moosh it around the next day, unlike acrylics. (You can also use gouache to pretty much the same effect.) With our weekly Zoom meetings on Saturday mornings, Roberts is providing great feedback and a personal, technical, and esoteric touch to what are foundational elements in art.

Above is my first oil monochrome. I didn’t do a great job of replicating the picture, but I did get reacquainted with how to use a brush with oils. I am using hog bristle filberts if you want to know. While we are working on values, we are also working on leading the eye. Here, not a lot of success as the road or white area in the mid left is too bright – the eye is to be led to the right.

This is from the second week. Focus is on values and edges, the latter being hard or soft or vanishing. I enjoyed this a lot, even though my sphere needs a bit of anchoring! It really helped me to see a bit more sharply.

Roberts did a demo version of the still life, and then left us to find our own way with the landscape. Oils are a bit of a challenge to use because of their long drying time if you want to paint over something. As a result, I cannot scan them, but have to take a photo while they dry. Wet surfaces are a bit shiny, and the texture of the paint and canvas are more challenges to creating a digital image. This study made me see things differently, and one element I had to do was to edit the photo – simplifying it – to work a bit on the painting to make it work. Not great, but values are getting easier to produce.

Here is one of the two studies for the third week. I did this yesterday, outdoors on the patio. I lugged out this and that, found I forgot something, ran back to get it, and it was a Big Production. But a fun one! I still need to work on this one a bit – the 2nd pole on the right needs some sharpening and the road in the distance needs a bit of work. Once more, the photo is lacking, but what can you do?

So, my painting world is suddenly black and white, and I am enjoying it. I’ve decided to do “daily painting” when possible, on other subjects as well. It will be interesting to see where all these monochrome studies take me, and when Roberts lets us to add yellow ochre to our titanium white and ivory black to learn more about warm and cool values, I think the world will change even more . . .

By the Water

I am taking an online watercolor class, and I am sort of this way, that way about it. There is feedback and some great videos, but I find that I like to have a more personal contact than such. Another online class I am taking has weekly Zoom meetings and even though we aren’t all yacking with the instructor, it is more personal.

Anyway, despite what I would like to see different, there is a lot of value in pursuing online learning. To a degree, you have to motivate yourself. You have to have the discipline to do it. One thing that I do find especially hard in all my classes is the making of value studies – oh, how I hate them! I don’t have them as part of my routine when it comes to painting, and the discipline of doing them is what I hate. I expect that doing them will pay off in the future – but it may be a bit down the road as I force myself to do them without appreciating what I know they are supposed to provide.

Above, a study from a photo in my watercolor class. Below is the first value study showing the midtones

All the white area is supposed to be sky and the lightest areas of the picture. The grey is the middle value. These are used to help shape the painting before refinement with darks and details. Below is my dark-added value study.

I actually really think this idea of doing middle values for the first step of a value study is a good idea. Do these values first, paint your lights and mid values in color, and then move on to the darker ones in the value study and the final painting. Doing this is very nice, really, because the dark values and details get distracting.

Like I said, this is a thing I am not enjoying doing but know it is probably going to reap bigger rewards than I can imagine at present. Values and edges are what I am trying to see in anything I do.

Birch Trees

Birch Trees – from a photo in Module 2 of Andy Evansen’s Class

If you have been following me for a bit, you know that I have enrolled in a lot of painting classes. This is a study from my watercolor class, online with Andy Evansen. His work covers a lot of subjects, but I like his ones of the natural world the best. So, lazy me, I stick with his photos of the wilds, but will, at some point, take the dive and do something with buildings and people, and maybe even cars.

I used frisket to create the hard edges of the birch trees and the snowy areas of the logs in the foreground. The other white areas, the snow, is plain paper, no frisket. After the frisket dried, I did the sky, sunlit mountain, and dark background. Then, a bit of the foreground. Finally, the frisket was removed.

When the frisket was gone, I worked left to right, creating the shadows of the birch trees. Upon those shapes I added heavier paint to create the blacks characteristic of birch trunks. Various other details got worked in. White gouache came in handy to clean up some of the birch tree trunks as well as to create the fine branches of the trees toward the top of the painting.

The only thing I have some issues with is the very large birch tree on the right, the one which stretches top to bottom. It is not quite right, but that is something for correcting later on. Despite that, I am pleased with what I am learning, and creating, with all these classes. Painting and drawing and artwork is in the forefront of my mind these days, and it is beginning to show in more “successful” paintings from my viewpoint.

9×12 CP 140# Arches paper; primarily watercolor with a touch or two of gouache. (Maybe 3 or 4 or more….)

Up the Hill

Up the Hill – Acrylic, 12×16

I started this painting a few weeks ago, at the first class at the local adult school with a new teacher. This is from a photo I took some time ago. I was at the bottom of a hill, looking up.

This painting has taken a lot of time – several hours – but the work has been worthwhile. I have been applying the various principles I am slowly garnering from hours at the proverbial grindstone, memorizing techniques, concepts, whatever. For instance, I think this painting actually has a nice sense of depth and perspective – something I have struggled with for a long time. The light on the trees also pleases me, as do other bits and pieces of it.

I have also learned just through doing how to get the heavy body acrylic paint into a more viscous and enjoyable mess to paint with, and that is a big help! It’s a combination of matte medium, water, and the paint itself. I dislike the plasticky quality so often that accompanies acrylic paints, so even thought my colors are bright, I think they moosh together fairly well.

I’ll ask my teacher’s opinion when I see her next week. Meanwhile, here is (to my eye at present) finished work. Below is the photo which is the basis for this painting.

Out in the Midwest

Module 2 – Study 2 – Andy Evansen’s “Watercolor for All Seasons” Class

This is my second foray into the series of photos Andy Evansen has posted for studies in the second module of his watercolor class. Here the focus is on value studies.

One of the things I am attempting to do, from both my classes with Evansen and with Ian Roberts, is to work on value. Evansen is a watercolorist and Roberts is an oil painter. Evansen demonstrates the use of a value study on his YouTube channel by creating the middle value(s) as large shapes. Roberts emphasizes shapes rather than things as well. Unlike Roberts, though, Evansen begins his value study with simply the middle value, leaving lights as white. After he has painted the middle values in his painting, he returns to the value study to put in darks and perhaps details.

I managed to do the middle value study, and then painted in what I considered to be the middle values, working left to right as I am right handed. But, before that, I laid in the sky with paper turned upside down as I wanted to have a darker value at the horizon.

I am not sure if the paper is improperly sized, but the paint and paper did not interact well. This is a 300# CP Kilimanjaro paper, natural white, and the first time I have used it. I also wet both sides of the paper, which is a habit I have for watercoloring with 140# paper. I need to see what happens in the future with other paintings.

I don’t really think this painting has a focal point, but that is not the purpose of this study. This module is to paint left to right, working in midvalues and sky first and leaving areas of white or light colors intact. From there, darks.

Evansen has provided a number of photos as references for the basis of a painting, and for values, I think I will work on that and try to apply what I am learning from Roberts and Evansen to create some things worth the time I spend. The reference photos range from landscaapes to cityscapes – animals and people. I will begin with the landscapes and then try the harder subjects for me. Here, there are cow shapes – blobby things. I have also done geese – more blobby things. All thesse blobs have characteristic shapes for the critters.

So! I am dipping my toe into new territories . . . let’s see where it takes me!

21-24 / 30

I am getting burnt out on these drawings! I decided to take a few days off and will pick up again tomorrow. Since I have committed to 30, I only 6 more to go by 4/17. I think I can handle that!

Day 21

Cannon Beach, Oregon. Figure is too big, some foot prints too dark and too big in the distance.

Day 22

Initially I had drawn this shack so that the beach and waves in the distance were parallel to the edge of the paper. After scanning it, I realized it looked better with a bit of an angle to it. Interestingly, a comment said it made no sense because the ocean is out there, straight ahead. Obviously, too realistic of a person, or someone who hasn’t taken a photo. Really, to me, a very interesting and odd comment and viewpoint!

Day 23

Here is a scene of looking down onto a beach. The distant cliffs look okay, but the descent to the shore in the midground is definitely confusing.

Day 24

During last Saturday’s zoom meeting, Ian talked about cross hatching. I use it a lot in ink drawing, but not in pencil since the idea for a lot of this 30-day challenge is to limit marks to horizontal and vertical. The idea is to create value studies, not finished drawings. Interesting lines do not make for good value studies of light, medium, dark. However, a simple use of lines, cross hatching, vertical, diagonal, horizontal, helps delineate shapes, such as curves. I based this drawing off a study of 3 pears by Cezanne.

Commentary

These studies are making more sense and getting easier to execute so that shapes have shape, even if not always understandable.