Author: -N-

Somewhere in the Mountains

I went to Pixabay looking for snow and shadows and cold weather. The painting is of the photo below, done in gouache, 7×10.

The challenge here is depth of field – details – not too many details – simplification – and most fun of all, the shadows on the snow. I really enjoyed looking at the photo, imagining myself in it, and wondering where it is I am. In the photo, the white snow on the bare tree branches is really easy to see, but with gouache I always find my whites are never bright enough. Always interesting to compare a photo to a painting!

Skating Pond

I was never any good at skating, but I did try it out a lot when I was a kid. We moved from a really cold place in the midwest to a warmer climate on the east coast, leaving rural farmland with ponds and lakes for a bit of suburbia in New Jersey. Every year the neighbors would get together and scrape the snow off the nearby lake, test the ice, and create a skating pond. We were never allowed to go by ourselves because of the chance of falling through the ice, but it seems there was always a dad or mom to supervise a dozen kids in snow suits, wipe away our tears, keep us generally under control.

Watercolor, 9×12, 140# CP ArtBeek paper.

Up a Cobbled Lane

More gouache, this time on toned paper – tan specifically. The tan paper seems to give an extra warmth to the colors applied over it. Besides using toned paper, I am trying to venture into different areas – here I am doing a totally urban scene. One thing nice about painting old buildings is that standardization wasn’t quite like it is now, so my door don’t all have to be the same size, nor my windows! Heck, even the cobbles are rather rough.

I like painting in gouache, but there are times when it gets to be a bit tricky as it re-wets and it is easy to pull up lower layers of color. To help prevent this, you need to start with thinner paint and add the heavier colors later. If a drop of water falls off our brush, you can make a bit of a mess in the area it lands. Most people when they use thicker gouache paint smaller paintings – it is not a paint that spreads out generously and stays opaque. The charm and challenge!

Gouache, Strathmore tan toned paper, 5×7.

The Hill

I’ve spent the last two afternoons following along with an online class in gouache. It’s been fun. The main focus has been skies and their moods as shown by clouds and color and time of day and weather. For some reason the dark and stormy sky stayed in my mind’s eye, and visual memories of days of yore came back.

I don’t know about where you live, but here in California where I am, the clouds are seldom domineering and frightening like they can be in the tropics or midwest. I remember one day when I was about 9 coming home from school and the sky was nearly black with clouds. It was still daylight, but it was in the fall of the year and cold. It was eerie and scary and beautiful. All the colors in the surrounding fields and meadows and trees were brighter than usual, almost to the point of being unreal.

That is what I have tried to catch here – intense light, strange light and colors, a wildness waiting to happen.

Gouache, 9×12, CP cotton 140# paper.

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.