More Malibu Creek State Park, but this time with a different twist. The water is there – in the form of misty air. In spring and summer the coastal fog rolls in, and the landscape softens as it recedes. It doesn’t bring rain, but the environment is adapted to live on the moisture. As well, the land is often green from the rains earlier in the year.
I tried to capture this with washes and glazes, working wet-in-wet as well as rewetting the paper and adding color. This type of painting takes a patient approach (at least for me) as you have to load the paper with a bit of water and/or color, and then test it for dampness if you want things to soften and blur. It is also a fun way to express very faint geological shapes in the mountains.
Finally, oak trees. I just love these trees! Here in California they are really twisty and spooky, unlike the more upright specimens in the midwest. This one in the middle of the plain is unusual, but it is there, alone and grand.
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.
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.