WWM #13: Glassy

I am drawn to water – maybe because when I was young, there was always a lake or river nearby.  As an adult, I live in a rather dry land where creeks are rare, but the vast Pacific is not far, with wetlands and marshes.  Fresh water lakes, though, are what I really love – the ones where the sky passes by beneath your feet on the glassy calm of the water.

This is from a photograph of a lake somewhere in the world – from Pixabay – and the clouds in the foreground were crystal clear and smooth.  I sort of messed that glassiness up, but came fairly close to what I was trying to express.  Obviously, this is a rather lonely view, but what better place than to sit, enjoy the breeze , and perhaps listen to the babbling of water fowl and the hum of insects on a warm summer day?

WWM #12: Blossoming

Old country houses, castles, abandoned churches – all returning to the earth – and the abundance and destructiveness of nature, relentlessly taking over that which is not cared for, in Nature’s own fecund rabidity.

Okay, enough of that!  Rambling vines and roses, grapes, trellises – flowers cascading everywhere in profusion and fragrance.  That’s my kind of garden.  If there is a relic or two along with the plants, I think that is a pretty cool mix!

WWM #11: Simple Pleasures

This one had me pondering . . . a good book, flowers, painting.  In the end, I thought of what seems to give me the most pleasure.  The natural world, flowers, plants – the world outside that is simply there.  Sometimes we manipulate it, such as by planting flowers, and other times it is just being itself, chaotic nature.

Here, sunflowers.  A family member was in Las Vegas when the earthquakes of July 4 and 5 hit the Los Angeles area.  Her pool sloshed over, inundating her garden with salty, chlorinated water.  She lost a lot of plants.  I had sent her a picture of some sunflowers she had given me, soon to bloom, and that is when I found out she had lost her plants.  My idea was to (maybe) paint some sunflowers for her, but unfortunately these did not turn out too well.  Still, there was the idea and the pleasure of painting sunflowers . . .

Here, Joshua Trees.  I really get a bang out of these crazy-looking plants, which are very limited in their topographical area for survival, and as the world warms (it really isn’t, per the government), these plants are becoming endangered.  When the US government shut down, Joshua Tree National Monument (or Park?) was heavily vandalized.  Many of these trees take centuries to get big – and then some fool decides they are fair game to destroy.

The natural world is one filled with simple pleasures for our delight.  Some delight in destroying things of beauty, wrecking the work of time.  To me, this is a really sad, pathetic statement about human beings, but then there are those who also work to save our natural world before it disappears.  I am very grateful for these heroes who work to save the simple pleasures of the natural world.

WWM #10: Ocean Creatures

Pretty lurid, wouldn’t you say?  I would, for sure!

I scanned this painting, and in Lightroom and Photoshop, pushed and pulled the colors until they were off the chart – but got the effect I wanted.  Tropical fish in the deep sea have so many magical colors.  I like it much, much better than the original.   And, it is interesting what one can do in the computer age – certainly I could not have accomplished this with my current sets of paints.

Gotta swim in the digital world now and again!

WWM #9: Shadow Play

Today is another gouache, and I will say it is beginning to feel a bit “natural” to be painting in gouache.

Doing all the waves the other day got me in touch with that sensuous quality the paint has when it has a specific texture, as well as the dry brush effect when a bit of scrubbing is needed, and when the paint is very thin.  Each requires  different ways in which the paint is controlled, by how much water is added, what is below the layer of paint you are adding, and what you anticipate adding later.

One thing I did learn in today’s painting is the value of the hair dryer – I used it so much in this painting, nearly after each layer of paint.  This got the paint as dry as it should be and it kept me from working more quickly than is appropriate for gouache.  The result was much more pleasing in my opinion and a lot less frustrating.

In painting this window scene, I wanted to accomplish a couple of things.  One was a more “painterly” style – a bit looser than say the butterfly of yesterday.  The other was to see if I could express the varying light of the shadows as the flowers were buffeted in the breeze.  If you think about how shadows move, they flutter, getting lighter at times, getting darker, as the breeze moves the flowers on the sill.

Lilies of the Valley

With the plumbers here tearing out the wall in the studio, I took off for a bit of the morning to do some shopping for gym shoes and clothes, pick up an item I ordered awhile ago, and visit a local quilting store.  On the way home I picked up some groceries.  Usually I like to spend the morning painting, but this afternoon I decided to do some as the plumbers were gone.

Again, I am working with gouache, and finding now that I have a basic understanding of it, I want to use it more and more.  What I like about gouache is the fact I can build up layers, and this gives me a lot more control than watercolor – over which you have NO control (you just think you do!).  Both are beautiful in their control and lack of control.

Gouache lends itself to a more impressionistic approach to color usage and painting style.  That is what I find myself especially drawn to at the present.  Precise, accurate paintings, or ones which have a very graphic nature to them, while attractive, just don’t fit into my personality.  Here is where being messy is okay!  Even better when you can cover up your mess.  I like the spontaneity of watercolor and its unpredictable qualities, and I like the painterly quality of gouache.

Today the idea was to just paint.  No theme, just play.  As I enjoy flowers, I picked a photo from Pixabay of Lilies of the Valley.  Color scheme was simple – the usual white and some black or dark blue, but essentially blue, green, yellow, and white, along with complementaries to make greys.  I had a lot of fun, and while I can see areas for improvement, there really is no need to as it is practice.  And practice is fun if you let it be – so, I am letting it be and enjoying the result.

This was painted using Holbein Artists Gouache (watersoluble, non-acrylic) on Fabriano Hot Press 25% cotton paper.

I even signed it with my real “painters” signature!

WWM #8: Flying High

If you have ever seen a sky full of Monarch Butterflies, you know what it is like!  Nothing can describe it.  The #WorldWatercolorMonth2019 prompt “Flying High” brought to mind this event, and so here we have a resting butterfly to be admired, and the rest are on their way to their next habitat.

I had planned on doing this with watercolor pencil and other water-soluble media, but we have a studio problem – things are packed up because of a slab leak!  Hopefully it will be done by the end of today, and for a reasonable cost, but the result is that 95% of my art supplies are out of the studio, packed safely away in boxes and such.  I couldn’t find the pencils anywhere.  Perhaps it was for the best, as I pulled out my Japanese watercolors, gansai, and enjoyed working with these old friends once more.