White = Snow

If you have been reading along, you know:  I make mud, I need lines, and I cannot get white space at all.  Well, in a moment of mad inspiration, I realized snow is white.  Let’s paint snow!  In my part of the world (California), we are in the midst of a hideous wildfire, which fortunately bypassed our neighborhood, but which could be visited by a fire any time.  Crazy winds and no rain make for dry and dangerous conditions, and certainly the last place where  you will expect to find snow.

Thus, snow.  I went to my favorite place (YouTube) and searched for “watercolor snow” and there we were!  Lot of them.  In particular, I found Peter Sheeler, whose videos are simple to follow, and quite lovely.  He uses a minimal palette, and just paints.  Subtitles let you know the colors and the technique.  Pleasant music moves you along.  Here is my version of his painting.

Peter Sheeler has another video that I used as well.  It was a bit more complex, but not only was it great for shadows on snow, he has very strong light – dark colors, another problem I struggle with.

And here is my version of it.  I was really intimidated by the dark trees and the rocks.  Besides using only Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, and Burnt Sienna (even though Sap Green is in his video’s palette), Peter uses a 1/2 inch flat brush.  I have some flat brushes, and they scare the hell out of me.  I think people who love flat brushes are nuts.  No more:  I bit the bullet and pulled out my flats and did the entire painting in a flat brush, varying sizes as necessary.  And I used micron pens, too, as did Peter.

I am feeling a lot more confident now about colors, white space, limited palettes, and flat paint brushes.  I think I will continue to follow along with Peter Sheeler’s videos – he is a really good painter, I like his style, and am confident I will get a lot out of his videos.  And Peter, if you should come across this, let me tell you, “Thanks!”

Under the Pines

Yesterday morning I met up with a friend, to chat, drink coffee, and sketch in the local botanical gardens.  The day was warm and sunny, and before you knew it, 2.5 hours had passed.  She did some wonderful pictures of cacti and tree branches, using only colors from a very tiny paint box!  Me, I need pen and ink to feel confident enough – I am still trying to make watercolors look like watercolors, instead of ink with colors.  I do like the ink-and-color thing, but I know I want to master solid colors.  So, after inking on site, I went home and filled in some colors, and more ink, and more colors, until I hope I got what looks like dappled light on rocks and cacti beneath some pines.

Being curious as to whether or not there is decent light / dark, I thought I would convert it to black and white to see.  Results are below.  I may go in and paint the bushes behind the rocks a bit darker in the center an to the right.

Sketches from a Week or So Ago

I started a small Meetup group last September. At our third meeting we hit the local mall. I was pleased with the turnout! There were 5 of us total, two of whom showed up last minute. There are some pretty talented people out there! I finally got around to scanning some of my sketches, none of which are especially great, but it was really fun to meet a bunch of nice people who like to draw and paint and be creative. We’ll connect again in January, sometime after the new year.


Fire Escapes – Final Painting

The final painting of the fire escapes behind an old hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Very different from the photo.  I am not sure if I like it or not, but two noteworthy accomplishments:  no mud, no outlines.  Is it overworked?  Don’t know.  Does it look “real”?  Don’t know.  I am too close to it timewise to consider it objectively.  But no mud and no outlines I can say for sure!

Fire Escapes – Sketch

From our trip to Flagstaff this summer.  Below is the original photo, to show the color and the actual image.  I think it might be behind the Hotel Monte Vista, from the parking lot, but I don’t remember.  Anyway, some artistic license.  I actually was planning to do the entire photo, but once I started my sketch, from the top left building, it soon became apparent that my proportions were totally off, and ended up with the upper part.  However, I think the fire escapes are actually pretty interesting, and are a strong point in the drawing, as are all the lines of the pipes and landings and stairs.

What to Do?

Today I return to work after 10 days off.  Those days were filled with all the whirlwind activities of Thanksgiving, but also filled with time to focus on drawing and painting.  I tried to do something everyday, which worked, except for yesterday as I had to prepare to return to the classroom.  I also went out for a long walk in the local botanical garden with one of the dogs, and that was something I needed – get outside, hike, get into the world of plants.

Now, work looms ahead this morning.  Some of my work days are nearly 11 hours long, and it does not leave much room for anything personal.  About the only time I have is in the mornings, while I drink my coffee.  Instead of looking at the grim and gory news, I plan to try to do a sketch or a watercolor in the morning.  For example, find one of my photos (of which I have taken thousands) and use it for the basis of a sketch or painting or both.  I just need to continue doing it!  The sense of satisfaction with my life, which I have not felt for the past 4 years (since my schedule was changed), is returning.  Now I have to keep up the momentum.  If I can, I will try to post something every 2 or 3 days, as that is easy enough to do.

Now, let’s do it!