Category: Gouache

Winter at Jalama Beach

Where have I been these last several weeks? Busy with online classes in drawing as a prelim to painting and hand sewing 18th century stays. So, I have been doing things, but have had so many other distractions that I have not been too active online here. So, today, a gouache, just because paint needs to be used to feel like a normal person.

Jalama Beach is in San Luis Obispo County along the central coast of California. It is a strange, remote beach. Winds blow the sea foam onto the sand, and it can look like very dirty snow. The first time I came here was in my teens – a long, long time ago. Then you could get abalones just by picking them up, and the beach was littered with their shells, big ones easily 8-10 inches in diameter. (Tasty critters, I will say.)

Winter time brings erratic tides, scudding clouds, and wind that can blow fierce and cold. Sandpipers and gulls wheel overhead as the wind beats you back. The wildness of the place is something that anyone who has been to a lonely beach can understand. I think I caught it (for myself at least) here.

Water Thaw – 4 (Final Version?)

Water Thaw 4 – Final Version??

The end! Or is it?

Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, more blue in the lower front, some other touches, and then let it sit overnight.

This morning I took another look at it, and the only way I can describe what I did was to refine it. I increased contrast in some areas to create harder edges. Other things were designed to lead the eye toward the center of the painting, toward the whitish rock at the top of the water. I also looked for areas that just didn’t look right, somehow too symmetrical or distracting. In the end, little bits here and there made it better to my eye. But – that was during morning coffee when I was trying to wake up!

I have never worked on a painting – a watercolor – for this long a time period. Total time is probably 8-10 hours. Time was spent laying down frisket, colors, letting things dry. Then frisket was rubbed off. Water was sprayed at different times and salt sprinkled. Rubbing alcohol was also sprayed on. I think the last round of frisket took about 30 minutes to rub off, along with salt. The result, though, are transparent layers of color which I could not have accomplished otherwise.

While the perspective seems a bit off – or maybe we are looking down into the water from above? – I like this painting. It’s a new adventure for me in watercolor, and while bright, I don’t think it is overly so. I deliberately did not use any orange!! New ideas are coming to mind for painting in a transparent medium. Mood and impression work here for me – not realism, but suggestion. So, spring thaw, melting ice, new leaves.

In this final version, I cropped it and changed the perspective a bit in Lightroom. Post-processing artwork is much like post-processing a photo, an din the printing industry it is done all the time. You can see the uncropped version in the gallery below.

Arches 16×20 140# CP, acrylic, gouache, watercolor.

A Slice of Paradise

This is a tribute to the African-American painters of Florida known as The Highwaymen. Some of their numbers include Sam Newton, Alfred Hair, and so many others that I cannot name them all. In a time of racial unrest in the U.S., these painters somehow managed to thrive despite the Jim Crow laws of the South, and unfortunately, their work was not appreciated as it should be. However, today we know more about them, and can enjoy their work – the internet is so helpful in that regard.

I love bright colors and cheerful landscapes, and the tropics beckon. Palm trees are alluring and the brilliant light of these areas make colors more alive and intense. The Caribbean is filled with islands and azure seas, trade winds, towering clouds. States such as Florida, on both the Atlantic and Gulf sides, throughout the Gulf of Mexico and down along the coasts of Central and South America have such beauty in common.

The Highwaymen were not untalented amateurs. Some were self-taught, others learned from A.E. Backus. Each painter in this group sought an income otherwise denied them, as well as perhaps a way in which to express the beauty around them. Read up on them – they are a fascinating slice of art history.

As with the painting I last did, “Swamp,” this one is done with watercolors mixed with gouache on 16×20 inch 140# CP Arches paper. I used more gouache this time than I did with the last painting, and it was quite a challenge. I started out with bright colors and a totally different idea of a painting, but as I started blending the gouache with the watercolor, the gouache became a driving force. However, all color represented is simply toned with white or black gouache.

These artists worked in oil on masonite. Oils lend to blending colors more so than does acrylic paint, and I found that the gouache and watercolor worked similarly. I may try to do something similar in acrylic, and expect it will be a serious challenge as acrylics dry so quickly. Often The Highwaymen sold paintings still wet!

This is perhaps the most fun I ever had with a painting. I referred to paintings by some of the artists to see how they used color, photos from the internet of palm trees and Floridian sunsets. The composition is similar to a number of seaside ones, and I attempted to emulate the colors used by the painters for sand, sea, sky, and palms. I hope I caught some of the liveliness and spirit of The Highwaymen. I know I will be back to visit them, and Florida, again soon.

Swamp

Swamps are amazing ecosystems. They are forested wetlands and often serve as a barrier between a large body of water – such as an ocean – and the land. Many of the Southern states are home to a number of swamps, such as the Everglades and the Atchafalaya Basin. Unfortunately, we have lost a lot of what they once covered through changing the land with drainage, building of levees, and such. The value of these wetlands has been seen with the massive flooding and storm surges during hurricanes when waves travel miles inland, across former swamps now denuded of trees and other plants. Heavy damage to the land occurs, with homes lost, pig slop and sheep dips overflowing into water sources. With the land clearing, wildlife diversity is also lost. The swamps provide a wall between the sea and the higher, drier land, as well as add to the overall health of the planet and wildlife diversity.

Here, an impression of a swamp in Louisiana, specifically the Atchafalaya. Once more, I worked wet-into-wet. And, I added gouache, which I am beginning to find is a nice mix with watercolor. The gouache works especially well over the transparent pigments, giving solidity and depth where needed. Arches 140# CP, 16×20 paper was used.

The Atchafalaya Basin, or swamp, is the largest swamp in the US. It is home to bald cypress. over 200 species of animals, marshland, grasses, and a resting place for migratory birds. In the 1700s, after le Grand Derangement, the French settlers of “Acadia were forcefully resettled elsewhere. Many landed in Louisiana, creating a cultural enclave of Cajuns, Creoles, assimilating English-speaking peoples who married them, and now, Cajun music is to be heard worldwide. Acadian became Cajun – and if you know your French, you’ll see the linguistic change.

So, in doing all this wet-into-wet, I am having a lot of fun, loosening up, and by bringing in gouache, I am adding a different element to my painting. Combining them is worthwhile as there are qualities in each that add much to a painting.

This painting pleases me enough perchance to be framed and hung up!

A Hint of Autumn

Independence, CA

Well . . . I got tired of pen, ink, watercolor. Watercolor just wasn’t in my head, so I dug out my gouache paints. They were rather fuzzy from mold – typical of gouache if you don’t use them often enough – so, I rinsed them off, and went to work. I really like the photo I took of these trees but did not like my earlier efforts.

I started out so klutzy – like, how do I use my colors? order or painting? All the usual stuff that goes with not doing something for awhile. The result is far better than I thought it would be!

Too Much Lavender Land

Well . . . I haven’t painted in gouache for months, much less painted in weeks, all because I had my first cataract surgery several weeks ago, and my last two days ago. I think my scanner is way off as far as colors go as well as my monitors. This scanned image is not the picture I painted.

I pulled out a camera to take an image, but cannot find my card reader to fetch it. My whole computer needed to be reinstalled because of some bad software.

I suppose the good thing is to get some painting done, but it really feels dreary to look at this abomination. I shall be Scarlett O’Hara now and say, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”