I haven’t picked up a brush in weeks. I did an ink and watercolor sketch a few days ago, but no painting of any sort. Life got in the way, as well as other interests needing a lot of time – photography in this case. Now I hope to get back to daily painting because I miss it!
The other day, I was out and about. Looking down, I saw some bright pink daisies in the sun, falling over the cobbled pavement of the street. Hmmm, let’s paint ’em!
And so I did.
No, this isn’t a warped Christmas tree! It’s a tabasco chili plant. Every summer we grow a variety of chilis, usually hot, to dry as they mature, and when we have enough, grind them into powder. Then it’s shared, often as a Christmas present!
I haven’t really done much painting over the last several weeks, and it shows. There really is a disconnect when you don’t paint and practice. This is just a messy sketch (mess-a-sketch?) to warm up. Frustrating to do, but it feels good, too.
I decided to attempt a more high key painting today – one with a lot of white! I always look for contrast, but here I tried to lessen the usual contrast. Maybe it’s because I rather like contrasty photos as opposed to subtle one with a long scale of color or black and white. Even here, I kept adding contrast! It’s a fixation . . . but contrast is how we differentiate shapes and depth, so it’s necessary, but I am trying to minimalize it. Not sure if it worked or not!
The Caribbean is a magical area – palms, sunny, sandy, windy, brilliant light, azure waters – and a place of terror, such as the fury of hurricanes, and in the olden days, pirates! Here is California we also have such brilliance, but our hells are fires and earthquakes. It seems there is always a counterpoint for something.
This was a rather fun painting to do just because it forced me to really rethink using white.
The ocean was the problem. I thought I had put it in so it would be fairly light, particularly toward the distant shore. Instead, when it dried, it was darker than I wanted. The trees on the hill in the midground were essentially the same value as the water! This was quite an eye-opener. In the end, I put plain white (zinc) onto the paper, and kept blending it in until I got it where it was acceptable.
From there, it was back to the background. It was also too bright. I toned that down, and greyed it up a bit. The background shore was too bright. More work. Then, back to the midground, foreground, buildings and boats. I painted – with oodles of white! – the buildings, making them abstract shapes and then adding slightly darker shades to make the buildings seem 3-D. More trees. Finally, reflections, boats, and their reflections.
While I don’t consider this to be one of my better paintings, it is certainly one filled with lessons, in particular the usage of white (lots!), perhaps in the future check the colors on a separate piece of paper to see how light or dark they will dry, and finally deliberately trying to create abstract color blobs for buildings and trees that are discernible as such, but still indistinct in the distance.
I am ordering more white today!
I took a lot of photos – digital, film – while on vacation in Monterey, California. Trees, flowers, streets, room. This is what I saw along the trail at Whalers Cove in Pt. Lobos, California. The cliffs are sandy and crumbly, but there are bits of very dark dirt, from black to grey. I wonder if this area had volcanic activity at some point. The color contrast of the soil and cliffs, along with the tenacious hold of the flowers, made for some rather lovely bits of bright color in late summer.