Shore Path

We spent a few days up on the Monterey Peninsula last week.  I took lots of pictures, some with the camera, some with the phone.  Digital is wonderful for catching so much – but it also keeps you from seeing things at times if you use the scatter gun approach that digital photography allows.  I tried to frame my photos more thoughtfully than I sometimes do, taking time to consider composition and so on.  All of this was with reference to the idea I would like to use material from my trip as potential painting subjects.

Above is one such example.  Once more, my sense of depth is not the best.  I tried to employ some of the techniques I know – atmospheric depth, less detail in the distance – but I really didn’t do a great job.  In some ways, the painting sort of created itself.  The path in the photo was curvier – way curvier – but it decided to become straighter as I painted.  I just noticed that!

Anyway, I am planning to continue to paint every day.  I do have some great subject matter.  I plan to alternate watercolor and gouache, and become a bit more academic – find things I want to work on, and then study it, whether from a book or an online video.

I can say I have improved over time, but I am not where I would like to be.  The question always at the back of my mind is, what do I do when I get where I want to be?

Intersection Hwy. 68

Back from a short vacation jaunt up the coast.  We stopped for gas, and I took a picture of the sunflowers and buildings across the street as my husband filled the tank.  I don’t know what caught my eye about this – perhaps the bright sunflowers and the dusty box on the left, or perhaps the sky and buildings and trees in the distance.  Something about it was just intriguing.  Altogether, I found this little bit of countryside fascinating.


Coastal Cypress

I cannot believe I haven’t posted anything since the last few days of August!  Life has been filled with family activities, horrible heat, and other things that take up time like sewing and reading and cooking and a photo safari.  However, I could not stay away!  Surprising how much I miss my daily forays into paint and color, and especially gouache!  (I really need to get back into watercolor – more in a tad about that.)

Trees again.  Cypress trees have their own character – they invite sweeping brush strokes with a flat brush, or a tapered one.  Movements of the brush match the movement of the wind it seems.  Where cypress trees live along the California coast is usually windy, foggy, and often cold, and these trees rise like ghosts out of the mist.  They are quite eerie.

We are heading out to Monterey for a few days.  I havene’t packed any gouache, but a small watercolor palette and a sketchbook for out-of-the-house experiences.  I hope I take the time to paint or draw, and catch some flavor of where we will be.  Along with my sketchbook I am bringing a camera (or two, or three, or . . . ?  Anyway, the idea is to enjoy some time off while the other half is on vacation – our road trip was sidetracked by a water leak a couple of months ago.

Summer Oak Tree

This morning I headed out to a local area filled with oak trees and trails, all of which surround a wonderful park.  I brought my Olympus OM-1 with me to shoot black and white film, and I also brought my cell phone to take pictures if I found something I thought I might like to paint.  Today’s painting is just that – an old oak tree in dappled light.  I don’t know what it is about trees and sparkling light, but I am certainly drawn to them.

First, here is the photo I took on my phone.  It was nearly noon, so the light was not optimal, but more than anything, I was interested in the light and shadows.

As I painted this afternoon, I decided to also record the steps I took as I painted.  My process these days is fairly straightforward.  I draw in the general shapes I want and then lay in some colors.  From there I move to values.  While I do this, I think about the order of the painting – where to apply paint first, what to over paint, and so on.  I go back and forth.  Click on one of the images below to walk through the sequence.  They are not the best pictures, but you get the idea!

I found recording the steps of my painting rather interesting – this is the first time I have done so with gouache.  It was a great way to look at what I was doing while letting the paint layers dry.  You need to pause a bit while you paint, whether it is to think, let things dry, or just walk away and clear the mind before picking the brush up again.

I’ve also started putting paint out on the palette as I paint, but before that, I consider the colors I want to use, why, and which ones will have priority.  Of course, all this is subject to change as I go along.  For instance, I had planned yellow ochre to be my only yellow, but soon added Cadmium Yellow Light as I felt I needed something more bright.

Palette included zinc and titanium white, Grey #2, lamp black, leaf green, chromium green, olive green, ultramarine blue light, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow light, and burnt sienna.  I had also pulled out some cadmium red deep, but decided I didn’t need it after all.

Two Boats

Every week I am trying to focus on a subject.  I guess for the next week it will be boats.  My drawing skills are not the best, and so focusing on how something is constructed will help.  What made me think about this is a very simple way of drawing and painting boats by an excellent watercolor YouTuber named Shibasaki.  Below is his demo on boats.

What makes this video so valuable is he shows you that a boat is a series of rectangles with a few curves.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out.  I’ve learned a lot from Shibasaki-san!

My palette here was limited to zinc white, ultramarine blue, a touch of gamboge, burnt sienna, and some left over colors on the palette from the sunset coast I painted the other day – a bit of teal and some red.

One thing I have always loved are sail boats and tug boats.  Those are on the agenda.  Stay tuned . . .

Coastal Dawn

Evidence of overworking is present in the white highlights . . . they just don’t seem to go with the rest of the painting insofar they are too bright.  I was thinking in terms of photography and histograms – white point, black point.  I wonder if I am criss-crossing two different art formats.  Besides that, the rocks are perhaps too orange for the distant sky, although sandstone can take on an incredibly orangish color under the right light.