Winter in California usually brings rain. So far, nothing. The grassy hills die down to beige and brown, the oak trees are dark spots against the pale grasses. It’s a beauty of its own. Here, the beginning of a sunset casting its warmth on the peaks as the day ends.
I started out trying to do a more delicate painting, but I think that would work better in watercolor. Instead of delicate and lighter, the colors became thicker and darker, and it turned from a misty, damp, rather gloomy day to one which seems filled with a foreboding storm.
I decided to just paint and not try for realism and delicacy. I went for emotion. Instead of applying paint nicely, I began to just slap it on directly from the color onto the paper rather than mixing colors on the palette. It was gloriously fun!
I used a 1/2 inch flat brush – nothing else. I rather like this splashing and letting go of things as I tend to be something of a prima donna and perfectionist – and this was like rollicking through the mud and muck!!
If I were to call this any “school” of painting, I guess Expressionism would be the closest I would come. The more I painted, the more I wanted to express a fierce and gloomy day portending rain and hail, or rain and hell.
Another value study, too. Impressed?
Look! I put in some sheep!
I’d forgotten how much fun painting with gouache can be! Today, a painting of a forest road running through a lot of trees, but not so heavy with leaves that light doesn’t shine through. I began with a value study – again, more for shapes I think in light and dark.
The first layer of the painting had thin washes to set up the light green in the distance. Then, general dark shapes were added after the road was limned. The trees were then painted, dark to light, using long strokes with a round brush. After that, a flat was used for broad sweeps of the road. Finally, dabs of color to create a sense of dappled light on leaves. Final touches included some dashes of white and a blackish mix (purple, green, black) for lines and bits of contrast. What I really liked is the ivy climbing up the trees, creating bright splotches of color. Altogether, I think it worked quite well.
The value study is becoming valuable. Yeah, really. It helps me see where strong shapes against light shapes create visual interest and leading lines. Value studies are general but the painting becomes more specific.
We are pushing 100F today, with east winds adding to the heat and potential fires. Thus, an autumnal desert scene seemed appropriate for today’s painting. As I haven’t worked in gouache for quite some time, I thought it time to dig them out. Variety is the spice of life, for sure.
Before painting, I did a value study before I even sat down to paint.
I used pencil, as you can see below. I like pencil a bit more as I have a good range of pencils of varying hardness and softness, and that helped out in the light and dark department.
I won’t say that the value study did not help. It really did. What it aided in was setting up light and dark areas, of course, but also helped me see shapes, such as the trees against the dark mountain, as well as shapes in the creek in the mid to foreground areas.
I left the sandy bank of the creek and the reflections deliberately vague – hard for me when I want to put in a lot of detail! The focus of the painting is the cottonwoods, so too much detail in the foreground would compete with the more detailed painting of the trees.
Altogether, this was a pleasant diversion, and the value study was worthwhile (not that they take a lot of time – I am just lazy). The creaminess of gouache is fun and a completely different experience than watercolor or pastels. I used Holbein gouache for the most part, CP 140# paper. The painting is about 6×8 inches – the nature of gouache often means smaller paintings than watercolor or pastels.
Here’s to autumn!
I tried to capture the sense of mist rising from a lake in the early morning. Dry brush seemed to be the best solution, but I think I sort of missed it (hahahaha). I used a square, flat brush, moving up and down and sideways. The thing is, it wasn’t really foggy and blurred, but rather defined in the image.
Feels good to be painting again!
Summer, fog, early morning rising mist. One color blends into another, overlapping, blurring together. How to express this?
Gouache does not readily lend itself to the color movement as does watercolor. In watercolor, you can discharge one color into another, and the wicking action of water and paper do the work for you. Here, I thought a lot about how to blend and merge colors to create that soft effect of fog. In the end, for this painting, I decided to use a narrow, flat brush with stiff bristles and scumble all the colors together.
Rather a brighter painting than I anticipated, but I think it does express the rising fog and early morning sky fairly well.
7×10 Arches hot press paper.
The local botanical garden is open at last! It has been closed since Ventura County closed trails, stores, and such, as well as issued a shelter-in-place order to keep the spread of the coronavirus at a minimum. Some places are beginning to open up, though the shelter-in-place order is on until the end of May.
It was such a treat – a real slice of heaven – to be able to walk around the garden again. Many of the spring flowers have gone, like the poppies, but many of the flowering trees are in bloom. The palo verde tree at the top of the hill has leafed out in all its delicate bright yellow-green glory. It is so graceful and lovely in spring that it could not be overlooked – here it is for today’s painting.