I have been going absolutely crazy since Monday when I found out I had a serious computer problem. It took 10 hours or more to fix it. Add to that, I have to choose a new Medicare supplement plan. That means research, reading, deciding. And stress. All this has been making me crazy, cranky, and not a happy camper.
So, today things are winding down, and tomorrow dawns with all decisions made and the world will be a far more pleasant place. To de-stress, out came the watercolors, and a photo from our covid-cancelled trip. There is nothing like painting to relax and zone out. Here, a painting from a photo shot from the window of the car as we drove along Hwy. 395 and the world swished by.
It’s a harsh landscape, but one of subtle beauty. Vast open spaces, too, add to its grandeur. And, it makes me happy.
I painted this shortly after doing the “Quiet River” watercolor yesterday. Still in a patient mood, which was good, as this painting, though small, needed a bit of thought and a bit of patience to complete. The effect of rain meant laying in heavy washes on damp paper and letting them run. In other areas, damp color had to dry only so far before a dryer brush could apply color. As you can see, I rather messed up with a second round of wet paint because of the bloom (aka cauliflower) in the middle right. Still, it works, catching the breakthrough of the sun and the scudding quality of a storm on a windy day.
This is a week for meeting up with old friends! After working in acrylic for several weeks, having eye surgery, and not doing much artwork of any kind, it felt great to do gouache yesterday, and this morning, watercolor.
It is interesting how some days just push me to the limit in frustration and dissatisfaction with what I do, and other days just move along in a calm and serene way. Why is this? My mood was patient and willing to wait today, whereas on other days, freneticism is the dominant emotion. I think watercolor especially requires a serene approach, more meditative than other media, simply because once the mark is made, it is there. With gouache and acrylic you can hide your messes a bit more easily!
I have a few blogs, this one, a general one, and a photography one. I thought I had posted these paintings here, but they were on the general one.
I have been busy cleaning up my house, spending hours moving and discarding, selling and donating. In between I did some art work, gardening, and the daily drudgery. I will say, I did go out shopping the other day and got some new clothes – a semi-annual thing.
Anyway, in between daily nonsense, I have been trying my hand at things I don’t feel comfortable doing. Buildings and people are the most common issue. Boats also fall into that category.
I sat down one afternoon and did three paintings. This was the first, focusing on shape, shadow, light and dark, warm and cool.
More confident after the first foray, I chose one with more detail, specifically the slats making up the sides of the boat. Add to that algae, more light and dark from shadows. Rust seems to be part of the painting, or perhaps it is just flaked paint remains on wood.
Finally, I turned to Winslow Homer for boats. He has painted all kinds in all sorts of weather and places. This is from one he did in the Caribbean or Florida or the Gulf of Mexico. I just took the boat and tried to look at how Homer caught the light, the sky and water, and the shadows on the white boat and sails.
Boats are actually pretty simple, but their shapes are disguised. Draw a square or rectangle, at least two. Have them overlap. Then connect the corners with curved lines, and you have a boat. Depending on the style, the front is usually pointed, but the rear could be flat or pointed, too. To learn and see about all types of boats, click on this Wikipedia link, and then choose a boat. For kicks, I chose Z. Go take a look!
After spending 7 hours yesterday sorting through books I hope to sell or donate, I was bushed. Dusty and dirty, too. It’s amazing how much of a mess your life can become when you aren’t paying attention! Painting definitely has its attraction as opposed to drudgery, but lately I feel like pushing myself into areas I don’t ordinarily venture. Cleaning and discarding shakes things up, and it seems to be carrying over into artwork.
Charles Reid, besides being great at landscapes, is also fascinating for me as his watercolor portraits are so loose and wonderful. I read a bit in one of his books about how he does skin tones. Colors for pale skin can be yellow ochre, alizarin, and cerulean – these are the ones I used to paint the figure on the left. For the one on the right I threw in some ultramarine and Hooker’s green at Reid’s suggestion. I worked to make the highlights warm and the shadows cool – more yellow in the light areas, more blue in the shadow areas.
Here are some gardeners laboring away. The color palette was pretty simple – ultramarine, orange, and a bit of ochre and green. I tried to create a sense of dimension in each pose, working with complementary colors to create shadows.
I then thought that after doing people, I should do an animal. I found a wonderful picture on Pixabay of an elephant striding along. I was rather teary when I thought about how we are losing so many wonderful creatures, large and small, because human beings are not the best. Of course, I’m not starving, so my perspective is very different. I was caught by the beauty of this elephant and think I will probably draw and paint creatures more. I have never painted or drawn an elephant before and enjoyed this one a lot.
Finally, a building, specifically Dunguaire Castle. It’s from the 16th century and has been restored. I think it would be a wonderful place to visit as it is right on Galway Bay in western Ireland.
Altogether, this afternoon’s romp in the paint was satisfying and challenging. Figures, animals, buildings – all of these really pulled me out of my comfort zone. I kept my palette simple and worked to create a 3D element with shading as well as contrasts of warm and cool. Initially I used rather cheap paper, but in reality, it sucked, so I pulled out my Arches 140# CP and was much happier with the results.
I’ve long been a fan of Charles Reid and his wonderful, loose watercolor style. In particular, I enjoy his paintings of the Bahamas and other Caribbean scenes. The light, the sky, the land all work together to create something most of us dream about.
The above painting is by Charles Reid, but when you look at it, you can also see he is influenced by the watercolors by Winslow Homer a century earlier.
Winslow Homer painted not only the Bahamas in the Caribbean, but other tropical areas, such as Florida. Palm trees and ocean and sky and wind show us another world.
Several years ago I spent a week crewing in the British Virgin Islands, and the colors I saw were are so seductive. Around every corner, I thought of Winslow Homer. Charles Reid, while I knew of his work, I did not know he had painted the same areas as Homer, nor where I had been hanging out. It was a real delight to discover he painted the Bahamas and similar areas.
Here, a quick study – about 15 minutes – of the watercolor above by Mr. Reid. It’s rough. The goal was to capture a purity of color and gesture to express movement, the shape of people on the beach, the colors of the sky.
Sky, beach, water, clouds – the Caribbean has it all. The British Virgin Islands are just a few of the many islands in the area, many of which have tourist-driven economies. Despite this, the islands have their flavors, based on who originally colonized them – English, French, Dutch and American.
I don’t know if I could live on a small island because I am so spoiled by the ease with which I can buy a book (hard to do on an island, especially before e-books!) and a wide variety of food. What you cannot buy, though, is the atmosphere and the beauty. That you take home with photographs, paintings, and memories.
The other day I painted fields ready for this coming year’s crops. Today, up at the treeline, the edge of mountains and forest giving way to barren rock and scrub. Snow is still here, the air bites, and the beauty astounds.
It’s mid-March and the land is opening up for the sowing of crops later in the season. The bright new greens of spring begin to show amongst the fields and grasses left over from the year before. Depending on where you live, trees are barren, or still green. I live in a climate that never sees snow, seldom rain, but the cycle of seasons still holds it’s excitement as birds return, bulbs emerge, and the land is once more prepared for another season of crops.
For some reason, winter is just in my head and in my paint brush these days. Probably I like it so much because I don’t have to deal with its less lovely elements, such as shoveling snow to commute on icy roads. Rather, I would be walking through the countryside for hours as I did when I was a kid back east, enjoying the cold air and the silence and the gentle falling of flakes.
As the Midwest and other parts of the world endure and enjoy subzero weather and snow and ice, it is summer somewhere in the southern hemisphere!
Where I am, it is neither; just a crisp and lovely day, with the winter light canted lower in the sky. I really enjoy painting landscapes, imagining myself in the middle of it all. I think I need to get into town, though – my hiking boots need replacing. 😉