Category: Watercolor

Birchwood

I have been trying to work with thin washes to lay in color, moving into negative painting – such as around the birch trees – and building the painting from there. I used different color mixtures to suggest the birch’s black areas on the trunk, and then used the darkest color I could mix to create some outlines for the trunks.

Watercolor is such an unpredictable, but somewhat predictable, medium that it can drive you crazy and fill you with delight.

11×15 CP Kilimanjaro 300# paper.

Along the Coast

The same painting, scanned with an Epson V600 and merged. However, two different software were used to merge. One was Microsoft Ice. The other was the photo merge bit of Lightroom. It’s hard to really tell which software impacted the final image more as both were manipulated a bit in post. However, the difference was that the LR version had dark paper around the edge and was rather muddy. The MS Ice was lighter and more clean in overall appearance.

This is the image merged in Lightroom. .

This is the one merged in MS Ice.

It’s hard to see the difference in some ways, but I think either is fine to my eye.

Anyway, I am rather pleased with the result here. I think I got the depth of field properly done for once. Perspective doesn’t seem off. The sandy berm really pleases me because sand is hard to do! I mixed together ochre, alizarin, and cobalt blue and then added a gallon of water to make the wash. The shadows are ultramarine with a bit of carbazole violet.

Another thing I like is the murky, seaweed filled foreground on the right that fills the shallow water. And, too, I did some justice to the reflections of the island in the right background. In the end, I applied a light glaze to the foreground water on the right and to the grasses to the left of the sandy shore in the middle left background. Painted on 300# Kilimanjaro from Cheap Joe’s.

I have few other WIPs, but they need a bit more consideration at present.

Tribute

This wet-in-wet is drawn from imagination and inspiration by the Dutch watercolorist Edo Hannema. I just love his mastery of water and color and wet paper! There is a peaceful quality to his paintings of the Dutch landscape.

Painting like this demands thought and deliberation and patience. Timing is also critical. Painting wet-in-wet requires risks and experience. Too wet, everything just blurs. Paint wet paint which is wetter than the still damp colors result in blooms which can destroy a painting in now time. The rule is drier paint into wet paint – that on your brush must be drier than the stuff on the paper. Blot your brush if in doubt.

Oops! Just noticed that the horizon is dead center . . . compositional error! And that big green blob is also a mistake – tried to fix it – but since this is time for true confessions, I may as well own up. 😉

This is one of my more successful wet-in-wet paintings. Usually there is a big cauliflower bloom somewhere – sometimes I can hide it, but it feels really good not to have one this time! Remembering the trick of drier onto wetter was a good thing.

For the first time, I am painting on 300# paper. This is Kilimanjaro CP from Cheap Joe’s. With such a heavy paper, lots of water can be used. 140# warps but this stayed virtually flat. I like this paper a lot – certainly will be getting more of it.

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!

Wetlands

Another wet-into-wet painting, but this time with more challenges and a longer painting period. As before, 140# Arches CP paper.

The goal of this painting was to get away from trees and aim for seeing how using a very wet piece of paper could be worked for skies and water along with plant life, from rushes and grasses to distant trees. The style itself lends itself more to softness in general, but with judicious brushwork and glazes, more defined areas were achieved. I also used white gouache to represent a tasseled top to the tall reeds (or whatever) in the middle right of the painting; I realized I might have achieved an airier effect by splattering some frisket in the areas I wanted white.

I painted the majority of the picture last night, working glazes over areas more defined to blend them in more harmoniously. Dry brush was used for the the foreground and in areas where a rough edge was needed to show plants.

I don’t think this painting is as good as the one I did previously. The contrast is not good enough to convey distance – too strong of colors were used to paint the reeds and trees in the horizon. I do like the colors and softness, though. Another point of focus was to create a point of focus! I tried to use birds, warm colors in the center of the painting, a bit of a vignette around the edges, and other visual tricks to lead the eye somewhere. Again, I don’t think I had much success. As well, the sky and land do not seem to match.

I did accomplish a few things I set out to do – wet-into-wet with some control for sky and plants and water. Doing it is a lesson in itself, and each painting teaches something. I worked on the painting last night and then refined it this morning. I had more patience than I usually demonstrate when painting in watercolor. Why is that? Is it because watercolor is wet and watery and seems to demand a bit of speed?

Anyway, more to come, more to learn.

Early Morning

Another wet, wet painting in watercolor.

Here, I wet the paper, and then began putting in areas of color, beginning with the sky in the central part of the painting, and then blobbing down the foliage in the foreground and the distance. The line of the slope was separated from the horizon beyond. As things dried, I blobbed on more colors, and continued to work wet-into-wet as the paper dried. In the end, I was able to draw the trunks of the distant trees without their blurring using diluted colors of the darker tree trunks.

It’s really hard to describe how to do a painting like this. In doing these kinds of paintings I am finding it is necessary to have a sense of the composition itself – lights, darks, soft shapes, hard edges. It is also necessary to think about negative and positive space while painting, as well as the overall effect desired. I worked light to dark, and strove to keep the earliest colors as separate as possible from others. In the end, I used glazes to unify areas with color as well as worked with thick paint and a very dry brush for some detail.

140# CP Arches, 16×20. It took about 3 hours to work on, using time in between to dry the paper with a blow dryer or let the water get absorbed into the paper so softer edges could be achieved.

Of the 3 “splish splash” paintings I have done, this one is my favorite. This technique works very well for areas with a lot of foliage, but what about ocean scenes, skies, and so on? That is next on my agenda for this method.

This was a lot of fun – I hope you like it!