Flower Pot (from a Rick Surowicz Video)

Lacking in the lovely simplicity of Rick Surowicz’s painting “Flower Pot” from his YouTube video of the same name, this is my attempt to work with negative space in painting. He is a master – I am not.

Flowers are ridiculously difficult to paint because of their bright colors and unique shapes, not to say their varying leaves as well. And, it is truly difficult to convey a bouquet suggestively. I overwork flowers all the time. Follow below to see Rick at work.

Under the Summer Sky

As summer fades away, the fires are burning along the west coast, and the clarity of the air has gone murky. This is when I dream of being somewhere along a river, with sun, blue skies, flowers and birds. I’m a country girl at heart, stuck in suburbia! (But there are advantages of the ‘burbs, too.)

I used Arches Rough 12×16 140# paper. The texture is not as smooth as what CP or HP provide. There is a lot more “tooth” which is great for dry brush and texture, such as in the foreground grasses and middle ground trees. I used one of my hake brushes for the general grass shapes, and a larger, harder brush for the sky. Before I painted any large area, I used the hake brush with clear water, letting it soak in a bit to help the paint to spread more easily on this rough paper.

In general, I am pleased with this painting. DOF works fairly well. I put in a building, too! For me, the most flawed area is the squared-off top of a tree to the left of the building – maybe I will go in later to correct it, but for now, I’ll let it be, cuz it’s time for a nap!

Sea Oats

Vegetation that thrives in sand dunes help protect inland areas. Sadly, a lot of our native coastal areas have been destroyed by development of one kind or another. During the hurricane season, the loss of these dunes and plants allows the seas to surge across the low lying areas they once protected. Sea oats are found in the southeastern parts of the US and throughout the Caribbean. Beautiful and useful in many ways, sea oats, mangroves, and other coastal vegetation play a bigger role in our world than is often acknowledged.

Summer Path

I was going through some of my Instax photos taken earlier this summer. Here, a path nearby overgrown with mustard. Depending on how much water is available, mustard plants can be very short – or very tall.

I thought this could make a good study with a limited palette, and dryer brushes. Lots of things went through my head, actually. For example, plain batches of color. No pencil lines. Shadows using the underlying color of the ground or plants – i.e. burnt umber and ochre mixed with a bit of blue. Details in dry brush. Patience and wait to let things dry, or add blobs of color to enrich the damp paint. Dry brush over colors already laid in as a wash (like the tree and bush in midground and background).

Maybe I’ll take my Instax out for a walk today. And a dog.

A Morning’s Work

I opened up a pad of 9×12 CP Arches and have been having fun all morning. Yesterday was a step back into the world of watercolor, and today was simply a play day to try out a few techniques. In particular, working with less water on the brush than I normally do. This is an effort to have a bit more control of the pigment on paper. Let’s take a look!

The above painting was the first one. Really a disaster! But it served as a warm-up project. In and of itself it is not awful insofar as I worked with less water from the beginning. This let me make bolder strokes as well as glazes and some wet-in-wet. The sky was my first attempt to work a rather loose sky with a much dryer brush than my norm. I worked more color into varying areas of the sky, blotting my brush on a towel before picking up the pigment.

Again, the sky was a focal point in this painting. I chose to use a yellow tinged with alizarin, diluting the pigments extensively. From there, I dried off my brush and applied the colors. The same technique with the blues. Some blending, but the result is quite what I hoped to achieve. This same dryer-brush approach was used for the foreground and middle ground, as well as for the trees. Rather pleased with this one all around.

More dryer brush work but with the addition of glazes. This lagoon was a bit more challenging as the low tide leaves behind rivulets between the miniature sand bars. My feeling about this one is rather mixed, but I think it is more because it is outside my comfort zone.

Dryer brush, glazes. These dry California hills are really monochromatic. Browns and variations thereof. Yawn! The mountains I redid after the painting was done – too pale. Sadly, I messed them up a bit.

This morning’s work was well worth doing. I spent about 3 hours altogether and took the time to think after the first painting. Warming up is a good exercise as it reconnects me to what I want to do. Practice is never perfect but it is essential to any skill.

Not sure what is on tomorrow’s agenda.

A Lonely Coastline

Continuing my water and fog series, and my simplification attempts as well. Here, another deserted coastline, with a few birds.

What is it about a lonely beach? It’s spooky, it’s sad, it’s exciting, and quiet. If the sun is trying to break through, the warmth begins to disperse the fog. Hopeful. Sun. If it is heavy weather, the sky lowers and threatens. Cold. Damp. Dangerous.

Fluid paper, limited palette of ultramarine, sap and Hooker’s greens, burnt umber and raw sienna, and a bit of alizarin. Probably other colors, too – hard to remember where the brush wandered.

Along the Oregon Coast

If you think that the SoCal coast can be foggy, Oregon is by far more foggy at times!  It’s an incredibly beautiful coastline with wide, nearly empty beaches.  Out to sea are the sea stacks, some large, some small.  In clear weather they are stunning, in the fog, spooky and eerie.

Today, a limited palette and paying particular attention to laying down water and thin colors.  Washes are the dominant technique used here.  My little picky brush strokes had to give way to broad ones for the beach and damp sand.  It actually worked fairly well.  Water, water, everywhere!

To the Sea

More work this morning with thin washes and working wet-in-wet.  Not as pleasing as yesterday’s work, but a good experience nonetheless.  A limited palette, some work with glazes, and use of dry brush.  Painted on Fluid paper, which was a new experience – rather different in handling than Arches, but similar to the Fabriano I used yesterday.  DOF isn’t there – I think the water further in the distance should be lighter . . . something to think about.

Foggy Lakeside Morning

California is not all joyful sunshine and playing on the beaches.  Fog is a large part of the coastal environment.  It is known as “May grey” and “June gloom.”  This morning I woke up to it . . . . inspiration for a foggy lake in the frozen (or not so frozen) north.

I’m still focused on water.  Today I wanted fog and water and hoped to use very wet paint thinned to mostly water.  I also wanted to work with wet-in-wet in the attempt to catch the softening of edges, increasingly more blurred and colorless, to denote distance.  A dull, muted foreground with intense color to add to depth of field.  I think it all worked out pretty good.

Fabirano 25% cotton paper, 9×12, neutral tint, sap green, Hooker’s green, phthalo green, Payne’s grey, quinacridone gold, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna.