Mountain Hut: A Study in Warm and Cool Greens

If you have been following along here, besides Inktober 2019, I am also working my way through Rick Surowicz’s online class “Abandoned.”  Here I am trying to apply some of the points learned in his class about greens, how to mix them, and how to create warm and cool greens to demonstrate environmental temperature and distance.

To mix a cool green, Surowicz used Cerulean Blue (to give coolness), Sap Green at times tempered with Pyrrol Red, Raw and Burnt Siennas.  Varying the mixture in strength and dilution determines if it is light or dark.  Here I applied the mixture to the hills behind the hut, as well as put a few streaks into the foreground.

Warm greens hold the same formula as cool greens except the Cerulean Blue is not used.  The result is a warmer green, and depending on need, the Pyrrol Red is added, creating a darker green while keeping it in the warm arena.  The Raw Sienna creates a warmer, yellower green, and the Burnt Sienna creates a more autumnal tinge to the grasses in the foreground.

In addition to creating warm and cool greens, I also worked on lines to demonstrate direction and texture, as well as to break up horizontal and vertical.

As a study, this has been successful.  Critiquing it, I would say that the right lower portion of the stone hut should be lighter so as to contrast much better with the middle ground.  Right now it recedes and gets lost.

Practice is important in all we wish to master – here, a practice study to apply some lessons.

Painted on Fluid 100 CP 140# paper.

A Class with Rick Surowicz: “Abandoned” (Day 3)

One thing that makes Surowicz’s online YouTube videos, and now his class “Abandoned”, is the fact he is very informative about color mixing.  Color is essential to convey distance – foreground and background – light, warmth.

Today I worked through 4 studies of color, using for the greens cerulean blue, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and then some pyrrol red to help temper the green.  The neutral color is made up of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue.

This scan is of the first study.  The cerulean and siennas were at the top, sap green at the bottom.

Surowicz says he mixes his color on the palette, which he demonstrates, using large areas to get a lot of color.  He rinses his brush, blots his brush, and varies the amount of color on a brush to determine how light (more water) or how dark (less water).

These little swatches show not only color that is strong, but how they merge and blend when more water is added.  The studies are for warm and cool greens, but I find it hard to determine them.  The following studies are supposed to demonstrate the warmth and coldness a bit more.

Here we have a formula for a cooler green mixture:  Cerulean blue, Sap Green and Raw Sienna.  The area circled is demonstrably a cold green.

Here we now have a formula for a warm green:  Raw Sienna and Sap Green.  The addition of the Cerulean Blue is what makes the mixture cold.  The two colors by themselves create a warm green, and the formula is not one I would have considered prior to this class.  The Pyrrol Red is used to move the green to a more neutral state (red and green are complementary, and can negate each other when combined), but more green may be needed to return it to green – Pyrrol Red is intense! The red is also warm, so the green remains warm, even if neutral.

Finally, the well-known (at least to watercolorists) combination of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue.  This is one of the most useful color combinations as it can range from pale to almost black.  Many watercolorists use the two as a replacement for black.

Thoughts

This section of the class is really valuable to me.  I actually can see the warmth and coldness of the greens in these color combinations.  That is very important.  Conceptually it is very important for me as I lack depth perception and am a magpie when it comes to colors.  Subtlety is not in my vocabulary.  However, that doesn’t mean I do not have an appreciation of soft colors – they just are not my first choice!  The neutral tones with the Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue are some of my favorites, but it was a good study to remember the softness they can achieve as well.

Note

Because of Inktober 2019, I may not get a chance to view “Abandoned” every day and practice, but I don’t want to allow more than one day pass between sessions.  I am really into this class and enjoying it a great deal!

A Class with Rick Surowicz: “Abandoned” (Day 2)

Today I moved forward a few steps, in part because I’ve been busy with other things.  However, I am determined to work every day on this class, to keep myself from forgetting things.  There is a lot to learn, even though it may not appear to be such.

Moving from the value studies, the next step is color value studies, for light, medium and dark, but also for warm and cool greens and neutral colors.  To me, this is often an issue.  I don’t perceive colors as “warm” and  “cool” visually – I see them intellectually, meaning I know some formulas for mixes.  This section of the course, then, is very important for me – it’s a road map for future work.

Cool green are achieved by using sap green with a tinge of pyrrol red, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and (to my surprise) cerulean.  In the video, Rick mixes these colors and uses them for the trees in the background, behine and beside the house.  Warm greens are created with raw sienna and sap green, with a tinge of pyrrol red to neutralize the sap green.  These greens are used in the foreground grasses and bushes in front of the house.  I can see the differences in my color study, but they are subtle.  However, painting is a skill and learning such things, and memorizing them, adds to the basic skillset of painting.

Finally, using burnt umber and ultramarine blue (supposedly a warm blue!), dark values were created.  These two colors often are used in painting to replace what we may consider to be black visually.  Now we have a color study with values of light, medium, and dark.  These should help with the final painting when considering what to do!

Besides explaining the usage of color, Rick states he does not mix his colors on the paper, but on the palette, getting the consistency he wants before applying it to the paper.  Other painters take a color directly to the paper, and then mix as they go along.  Both techniques have their points.  I find my colors are more pure when I take them directly to the paper, but easier to turn to mud if not carefully done.  The palette method of mixing colors allows for testing swatches of colors on scrap paper.

Looking at the above study, I think I want the trees behind the house to be a bit darker (more contrast?) along with the windows on the far left, second floor, of the house.

More tomorrow!

A Class with Rick Surowicz: “Abandoned” (Day 1)

I’ve long wanted to try one of Rick Surowicz‘s online watercolor classes, but haven’t felt focused enough to take the time to do so.  Yesterday I decided I was ready.  His classes are not expensive compared to other artists’ classes – $39.00.  I think that is a worthwhile investment.  And a bargain.  Surowicz has a number of videos on YouTube which I find so informative and educational that I thought a class with greater depth of what he does, how he thinks, would be a great benefit.

The class I decided on is called “Abandoned.”  I can do okay with water and trees, but buildings and perspective are a problem.  This was the primary reason for this choice.  Additionally, there are structural elements, such as planes and angles and deciding proportions.  I am not good at this at all!

So, today I sat down, downloaded and printed out the PDF files.  I got out my sketchbook and did the preliminary work – sketches of four different compositions and value studies of two of them. (Click on one to see the gallery.)

I am full of good intentions, but very bad at executing them!  I keep telling myself to do value studies, but don’t.

Making all these sketches -12 in total – came with an amazing “ah ha!” moment:  drawing the same thing multiple times gets you familiar with it.  I started learning where the chimneys were, the slants of the roof, the arches.  The house became like a friend who you haven’t seen for awhile – but the features are so familiar.

Here, on the one with 3 values (white, medium, dark), Rick had us consider light from the left and light from the right.  There are similarities and differences, and if you look, you will see them.  This was fascinating as I have never done anything like this – I’ve done value studies, but not with a changing direction of light.

So far I am really pleased with the course content.  Rick has an even pace when he speaks, and his reasons are clear.  As someone who taught for many years, I tend to be highly critical of online courses.  So far, I am very happy.  Content is clear, and progresses logically.  I am looking forward to continuing more tomorrow!  Thank you, Rick!

Somewhere in Monterey

Today is a watercolor day!

I am surprised by how much less I am worrying about how my painting is going to look and how much I am becoming more involved with its process.

Working with gouache has certainly helped me with my usage of light and dark.  For awhile I wondered if working with gouache, from dark to light, would mess with my mind with watercolor, which is light to dark.  Actually, it helped a lot as I am more aware of light and dark than before, and thus it is easier to think about how to make it happen.

This is from a photo I took in Pt. Lobos Nature Reserve, along a path.  The light was dappled and flickering as the tree branches and leaves moved with the shifting wind.  It was a warm day, pleasant, and very, very much a prize of a day altogether.  I think this painting does a fair job catching it, though, as always, there are areas for improvement.

Garden Sketches

Mad Hatter chili and Young Lemon Grass Leaves on Rhodia Tablet

I’ve been rather busy of late – running here and there, sewing, hanging out with friends, and so on.  As a result, I have not been able to sit down to paint for the past few days.  Today I made the determined effort to do so, and am glad I did.  Instead of working in the studio, I went outside onto my rather warm and sunny patio – 95F / 35C – and moved what I could into the shade of the canopy.  A small table, a chair, some water and paints, my home made iron gall ink and my dip pen all accompanied me.  Pandora and Donna Summer, too!

I pulled out a watercolor sketchbook, and immediately found that the paper has a sizing issue, as well as cannot handle water in any amount.  Wah!  However, for pen and a small amount of color, it will do.  I also used a Rhodia tablet, very smooth and polished, and works very well with a sharp pen nib.  The results are straight above – and captioned!  It worked out quite nicely.

Watercolor sketchbook. Iron gall ink applied first, then watercolor paint. Milkweed in bloom.The watercolor sketchbook, as I said, was disappointing for wet work.  However, for ink and color, it is not too bad.  Here, I did the ink drawing first and then applied the color.  The color rather overwhelmed the lines at time, so I went back and added more ink after the paint dried.  In 95F weather, it dries pretty quickly.

A flowerpot with a dead sunflower (left), oregano in bloom (middle), and the stalk and leaves of milkweed plant. Color applied first, dried, and then iron gall ink drawing.This last picture was an afterthought.  The first drawing found the color overwhelming the ink at times, so I decided to paint first, and then draw.  Artistic experiment!

Anyway, the art bug has been temporarily allayed.  More tomorrow I hope!

North of Gilroy

Farms in California are a bit different than what I remember as a kid in the Midwest and out on the plains.  The land along the coast is gentle and low lying.  The ocean brings in mist and fog, creating at times a dreamy, otherworldly quality that is soft and ethereal.  Fog comes and goes, scenery appears and vanishes.  Colors can be pale or deeply rich depending on light and cloud.