WWM #28: Metallic

A bit out of proportion – obviously put together by a madman or seriously abused in its lifetime – this green, enamel-over-metal teapot was my first flirtation with “metallic” for #WorldWatercolorMonth2019.  I think it is okay, but really more of a warm up study.  The ones that follow are a bit better.  As I was doing them, I became more confident in the brushwork.

This is rather obviously a teaspoon – but the handle is really too short!  Thus, it is now a sugar bowl spoon.

I need to practice drawing more, and working on relationships of size and such.  While my painting is improving, I can’t say my drawing is.

Nonetheless, I am pleased with this.  I used only Payne’s Grey and used it in varying strengths to create a (gasp!) monochromatic watercolor study.

Nest is an old brass skeleton key.  I used Burnt Umber, Quin Gold, Organic Vermilion, and Payne’s Grey.  I figured since I had done something with underlying metal and silver, a gold color was necessary.

Working my way through these paintings did not take a lot of time, but they did focus my attention.  The elements of contrast I am learning in gouache is really becoming apparent in my watercolors.

Bolder brushwork, too.  In gouache, I have been doing a lot of scumbling; here, I am working by holding the brush at its end, away from the ferrule, and holding it more loosely.  It works as far as freeing me from a sense of “I have to do this perfectly” – don’t know why, but it is interesting to see how a physical stance changes the mental, and perhaps the final artistic result.

WWM #26: Natural Wonders

The American West is filled with places you probably could not survive in for long without the amenities of water and shade and good soil to grow crops. Many of these areas have become national parks and monuments to preserve them for present and future generations, and to keep them from being destroyed and exploited, as is wont in the US. If you can make money off it, do it!  I don’t get how “conservatives” fail to “conserve” the beauty around us . . .

Anyway!

The White Sands National Monument, in New Mexico, is a strange and lovely place. White sand unlike what you usually find, accompanied by sparse plants, shifting dunes, and the vast New Mexico sky. Here are some studies – which, in my opinion, are all failures. That sand is so hard to express!

From the White Sands National Monument, we continue on to Arches National Park.  Layers of sandstone have been worn away by wind and rain, and arches of varying sizes and heights are the keynote of the park.  So many in one place!  The layers of sediment vary in color, erosion creates odd shapes, and the drama of sky and land, seen through the arches, creates visions of worlds within worlds.

I was rather pleased with the painting of the arch, more so than the others.  As usual, depth was a problem, but I think I solved it by doing three things.  First, I applied a cool glaze onto the blue-green-grey plain and mountain range n the distance.  Next, I applied a warm glaze of a yellow-orange hue over the arch itself and the rocks directly below it, but not on the red rocks seen through the arch.  Finally, I added some thin, dark lines along varying edges, and used the same concept of lines to create the plants on the lower border of the painting.

Gouache painting is really helping me “get” watercolor more completely.  Positive and negative space is becoming a more conscious thought, as are colors and methods to depict depth and distance.  It’s been a lot of fun to make a lot of little paintings some days, or only one another.  Each is a wonderful learning experience.

WWM #24: Treats

I am not sure if this watercolor does justice to the prompt of “treat” for #WorldWatercolorMonth2019!  Macarons are delicate, colorful, absolutely delicious French treats – cookies? – and here we have pistachio, coffee, lemon, raspberrry, and orange.  As cookies are one of my favorite treats (beats dog biscuits any day), I thought I would try to pay homage to a delightful accompaniment to coffee.

WWM #22: Rain Forest

I don’t know about you, but rain forests belong in the tropics, filled with tigers and monkeys and long, poisonous snakes.  At least, that is my fantasy.  The French painter, Henri Rousseau, has a number of paintings which are of the jungle, and always make me think this is what a rain forest looks like.

This gouache is a tribute to the wonderful work of Rousseau, and while certainly not on the same caliber as his work, I hope it does convey the richness of his imagination with a bit of my own.  

Within the United States, we have a rain forest, the Hoh Rain Forest up in the Olympic Peninsula area.  We went there several years ago on a road trip, and hiking through this forest was an eerie and otherworldly experience.  You cannot see the sky for the density of the trees, branches, and moss overhead.  Following the trail, which was clearly marked, showed you the wonder of a primitive world, bathed in its own soft gold-green light.

WWM #20: Buildings

Where I live, a building is a house surrounded by the rest of suburbia.  I don’t live in a city.  I don’t live in the country.  Sometimes I wish I could transport myself to someplace so very different than where I live now.  That said, one can travel in one’s imagination, and that is what I have chosen to do here – a street in the early evening somewhere in a gracious part of an old city.

While this is not a perfect painting, I did have some goals in mind while painting “buildings” for the #WorldWatercolorMonth2019 prompt.  One was to really work on perspective.  It’s pretty well nailed here.  Another was negative painting – keep some paper white.  Here, the chimneys up in the sun.  I wanted details to show perspective – the closer to the viewer, the more details, as can be seen the closer to the right the buildings become.  A lack of detail to show there is distance.  Finally, I wanted to use light glazes to designate where the sun is on the upper buildings, and not on the lower part.  Here, light quinacridone gold on top, light cobalt on the bottom.  I rather like the way the street is striped in shades from dark to light, but as to whether it is realistic is not a question I care to answer.  In general, I think the sketchy elements of the watercolor work well with the colors and lines to convey feeling and mood.

For “buildings” I knew I wanted a loose, light painting.  This one is on a small sheet of paper, and I expect the final image is about 6×8 inches (could measure, don’t feel like it!).  I used both small and large brushes, a bit of imagination, a bi of memory of previous reads on perspective.  I found the most interesting thing I did was to do the sky last!  I really think it works well with most o the painting.

Later!

WWM #18: Clouds

Where I live, in the dry hills of the Central Coast of California, clouds are really, honestly a rarity.  Most days the sky is a clear, steady blue.  In the fall and spring, and sometimes into the summer, though, the seasons shift.  The rainy season brings in moisture, clouds form, and the sky suddenly has a life of its own.  In May and June, the coastal fog moves in, and sometimes you have a competition or a dance between the two – soft, cool fog close to the ground, and clouds at higher altitudes.  As the fog breaks up, you see the blue sky and clouds above the shifting fog.

This is from a photograph I took a long time ago when I first started doing digital photography.  A small group of us would get together to go for an easy hike, many times in the evening.  Hummingbird Trail is where the original photo was taken, admittedly way over-processed in HDR, but the intensity of the colors held true.  I tried to capture this in my painting, along with the shifting fog and clouds.  I also tried to work on distance by applying a light glaze of a dulling blue grey wash to the distant hills, as well as decreasing details to indicate perspective.

Clouds are so much fun to do in watercolor!  Who is to say your clouds don’t look real?  There are so many mysteriously beautiful in the natural world, but few are as shifting and as ephemeral as clouds.

 

WWM #16: Relaxing

Painting and relaxing at the beach are perfect expressions of this prompt for #WorldWatercolorMonth2019.

Relaxing – so what comes to mind? I thought of ways I like to relax – reading, going on a hike, baking, going to the beach. The beach won! No matter what the mood, the shore is always a place to relax. Soft wind, strong wind; soft cloudy skies or fierce rain; vast stretches of sand, rocky coasts that are difficult to walk upon.

I don’t do beach sand very well. I dug out a great book, “Take Three Colours: Watercolour Seascapes” by Geoff Kersey.  It’s a nice book for beginners as it explains so many things and techniques, works with a limited palette, and a few brushes.  His samples are illustrated number by number.  I rather like them as they make me think differently – I am a magpie and I go for  50 different colors, not 3!

WWM #16: Relaxing – #1, from a study in “Watercolor Seascapes” by Geoff Kersey

Thus, I warmed up with Kersey’s study called “Sand Dune” – perfect for the beach, I would say.  Not my best, but it was a study in techniques, not a work of art.  Techniques included mixing greens and terra cotta.  I had to substitute Organic Vermilion for his WN Light Red, and play a bit, but I limited myself to the Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Yellow along with the OV.

WWM #16: Relaxing – Path to the Sea

Warmed up, off to Pixabay!  I wanted something simple and beachy.  This sandy path to the foggy horizon got my attention.  No, you cannot see the ocean, but you know it’s there!  I tried to catch the subtlety of a the fog in the distance, aiming to soften the grasses as the painting moved into the distance.  I also wanted to keep it warm – the foggy day with a bright sun trying to break through.

WWM #16: Relaxing – Sea Grasses Along the Shore

Another image from Pixabay.  I may have painted it before.  There is something so lovely about this beach – deserted, alive with plants and animals, the slap of water on the shore.  I can smell the sea, too:  salty, briney, a bit rank from marshlands.  This painting is also more complex.  I am not sure if I got the sense of distance correct (I have no depth perception), so I worked at making distant items simpler and paler / bluer.  The grasses nearer the beach perhaps could have less detail.  Hmmmm.

WWM #16: Relaxing – Storm Along the Pacific Shore

Finally, a painting from a photo I took several years ago when my friend Glenn and I hit the Central Coast of California, north of Santa Barbara.  We visited Refugio Beach and El Capitan Beach.  I cannot recall which one this was, but the mood was one of wind and cold, and a storm coming or going.  The Pacific was dark, as was the sky; the wind was blustery.  Altogether, it was an adventure!  We were cold and shivery, but so pleased with just being out in the wind and weather.

Of all of the paintings, the last two are my favorites for different reasons.  I painted for about 5 hours, too.  Relaxing?  You bet!  I love the beach, and it was a delight to paint it today.