Beach Study

I like the beach, in case you haven’t noticed.  Grass, sand, cliffs, water, wind.

I broke down and did a value study for this scene.

Of course, I did it on an accessible page in my sketchbook, but since I did the study before the painting, I knew where I wanted lights and darks.  As I worked, I pulled dark areas together to contrast with lighter / brighter areas.  I mixed my colors using zinc white, but this time used titanium white straight out of the tube to highlight the ocean waves.

I’ve been wondering why people say “zinc for mixing, titanium for highlights.”  Zinc is a transparent white, so it blends with gouache and watercolors without distorting the values.  Titanium is a more opaque white, and as a result good for highlights, but not recommended for color mixing.

 

Coffee Cups

Coffee cups are simple, right?  Hmm.  Circles.  Ellipses.  Straight lines.  Shadows.  Reflections.

This one is tipping over!

Even with a straight-on viewpoint, the cup is lopsided.

Parts of things are easier to paint because they lack the reference points of a complete coffee cup.

In all of these, I tried to use complementary colors, either as shadows and / or background color.

    • The first one is a green-blue, so the complement is red-orange.  Adding reds and oranges to cobalt turquoise produced some interesting greys for the shadows of the first coffee cup.
    • The second coffee cup is red (with some orange) so I used greens, but thought shadows looked better with some violet and deep blue added, with a smidge of black.
    • The third cup is mostly a yellow color, with some medium blue for shadows.  Additionally, I added purples, blues, and greens to the coffee beans in the coffee cup.

I really need to learn to draw better!

Gouache Sample Cards with Zinc White

I am not the kind of person who likes to swatch things, colors, paints, knitting, and so on.  I just like to dive in and do things.  To a degree, this is good as it allows me to spend time learning about something before working on the theories, if that makes sense.  With painting, experiencing it first is for me a better way to understand something.  Afterward I can get analytical.

Since I feel comfortable now with gouache, I made up a series of swatch cards.  I took each color I have (which is far too many most likely!), painted a pure out-of-the-tube bit of color, and then, from right to left, added more white to see how the color changed.  It took a bit to figure out the best way to swatch, but that is how I like to do things – just do!

Each swatch card below can be enlarged so you can see the name of the paint color and see how it responds to the addition of white.

I found this to be a really helpful exercise. Some colors are so different when white is added, some for the better, some for the worse, and some are just plain surprising. For instance, I love Hooker’s Green in watercolor, but am not at all enamored with it in gouache. It could be the brand, too, but it came as a surprise.

My next exercise is likely to be adding black to the colors, or choosing a complementary color. I like the idea of working with complements for greys, and while blacks will dull a color, it is not the same as making a grey. I can also try my Holbein Grey #2 as well. Today, though, enough with analysis, and on to painting!

Dry Garden

This is just a little sketch done this morning with a local Meetup group.  There were only three of us, but every time I go to one of this group’s get-togethers, I feel like a princess.  Alison, the leader, does a lovely job.  Me, I am a no-frills type of person, so when someone goes to a lot of trouble for a simple thing, and does it with such evident pleasure, it is just a luxurious feeling!

Anyway, we met at our local library, yacked a bit about watercolor and color theory, and then moved off to the native plant garden.  It was mid-90s, so a shady spot was found, we plopped down, and painted in between the chit chat.  Still, I tried to focus on contrast and depth . . . this painting turned out better than I expected as it had my usual anemic colors, but ended up fairly decent.  It’s about 5×7 inches.

An Afternoon’s Study

After spending the last month working small – on 7×10 paper – and using both gouache and regular watercolor, I felt the need for something big and expansive!  This means broad strokes, rapid washes, focusing and thinking ahead at the same time.  That is what I find when I work with really wet watercolors, and much of this study was done with washes bleeding into another.

Not feeling especially original, and totally delighted that Edo Hannema uploaded another tutorial after a few months absence from YouTube, I decided to follow along with his video.

If you are not familiar with Edo Hannema, he is a watercolorist located in Holland. As Holland is a very flat country, he is much influenced by skies and extensive landscape. Water is also a strong element in many of his landscapes.

For me, it is a real pleasure to follow his practice videos, in part because I live in such a dry part of the world! Additionally, he is candid about what he is doing. For instance, if he doesn’t like a bit of his painting, he says it right out loud. As someone who struggles to paint and make my watercolor look good, it is so reassuring to find other painters get as frustrated or annoyed as I do when something doesn’t go the way I want it to. At one point in his video he talks about the tall tree in the left center of the painting. “I hate this!” I can understand that frustration. When the houses nearby don’t go as planned, he tells the viewer to make the best of the situation. That is what you have to do in watercolor.

As you can see, my sky is quite violent compared to his gentle one – I kept getting blooms for some reason, and struggled to get rid of them.  Another element of my own painting was my determination to keep my brushes clean!  World Watercolor Month 2019 really brought that point home to me.  I managed to do it pretty well.

Daily practice takes work.  Tomorrow, I hope to work on gouache color swatches, using whites to create variations in tonality of a given color, as well as working with complementary colors to achieve greys.  That should prove to be an interesting adventure.

WWM #31: Favorite Colors

When I thought about this prompt, “favorite colors”, for #WorldWatercolorAMonth2019, I was rather overwhelmed.  There are just so many beautiful colors out there!  I also have added a dozen new colors to my palette, and I was of the mind I should put together a swatch of the colors to see them separately and pure, not mixed up with others on my messy palette.  This would answer “favorite colors” because I don’t think I have met a color I don’t like.

It seemed like a task too daunting for me today – I have spent the past two days putting my house back together as we have finished all the repairs from the slab leak of earlier this month.

So, what are some of my favorite colors?  Truth be told, greens and magentas and turquoises.  These are the ones I like the best – light, dark, brilliant, quiet.  Sky, leaf, flower.  Bougainvillea against a bright, sunny sky hits the spot!

 

WWM #30: Wild Things

Today, when I was trying to figure out Wild Things for #WorldWatercolorMonth2019, I was really in a sourpuss mood.  I had to cancel a photo shoot with a friend and was not happy about it.  When you are tired and don’t feel well . . . you are absolutely crabby!  Hermity.  Crabby.  Hermit crab.  (How is that for subtle?)

I didn’t feel patient, and I didn’t feel capable of anything with a bit of subtlety.  I needed containment.  I wanted my shell.  I wanted limits and boundaries.  I wanted to feel safe.  Lines are perfect for that!  And as I have not done a line-and-wash watercolor for a month now, today I indulged.

And lets face it – hermit crabs are downright cute and fun with all their different colors and shells and homes.  Seeing them always makes me laugh – don’t know why, but they are such a delight.  And, as a result of this drawing, I, too, am in a much nicer mood!