Negative Painting: I Wanna Scream!

Okay, negative painting is not, not, not easy.  At least for me.  Back to YouTube.  This video was a really big help.

The guy is really funny – and does a really good demonstration.  This one was probably the most clear of all the ones I have watched.  Simple in execution, but sophisticated enough to produce something useful at the end of the video.  This is what I got.

Then I watched another video – far more accomplished than I am at the present in execution, and once more, mud is the result and abominable flowers.  These are mutant flowers after some sort of environmental disaster!

Ugh.  So, back to monochrome – this time, pink daisies from some picture on the internet.  This is the first layer of many, but maybe I can just work on very simple things and follow the 1-2-3-4 steps and then get a bit more advanced in execution.

Practice is not always a pleasant experience – but you do learn!

Negative Painting: Sycamore Leaves

Now that I feel a bit more accomplished in some of my watercolor skills, I have taken the time to think about a few things.  Specifically, what to do next.  I think negative space, or negative painting, seems like the next best step.  I am not sure why – it just feels right.  That is how I painted my two moonlit sycamores.  Now it is time to paint their leaves.  Below is a photo I took the other day, which is my reference point.

I started out with three primary colors:  Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Yellow, and Permanent Rose.  First, I wet the paper and then made a few distinct areas for each color.  Then I tipped the paper around (it’s mounted on a board) so the colors would blend and bleed.  As it is probably only 90# paper, there was buckling and pooling, but decided to just let things happen.  After it dried, I drew in the shapes of the leaves, and then worked around the leaves and twigs with a wash of varying strengths that combined Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna.  The veins were a bit of Hookers, Sap, and Cobalt Green.  Altogether, there are multiple layers of washes / glazes – some successful, some not.  The final overlaying wash was a mixture of Carbazole Violet, Cobalt and Ultramarine Blues.

This painting has a lot of problems – too tight, too overdone – but the problems also present future solutions, which I hope to visit in the not-too-distant future.  I feel like it is moving toward mud, too, which is something I always have to watch out for.

 

Moonlight

My original “Moonlit Sycamore” is below.  I like it a lot – except for the squiggly black lines I put into it.  They ruined the painting for me.

So, a second attempt, this time on 12×15 paper rather than 9×12.  No squiggles in front of the main trunk.  Instead, this new version is much darker, and the squiggly lines don’t exist, but dark lines, to suggest other trees and branches, exist, but not across the main trunk.  Here is the new version below.

The scan doesn’t really do it justice – the burnt sienna is a bit less intense in the original.

Both painting were designed to work on negative painting.  This is not easy and I expect it takes a lot of practice to do it well.  Years ago, I did take a workshop and saw negative painting and masking fluid for the first time.  It was quite impressive and looked deceptively easy.  I am finding it is not – but it will improve with time!  Funny how a scan makes you see a painting so differently . . . flaws are more apparent, as are areas of success.

Lines of Bodie

Today I ventured out on my own, influenced by practice sketches by Peter Sheeler and his videos.  This is from a photo I took in 2016 up at Bodie, California, when it was moving toward noon on a hot, hot day in August.

I rather like the composition, particularly the lines of poles marching over the hill in the distance.  If you ever have been to Bodie, you know it’s a long drive down a long and bumpy washboard road.  The telephone poles and lines emphasize the town’s isolation.  As far as painting the subject matter, I started out with a line drawing, painted, and then came in again with the ink pen.  It was so, so, so hard to not try to draw and paint every line and rock.  Simplification was a big challenge for me.

As I painted, I worked hard to recall what I have learned doing the practice studies.  Keeping things simple also meant keeping the palette simple, and the brush choice as well.  I started out with sky in Cobalt Blue after wetting it down with a big round brush.  Then I kept myself isolated to a dagger brush – first time to use one, too.  The remainder of the palette included Quin Gold, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Sap and Hooker’s Green, and by accident, a tad of Indrathene Blue.  The paper is 5×7 Arches Hot Press and taped down with a 3M painter’s tape with specialized edge-sealing qualities, which really worked to keep the tape from pulling up as it got wet.

Overall, I like the lack of mud and the contrasts I developed between light and dark.  Pen and ink come to save the day again!

Wet-in-Wet Pond in Mist

Another lesson in wet-in-wet technique with Peter Sheeler.  This one really worked well for me!  I like the results below.  My weeds in the foreground on the left were not as dry-brush as they should have been to get the crispy qualities – the right side was more successful.  I’ll be doing another of Peter’s exercises later today!

Holiday Cards: Winter Stream

I used six of Peter Sheeler’s videos to create cards for my sister-in-law’s Christmas present, along with using them for practice.  Doing all of these has proven to be more thought-provoking than I realized.  Copying by watching a video is really informative.

In many ways, this was perhaps the most deceptively simple in appearance, but in reality the most complex.  The reason for this is the stream.  Water is never easy to express (at least for me).  There are ripples, reflections, shifting colors to reflect the sky and scenery above.  Besides all this, there is the snow.  It also reflects along the banks of the stream, which you can see in Peter’s video, but which never made it into mine – this is on the center left of the stream.

Mine below has some good areas – certainly there is white! – but bits of it are a tad overworked.  The scan is not as subtle as the painting, either, but I am not really sure how to deal with that.  I decrease some areas of saturation in the image using Lightroom . . . and I am not sure if I am going to include this card in the set because of the smudges and such.