When I first started to paint in watercolor – like when I was a teenager! – the advice was to use a brush bigger than what you think you need. Yeah, right. Over the years, I have resisted this, but lately I have been doing the majority of my painting with a 1.5 inch flat brush. From there, different brushes with different ideas in mind.
Here, 16×20 CP 140# Arches. I sponged the entire paper with water and then set in the sky. From there, the water and grasses along the shore, working to get blurring of colors into the wet paint. Then, the horizon with the same 1.5 inch brush. I let it dry.
From that point, it was a matter of thought. Initially, the sky dried to a pale color, so I laid in more dark paint for the sky, using a spray bottle to move the paint around, and holding the painting by hand, tilted the paper this way and that to run the paint in various directions.
Looking at it upside down always gives a new perspective, sometimes good, sometimes not. I added some dry brush for the weeds, and used a wet mixture of blues for the snow shadows. I also painted a darker version of the same snow blue into the distant water, moving it into the weeds / reeds. Then, more dry brush once the water had dried to overlap the paint I applied.
This is a stronger painting than some of my more more recent ones, and I will credit the large, flat brush forcing me to work simply. It’s actually much more fun, and easier, in many ways, because I am not getting finicky to the point of crazy.
I ordered some 9×12 pads of Arches 140# cold press paper. I have forgotten how nice it is to use 100% cotton paper with a heavy wash. I did this between breakfast and leaving for work. Bleeds and blooms, so to speak, in a very short time.
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!