Cottonwood Creek

We are pushing 100F today, with east winds adding to the heat and potential fires. Thus, an autumnal desert scene seemed appropriate for today’s painting.  As I haven’t worked in gouache for quite some time, I thought it time to dig them out.  Variety is the spice of life, for sure.

Before painting, I did a value study before I even sat down to paint.

I used pencil, as you can see below. I like pencil a bit more as I have a good range of pencils of varying hardness and softness, and that helped out in the light and dark department.

I won’t say that the value study did not help. It really did. What it aided in was setting up light and dark areas, of course, but also helped me see shapes, such as the trees against the dark mountain, as well as shapes in the creek in the mid to foreground areas.

I left the sandy bank of the creek and the reflections deliberately vague – hard for me when I want to put in a lot of detail! The focus of the painting is the cottonwoods, so too much detail in the foreground would compete with the more detailed painting of the trees.

Altogether, this was a pleasant diversion, and the value study was worthwhile (not that they take a lot of time – I am just lazy). The creaminess of gouache is fun and a completely different experience than watercolor or pastels. I used Holbein gouache for the most part, CP 140# paper. The painting is about 6×8 inches – the nature of gouache often means smaller paintings than watercolor or pastels.

Here’s to autumn!

Autumn in the Fen

A fen is not a bog, and a bog is not a fen! Fens are marshlands with free-flowing water, such as a creek, which creates the marshland in shallow areas. A bog is created by still standing water, left behind after the rain. Bogs can dry out more readily than a fen, I guess.

autumn is here. This week we will enjoy 90+F – oh, aren’t we lucky?!

I have ongoing frustrations with depth of field . . . a camera makes it for you when you choose the aperture, but you have to make it yourself when you paint.

The Edge of the Wood

More work with wet-in-wet, this time accompanied by using frisket to keep the areas of the birch trees white, and to keep a few other bits white, too.  First step was to paint the sky across the trees, then the orange bracken and other foliage.  From there – just a few details, some negative painting, and so on.  I think there could be more contrast on the birch trees, but stopped to keep myself from overworking it.

Neighborhood Tree

By nature, I am quite impatient.  Maybe just not patient enough?  What I mean is that sometimes I work too fast, rather than thinking ahead.  In watercolor, timing is important, as is speed, but with patience thrown in.  If I look at what I am doing, some are tight-ass line drawings, and others are just messy and rather free form, without lines.  Here, I used a basic tree shape with cutouts to remind me where to not have leaves, so as to have room for sky and branches.  I also worked for shadows.

Altogether, I worked too fast.  I wanted to make some nice washes of the leaves, to show the color shifts from green to the glows of autumn.  I also need to test out colors on a piece of paper.  This is painted in a notebook, so the back of the previous page is a good place to do this (I keep trying to remind myself).   Accomplishment, though, is no mud.

Colors were fun to use, too.  I mixed together an especially interesting mix of Payne’s Grey, Carbazole Violet, and Burnt Sienna.  That is part of the pleasure of a sketch book – playtime and exploring.

I will be doing a lot of trees as I move along, but will need to do some stilllifes as well.

Yosemite: Reflections at Mirror Lake

This is a view of Mirror Lake in Yosemite National Park and some artistic license with color thrown in.  Here, I used a sumi-e brush and watercolors.  Yes, lines.  No mud.  This is the first picture, other than my pencil cup, that I really like since I started this project.

I began with a photo, then drew in some lines, used the ink brush to create the bones.  Then it sat overnight and in my sleep I imagined how I would paint it.  Parts worked out, parts didn’t.  After the colors were applied, I went back with my sumi-e brush and redid some original strokes and then added others to create contrast and so on.  Colors include phthalo blue, indanthrene blue, organic vermillion, hansa yellow, quinacridone gold, Hooker’s green, carbazole violet, cerulean blue, and ultramarine blue.