Today I refilled my gouache palette with colors, and then some more colors. I threw in some retardant, too. And I tried to paint. Gosh, it is amazing how you have to reacquaint yourself with something!
Several weeks ago I started thinking more and more about what I am doing in my spare time. It is then I realized that, for me, the best way to spend my time is to learn new things, in particular, new art techniques. Thus, colored pencils; I signed up for an in-person class with masks and social distancing. I plan to continue this summer with the class.
At the same time, I thought it about time I learned to paint with acrylics, something I always avoided because I just didn’t like the idea of painting with plastic! Add to that, years ago, acrylic paints were not as good as they are now. I was also a considerably more impatient person, and less experienced painter, than I am now. Thus, I enrolled in “Intermediate” painting – I’ve been using gouache, so I have experience!
The first class was yesterday afternoon. I always wonder about teachers and how “good” they are. It takes time to become a good teacher, and honestly, I have found the quality of teachers for arts and languages at adult schools a mixed bag. However, I know I am going to enjoy this painting class. Students I spoke to said they have been coming to the class for 4 years – that says something for the teacher.
I totally enjoyed this first class. People paint what interests them. The teacher helps when asked, offers appropriate and spot on suggestions, and has a really fun personality that doesn’t become overwhelming. Teacher and fellow students are pleasant, delightful, and fun. Can’t go wrong with that, I say.
Because I didn’t know what to expect in class, I decided to bring a kit of paints I’d boughten several years ago, one with about 10 colors, to play with. I used this same kit to begin a painting – after all, play and doing are the best ways to learn. Along with paints and tentative beginnings of a painting, journeying in my cart were rags, water containers, dish soap, brushes, paper palette, an apron, and other bits and pieces.
Above is the underpainting I had done prior to arriving in class. Then days went by – about a week – and I got too busy to do anything with it until I arrived in class.
This is where the painting was at the end of class – nearly there. The sand on the left bank was re-shaped after the river was moved (ah! I feel like God when I get to change geography!) and relocated. And since we are mentioning God, there are two rather eyelike things up in the upper left sky that definitely need removing.
This morning I finished the river, refining this and that. Altogether, I am not displeased for a first acrylic in 40 years. The final painting is the one at the very top. Below you can see them in progression.
The process of learning is often best by doing. By doing, you know what it feels like, you have experience. I struggled here and there, such as with the sky, with the viscosity of the paint, with the shadows and coloring of the sand on both banks. I rather think I like the river in the 2nd version, but decided to change it by adding reflections and ripples for the final version. I took out the “eyes” in the second version, added more fluffy and high-altitude clouds, and worked to create a sense of sand and shadows on the left, along with that wonderfully mucky sand in still water.
This was painted on 11×14 Canson XL, gessoed, and taped to frog board. The kit is by Daler-Rowney, which provides good basic colors for the beginner.
How many times I have driven through the wild country of the US, stopped on the roadside just to gaze at the land around me? When I lived in Colorado, I did this whenever I could. I do it here, too, in California, and whenever we take a driving trip through wild and lonesome country. Life here can be harsh and isolated, but can you imagine yourself on horseback (I do!) and slowly traversing these wild and open places?
More winter, more gouache. A limited palette of white, phthalo blue and green, ultramarine blue, a bit of red, and black and purple.
This painting was done on a larger sheet of paper than my earlier ones as my sketch book was filled and finished with the painting of the other day. I began with a thin wash of gouache, putting in the basic colors of the sky, fields, house and trees. From there, I began the dots. And more dots. And even more dots. Paint went from thin to thick, and thin again. Dots were bigger and smaller. The closer I came to the completion of the painting, the more I began to use the paint to shape the different areas of the subject. I tried to use some complementary colors in shadows, such as red in the shadows of the trees, and bright yellow to enliven the lavender. Altogether, this painting took about 3-4 hours to complete (I lost track of time), but in the end, the dots were worth the effort.
I think I could live here.
Tropical islands are magical. Big, heavy clouds, low lying fog, brilliant sky, white sand. In the dead of a dreary, dark winter, a tropical isle has a lot of charm. In summer, humidity builds and the air is thick, but if you are in the Caribbean, the trade winds blow and life is a bit more comfortable.
Hard to believe it’s been two weeks or so since I was last online.
Life has been busy, but in reality, the weather has been awful! We have had a heat wave that knackers you – 100+ F, and even worse further inland. Temps have ranged from 95-111 in the vicinity where I live (35-43C). Ugh. As a result, blobdom has reigned as the primary mode of existence and, sadly, some binge watching on the TV in the air-conditioned house. I guess we all have to do it.
Despite that, I have met with a pencil portrait group in a local park and have enjoyed those mornings. I have also done some sewing. And mice chasing, but no catching. Today I cleaned up the mess I call a studio.
And finally, I have sat down to paint. I wanted scudding clouds and changing light – movement from bright to dark across the hills and the sky. Wind, too. Anything to cool off.
Another painting on the reverse of another, again employing dampening the paper before commencing. More hake brush wet-in-wet. I wanted to catch the brilliance of the land beneath the storm as spots of sunshine break through a fast moving storm. In the Southwest, this is common and exciting to see – sometimes the landscape shifts in seconds.
Another watercolor, mostly wet-in-wet, but I ended up doing a lot more details in dry brush as the painting progressed. Finally, I applied some glazes in an attempt to unify different sections as I had overworked the painting quite a bit. The even spacing of the brush / trees in the lower middle ground are rather amusing, too – didn’t I look? I didn’t really notice them until I scanned the painting!
Summer is not yet officially here, but the warmth, sun, birds, and wind all make me long for a quiet spot to sit and relax. No nothing except the sounds of the natural world. Here, all the things I love.
Water and sky are the major themes these days. I really like them anyway, but have to work on reflections in particular. For instance, along the banks, the reflection of reeds is very important, as in the distant water / tree line. I try to be simple in my approach and perhaps a bit less dramatic or intense in my colors, but that seems to be really hard for me to achieve! I had a lot of fun with this painting, though, and am rather pleased with its outcome despite the fact it is not quite what I envisioned. But, it does catch that peculiar storm light, I think.