Besides doing the orchid yesterday, I sat down and did what is being called”direct watercolor.” As in sumi-e, the artist thinks about things before committing brush to paper. No lines. No value studies. Look, see, think, paint. It is a bit of a challenge and rather daunting, but I think this is such an enlightening way to learn the art of brushwork, value, contrast, and so on. I did some glazes here and there, to create contrast as well as to carry various colors throughout the painting. I also worked with vignetting, considering the shapes of the four corners of the vignette as well.
Painting flowers well is a lot more difficult than it seems. Part of it is just getting the colors correct, and the shadows. A sense of depth and shape is not quickly achieved for me at present – I am still trying to get that. Still, doing a quick morning watercolor before work is a good exercise as I think about various things. This daffodil is from this morning – I spent about 20 minutes on it from beginning to end before getting ready for work.
Tonight, I plan to do another daffodil, preparing for it by making a value study in pencil. This morning’s painting, and yesterday’s, were done directly onto the paper, preceded by a pencil sketch on the paper. Let’s see if a value sketch proves to lead to a more successful sense of contrast and depth.
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!
Today, my little Meetup group went to a local place, the trail by the Chumash Museum nearby my house. (The Chumash are a California tribe.) We were there for about an hour. I began with a pencil sketch, and then, color. We were settled in a small oak grove, with dark and light contrast about as contrasty as you can get. At the end of the hour, this is what I had painted, knowing full well I would look at it and work it a bit once home.
Once home, I looked at the painting. Still a need for contrast, and a bit more detail. More pen, more ink brush, more colors, and some warmth.
Overall, the one above came out okay, but if you look on the mid-right, to the left of the furthest trunk, there is a bit of an odd space, so I went in and worked it a bit with ink to try to mitigate it. I found it very distracting. Here is the final image below.
The area has a few more lines in it, a bit busier, but somehow more in keeping with similar areas of the painting.
I used Koi watercolor brushes and the following paints: Quinacridone Gold, Naples Yellow, Hansa Yellow Medium, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Teal, Ultramarine Blue, Indanthrene Blue, Phthalo Green, and Burnt Sienna. I used a Stillman & Birn Beta Series 8×10 inch softcover notebook, and scanned the images using my trusty, not rusty, Epson V600. Ink is Carbon Ink, and an ink brush.