Today it is still cold! I went out with my drawing class early this morning – 53F! (Laugh if you want – but that is really unusually cold where I live.) The sun came out and warmed us up, but I still felt the chill when I got home. A hot lunch started to thaw my chilly bones – so let’s consider that Spring is around the corner, and the thaw begins with running creeks.

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.

Rush Creek in 15 Minutes

Seemed appropriate that a 15-minute study should be of a place called Rush Creek up in the Eastern Sierras!

Aspens, calm water, reflections, and done. I also used this as an opportunity to check out a new spray fixative (for me). This is an acrylic semi-gloss.

The problem with pastels is they smear if touched, so storing them and framing them can be a bit tricky. Smearing was attenuated well here, but it did take about 8 applications, some of which were a single coat, and the last about 4 or 5, back and forth, out of impatience.

Fixatives often dull colors or darken them, and whites can be especially vulnerable. This one seems to have done okay, perhaps turning the white of the aspen trunks to a creamy color, but the white trunks on the middle right seem to be doing okay.

Interesting thoughts arise . . .

37 Minute Painting

Another timed painting. This time the requirement was 37 minutes. I set my phone alarm and was shocked to hear it go off! I was checking it off and on, but suddenly it just rang, and here is the result.

This time I used Uart 600 grit paper, which is like a fine sand paper. It pulls the color of the pastels really easily so a lighter touch is required when painting than with the unsanded Mi-Teintes paper. I used a combination of photos for this one as I needed a creek, but I wanted some oaks and hills from around here. Not especially successful as far as I am concerned; the exercise was the point. I did get into the zone of painting even through I knew that timer would go off at some point.

Frozen Creek, Dawn

This is an interpretive / impressionist sketch.  I may have adjusted the colors a bit much in Lightroom.  I did this at 6:30 a.m., barely awake, and without any light except what broke through yonder window.  Same with the scan.  I’ll check it out later today, when I am at work or something.  Interesting to see the white spots in the scan I cannot see in my gloomy room . . . .