I am taking an online watercolor class, and I am sort of this way, that way about it. There is feedback and some great videos, but I find that I like to have a more personal contact than such. Another online class I am taking has weekly Zoom meetings and even though we aren’t all yacking with the instructor, it is more personal.
Anyway, despite what I would like to see different, there is a lot of value in pursuing online learning. To a degree, you have to motivate yourself. You have to have the discipline to do it. One thing that I do find especially hard in all my classes is the making of value studies – oh, how I hate them! I don’t have them as part of my routine when it comes to painting, and the discipline of doing them is what I hate. I expect that doing them will pay off in the future – but it may be a bit down the road as I force myself to do them without appreciating what I know they are supposed to provide.
Above, a study from a photo in my watercolor class. Below is the first value study showing the midtones
All the white area is supposed to be sky and the lightest areas of the picture. The grey is the middle value. These are used to help shape the painting before refinement with darks and details. Below is my dark-added value study.
I actually really think this idea of doing middle values for the first step of a value study is a good idea. Do these values first, paint your lights and mid values in color, and then move on to the darker ones in the value study and the final painting. Doing this is very nice, really, because the dark values and details get distracting.
Like I said, this is a thing I am not enjoying doing but know it is probably going to reap bigger rewards than I can imagine at present. Values and edges are what I am trying to see in anything I do.
I have been so busy these past few weeks with cleaning and rearranging my house, discarding this, donating that, setting up a sewing cabinet, having personal documents shredded, etc., etc., etc., that the idea of sitting down to paint is like craving that first cup of coffee in the morning – I need it!
Whew. When I opened my gouache box, the smell of mold was there. Gouache needs to be kept damp, and if not opened up and used on a regular (i.e. daily) basis, moldy it can become. It’s not my idea of a good time.
I just decided to paint, not caring what it smelled like – and an open window and a good breeze helps! I mixed up colors, mashed up this and that, and when I was done, took everything to the sink and ran the water as hot as I could. Now, all is soaking, and here is a painting based upon a photo I took awhile ago.
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.
Last summer we drove through a lot of the wild west. The loneliness of Wyoming always gets me – vistas of open space, few cars, fewer people. Taking a picture during the summer is much different than what you see in winter, so I looked at some of the photos I took out of the window as we drove from Laramie to the Tetons. I tried to imagine how barren and cold it could be. Always the sky, always the distance, always the barbed wire fences. Again, in Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna.
Besides trying to imagine a scene, I also tried out a new brush. It is a Cosmotop flat, by DaVinci brushes of Germany; it’s about 3/4″ wide. I wanted to see how it would do on the Canson XL paper I use for practice, in particular to see if I could get a “sparkly” effect with a dry brush. The paper is too smooth for that to work successfully, which is why there are fine lines in the foreground. (Sigh.) It did a pretty good job for wet-in-wet sky, and along the horizon line.
One thing I have always loved is the countryside. Open spaces. Wild flowers. Weeds. Where I live, you can find them, but they are the dry places of the West. I have a longing for the plains and grasses, green trees and rain. Peter Sheeler’s video catches a glimpse of this.
Here is my version below. Part of me wants to paint the flowers, but thought it best to stop here. I like the feeling that you have just climbed a hill, and there this scene is at the top, and you look way beyond . . .