A bad reference to Virginia Woolf’s novel, which is an interesting read.
This painting is a dedication to lighthouses worldwide. They have saved so many lives by letting sailors know of treacherous waters. Add to that, lighthouses are often found in spare and rugged places, all of which make for dramatic and wonderful photos and paintings.
I have often thought I would like to live in such a place, hearing the waves crash, watching the light circling through the night, and, of course, the sound of fog horns. Throw in some seal barks and sea gulls, and I would be pretty happy. Sleep could be a challenge though.
I made up this painting, amalgamating lighthouses and buildings from various images. My goal was to practice shading, such as moving from a sunlit side to the shadow side, using pointillism techniques. You can see this on the conical shape of the lighthouse as well as on the buildings. I have tried to give a sense of cliffs and housing sunk down a bit behind the green of the grass. Morning or evening light for the sky, or an intimation of fog and filtered sunshine is also attempted.
As I work more in pointillism, I realize that this helps me tremendously in sorting out colors. As far back as I can remember, mud has been my most famous by-product in painting. It could be that this is something I really need to use as a primary technique, though I am thinking of doing a pointillistic painting in gouache, and then re-wetting it to blend the colors applied in dots.
Now, on to other adventures!
Since I had all the pastels out from Tuesday’s class, before I straightened up the mess in the studio, I decided on another study. This time, the oak-covered hills of California. In spring, the hills are brilliantly green, often covered with wildflowers, such as poppies and lupines. As spring gives way to summer, the heat comes, and the grasses dry out. Perfect conditions for all these dreadful wildfires of late . . . Anyway, the coast can be socked in with the summer fog, but inland, the hills are under the brilliant sun. As you look toward the Pacific, you can see the “fog monster” lurking on the other side of the range.
Summer, fog, early morning rising mist. One color blends into another, overlapping, blurring together. How to express this?
Gouache does not readily lend itself to the color movement as does watercolor. In watercolor, you can discharge one color into another, and the wicking action of water and paper do the work for you. Here, I thought a lot about how to blend and merge colors to create that soft effect of fog. In the end, for this painting, I decided to use a narrow, flat brush with stiff bristles and scumble all the colors together.
Rather a brighter painting than I anticipated, but I think it does express the rising fog and early morning sky fairly well.
7×10 Arches hot press paper.
Another study of an Oregon coastline. Morning fog with a bit of sun breaking through.
I must admit, I am really pleased with how this painting turned out. It seems that returning to the scene (of the crime?) is helpful, as well as working in different media. I did this same scene in watercolor a bit ago, and I plan to do it in pastels as well.
Done on Arches 7×10 inch hot press 140# watercolor paper. Hot pressed paper seems to be the best choice for gouache. Time to order some more!
Continuing my water and fog series, and my simplification attempts as well. Here, another deserted coastline, with a few birds.
What is it about a lonely beach? It’s spooky, it’s sad, it’s exciting, and quiet. If the sun is trying to break through, the warmth begins to disperse the fog. Hopeful. Sun. If it is heavy weather, the sky lowers and threatens. Cold. Damp. Dangerous.
Fluid paper, limited palette of ultramarine, sap and Hooker’s greens, burnt umber and raw sienna, and a bit of alizarin. Probably other colors, too – hard to remember where the brush wandered.
California is not all joyful sunshine and playing on the beaches. Fog is a large part of the coastal environment. It is known as “May grey” and “June gloom.” This morning I woke up to it . . . . inspiration for a foggy lake in the frozen (or not so frozen) north.
I’m still focused on water. Today I wanted fog and water and hoped to use very wet paint thinned to mostly water. I also wanted to work with wet-in-wet in the attempt to catch the softening of edges, increasingly more blurred and colorless, to denote distance. A dull, muted foreground with intense color to add to depth of field. I think it all worked out pretty good.
Fabirano 25% cotton paper, 9×12, neutral tint, sap green, Hooker’s green, phthalo green, Payne’s grey, quinacridone gold, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna.
This is one of the most stunning images I have seen on Pixabay, which has a lot of wonderful royalty-free photos; here is the direct link to it: https://pixabay.com/photos/fog-moor-moorland-birch-tree-mood-1717410/
This photo is moody and mysterious, and you can certainly imagine how spooky it could be to come upon suddenly, lost in a whirl of fog on a lonely moorland. I tried to capture it in my own watercolor.
This painting is significantly different than some of my other paintings. I used the wet-in-wet technique throughout the painting, creating several layers of glazes before adding the details of grasses. These I did using negative painting over the washes. Then, more solid brushwork for the tree, branches, and scrub in the lower corners.
16 x 20 Arches 140# cold press paper.
I cannot believe I haven’t posted anything since the last few days of August! Life has been filled with family activities, horrible heat, and other things that take up time like sewing and reading and cooking and a photo safari. However, I could not stay away! Surprising how much I miss my daily forays into paint and color, and especially gouache! (I really need to get back into watercolor – more in a tad about that.)
Trees again. Cypress trees have their own character – they invite sweeping brush strokes with a flat brush, or a tapered one. Movements of the brush match the movement of the wind it seems. Where cypress trees live along the California coast is usually windy, foggy, and often cold, and these trees rise like ghosts out of the mist. They are quite eerie.
We are heading out to Monterey for a few days. I havene’t packed any gouache, but a small watercolor palette and a sketchbook for out-of-the-house experiences. I hope I take the time to paint or draw, and catch some flavor of where we will be. Along with my sketchbook I am bringing a camera (or two, or three, or . . . ? Anyway, the idea is to enjoy some time off while the other half is on vacation – our road trip was sidetracked by a water leak a couple of months ago.
For some time I have considered the possibility of doing two studies for each painting, one in watercolor and the other in gouache. Today’s painting is exactly that. I took the same study in gouache (yesterday) and painted it in watercolor. It was a really interesting experience!
First, I am doing all these studies in a 7×10 sketchbook. The paper is not really good for really wet watercolors, but is very nice for gouache. Knowing this, I kept my paper as unsaturated as possible, but also worked to use wet-in-wet where I thought necessary, such as in the sky and fog bank, but being very careful about the amount of water I used. In other areas I did small, quick forays into wet work, but kept it to a minimum while allowing for bleeds, or coming back to work a bit more, such as on the right side where the grasses are in contrast to the road (lower right side).
Problems continue with depth. The middle ground hills and the ones against the fog are muddled into each other. While I made things simpler in the distance, the colors remain the same in intensity. Atmospheric perspective needs a bit of boost in this one.
Look forward to more of these studies.
The California coast depends on the fog that rolls in from the Pacific during the late spring and summer – and other times of the year, probably – for its ecology. Plants collect the damp of the fog as a primary water source, and at times it makes the coastal areas, and inland valleys, rather damp and dreary.
Here, we call it “May Grey” and “June Gloom” and “The Fog Monster” – and believe me, when you live in a coastal city in July, and the sky is cold and damp, you cannot help but agree with Mark Twain when he said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
You see the coastal fog rolling over the foothills toward the inland valleys. I tried to simplify my palette and fields of color to suggest distance. The sun is coming from the viewer’s right, so I also worked to make it evident on the distant hills. I used a lot of dry brush in the foreground, and basically worked from top to bottom so that the distant layers would be overlaid by the middle and foreground. The only thing that wasn’t quite in that sequence were the fence posts. Once they were established, dry brush to represent grasses was employed.