WWM #19: Splashes of Color

I’ve been thinking about how I am developing a sort of painting style in gouache, as well as giving thought to the painters whose work I admire.  It definitely falls in the impressionistic and expressionistic varieties.  Gouache just seems to be made for exuberant color and enthusiastic brushwork.My colors are more subdued that I wanted – I wanted turquoise skies and pink flowers and a brilliant sunset.  Instead, I have a rather northern European type of town scene, with a garden or flowering park in the middle.  Summer’s abundance flourishes under the trees, but in the shade it seems.  In doing this painting, I didn’t do much planning.  I stuck to the prompt of “splashes of color” – and splash I did.  The result was a serious loosening up of my style, and a letting go of “this is what I want it to be.”  That is significant – I can be a real tight ass about painting, and in the end dislike the results.  When I let go – let things splash – I am usually much, much happier with the results.

Regardless, both paintings appear muddy to me.  I wonder if working with pure color – straight from the tube – would help.  Practice certainly will.  The flowers in the vase seem a bit overworked, too.  Again, practice and experience.

So, lots of splashes of color for #WorldWatercolorMonth 2019 is producing some rather pleasing results and, more than anything, a daily involvement with painting.

WWM #17: Music

I am the least musical person in the world.  I cannot carry a tune.  Singing voice – well, let’s just say a bit – lots of bits – better is to be desired.

I can read music.  I took piano lessons.  When I practiced the piano, the dog would sit at the back door and whine to be let out.  When my sister practiced, he would curl up in a ball under the piano bench – if he had been a cat, doubtless he would purr along.

However, despite my own inadequacies in the music department, I really like music.  When I was a child, a family friend, Boris – who fled Tsarist Russia after the October Revolution (being a prince) – was a wonderful musician.  He played the balalaika and sang melancholy Russian songs.  A balalaika, a song bird.  Here is to music in all its forms!

WWM #15: Monochromatic

Monochromatic – value studies – black, grey, white – something I never do.  I promised myself I would weeks ago, before beginning any painting.  As with most resolutions, it fell by the wayside.  However, I think monochrome value studies in gouache could be really rewarding and worth doing – you can make corrections as you go along, put white on black if need be.  Not so easy in watercolor, and pencil studies can get all fuzzy and blurred.

#WorldWatercolorMonth2019 is at its halfway point already!  Summer is fleeing . . .

See you tomorrow!

WWM #13: Glassy

I am drawn to water – maybe because when I was young, there was always a lake or river nearby.  As an adult, I live in a rather dry land where creeks are rare, but the vast Pacific is not far, with wetlands and marshes.  Fresh water lakes, though, are what I really love – the ones where the sky passes by beneath your feet on the glassy calm of the water.

This is from a photograph of a lake somewhere in the world – from Pixabay – and the clouds in the foreground were crystal clear and smooth.  I sort of messed that glassiness up, but came fairly close to what I was trying to express.  Obviously, this is a rather lonely view, but what better place than to sit, enjoy the breeze , and perhaps listen to the babbling of water fowl and the hum of insects on a warm summer day?

WWM #11: Simple Pleasures

This one had me pondering . . . a good book, flowers, painting.  In the end, I thought of what seems to give me the most pleasure.  The natural world, flowers, plants – the world outside that is simply there.  Sometimes we manipulate it, such as by planting flowers, and other times it is just being itself, chaotic nature.

Here, sunflowers.  A family member was in Las Vegas when the earthquakes of July 4 and 5 hit the Los Angeles area.  Her pool sloshed over, inundating her garden with salty, chlorinated water.  She lost a lot of plants.  I had sent her a picture of some sunflowers she had given me, soon to bloom, and that is when I found out she had lost her plants.  My idea was to (maybe) paint some sunflowers for her, but unfortunately these did not turn out too well.  Still, there was the idea and the pleasure of painting sunflowers . . .

Here, Joshua Trees.  I really get a bang out of these crazy-looking plants, which are very limited in their topographical area for survival, and as the world warms (it really isn’t, per the government), these plants are becoming endangered.  When the US government shut down, Joshua Tree National Monument (or Park?) was heavily vandalized.  Many of these trees take centuries to get big – and then some fool decides they are fair game to destroy.

The natural world is one filled with simple pleasures for our delight.  Some delight in destroying things of beauty, wrecking the work of time.  To me, this is a really sad, pathetic statement about human beings, but then there are those who also work to save our natural world before it disappears.  I am very grateful for these heroes who work to save the simple pleasures of the natural world.

WWM #9: Shadow Play

Today is another gouache, and I will say it is beginning to feel a bit “natural” to be painting in gouache.

Doing all the waves the other day got me in touch with that sensuous quality the paint has when it has a specific texture, as well as the dry brush effect when a bit of scrubbing is needed, and when the paint is very thin.  Each requires  different ways in which the paint is controlled, by how much water is added, what is below the layer of paint you are adding, and what you anticipate adding later.

One thing I did learn in today’s painting is the value of the hair dryer – I used it so much in this painting, nearly after each layer of paint.  This got the paint as dry as it should be and it kept me from working more quickly than is appropriate for gouache.  The result was much more pleasing in my opinion and a lot less frustrating.

In painting this window scene, I wanted to accomplish a couple of things.  One was a more “painterly” style – a bit looser than say the butterfly of yesterday.  The other was to see if I could express the varying light of the shadows as the flowers were buffeted in the breeze.  If you think about how shadows move, they flutter, getting lighter at times, getting darker, as the breeze moves the flowers on the sill.

Lilies of the Valley

With the plumbers here tearing out the wall in the studio, I took off for a bit of the morning to do some shopping for gym shoes and clothes, pick up an item I ordered awhile ago, and visit a local quilting store.  On the way home I picked up some groceries.  Usually I like to spend the morning painting, but this afternoon I decided to do some as the plumbers were gone.

Again, I am working with gouache, and finding now that I have a basic understanding of it, I want to use it more and more.  What I like about gouache is the fact I can build up layers, and this gives me a lot more control than watercolor – over which you have NO control (you just think you do!).  Both are beautiful in their control and lack of control.

Gouache lends itself to a more impressionistic approach to color usage and painting style.  That is what I find myself especially drawn to at the present.  Precise, accurate paintings, or ones which have a very graphic nature to them, while attractive, just don’t fit into my personality.  Here is where being messy is okay!  Even better when you can cover up your mess.  I like the spontaneity of watercolor and its unpredictable qualities, and I like the painterly quality of gouache.

Today the idea was to just paint.  No theme, just play.  As I enjoy flowers, I picked a photo from Pixabay of Lilies of the Valley.  Color scheme was simple – the usual white and some black or dark blue, but essentially blue, green, yellow, and white, along with complementaries to make greys.  I had a lot of fun, and while I can see areas for improvement, there really is no need to as it is practice.  And practice is fun if you let it be – so, I am letting it be and enjoying the result.

This was painted using Holbein Artists Gouache (watersoluble, non-acrylic) on Fabriano Hot Press 25% cotton paper.

I even signed it with my real “painters” signature!