WWM #3: Picnic Food

The third prompt for #WorldWatercolorMonth!  Here, picnic food.  Bread, wine, cheese, fruit.  Sounds a lot more healthy than burgers and fries, and certainly more attractive to paint!  But, oh, what a challenge gouache is compared with watercolor.  I haven’t worked in opaque medium in years and years and years.  Personally, I don’t like the picnic basket, but the cheese, bread, wine, and (sorta) the fruit look okay.

I started with broad swaths of the major colors, such as the green, browns, blues, and laid in the underlying colors for the bread, cheese and apples.  From there I moved into less thin paint to thicker, working from the most distant (the grass) to the foreground.  At the end, I laid a thin wash of ultramarine blue to dissolve a bit of the underlying gouache to create shadows, knowing full well it would lift and blur the paint underneath it.

While I cannot say I love the painting – still lives are not things I pursue, preferring landscapes – I can say that it was definitely a worthwhile study.  Paint handling is getting a bit more intuitive and logical.  So different than watercolor – but at the same time comprehensible, if that makes any sense.  It’s really just understanding the logistics of the medium . . . And, I think I am improving (a bit) in using gouache, which is a good feeling.  I’m looking forward to the challenge of alternating transparent with opaque medium during #WorldWatercolorMonth.

WWM #1: Primary Palette

The very first entry of #WorldWatercolorMonth!  The prompt is “primary palette” and so I chose a painting that predominates with the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue.  From there, secondary colors were mixed, such as oranges and greens.  With gouache, water may be used to thin the paints, but white and black are often used to lighten or darken colors as needed.  Given the fact I haven’t done much painting over the past 2 or 3 weeks, this one worked out rather well.  Let’s see what happens tomorrow!

World Watercolor Month: July 2019

Communities sometime just happen, and sometimes it takes the vision of an individual to make the community happen. 

In this case, Charlie O’Shields has done both.  He created Doodlewash, and from there, he has created World Watercolor Month.

This year I am going to try to do a painting every day in July for World Watercolor Month.  In the past few weeks I’ve fallen off as I have veered into ink making and indigo dyeing.  Now, time to return to a good daily habit.  I think daily artwork is like brushing your teeth every day – it makes for a more pleasant start to the day!

I did Inktober for most of the month of October 2018, and it was a wonderful process, and in doing it I learned so much.  Pen and ink is black and white and World Watercolor is with colors, in the form of gouache or watercolor – or probably any other water-based medium.  I expect I will learn a lot by being focused on this as well.  Because I am attempting to learn gouache and improve my poor watercolor skills, maybe I will alternate medium daily – like odds for gouache and evens for watercolor.  What do you think?

Use the hashtag #WorldWatercolorMonth to draw people to your work if you participate.

Under the Oaks

This past spring in California has been one of the most stunning I can recall.  A long period of rain, extending deep into May, produced a situation in which flowers bloomed, and bloomed, and bloomed.  There are still traces of colors – golds and yellows mostly – on the hills when normally the color is beige and dead.  The richness of the wildflowers made the landscape, whether on the hills or under the trees, in the meadows or alongside the freeway, a wonderland of color.  I am still sorting out photos and memories as sources for paintings.

This is an underpainting for the gouache painting I did today.  Wildflowers under the oak trees along a local trial – lupines, wild cucumber, white and yellow flowers of known and unknown species.  Here, a la James Gurney, I decided to do an underpainting using casein paints.  He suggests casein as the underpainting as it cannot be picked up, as can an underpainting of gouache, once it dries.  It primes the paper, too.  While the smell is rather gross, the substrate it creates is stable and I rather liked using it, not just for what it did for the paper, but to lay in some values as well.

From there, I moved into remembering – thin layers to thick in gouache, building to lighter colors and thicker layers as you move along.  I’ve watched a number of videos on YouTube to get a sense of the process.  In particular, I have enjoyed the videos on gouache by Sarah Burns.  It’s rather strange to me, but it worked out.  Below is a painting of blue-eyed grass and white flowers under the oak trees in this stunning California spring.

A View from Above

More gouache!

Gouache apparently is best used straight out of the tube.  I put a bit of each color I have into a covered palette, and the result is the gouache dried out fairly quickly.  Today, I managed to make a hybrid painting it seems – rather watercolory and transparent, and rather gouachy and opaquish.  To see if I can rehydrate the gouache, I put a couple of drops of glycerin into each well along with a spray of water.  I’ll test them out tomorrow.  I hate to think of wasting a lot of paint – it’s not cheap, even on sale for 40% off.

There are some “rules” for painting with gouache.  One is thin to thick paint, and dark to light paint.  Each layer of gouache is opaque(ish) depending on how diluted it is.  Thus, you can begin with a watercolor-thin wash and end up with a straight-out-of-the-tube thickness.

To begin with, I laid down thin layers of color for all areas – sky, background, middle ground and foreground.  From there it was playing around.  Ultimately the sky and the foreground are more like gouache insofar I used heavier paints, but the middle to background remain less so and more along the lines of watercolor.

Besides using paint in different manners here, I tried to convey depth using atmospheric perspective.  to some degree it worked.  Being able to paint over things was really helpful.  I’m not really sure if things “worked” or “didn’t work” here – but I do know a bit more about how gouache can be used, and, as with everything, practice helps out a lot.

As fascinated as I am with the gouache, I also know I need to continue working on my other artistic goals of drawing and watercolor and perspective . . . so easy to go down a path and ignore everything else I want to do!

First Attempts with Gouache

Goo – osh!  Isn’t that a great word?

Anyway, when we were in San Diego awhile back, we found a genuine art store in the neighborhood.  Of course, I had to wander in there, and I finally was able to find water-based gouache paints.  All the ones I ever seem to find are acrylic, which is not what I want.  Today I got them out for the first time and put them onto a palette, leaving space for other colors, which I am sure I will want to add.

I think I need to add a red along the lines of alizarin and a couple of greens, such as Hookers and sap.  I use them a lot in watercolors.

My first picture was quite tentative, but eventually I got a bit more brave.  Sadly, the scanner did not differentiate very well between the yellows in the flowers.  Rather than just one color, I used both to suggest petals.  The greens are straight out of the tube as well as mixed with blue and black.

This next painting is what made me realize I needed an alizarin or something close to it.  The actual flowers are more pink; cad red does not turn pink with the addition of white, nor is very pretty with purple mixed in.  So, I settled on the violet with the addition of white.  The leaves were painted light to dark, and I tried to let the paint dry thoroughly so I could paint around things, such as the flowers, or on top of other colors.  This is how watercolor is done – light to dark.  The pot was done while the paint was still wet and I mixed other colors in as I went along.  That was really a lot of fun just to see the result.  Finally, the shadow was painting on fairly transparently and loosely, only to be covered with more opaque paint.  I rather like the result.

Finally, I remembered that gouache suggests painting dark to light.  Here I placed a black/blue mixture and let it dry.  From there, I applied moss green, but I should have mixed it and the yellows and reds with white so they would dry brighter.  Still, that is a good lesson for the future:.  Darks in gouache dry lighter, and lights dry darker.  Here I applied paint directly and let it dry, as well as mixing it on the paper.

Because paper is so important in painting, I used some 6×8″ 100% cotton paper.  I’m glad I did as there were times when the paper was wet, as when laying down the black background on the painting above.  I really love the fact that I can put lighter colors on dark.  As a kid in elementary school, poster paints were some of my favorite ones for this same reason.

Old dog, new tricks!  Hooked on gouache, indeed!

Disastrous Fun

I promised to paint more buildings.  So I did.  I painted a house in the middle of a cold, cold climate in the dead of winter.  I made better house drawings when I was 10.

I have really lost touch with real cold, real snow, and a real winter.  I do have memories, though, of the intense gloom of the woods in northern New York state.  There was something so magical about them – the silence of the woods, the snow falling, the sense of being alone in the world.  I liked the idea of capturing that with a building, on water, in the dead of winter.

Buildings mean people, even in the middle of nowhere, on a river.  People usually mean unnecessary noise, and in the woods or hiking, the last thing I want is noise.  Silence is something to be savored in our noisy age.

So, let’s get back to the “disastrous fun” of this posting.  “Disastrous” as this is such an amateurish painting, and “fun” because the more I got into, and the more I realized how awful it was, the more fun I had.  Making a “good” painting no longer had any meaning – it was the experience.  And the snow.

The final touch was the snowflakes.  White gouache to spatter.  I spattered on the painting.  It flew onto my glasses.  I spattered some more.  It flew onto my glasses.  I changed how I was spattering, and there were streaks.

Snowflakes don’t streak in the real world.  Spattering paint is an art form in and of itself.

Tomatoes Gouache

These last few days have been hectic – appointments, rushing around getting things done, cooking for a bunch of people.  As a result, Inktober has (hopefully) temporarily fallen to the wayside.  Despite the craziness, I wanted to do something, paint or draw something, and thus, some Tomatoes Gouache, recipe for which is quite simple:  tomatoes and gouache; to make, just paint.

I wouldn’t eat them as the fiber content is not quite the right kind.

Cheers!

Two Color Studies: Snowfall

Another study in Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue.  Cold, wintry colors.  Here is a study done to practice laying down a gradated wash.  Using a strong blue wash, I started at the top, then went all the way to the bottom, lighter by adding more water.  Then, starting at the bottom, I used a dry brush to begin removing the wash, bottom up, until I reached the horizon.  From there, a mixture of blue and brown to create the blurred trees in the distance.  Then trees, shadows, and the shading under the trees.  The paper is not the best for heavy washes – there is a bit of puddling – but the exercise of wash and 2 colors worked.  Finally, I took some white gouache on a toothbrush and splattered it to create the effect of snow.  Maybe this is really a 3-color study?