I started out with an attempt at doing a realistic succulent in gouache. It just wasn’t there. Then my pastels class came between it and me. And this ode to Audrey (from “Little Shop of Horrors” fame) moved into a sort of abstraction of its own. Normally my gouache tends to be done with thick paint and a stiff brush; here, softer paint and a softer brush. Quite a different experience and one I will need to revisit.
I am really rather pleased with this gouache – haven’t done any since last year! When I am painting in gouache, each one begins okay, with clear ideas in my head. And then it gets really and truly hideous. And then, it changes, almost by itself, and comes together in a way that watercolor doesn’t. I don’t know how to describe it, but the process is quite magical – just like snowy woods in the late afternoon.
I haven’t picked up a brush in weeks. I did an ink and watercolor sketch a few days ago, but no painting of any sort. Life got in the way, as well as other interests needing a lot of time – photography in this case. Now I hope to get back to daily painting because I miss it!
The other day, I was out and about. Looking down, I saw some bright pink daisies in the sun, falling over the cobbled pavement of the street. Hmmm, let’s paint ’em!
And so I did.
I decided to attempt a more high key painting today – one with a lot of white! I always look for contrast, but here I tried to lessen the usual contrast. Maybe it’s because I rather like contrasty photos as opposed to subtle one with a long scale of color or black and white. Even here, I kept adding contrast! It’s a fixation . . . but contrast is how we differentiate shapes and depth, so it’s necessary, but I am trying to minimalize it. Not sure if it worked or not!
The Caribbean is a magical area – palms, sunny, sandy, windy, brilliant light, azure waters – and a place of terror, such as the fury of hurricanes, and in the olden days, pirates! Here is California we also have such brilliance, but our hells are fires and earthquakes. It seems there is always a counterpoint for something.
This was a rather fun painting to do just because it forced me to really rethink using white.
The ocean was the problem. I thought I had put it in so it would be fairly light, particularly toward the distant shore. Instead, when it dried, it was darker than I wanted. The trees on the hill in the midground were essentially the same value as the water! This was quite an eye-opener. In the end, I put plain white (zinc) onto the paper, and kept blending it in until I got it where it was acceptable.
From there, it was back to the background. It was also too bright. I toned that down, and greyed it up a bit. The background shore was too bright. More work. Then, back to the midground, foreground, buildings and boats. I painted – with oodles of white! – the buildings, making them abstract shapes and then adding slightly darker shades to make the buildings seem 3-D. More trees. Finally, reflections, boats, and their reflections.
While I don’t consider this to be one of my better paintings, it is certainly one filled with lessons, in particular the usage of white (lots!), perhaps in the future check the colors on a separate piece of paper to see how light or dark they will dry, and finally deliberately trying to create abstract color blobs for buildings and trees that are discernible as such, but still indistinct in the distance.
I am ordering more white today!