Under the Summer Sky

As summer fades away, the fires are burning along the west coast, and the clarity of the air has gone murky. This is when I dream of being somewhere along a river, with sun, blue skies, flowers and birds. I’m a country girl at heart, stuck in suburbia! (But there are advantages of the ‘burbs, too.)

I used Arches Rough 12×16 140# paper. The texture is not as smooth as what CP or HP provide. There is a lot more “tooth” which is great for dry brush and texture, such as in the foreground grasses and middle ground trees. I used one of my hake brushes for the general grass shapes, and a larger, harder brush for the sky. Before I painted any large area, I used the hake brush with clear water, letting it soak in a bit to help the paint to spread more easily on this rough paper.

In general, I am pleased with this painting. DOF works fairly well. I put in a building, too! For me, the most flawed area is the squared-off top of a tree to the left of the building – maybe I will go in later to correct it, but for now, I’ll let it be, cuz it’s time for a nap!

Summer on Mt. Diablo

The end of summer and the brilliant greens of summer fade to brown and beige . . .

Here, I just wanted to make a light painting with simple washes. Usually I go for really intense colors, and it took a bit of work to get the sky light, as well as keep the colors of the distant mountains and grasses paler than my normal approach. The sky was easiest as I just blotted up my colors with tissue and used a lightly damp brush.

I’m rather pleased with the results, I must say.

The Orchard

This is by far the painting which took the most time to produce.  There was – gasp! – actual forethought and planning done.  Can you believe it?  Does that mean I’m progressing or something?!?

Anyway, what I did was consider what I wanted to see.  I also thought about some things I have observed other watercolorists do, namely underpainting.  I also have been reading and seeing many painters lay out light colors, in a general way, move into medium washes with perhaps more detail, darker areas, and finally the details.  This is what I did, but, before painting, I put down a lot of frisket in the shape of dots.  Then, the first pale layer of wash.  Between the third and fourth photos, I did more frisket.  Dots again, but I also used a toothbrush for splatter, and drew lines over the green washes, to retain colors.  Then the fourth layer.  At that point I stopped for the night.

This morning, I rather knew what I wanted to do.  I laid down a pale wash over the grassy areas of quinacridone gold and sap green.  It was necessary to pull the grasses together.  Finally, I removed the frisket and did a bunch of details complete the painting.  Total time – about 5 hours!  All of it was fun, and not a lot of frustration.  I think because I took time, and because I am less “serious” about my stuff (knowing it won’t be what I envision) really helps.

Below, a gallery of the steps I took in the painting, if you are interested in the process.

 

Grasses in Water

I really liked the reference photo I had for this painting.  It was hard to really see at first – kind of busy with vertical and horizontal / diagonal lines.  And then it came into focus.  In retrospect, I think using frisket for the plants would have made them stand out a bit more, but in the photo they were a very pale wheat color without a lot of contrast.  I made them more contrasty and added darker browns and some greens for a better (I think) effect.

Water is a tricky subject – until you look at it a bit.  Flowing water is a series of colored shapes.  Reflections have some rules, but I have to re-read about those.  I am not too sure how I would express ocean waves crashing on the shore at this point, but flat water with a few ripples seems easier each time I attempt it.