Tag: landscape

Slow Summer River

Several weeks ago I started thinking more and more about what I am doing in my spare time. It is then I realized that, for me, the best way to spend my time is to learn new things, in particular, new art techniques. Thus, colored pencils; I signed up for an in-person class with masks and social distancing. I plan to continue this summer with the class.

At the same time, I thought it about time I learned to paint with acrylics, something I always avoided because I just didn’t like the idea of painting with plastic! Add to that, years ago, acrylic paints were not as good as they are now. I was also a considerably more impatient person, and less experienced painter, than I am now. Thus, I enrolled in “Intermediate” painting – I’ve been using gouache, so I have experience!

The first class was yesterday afternoon. I always wonder about teachers and how “good” they are. It takes time to become a good teacher, and honestly, I have found the quality of teachers for arts and languages at adult schools a mixed bag. However, I know I am going to enjoy this painting class. Students I spoke to said they have been coming to the class for 4 years – that says something for the teacher.

I totally enjoyed this first class. People paint what interests them. The teacher helps when asked, offers appropriate and spot on suggestions, and has a really fun personality that doesn’t become overwhelming. Teacher and fellow students are pleasant, delightful, and fun. Can’t go wrong with that, I say.

Because I didn’t know what to expect in class, I decided to bring a kit of paints I’d boughten several years ago, one with about 10 colors, to play with. I used this same kit to begin a painting – after all, play and doing are the best ways to learn. Along with paints and tentative beginnings of a painting, journeying in my cart were rags, water containers, dish soap, brushes, paper palette, an apron, and other bits and pieces.

Above is the underpainting I had done prior to arriving in class. Then days went by – about a week – and I got too busy to do anything with it until I arrived in class.

This is where the painting was at the end of class – nearly there. The sand on the left bank was re-shaped after the river was moved (ah! I feel like God when I get to change geography!) and relocated. And since we are mentioning God, there are two rather eyelike things up in the upper left sky that definitely need removing.

This morning I finished the river, refining this and that. Altogether, I am not displeased for a first acrylic in 40 years. The final painting is the one at the very top. Below you can see them in progression.

The process of learning is often best by doing. By doing, you know what it feels like, you have experience. I struggled here and there, such as with the sky, with the viscosity of the paint, with the shadows and coloring of the sand on both banks. I rather think I like the river in the 2nd version, but decided to change it by adding reflections and ripples for the final version. I took out the “eyes” in the second version, added more fluffy and high-altitude clouds, and worked to create a sense of sand and shadows on the left, along with that wonderfully mucky sand in still water.

This was painted on 11×14 Canson XL, gessoed, and taped to frog board. The kit is by Daler-Rowney, which provides good basic colors for the beginner.

And now?

Onward!

Landscape Quickie with One Brush

In keeping with yesterday’s quickies, today I present you with another timed study. This time I used only one brush to do everything. It was a 3/4 inch flat brush, rather stiff, and not able to hold a lot of water. It’s always a challenge to do a timed study, but also more challenging when one brush is used for everything.

Oops! I did you a fine line brush for some things, like the trees in the middle left, the windows in the buildings, and some of the grasses in the foreground. However, the flat brush did produce everything else, even the tree trunks. Practice like this is a lot of fun.

37 Minute Painting

Another timed painting. This time the requirement was 37 minutes. I set my phone alarm and was shocked to hear it go off! I was checking it off and on, but suddenly it just rang, and here is the result.

This time I used Uart 600 grit paper, which is like a fine sand paper. It pulls the color of the pastels really easily so a lighter touch is required when painting than with the unsanded Mi-Teintes paper. I used a combination of photos for this one as I needed a creek, but I wanted some oaks and hills from around here. Not especially successful as far as I am concerned; the exercise was the point. I did get into the zone of painting even through I knew that timer would go off at some point.

About Dionysos’ Pond

Another painting done primarily with a hake brush.

This painting was done on the reverse of a previously painted piece of Arches 16×20 CP 140#. I wet the paper initially, taping it only in the corners, and was rather pleased to see how the paper relaxed once wet. I moved the tape as needed to keep the paper flat.

Anyway, the work here was themed on wet-in-wet, use of an excessively large brush (for me!), and standing up, rather than seated. The results were interesting – standing up allowed for more freedom of brush stroke. Getting the paper wet and letting it set a bit before starting the washes also helped.

Compositionally, I think it is a bit bland – really very little to lead the eye. However, this was not my focus here; rather, I wanted to use the hake brush to create sky and foliage as well as broader swaths of color. The nature of the soft brush allows for thin lines, rough splotches of color with white or underlying colors to show through, as well as washes of subtle beauty. From there I used a rigger to create branches, trunks, and some more calligraphic and suggestive lines.

A Study from Vernon Nye

I decided to use a study by the watercolorist Vernon Nye.  He caught the back country of California perfectly – the hills and trees in particular.  It was a fun study and I liked it because it pointed out to me how deceptively simple the hills can seem, but they really are not.  The road, too, was another eye-catcher.  I have driven along a number of back-road highways throughout the state, and you feel like you are the only person in the world.  The perspective was a great challenge, too.  Altogether, a good study of something in my own back yard, and I can take what I learned into future paintings.

Northern Marsh

Still working in pastel.  I cleaned up the pastels I was using yesterday by putting them in a container of corn meal and shaking them gently.  It did the job.  I also took a different approach to today’s painting, and the difference is evident to me (cuz I did it!).

I decided to use a piece of 7×11 Uart 800 sanded pastel paper, which is the finest grit in the Uart series.  I bought a sample pack a while back, and now that I think I get how to use pastels fairly well, I thought it was time to begin.  Having cleaner pastels also helped.  I also decided to work from light to dark this time, like a watercolor, and it seems to have been a bit more successful.  My colors were getting rather muddy in the last one.  I also did not apply any fixative to the painting until it was done.  In the others I had used workable fixative between layers.

Overall, rather a bit more pleased with this pastel painting than yesterday’s.  It was more pleasant to do, probably in part because I simplified my approach.  Working light to dark – putting in the sky and water first – may also have helped.  The Uart 800 sanded pastel paper was really nice, too, and gave a nice smooth finish as the paper has a very fine tooth to it.  I used a final fixative on it, but I am still unsure how many layers of final fixative are to be used.

Now, time to attach sleeves to the sweater I am knitting!

Anacapa Island

The Channel Islands off the coast of California are amazing to visit.  Only recently (don’t remember when) they became a national park, to protect both the islands and their flora and fauna, as well as to protect the waters surrounding them.  Anacapa is a very distinctive island.  It has an arch on one end, and zig-zags, snakelike, as it emerges from the water.  I have visited this island, both on the land, and in a boat sailing around.  It’s a truly lovely place, one worth visiting, painting, exploring, and photographing.

Here, I finished up using the available paints on my muddy palette.  The final painting with that mess!  As with yesterday’s painting, I have added white to the palette for colors, but for the most part, these are colors salvaged from the mess on the palette.

Truth be told, I really did not expect this painting to turn out at all.  My colors were just such a mess.  I simplified everything as much as I could.  I managed to get some sense of depth, which also surprised me!

Rain Country

This time a sky and land study from a Pixabay image.  I did this on the reverse side of another painting, so the paper, 140# Arches cold press, was warped.  I thought about ironing it, but decided to just tape it to the board, and use the warps to my advantage with the sky.  Overall, it worked pretty well, but where there were dribbles, I snagged them with a tissue.  It was rather fun.

Altogether, I like the way this painting turned out.  I was rather stumped about the foreground, so I just made some leafy, grassy strokes.  The water along the roadway came out fairly good, as did the road itself.  Perspective on a flat land is a challenge but it seems to have worked out, too.

Some days a painting works, and you are in the moment with paint, brush, and paper.   A lot of the painting was like that.  Then, at the end, I stepped back and thought about contrast, and added a bit here and there as blobs or lines or dots.  And finally it was done.

A Dutch Landscape – After Edo Hannema

Today was a day of “firsts.”  I decided to paint a big painting for me – 16×20 inches.  I also chose to use a more professional paper than I have been; here, 140# cold press Arches.

I wanted to test out how Arches handles water – lots of water.  Hannema is the master of the wash and wet paper approach.  His current paper is Saunders Waterford, which is different, of course, from Arches.  I think the Arches handled the water really well.  I, on the other hand, still need to master my washes.  Blooms are visible here and there, and I need to learn how to control those or eliminate them if I find them later on.

The palette of colors I used was initially what Hannema used:  ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, and raw sienna.  Because I did not like greens I was getting, I threw in some sap green.  If I had used yellow ochre, perhaps my greens would have been more satisfactory – something to make a mental note of to try next time around.

I always learn from a video.  As I have mentioned, water is one thing I am working on, along with buildings.  Today, I wanted to just work with a new paper and a lot of water.  The study was successful altogether methinks.

Below is Edo Hannema’s painting tutorial:

A Loch

Up front, I use Pixabay frequently for their fine, royalty-free photos, whether as inspiration, or as an image to be painted.  Here, I used an image of a loch (found under the search term “loch” – how clever!).  I loved the vantage point and tried to catch it.

Here, the sense of being up above the rest of the world, in a field of flowers, on a beautiful day, is so well done in this photo, I just had to be there myself.  Scotland is one of those countries that is mystical and magical, and views like this only touch the tip of its beauty.

The daisies were especially challenging – so bright and white!  Negative painting and thin washes hopefully express them fairly well.  The DOF was another challenge, and it is a natural tendency to not leave well enough alone . . .