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 . . .

Winter Sunset

I took this picture awhile back in the local botanical garden.  It is an oak against the sky, with the Santa Monica range in the distance.  In the photo, the tree is silhouetted against a yellow sky, and the foreground is mottled with dried grasses.  The California oak is not deciduous, but shows leaves year round.

The process here is along the lines of yesterday’s post, and is more successful I think.  It is very simple.  The steps I took began with a wash on the entire paper (8×10) in raw sienna.  The mountains on the left were done next using a bit of sap green with the raw sienna, followed by some cobalt blue for the darker range.  After that, the lower half of the painting had a wash of a greenish color, later followed with a darker green of sap green and cobalt blue.  The tree and brush in the center were of burnt sienna and cobalt, with perhaps a bit of ultramarine as well.

That’s it.  Fairly successful in moving from light to dark, general to specific.  The simplicity of the subject matter makes it an easy painting to do – yesterday’s fig tree through the window was more complex, and accordingly more difficult.  I really wonder if I will ever successfully paint complex scenes, such as a forest and creek or a city street filled with cars, people, buildings, and whatever – rather daunting, actually.

Mists and Blurs

Wetness in watercolor varies.  There are times when a very dry brush on dry paper is necessary to give sharp, clear edges to an object.  Then there is wet-on-dry wherein washes are applied to dry paper with a lot of water.  And finally, wet-in-wet, where wet color is applied to wet paper.  As the paper dries, the color behaves differently.  There is so much to learn in watercolor!

Of late, I have been painting with a lot of water and a lot of color.  It’s a challenge, but daily painting is yielding better results overall.  Not every day, but overall!  Yesterday, I watched a number of videos, and did two studies based on videos by Rick Surowicz and Edo Hannema.

This one is from an early video by Surowicz.  He used some frisket, but my bottle was not working, so I painted without it.  I really needed it as his style is not just wet, but sopping wet!  He uses a fine mist sprayer to scoot paint around.  The result can be quite nice as you build layers of colors on layers of color.  I did this painting on Strathmore 400 paper, a paper I don’t especially like, so I was quite pleased with how it handled all the water.  The palette consisted of three colors – sap green, indanthrene blue, and a bit of Indian red.

Edo Hannema is a master of the wash.  I enjoy using his videos as study guides.  The above painting is my favorite of the two I did yesterday.  The palette was limited to raw sienna, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue.  The green was a mixture of cobalt and raw sienna.  One thing I really like about Hannema’s videos is he tells you when he thinks he makes a mistake, or needs to fix something in his painting, as well as tips on using colors.  It’s rather like eavesdropping on the artist.

I decided to look at mists and soft edges because the other day Rick Surowicz posted a video about mist rising below a mountain ridge – Overlook:

This was a good video to watch on how to create a mist or fog.  He also has another one called Misty Lake which was the one I used in my above studies:

Edo Hannema is a master at wet-in-wet techniques, which are great for fogs and soft effects.  The horizon of this painting video demonstrates this quite well.  The thing that is especially fun about the video below is the fact he took a painting he did of this scene in the summer and converted it to winter:

I find using practice videos helpful in learning techniques.  They are also helpful in thinking about how I paint versus how I want to paint.  Like many beginners, I put in far too much detail, and my own impatience impairs final results far too often.  Letting the paper dry is important, and I am learning to do that – my hair dryer is hanging within easy reach!  Leaving white paper is getting more “natural” in feeling, so I am thinking ahead as well.

Nowadays, I find I am plotting out paintings in my head.  Daily painting is another big step forward as I now have the time to spend on it without a million other things demanding my time weighing me down with guilt – chores and duties or the pleasures of a hobby.