Study at Pt. Lobos

You could spend your life exploring and drawing and painting Pt. Lobos in the Monterey area. Here is a quick study in pastels. This was a particularly difficult one to do because of the nature of the medium – messy and full of fine dust!

The distant cliffs across the waters are seen through the trees. Unlike gouache, you cannot paint over layers as successfully in pastels. More layers mean less success, even when you use a workable fixative. In watercolor masking can help as well as the fact you work from light to dark, so darker watercolor can obscure lighter washes.

In the end, the sky was a messy mush up weirdness – the white scribbles were my solution to the problem, but oddly, it did help out in the end. The sky was a flat grey, and here it gives the same flatness of color that morning.

Negative Painting: Sycamore Leaves

Now that I feel a bit more accomplished in some of my watercolor skills, I have taken the time to think about a few things.  Specifically, what to do next.  I think negative space, or negative painting, seems like the next best step.  I am not sure why – it just feels right.  That is how I painted my two moonlit sycamores.  Now it is time to paint their leaves.  Below is a photo I took the other day, which is my reference point.

I started out with three primary colors:  Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Yellow, and Permanent Rose.  First, I wet the paper and then made a few distinct areas for each color.  Then I tipped the paper around (it’s mounted on a board) so the colors would blend and bleed.  As it is probably only 90# paper, there was buckling and pooling, but decided to just let things happen.  After it dried, I drew in the shapes of the leaves, and then worked around the leaves and twigs with a wash of varying strengths that combined Cobalt Blue and Burnt Sienna.  The veins were a bit of Hookers, Sap, and Cobalt Green.  Altogether, there are multiple layers of washes / glazes – some successful, some not.  The final overlaying wash was a mixture of Carbazole Violet, Cobalt and Ultramarine Blues.

This painting has a lot of problems – too tight, too overdone – but the problems also present future solutions, which I hope to visit in the not-too-distant future.  I feel like it is moving toward mud, too, which is something I always have to watch out for.