Things I Never Paint

After spending 7 hours yesterday sorting through books I hope to sell or donate, I was bushed. Dusty and dirty, too. It’s amazing how much of a mess your life can become when you aren’t paying attention! Painting definitely has its attraction as opposed to drudgery, but lately I feel like pushing myself into areas I don’t ordinarily venture. Cleaning and discarding shakes things up, and it seems to be carrying over into artwork.

Charles Reid, besides being great at landscapes, is also fascinating for me as his watercolor portraits are so loose and wonderful. I read a bit in one of his books about how he does skin tones. Colors for pale skin can be yellow ochre, alizarin, and cerulean – these are the ones I used to paint the figure on the left. For the one on the right I threw in some ultramarine and Hooker’s green at Reid’s suggestion. I worked to make the highlights warm and the shadows cool – more yellow in the light areas, more blue in the shadow areas.

Here are some gardeners laboring away. The color palette was pretty simple – ultramarine, orange, and a bit of ochre and green. I tried to create a sense of dimension in each pose, working with complementary colors to create shadows.

I then thought that after doing people, I should do an animal. I found a wonderful picture on Pixabay of an elephant striding along. I was rather teary when I thought about how we are losing so many wonderful creatures, large and small, because human beings are not the best. Of course, I’m not starving, so my perspective is very different. I was caught by the beauty of this elephant and think I will probably draw and paint creatures more. I have never painted or drawn an elephant before and enjoyed this one a lot.

Finally, a building, specifically Dunguaire Castle. It’s from the 16th century and has been restored. I think it would be a wonderful place to visit as it is right on Galway Bay in western Ireland.

Altogether, this afternoon’s romp in the paint was satisfying and challenging. Figures, animals, buildings – all of these really pulled me out of my comfort zone. I kept my palette simple and worked to create a 3D element with shading as well as contrasts of warm and cool. Initially I used rather cheap paper, but in reality, it sucked, so I pulled out my Arches 140# CP and was much happier with the results.

By Flashlight

With winds blowing at 40mph, the fear of fires was intense. Electrical lines spark, grasses and brush catch fire, and before you know it, the world is lit, not with electricity, but with flames. As a result of this – PSPS (Public Safety Power Shut-off) – we had no electricity for about 36 hours. What do you do when the sun goes down, there is no phone, no TV, no electricity? You read, you chat, you play games by candle, and paint by flashlight.

Rather than try to be creative, I got out a couple of art instruction books, one by Geoff Kersey, and one by Ted Kautzky. All of these paintings were done with limited palettes and by following some instruction to create a painting from the book.

The one above is from Geoff Kersey’s book, using only red, blue, and yellow. No more. It was the first one I did, and there was still some daylight, but very little, in my darkish studio. It was evening, and the studio window faces east. I used manganese blue, cadmium lemon, and cadmium red.

This one is from a Ted Kautzky study. Less light and more moving my little flashlight from book, to watercolor paper and drawing, to palette. Colors were verditer blue, cadmium red, Hooker’s green, and raw sienna. Verditer blue doesn’t seem to mix well with other colors, but is a lovely blue by itself. Four colors!

Now we are moving into big time! Here, five colors. Payne’s grey, ultramarine blue, aureolin yellow, Hooker’s Green, and burnt umber. Another study from Ted Kautzky.

I enjoy doing studies from books – it helps focus a bit. I also realized that daylight is a better way to paint, or using diffused electrical lighting. Flashlights are good to see with, but their light is not diffuse, but sharp and focused. I think I would have had better lighting with a few candles. Anyway, it was a good way to pass some time when the sun set and the vampires weren’t yet out.

Rain at Cattle Point

Hopefully this conveys a fickle weather day late in the year!

I think the dot-dot-dot and color isolation with Pointillism helped with this watercolor.  I was very aware of color placement and capable of containing colors to certain areas.  I managed, too, to have patience and let areas dry before going back in, or let them get slightly damp for dryer painting onto a damper area, preventing blooms.   Proportions are off – sigh.

As well, a limited palette of primarily blue (ultramarine and cobalt) with burnt umber and burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and a spot of orange and Hooker’s green.  140# CP Arches, 16×20.

A Lonely Coastline

Continuing my water and fog series, and my simplification attempts as well. Here, another deserted coastline, with a few birds.

What is it about a lonely beach? It’s spooky, it’s sad, it’s exciting, and quiet. If the sun is trying to break through, the warmth begins to disperse the fog. Hopeful. Sun. If it is heavy weather, the sky lowers and threatens. Cold. Damp. Dangerous.

Fluid paper, limited palette of ultramarine, sap and Hooker’s greens, burnt umber and raw sienna, and a bit of alizarin. Probably other colors, too – hard to remember where the brush wandered.

Along the Oregon Coast

If you think that the SoCal coast can be foggy, Oregon is by far more foggy at times!  It’s an incredibly beautiful coastline with wide, nearly empty beaches.  Out to sea are the sea stacks, some large, some small.  In clear weather they are stunning, in the fog, spooky and eerie.

Today, a limited palette and paying particular attention to laying down water and thin colors.  Washes are the dominant technique used here.  My little picky brush strokes had to give way to broad ones for the beach and damp sand.  It actually worked fairly well.  Water, water, everywhere!

Foggy Lakeside Morning

California is not all joyful sunshine and playing on the beaches.  Fog is a large part of the coastal environment.  It is known as “May grey” and “June gloom.”  This morning I woke up to it . . . . inspiration for a foggy lake in the frozen (or not so frozen) north.

I’m still focused on water.  Today I wanted fog and water and hoped to use very wet paint thinned to mostly water.  I also wanted to work with wet-in-wet in the attempt to catch the softening of edges, increasingly more blurred and colorless, to denote distance.  A dull, muted foreground with intense color to add to depth of field.  I think it all worked out pretty good.

Fabirano 25% cotton paper, 9×12, neutral tint, sap green, Hooker’s green, phthalo green, Payne’s grey, quinacridone gold, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna.

The Last Day of Winter

Or, maybe, The First Day of Spring?

I have been breaking out of my safety zone and moving on to using more expensive paper and larger sized sheets for painting.  Also, another is to use a somewhat limited palette, working to create colors by mixing in different strengths and blends.  Ultramarine and cobalt blues, burnt sienna and burnt umber, a dash of sap green.  Other colors include a mix of cadmium yellow and red, and some of Daniel Smith’s Primatek Sodalite (a black) for the road.

As always, there seems to be a lack of depth in my painting, despite my efforts . . . or maybe the road is not properly proportioned for its curve?

There is nothing like knowing Spring is nearly here, and see hints of emerging from the snow.

Coastal Grassland

Another landscape, another limited palette.  For this painting I used ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, burnt umber, sap and cobalt greens, a splash of raw sienna.  9×12 Fabirano Artistico.

I wanted to see if I could convey a good sense of depth, moving from the foreground with warmer colors to the distance with more neutral and greyish colors.  Contrast, too, was considered for eye appeal, leading lines, depth.

If you look at the grasses in the foreground, you can see grass blades.  I used a very dry flat brush to accomplish this, sometimes using a lighter green and brushing upward, or darker green to brush into the lighter green.  Negative painting!

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:

Spring Comes to the High Plains

I have to admit, I am on a winter kick.  Cold, chill.  And loneliness.  I don’t tend to paint or photograph people or civilization, but as far as painting goes, I need to get into painting them.  I’m doing okay with moving inland water.  But buildings, people, and oceans leave me baffled for now.

So, the open spaces of the flatlands between mountain ranges.  Harsh weather, blasted heaths, winter and wild weather. The hint of spring.