After a fresh snow, an icy snow or blizzard, the day is filled with sparkles when you look against the sky. In photography, it’s easy to capture – line up the sun, the light, move around, and you get it. In painting, though, it’s a totally different thing. How to express that sparkle? I tried to capture it in the upper left corner by dabbing in colors of blue and black and bits of ink – did it work? I don’t know. On the bits of snow in the lower left, small dots of blue to represent shadows on the white snow. Perhaps that is a bit more successful.
Pen, ink, watercolor, limited palette. Wet on dry. Ink on paper. Ink on painted paper. Wet into wet. A morning mish-mash, but every day I am trying to do something with ink or watercolor. Not always successful, but an everyday activity from which a lot can be learned!
Another window, this time set into a log building. The logs were fun to paint – just broad swooshes with a brush, and then some detail. (I think I could use a few more wider dark swooshes in the upper 1/2 of the windows for the logs.) Here, as in yesterday’s painting, detail is important, but still needs simplification to express the window and the logs. Overall, I am rather pleased with this picture. My palette was very limited – burnt umber, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue. Oh, I threw in some zoisite (DS) because I love its granualtion!
Another two-color study, this time using Burnt Sienna instead of Burnt Umber, along with the Ultramarine Blue. As an aside, looking up lists of “warm” and “cool” colors, the umber and ultramarine are considered “warm” by some. Beats me, as they sure look icy together. Here, the Burnt Sienna alone or diluted is warm in cast, but moves to dark and cold (in my eye) when combined with the Ultramarine Blue.
Last summer we drove through a lot of the wild west. The loneliness of Wyoming always gets me – vistas of open space, few cars, fewer people. Taking a picture during the summer is much different than what you see in winter, so I looked at some of the photos I took out of the window as we drove from Laramie to the Tetons. I tried to imagine how barren and cold it could be. Always the sky, always the distance, always the barbed wire fences. Again, in Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna.
Besides trying to imagine a scene, I also tried out a new brush. It is a Cosmotop flat, by DaVinci brushes of Germany; it’s about 3/4″ wide. I wanted to see how it would do on the Canson XL paper I use for practice, in particular to see if I could get a “sparkly” effect with a dry brush. The paper is too smooth for that to work successfully, which is why there are fine lines in the foreground. (Sigh.) It did a pretty good job for wet-in-wet sky, and along the horizon line.
Another study in Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber. These are really good colors for portraying cold and wintry conditions. Brr! Where I live, we have had weather in the 80s for much of January and February, so a break from the heat is much needed. Today, though, it’s a whopping 52 F.
One nice thing about working in only two colors, you don’t get mud. You get dark colors. You get light colors. You get medium colors. I find that this is actually harder to do, in some ways, and easier, too. Harder because I have to decide on value (light, dark) and which direction to push the color (blue, brown). It’s easier as the decisions of color are already made for you (me, the painter!). Here I have limited my palette to Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber, as in the earlier studies from Ted Kautzky I did last week.
After looking at the scan, I realize that some of my darker trees in the foreground sort of float in space! The lighting at present makes it hard to see, but I will probably go back and correct it later on.
After the disastrous lilies, I had a good think. I really am not a decorative painter at heart. What I love most are landscapes. The outdoors is to me the most exciting thing . . . mountains, water, trees. Thus, with this in mind, I pulled out the very first “how to” art book I ever bought, back when I was 16: Ways with Watercolor by Ted Kautzky. I still love this book and find his style and words soothing and thoughtful. To ease my frustration, I did two of his exercises. The first below is in 2 colors only, ultramarine blue and burnt umber.
The next one is in three colors: burnt umber, ultramarine blue, and Hooker’s Green.
Kautzky’s palette of colors is one with which I am comfortable and familiar, so it was very reaffirming to feel somewhat skilled after the lilies fiasco. That really upset my little apple cart!