I am trying to lighten up my handling of watercolor. Very often my colors are far more intense than I really want. I think part of this is the result of impatience and perhaps pre-cataract surgery days. Watercolor itself lends itself to a delicacy other media lack, I think, and to not play into the wetness and what it can do perhaps defeats watercolor’s beauty.
There is something about fog and early morning that always fascinates me. The idea that a cloud is on the ground (my father’s description of fog when I was about 5) still intrigues me. After all, clouds are UP!
So, a morning along the coast. Wet, soft, blurry, and giving way to a sunny, summer day.
Here, I wet the paper, and then began putting in areas of color, beginning with the sky in the central part of the painting, and then blobbing down the foliage in the foreground and the distance. The line of the slope was separated from the horizon beyond. As things dried, I blobbed on more colors, and continued to work wet-into-wet as the paper dried. In the end, I was able to draw the trunks of the distant trees without their blurring using diluted colors of the darker tree trunks.
It’s really hard to describe how to do a painting like this. In doing these kinds of paintings I am finding it is necessary to have a sense of the composition itself – lights, darks, soft shapes, hard edges. It is also necessary to think about negative and positive space while painting, as well as the overall effect desired. I worked light to dark, and strove to keep the earliest colors as separate as possible from others. In the end, I used glazes to unify areas with color as well as worked with thick paint and a very dry brush for some detail.
140# CP Arches, 16×20. It took about 3 hours to work on, using time in between to dry the paper with a blow dryer or let the water get absorbed into the paper so softer edges could be achieved.
Of the 3 “splish splash” paintings I have done, this one is my favorite. This technique works very well for areas with a lot of foliage, but what about ocean scenes, skies, and so on? That is next on my agenda for this method.
The last time it snowed where I live was like never. Up in the mountains it does snow – it did a year ago – but of late is relentless blue skies. Today and yesterday we have had clouds and chilly winds, so it feels like Christmas and winter, and even tomorrow, more of the same.
I rather like it!
Still, I think of those magical winter days when sun and snow and sky and trees all play together, your breath rises, and you keep walking to see all the miraculous beauty of the land.
And here is a tribute to those memories. Gouache, sort of pointillstic, sort of not. I did the underpainting with casein and acrylic gouache, to lay down a foundation which would not dissolve when re-wet. I think it worked out pretty well. Overall, I think this is my best original painting to date. It feels “like me” if that makes any sense at all.
A bad reference to Virginia Woolf’s novel, which is an interesting read.
This painting is a dedication to lighthouses worldwide. They have saved so many lives by letting sailors know of treacherous waters. Add to that, lighthouses are often found in spare and rugged places, all of which make for dramatic and wonderful photos and paintings.
I have often thought I would like to live in such a place, hearing the waves crash, watching the light circling through the night, and, of course, the sound of fog horns. Throw in some seal barks and sea gulls, and I would be pretty happy. Sleep could be a challenge though.
I made up this painting, amalgamating lighthouses and buildings from various images. My goal was to practice shading, such as moving from a sunlit side to the shadow side, using pointillism techniques. You can see this on the conical shape of the lighthouse as well as on the buildings. I have tried to give a sense of cliffs and housing sunk down a bit behind the green of the grass. Morning or evening light for the sky, or an intimation of fog and filtered sunshine is also attempted.
As I work more in pointillism, I realize that this helps me tremendously in sorting out colors. As far back as I can remember, mud has been my most famous by-product in painting. It could be that this is something I really need to use as a primary technique, though I am thinking of doing a pointillistic painting in gouache, and then re-wetting it to blend the colors applied in dots.
Summer, fog, early morning rising mist. One color blends into another, overlapping, blurring together. How to express this?
Gouache does not readily lend itself to the color movement as does watercolor. In watercolor, you can discharge one color into another, and the wicking action of water and paper do the work for you. Here, I thought a lot about how to blend and merge colors to create that soft effect of fog. In the end, for this painting, I decided to use a narrow, flat brush with stiff bristles and scumble all the colors together.
Rather a brighter painting than I anticipated, but I think it does express the rising fog and early morning sky fairly well.
Pastels just feel so natural. Get your fingers into the colors, dust, papers, blending. So tactile. I can’t tell you how many times I washed my hands here, but more than I would even with Covid-19 lurking around . . . . !
Boy, I do need to clean up my desk! Pens, crumpled paper, all pushed up to the side so that I can drink coffee and read the news. As a morning sketch or painting seems to be emerging as part of the daily routine, I looked around. There they were . . . and here they are.
I’m not always a slob, but from Monday to Thursday, working 10-hour days, who has time to do much cleaning?