I got a few painterly goodies for Christmas, and one was a new tablet of watercolor paper, one which I have never heard of before. Of course, it needs checking out. How does it handle wet paper and washes? Dry brush? Bleeding? Etc. It is not an expensive paper – $20 for 32 pages of 9×12 pure cotton paper – but it is actually a decent one. I can lift colors from it pretty easily, too! It is a rather nice bit of paper overall, and while not Arches or Fabriano, I think it will do quite well for studies, and probably gouache as well.
Besides playing with new paper, I have also attempted to lead the eye in the composition to a small area of white. Rocks, waves, clouds, land masses, sand, whatever are all designed to catch your eye. I think it worked out pretty good. I also am rather pleased with the movement of the sand in the lower right hand corner.
Today I refilled my gouache palette with colors, and then some more colors. I threw in some retardant, too. And I tried to paint. Gosh, it is amazing how you have to reacquaint yourself with something!
I am getting burnt out on these drawings! I decided to take a few days off and will pick up again tomorrow. Since I have committed to 30, I only 6 more to go by 4/17. I think I can handle that!
Cannon Beach, Oregon. Figure is too big, some foot prints too dark and too big in the distance.
Initially I had drawn this shack so that the beach and waves in the distance were parallel to the edge of the paper. After scanning it, I realized it looked better with a bit of an angle to it. Interestingly, a comment said it made no sense because the ocean is out there, straight ahead. Obviously, too realistic of a person, or someone who hasn’t taken a photo. Really, to me, a very interesting and odd comment and viewpoint!
Here is a scene of looking down onto a beach. The distant cliffs look okay, but the descent to the shore in the midground is definitely confusing.
During last Saturday’s zoom meeting, Ian talked about cross hatching. I use it a lot in ink drawing, but not in pencil since the idea for a lot of this 30-day challenge is to limit marks to horizontal and vertical. The idea is to create value studies, not finished drawings. Interesting lines do not make for good value studies of light, medium, dark. However, a simple use of lines, cross hatching, vertical, diagonal, horizontal, helps delineate shapes, such as curves. I based this drawing off a study of 3 pears by Cezanne.
These studies are making more sense and getting easier to execute so that shapes have shape, even if not always understandable.
Again, behind on the 30-Day Challenge. I do see the results. For instance, this drawing is very simple, done on grey-toned paper. It’s not an especially exciting picture, but I am beginning to think differently! That is the whole point.
What are the changes?
Focal point of the picture. Here, the lone figure.
The lines of the estuary into the distance.
Contrast – white (light) sand, crashing waves on shore.
Line direction to show changes in terrain, vertical, horizontal.
This paper – the grey – is very toothy, and the result is the lines are not very smooth. Midtones are a bit difficult to achieve – that is supposed to be represented by the plain paper – but that just doesn’t really seem to fit into my brain. This makes it difficult, challenging, and rather a bit of a visual tweak.
Overall, the point in these studies is to look at values, and to simplify. It is not easy as I am used to doing detailed work in pencil. Making simple marks on the paper which interplay well is difficult. “Noisy” marks distract from the point of the value study. In other words, lines which are scribbled and curly distract from the values. Value, value, value!
I think I am getting some of the points of this course and the usage of pencil to create value studies. First, I changed simply to an HB pencil and a smooth paper with a tiny bit of tooth. The bristol was too smooth a paper and the 2B and 4B pencils just smudged too easily despite my best efforts.
The teacher, Roberts, speaks of structure, rather than subject or detail, as the purpose of these drawings. This means masses of value, not picky details. The details can come in the painting, more so as it becomes larger. The value studies help sort out directing the eye to the point of interest.
The white cliff across the water is the focal point of the drawing, and, ostensibly, the painting. To lead the eye there I vignetted as one does in photography, but this time with graphite. The corners of the drawing are deliberately darker. A sort-of cloud or fog bank is light against the sky in the distance. I tried to use the pale reflection of the cliff in the water to draw the eye as well. Finally, I reworked the piles of sea weed and flotsam to aim the viewer toward the cliffs. The same can be said of the vegetation on the land above the cliffs.
I am beginning to get more comfortable with this approach to painting using a value study. 30 days of value studies is changing my eye and thought processes. Hopefully it will pay off in the future.
Where have I been these last several weeks? Busy with online classes in drawing as a prelim to painting and hand sewing 18th century stays. So, I have been doing things, but have had so many other distractions that I have not been too active online here. So, today, a gouache, just because paint needs to be used to feel like a normal person.
Jalama Beach is in San Luis Obispo County along the central coast of California. It is a strange, remote beach. Winds blow the sea foam onto the sand, and it can look like very dirty snow. The first time I came here was in my teens – a long, long time ago. Then you could get abalones just by picking them up, and the beach was littered with their shells, big ones easily 8-10 inches in diameter. (Tasty critters, I will say.)
Winter time brings erratic tides, scudding clouds, and wind that can blow fierce and cold. Sandpipers and gulls wheel overhead as the wind beats you back. The wildness of the place is something that anyone who has been to a lonely beach can understand. I think I caught it (for myself at least) here.
It is always worthwhile looking at the works of various painters, regardless as the medium in which they are creating. The works of Edward Seago have a charm to them which is old world, peaceful, and hearkens to a quieter and simpler time. This painting is based loosely off one of his oil painting of the eastern English coastline. What attracted me was – and is – his vast skies. The low lying shoreline beneath such a magnificent sky is worth trying out. The same may be said of the watercolors of Edo Hannema – he, too, finds the work of Seago, and Edward Wesson, as sources for inspiration.
In Southern California, the sky, where I live, is almost always blue. No clouds, little haze. Humidity sits at zero. (I won’t discuss the vast amount of lotion I use!) However, the big skies of the midwest with towering clouds, or the piles of clouds over New Mexico, are in my memory, and so the clouds and moist skies of a wetter clime draw me.
Here, I used the 1.5 inch flat brush for 90% of the painting, resorting to a small flat brush – 1/4 inch – for some detail. Large washes, wet into wet, some glazing. Paper is Arches 140# CP, 16×20. The large brush is becoming a favorite for sure!
The large brush helps me keep my colors clean and think about masses rather than details. Big to small. I am also refreshing my water as I move along – this took about 2 or 3 refreshes – and cleaning off my palette, too. With a large brush, large washes, a lot of color is used. Clean palette, clean water, and, of course, a clean brush. The results are beginning to be seen.
There are days which are blustery and cold, the wind whipping through your hair, and a walk on the beach, slogging through sand, and enjoying the wild freshness of the sea is not a bad way to begin a new year!
Yesterday’s painting got rather fussy when I looked at it this morning. So, determined to work on simplification, I decided to use a huge brush for the most part. Again, Kilimanjaro 300# 11×15 paper from Cheap Joe.
To keep myself in a “logical” sequence, I worked top to bottom after taping off the horizon line to keep it straight. (Yesterday’s painting needed to be straightened up when scanned – it was going uphill!) It worked with very little seepage into the other half. So, sky first, wet into wet, blotting as necessary, using a spray bottle to coax color and water, tilting the paper this way and that. Then the blow dryer.
One the sky was to my liking, I did the islands in the distance, again focusing on simplicity and distance. Not gonna get fussy! It worked. Then, the blow dryer.
I didn’t draw the water or sand. Instead, I used the big brush to delineate the sand and rivulets of water from the sea. To pull the painting together, I used glazes and washes, mixing in colors from sky and islands into the sand. I put a few details in with a very fine brush, using some tiny dots to represent sand, and larger blobs of brown / blue to make stones and pebbles and other bits of detritus.
While this is not my favorite painting of late, it is perhaps one of my more successful watercolors. It doesn’t feel overworked and the colors reflect the overcast, wet day. Wet, wet skies are always fun and a crap shoot, but a delight because watercolor is not predictable and has its own beauty. I think I would like to wander here a bit more . . . .