This is a pretty small painting – but most gouache paintings are as the medium almost seems to demand it.  After the disastrous flowers of the other day, the feeling of overworking my paints, I decided to simplify.  Yesterday’s beach scene is a good example of simplification.  And today is a bit more complex of a painting, but it is still simplified.

To simplify things, I looked at the big areas.  This meant the sand in the foreground, the sky, and the masses which make up the middle ground, both light and dark.  Those were laid in first.  From there, more details in a middle stage, and final details – the small stuff – were done.  This also matched the brushes I used – big to medium to small.  “The Three Bears” and the Goldilocks effect.

I also was a lot calmer when I did this painting, and I was in the studio, not in 85F weather with a steady breeze to dry out my paints and raise my temper!  Lesson learned there.

Nowhere Barn


This is the second scan from the final one below.  I changed a bit of the elements after doing a preview scan – don’t know why the one on the bottom of this post is so, er, intense!

Now, let us continue . . . 

More perspective studies!  Today I did a single point study.

This time I created a single vanishing point.  This one is below the building, and above the road.  The idea for this is that the road ends up going over a hill or slope before the horizon, at eye level, is met.  I did a pencil sketch and erased it a billion times.  Finally, when I liked what I did, I erased most of the lines after inking it in.

Sort of a value study combined with a color study to see what I might like for color mixes in watercolor.  This paper is mixed media paper, so it is not the heavy Arches 140# cold press I like for most work.  I think the perspective works pretty well.

Well!  Aren’t these colors intense!  The scan for some reason just came out like this – the original is a bit more subtle – but I rather like it as I think it expresses the intensity of color that sometimes comes with lowering clouds and a storm.  Makes me think of my time as a kid on the plains of the midwest.

So, the final study does have decent architectural perspective, and perhaps even some atmospheric (lots of atmosphere, but more like pressure type!) insofar as I tried to simplify things.

I will continue my focus on perspective, and using it in different media.  Watching videos, referring to books, and just doing it is helping.

Nowhere House

Another perspective study from hell.  Where do you put the vanishing point on paper where the horizon doesn’t provide one!?!

I used 2 point perspective here for the most part.  To figure this out, I drew the basic sketch onto a piece of paper that was larger than the final sketch.  I decided my horizon line.  Then I drew the building, uprights and then angles for the roof line and base of the building, both on the left and the right.  For the wall, I did the same thing, aiming it at the horizon line and trying to get the top and bottom to line up.

Ummm.  Not sure.  It looks okay in a lot of ways except for the wall – too wide nearer the building perhaps than it should be in the lower left foreground.

And getting into perspective.  I don’t have depth perception – eye docs confirm this.  But I do get distance – I can guestimate a distance and when it is measured, I am pretty accurate.  This makes me think that a sense of distance and depth perception are two different things entirely.

Buildings & Boats

If you follow along here at all, you know two things about me.  One is a lack of real depth perception.  The next is my ongoing struggle with perspective.  I have learned that my poor drawing – sloppy drawing, really – due to impatience – ruins a lot of my attempts at perspective in paintings.

I have decided to work on perspective, particularly architectural perspective.  That means buildings!  As a country girl at heart (no cowboy hats, though), I like the idea of buildings in a non-city setting.  No skyscrapers for me.  Instead, a boat house, a farm house, a barn perhaps.  A building along the waterfront, even suburbia.  Why?  I want a few trees and some water.

This is the first in a bunch I intend to do to really work on perspective.  Looking at things dead on is easy, but looking at something with angles is different.  Also, looking down on something from above, or upward from a low vantage point.

Here, gouache.  This took hours.  About an hour drawing and probably three hours painting it.  It works to a degree.  All this for a 5×7 painting!!

The thing is more than anything is to just get out there and do it, no matter how icky it turns out!!


As the watercolors were still out, I decided to play around with perspective, specifically architectural perspective.  I think I get atmospheric perspective now – cooler colors, less detail, etc.

I did this one above some time ago in 2019.  I focused on the roof of the hut, but also wanted to try a bit of the atmospheric element of perspective.   It worked out okay.  Broad strokes, too, were worked on as I tend to do fiddly little dabs with a brush.

Here I did a few buildings linked together from somewhere in Maine.  I tried to use one part of the painting to connect the other parts.  By this I mean I looked at the roof slope of the building on the right in the picture, and tried to match in my painting.  From there I tried to create perspective and proportion in direct relationship to it – walls, windows, etc.  The road, too, was important as I wanted to show it narrowing the further away from me it became.  One thing I found intrinsically challenging was the roof line on the right – the slope of the roof moving onto the side of the building.  From one angle to another angle, yet no roof on the right showing.  That was a real eye-opener when I realized what was going on.

Finally, architectural perspective mixed with the natural landscape.  What a bit of building this is!  Boat launch / beach moving up a hill with a roadway that hairpins right and left, as well as castle or fortress walls descending into the hillside.  I rather liked this one – and it was fun to do some pen with watercolor drawing.

Altogether, I can see some progress, as well as areas for improvement.  Lately, I am so unconcerned about the final results of what I paint.  Rather, if there is an area that works or I see improvement, I am thrilled!  Wabi-sabi.  And if the whole picture works, man, that makes my day!

The Slough II (Pastels)

A second rendition of “The Slough, II”, this time in pastels on Mi Teintes 9×12 paper.  Perspective is fixed, and I like this version so much better!

The original “The Slough, II” was done in gouache a few days ago – you can see it in my earlier post.  That version was totally wackadoodle in the world of real perspective – the only part that worked out was the front curve of sand, whereas the midground and background didn’t work.  Fraggy (another blogger!) had some good insights about the issues.

In thinking about Fraggy’s comments as well as reviewing what I did, I really have no excuse.  I just did a very, very poor drawing on the paper, sort of sketching things in without checking their relationships.  So, today, I worked on the drawing a bit, and the result is much better.  I considered vanishing points and straight lines, et cetera, et cetera.

I really feel so at home with pastels.  My only complaint is that the end product is easily smeared, even with the use of “final” fixatives.  I need to research that a bit . . .

The Slough II (Gouache)

A different view of The Slough, gouache, and some perspective problems, both atmospheric and size.  Sigh.

Still, I will say parts of it I really like.  One thing I enjoy about gouache is the colors are so cheery if you don’t turn them into mud.  Mixing is such a challenge with this medium – you need a lot of white to make light colors unless they come like that out of the tube.

Fog Monster #2

For some time I have considered the possibility of doing two studies for each painting, one in watercolor and the other in gouache.  Today’s painting is exactly that.  I took the same study in gouache (yesterday) and painted it in watercolor.  It was a really interesting experience!

First, I am doing all these studies in a 7×10 sketchbook.  The paper is not really good for really wet watercolors, but is very nice for gouache.  Knowing this, I kept my paper as unsaturated as possible, but also worked to use wet-in-wet where I thought necessary, such as in the sky and fog bank, but being very careful about the amount of water I used.  In other areas I did small, quick forays into wet work, but kept it to a minimum while allowing for bleeds, or coming back to work a bit more, such as on the right side where the grasses are in contrast to the road (lower right side).

Problems continue with depth.  The middle ground hills and the ones against the fog are muddled into each other.  While I made things simpler in the distance, the colors remain the same in intensity.  Atmospheric perspective needs a bit of boost in this one.

Look forward to more of these studies.

WWM #20: Buildings

Where I live, a building is a house surrounded by the rest of suburbia.  I don’t live in a city.  I don’t live in the country.  Sometimes I wish I could transport myself to someplace so very different than where I live now.  That said, one can travel in one’s imagination, and that is what I have chosen to do here – a street in the early evening somewhere in a gracious part of an old city.

While this is not a perfect painting, I did have some goals in mind while painting “buildings” for the #WorldWatercolorMonth2019 prompt.  One was to really work on perspective.  It’s pretty well nailed here.  Another was negative painting – keep some paper white.  Here, the chimneys up in the sun.  I wanted details to show perspective – the closer to the viewer, the more details, as can be seen the closer to the right the buildings become.  A lack of detail to show there is distance.  Finally, I wanted to use light glazes to designate where the sun is on the upper buildings, and not on the lower part.  Here, light quinacridone gold on top, light cobalt on the bottom.  I rather like the way the street is striped in shades from dark to light, but as to whether it is realistic is not a question I care to answer.  In general, I think the sketchy elements of the watercolor work well with the colors and lines to convey feeling and mood.

For “buildings” I knew I wanted a loose, light painting.  This one is on a small sheet of paper, and I expect the final image is about 6×8 inches (could measure, don’t feel like it!).  I used both small and large brushes, a bit of imagination, a bi of memory of previous reads on perspective.  I found the most interesting thing I did was to do the sky last!  I really think it works well with most o the painting.


A View from Above

More gouache!

Gouache apparently is best used straight out of the tube.  I put a bit of each color I have into a covered palette, and the result is the gouache dried out fairly quickly.  Today, I managed to make a hybrid painting it seems – rather watercolory and transparent, and rather gouachy and opaquish.  To see if I can rehydrate the gouache, I put a couple of drops of glycerin into each well along with a spray of water.  I’ll test them out tomorrow.  I hate to think of wasting a lot of paint – it’s not cheap, even on sale for 40% off.

There are some “rules” for painting with gouache.  One is thin to thick paint, and dark to light paint.  Each layer of gouache is opaque(ish) depending on how diluted it is.  Thus, you can begin with a watercolor-thin wash and end up with a straight-out-of-the-tube thickness.

To begin with, I laid down thin layers of color for all areas – sky, background, middle ground and foreground.  From there it was playing around.  Ultimately the sky and the foreground are more like gouache insofar I used heavier paints, but the middle to background remain less so and more along the lines of watercolor.

Besides using paint in different manners here, I tried to convey depth using atmospheric perspective.  to some degree it worked.  Being able to paint over things was really helpful.  I’m not really sure if things “worked” or “didn’t work” here – but I do know a bit more about how gouache can be used, and, as with everything, practice helps out a lot.

As fascinated as I am with the gouache, I also know I need to continue working on my other artistic goals of drawing and watercolor and perspective . . . so easy to go down a path and ignore everything else I want to do!