167. Lines

Every now and then an outstanding artist and instructor shows up on the scene.  When they write books that are accessible and practical, it’s even better.  Alphonso Dunn is one such person!  He has a personal website, a YouTube channel full of information and wonderful tutorials, and two fantastic books.

The workbook was published after the simple guide, but is used in tandem with the exercises found in the workbook.  Besides using the two together, head over to YouTube for a really great set of instructions.

Today, rather than paint, I finally sat down and did some exercises from Dunn’s books.  The exercises were on lines – direction, shape, shift.  It takes a bit of patience and time to understand what may be going on.  I had to think about how I had my pad of paper, how far up or down my fingers were on the pen, whether to use my fingers, my wrist, or more of an arm movement.  In many ways, doing these exercises made me think of learning printing and cursive back when I was a sweet young thing.  Lines, repetition, thinking about how to do things, and doing them over and over.

Skill is bought with repetition – but repetition of itself is rather dull.  Rewards sure help!  Thus, a few drawings – one of a hat from Dunn’s book, and one of a Christmas cactus on my patio.  In each, I used straight lines, or slightly curved ones.  I thought about light and dark, repetition and straight or curved lines, or placing more lines over ones already laid down.  

To aid with the line studies, I ruled pencil lines onto my sketch paper.  It helped.  Sometimes I also drew vertical lines, or extra horizontal lines, either in pencil or pen.

Nothing like a pen in hand to make me happy!  Altogether a pleasant way to while away an afternoon.  I shall continue!

164. Sky and Water

More practice using wet-in-wet in varying degrees of paper dampness.  Again, this is Canson XL watercolor paper.  In my opinion, as a student paper, it is one of the better ones, having a pleasant texture as well as a responsiveness to water and color that other student papers lack.  Here, the final picture is not the point, but the laying in of washes, lifting colors, and other techniques – the practice, not the product.

As I said yesterday, I have not really taken time to learn about the paper.  This is important when you paint in watercolor – each paper has its own personality.  Once you are familiar with it, it becomes intuitive.  In my crazy life, I finally have the time to get acquainted with my paper.

Yay!

101. Field of Flowers

Up the coast a way is a town known for its flower farms – a big industry locally.  The climate is varied, so a lot of different flowers may be grown, both for florists as well as seed.  Agriculture isn’t all cows and Brussel sprouts!

This was a fun study – I did a lot of lines as a practice exercise (I forget about lines because I have color to use – in ink painting it is so much about lines) and decided to focus on lines as the raison d’être for the painting.  Wet lines, dry-brush lines, wash and lines, wet on dry, dry on wet, etc.  Dots, too.

 

93. Lines, Shapes, Shadows

I had to take a day off from painting as my head was swirling.  This seems to happen whenever I do a lot of any one thing.  My brain feels overloaded and I need to do something to break out of it.  Then it settles down with sometimes clarity or a nagging little sense of something different, good but not completed, if that makes any sense.

Today’s focus – this morning in poor light – I decided to look at white space and dark space.  Neither results are spectacular but what I do see is shapes in this pictures.  Corners outlines, curves, straight edges.  I also like the merging and blending and granulations I see.  Other than that?

85. Orange Lilies

After “getting” negative space yesterday, I decided to make a complicated drawing and “work” at negative space.  I have orange lilies blooming in pots on the patio every year, and they are brilliantly orange with piles of leaves in all directions.  What better source of light and dark, overlaps, medium shades?  And in the afternoon sun.  So, here you go.

59. Pen, Ink, and Watercolor with Claudia Nice

I have always liked pen and ink combined with watercolor.  The contrast between the two can be art in itself, or the two can work together, each enhancing the other.  I came across this book by Claudia Nice, Creating Textures in Pen & Ink with Watercolor, quite some time ago.  It’s detailed and it has some exercises with suggestions as to what to do and notes as to what she did to create the effects.  Some are just ink and colors, others involve traditional “helpers” such as alcohol or salt to achieve results.

Yesterday afternoon I was in an antsy mood, but didn’t want to paint in my usual splashy style, but wanted some “containment” if that makes sense.  I wanted something requiring a degree of precision.  Ink is always the answer there.  Realism, too, is not where I wander naturally, so Nice’s work and exercises always have a magic to them.

The first I chose was her “Old Broadleaf Maple” – detailed, subtle.  And a tree.  I love trees!  This is my rendering of her example.

 

The second one I chose was a fly agaric mushroom.  I have seen only one like it in my entire life – and even then I am not sure it was the same mushroom.  I was hiking up in the Rockies in Colorado, up high, and came across some huge, red mushrooms, the kind you see in fairy tales.  Wanting more colors than the tree, the red hues of the mushroom were perfect.

The beauty of Nice’s work is that while it appears easy, if you are doing the study, you focus on the small things as well as the overarching picture.  By nature, I am not detailed oriented, and for me, it is a different way of seeing and doing something.  I am always pleased with the results when I take my time.  The biggest challenge is to take these studies to my own world, outside the pages of the book, and look for the details on a plant or whatever, decide what to keep, what to discard, and so on.  It is hard work worth every minute!

51. Light Industry, with Nil Rocha

I did another study, using a video produced by Nil Rocha.  As you can see, he has a style similar to Peter Sheeler – and a lot of other urban sketchers:  ink and watercolor.  Although it looks easy, it is deceptive.  It is far more difficult to achieve a good contrast study, meaning, a good light-dark balance.  I found that out with yesterday’s study with Peter Sheeler, and especially with this one.  I think I need to work out the values before I begin inking in lines.  Blah is far too easy to achieve!

Above, in color.  Below, converted to black and white in Lightroom to check out contrast.  Sadly lacking!

I’ve had a cold for the past week and it’s really hard to get creative with sniffles and a fever!  Following videos is a good way to learn, but more importantly they have helped me realize that I must push, push, push to show good contrast.  Middle tones are easy to create, as are lighter ones, but getting the truly dark ones is far more challenging for me than seems logical.  Something to think about . . .