151. Study: Rick Surowicz’s “Snow Creek’s Edge”

Today was another practice session using a study by Rick Surowicz on his YouTube channel.  This one is titled “Snowy Creek’s Edge.”  As with the one I did the other day, there is a lot of use of frisket, and this particular study with filled with it!  Keeping areas white is important, and many watercolorists eschew using it – I know I sure did – but judiciously applied, it really does make painting easier.  What I really liked is that it is an excellent way to express narrow bands of snow lying along slender branches and twigs.  It also allows for creating negative space without painting tediously around things – a good skill to have, but at times not necessary.

Coming away from this, I am getting less caught up in copying Rick’s painting and using it as a point of study in watercolor technique, blending colors, and usage of tools and brushes.  Tomorrow (unless the family Thanksgiving becomes a bit much during the morning) I plan to find a snowy scene, either from a photo I have taken or from a public domain image, and work more with snow in the landscape.

149: Study: Fall Lake by Rick Surowicz

Rick Surowicz has taken YouTube by storm, gaining a strong following of over 25K subscribers.  Pretty sweet deal considering he put his first video out in late May 2017.  This shows you Rick’s appeal.  His first videos were really good, but his later ones have continued to improve.  Frequently he does two videos – one is a very teacherly, with clear explanations of why he does this or that, what his thought process is, and the colors and brushes he chooses.  A second one is speeded up 2 or 3 times.  This allows the viewer to preview his longer version, seeing what is up ahead before diving into the longer, detailed video.

This is my 4th or 5th follow-along with Rick.  Given my more recent issues with representation of detail, not each busy detail, I thought I would do one of his studies today.  (I also am tired of sewing!)  Rick’s video is about 45 minutes long; this took me about 2.5 hours with stopping and starting the show.  It’s a great way to practice different techniques.

There are a lot of really great instructional videos on YouTube – you can – and I have – learn so much.  Right now, though, I have what I consider to be a serious problem:  what is my style?  Copying a masterful painter gives one skills, but the interpretation has to be personal.  I figure I am on the way there – it will sort of happen – but one thing I do know, I do not want to create chaotic paintings without good contrast, clean color, and strong composition.  Rick’s paintings have all three and make for good lessons.  They are very different than the detailed fruits and flowers of Anna Mason, but those very detailed paintings also teach things such as texture, detail, light and dark.  I have learned from those as well.

 

80. The Inn at Brandywine – Another Study

This has been a busy weekend!  A lot of painting – certainly beats housework, I tell ya.

Here is another study from Rick Surowicz’s YouTube channel.  This is the “Inn at Brandywine” study.  Again, use of masking fluid, glazes, warm and cool greens.  If you like to paint and want to get better, you cannot go wrong with his videos.  They are detailed and informative – info on brushes, colors, techniques, thoughts on what he is doing.  All very helpful and insightful.

Using the masking fluid is becoming easier, as is thinking ahead.  Like painting in negative space, planning ahead is a different way of looking at a painting for me.  It’s hard to explain.  The thing is, while kind of frustrating to do, it is becoming more of a part of painting, if that makes any sense.

Below, Rick’s excellent video.

79. Creek’s Edge – Another Study

Once more, Rick Surowicz has produced a video for study, and I did it.  This time it was more successful than the one on negative painting, probably because I used better paper and was not too fussed about things.  I had been to a workshop earlier in the day, and though I didn’t produce anything noteworthy in the workshop, I was warmed up and ready to go!

I watched it three times!  First to just see it, second to take notes, third time to follow along.  The biggest point to it, for me, was the cool greens used in the beginning were nicely complemented by the warm green glazes at the end.  I used a 300# paper, which is the first time I have ever used a paper that weight.  I was pleased with the end result.

The color differences are notable.  Surowicz used colors I don’t have, such as royal blue and peacock blue.  I’m not sure what the colors in my palette were as my color reference wheel is packed up some place.  I do know that I used cobalt teal in place of turquoise and a lot of Hooker’s Green, while he stuck with sap green, which is more yellow, and a lovely color.  I also mixed some greens differently, such as using cobalt teal and quinacridone gold.  The colors, while important, were not the main focus – the focus was to follow the steps and get an idea what to do!  The photo Surowicz used is for compositional suggestions only – the execution is very individual.

67. Leaf Flight

I started a weekly Friday afternoon watercolor class yesterday.  The assignment was based on a negative painting by Rick Surowicz, who does amazing work.  You can find him on YouTube and on Facebook.  This is the video from which this painting is a derivative.

A few things . . . first, I didn’t have any frisket / masking fluid in class.  I had barely anything!  All my stuff – most of my stuff – is still packed up from the house repairs.  I ransacked a bit and found some things.  Like tape – so I used tape to mask off some areas inside the painting.  Second, I used student-grade paper, and some of the paper’s surface came off when I removed the tape.  I think you can see the areas if you look closely.

The way I see it, the whole point of this exercise is to work on negative painting.  Exact replication of Surowicz’s painting is not the point – the point is to learn from it.  I struggle with negative painting, but learning to just let go of things when I paint and let things happen, while hard, is something I am finally beginning to do.  To quote the Beatles, “let it be, let it be”!

The painting was, to a point, successful.  I did some negative painting.  I wanted to work with complementary colors and washes, but try to control a bit, such as the leaf shapes, here and there.

Now that it is done, the real question is which end is up?  Click on the first image to move through all four versions.

I think I like this one the best (fourth in the series).  It’s below.  Maybe it expresses the wind and whirling leaves and branches and twigs.