Tag: road

Monochrome

For the past few months I have been taking a number of classes in watercolor and painting. Throw in an occasional Pencil Portraits in the Park classes, and you can see I get a bit busy.

Magpies like bright things, and I am convinced I am a magpie reincarnated. Hawaiian shirts are a particular delight. Color in any form, the brighter is usually the better, even if it borders on poor taste. Oddly, I do enjoy black and white photography – it can be quite beautiful and dramatic – but painting value studies, monochrome, has eluded me as something to enjoy – until now!

I have been taking an online class from Ian Roberts for the past few months. It began with value studies in pencils. Now we are doing value studies in paint. Some people are painting in watercolor, others in acrylic or pastels; I decided to try out oil paints for the first time in years – nay, decades – and am pleased with the results. It is a hell of a lot of fun to moosh around paint and be able to moosh it around the next day, unlike acrylics. (You can also use gouache to pretty much the same effect.) With our weekly Zoom meetings on Saturday mornings, Roberts is providing great feedback and a personal, technical, and esoteric touch to what are foundational elements in art.

Above is my first oil monochrome. I didn’t do a great job of replicating the picture, but I did get reacquainted with how to use a brush with oils. I am using hog bristle filberts if you want to know. While we are working on values, we are also working on leading the eye. Here, not a lot of success as the road or white area in the mid left is too bright – the eye is to be led to the right.

This is from the second week. Focus is on values and edges, the latter being hard or soft or vanishing. I enjoyed this a lot, even though my sphere needs a bit of anchoring! It really helped me to see a bit more sharply.

Roberts did a demo version of the still life, and then left us to find our own way with the landscape. Oils are a bit of a challenge to use because of their long drying time if you want to paint over something. As a result, I cannot scan them, but have to take a photo while they dry. Wet surfaces are a bit shiny, and the texture of the paint and canvas are more challenges to creating a digital image. This study made me see things differently, and one element I had to do was to edit the photo – simplifying it – to work a bit on the painting to make it work. Not great, but values are getting easier to produce.

Here is one of the two studies for the third week. I did this yesterday, outdoors on the patio. I lugged out this and that, found I forgot something, ran back to get it, and it was a Big Production. But a fun one! I still need to work on this one a bit – the 2nd pole on the right needs some sharpening and the road in the distance needs a bit of work. Once more, the photo is lacking, but what can you do?

So, my painting world is suddenly black and white, and I am enjoying it. I’ve decided to do “daily painting” when possible, on other subjects as well. It will be interesting to see where all these monochrome studies take me, and when Roberts lets us to add yellow ochre to our titanium white and ivory black to learn more about warm and cool values, I think the world will change even more . . .

The Road into Town

Today I put together a new watercolor paint palette, adding some colors I normally don’t have on my main palette, as well as adding ones back that didn’t make it into the first one. This palette forces me to work harder to get greens as I don’t have phthalo green, sap green, or Hooker’s on it as “primary” greens; instead, I have viridian, which is not one I have been fond of in the past. However, it works nicely with cadmium lemon and aureolin to make those crazy spring greens I like. I also added manganese blue, verditer blue, and phthalo blue (green shade). I don’t have any yellow ochre or quinacridone colors, but do have Davy’s Grey and Peach Black. In the red arena I added transparent red oxide in place of light red, and cadmium orange as well. All of the earth tones – burnt and raw sienna and umber – are on this palette.

The result is looking to be a brighter series of colors to work with, at least that is my impression. I tried to use nearly every color in the palette on some level in this painting to see what would happen. As it was, I didn’t use every color! Too many!

The subject matter was also something that I wanted to work on – a small town with a few buildings at the base of a mountain range, and the goal was to have a road leading in to it, sloping down hill, and conveying a bit of depth. It’s a busy scene, one from my travels over the years that I caught on camera. Depth is not easy for me, so I used shadows across the road and landscape to catch a bit of it.

First watercolor of the New Year, and started with a New Year Palette!

A Lonely Road (Watercolor)

I decided to give A Lonely Road (Gouache) a try in watercolor as that was my original intention with the painting.

It was quite interesting to do so as I used the same paper I used for my gouache, but the paper had less tooth than my usual CP watercolor paper, being more like hot press, which is very smooth.  This was American Journey paper, which is very nice, and is somewhere between HP and CP for texture.  This makes a difference when painting with watercolors.

Once more I feel like my DOF is not working in watercolor.  I am not quite sure why, but it seems to be I lay down a color and then lay down more, and more, and even more for the distant objects.  Unlike gouache, watercolor’s transparency makes each succeeding layer darker.  At times a glaze of very thin color can pull a watercolor together, but not here.  The dark distant hills on the right suggest a spot of cloud shadow, and the brighter one on the left a bit of sunshine.  The sky suggests otherwise.  And it looks like there is a sleeping or dead sheep in the field on the right!

There are bits and pieces of this painting I like, and the colors really do evoke a rather damp day when autumn is beginning to set in.  The fact is, I find watercolor inherently more difficult than gouache simply because more pre-planning and strategizing than with gouache.  This why I enjoy watercolor so much – it is so hard!  The colors are just wonderful at times, and that is one of the joys of watercolor.  Gouache, while beautiful, when done with less water and thicker paint, doesn’t have some of the same light as watercolor

So, for the sake of comparison, I am lining up the value study and gouache from yesterday with today’s watercolor.  Click on the value study below to click through the three if you want to do some comparing.

Maybe a pastel should come along tomorrow?

 

A Lonely Road (Gouache)

I started out trying to do a more delicate painting, but I think that would work better in watercolor. Instead of delicate and lighter, the colors became thicker and darker, and it turned from a misty, damp, rather gloomy day to one which seems filled with a foreboding storm.

I decided to just paint and not try for realism and delicacy. I went for emotion.  Instead of applying paint nicely, I began to just slap it on directly from the color onto the paper rather than mixing colors on the palette. It was gloriously fun!

I used a 1/2 inch flat brush – nothing else. I rather like this splashing and letting go of things as I tend to be something of a prima donna and perfectionist – and this was like rollicking through the mud and muck!!

If I were to call this any “school” of painting, I guess Expressionism would be the closest I would come. The more I painted, the more I wanted to express a fierce and gloomy day portending rain and hail, or rain and hell.

Another value study, too.  Impressed?

Look!  I put in some sheep!

Forest Road

I’d forgotten how much fun painting with gouache can be! Today, a painting of a forest road running through a lot of trees, but not so heavy with leaves that light doesn’t shine through. I began with a value study – again, more for shapes I think in light and dark.

The first layer of the painting had thin washes to set up the light green in the distance. Then, general dark shapes were added after the road was limned. The trees were then painted, dark to light, using long strokes with a round brush. After that, a flat was used for broad sweeps of the road. Finally, dabs of color to create a sense of dappled light on leaves. Final touches included some dashes of white and a blackish mix (purple, green, black) for lines and bits of contrast. What I really liked is the ivy climbing up the trees, creating bright splotches of color. Altogether, I think it worked quite well.

The value study is becoming valuable. Yeah, really. It helps me see where strong shapes against light shapes create visual interest and leading lines. Value studies are general but the painting becomes more specific.

Church in the Dunes

Southern beaches, from the Carolinas around Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico coast, have a quality very unlike that of California or New England. Soft white sand, beaches beautifully wide and flat, sea oats, and dunes that catch the breath. The sky is vast and expansive, clouds build up, and there is something grander than can be described. I am trying to capture this, from reality and from imagination.

If you have noticed, over the past several months my paintings, in pastel, gouache, and watercolor, have been centered on the theme of water. Rivers, ocean, lakes. I am beginning to feel comfortable with water now, and it is time to expand the subject matter. Now, simple buildings are going to be included, and sand. Sand is remarkably hard to paint! It varies from dark beige-brown to incredibly bright and white. There is also black sand, but I’m not there yet!

Today’s painting is a church, tucked in the dunes of some coastal island. Sandy, dirt roads run between dunes with scrubby vegetation. It works.

A Study from Vernon Nye

I decided to use a study by the watercolorist Vernon Nye.  He caught the back country of California perfectly – the hills and trees in particular.  It was a fun study and I liked it because it pointed out to me how deceptively simple the hills can seem, but they really are not.  The road, too, was another eye-catcher.  I have driven along a number of back-road highways throughout the state, and you feel like you are the only person in the world.  The perspective was a great challenge, too.  Altogether, a good study of something in my own back yard, and I can take what I learned into future paintings.

Nowhere Barn

Addendum!

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.