226. Dappled Light

It’s been nearly 10 days since my last post.  Nothing traumatic to keep me away from painting – I just have had appointments and social activities accompanied by making sure all my retirement paperwork and insurance is in place for my “official” beginning of being a Medicare recipient on June 1st!  It’s been a slog, but it is in place, and hopefully nothing will make me have to do it all over again.

That said and done, the weather here in California has been really strange.  The new normal!  We have had rain into the month of May, and as a result flowers and plants and butterflies are prodigious, with spring flowers lasting well into what might be considered the summer months.  Even the hills are still colorful, but slowly fading to the usual beige and brown.  The rain, though, fills the bright blue sky with big clouds, sometimes ones which sit around and slowly disperse, sometimes with ones that dance their way across the sky, changing with every glance.  When I was a kid in the middle of nowhere, I loved lying in the hammock and making up stories as the clouds shifted and reformed.  It’s as magical now as it was then.

The local botanical garden is one of my favorite places.  It has so many things to see.  A variety of habitats are represented – desert, Mediterranean, and woodland, to name a few.  Today’s painting is a scene along one of the pathways, from the photo I took below.

I am always attracted to dappled light – the strong contrasts of dark and bright.  Photographically, it is hard to capture, but I was relatively pleased with the way the photo caught it.  I am also fairly pleased as to how I was able to interpret the photo and the light.  It was a struggle, and especially difficult after nearly two weeks of inactivity, but it worked out in the end.

175. In the Style of Urban (Not the Pope)

In a number of circles, there is an “urban sketch” style done with ink and watercolor.  Drawing and painting are combined.  Some people are masters of it, in my opinion, having a good balance of ink and clear watercolor, with one or the other predominating, and the other not overwhelming its partner.  (I hope that made sense!)

I am trying to find that balance.  I’d say I am okay with ink, but heavy-handed with color.

Today I decided to try two things.  The first is above – a simple “country” scene with trees (and green!  remember yesterday?), a fence, and a building.  The idea was for the sun – the light source – to be coming from the left, behind the barn.  I’m not so sure what that big blue thing is to the right of the (obvious) three shadows of the trees, but it’s too late to do anything about that!

This one is an urban scene, one obviously not in downtown Los Angeles, but in some older part of the world.  Here, the light is coming from the right, perhaps, but the alleys and buildings create their own logic.  Shadows are broken up with bright spots.  One can only imagine that to find the light, looking up will reveal a world much different than the one on the ground.  I think this one was fairly successful; there are parts which seem to work, and others that make no sense at all – like, what is that thing?  Scribble more ink on it and let the viewer guess!

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?

14. White = Snow

If you have been reading along, you know:  I make mud, I need lines, and I cannot get white space at all.  Well, in a moment of mad inspiration, I realized snow is white.  Let’s paint snow!  In my part of the world (California), we are in the midst of a hideous wildfire, which fortunately bypassed our neighborhood, but which could be visited by a fire any time.  Crazy winds and no rain make for dry and dangerous conditions, and certainly the last place where  you will expect to find snow.

Thus, snow.  I went to my favorite place (YouTube) and searched for “watercolor snow” and there we were!  Lot of them.  In particular, I found Peter Sheeler, whose videos are simple to follow, and quite lovely.  He uses a minimal palette, and just paints.  Subtitles let you know the colors and the technique.  Pleasant music moves you along.  Here is my version of his painting.

Peter Sheeler has another video that I used as well.  It was a bit more complex, but not only was it great for shadows on snow, he has very strong light – dark colors, another problem I struggle with.

And here is my version of it.  I was really intimidated by the dark trees and the rocks.  Besides using only Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, and Burnt Sienna (even though Sap Green is in his video’s palette), Peter uses a 1/2 inch flat brush.  I have some flat brushes, and they scare the hell out of me.  I think people who love flat brushes are nuts.  No more:  I bit the bullet and pulled out my flats and did the entire painting in a flat brush, varying sizes as necessary.  And I used micron pens, too, as did Peter.

I am feeling a lot more confident now about colors, white space, limited palettes, and flat paint brushes.  I think I will continue to follow along with Peter Sheeler’s videos – he is a really good painter, I like his style, and am confident I will get a lot out of his videos.  And Peter, if you should come across this, let me tell you, “Thanks!”