Where I live there isn’t a very big likelihood of snow. At higher elevations, yes, but here in coastal California, 800 feet isn’t gonna get it.
So, I dream.
I’ve lived in some places with stunning countryside, such as rural Illinois, upstate New York, in the Rockies of Colorado. Snow was beautiful and thrilling. As a kid, it’s a wonderland, but I remember my mother would always kvetch about all the little mittens, the snowsuits, the boots, the scarves, the this and that to get a herd of kids dressed to play – and then ten minutes later, they are all back in the house.
A bad reference to Virginia Woolf’s novel, which is an interesting read.
This painting is a dedication to lighthouses worldwide. They have saved so many lives by letting sailors know of treacherous waters. Add to that, lighthouses are often found in spare and rugged places, all of which make for dramatic and wonderful photos and paintings.
I have often thought I would like to live in such a place, hearing the waves crash, watching the light circling through the night, and, of course, the sound of fog horns. Throw in some seal barks and sea gulls, and I would be pretty happy. Sleep could be a challenge though.
I made up this painting, amalgamating lighthouses and buildings from various images. My goal was to practice shading, such as moving from a sunlit side to the shadow side, using pointillism techniques. You can see this on the conical shape of the lighthouse as well as on the buildings. I have tried to give a sense of cliffs and housing sunk down a bit behind the green of the grass. Morning or evening light for the sky, or an intimation of fog and filtered sunshine is also attempted.
As I work more in pointillism, I realize that this helps me tremendously in sorting out colors. As far back as I can remember, mud has been my most famous by-product in painting. It could be that this is something I really need to use as a primary technique, though I am thinking of doing a pointillistic painting in gouache, and then re-wetting it to blend the colors applied in dots.
Now, on to other adventures!
Yesterday was a watercolor day! I warmed up with a copy of Wesson’s painting, and then moved on to more water. I am not intimidated by water in the form of lakes or streams, but do need to learn how to do oceans and waves and white caps. I am trying to get a grip on reflections and how water and reflections interact. I think reflections appear longer when the sun is behind you rather than in front of you, like shadows.
Here, a mountain and a lake, with some very deep shadows. The distant mountain is quite bland to my eyes and would like to liven it up with deeper greens and richer browns. I didn’t. I tried to keep it more simple than the actual photo. I did to a point.
I think most painters will always find faults as they know, as they paint, what challenged them while they painted and what their vision was, versus what they put down. My life.
I’ve been really into doing wet-in-wet watercolors this month, and think it may become a theme for the month of January. So many areas of watercolor benefit from it. Skies seem to lend themselves to it, but so do fog and reflections.
Here, a winter landscape, partly from memories of those lovely, cold afternoons in upstate New York or rural Illinois, when the clouds were low and dark, snow was on the ground, but somehow, the sun made it through, casting shadows and a bit of color on the vast swaths of white.
I’ve been thinking about how I am developing a sort of painting style in gouache, as well as giving thought to the painters whose work I admire. It definitely falls in the impressionistic and expressionistic varieties. Gouache just seems to be made for exuberant color and enthusiastic brushwork.My colors are more subdued that I wanted – I wanted turquoise skies and pink flowers and a brilliant sunset. Instead, I have a rather northern European type of town scene, with a garden or flowering park in the middle. Summer’s abundance flourishes under the trees, but in the shade it seems. In doing this painting, I didn’t do much planning. I stuck to the prompt of “splashes of color” – and splash I did. The result was a serious loosening up of my style, and a letting go of “this is what I want it to be.” That is significant – I can be a real tight ass about painting, and in the end dislike the results. When I let go – let things splash – I am usually much, much happier with the results.
Regardless, both paintings appear muddy to me. I wonder if working with pure color – straight from the tube – would help. Practice certainly will. The flowers in the vase seem a bit overworked, too. Again, practice and experience.
So, lots of splashes of color for #WorldWatercolorMonth 2019 is producing some rather pleasing results and, more than anything, a daily involvement with painting.
Shadows on snow – blues, browns, limited palette. Cold.
I rather enjoy the winter, as long as I am not mucking about it in reality! As a kid, though, the woods and the new fallen snow on a bright clear day were a true slice of heaven.
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!
I have been busy sewing for the holidays, as well as busy with appointments. Watercolor has fallen to the wayside – but not forgotten! Today, before I head out for a sewing class, I decided I wanted to work on white space, such as highlights, without using frisket. I took some tomatoes, set them on my desk (which has an acrylic protective surface), and painted. Here ya go!
Reds are actually a challenge as there are subtleties between the different areas. The same with the yellows of the cherry tomatoes. I decided to use the complimentary colors to create the shadows within the tomatoes themselves, but used blue for cast shadows in one, and tried to imitate the reflective cast shadows in the other painting, trying to replicate the tomatoes on the shiny acrylic surface.
I saw some climbing roses against a bright white wall, dancing with the wind. The play of light and dark, flickering shadows, and the swaying of the roses in the wind – tried to catch it in this morning’s sketch. No lines, direct watercolor.
Two days ago I was cleaning the kitchen up, even to the point of cleaning the oven and stove top – huge job for a Sunday morning. The other half was on call all day, so it seemed like the perfect time. We weren’t able to join family that day, so do something useful. All was going well until one of the dogs lay down behind me, and when I turned around, over I went. I took a standing lamp with me, fell over the arm of the couch, smacked my arm and hand on the treadle sewing machine, and ended up on my back. I knew my hand was messed up – it hurt! Off to the urgent care to have 3 questionable fractures, one in the wrist and 2 in the middle finger. Monday confirmed fractures, but only 2, both chips. Not too bad. But, now I am all bound up with a splint on my finger and one on my wrist. My right wrist. I am right-handed. Oh, woe is me!
Happily, my dog was more surprised and less damaged than I.
Spring break and the plans are to do all sorts of fun things. Like paint. And that is what I have been attempting to do today. It is not easy to draw a straight line or hold a brush, much less type, with normal dexterity. In a way that is really good as nothing can be considered “serious” when nothing is feeling coördinated. There is a real disconnect, like when your face is all numb from anaesthesia at the dentist. Believe me when I say drawing in splints make straight lines somewhat improbable.
And here are the results, pictures taken step by step as I waited for things to dry. I was on the patio whilst painting – someplace relatively safe as the dogs aren’t allowed in this part of the yard. The focus is on imagined shadows, not great art. Click to see larger.