This is a pretty small painting – but most gouache paintings are as the medium almost seems to demand it. After the disastrous flowers of the other day, the feeling of overworking my paints, I decided to simplify. Yesterday’s beach scene is a good example of simplification. And today is a bit more complex of a painting, but it is still simplified.
To simplify things, I looked at the big areas. This meant the sand in the foreground, the sky, and the masses which make up the middle ground, both light and dark. Those were laid in first. From there, more details in a middle stage, and final details – the small stuff – were done. This also matched the brushes I used – big to medium to small. “The Three Bears” and the Goldilocks effect.
I also was a lot calmer when I did this painting, and I was in the studio, not in 85F weather with a steady breeze to dry out my paints and raise my temper! Lesson learned there.
I took this picture awhile back in the local botanical garden. It is an oak against the sky, with the Santa Monica range in the distance. In the photo, the tree is silhouetted against a yellow sky, and the foreground is mottled with dried grasses. The California oak is not deciduous, but shows leaves year round.
The process here is along the lines of yesterday’s post, and is more successful I think. It is very simple. The steps I took began with a wash on the entire paper (8×10) in raw sienna. The mountains on the left were done next using a bit of sap green with the raw sienna, followed by some cobalt blue for the darker range. After that, the lower half of the painting had a wash of a greenish color, later followed with a darker green of sap green and cobalt blue. The tree and brush in the center were of burnt sienna and cobalt, with perhaps a bit of ultramarine as well.
That’s it. Fairly successful in moving from light to dark, general to specific. The simplicity of the subject matter makes it an easy painting to do – yesterday’s fig tree through the window was more complex, and accordingly more difficult. I really wonder if I will ever successfully paint complex scenes, such as a forest and creek or a city street filled with cars, people, buildings, and whatever – rather daunting, actually.
I’ve been doing a bit of reading . . . the gist of which is work light to dark, then general to detailed, and the last is more important than the first. It is from Tom Hoffman’s excellent book on watercolor, should you wish to know.
Anyhoooo, following this advice, I made a foray into a rather abstract painting. The corner of my house has two windows, set perpendicular to one another, and are furnished with plantation shutters – wooden shutters with wide slats. This is from a photo I took. I tried to catch the graphic lines of the shutters in contrast to the curves of the fig tree and its autumnal leaves outside, next to the sidewalk and street.