Tag: sky

Slow Summer River

Several weeks ago I started thinking more and more about what I am doing in my spare time. It is then I realized that, for me, the best way to spend my time is to learn new things, in particular, new art techniques. Thus, colored pencils; I signed up for an in-person class with masks and social distancing. I plan to continue this summer with the class.

At the same time, I thought it about time I learned to paint with acrylics, something I always avoided because I just didn’t like the idea of painting with plastic! Add to that, years ago, acrylic paints were not as good as they are now. I was also a considerably more impatient person, and less experienced painter, than I am now. Thus, I enrolled in “Intermediate” painting – I’ve been using gouache, so I have experience!

The first class was yesterday afternoon. I always wonder about teachers and how “good” they are. It takes time to become a good teacher, and honestly, I have found the quality of teachers for arts and languages at adult schools a mixed bag. However, I know I am going to enjoy this painting class. Students I spoke to said they have been coming to the class for 4 years – that says something for the teacher.

I totally enjoyed this first class. People paint what interests them. The teacher helps when asked, offers appropriate and spot on suggestions, and has a really fun personality that doesn’t become overwhelming. Teacher and fellow students are pleasant, delightful, and fun. Can’t go wrong with that, I say.

Because I didn’t know what to expect in class, I decided to bring a kit of paints I’d boughten several years ago, one with about 10 colors, to play with. I used this same kit to begin a painting – after all, play and doing are the best ways to learn. Along with paints and tentative beginnings of a painting, journeying in my cart were rags, water containers, dish soap, brushes, paper palette, an apron, and other bits and pieces.

Above is the underpainting I had done prior to arriving in class. Then days went by – about a week – and I got too busy to do anything with it until I arrived in class.

This is where the painting was at the end of class – nearly there. The sand on the left bank was re-shaped after the river was moved (ah! I feel like God when I get to change geography!) and relocated. And since we are mentioning God, there are two rather eyelike things up in the upper left sky that definitely need removing.

This morning I finished the river, refining this and that. Altogether, I am not displeased for a first acrylic in 40 years. The final painting is the one at the very top. Below you can see them in progression.

The process of learning is often best by doing. By doing, you know what it feels like, you have experience. I struggled here and there, such as with the sky, with the viscosity of the paint, with the shadows and coloring of the sand on both banks. I rather think I like the river in the 2nd version, but decided to change it by adding reflections and ripples for the final version. I took out the “eyes” in the second version, added more fluffy and high-altitude clouds, and worked to create a sense of sand and shadows on the left, along with that wonderfully mucky sand in still water.

This was painted on 11×14 Canson XL, gessoed, and taped to frog board. The kit is by Daler-Rowney, which provides good basic colors for the beginner.

And now?

Onward!

Under a Summer Sky

More Pointillism!

This painting was done on a larger sheet of paper than my earlier ones as my sketch book was filled and finished with the painting of the other day. I began with a thin wash of gouache, putting in the basic colors of the sky, fields, house and trees. From there, I began the dots. And more dots. And even more dots. Paint went from thin to thick, and thin again. Dots were bigger and smaller. The closer I came to the completion of the painting, the more I began to use the paint to shape the different areas of the subject. I tried to use some complementary colors in shadows, such as red in the shadows of the trees, and bright yellow to enliven the lavender. Altogether, this painting took about 3-4 hours to complete (I lost track of time), but in the end, the dots were worth the effort.

I think I could live here.

Either Side of the Wall

This painting is derived from some take-aways from yesterday’s study based on Charlie Evan’s video. I left white for the tree trunks, painting around them carefully. I also painted more slowly and less splashily than my usual mess. The result is more controlled and perhaps a bit more structured.  While the painting itself is not what I would consider a real hit, it does have a decent bit of light and dark, sun and shadow, which is what I was striving for.

Summer on Mt. Diablo

The end of summer and the brilliant greens of summer fade to brown and beige . . .

Here, I just wanted to make a light painting with simple washes. Usually I go for really intense colors, and it took a bit of work to get the sky light, as well as keep the colors of the distant mountains and grasses paler than my normal approach. The sky was easiest as I just blotted up my colors with tissue and used a lightly damp brush.

I’m rather pleased with the results, I must say.

A Morning’s Work

I opened up a pad of 9×12 CP Arches and have been having fun all morning. Yesterday was a step back into the world of watercolor, and today was simply a play day to try out a few techniques. In particular, working with less water on the brush than I normally do. This is an effort to have a bit more control of the pigment on paper. Let’s take a look!

The above painting was the first one. Really a disaster! But it served as a warm-up project. In and of itself it is not awful insofar as I worked with less water from the beginning. This let me make bolder strokes as well as glazes and some wet-in-wet. The sky was my first attempt to work a rather loose sky with a much dryer brush than my norm. I worked more color into varying areas of the sky, blotting my brush on a towel before picking up the pigment.

Again, the sky was a focal point in this painting. I chose to use a yellow tinged with alizarin, diluting the pigments extensively. From there, I dried off my brush and applied the colors. The same technique with the blues. Some blending, but the result is quite what I hoped to achieve. This same dryer-brush approach was used for the foreground and middle ground, as well as for the trees. Rather pleased with this one all around.

More dryer brush work but with the addition of glazes. This lagoon was a bit more challenging as the low tide leaves behind rivulets between the miniature sand bars. My feeling about this one is rather mixed, but I think it is more because it is outside my comfort zone.

Dryer brush, glazes. These dry California hills are really monochromatic. Browns and variations thereof. Yawn! The mountains I redid after the painting was done – too pale. Sadly, I messed them up a bit.

This morning’s work was well worth doing. I spent about 3 hours altogether and took the time to think after the first painting. Warming up is a good exercise as it reconnects me to what I want to do. Practice is never perfect but it is essential to any skill.

Not sure what is on tomorrow’s agenda.

North Country

Hard to believe it’s been two weeks or so since I was last online.

Life has been busy, but in reality, the weather has been awful! We have had a heat wave that knackers you – 100+ F, and even worse further inland. Temps have ranged from 95-111 in the vicinity where I live (35-43C). Ugh. As a result, blobdom has reigned as the primary mode of existence and, sadly, some binge watching on the TV in the air-conditioned house. I guess we all have to do it.

Despite that, I have met with a pencil portrait group in a local park and have enjoyed those mornings. I have also done some sewing. And mice chasing, but no catching. Today I cleaned up the mess I call a studio.

And finally, I have sat down to paint. I wanted scudding clouds and changing light – movement from bright to dark across the hills and the sky. Wind, too. Anything to cool off.

About Dionysos’ Pond

Another painting done primarily with a hake brush.

This painting was done on the reverse of a previously painted piece of Arches 16×20 CP 140#. I wet the paper initially, taping it only in the corners, and was rather pleased to see how the paper relaxed once wet. I moved the tape as needed to keep the paper flat.

Anyway, the work here was themed on wet-in-wet, use of an excessively large brush (for me!), and standing up, rather than seated. The results were interesting – standing up allowed for more freedom of brush stroke. Getting the paper wet and letting it set a bit before starting the washes also helped.

Compositionally, I think it is a bit bland – really very little to lead the eye. However, this was not my focus here; rather, I wanted to use the hake brush to create sky and foliage as well as broader swaths of color. The nature of the soft brush allows for thin lines, rough splotches of color with white or underlying colors to show through, as well as washes of subtle beauty. From there I used a rigger to create branches, trunks, and some more calligraphic and suggestive lines.