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.

Ormond Beach

More water and reflections!

Ormond Beach is located on the coastal side of the county in a flat, rural area near two navy bases.  The sky is often dank and cloudy and it can seem like another world compared to my hot, dry corner.  Here, I wanted to catch the dreary grey sky along with the rows of palm trees on the horizon.  I think this one is one of my better ones of late.

Storm Over the Wetlands

Water and sky are the major themes these days.  I really like them anyway, but have to work on reflections in particular.  For instance, along the banks, the reflection of reeds is very important, as in the distant water / tree line.  I try to be simple in my approach and perhaps a bit less dramatic or intense in my colors, but that seems to be really hard for me to achieve!  I had a lot of fun with this painting, though, and am rather pleased with its outcome despite the fact it is not quite what I envisioned.  But, it does catch that peculiar storm light, I think.