I’ve spent the last two afternoons following along with an online class in gouache. It’s been fun. The main focus has been skies and their moods as shown by clouds and color and time of day and weather. For some reason the dark and stormy sky stayed in my mind’s eye, and visual memories of days of yore came back.
I don’t know about where you live, but here in California where I am, the clouds are seldom domineering and frightening like they can be in the tropics or midwest. I remember one day when I was about 9 coming home from school and the sky was nearly black with clouds. It was still daylight, but it was in the fall of the year and cold. It was eerie and scary and beautiful. All the colors in the surrounding fields and meadows and trees were brighter than usual, almost to the point of being unreal.
That is what I have tried to catch here – intense light, strange light and colors, a wildness waiting to happen.
I do love the bleak look of winter. With watercolor, a limited palette of 3 or 4 colors can express so much. Admittedly I used more, but I usually like alizarin, ultramarine, burnt sienna, and Hooker’s green for the colder time of the year.
Following through on points for some of the classes I have been taking, I am working to simplify subject matter, colors, and lead the eye. I think I managed to do this here, leading through the fields to the houses on the hilly horizon. I tried to contrast warm and cool colors, with a bit of warm on the buildings with the hope it will draw the viewer in. I also used wet in wet and dry brush, working from general shapes to more specifics; light to dark in general.
In addition to the painting, I am trying to make myself do a preliminary drawing before I touch brush to paint to paper. I did this one today. Lesson – it is actually worth the time, and I have been a silly bunt not to take on this fine habit sooner!
Watercolor, 9×12 CP Extra White Fabriano Artistico 100% cotton paper.
I cannot believe it has been over 3 weeks since I last posted here! Suffice it to say I have been busy with learning how to handle oil paints and some drawing, and really not in the mood to look at the computer much.
That said, today a trip down to Pasadena’s Blick store was a fun morning’s journey and got my mojo going again. I didn’t spend too much, but did pick up some colors in oil and watercolor from brands not available locally (and that is not to say we don’t have a fantastic store nearby), and just had fun wandering around a well-stocked art store. The esposo did the driving as I am not a big fan of driving in L.A., even on a Sunday morning.
Anyhoo! I am trying a more subtle approach to my watercolors – perhaps less bright, more delicate? As well, trying to convey depth better along with leading the eye of the viewer where I want to go. Not too sure if it is working, but the process is fun.
More practice paintings. Negative painting will return in the not-too-distant future. Before all those negative painting exercises came in, I ran across the watercolors of Javid Tabatabaei. He has a wonderful way of painting skies reflected in water. His YouTube channel shows his tricks – definitely watch him if you want to see what magic he creates with a very simple method.
Normally, I paint the sky first, and then I do the distant hills. Water on the ground is left to last. Tabatabaei strokes in the sky and the water where the colors of the sky are reflected, but he leaves areas of bright water white or with a light tint of gold or yellow or blue, depending on his needs. For the sun, he paints around the circular shape of the sun; he does the same for the moon. Other times he will lift the paint. This technique creates a lot of drama.
Below are a couple of studies I followed on YouTube as well as a copy of a painting from Tabatabaei’s Instagram account, to see if I had learned from his demonstrations. I did. And to tell you the truth, this is one of the most fabulous ways I have ever seen for painting water and sky in watercolor – a big thanks to Mr. Tabatabaei for sure! Very simple, very elegant.
The above is my first attempt to follow Tabatabaei’s technique; this is from a YouTube study I seem to be unable to find at present. This is also on HP paper by Fabriano, and I was not really in a comfort zone as far as using it. Still, it worked out quite nicely. Here, I tried to lift out the image of the sun, but it really didn’t work. White gouache failed too. So, a painting lacking in success in a lot of ways but that water and reflections are yummy!
The one above is also from a YouTube video by Tabatabaei. He has a couple of YouTube channels, come to think of it. That may be why I am having problems finding them! This one and the one below are on Arches CP paper.
Finally, my version of one of Tabatabaei’s paintings using his water / sky technique. It worked out pretty good, I think, and I can see I am going to have a lot of fun painting water! Expect a monsoon or flood . . . of watery watercolor paintings.
I am trying to lighten up my handling of watercolor. Very often my colors are far more intense than I really want. I think part of this is the result of impatience and perhaps pre-cataract surgery days. Watercolor itself lends itself to a delicacy other media lack, I think, and to not play into the wetness and what it can do perhaps defeats watercolor’s beauty.
There is something about fog and early morning that always fascinates me. The idea that a cloud is on the ground (my father’s description of fog when I was about 5) still intrigues me. After all, clouds are UP!
So, a morning along the coast. Wet, soft, blurry, and giving way to a sunny, summer day.
I needed a change of pace – a way to relax – after yesterday’s very intense painting of buildings and people. It’s nice to visit familiar territory. But, I was not without goals. Here I worked on subtle gradations and color change in the sky; misty / soft trees in the horizon using moist paper to blur and indicate distance; a couple of buildings with subtle rooftops; snow. On Arches CP 140#, 9×12.
Finally! I am dee-oh-en-ee. I took the painting I thought was sorta done, talked with my teacher, and we decided to add a few more flowers. So, I did, and signed my name on the left. On the right I have my digital signature.
I really enjoyed doing this painting. It is on 12×16 Fredrix canvas pad, primed with gesso, and painted over about a 3-4 week period. It is a pleasant break from monochrome – but that is for another time. Today, let’s enjoy Spring as we go up the hill.
I started this painting a few weeks ago, at the first class at the local adult school with a new teacher. This is from a photo I took some time ago. I was at the bottom of a hill, looking up.
This painting has taken a lot of time – several hours – but the work has been worthwhile. I have been applying the various principles I am slowly garnering from hours at the proverbial grindstone, memorizing techniques, concepts, whatever. For instance, I think this painting actually has a nice sense of depth and perspective – something I have struggled with for a long time. The light on the trees also pleases me, as do other bits and pieces of it.
I have also learned just through doing how to get the heavy body acrylic paint into a more viscous and enjoyable mess to paint with, and that is a big help! It’s a combination of matte medium, water, and the paint itself. I dislike the plasticky quality so often that accompanies acrylic paints, so even thought my colors are bright, I think they moosh together fairly well.
I’ll ask my teacher’s opinion when I see her next week. Meanwhile, here is (to my eye at present) finished work. Below is the photo which is the basis for this painting.
This is my second foray into the series of photos Andy Evansen has posted for studies in the second module of his watercolor class. Here the focus is on value studies.
One of the things I am attempting to do, from both my classes with Evansen and with Ian Roberts, is to work on value. Evansen is a watercolorist and Roberts is an oil painter. Evansen demonstrates the use of a value study on his YouTube channel by creating the middle value(s) as large shapes. Roberts emphasizes shapes rather than things as well. Unlike Roberts, though, Evansen begins his value study with simply the middle value, leaving lights as white. After he has painted the middle values in his painting, he returns to the value study to put in darks and perhaps details.
I managed to do the middle value study, and then painted in what I considered to be the middle values, working left to right as I am right handed. But, before that, I laid in the sky with paper turned upside down as I wanted to have a darker value at the horizon.
I am not sure if the paper is improperly sized, but the paint and paper did not interact well. This is a 300# CP Kilimanjaro paper, natural white, and the first time I have used it. I also wet both sides of the paper, which is a habit I have for watercoloring with 140# paper. I need to see what happens in the future with other paintings.
I don’t really think this painting has a focal point, but that is not the purpose of this study. This module is to paint left to right, working in midvalues and sky first and leaving areas of white or light colors intact. From there, darks.
Evansen has provided a number of photos as references for the basis of a painting, and for values, I think I will work on that and try to apply what I am learning from Roberts and Evansen to create some things worth the time I spend. The reference photos range from landscaapes to cityscapes – animals and people. I will begin with the landscapes and then try the harder subjects for me. Here, there are cow shapes – blobby things. I have also done geese – more blobby things. All thesse blobs have characteristic shapes for the critters.
So! I am dipping my toe into new territories . . . let’s see where it takes me!
It is always worthwhile looking at the works of various painters, regardless as the medium in which they are creating. The works of Edward Seago have a charm to them which is old world, peaceful, and hearkens to a quieter and simpler time. This painting is based loosely off one of his oil painting of the eastern English coastline. What attracted me was – and is – his vast skies. The low lying shoreline beneath such a magnificent sky is worth trying out. The same may be said of the watercolors of Edo Hannema – he, too, finds the work of Seago, and Edward Wesson, as sources for inspiration.
In Southern California, the sky, where I live, is almost always blue. No clouds, little haze. Humidity sits at zero. (I won’t discuss the vast amount of lotion I use!) However, the big skies of the midwest with towering clouds, or the piles of clouds over New Mexico, are in my memory, and so the clouds and moist skies of a wetter clime draw me.
Here, I used the 1.5 inch flat brush for 90% of the painting, resorting to a small flat brush – 1/4 inch – for some detail. Large washes, wet into wet, some glazing. Paper is Arches 140# CP, 16×20. The large brush is becoming a favorite for sure!
The large brush helps me keep my colors clean and think about masses rather than details. Big to small. I am also refreshing my water as I move along – this took about 2 or 3 refreshes – and cleaning off my palette, too. With a large brush, large washes, a lot of color is used. Clean palette, clean water, and, of course, a clean brush. The results are beginning to be seen.