138. Cold & Cloudy

Inktober continues apace, but I have been going 100 mph for the past week.  No time to focus on a theme.  This morning, though, I thought about cold mountains and winter – where I live, it’s in the mid-80s to low-90s, and I could use a bit of blustery weather.

Here is a mountain – inky for Inktober

And here is the same scene, in cold and wintry colors.

I used to do a lot of Chinese painting, and I tried to incorporate the clouds in a  rather Chinese-painting fashion, in ink and watercolor.  Hints, not direct; subtlety rather than blatant.  I’m not sure if it worked for the clouds between the mountains, but I definitely like the chilliness and fogginess of the scene overall.

43.4 Two Color Studies: Trail in the Snow

Another two-color study, this time using Burnt Sienna instead of Burnt Umber, along with the Ultramarine Blue.  As an aside, looking up lists of “warm” and “cool” colors, the umber and ultramarine are considered “warm” by some.  Beats me, as they sure look icy together.  Here, the Burnt Sienna alone or diluted is warm in cast, but moves to dark and cold (in my eye) when combined with the Ultramarine Blue.

43.2 Two Color Studies: Roadside

Last summer we drove through a lot of the wild west.  The loneliness of Wyoming always gets me – vistas of open space, few cars, fewer people.  Taking a picture during the summer is much different than what you see in winter, so I looked at some of the photos I took out of the window as we drove from Laramie to the Tetons.  I tried to imagine how barren and cold it could be.  Always the sky, always the distance, always the barbed wire fences.  Again, in Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna.

Besides trying to imagine a scene, I also tried out a new brush.  It is a Cosmotop flat, by DaVinci brushes of Germany; it’s about 3/4″ wide.  I wanted to see how it would do on the Canson XL paper I use for practice, in particular to see if I could get a “sparkly” effect with a dry brush.  The paper is too smooth for that to work successfully, which is why there are fine lines in the foreground.  (Sigh.)  It did a pretty good job for wet-in-wet sky, and along the horizon line.

16.6. Holiday Cards: Winter Stream

I used six of Peter Sheeler’s videos to create cards for my sister-in-law’s Christmas present, along with using them for practice.  Doing all of these has proven to be more thought-provoking than I realized.  Copying by watching a video is really informative.

In many ways, this was perhaps the most deceptively simple in appearance, but in reality the most complex.  The reason for this is the stream.  Water is never easy to express (at least for me).  There are ripples, reflections, shifting colors to reflect the sky and scenery above.  Besides all this, there is the snow.  It also reflects along the banks of the stream, which you can see in Peter’s video, but which never made it into mine – this is on the center left of the stream.

Mine below has some good areas – certainly there is white! – but bits of it are a tad overworked.  The scan is not as subtle as the painting, either, but I am not really sure how to deal with that.  I decrease some areas of saturation in the image using Lightroom . . . and I am not sure if I am going to include this card in the set because of the smudges and such.

 

15. Trees, Shadow, Snow

This morning, in a room only lit by the light of my monitors, and a half-drunk cup of coffee at hand, I decided to go ahead and watch Peter Sheeler’s video above, and try to do a painting.  I dragged out a bowl for water, a few brushes, and my travel palette.  I sort of know where my colors are, so what the heck – paint and draw away.

I pretty much followed what Peter did, but obviously his work is better than mine.  Despite that, I did learn a few more things.  One thing I have always liked – and will continue to like – is ink with color.  Using a limited palette is also fun as it really helps you keep yourself under control.  I think – remember, it was dark, and I was only half of cup of coffee into my morning! – I used yellow ochre, quin gold, a bit of viridian, a bit of alizarin, indathrene and ultramarine blues, and burnt sienna.  Some of these were just little dabs because I couldn’t see very well, but the main colors were the sienna and blues.

That said, below is a scan of my painting before putting in the final lines.

Objectively, it’s okay.  There are some nice areas, and there certainly is some white space (yay!  white space!), which is why I am focusing on snow painting practices.  Some good light – dark areas.  A nice bleed or two.  Other areas are dreadful, such as that greenish area on the mid-right side.

Below, the inked in version.

Frankly, I like the final one better as there is more definition.  Now – finish that coffee and jet off to work.

Have a fun day!

14. White = Snow

If you have been reading along, you know:  I make mud, I need lines, and I cannot get white space at all.  Well, in a moment of mad inspiration, I realized snow is white.  Let’s paint snow!  In my part of the world (California), we are in the midst of a hideous wildfire, which fortunately bypassed our neighborhood, but which could be visited by a fire any time.  Crazy winds and no rain make for dry and dangerous conditions, and certainly the last place where  you will expect to find snow.

Thus, snow.  I went to my favorite place (YouTube) and searched for “watercolor snow” and there we were!  Lot of them.  In particular, I found Peter Sheeler, whose videos are simple to follow, and quite lovely.  He uses a minimal palette, and just paints.  Subtitles let you know the colors and the technique.  Pleasant music moves you along.  Here is my version of his painting.

Peter Sheeler has another video that I used as well.  It was a bit more complex, but not only was it great for shadows on snow, he has very strong light – dark colors, another problem I struggle with.

And here is my version of it.  I was really intimidated by the dark trees and the rocks.  Besides using only Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, and Burnt Sienna (even though Sap Green is in his video’s palette), Peter uses a 1/2 inch flat brush.  I have some flat brushes, and they scare the hell out of me.  I think people who love flat brushes are nuts.  No more:  I bit the bullet and pulled out my flats and did the entire painting in a flat brush, varying sizes as necessary.  And I used micron pens, too, as did Peter.

I am feeling a lot more confident now about colors, white space, limited palettes, and flat paint brushes.  I think I will continue to follow along with Peter Sheeler’s videos – he is a really good painter, I like his style, and am confident I will get a lot out of his videos.  And Peter, if you should come across this, let me tell you, “Thanks!”