176. Mists and Blurs

Wetness in watercolor varies.  There are times when a very dry brush on dry paper is necessary to give sharp, clear edges to an object.  Then there is wet-on-dry wherein washes are applied to dry paper with a lot of water.  And finally, wet-in-wet, where wet color is applied to wet paper.  As the paper dries, the color behaves differently.  There is so much to learn in watercolor!

Of late, I have been painting with a lot of water and a lot of color.  It’s a challenge, but daily painting is yielding better results overall.  Not every day, but overall!  Yesterday, I watched a number of videos, and did two studies based on videos by Rick Surowicz and Edo Hannema.

This one is from an early video by Surowicz.  He used some frisket, but my bottle was not working, so I painted without it.  I really needed it as his style is not just wet, but sopping wet!  He uses a fine mist sprayer to scoot paint around.  The result can be quite nice as you build layers of colors on layers of color.  I did this painting on Strathmore 400 paper, a paper I don’t especially like, so I was quite pleased with how it handled all the water.  The palette consisted of three colors – sap green, indanthrene blue, and a bit of Indian red.

Edo Hannema is a master of the wash.  I enjoy using his videos as study guides.  The above painting is my favorite of the two I did yesterday.  The palette was limited to raw sienna, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue.  The green was a mixture of cobalt and raw sienna.  One thing I really like about Hannema’s videos is he tells you when he thinks he makes a mistake, or needs to fix something in his painting, as well as tips on using colors.  It’s rather like eavesdropping on the artist.

I decided to look at mists and soft edges because the other day Rick Surowicz posted a video about mist rising below a mountain ridge – Overlook:

This was a good video to watch on how to create a mist or fog.  He also has another one called Misty Lake which was the one I used in my above studies:

Edo Hannema is a master at wet-in-wet techniques, which are great for fogs and soft effects.  The horizon of this painting video demonstrates this quite well.  The thing that is especially fun about the video below is the fact he took a painting he did of this scene in the summer and converted it to winter:

I find using practice videos helpful in learning techniques.  They are also helpful in thinking about how I paint versus how I want to paint.  Like many beginners, I put in far too much detail, and my own impatience impairs final results far too often.  Letting the paper dry is important, and I am learning to do that – my hair dryer is hanging within easy reach!  Leaving white paper is getting more “natural” in feeling, so I am thinking ahead as well.

Nowadays, I find I am plotting out paintings in my head.  Daily painting is another big step forward as I now have the time to spend on it without a million other things demanding my time weighing me down with guilt – chores and duties or the pleasures of a hobby.

163. Snowy Sunrise

More working with wet-in-wet, as well as white and shades of white.  Not sure if the idea that the part of the lower trees facing the viewer convey a sense of shadow – being darker – before moving into the shadows in the foreground.

With wet-in-wet, it is really important to understand how a paper responds to water.  This is Canson XL, a student grade paper, but one that I like to use when experimenting.  I’ve never really worked at using it really wet, but the results of focusing on it – having it sopping, having it damp – is beginning to yield some decent results, such as few blooms and hard edges.

160. Winter Sparkle

winter sparkle

After a fresh snow, an icy snow or blizzard, the day is filled with sparkles when you look against the sky.  In photography, it’s easy to capture – line up the sun, the light, move around, and you get it.  In painting, though, it’s a totally different thing.  How to express that sparkle?  I tried to capture it in the upper left corner by dabbing in colors of blue and black and bits of ink – did it work?  I don’t know.  On the bits of snow in the lower left, small dots of blue to represent shadows on the white snow.  Perhaps that is a bit more successful.

Pen, ink, watercolor, limited palette.  Wet on dry.  Ink on paper.  Ink on painted paper.  Wet into wet.  A morning mish-mash, but every day I am trying to do something with ink or watercolor.  Not always successful, but an everyday activity from which a lot can be learned!

157. North of Here

This morning we are experiencing rain – a rare event in Southern California.  Strange as it may sound, it made me think about painting something without lines, wetting the paper first, and working wet-in-wet, just to see what would happen.  As a kid, I lived in upstate New York, out where pine woods and lakes were more common than people.  I miss that solitude – walking in a snowy woods, flakes falling, listening to the silence, all alone in a cold, lonely, and intensely beautiful environment.

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.