Tag: spring

Spring in Hill Country

While we have not had much rain this year, the countryside still has fields of wildflowers, mostly lupines and poppies.

Today, I decided to just paint, not think too much, to see if I could get a good sense of value. I did a couple of paintings. I used hot press paper, whereas I normally use cold press when I paint. I tried two different brands, and the Arches won out.

Thaw

Today it is still cold! I went out with my drawing class early this morning – 53F! (Laugh if you want – but that is really unusually cold where I live.) The sun came out and warmed us up, but I still felt the chill when I got home. A hot lunch started to thaw my chilly bones – so let’s consider that Spring is around the corner, and the thaw begins with running creeks.

Fallow

It’s mid-March and the land is opening up for the sowing of crops later in the season.  The bright new greens of spring begin to show amongst the fields and grasses left over from the year before.  Depending on where you live, trees are barren, or still green.  I live in a climate that never sees snow, seldom rain, but the cycle of seasons still holds it’s excitement as birds return, bulbs emerge, and the land is once more prepared for another season of crops.

Building, Tree, Flowers

Springtime – moving into summer – and after finishing up a sweater I just had to cut loose.  The watercolors were out, a piece of paper that wasn’t too warped from another painting, and I just went to work.  This wasn’t really planned, but I did use resist to keep areas white, as well as decided to throw in a building, flowers, and a tree.  A transitional world – sweater to watercolor portending hot weather next week.

View from the Hills

The miracle of green always happens in the last of the year and the first of the next when the rains come and new growth begins to emerge in the hills of California.  After months of dry weather and fading landscapes. color erupts almost overnight.  Soon, wildflowers will begin to tinge the hills from green to orange and purple and yellow.  Here, a view from the hills toward the Pacific, with the Channel Islands in view, lost in the coastal fog.

California Back Country

Even though summer is moving through July, soon into August, the rains we had over the spring are still leaving waves of color in the hills of the California back country.  Usually at this time of year beige is the predominant color, and in really dry years, a dark dirty brown.  This summer is a delight of colors – pale compared to spring – with wildflowers still hidden amongst the grasses.

Under the Oaks

This past spring in California has been one of the most stunning I can recall.  A long period of rain, extending deep into May, produced a situation in which flowers bloomed, and bloomed, and bloomed.  There are still traces of colors – golds and yellows mostly – on the hills when normally the color is beige and dead.  The richness of the wildflowers made the landscape, whether on the hills or under the trees, in the meadows or alongside the freeway, a wonderland of color.  I am still sorting out photos and memories as sources for paintings.

This is an underpainting for the gouache painting I did today.  Wildflowers under the oak trees along a local trial – lupines, wild cucumber, white and yellow flowers of known and unknown species.  Here, a la James Gurney, I decided to do an underpainting using casein paints.  He suggests casein as the underpainting as it cannot be picked up, as can an underpainting of gouache, once it dries.  It primes the paper, too.  While the smell is rather gross, the substrate it creates is stable and I rather liked using it, not just for what it did for the paper, but to lay in some values as well.

From there, I moved into remembering – thin layers to thick in gouache, building to lighter colors and thicker layers as you move along.  I’ve watched a number of videos on YouTube to get a sense of the process.  In particular, I have enjoyed the videos on gouache by Sarah Burns.  It’s rather strange to me, but it worked out.  Below is a painting of blue-eyed grass and white flowers under the oak trees in this stunning California spring.

“Waiting for Spring” – from a Rick Surowicz Study

This morning I went out and bought plants for the flower beds, had lunch and a nap, and then decided what I wanted to paint.  Rick Surowicz just posted a new video on his YouTube channel called “Waiting for Spring.”  On his personal website, he posted a sketch of the study as well as a photograph of the actual barn, and his final watercolor.  If you haven’t checked out his channel, you should.  He has so much valuable information.  When I am feeling more focused, I want to try out his two classes as they are more detailed than his YouTube presentations, although they are detailed enough for anyone who wants to learn.

This video appealed to me for a number of reasons.  One, perspective.  This is a frontal view, so the roof line is pretty much a straight line across the top, parallel to the top edge of the paper.  I got out my ruler and made both straight horizontal and vertical lines.  From there, I roughed in the trees and shadows and bushes.

The palette was pretty simple – Rick posts the colors he used at the beginning, as well as mentioned that his Cerulean Blue is PB36 as opposed to PB35 – PB35 apparently is more greenish than PB36.  This would be either DaVinci Cerulean or Daniel Smith Cerulean Blue Chromium.  Of course, if you don’t clean up your paints, you could have just about anything.

What I learned from this video were a few things.  One, mix colors on the paper as you move along.  Specifically, on the roof, I moved from one color to the next, picking up paint and working it into the paint on the paper.  This gave a nice effect.  Another important thing was to realize that while I have flat brushes, most of mine, if not all, are rather stiff.  Painting with them at times created problems as a softer flat brush would be a better choice in some areas.

I also realized I need to sort out my brushes better – put rounds in one area, flats in another, and riggers and other specialized brushes in another.  I have a stand, and perhaps I shall use that next, or else I may just get individual holders – like jars or tins – to hold specific brushes in specific areas.  I continue to learn!

As I look at this painting, I can see my confidence in handling color has come a long, long way.  I plan to do a few more barns in the coming week, using photos from Pixabay.  This way, I can practice perspective, use my ruler, and try to paint more confidently than I seem to do when I don’t have a video to follow.

FYI, below is Rick’s excellent video: