I am not sure whether this is done, overdone, or not yet done! Certainly it is more finished than before – and I am not sure I even like it – so it is in the garage to dry and to be ignored for awhile.
Oil paints are proving to be a pleasure to use. Their malleability makes them easy in comparison to acrylic paint. Add to that, they don’t end up looking plasticky.
Compositionally this painting has little to offer. It’s just a study of trees and color and playing with paints. A learning experience by doing. For instance, I finally “got it” when using brushes – and why painters use multiple brushes in oils. You know how you always see the artist holding 2 or 3 or more brushes in one hand, painting with the other? It is – for me at least – a way to keep colors more pure without creating mud. That was an eye-opener. In water based paints it is really quick and easy to clean a brush, but not with oils. Okay, new thing learned.
Below is the photograph I used as the basis for this painting along with all stages of the painting itself so far.
Another floral study following a YouTube video. This one is by Lois Davidson, whose technique is much different than the “Bowl of Roses” video.
I rather liked this one. There were some little things in doing it that I hadn’t done before. I’ve sprinkled colors onto wet paint, but never dropped in sprinklings of water. That was fun. Also, the sheer joy in painting splotchy flowers is always a delight but I did have to think a lot more than it looks – working light to dark requires forethought and patience. To me, watercolor painting is like haiku – it takes a lot more work than it appears to need!
I’ve long been a fan of Charles Reid and his wonderful, loose watercolor style. In particular, I enjoy his paintings of the Bahamas and other Caribbean scenes. The light, the sky, the land all work together to create something most of us dream about.
The above painting is by Charles Reid, but when you look at it, you can also see he is influenced by the watercolors by Winslow Homer a century earlier.
Winslow Homer painted not only the Bahamas in the Caribbean, but other tropical areas, such as Florida. Palm trees and ocean and sky and wind show us another world.
Several years ago I spent a week crewing in the British Virgin Islands, and the colors I saw were are so seductive. Around every corner, I thought of Winslow Homer. Charles Reid, while I knew of his work, I did not know he had painted the same areas as Homer, nor where I had been hanging out. It was a real delight to discover he painted the Bahamas and similar areas.
Here, a quick study – about 15 minutes – of the watercolor above by Mr. Reid. It’s rough. The goal was to capture a purity of color and gesture to express movement, the shape of people on the beach, the colors of the sky.
Sky, beach, water, clouds – the Caribbean has it all. The British Virgin Islands are just a few of the many islands in the area, many of which have tourist-driven economies. Despite this, the islands have their flavors, based on who originally colonized them – English, French, Dutch and American.
I don’t know if I could live on a small island because I am so spoiled by the ease with which I can buy a book (hard to do on an island, especially before e-books!) and a wide variety of food. What you cannot buy, though, is the atmosphere and the beauty. That you take home with photographs, paintings, and memories.
For some reason the works of Claude Monet have been rolling around my head, in particular his studies of the cliffs at Etretat. I found that he has done many studies of this place – it must have been a favorite of his. The above gouache was inspired by his version from 1885, Study from Etretat, the Manneporte, Reflections on Water.
It was really interesting to use Monet’s study as a study of my own. His painting is in oil, mine in gouache. The beauty of gouache is that it can respond in ways similar to oils, such as brushwork and color mushing. Initially, I just blobbed the colors in, but as I came closer to completion, I saw the little things which make this study more than just a simple study. Little things such as the dry brush on the cliffs, the dabs of color making up reflections and waves, the scumbling to create a sense of a sunny fog, became more apparent as I moved closer to completion of my own painting.
I’ve always loved the way Monet handled light; perhaps my studies of his works will help me with my own depth issues and contrast problems. I think this painting worked out fairly well. Even better, it was a lot of fun!
Seemed appropriate that a 15-minute study should be of a place called Rush Creek up in the Eastern Sierras!
Aspens, calm water, reflections, and done. I also used this as an opportunity to check out a new spray fixative (for me). This is an acrylic semi-gloss.
The problem with pastels is they smear if touched, so storing them and framing them can be a bit tricky. Smearing was attenuated well here, but it did take about 8 applications, some of which were a single coat, and the last about 4 or 5, back and forth, out of impatience.
Fixatives often dull colors or darken them, and whites can be especially vulnerable. This one seems to have done okay, perhaps turning the white of the aspen trunks to a creamy color, but the white trunks on the middle right seem to be doing okay.
I decided to use a study by the watercolorist Vernon Nye. He caught the back country of California perfectly – the hills and trees in particular. It was a fun study and I liked it because it pointed out to me how deceptively simple the hills can seem, but they really are not. The road, too, was another eye-catcher. I have driven along a number of back-road highways throughout the state, and you feel like you are the only person in the world. The perspective was a great challenge, too. Altogether, a good study of something in my own back yard, and I can take what I learned into future paintings.
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.
Today was another practice session using a study by Rick Surowicz on his YouTube channel. This one is titled “Snowy Creek’s Edge.” As with the one I did the other day, there is a lot of use of frisket, and this particular study with filled with it! Keeping areas white is important, and many watercolorists eschew using it – I know I sure did – but judiciously applied, it really does make painting easier. What I really liked is that it is an excellent way to express narrow bands of snow lying along slender branches and twigs. It also allows for creating negative space without painting tediously around things – a good skill to have, but at times not necessary.
Coming away from this, I am getting less caught up in copying Rick’s painting and using it as a point of study in watercolor technique, blending colors, and usage of tools and brushes. Tomorrow (unless the family Thanksgiving becomes a bit much during the morning) I plan to find a snowy scene, either from a photo I have taken or from a public domain image, and work more with snow in the landscape.