I have been so busy these past few weeks with cleaning and rearranging my house, discarding this, donating that, setting up a sewing cabinet, having personal documents shredded, etc., etc., etc., that the idea of sitting down to paint is like craving that first cup of coffee in the morning – I need it!
Whew. When I opened my gouache box, the smell of mold was there. Gouache needs to be kept damp, and if not opened up and used on a regular (i.e. daily) basis, moldy it can become. It’s not my idea of a good time.
I just decided to paint, not caring what it smelled like – and an open window and a good breeze helps! I mixed up colors, mashed up this and that, and when I was done, took everything to the sink and ran the water as hot as I could. Now, all is soaking, and here is a painting based upon a photo I took awhile ago.
This painting was done on a larger sheet of paper than my earlier ones as my sketch book was filled and finished with the painting of the other day. I began with a thin wash of gouache, putting in the basic colors of the sky, fields, house and trees. From there, I began the dots. And more dots. And even more dots. Paint went from thin to thick, and thin again. Dots were bigger and smaller. The closer I came to the completion of the painting, the more I began to use the paint to shape the different areas of the subject. I tried to use some complementary colors in shadows, such as red in the shadows of the trees, and bright yellow to enliven the lavender. Altogether, this painting took about 3-4 hours to complete (I lost track of time), but in the end, the dots were worth the effort.
Since I had all the pastels out from Tuesday’s class, before I straightened up the mess in the studio, I decided on another study. This time, the oak-covered hills of California. In spring, the hills are brilliantly green, often covered with wildflowers, such as poppies and lupines. As spring gives way to summer, the heat comes, and the grasses dry out. Perfect conditions for all these dreadful wildfires of late . . . Anyway, the coast can be socked in with the summer fog, but inland, the hills are under the brilliant sun. As you look toward the Pacific, you can see the “fog monster” lurking on the other side of the range.
As summer fades away, the fires are burning along the west coast, and the clarity of the air has gone murky. This is when I dream of being somewhere along a river, with sun, blue skies, flowers and birds. I’m a country girl at heart, stuck in suburbia! (But there are advantages of the ‘burbs, too.)
I used Arches Rough 12×16 140# paper. The texture is not as smooth as what CP or HP provide. There is a lot more “tooth” which is great for dry brush and texture, such as in the foreground grasses and middle ground trees. I used one of my hake brushes for the general grass shapes, and a larger, harder brush for the sky. Before I painted any large area, I used the hake brush with clear water, letting it soak in a bit to help the paint to spread more easily on this rough paper.
In general, I am pleased with this painting. DOF works fairly well. I put in a building, too! For me, the most flawed area is the squared-off top of a tree to the left of the building – maybe I will go in later to correct it, but for now, I’ll let it be, cuz it’s time for a nap!
Hard to believe it’s been two weeks or so since I was last online.
Life has been busy, but in reality, the weather has been awful! We have had a heat wave that knackers you – 100+ F, and even worse further inland. Temps have ranged from 95-111 in the vicinity where I live (35-43C). Ugh. As a result, blobdom has reigned as the primary mode of existence and, sadly, some binge watching on the TV in the air-conditioned house. I guess we all have to do it.
Despite that, I have met with a pencil portrait group in a local park and have enjoyed those mornings. I have also done some sewing. And mice chasing, but no catching. Today I cleaned up the mess I call a studio.
And finally, I have sat down to paint. I wanted scudding clouds and changing light – movement from bright to dark across the hills and the sky. Wind, too. Anything to cool off.
I decided to attempt a more high key painting today – one with a lot of white! I always look for contrast, but here I tried to lessen the usual contrast. Maybe it’s because I rather like contrasty photos as opposed to subtle one with a long scale of color or black and white. Even here, I kept adding contrast! It’s a fixation . . . but contrast is how we differentiate shapes and depth, so it’s necessary, but I am trying to minimalize it. Not sure if it worked or not!
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.
I’ve had this painting on my easel for about a week. There was a lot of thought put into it – an almost scary amount given my impatient, impetuous tendencies. Sky and basic colors in pale shades. From there, midtones, darker shades, and finally details. The foreground was so challenging – the cone flowers want detail, but don’t want too much. The orange ones are totally lacking in detail, and are just blobs of color. And then the buildings . . . still some perspective issues, particularly in the house on the right, but better than anything I have done to date. Dreams of summer now that spring is blooming here in California!