Our backyard was filled with about 18 trees, far too many for the allotted size. We had 5 trees removed and the remaining pruned backed. Eventually all but 2 will be removed, roots dug out, stumps ground down. I don’t know what this guy was thinking when he put in all these trees – I had neighbors I didn’t even know I have stop to tell me how much nicer it looked and they had “told” him he was putting in far too many. We can actually see the sky at night!
That said, after the crepe myrtle, I moved onto the podocarpus, which are rather lovely or ugly trees, depending on my mood! For now, I’m just doing simple things – not that these leaves were simple. The leaves of the podocarpus in our yard have leaves that grow in clumps, rather like bamboo in shape, but totally not bamboo. Still, the leaves may be painted with the tip of the brush, a bit of downward pressure, and then a rise to complete the shape.
I tried to paint around highlit areas – making a leaf or leaf shapes with green, and then working toward the darker areas.
I keep forgetting what a challenge watercolor can be, but it makes me so happy to do it, whether or not I am especially successful!
I have always liked pen and ink combined with watercolor. The contrast between the two can be art in itself, or the two can work together, each enhancing the other. I came across this book by Claudia Nice, Creating Textures in Pen & Ink with Watercolor, quite some time ago. It’s detailed and it has some exercises with suggestions as to what to do and notes as to what she did to create the effects. Some are just ink and colors, others involve traditional “helpers” such as alcohol or salt to achieve results.
Yesterday afternoon I was in an antsy mood, but didn’t want to paint in my usual splashy style, but wanted some “containment” if that makes sense. I wanted something requiring a degree of precision. Ink is always the answer there. Realism, too, is not where I wander naturally, so Nice’s work and exercises always have a magic to them.
The first I chose was her “Old Broadleaf Maple” – detailed, subtle. And a tree. I love trees! This is my rendering of her example.
The second one I chose was a fly agaric mushroom. I have seen only one like it in my entire life – and even then I am not sure it was the same mushroom. I was hiking up in the Rockies in Colorado, up high, and came across some huge, red mushrooms, the kind you see in fairy tales. Wanting more colors than the tree, the red hues of the mushroom were perfect.
The beauty of Nice’s work is that while it appears easy, if you are doing the study, you focus on the small things as well as the overarching picture. By nature, I am not detailed oriented, and for me, it is a different way of seeing and doing something. I am always pleased with the results when I take my time. The biggest challenge is to take these studies to my own world, outside the pages of the book, and look for the details on a plant or whatever, decide what to keep, what to discard, and so on. It is hard work worth every minute!
By nature, I am quite impatient. Maybe just not patient enough? What I mean is that sometimes I work too fast, rather than thinking ahead. In watercolor, timing is important, as is speed, but with patience thrown in. If I look at what I am doing, some are tight-ass line drawings, and others are just messy and rather free form, without lines. Here, I used a basic tree shape with cutouts to remind me where to not have leaves, so as to have room for sky and branches. I also worked for shadows.
Altogether, I worked too fast. I wanted to make some nice washes of the leaves, to show the color shifts from green to the glows of autumn. I also need to test out colors on a piece of paper. This is painted in a notebook, so the back of the previous page is a good place to do this (I keep trying to remind myself). Accomplishment, though, is no mud.
Colors were fun to use, too. I mixed together an especially interesting mix of Payne’s Grey, Carbazole Violet, and Burnt Sienna. That is part of the pleasure of a sketch book – playtime and exploring.
I will be doing a lot of trees as I move along, but will need to do some stilllifes as well.
Night is always mysterious and exciting. The moon overhead – clouds – wind- the creaking of branches – the rustles in the undergrowth. This is what I decided to try, using an old sycamore tree as the subject, and a bit of my imagination.
First step was to decide on colors, and approach. I decided warm undertones for the tree and the sky. I used a bit of Quinacridone gold and Yellow Ochre for a thin wash. From there, successive glazes in Ultramarine Blue, Indrathene Blue, and Carbazole Violet. As things progressed, some Burnt Sienna. You can see the different layers below.
At times I used a hair dryer to dry the layers . . . other times I painted as I held the hair dryer. I used rounds, flats, and finally a rigger brush (for the very first time!) It was okay to use the rigger in the background, but crossing it along the bottom of the tree – I don’t know – I think it detracts from the rest of the tree – hard to say at the moment.