I haven’t really done much painting over the last several weeks, and it shows. There really is a disconnect when you don’t paint and practice. This is just a messy sketch (mess-a-sketch?) to warm up. Frustrating to do, but it feels good, too.
I cannot believe I haven’t posted anything since the last few days of August! Life has been filled with family activities, horrible heat, and other things that take up time like sewing and reading and cooking and a photo safari. However, I could not stay away! Surprising how much I miss my daily forays into paint and color, and especially gouache! (I really need to get back into watercolor – more in a tad about that.)
Trees again. Cypress trees have their own character – they invite sweeping brush strokes with a flat brush, or a tapered one. Movements of the brush match the movement of the wind it seems. Where cypress trees live along the California coast is usually windy, foggy, and often cold, and these trees rise like ghosts out of the mist. They are quite eerie.
We are heading out to Monterey for a few days. I havene’t packed any gouache, but a small watercolor palette and a sketchbook for out-of-the-house experiences. I hope I take the time to paint or draw, and catch some flavor of where we will be. Along with my sketchbook I am bringing a camera (or two, or three, or . . . ? Anyway, the idea is to enjoy some time off while the other half is on vacation – our road trip was sidetracked by a water leak a couple of months ago.
I went off for a morning walk in the local botanical garden, taking pictures with my phone (and film camera) looking for contrasty bits of landscape to paint. I took a lot, much to my surprise. What I found was dappled sunlight more than anything as the garden is in its summer glory with trees leafed out and bright sun trying to break through the canopy.
Truthfully, this painting is considerably more lush in color than the photo as we are in August, in hot weather, and the vegetation has dried and browned from a lack of rain. I really worked to create a gouache painting reflective of the photo, but couldn’t hack it! It was so dreary!
What I did like best, though, was simply the experience of a slow ramble through the garden. There were birds, scents of pine and sage, butterflies, the buzz of bees, bird song, caws from crows. I think, perhaps, the painting is more reflective of the richness of the experience of the garden rather than its current shades of beige, brown, and green.
Another painting from a photo I took. Here, I am looking up into a tall, stately sycamore tree during its summer season.
I did a few things here. First, I tried to use complementary colors for shadows and dark spots on the tree trunk and branches. I used zinc white and a bit of ochre for the trunk, and for the dark spots threw in some violet and white and dark blue, eventually touching up dark areas with black and brighter areas with titanium white. The thin branches are straight black.
Right now my palette is pretty muddy, so I sort of wash the colors left behind with a brush to find the remains of the pure color. I decided to do this as I want to try a stay-wet type of palette to see if that helps me keep my colors cleaner, but I want to use up these colors as I practice.
I am also rinsing my brush out between colors, and drying it, too. Little details like this are not something I think about, and so I am trying to create better habits for keeping my paints clean, whether gouache or watercolor, as it really does make a big difference. For practice, though, my muddy palette will do as I practice techniques.
In spring, bright new greens fill the world. In summer, greens are darker, interspersed with flowering crops and wild flowers. Color is everywhere, but all dotting a verdant landscape. In brilliant sun, the greens shimmer, but under the electric sky of a thunderstorm, the sudden bursts of sunlight render greens into a strange intensity . . .
“Glorious Green” – prompt #29 – #WorldWatercolorMonth2019.
Phil Metger’s chapter on detail and edges compares a photograph, with different focusing levels, to a painting. By this he demonstrates the area of interest – foreground, middle ground, or background. In general, the foreground or middle ground will contain the area of interest. Therefore, the edges and details will be greater in these areas.
In this painting, the focal point is the lower right corner, where the rocks meet the small waterfall of the stream. The two rocks carry the greatest amount of detail, and as we move away from them, details gradually become less and less. In the background, the right side is a bit more dominant than the left background because the rocks and tree trunks are a bit darker than those on the left. (What logical lighting reason exists for that, I have no idea!) I tried to simplify everything the further I got from the lower right rocks and the center foreground water. Additionally, I limited my palette and tried to tie together all “grounds” of the painting by using the same colors to some extent throughout the painting.
This is my first attempt at water in a stream. I’m rather pleased with it overall. Not a masterpiece, for sure, but I am getting where I want to be more each time I paint.
I have to admit, I am on a winter kick. Cold, chill. And loneliness. I don’t tend to paint or photograph people or civilization, but as far as painting goes, I need to get into painting them. I’m doing okay with moving inland water. But buildings, people, and oceans leave me baffled for now.
So, the open spaces of the flatlands between mountain ranges. Harsh weather, blasted heaths, winter and wild weather. The hint of spring.