It’s a pleasantly warm day today – bare feet and a nap on the patio kind of pleasant day. Still, I long for cold and gloomy weather, real winter weather. I know, I know – if I was living in the middle of it, I would think differently.
That said, a gouache in a more painterly manner than pointillism, up in the mountains somewhere, looking on to the distant dusting of snow. Gloom. Snow. Cold. Yeah! Don’t go wading in the river, either! Just enjoy it, and then return home to hot cider and a fire.
Early last summer, or late last spring, I visited a park with a friend. It is in Los Angeles, above the 118 freeway, so if you frequent the area you might recognize the photo (below) and the painting (above).
It is the kind of park I like – open, easily accessible, and then winding away from the city into the canyons beyond. Since my friend cannot get too far, we never have gone deep into the canyons, but perhaps one day I will go further than I have. It has some lovely tended areas and then wilder areas, but what I particularly enjoy are the oak trees.
This is the view from the pathway returning to the city, and this tree never ceases to find a soft spot (hopefully a sharp spot with good focus in a camera!) when I visit. I think we all have trees or buildings or places we enjoy revisiting.
More pointillism, more gouache.
Strange weather afoot – rain, wind, tornado.
If you have never lived on the prairies or traveled through the vast middle section of the U.S., you have missed some majestic land and sky. The weather can change in an instant, you might see it coming, you might not. Flat, lonely, filled with a terrible beauty.
Gouache, of course!
I love aspens – the way their leaves quiver, the fact that a grove could be one ginormous plant, the colors they add to the mountains as the seasons change.
This is quick study of a tree I pass by on many of my hikes into the local open space. It stands against the sky, silhouetted, as the sun goes down.
I’ve decided to be just rather messy with gouache – slapping it onto the paper. I think I feel more at one with it (paint and painting). As well, I am using a big brush that is angled at the tip, rather a wedge shape. As a result, it is somewhat predictable, somewhat controllable. And not at all. Part of it depends on how dry or wet the paint and brush are. We’ll see how this goes over the next several days. Being away from home for several days, I haven’t painted at all. Slapping paint around is a good way to be come reacquainted with it!
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!
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.
Interesting thoughts arise . . .
Another painting done primarily with a hake brush.
This painting was done on the reverse of a previously painted piece of Arches 16×20 CP 140#. I wet the paper initially, taping it only in the corners, and was rather pleased to see how the paper relaxed once wet. I moved the tape as needed to keep the paper flat.
Anyway, the work here was themed on wet-in-wet, use of an excessively large brush (for me!), and standing up, rather than seated. The results were interesting – standing up allowed for more freedom of brush stroke. Getting the paper wet and letting it set a bit before starting the washes also helped.
Compositionally, I think it is a bit bland – really very little to lead the eye. However, this was not my focus here; rather, I wanted to use the hake brush to create sky and foliage as well as broader swaths of color. The nature of the soft brush allows for thin lines, rough splotches of color with white or underlying colors to show through, as well as washes of subtle beauty. From there I used a rigger to create branches, trunks, and some more calligraphic and suggestive lines.
This is reminiscent of the foothills in California as they give way to the Sierras. Here, I used a hake brush about 2 inches wide to render everything – land, sky, trees. Most was wet-in-wet, but the blobs of bushes and some of the trees were done on a dryer surface.
Malibu State Park is a vast area that spreads out across bits of Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. You can feel like you are lost in the wild west. What is so enchanting about it is the land itself – hilly, flat, study with oak trees, a creek or two. It’s a great place to hike, to explore, to do photography, and to paint. In spring it is stunning, and after a rainy season you can walk through fields of butterflies. In fall, the sycamores change color, the grass is brown, but the hills can remain green. Definitely a land of contrasts.