Somewhere in Monterey

Today is a watercolor day!

I am surprised by how much less I am worrying about how my painting is going to look and how much I am becoming more involved with its process.

Working with gouache has certainly helped me with my usage of light and dark.  For awhile I wondered if working with gouache, from dark to light, would mess with my mind with watercolor, which is light to dark.  Actually, it helped a lot as I am more aware of light and dark than before, and thus it is easier to think about how to make it happen.

This is from a photo I took in Pt. Lobos Nature Reserve, along a path.  The light was dappled and flickering as the tree branches and leaves moved with the shifting wind.  It was a warm day, pleasant, and very, very much a prize of a day altogether.  I think this painting does a fair job catching it, though, as always, there are areas for improvement.

WWM #19: Splashes of Color

I’ve been thinking about how I am developing a sort of painting style in gouache, as well as giving thought to the painters whose work I admire.  It definitely falls in the impressionistic and expressionistic varieties.  Gouache just seems to be made for exuberant color and enthusiastic brushwork.My colors are more subdued that I wanted – I wanted turquoise skies and pink flowers and a brilliant sunset.  Instead, I have a rather northern European type of town scene, with a garden or flowering park in the middle.  Summer’s abundance flourishes under the trees, but in the shade it seems.  In doing this painting, I didn’t do much planning.  I stuck to the prompt of “splashes of color” – and splash I did.  The result was a serious loosening up of my style, and a letting go of “this is what I want it to be.”  That is significant – I can be a real tight ass about painting, and in the end dislike the results.  When I let go – let things splash – I am usually much, much happier with the results.

Regardless, both paintings appear muddy to me.  I wonder if working with pure color – straight from the tube – would help.  Practice certainly will.  The flowers in the vase seem a bit overworked, too.  Again, practice and experience.

So, lots of splashes of color for #WorldWatercolorMonth 2019 is producing some rather pleasing results and, more than anything, a daily involvement with painting.

Dappled Light

It’s been nearly 10 days since my last post.  Nothing traumatic to keep me away from painting – I just have had appointments and social activities accompanied by making sure all my retirement paperwork and insurance is in place for my “official” beginning of being a Medicare recipient on June 1st!  It’s been a slog, but it is in place, and hopefully nothing will make me have to do it all over again.

That said and done, the weather here in California has been really strange.  The new normal!  We have had rain into the month of May, and as a result flowers and plants and butterflies are prodigious, with spring flowers lasting well into what might be considered the summer months.  Even the hills are still colorful, but slowly fading to the usual beige and brown.  The rain, though, fills the bright blue sky with big clouds, sometimes ones which sit around and slowly disperse, sometimes with ones that dance their way across the sky, changing with every glance.  When I was a kid in the middle of nowhere, I loved lying in the hammock and making up stories as the clouds shifted and reformed.  It’s as magical now as it was then.

The local botanical garden is one of my favorite places.  It has so many things to see.  A variety of habitats are represented – desert, Mediterranean, and woodland, to name a few.  Today’s painting is a scene along one of the pathways, from the photo I took below.

I am always attracted to dappled light – the strong contrasts of dark and bright.  Photographically, it is hard to capture, but I was relatively pleased with the way the photo caught it.  I am also fairly pleased as to how I was able to interpret the photo and the light.  It was a struggle, and especially difficult after nearly two weeks of inactivity, but it worked out in the end.

Late Afternoon

I used St. Cuthbert’s Millford paper. What a difference from Arches! The colors lie on the surface longer it seems – a totally different painting experience. First time trying out this paper and I really like it!  Can you believe it came all the way from England!?

Anyway, this whole week has been a wash – just craziness and little odd details, appointments, and so on.  My head is spinning.  Finally, having time to paint, I made myself sit down and do it, without thinking ahead.  I just needed to get the brush and colors and paper going again.

Detail and Edges, iii

In the spirit of details and edges to convey perspective, as well as the fact I was really intrigued by the water and rocks and such from yesterday’s painting, I went to Rick Surowicz’s YouTube channel.  I know he has a lot of videos, some which feature flowing water.  I chose his study “Rushing Waters” to practice detail and edges along with perspective.  

I am rather pleased with the way my version of this study came out.  As I do these practice studies, I find I am beginning to rely on myself more and more for painting.  In other words, 6 months ago I would bemoan the fact that my painting does not look like the photo or the painting I was using as a study.  Now, while I look and learn from the instructions, I also am comfortable making my own painting decisions.

I really like Surowicz’s work.  His attention to detail and ability to explain his process of painting really helps the person attempting to learn.  This kind of knowledge sinks in with time, and it’s a lot of fun to see one’s own progress both on paper and in one’s head . . .

Some Thoughts

When I do studies like this one, and am pleased with the results, I think one day I will be a good painter.  When?  That is the question.  Copying someone’s work is pretty easy once you get the hang of it – but what about producing original paintings which are not copies and practice studies of another’s?

I know that we all need to practice what we want to learn.  Sometimes, though, it would be nice to “get there” more often than not!