Of course, we all want our fans to tell us how talented we are and what perfect paintings we do! Sadly, that is not reality. In and of itself, The Red Barn is not a bad painting – I am rather pleased with it. However, my husband is my nearest critic, and as he knows my issues of late with perspective, he pointed out, “The barn looks warped, like one side is buckling in.”
“Of course!” came my snarky reply. “It’s old. See? There are holes in the barn.” I pointed out the ones on the right, in shadow, under the eaves.
Well, I knew there was something wrong, but couldn’t pinpoint it. This morning, I took it out for another look, and just with casual measurement between my fingertips, I found the problem. The right front edge of the roof is shorter than the left edge. The same applies to the right and left sides of the front of the barn. Given the perspective of the painting, it is totally illogical!
This was truly a breakthrough moment. I thought I had done the perspective correctly – in many ways I have, as with the road, and such, but the building itself was the problem. I plan to re-do this painting today, working specifically on the barn roof and walls. Hopefully success will follow!
Stay tooned (as my friend Fraggy likes to say!).
This is by far the painting which took the most time to produce. There was – gasp! – actual forethought and planning done. Can you believe it? Does that mean I’m progressing or something?!?
Anyway, what I did was consider what I wanted to see. I also thought about some things I have observed other watercolorists do, namely underpainting. I also have been reading and seeing many painters lay out light colors, in a general way, move into medium washes with perhaps more detail, darker areas, and finally the details. This is what I did, but, before painting, I put down a lot of frisket in the shape of dots. Then, the first pale layer of wash. Between the third and fourth photos, I did more frisket. Dots again, but I also used a toothbrush for splatter, and drew lines over the green washes, to retain colors. Then the fourth layer. At that point I stopped for the night.
This morning, I rather knew what I wanted to do. I laid down a pale wash over the grassy areas of quinacridone gold and sap green. It was necessary to pull the grasses together. Finally, I removed the frisket and did a bunch of details complete the painting. Total time – about 5 hours! All of it was fun, and not a lot of frustration. I think because I took time, and because I am less “serious” about my stuff (knowing it won’t be what I envision) really helps.
Below, a gallery of the steps I took in the painting, if you are interested in the process.
Shadows on snow – blues, browns, limited palette. Cold.
I rather enjoy the winter, as long as I am not mucking about it in reality! As a kid, though, the woods and the new fallen snow on a bright clear day were a true slice of heaven.
More work with water and light. Here I thought about some of the exercises I have followed from Rick Surowicz’s YouTube channel – lines, curves, and dots to capture branches, light, and leaves. I think this painting worked out quite nicely.
Besides considering what I wanted in advance (a way of thinking that has taken a very long time to get to) by applying frisket, I also was determined to paint from light to dark and use glazing and blending. Areas of color were also considered, and rather than trying to paint each leaf, I painted blobs of color to represent the foliage. As a result, I built up layers of color throughout the painting as I moved along, and can say this is possibly the first painting in which I have done this.
I also had to be very patient! Frisket is not happy when you blow dry it – it gets all sticky and you have let it set up again. As a result, this 6×9 painting probably took a couple of hours to do. However, the results, for me, were definitely worth the time it took. Perhaps my impatience is lessening . . .
Pen, ink, watercolor. I used Bee 8×10 cotton watercolor paper. It’s not expensive, but price does not always indicate “good” or “bad” paper. It is a nice paper to work on whether wet, damp, or dry. Because it is small, color is easier to control than on a large sheet. I like it a lot.
In a number of circles, there is an “urban sketch” style done with ink and watercolor. Drawing and painting are combined. Some people are masters of it, in my opinion, having a good balance of ink and clear watercolor, with one or the other predominating, and the other not overwhelming its partner. (I hope that made sense!)
I am trying to find that balance. I’d say I am okay with ink, but heavy-handed with color.
Today I decided to try two things. The first is above – a simple “country” scene with trees (and green! remember yesterday?), a fence, and a building. The idea was for the sun – the light source – to be coming from the left, behind the barn. I’m not so sure what that big blue thing is to the right of the (obvious) three shadows of the trees, but it’s too late to do anything about that!
This one is an urban scene, one obviously not in downtown Los Angeles, but in some older part of the world. Here, the light is coming from the right, perhaps, but the alleys and buildings create their own logic. Shadows are broken up with bright spots. One can only imagine that to find the light, looking up will reveal a world much different than the one on the ground. I think this one was fairly successful; there are parts which seem to work, and others that make no sense at all – like, what is that thing? Scribble more ink on it and let the viewer guess!
After playing with yellows yesterday, I decided to try to mix greens. A very green landscape seemed appropriate. Most of the greens were mixed using hansa yellow, quin gold, and cadmium yellow along with cerulean blue, ultramarine, and cobalt. At times, I pulled in Hooker’s green, which I really like, along with some sap green. Others at times, too, mixed with yellow or blue, or even orange!
Looking at the painting, the sky seems to not really match much of the linear quality of the rest of the picture – technique, I expect. I had wanted the trees, foliage, and foreground to be softer, more blurred perhaps, but still full of greens. One thing I should have done is to have not painted the sky across the entire upper portion of the picture – this kept the green foliage from being more discernible or distinct.
Overall, I am rather pleased with the final result. The goal was green, which I certainly got, but the composition and style, while not what I envisioned, are not too bad.