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.
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.
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 . . .
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!
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 . . .