I should have gone to my Pencil Portraits class . . . but it was raining and cold and it’s outdoors. I’m a wuss, enjoying snow and ice from a distance. Thus, biting cold, frost, and snow fog. Wander along the road, beneath the trees, and remain in my snug house with a cup of cocoa and blues a-playing in the background. Not a rough life.
As the Midwest and other parts of the world endure and enjoy subzero weather and snow and ice, it is summer somewhere in the southern hemisphere!
Where I am, it is neither; just a crisp and lovely day, with the winter light canted lower in the sky. I really enjoy painting landscapes, imagining myself in the middle of it all. I think I need to get into town, though – my hiking boots need replacing. 😉
Where I live there isn’t a very big likelihood of snow. At higher elevations, yes, but here in coastal California, 800 feet isn’t gonna get it.
So, I dream.
I’ve lived in some places with stunning countryside, such as rural Illinois, upstate New York, in the Rockies of Colorado. Snow was beautiful and thrilling. As a kid, it’s a wonderland, but I remember my mother would always kvetch about all the little mittens, the snowsuits, the boots, the scarves, the this and that to get a herd of kids dressed to play – and then ten minutes later, they are all back in the house.
For some reason the winter and snow scenes of Maurice Utrillo were wandering through my mind when I was painting this. Yes, he painted urban winter scenes, but I don’t think that really matters. What I saw here was the brushwork, a scumbling to blend colors, which I think of when I see his paintings.
Initially my idea was to attempt a pointillistic painting, but the subject matter really doesn’t lend itself to dots. What I did was to lay down dots, as in pointillism, and then work them into each other for color gradation, textures, and mood.
If I am to be honest, I am really pleased with this painting! I hope you enjoy it, too.
The last time it snowed where I live was like never. Up in the mountains it does snow – it did a year ago – but of late is relentless blue skies. Today and yesterday we have had clouds and chilly winds, so it feels like Christmas and winter, and even tomorrow, more of the same.
I rather like it!
Still, I think of those magical winter days when sun and snow and sky and trees all play together, your breath rises, and you keep walking to see all the miraculous beauty of the land.
And here is a tribute to those memories. Gouache, sort of pointillstic, sort of not. I did the underpainting with casein and acrylic gouache, to lay down a foundation which would not dissolve when re-wet. I think it worked out pretty well. Overall, I think this is my best original painting to date. It feels “like me” if that makes any sense at all.
Merry Christmas and a No Covid New Year!
This painting is derived from some take-aways from yesterday’s study based on Charlie Evan’s video. I left white for the tree trunks, painting around them carefully. I also painted more slowly and less splashily than my usual mess. The result is more controlled and perhaps a bit more structured. While the painting itself is not what I would consider a real hit, it does have a decent bit of light and dark, sun and shadow, which is what I was striving for.
We are pushing 100F today, with east winds adding to the heat and potential fires. Thus, an autumnal desert scene seemed appropriate for today’s painting. As I haven’t worked in gouache for quite some time, I thought it time to dig them out. Variety is the spice of life, for sure.
Before painting, I did a value study before I even sat down to paint.
I used pencil, as you can see below. I like pencil a bit more as I have a good range of pencils of varying hardness and softness, and that helped out in the light and dark department.
I won’t say that the value study did not help. It really did. What it aided in was setting up light and dark areas, of course, but also helped me see shapes, such as the trees against the dark mountain, as well as shapes in the creek in the mid to foreground areas.
I left the sandy bank of the creek and the reflections deliberately vague – hard for me when I want to put in a lot of detail! The focus of the painting is the cottonwoods, so too much detail in the foreground would compete with the more detailed painting of the trees.
Altogether, this was a pleasant diversion, and the value study was worthwhile (not that they take a lot of time – I am just lazy). The creaminess of gouache is fun and a completely different experience than watercolor or pastels. I used Holbein gouache for the most part, CP 140# paper. The painting is about 6×8 inches – the nature of gouache often means smaller paintings than watercolor or pastels.
Here’s to autumn!
Since I had all the pastels out from Tuesday’s class, before I straightened up the mess in the studio, I decided on another study. This time, the oak-covered hills of California. In spring, the hills are brilliantly green, often covered with wildflowers, such as poppies and lupines. As spring gives way to summer, the heat comes, and the grasses dry out. Perfect conditions for all these dreadful wildfires of late . . . Anyway, the coast can be socked in with the summer fog, but inland, the hills are under the brilliant sun. As you look toward the Pacific, you can see the “fog monster” lurking on the other side of the range.
The end of summer and the brilliant greens of summer fade to brown and beige . . .
Here, I just wanted to make a light painting with simple washes. Usually I go for really intense colors, and it took a bit of work to get the sky light, as well as keep the colors of the distant mountains and grasses paler than my normal approach. The sky was easiest as I just blotted up my colors with tissue and used a lightly damp brush.
I’m rather pleased with the results, I must say.