I needed a change of pace – a way to relax – after yesterday’s very intense painting of buildings and people. It’s nice to visit familiar territory. But, I was not without goals. Here I worked on subtle gradations and color change in the sky; misty / soft trees in the horizon using moist paper to blur and indicate distance; a couple of buildings with subtle rooftops; snow. On Arches CP 140#, 9×12.
I asked for some criticism on this painting I did a few weeks ago. Below is the original scan.
Some opinions were that it was lacking in depth, and that the right and left sides needed to match better. So, today, finally got around to doing some modifications. Here is the new painting.
Let me know what you think. The newest scan is a bit more vibrant than the other, so keep that in mind. My class is tomorrow afternoon, so I will talk to my teacher, too.
For the past few months I have been taking a number of classes in watercolor and painting. Throw in an occasional Pencil Portraits in the Park classes, and you can see I get a bit busy.
Magpies like bright things, and I am convinced I am a magpie reincarnated. Hawaiian shirts are a particular delight. Color in any form, the brighter is usually the better, even if it borders on poor taste. Oddly, I do enjoy black and white photography – it can be quite beautiful and dramatic – but painting value studies, monochrome, has eluded me as something to enjoy – until now!
I have been taking an online class from Ian Roberts for the past few months. It began with value studies in pencils. Now we are doing value studies in paint. Some people are painting in watercolor, others in acrylic or pastels; I decided to try out oil paints for the first time in years – nay, decades – and am pleased with the results. It is a hell of a lot of fun to moosh around paint and be able to moosh it around the next day, unlike acrylics. (You can also use gouache to pretty much the same effect.) With our weekly Zoom meetings on Saturday mornings, Roberts is providing great feedback and a personal, technical, and esoteric touch to what are foundational elements in art.
Above is my first oil monochrome. I didn’t do a great job of replicating the picture, but I did get reacquainted with how to use a brush with oils. I am using hog bristle filberts if you want to know. While we are working on values, we are also working on leading the eye. Here, not a lot of success as the road or white area in the mid left is too bright – the eye is to be led to the right.
This is from the second week. Focus is on values and edges, the latter being hard or soft or vanishing. I enjoyed this a lot, even though my sphere needs a bit of anchoring! It really helped me to see a bit more sharply.
Roberts did a demo version of the still life, and then left us to find our own way with the landscape. Oils are a bit of a challenge to use because of their long drying time if you want to paint over something. As a result, I cannot scan them, but have to take a photo while they dry. Wet surfaces are a bit shiny, and the texture of the paint and canvas are more challenges to creating a digital image. This study made me see things differently, and one element I had to do was to edit the photo – simplifying it – to work a bit on the painting to make it work. Not great, but values are getting easier to produce.
Here is one of the two studies for the third week. I did this yesterday, outdoors on the patio. I lugged out this and that, found I forgot something, ran back to get it, and it was a Big Production. But a fun one! I still need to work on this one a bit – the 2nd pole on the right needs some sharpening and the road in the distance needs a bit of work. Once more, the photo is lacking, but what can you do?
So, my painting world is suddenly black and white, and I am enjoying it. I’ve decided to do “daily painting” when possible, on other subjects as well. It will be interesting to see where all these monochrome studies take me, and when Roberts lets us to add yellow ochre to our titanium white and ivory black to learn more about warm and cool values, I think the world will change even more . . .
I am taking an online watercolor class, and I am sort of this way, that way about it. There is feedback and some great videos, but I find that I like to have a more personal contact than such. Another online class I am taking has weekly Zoom meetings and even though we aren’t all yacking with the instructor, it is more personal.
Anyway, despite what I would like to see different, there is a lot of value in pursuing online learning. To a degree, you have to motivate yourself. You have to have the discipline to do it. One thing that I do find especially hard in all my classes is the making of value studies – oh, how I hate them! I don’t have them as part of my routine when it comes to painting, and the discipline of doing them is what I hate. I expect that doing them will pay off in the future – but it may be a bit down the road as I force myself to do them without appreciating what I know they are supposed to provide.
Above, a study from a photo in my watercolor class. Below is the first value study showing the midtones
All the white area is supposed to be sky and the lightest areas of the picture. The grey is the middle value. These are used to help shape the painting before refinement with darks and details. Below is my dark-added value study.
I actually really think this idea of doing middle values for the first step of a value study is a good idea. Do these values first, paint your lights and mid values in color, and then move on to the darker ones in the value study and the final painting. Doing this is very nice, really, because the dark values and details get distracting.
Like I said, this is a thing I am not enjoying doing but know it is probably going to reap bigger rewards than I can imagine at present. Values and edges are what I am trying to see in anything I do.
This is my second foray into the series of photos Andy Evansen has posted for studies in the second module of his watercolor class. Here the focus is on value studies.
One of the things I am attempting to do, from both my classes with Evansen and with Ian Roberts, is to work on value. Evansen is a watercolorist and Roberts is an oil painter. Evansen demonstrates the use of a value study on his YouTube channel by creating the middle value(s) as large shapes. Roberts emphasizes shapes rather than things as well. Unlike Roberts, though, Evansen begins his value study with simply the middle value, leaving lights as white. After he has painted the middle values in his painting, he returns to the value study to put in darks and perhaps details.
I managed to do the middle value study, and then painted in what I considered to be the middle values, working left to right as I am right handed. But, before that, I laid in the sky with paper turned upside down as I wanted to have a darker value at the horizon.
I am not sure if the paper is improperly sized, but the paint and paper did not interact well. This is a 300# CP Kilimanjaro paper, natural white, and the first time I have used it. I also wet both sides of the paper, which is a habit I have for watercoloring with 140# paper. I need to see what happens in the future with other paintings.
I don’t really think this painting has a focal point, but that is not the purpose of this study. This module is to paint left to right, working in midvalues and sky first and leaving areas of white or light colors intact. From there, darks.
Evansen has provided a number of photos as references for the basis of a painting, and for values, I think I will work on that and try to apply what I am learning from Roberts and Evansen to create some things worth the time I spend. The reference photos range from landscaapes to cityscapes – animals and people. I will begin with the landscapes and then try the harder subjects for me. Here, there are cow shapes – blobby things. I have also done geese – more blobby things. All thesse blobs have characteristic shapes for the critters.
So! I am dipping my toe into new territories . . . let’s see where it takes me!
A rather quick sketch of a frozen creek . . . later in the day, sun is going down.
The end! Or is it?
Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, more blue in the lower front, some other touches, and then let it sit overnight.
This morning I took another look at it, and the only way I can describe what I did was to refine it. I increased contrast in some areas to create harder edges. Other things were designed to lead the eye toward the center of the painting, toward the whitish rock at the top of the water. I also looked for areas that just didn’t look right, somehow too symmetrical or distracting. In the end, little bits here and there made it better to my eye. But – that was during morning coffee when I was trying to wake up!
I have never worked on a painting – a watercolor – for this long a time period. Total time is probably 8-10 hours. Time was spent laying down frisket, colors, letting things dry. Then frisket was rubbed off. Water was sprayed at different times and salt sprinkled. Rubbing alcohol was also sprayed on. I think the last round of frisket took about 30 minutes to rub off, along with salt. The result, though, are transparent layers of color which I could not have accomplished otherwise.
While the perspective seems a bit off – or maybe we are looking down into the water from above? – I like this painting. It’s a new adventure for me in watercolor, and while bright, I don’t think it is overly so. I deliberately did not use any orange!! New ideas are coming to mind for painting in a transparent medium. Mood and impression work here for me – not realism, but suggestion. So, spring thaw, melting ice, new leaves.
In this final version, I cropped it and changed the perspective a bit in Lightroom. Post-processing artwork is much like post-processing a photo, an din the printing industry it is done all the time. You can see the uncropped version in the gallery below.
Arches 16×20 140# CP, acrylic, gouache, watercolor.
Getting there, but not quite.
I added more frisket, colors, salt. I also began adding acrylic paint thinned down quite a bit. Now, another night of letting it stew, but I already think I know what I want to do with it. For instance, I want to add more blue in the lower left foreground in that rather large white blob. Perhaps some sense of geometric texturing by adding tape and then painting over it. White streaks for snow on trees? It’s hard to tell.
Waiting is a good thing to do.
I am not really sure what I am doing these days. I don’t really like what I am painting. Moving into abstraction to some degree, trying to loosen up, trying to be more suggestive than representational. Like anything new, or different, it can be very uncomfortable. A part of me wants to work with less intense colors, and for me, that seems like an impossibility! So, I keep trying. Let’s see where it all goes.
Watercolor, Arches 140# CP, 16×20.
I have been trying to work with thin washes to lay in color, moving into negative painting – such as around the birch trees – and building the painting from there. I used different color mixtures to suggest the birch’s black areas on the trunk, and then used the darkest color I could mix to create some outlines for the trunks.
Watercolor is such an unpredictable, but somewhat predictable, medium that it can drive you crazy and fill you with delight.
11×15 CP Kilimanjaro 300# paper.