Forest Road

I’d forgotten how much fun painting with gouache can be! Today, a painting of a forest road running through a lot of trees, but not so heavy with leaves that light doesn’t shine through. I began with a value study – again, more for shapes I think in light and dark.

The first layer of the painting had thin washes to set up the light green in the distance. Then, general dark shapes were added after the road was limned. The trees were then painted, dark to light, using long strokes with a round brush. After that, a flat was used for broad sweeps of the road. Finally, dabs of color to create a sense of dappled light on leaves. Final touches included some dashes of white and a blackish mix (purple, green, black) for lines and bits of contrast. What I really liked is the ivy climbing up the trees, creating bright splotches of color. Altogether, I think it worked quite well.

The value study is becoming valuable. Yeah, really. It helps me see where strong shapes against light shapes create visual interest and leading lines. Value studies are general but the painting becomes more specific.

Summer Path

I was going through some of my Instax photos taken earlier this summer. Here, a path nearby overgrown with mustard. Depending on how much water is available, mustard plants can be very short – or very tall.

I thought this could make a good study with a limited palette, and dryer brushes. Lots of things went through my head, actually. For example, plain batches of color. No pencil lines. Shadows using the underlying color of the ground or plants – i.e. burnt umber and ochre mixed with a bit of blue. Details in dry brush. Patience and wait to let things dry, or add blobs of color to enrich the damp paint. Dry brush over colors already laid in as a wash (like the tree and bush in midground and background).

Maybe I’ll take my Instax out for a walk today. And a dog.

Winter Sunset

I took this picture awhile back in the local botanical garden.  It is an oak against the sky, with the Santa Monica range in the distance.  In the photo, the tree is silhouetted against a yellow sky, and the foreground is mottled with dried grasses.  The California oak is not deciduous, but shows leaves year round.

The process here is along the lines of yesterday’s post, and is more successful I think.  It is very simple.  The steps I took began with a wash on the entire paper (8×10) in raw sienna.  The mountains on the left were done next using a bit of sap green with the raw sienna, followed by some cobalt blue for the darker range.  After that, the lower half of the painting had a wash of a greenish color, later followed with a darker green of sap green and cobalt blue.  The tree and brush in the center were of burnt sienna and cobalt, with perhaps a bit of ultramarine as well.

That’s it.  Fairly successful in moving from light to dark, general to specific.  The simplicity of the subject matter makes it an easy painting to do – yesterday’s fig tree through the window was more complex, and accordingly more difficult.  I really wonder if I will ever successfully paint complex scenes, such as a forest and creek or a city street filled with cars, people, buildings, and whatever – rather daunting, actually.

Misty River

More wet-in-wet work.  This time, I paid a bit more attention to the details along with the wet paper and paint.  I laid down washes, waited for them to dry, and then laid down wash upon wash.  At times I lifted color out while still wet, too.  It’s hard to describe what I did, but overall I was more deliberate in my approach to this painting, taking time rather than letting my impatient personality dominate.  The result is a more successful painting.

Colors include burnt sienna, Hooker’s green, ultramarine blue, quinacridone gold, and perhaps a touch of sap green and cobalt blue.  Limited palettes really help pull a painting together, as well as help you learn what colors, when mixed, produce what new color.

Brushes included a huge round for the main washes, and then a medium / small round, and a rigger brush for the grasses.  I got the rigger as a Christmas present, and this is the first time I used it.  I practiced on scrap paper, and can see why a lot of people like them!  This one is a bit stiff and has a lot of snap to it.

Neighborhood Tree

By nature, I am quite impatient.  Maybe just not patient enough?  What I mean is that sometimes I work too fast, rather than thinking ahead.  In watercolor, timing is important, as is speed, but with patience thrown in.  If I look at what I am doing, some are tight-ass line drawings, and others are just messy and rather free form, without lines.  Here, I used a basic tree shape with cutouts to remind me where to not have leaves, so as to have room for sky and branches.  I also worked for shadows.

Altogether, I worked too fast.  I wanted to make some nice washes of the leaves, to show the color shifts from green to the glows of autumn.  I also need to test out colors on a piece of paper.  This is painted in a notebook, so the back of the previous page is a good place to do this (I keep trying to remind myself).   Accomplishment, though, is no mud.

Colors were fun to use, too.  I mixed together an especially interesting mix of Payne’s Grey, Carbazole Violet, and Burnt Sienna.  That is part of the pleasure of a sketch book – playtime and exploring.

I will be doing a lot of trees as I move along, but will need to do some stilllifes as well.