California is not all joyful sunshine and playing on the beaches. Fog is a large part of the coastal environment. It is known as “May grey” and “June gloom.” This morning I woke up to it . . . . inspiration for a foggy lake in the frozen (or not so frozen) north.
I’m still focused on water. Today I wanted fog and water and hoped to use very wet paint thinned to mostly water. I also wanted to work with wet-in-wet in the attempt to catch the softening of edges, increasingly more blurred and colorless, to denote distance. A dull, muted foreground with intense color to add to depth of field. I think it all worked out pretty good.
Fabirano 25% cotton paper, 9×12, neutral tint, sap green, Hooker’s green, phthalo green, Payne’s grey, quinacridone gold, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna.
Summer is not yet officially here, but the warmth, sun, birds, and wind all make me long for a quiet spot to sit and relax. No nothing except the sounds of the natural world. Here, all the things I love.
I tried to simplify things more in this painting by using washes and bleeding colors into them. The foreground was tricky as there was a lot of texture from the brush on the lower left. The same brush is on the opposite shore, but, as you can see, with a lot less detail. Also, I decided to try to use a bit of white gouache mixed with watercolor to represent the white brush – baby sycamores? – as well as the branches of the sycamore trees. Sadly, I didn’t really think about the leaves of the sycamores until after I had painted in the mountain in the distance, so I tried to retrieve a bit of lighter leaves in the foreground. Not super successful, but am pleased with the effort of simplifying.
More water and reflections!
Ormond Beach is located on the coastal side of the county in a flat, rural area near two navy bases. The sky is often dank and cloudy and it can seem like another world compared to my hot, dry corner. Here, I wanted to catch the dreary grey sky along with the rows of palm trees on the horizon. I think this one is one of my better ones of late.
Yesterday was a watercolor day! I warmed up with a copy of Wesson’s painting, and then moved on to more water. I am not intimidated by water in the form of lakes or streams, but do need to learn how to do oceans and waves and white caps. I am trying to get a grip on reflections and how water and reflections interact. I think reflections appear longer when the sun is behind you rather than in front of you, like shadows.
Here, a mountain and a lake, with some very deep shadows. The distant mountain is quite bland to my eyes and would like to liven it up with deeper greens and richer browns. I didn’t. I tried to keep it more simple than the actual photo. I did to a point.
I think most painters will always find faults as they know, as they paint, what challenged them while they painted and what their vision was, versus what they put down. My life.
Water and sky are the major themes these days. I really like them anyway, but have to work on reflections in particular. For instance, along the banks, the reflection of reeds is very important, as in the distant water / tree line. I try to be simple in my approach and perhaps a bit less dramatic or intense in my colors, but that seems to be really hard for me to achieve! I had a lot of fun with this painting, though, and am rather pleased with its outcome despite the fact it is not quite what I envisioned. But, it does catch that peculiar storm light, I think.
Today is a calm, slightly muggy day. Where I live, no open water running through a flat land, few clouds. Instead, there are mountains and the little bit of green we get with spring rains is giving way to brown. Much as I love where I live, and find its austerity beautiful, I also crave wet, hot days. This will have to do.
This is a pretty small painting – but most gouache paintings are as the medium almost seems to demand it. After the disastrous flowers of the other day, the feeling of overworking my paints, I decided to simplify. Yesterday’s beach scene is a good example of simplification. And today is a bit more complex of a painting, but it is still simplified.
To simplify things, I looked at the big areas. This meant the sand in the foreground, the sky, and the masses which make up the middle ground, both light and dark. Those were laid in first. From there, more details in a middle stage, and final details – the small stuff – were done. This also matched the brushes I used – big to medium to small. “The Three Bears” and the Goldilocks effect.
I also was a lot calmer when I did this painting, and I was in the studio, not in 85F weather with a steady breeze to dry out my paints and raise my temper! Lesson learned there.
If you follow along here at all, you know two things about me. One is a lack of real depth perception. The next is my ongoing struggle with perspective. I have learned that my poor drawing – sloppy drawing, really – due to impatience – ruins a lot of my attempts at perspective in paintings.
I have decided to work on perspective, particularly architectural perspective. That means buildings! As a country girl at heart (no cowboy hats, though), I like the idea of buildings in a non-city setting. No skyscrapers for me. Instead, a boat house, a farm house, a barn perhaps. A building along the waterfront, even suburbia. Why? I want a few trees and some water.
This is the first in a bunch I intend to do to really work on perspective. Looking at things dead on is easy, but looking at something with angles is different. Also, looking down on something from above, or upward from a low vantage point.
Here, gouache. This took hours. About an hour drawing and probably three hours painting it. It works to a degree. All this for a 5×7 painting!!
The thing is more than anything is to just get out there and do it, no matter how icky it turns out!!
The last version of “The Slough, II” – at least for now! This is in watercolor, and it was actually fairly easy to render as I have now painted the same image 3 times, 6 if you consider the first series. Perspective is okay, but rendering of distance along the beach across the water is a bit problematic. Rather than using a pencil to create the drawing, I used a dagger brush and Quinacridone Gold to outline the shapes. I left the cliffs totally white and then added crevasses and such with varying colors.
Doing a whole series, in different media, of the same subject has been so much fun! I expect I will continue to do so. Daily painting – pastels, gouache, and watercolor – is becoming the central focus of most of my days, unless I am sewing masks or just need a change of pace. Too much of one thing doesn’t sit well with me – that’s why I use so many different media! I get bored easily and the monkey mind screams out . . .