203. Coastal Grassland

Another landscape, another limited palette.  For this painting I used ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, burnt umber, sap and cobalt greens, a splash of raw sienna.  9×12 Fabirano Artistico.

I wanted to see if I could convey a good sense of depth, moving from the foreground with warmer colors to the distance with more neutral and greyish colors.  Contrast, too, was considered for eye appeal, leading lines, depth.

If you look at the grasses in the foreground, you can see grass blades.  I used a very dry flat brush to accomplish this, sometimes using a lighter green and brushing upward, or darker green to brush into the lighter green.  Negative painting!

196. Disastrous Fun

I promised to paint more buildings.  So I did.  I painted a house in the middle of a cold, cold climate in the dead of winter.  I made better house drawings when I was 10.

I have really lost touch with real cold, real snow, and a real winter.  I do have memories, though, of the intense gloom of the woods in northern New York state.  There was something so magical about them – the silence of the woods, the snow falling, the sense of being alone in the world.  I liked the idea of capturing that with a building, on water, in the dead of winter.

Buildings mean people, even in the middle of nowhere, on a river.  People usually mean unnecessary noise, and in the woods or hiking, the last thing I want is noise.  Silence is something to be savored in our noisy age.

So, let’s get back to the “disastrous fun” of this posting.  “Disastrous” as this is such an amateurish painting, and “fun” because the more I got into, and the more I realized how awful it was, the more fun I had.  Making a “good” painting no longer had any meaning – it was the experience.  And the snow.

The final touch was the snowflakes.  White gouache to spatter.  I spattered on the painting.  It flew onto my glasses.  I spattered some more.  It flew onto my glasses.  I changed how I was spattering, and there were streaks.

Snowflakes don’t streak in the real world.  Spattering paint is an art form in and of itself.

194. Tulips in a Glass Vase

Flower paintings are some of my favorite things, just because I like flowers.  Painting them is another story.  Tulips are such cheerful, seasonal flowers, appearing in the market for a short time; I always have to buy a bunch or two or three.

Determined to paint a vase and water with stems, to really look at them, I put the tulips in a rather coarse, rectangular glass vase.  The edges of the vase are wavy, and it is far from perfect, which gives it a rather pleasant charm.  It seems I rather avoided the stems – my picture got too big!  I’ll give it another try later.

Parts of this painting work, but overall it feels rather labored in appearance.  I’m not quite sure why – maybe too many glazes took away a sense of spontaneity as well as clumsy negative painting.

190. Dappled Light

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 . . .

189. Grasses in Water

I really liked the reference photo I had for this painting.  It was hard to really see at first – kind of busy with vertical and horizontal / diagonal lines.  And then it came into focus.  In retrospect, I think using frisket for the plants would have made them stand out a bit more, but in the photo they were a very pale wheat color without a lot of contrast.  I made them more contrasty and added darker browns and some greens for a better (I think) effect.

Water is a tricky subject – until you look at it a bit.  Flowing water is a series of colored shapes.  Reflections have some rules, but I have to re-read about those.  I am not too sure how I would express ocean waves crashing on the shore at this point, but flat water with a few ripples seems easier each time I attempt it.

 

176. Mists and Blurs

Wetness in watercolor varies.  There are times when a very dry brush on dry paper is necessary to give sharp, clear edges to an object.  Then there is wet-on-dry wherein washes are applied to dry paper with a lot of water.  And finally, wet-in-wet, where wet color is applied to wet paper.  As the paper dries, the color behaves differently.  There is so much to learn in watercolor!

Of late, I have been painting with a lot of water and a lot of color.  It’s a challenge, but daily painting is yielding better results overall.  Not every day, but overall!  Yesterday, I watched a number of videos, and did two studies based on videos by Rick Surowicz and Edo Hannema.

This one is from an early video by Surowicz.  He used some frisket, but my bottle was not working, so I painted without it.  I really needed it as his style is not just wet, but sopping wet!  He uses a fine mist sprayer to scoot paint around.  The result can be quite nice as you build layers of colors on layers of color.  I did this painting on Strathmore 400 paper, a paper I don’t especially like, so I was quite pleased with how it handled all the water.  The palette consisted of three colors – sap green, indanthrene blue, and a bit of Indian red.

Edo Hannema is a master of the wash.  I enjoy using his videos as study guides.  The above painting is my favorite of the two I did yesterday.  The palette was limited to raw sienna, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue.  The green was a mixture of cobalt and raw sienna.  One thing I really like about Hannema’s videos is he tells you when he thinks he makes a mistake, or needs to fix something in his painting, as well as tips on using colors.  It’s rather like eavesdropping on the artist.

I decided to look at mists and soft edges because the other day Rick Surowicz posted a video about mist rising below a mountain ridge – Overlook:

This was a good video to watch on how to create a mist or fog.  He also has another one called Misty Lake which was the one I used in my above studies:

Edo Hannema is a master at wet-in-wet techniques, which are great for fogs and soft effects.  The horizon of this painting video demonstrates this quite well.  The thing that is especially fun about the video below is the fact he took a painting he did of this scene in the summer and converted it to winter:

I find using practice videos helpful in learning techniques.  They are also helpful in thinking about how I paint versus how I want to paint.  Like many beginners, I put in far too much detail, and my own impatience impairs final results far too often.  Letting the paper dry is important, and I am learning to do that – my hair dryer is hanging within easy reach!  Leaving white paper is getting more “natural” in feeling, so I am thinking ahead as well.

Nowadays, I find I am plotting out paintings in my head.  Daily painting is another big step forward as I now have the time to spend on it without a million other things demanding my time weighing me down with guilt – chores and duties or the pleasures of a hobby.

164. Sky and Water

More practice using wet-in-wet in varying degrees of paper dampness.  Again, this is Canson XL watercolor paper.  In my opinion, as a student paper, it is one of the better ones, having a pleasant texture as well as a responsiveness to water and color that other student papers lack.  Here, the final picture is not the point, but the laying in of washes, lifting colors, and other techniques – the practice, not the product.

As I said yesterday, I have not really taken time to learn about the paper.  This is important when you paint in watercolor – each paper has its own personality.  Once you are familiar with it, it becomes intuitive.  In my crazy life, I finally have the time to get acquainted with my paper.

Yay!