222. Late Afternoon

I used St. Cuthbert’s Millford paper. What a difference from Arches! The colors lie on the surface longer it seems – a totally different painting experience. First time trying out this paper and I really like it!  Can you believe it came all the way from England!?

Anyway, this whole week has been a wash – just craziness and little odd details, appointments, and so on.  My head is spinning.  Finally, having time to paint, I made myself sit down and do it, without thinking ahead.  I just needed to get the brush and colors and paper going again.

220. Detail and Edges, iii

In the spirit of details and edges to convey perspective, as well as the fact I was really intrigued by the water and rocks and such from yesterday’s painting, I went to Rick Surowicz’s YouTube channel.  I know he has a lot of videos, some which feature flowing water.  I chose his study “Rushing Waters” to practice detail and edges along with perspective.  

I am rather pleased with the way my version of this study came out.  As I do these practice studies, I find I am beginning to rely on myself more and more for painting.  In other words, 6 months ago I would bemoan the fact that my painting does not look like the photo or the painting I was using as a study.  Now, while I look and learn from the instructions, I also am comfortable making my own painting decisions.

I really like Surowicz’s work.  His attention to detail and ability to explain his process of painting really helps the person attempting to learn.  This kind of knowledge sinks in with time, and it’s a lot of fun to see one’s own progress both on paper and in one’s head . . .

Some Thoughts

When I do studies like this one, and am pleased with the results, I think one day I will be a good painter.  When?  That is the question.  Copying someone’s work is pretty easy once you get the hang of it – but what about producing original paintings which are not copies and practice studies of another’s?

I know that we all need to practice what we want to learn.  Sometimes, though, it would be nice to “get there” more often than not!

219. Detail and Edges, ii

Phil Metger’s chapter on detail and edges compares a photograph, with different focusing levels, to a painting.  By this he demonstrates the area of interest – foreground, middle ground, or background.  In general, the foreground or middle ground will contain the area of interest.  Therefore, the edges and details will be greater in these areas.

In this painting, the focal point is the lower right corner, where the rocks meet the small waterfall of the stream.  The two rocks carry the greatest amount of detail, and as we move away from them, details gradually become less and less.  In the background, the right side is a bit more dominant than the left background because the rocks and tree trunks are a bit darker than those on the left.  (What logical lighting reason exists for that, I have no idea!)  I tried to simplify everything the further I got from the lower right rocks and the center foreground water.  Additionally, I limited my palette and tried to tie together all “grounds” of the painting by using the same colors to some extent throughout the painting.

This is my first attempt at water in a stream.  I’m rather pleased with it overall.  Not a masterpiece, for sure, but I am getting where I want to be more each time I paint.

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 . . .