Tag: water

By the Water

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.

13 / 30

Day 13

A couple of takeaways from last Saturday’s Zoom meeting for this class. First, a suggestion to make marks simpler – horizontal and vertical. Done. It creates less noisy masses.

Obviously this is some kind of wetland. I sort of made it up. It’s missing a focal point. I should have done that, but this is sort of dashed off as we are soon to leave for a birthday party and I would like to put on my frippery!

Water Thaw – 4 (Final Version?)

Water Thaw 4 – Final Version??

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.

Water Thaw – 3

Water Thaw – 3

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.

Water Thaw – 1

Water Thaw #1

As I mentioned in my last post, I am trying to change my de facto style into something a bit lighter in color, less intense, and more abstract. This round I am working in layers with an idea in mind. The idea is the spring thaw – frozen water broken up (perhaps), or a stream suddenly overwhelmed by waters pouring down from mountains, as spring warms and melts snow in the higher elevations

I used a liquid frisket with a bamboo pen, drawing with the resist, smearing it around, and finally using a brush dipped in detergent to create different shapes. From there I painted using a 1.5″ flat brush to place colors where things could be. Above is the result with the frisket removed.

Watercolors on 16×20 140# CP Arches.

Twilight at the Bird Refuge

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.

Swamp

Swamps are amazing ecosystems. They are forested wetlands and often serve as a barrier between a large body of water – such as an ocean – and the land. Many of the Southern states are home to a number of swamps, such as the Everglades and the Atchafalaya Basin. Unfortunately, we have lost a lot of what they once covered through changing the land with drainage, building of levees, and such. The value of these wetlands has been seen with the massive flooding and storm surges during hurricanes when waves travel miles inland, across former swamps now denuded of trees and other plants. Heavy damage to the land occurs, with homes lost, pig slop and sheep dips overflowing into water sources. With the land clearing, wildlife diversity is also lost. The swamps provide a wall between the sea and the higher, drier land, as well as add to the overall health of the planet and wildlife diversity.

Here, an impression of a swamp in Louisiana, specifically the Atchafalaya. Once more, I worked wet-into-wet. And, I added gouache, which I am beginning to find is a nice mix with watercolor. The gouache works especially well over the transparent pigments, giving solidity and depth where needed. Arches 140# CP, 16×20 paper was used.

The Atchafalaya Basin, or swamp, is the largest swamp in the US. It is home to bald cypress. over 200 species of animals, marshland, grasses, and a resting place for migratory birds. In the 1700s, after le Grand Derangement, the French settlers of “Acadia were forcefully resettled elsewhere. Many landed in Louisiana, creating a cultural enclave of Cajuns, Creoles, assimilating English-speaking peoples who married them, and now, Cajun music is to be heard worldwide. Acadian became Cajun – and if you know your French, you’ll see the linguistic change.

So, in doing all this wet-into-wet, I am having a lot of fun, loosening up, and by bringing in gouache, I am adding a different element to my painting. Combining them is worthwhile as there are qualities in each that add much to a painting.

This painting pleases me enough perchance to be framed and hung up!

Wetlands

Another wet-into-wet painting, but this time with more challenges and a longer painting period. As before, 140# Arches CP paper.

The goal of this painting was to get away from trees and aim for seeing how using a very wet piece of paper could be worked for skies and water along with plant life, from rushes and grasses to distant trees. The style itself lends itself more to softness in general, but with judicious brushwork and glazes, more defined areas were achieved. I also used white gouache to represent a tasseled top to the tall reeds (or whatever) in the middle right of the painting; I realized I might have achieved an airier effect by splattering some frisket in the areas I wanted white.

I painted the majority of the picture last night, working glazes over areas more defined to blend them in more harmoniously. Dry brush was used for the the foreground and in areas where a rough edge was needed to show plants.

I don’t think this painting is as good as the one I did previously. The contrast is not good enough to convey distance – too strong of colors were used to paint the reeds and trees in the horizon. I do like the colors and softness, though. Another point of focus was to create a point of focus! I tried to use birds, warm colors in the center of the painting, a bit of a vignette around the edges, and other visual tricks to lead the eye somewhere. Again, I don’t think I had much success. As well, the sky and land do not seem to match.

I did accomplish a few things I set out to do – wet-into-wet with some control for sky and plants and water. Doing it is a lesson in itself, and each painting teaches something. I worked on the painting last night and then refined it this morning. I had more patience than I usually demonstrate when painting in watercolor. Why is that? Is it because watercolor is wet and watery and seems to demand a bit of speed?

Anyway, more to come, more to learn.