A vessel contains things. Vases are vessels, your stomach is a vessel, and ships are vessels. All contain something or somethings within a hollow. Lots of things are vessels when you think about it.
Several weeks ago I started thinking more and more about what I am doing in my spare time. It is then I realized that, for me, the best way to spend my time is to learn new things, in particular, new art techniques. Thus, colored pencils; I signed up for an in-person class with masks and social distancing. I plan to continue this summer with the class.
At the same time, I thought it about time I learned to paint with acrylics, something I always avoided because I just didn’t like the idea of painting with plastic! Add to that, years ago, acrylic paints were not as good as they are now. I was also a considerably more impatient person, and less experienced painter, than I am now. Thus, I enrolled in “Intermediate” painting – I’ve been using gouache, so I have experience!
The first class was yesterday afternoon. I always wonder about teachers and how “good” they are. It takes time to become a good teacher, and honestly, I have found the quality of teachers for arts and languages at adult schools a mixed bag. However, I know I am going to enjoy this painting class. Students I spoke to said they have been coming to the class for 4 years – that says something for the teacher.
I totally enjoyed this first class. People paint what interests them. The teacher helps when asked, offers appropriate and spot on suggestions, and has a really fun personality that doesn’t become overwhelming. Teacher and fellow students are pleasant, delightful, and fun. Can’t go wrong with that, I say.
Because I didn’t know what to expect in class, I decided to bring a kit of paints I’d boughten several years ago, one with about 10 colors, to play with. I used this same kit to begin a painting – after all, play and doing are the best ways to learn. Along with paints and tentative beginnings of a painting, journeying in my cart were rags, water containers, dish soap, brushes, paper palette, an apron, and other bits and pieces.
Above is the underpainting I had done prior to arriving in class. Then days went by – about a week – and I got too busy to do anything with it until I arrived in class.
This is where the painting was at the end of class – nearly there. The sand on the left bank was re-shaped after the river was moved (ah! I feel like God when I get to change geography!) and relocated. And since we are mentioning God, there are two rather eyelike things up in the upper left sky that definitely need removing.
This morning I finished the river, refining this and that. Altogether, I am not displeased for a first acrylic in 40 years. The final painting is the one at the very top. Below you can see them in progression.
The process of learning is often best by doing. By doing, you know what it feels like, you have experience. I struggled here and there, such as with the sky, with the viscosity of the paint, with the shadows and coloring of the sand on both banks. I rather think I like the river in the 2nd version, but decided to change it by adding reflections and ripples for the final version. I took out the “eyes” in the second version, added more fluffy and high-altitude clouds, and worked to create a sense of sand and shadows on the left, along with that wonderfully mucky sand in still water.
This was painted on 11×14 Canson XL, gessoed, and taped to frog board. The kit is by Daler-Rowney, which provides good basic colors for the beginner.
Today it is still cold! I went out with my drawing class early this morning – 53F! (Laugh if you want – but that is really unusually cold where I live.) The sun came out and warmed us up, but I still felt the chill when I got home. A hot lunch started to thaw my chilly bones – so let’s consider that Spring is around the corner, and the thaw begins with running creeks.
As the Midwest and other parts of the world endure and enjoy subzero weather and snow and ice, it is summer somewhere in the southern hemisphere!
Where I am, it is neither; just a crisp and lovely day, with the winter light canted lower in the sky. I really enjoy painting landscapes, imagining myself in the middle of it all. I think I need to get into town, though – my hiking boots need replacing. 😉
Nothing like a rather indecisive sky – sun? rain? nasty weather? A chilly autumn day as winter closes in on the wetlands leading to the sea.
I am totally into swampy areas. There is little water where I live; an occasional creek to enjoy, but rain is not a common occurrence. So, I want watery stuff, mucky mud and mist to paint.
DOF still presents a problem.
Arches 140# CP; hake brush for the most part.
Another beach scene, and a building! Am I on a roll or what? Here, something very simple, but when you think about how the painting was made, perhaps not so simple.
The lone, cylindrical shape heeds shadow and sun, and standing against the sky, It needs to be obviously separate. I could have used masking fluid to create the hard edges, but I didn’t. Instead, I painted around the lighthouse, starting at an edge and then puling the colors out. I did okay on the left side, but the right side was more problematic. Oh, well. Still, I rather like the end result given the challenge of the multi-colored sky.
Fires, hurricanes, and now snow in the middle of the country. What’s going on!?
Another painting done primarily with a hake brush.
This painting was done on the reverse of a previously painted piece of Arches 16×20 CP 140#. I wet the paper initially, taping it only in the corners, and was rather pleased to see how the paper relaxed once wet. I moved the tape as needed to keep the paper flat.
Anyway, the work here was themed on wet-in-wet, use of an excessively large brush (for me!), and standing up, rather than seated. The results were interesting – standing up allowed for more freedom of brush stroke. Getting the paper wet and letting it set a bit before starting the washes also helped.
Compositionally, I think it is a bit bland – really very little to lead the eye. However, this was not my focus here; rather, I wanted to use the hake brush to create sky and foliage as well as broader swaths of color. The nature of the soft brush allows for thin lines, rough splotches of color with white or underlying colors to show through, as well as washes of subtle beauty. From there I used a rigger to create branches, trunks, and some more calligraphic and suggestive lines.
Another watercolor, mostly wet-in-wet, but I ended up doing a lot more details in dry brush as the painting progressed. Finally, I applied some glazes in an attempt to unify different sections as I had overworked the painting quite a bit. The even spacing of the brush / trees in the lower middle ground are rather amusing, too – didn’t I look? I didn’t really notice them until I scanned the painting!
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.