An Afternoon’s Study

After spending the last month working small – on 7×10 paper – and using both gouache and regular watercolor, I felt the need for something big and expansive!  This means broad strokes, rapid washes, focusing and thinking ahead at the same time.  That is what I find when I work with really wet watercolors, and much of this study was done with washes bleeding into another.

Not feeling especially original, and totally delighted that Edo Hannema uploaded another tutorial after a few months absence from YouTube, I decided to follow along with his video.

If you are not familiar with Edo Hannema, he is a watercolorist located in Holland. As Holland is a very flat country, he is much influenced by skies and extensive landscape. Water is also a strong element in many of his landscapes.

For me, it is a real pleasure to follow his practice videos, in part because I live in such a dry part of the world! Additionally, he is candid about what he is doing. For instance, if he doesn’t like a bit of his painting, he says it right out loud. As someone who struggles to paint and make my watercolor look good, it is so reassuring to find other painters get as frustrated or annoyed as I do when something doesn’t go the way I want it to. At one point in his video he talks about the tall tree in the left center of the painting. “I hate this!” I can understand that frustration. When the houses nearby don’t go as planned, he tells the viewer to make the best of the situation. That is what you have to do in watercolor.

As you can see, my sky is quite violent compared to his gentle one – I kept getting blooms for some reason, and struggled to get rid of them.  Another element of my own painting was my determination to keep my brushes clean!  World Watercolor Month 2019 really brought that point home to me.  I managed to do it pretty well.

Daily practice takes work.  Tomorrow, I hope to work on gouache color swatches, using whites to create variations in tonality of a given color, as well as working with complementary colors to achieve greys.  That should prove to be an interesting adventure.

WWM #13: Glassy

I am drawn to water – maybe because when I was young, there was always a lake or river nearby.  As an adult, I live in a rather dry land where creeks are rare, but the vast Pacific is not far, with wetlands and marshes.  Fresh water lakes, though, are what I really love – the ones where the sky passes by beneath your feet on the glassy calm of the water.

This is from a photograph of a lake somewhere in the world – from Pixabay – and the clouds in the foreground were crystal clear and smooth.  I sort of messed that glassiness up, but came fairly close to what I was trying to express.  Obviously, this is a rather lonely view, but what better place than to sit, enjoy the breeze , and perhaps listen to the babbling of water fowl and the hum of insects on a warm summer day?

WWM #7: Shiny Things

Shiny things . . . like a magpie, we are all drawn to things that glitter and glisten.  But what to paint, and in gouache?  In watercolor, perhaps a metal spoon or bowl, complete with sunshine glinting.  In gouache, though, the possible deepness of color as well as having a few metallic paints, I thought of water.  Water is always shiny, at night with reflected lights, during the day as the sun and clouds pass overhead.  Even when the weather is foul, water reflects and shines.  Painting this was a rather sensuous experience, which is perhaps why I am enjoying gouache more and more . . . and water is certainly so on a warm summer day.

WWM #1: Primary Palette

The very first entry of #WorldWatercolorMonth!  The prompt is “primary palette” and so I chose a painting that predominates with the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue.  From there, secondary colors were mixed, such as oranges and greens.  With gouache, water may be used to thin the paints, but white and black are often used to lighten or darken colors as needed.  Given the fact I haven’t done much painting over the past 2 or 3 weeks, this one worked out rather well.  Let’s see what happens tomorrow!

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.

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!