It’s chilly here with rains to begin at midnight. Snow is on the mountains outside the valleys around me. I miss the smell of a winter of snow and pine, in the eastern woods, Rockies, high desert. This is a simple morning sketch, iron gall ink, a water brush, some watercolor to recall the wonder of a mountain winter.
Finally, sat down and did some sketching. I went out with my friend, Sharon, to a local bookstore for coffee, chit chat, and a bit of sketching. So glad I did! Good to get out and see a lovely friend, put a pen to paper, and just enjoy the time. Lately I have been caught up with potential evacuations from local fires and too much TV bingeing (A French Village on Amazon Prime) and photography. As a result, artwork has been put on hold. Now, I hope I have the whatever back, and will continue!
If you have been following along here, besides Inktober 2019, I am also working my way through Rick Surowicz’s online class “Abandoned.” Here I am trying to apply some of the points learned in his class about greens, how to mix them, and how to create warm and cool greens to demonstrate environmental temperature and distance.
To mix a cool green, Surowicz used Cerulean Blue (to give coolness), Sap Green at times tempered with Pyrrol Red, Raw and Burnt Siennas. Varying the mixture in strength and dilution determines if it is light or dark. Here I applied the mixture to the hills behind the hut, as well as put a few streaks into the foreground.
Warm greens hold the same formula as cool greens except the Cerulean Blue is not used. The result is a warmer green, and depending on need, the Pyrrol Red is added, creating a darker green while keeping it in the warm arena. The Raw Sienna creates a warmer, yellower green, and the Burnt Sienna creates a more autumnal tinge to the grasses in the foreground.
In addition to creating warm and cool greens, I also worked on lines to demonstrate direction and texture, as well as to break up horizontal and vertical.
As a study, this has been successful. Critiquing it, I would say that the right lower portion of the stone hut should be lighter so as to contrast much better with the middle ground. Right now it recedes and gets lost.
Practice is important in all we wish to master – here, a practice study to apply some lessons.
Painted on Fluid 100 CP 140# paper.
Today I moved forward a few steps, in part because I’ve been busy with other things. However, I am determined to work every day on this class, to keep myself from forgetting things. There is a lot to learn, even though it may not appear to be such.
Moving from the value studies, the next step is color value studies, for light, medium and dark, but also for warm and cool greens and neutral colors. To me, this is often an issue. I don’t perceive colors as “warm” and “cool” visually – I see them intellectually, meaning I know some formulas for mixes. This section of the course, then, is very important for me – it’s a road map for future work.
Cool green are achieved by using sap green with a tinge of pyrrol red, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and (to my surprise) cerulean. In the video, Rick mixes these colors and uses them for the trees in the background, behine and beside the house. Warm greens are created with raw sienna and sap green, with a tinge of pyrrol red to neutralize the sap green. These greens are used in the foreground grasses and bushes in front of the house. I can see the differences in my color study, but they are subtle. However, painting is a skill and learning such things, and memorizing them, adds to the basic skillset of painting.
Finally, using burnt umber and ultramarine blue (supposedly a warm blue!), dark values were created. These two colors often are used in painting to replace what we may consider to be black visually. Now we have a color study with values of light, medium, and dark. These should help with the final painting when considering what to do!
Besides explaining the usage of color, Rick states he does not mix his colors on the paper, but on the palette, getting the consistency he wants before applying it to the paper. Other painters take a color directly to the paper, and then mix as they go along. Both techniques have their points. I find my colors are more pure when I take them directly to the paper, but easier to turn to mud if not carefully done. The palette method of mixing colors allows for testing swatches of colors on scrap paper.
Looking at the above study, I think I want the trees behind the house to be a bit darker (more contrast?) along with the windows on the far left, second floor, of the house.
I’ve long wanted to try one of Rick Surowicz‘s online watercolor classes, but haven’t felt focused enough to take the time to do so. Yesterday I decided I was ready. His classes are not expensive compared to other artists’ classes – $39.00. I think that is a worthwhile investment. And a bargain. Surowicz has a number of videos on YouTube which I find so informative and educational that I thought a class with greater depth of what he does, how he thinks, would be a great benefit.
The class I decided on is called “Abandoned.” I can do okay with water and trees, but buildings and perspective are a problem. This was the primary reason for this choice. Additionally, there are structural elements, such as planes and angles and deciding proportions. I am not good at this at all!
So, today I sat down, downloaded and printed out the PDF files. I got out my sketchbook and did the preliminary work – sketches of four different compositions and value studies of two of them. (Click on one to see the gallery.)
I am full of good intentions, but very bad at executing them! I keep telling myself to do value studies, but don’t.
Making all these sketches -12 in total – came with an amazing “ah ha!” moment: drawing the same thing multiple times gets you familiar with it. I started learning where the chimneys were, the slants of the roof, the arches. The house became like a friend who you haven’t seen for awhile – but the features are so familiar.
Here, on the one with 3 values (white, medium, dark), Rick had us consider light from the left and light from the right. There are similarities and differences, and if you look, you will see them. This was fascinating as I have never done anything like this – I’ve done value studies, but not with a changing direction of light.
So far I am really pleased with the course content. Rick has an even pace when he speaks, and his reasons are clear. As someone who taught for many years, I tend to be highly critical of online courses. So far, I am very happy. Content is clear, and progresses logically. I am looking forward to continuing more tomorrow! Thank you, Rick!
Today is a watercolor day!
I am surprised by how much less I am worrying about how my painting is going to look and how much I am becoming more involved with its process.
Working with gouache has certainly helped me with my usage of light and dark. For awhile I wondered if working with gouache, from dark to light, would mess with my mind with watercolor, which is light to dark. Actually, it helped a lot as I am more aware of light and dark than before, and thus it is easier to think about how to make it happen.
This is from a photo I took in Pt. Lobos Nature Reserve, along a path. The light was dappled and flickering as the tree branches and leaves moved with the shifting wind. It was a warm day, pleasant, and very, very much a prize of a day altogether. I think this painting does a fair job catching it, though, as always, there are areas for improvement.
I’ve been rather busy of late – running here and there, sewing, hanging out with friends, and so on. As a result, I have not been able to sit down to paint for the past few days. Today I made the determined effort to do so, and am glad I did. Instead of working in the studio, I went outside onto my rather warm and sunny patio – 95F / 35C – and moved what I could into the shade of the canopy. A small table, a chair, some water and paints, my home made iron gall ink and my dip pen all accompanied me. Pandora and Donna Summer, too!
I pulled out a watercolor sketchbook, and immediately found that the paper has a sizing issue, as well as cannot handle water in any amount. Wah! However, for pen and a small amount of color, it will do. I also used a Rhodia tablet, very smooth and polished, and works very well with a sharp pen nib. The results are straight above – and captioned! It worked out quite nicely.
Watercolor sketchbook. Iron gall ink applied first, then watercolor paint. Milkweed in bloom.The watercolor sketchbook, as I said, was disappointing for wet work. However, for ink and color, it is not too bad. Here, I did the ink drawing first and then applied the color. The color rather overwhelmed the lines at time, so I went back and added more ink after the paint dried. In 95F weather, it dries pretty quickly.
A flowerpot with a dead sunflower (left), oregano in bloom (middle), and the stalk and leaves of milkweed plant. Color applied first, dried, and then iron gall ink drawing.This last picture was an afterthought. The first drawing found the color overwhelming the ink at times, so I decided to paint first, and then draw. Artistic experiment!
Anyway, the art bug has been temporarily allayed. More tomorrow I hope!