The final painting of the fire escapes behind an old hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona. Very different from the photo. I am not sure if I like it or not, but two noteworthy accomplishments: no mud, no outlines. Is it overworked? Don’t know. Does it look “real”? Don’t know. I am too close to it timewise to consider it objectively. But no mud and no outlines I can say for sure!
Today I return to work after 10 days off. Those days were filled with all the whirlwind activities of Thanksgiving, but also filled with time to focus on drawing and painting. I tried to do something everyday, which worked, except for yesterday as I had to prepare to return to the classroom. I also went out for a long walk in the local botanical garden with one of the dogs, and that was something I needed – get outside, hike, get into the world of plants.
Now, work looms ahead this morning. Some of my work days are nearly 11 hours long, and it does not leave much room for anything personal. About the only time I have is in the mornings, while I drink my coffee. Instead of looking at the grim and gory news, I plan to try to do a sketch or a watercolor in the morning. For example, find one of my photos (of which I have taken thousands) and use it for the basis of a sketch or painting or both. I just need to continue doing it! The sense of satisfaction with my life, which I have not felt for the past 4 years (since my schedule was changed), is returning. Now I have to keep up the momentum. If I can, I will try to post something every 2 or 3 days, as that is easy enough to do.
Now, let’s do it!
I had a brainstorm the other day: Why not use vacation photos for drawing and watercolor subjects? I certainly do have a bucket load of photos. And, last summer we went to a lot of historical and beautiful places as we wandered through parts of the western U.S. Here, a view from a cliff in Mesa Verde National Park.
Colors include indanthrene blue, quinacridone yellow, organic vermilion, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, phthalo green and Carbon Ink in a Pentalic watercolor book.
Given my frustration with painting grapes the other day, I decided to look at some YouTube watercolor videos on painting the highlights and shadows of spherical objects. I found two which I really liked, and the result is I did a number of studies, as can be seen below. Techniques include both wet-in-wet, glazing, and a few others.
The purple balls were done with glazing; the shadows were wet-in-wet. Here and there I went in with a damp brush to soften the edges of the shadows in the grapes, or to blur paint over areas which seemed weird. Not too bad, but I do not find glazing appealing; it may be I need to improve my glazing technique.
These orange goodies are preludes to a potential painting of oranges. The one on the right was done first, but as the ink was bleeding – it was ordinary fountain pen ink – I moved on to the one on the left, which is drawn with Sailor’s Carbon Ink. I like the on the left quite a bit – the bleed into the shadow, as well as the colors themselves, which are Hansa Yellow, Pyrrol Orange, and Organic Vermilion. The brush I used was a large one, a Cosmotop 14, and the paper was the Canson pad of watercolor paper (not the Montval).
Soooooo!! Things are beginning to improve!
It’s 92 F outside (33.33 C) in late December in Southern California. The air conditioning is on because it was 85 F in the house. A Christmas Cactus blooms in cold weather elsewhere . . .
Today was a day of wrath! I was soooo frustrated!
And a day of learning. I did four watercolors without lines. The first two were sketched in with pencil; the last two were done freehand, relying on imagination and the precepts of sumi-e, where lines are not drawn.
In each painting, something works, and in each painting there are places of failure. What I failed at was separating various areas from the neighboring shape or shadow. Some areas appear rather painterly. I still have a long way to go – but at least, at last, there are no lines.
Paper is Canson’s watercolor paper, and colors include quinacridone yellow, cobalt teal, carbazole violet, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, Hooker’s green, alizarin crimson, Payne’s grey, and a few others.
This is a view of Mirror Lake in Yosemite National Park and some artistic license with color thrown in. Here, I used a sumi-e brush and watercolors. Yes, lines. No mud. This is the first picture, other than my pencil cup, that I really like since I started this project.
I began with a photo, then drew in some lines, used the ink brush to create the bones. Then it sat overnight and in my sleep I imagined how I would paint it. Parts worked out, parts didn’t. After the colors were applied, I went back with my sumi-e brush and redid some original strokes and then added others to create contrast and so on. Colors include phthalo blue, indanthrene blue, organic vermillion, hansa yellow, quinacridone gold, Hooker’s green, carbazole violet, cerulean blue, and ultramarine blue.
This is perhaps one of the first paintings – sketches? – that I have done since re-visiting watercolors a few weeks ago that does not depend on ink lines to make sense of what it is. It’s still floating in space, as the shadows are not especially strong. There are a few things I like here. One is how there is a highlight in the read of the mouse. Another is the central brownish panel on the side of the mouse, which is a mixture of carbazole violet and Naples yellow. The black outline of the mouse is in Daniel Smith’s Genuine Sodalite, which I picked up some time ago. It’s a rather nice blackish color. The blues in the background / foreground are from Daniel Smith’s Lapis Lazuli Genuine, which, like the sodalite, I picked up on a whim. It will be interesting to see how these two paints work.
I also set up my studio palette the other day, choosing a variety of colors to fill my Quiller palette. I did a color study and labeled all my colors, except one, which I think might be yellow ochre – or not!
Up front, not too thrilled with these apples. I was working on trying to get an apple to look like an apple in a painterly manner, hoping against feeble hope that I could make them look like apples without the lines. Didn’t work. On the other hand, mud is not present, and there are some nice bleeds of color. I worked too wet, which is also why a lot of the problems exist. I wonder what apples will look like in a year . . .