Another sketch from a photo I took, this one snapped out of the rear car window! Having a camera can get some great stuff when you don’t have time to stop every 5 minutes.
This was my initial sketch, done with a quill cut with a finer nib as well as done with more attention to detail. After the sketch dried for a few hours, I laid in the watercolor. Some ink was still damp even after a couple of hours drying outdoors and blotting. Below is the original photo.
One of the nicest things about spending 2-3 nights at a place is that you get to explore. Independence, CA, is along Hwy 395 and is a town you would zip right by if your weren’t staying there. However, you really can miss a few things!
We stayed at the Winnedumah Hotel, in a room at the back. Out the door and down the road a few blocks is the local museum, and although it was closed the days we were there, we plan to go back. Outside the museum is a rather wonderful native plant garden. It faces west, so it is in the shadow of the Eastern Sierras. There is a creek running through it, complete with trickling water. Winter rains swell it and it obviously flows over its banks.
The sandy shore and rocky bottom depicted here create a dry wash. In canyon country these smooth areas are tempting for campers because the smooth soil makes pitching a tent and sleeping bag comfortable and easy, but if a rain happens upstream, a flash flood creates a swirling death trap. Even locally – where I live – people are drawn to these washes in the rainy season (if there still is one . . . ) and get washed away in the event. I had a wonderful friend who died in such a flash flood because the ground he was standing on probably got abruptly eroded from underneath. Even peaceful streams need to be treated with respect.
Even though our trip was stopped by Covid-19, I did get a number of photos along the way. Olancha, CA, is one of those little towns without a lot of amenities, but big in different ways. Here are some – and were some – nice little restaurants that provide comfort to the hungry and a much-needed break from the car. Little dirt roads catch the eye, and trees and houses break up the flat land leading to the grandeur of the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. So, even though my trip was canceled, I d intend to create sketches of what I saw along the way . . .
We had a 2 week vacation trip planned. And it ended on Day 3. I had thought my sinuses were acting up, but to be careful I decided to have a Covid-19 test. It was a 1-hour quickie. Negative. Okay! Let’s go!
Our first stop was in Independence, CA, along the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, traveling on Hwy. 395. My husband had a cold, mild, some sniffles and a cough. On Day 3, we left Independence, and continued north. Next stop was to be Virginia City, NV. Well, as we moved further north, the air became cloudy and sooty. The smoke from the fires in NoCal was moving east, and I could smell it. So could Tom and Judy, Josh’s parents. Josh couldn’t. We had mints. We could all taste them – except Josh.
And so the decision was made: return home and have tests. It was the ethical thing to do. Josh’s test came back positive; mine was “presumed positive”, and the antigen tests Tom and Judy had came back negative. Ethical decision made, people and places were called, and now we are self-isolating until our next test on 9/13. Test results will be around 9/15.
So, stopped by the plague . . . and ethics. Neither Josh nor I felt sick other than a tad under the weather. Josh has is sense of taste and smell back about 95%.
We have plenty to do, despite being stuck at home. I have a sketchbook, planned to document the vacation, and so the first drawing is the Winnedumah Hotel, built in 1927 for the film industry back in the days when westerns were shot in the Owens Valley.
I painted this shortly after doing the “Quiet River” watercolor yesterday. Still in a patient mood, which was good, as this painting, though small, needed a bit of thought and a bit of patience to complete. The effect of rain meant laying in heavy washes on damp paper and letting them run. In other areas, damp color had to dry only so far before a dryer brush could apply color. As you can see, I rather messed up with a second round of wet paint because of the bloom (aka cauliflower) in the middle right. Still, it works, catching the breakthrough of the sun and the scudding quality of a storm on a windy day.
This is a week for meeting up with old friends! After working in acrylic for several weeks, having eye surgery, and not doing much artwork of any kind, it felt great to do gouache yesterday, and this morning, watercolor.
It is interesting how some days just push me to the limit in frustration and dissatisfaction with what I do, and other days just move along in a calm and serene way. Why is this? My mood was patient and willing to wait today, whereas on other days, freneticism is the dominant emotion. I think watercolor especially requires a serene approach, more meditative than other media, simply because once the mark is made, it is there. With gouache and acrylic you can hide your messes a bit more easily!
I have a few blogs, this one, a general one, and a photography one. I thought I had posted these paintings here, but they were on the general one.
I have been busy cleaning up my house, spending hours moving and discarding, selling and donating. In between I did some art work, gardening, and the daily drudgery. I will say, I did go out shopping the other day and got some new clothes – a semi-annual thing.
Anyway, in between daily nonsense, I have been trying my hand at things I don’t feel comfortable doing. Buildings and people are the most common issue. Boats also fall into that category.
I sat down one afternoon and did three paintings. This was the first, focusing on shape, shadow, light and dark, warm and cool.
More confident after the first foray, I chose one with more detail, specifically the slats making up the sides of the boat. Add to that algae, more light and dark from shadows. Rust seems to be part of the painting, or perhaps it is just flaked paint remains on wood.
Finally, I turned to Winslow Homer for boats. He has painted all kinds in all sorts of weather and places. This is from one he did in the Caribbean or Florida or the Gulf of Mexico. I just took the boat and tried to look at how Homer caught the light, the sky and water, and the shadows on the white boat and sails.
Boats are actually pretty simple, but their shapes are disguised. Draw a square or rectangle, at least two. Have them overlap. Then connect the corners with curved lines, and you have a boat. Depending on the style, the front is usually pointed, but the rear could be flat or pointed, too. To learn and see about all types of boats, click on this Wikipedia link, and then choose a boat. For kicks, I chose Z. Go take a look!
After spending 7 hours yesterday sorting through books I hope to sell or donate, I was bushed. Dusty and dirty, too. It’s amazing how much of a mess your life can become when you aren’t paying attention! Painting definitely has its attraction as opposed to drudgery, but lately I feel like pushing myself into areas I don’t ordinarily venture. Cleaning and discarding shakes things up, and it seems to be carrying over into artwork.
Charles Reid, besides being great at landscapes, is also fascinating for me as his watercolor portraits are so loose and wonderful. I read a bit in one of his books about how he does skin tones. Colors for pale skin can be yellow ochre, alizarin, and cerulean – these are the ones I used to paint the figure on the left. For the one on the right I threw in some ultramarine and Hooker’s green at Reid’s suggestion. I worked to make the highlights warm and the shadows cool – more yellow in the light areas, more blue in the shadow areas.
Here are some gardeners laboring away. The color palette was pretty simple – ultramarine, orange, and a bit of ochre and green. I tried to create a sense of dimension in each pose, working with complementary colors to create shadows.
I then thought that after doing people, I should do an animal. I found a wonderful picture on Pixabay of an elephant striding along. I was rather teary when I thought about how we are losing so many wonderful creatures, large and small, because human beings are not the best. Of course, I’m not starving, so my perspective is very different. I was caught by the beauty of this elephant and think I will probably draw and paint creatures more. I have never painted or drawn an elephant before and enjoyed this one a lot.
Finally, a building, specifically Dunguaire Castle. It’s from the 16th century and has been restored. I think it would be a wonderful place to visit as it is right on Galway Bay in western Ireland.
Altogether, this afternoon’s romp in the paint was satisfying and challenging. Figures, animals, buildings – all of these really pulled me out of my comfort zone. I kept my palette simple and worked to create a 3D element with shading as well as contrasts of warm and cool. Initially I used rather cheap paper, but in reality, it sucked, so I pulled out my Arches 140# CP and was much happier with the results.
I’ve long been a fan of Charles Reid and his wonderful, loose watercolor style. In particular, I enjoy his paintings of the Bahamas and other Caribbean scenes. The light, the sky, the land all work together to create something most of us dream about.
The above painting is by Charles Reid, but when you look at it, you can also see he is influenced by the watercolors by Winslow Homer a century earlier.
Winslow Homer painted not only the Bahamas in the Caribbean, but other tropical areas, such as Florida. Palm trees and ocean and sky and wind show us another world.
Several years ago I spent a week crewing in the British Virgin Islands, and the colors I saw were are so seductive. Around every corner, I thought of Winslow Homer. Charles Reid, while I knew of his work, I did not know he had painted the same areas as Homer, nor where I had been hanging out. It was a real delight to discover he painted the Bahamas and similar areas.
Here, a quick study – about 15 minutes – of the watercolor above by Mr. Reid. It’s rough. The goal was to capture a purity of color and gesture to express movement, the shape of people on the beach, the colors of the sky.
Sky, beach, water, clouds – the Caribbean has it all. The British Virgin Islands are just a few of the many islands in the area, many of which have tourist-driven economies. Despite this, the islands have their flavors, based on who originally colonized them – English, French, Dutch and American.
I don’t know if I could live on a small island because I am so spoiled by the ease with which I can buy a book (hard to do on an island, especially before e-books!) and a wide variety of food. What you cannot buy, though, is the atmosphere and the beauty. That you take home with photographs, paintings, and memories.
The other day I painted fields ready for this coming year’s crops. Today, up at the treeline, the edge of mountains and forest giving way to barren rock and scrub. Snow is still here, the air bites, and the beauty astounds.