Fog Monster #2

For some time I have considered the possibility of doing two studies for each painting, one in watercolor and the other in gouache.  Today’s painting is exactly that.  I took the same study in gouache (yesterday) and painted it in watercolor.  It was a really interesting experience!

First, I am doing all these studies in a 7×10 sketchbook.  The paper is not really good for really wet watercolors, but is very nice for gouache.  Knowing this, I kept my paper as unsaturated as possible, but also worked to use wet-in-wet where I thought necessary, such as in the sky and fog bank, but being very careful about the amount of water I used.  In other areas I did small, quick forays into wet work, but kept it to a minimum while allowing for bleeds, or coming back to work a bit more, such as on the right side where the grasses are in contrast to the road (lower right side).

Problems continue with depth.  The middle ground hills and the ones against the fog are muddled into each other.  While I made things simpler in the distance, the colors remain the same in intensity.  Atmospheric perspective needs a bit of boost in this one.

Look forward to more of these studies.

Rain Country

This time a sky and land study from a Pixabay image.  I did this on the reverse side of another painting, so the paper, 140# Arches cold press, was warped.  I thought about ironing it, but decided to just tape it to the board, and use the warps to my advantage with the sky.  Overall, it worked pretty well, but where there were dribbles, I snagged them with a tissue.  It was rather fun.

Altogether, I like the way this painting turned out.  I was rather stumped about the foreground, so I just made some leafy, grassy strokes.  The water along the roadway came out fairly good, as did the road itself.  Perspective on a flat land is a challenge but it seems to have worked out, too.

Some days a painting works, and you are in the moment with paint, brush, and paper.   A lot of the painting was like that.  Then, at the end, I stepped back and thought about contrast, and added a bit here and there as blobs or lines or dots.  And finally it was done.

Dry Garden

This is just a little sketch done this morning with a local Meetup group.  There were only three of us, but every time I go to one of this group’s get-togethers, I feel like a princess.  Alison, the leader, does a lovely job.  Me, I am a no-frills type of person, so when someone goes to a lot of trouble for a simple thing, and does it with such evident pleasure, it is just a luxurious feeling!

Anyway, we met at our local library, yacked a bit about watercolor and color theory, and then moved off to the native plant garden.  It was mid-90s, so a shady spot was found, we plopped down, and painted in between the chit chat.  Still, I tried to focus on contrast and depth . . . this painting turned out better than I expected as it had my usual anemic colors, but ended up fairly decent.  It’s about 5×7 inches.

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 #30: Wild Things

Today, when I was trying to figure out Wild Things for #WorldWatercolorMonth2019, I was really in a sourpuss mood.  I had to cancel a photo shoot with a friend and was not happy about it.  When you are tired and don’t feel well . . . you are absolutely crabby!  Hermity.  Crabby.  Hermit crab.  (How is that for subtle?)

I didn’t feel patient, and I didn’t feel capable of anything with a bit of subtlety.  I needed containment.  I wanted my shell.  I wanted limits and boundaries.  I wanted to feel safe.  Lines are perfect for that!  And as I have not done a line-and-wash watercolor for a month now, today I indulged.

And lets face it – hermit crabs are downright cute and fun with all their different colors and shells and homes.  Seeing them always makes me laugh – don’t know why, but they are such a delight.  And, as a result of this drawing, I, too, am in a much nicer mood!

WWM #28: Metallic

A bit out of proportion – obviously put together by a madman or seriously abused in its lifetime – this green, enamel-over-metal teapot was my first flirtation with “metallic” for #WorldWatercolorMonth2019.  I think it is okay, but really more of a warm up study.  The ones that follow are a bit better.  As I was doing them, I became more confident in the brushwork.

This is rather obviously a teaspoon – but the handle is really too short!  Thus, it is now a sugar bowl spoon.

I need to practice drawing more, and working on relationships of size and such.  While my painting is improving, I can’t say my drawing is.

Nonetheless, I am pleased with this.  I used only Payne’s Grey and used it in varying strengths to create a (gasp!) monochromatic watercolor study.

Nest is an old brass skeleton key.  I used Burnt Umber, Quin Gold, Organic Vermilion, and Payne’s Grey.  I figured since I had done something with underlying metal and silver, a gold color was necessary.

Working my way through these paintings did not take a lot of time, but they did focus my attention.  The elements of contrast I am learning in gouache is really becoming apparent in my watercolors.

Bolder brushwork, too.  In gouache, I have been doing a lot of scumbling; here, I am working by holding the brush at its end, away from the ferrule, and holding it more loosely.  It works as far as freeing me from a sense of “I have to do this perfectly” – don’t know why, but it is interesting to see how a physical stance changes the mental, and perhaps the final artistic result.

WWM #26: Natural Wonders

The American West is filled with places you probably could not survive in for long without the amenities of water and shade and good soil to grow crops. Many of these areas have become national parks and monuments to preserve them for present and future generations, and to keep them from being destroyed and exploited, as is wont in the US. If you can make money off it, do it!  I don’t get how “conservatives” fail to “conserve” the beauty around us . . .

Anyway!

The White Sands National Monument, in New Mexico, is a strange and lovely place. White sand unlike what you usually find, accompanied by sparse plants, shifting dunes, and the vast New Mexico sky. Here are some studies – which, in my opinion, are all failures. That sand is so hard to express!

From the White Sands National Monument, we continue on to Arches National Park.  Layers of sandstone have been worn away by wind and rain, and arches of varying sizes and heights are the keynote of the park.  So many in one place!  The layers of sediment vary in color, erosion creates odd shapes, and the drama of sky and land, seen through the arches, creates visions of worlds within worlds.

I was rather pleased with the painting of the arch, more so than the others.  As usual, depth was a problem, but I think I solved it by doing three things.  First, I applied a cool glaze onto the blue-green-grey plain and mountain range n the distance.  Next, I applied a warm glaze of a yellow-orange hue over the arch itself and the rocks directly below it, but not on the red rocks seen through the arch.  Finally, I added some thin, dark lines along varying edges, and used the same concept of lines to create the plants on the lower border of the painting.

Gouache painting is really helping me “get” watercolor more completely.  Positive and negative space is becoming a more conscious thought, as are colors and methods to depict depth and distance.  It’s been a lot of fun to make a lot of little paintings some days, or only one another.  Each is a wonderful learning experience.