40.1 Lilies

Well – let’s just say that the lilies suck.  The masking fluid tore up the surface of the paper, which is student grade to begin with, and the soap suds from straight dishwashing soap seemed to have remove the sizing – or a lot of it – from the paper.  The paper itself is good for studies with less water, and I enjoy using it for play and experimentation.

The lilies are out of proportion.  Rather a disappointing experience, to say the least.

Still, I am inclined to want to think about this painting.  In reality, this style of painting is better suited, in my opinion, to a graphic presentation.  It’s not “painterly” in the way I want to do watercolors.  If nothing else, that is my take-away from this experience.

Besides being too graphic for my taste in watercolor, the masking fluid was a disaster.  Straight dishwashing soap does not work on the paper, even though my brush didn’t suffer in the least.  I’ve used a diluted soap solution with better results.  I also would prefer to not use masking, simply because I want to keep the process as clean as possible, with few if any extras in the way of the process.

In the end, I think learning what you don’t like is fundamental to many things, whether it’s a job or a way of painting.  This helps to focus your thoughts on your goals because you rid yourself of an unwanted item.  I still plan to focus on negative painting, but want to find a different way to approach it.

40. Lilies

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  I am an impatient person, particularly when it comes to painting watercolor.  The look of spontaneous painting requires forethought and planning, even for the simplest of pictures.  I keep falling for that lie!  Therefore, in an effort to tame my monkey mind, I decided to work on negative painting, which is not an easy thing to do.  Looking through YouTube, I found a lovely example of negative painting by Krzysztof Kowalski, which you can view below.

This painting study requires the usage of masking fluid in addition to working up layers of colors.  My sketch came out fairly good, as you can see below, but the first layer of water over the masking fluid turned rather comical.

I didn’t dilute my dishwashing soap before dipping my brush in it, then the mask.  The result, when I began to wet the paper, was soap suds!  Okay, dilute it next time.  I think the density of the dish soap also may not allow the masking fluid to adhere properly – I’ll find this out when I begin to remove it.  I spent a few hours painting the layers; this is my afternoon’s work.

35. Pewter Inkwell, or Distortion in the Morning

This morning I was feeling restless and unfocused while I was drinking my morning coffee.  I wanted to do something, but have felt all scrambled this week, partly because routines have changed in the later part of the day and are rather disruptive of the normal routines.  So, something mindless.  Then I saw my ca. 1810 pewter inkwell with its ceramic insert.  The decision was to draw it using the dip pen sitting nearby.  Well, grogginess and a general inability to draw circles are the result – ovals are even harder – and perspective?  Well, the results speak for themselves!

Retrospective

I was rummaging through the files on my desk, and came across a collection of sumi-e ink, ink and color, and watercolor or acrylic paintings I did a long time ago.  Some of these are “aceo” size, which measure 2×3.5 inches, and others are other papers.  I used to sell these on Ebay, too.  Maybe I need to go through and scan some more – it’s like tea and madeleines – memories and reminders.

29.2 Mesa, Sunrise: Practice!

Every artist practices.  Pianists do scales.  Painters paint.  I, on the other hand, have never been fond of practicing anything because I always want to do.  However, I am finding myself rather stumped at the moment, and have decided I do need to practice.  I need to practice brush strokes and colors.  I realized this after I lay down this wash for the mesa and lower portions of the painting, which for now are at a standstill.

Looking at everything, I am thinking about two things.  What colors should I use?  What brush should I use?

Colors don’t require a brush choice, so I have dabbled with reds for the mesa, as you can see below.  There are combinations of Burnt Sienna, Quin Gold, Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Organic Vermilion, and Pyrrol Orange.  Doing these early in the morning, I didn’t label them.  That’s okay, because  I know the colors I used, and I will check them out during daylight.

Next, I need to decide on a brush.  I am inclined to go with a flat, so I can draw straight across to show the sedimentary layers of rock.  Those I will get to sometime tomorrow and then choose colors and – yes! – practice making some strokes and mixing the colors strong enough to make some good contrasts, too.

28.1 Neighborhood Tree

This is from my Stillman & Birn soft cover (blue) sketchbook with 180# paper. A part of me likes the thing, and another doesn’t. I’m not sure why.

Anyway, this shows what I am trying to do . . . establish shadow, play with color combos or swatches. I used all sorts of brushes on this. In general, it is overworked, and the trunk looks like some tree has landed on an octopus. (Poor octopus!)

This is the final product, with some work on it . . . The contrast is a bit better, but it still looks pretty much in the same key to me – in other words, the grey scale is pretty much the same to my eye when I see it in color. In B&W it is still not quite what I would like to see.

26.2 Tree Ferns

This morning I decided to do a free form watercolor of the tree ferns I photographed.  I didn’t draw in any lines.  As you can see, the stem on the left goes nowhere…amazing how you notice things when you see them in a scan!

The main purpose of the exercise was to use a 1/2 inch flat brush for most of the work.  To do the fronds, I used the tip, but in reality such is a better way to express palm fronds.  Tree ferns have a softer, more rounded shape at the ends of their leaves.

Consequently, I pulled out a small round.  If you know the art of sumi-e, I am sure you can figure out how to make the softer, rounder tip of a tree fern.  To do it, start with an upright brush and slow squish it down toward the end.  That would be for the stem-t0-end-of-leaf.  If you want to begin at the end of the leaf, squish the brush and then lift it as you move inward.  Doing either produces better results I think.

I also just wanted to work on colors and shapes, try to get some contrast, too.  As I painted, I imagined living in a jungle of tree ferns – looking up, sunshine, contrast, sparkles.  At 6:30 in the morning, in a rather dark room (with the only light coming in from the eastern window of the studio, and the glow of the computer monitors), it’s always interesting to see what happens – happened – when you see it in the light of day!

27. Christmas Berries

This morning I wanted to work on the tree ferns, but for now, the jury is out on what to do.  I ordered some watercolor marker / brushes from Amazon, as I don’t have any and the design element seems to warrant more control than a brush.  So, I decided to use this photo I took over the weekend of a Toyon – also called Christmas Berry as it shows up  Decemberish – for a quick morning paint.  Below are the results using my palette with 5 greens (yay!  green!) and a 1/2 inch flat brush.  I painted directly, no lines.