I am not sure if this watercolor does justice to the prompt of “treat” for #WorldWatercolorMonth2019! Macarons are delicate, colorful, absolutely delicious French treats – cookies? – and here we have pistachio, coffee, lemon, raspberrry, and orange. As cookies are one of my favorite treats (beats dog biscuits any day), I thought I would try to pay homage to a delightful accompaniment to coffee.
I don’t know about you, but rain forests belong in the tropics, filled with tigers and monkeys and long, poisonous snakes. At least, that is my fantasy. The French painter, Henri Rousseau, has a number of paintings which are of the jungle, and always make me think this is what a rain forest looks like.
Within the United States, we have a rain forest, the Hoh Rain Forest up in the Olympic Peninsula area. We went there several years ago on a road trip, and hiking through this forest was an eerie and otherworldly experience. You cannot see the sky for the density of the trees, branches, and moss overhead. Following the trail, which was clearly marked, showed you the wonder of a primitive world, bathed in its own soft gold-green light.
Where I live, a building is a house surrounded by the rest of suburbia. I don’t live in a city. I don’t live in the country. Sometimes I wish I could transport myself to someplace so very different than where I live now. That said, one can travel in one’s imagination, and that is what I have chosen to do here – a street in the early evening somewhere in a gracious part of an old city.
While this is not a perfect painting, I did have some goals in mind while painting “buildings” for the #WorldWatercolorMonth2019 prompt. One was to really work on perspective. It’s pretty well nailed here. Another was negative painting – keep some paper white. Here, the chimneys up in the sun. I wanted details to show perspective – the closer to the viewer, the more details, as can be seen the closer to the right the buildings become. A lack of detail to show there is distance. Finally, I wanted to use light glazes to designate where the sun is on the upper buildings, and not on the lower part. Here, light quinacridone gold on top, light cobalt on the bottom. I rather like the way the street is striped in shades from dark to light, but as to whether it is realistic is not a question I care to answer. In general, I think the sketchy elements of the watercolor work well with the colors and lines to convey feeling and mood.
For “buildings” I knew I wanted a loose, light painting. This one is on a small sheet of paper, and I expect the final image is about 6×8 inches (could measure, don’t feel like it!). I used both small and large brushes, a bit of imagination, a bi of memory of previous reads on perspective. I found the most interesting thing I did was to do the sky last! I really think it works well with most o the painting.
Where I live, in the dry hills of the Central Coast of California, clouds are really, honestly a rarity. Most days the sky is a clear, steady blue. In the fall and spring, and sometimes into the summer, though, the seasons shift. The rainy season brings in moisture, clouds form, and the sky suddenly has a life of its own. In May and June, the coastal fog moves in, and sometimes you have a competition or a dance between the two – soft, cool fog close to the ground, and clouds at higher altitudes. As the fog breaks up, you see the blue sky and clouds above the shifting fog.
This is from a photograph I took a long time ago when I first started doing digital photography. A small group of us would get together to go for an easy hike, many times in the evening. Hummingbird Trail is where the original photo was taken, admittedly way over-processed in HDR, but the intensity of the colors held true. I tried to capture this in my painting, along with the shifting fog and clouds. I also tried to work on distance by applying a light glaze of a dulling blue grey wash to the distant hills, as well as decreasing details to indicate perspective.
Clouds are so much fun to do in watercolor! Who is to say your clouds don’t look real? There are so many mysteriously beautiful in the natural world, but few are as shifting and as ephemeral as clouds.
Painting and relaxing at the beach are perfect expressions of this prompt for #WorldWatercolorMonth2019.
Relaxing – so what comes to mind? I thought of ways I like to relax – reading, going on a hike, baking, going to the beach. The beach won! No matter what the mood, the shore is always a place to relax. Soft wind, strong wind; soft cloudy skies or fierce rain; vast stretches of sand, rocky coasts that are difficult to walk upon.
I don’t do beach sand very well. I dug out a great book, “Take Three Colours: Watercolour Seascapes” by Geoff Kersey. It’s a nice book for beginners as it explains so many things and techniques, works with a limited palette, and a few brushes. His samples are illustrated number by number. I rather like them as they make me think differently – I am a magpie and I go for 50 different colors, not 3!
Thus, I warmed up with Kersey’s study called “Sand Dune” – perfect for the beach, I would say. Not my best, but it was a study in techniques, not a work of art. Techniques included mixing greens and terra cotta. I had to substitute Organic Vermilion for his WN Light Red, and play a bit, but I limited myself to the Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Yellow along with the OV.
Warmed up, off to Pixabay! I wanted something simple and beachy. This sandy path to the foggy horizon got my attention. No, you cannot see the ocean, but you know it’s there! I tried to catch the subtlety of a the fog in the distance, aiming to soften the grasses as the painting moved into the distance. I also wanted to keep it warm – the foggy day with a bright sun trying to break through.
Another image from Pixabay. I may have painted it before. There is something so lovely about this beach – deserted, alive with plants and animals, the slap of water on the shore. I can smell the sea, too: salty, briney, a bit rank from marshlands. This painting is also more complex. I am not sure if I got the sense of distance correct (I have no depth perception), so I worked at making distant items simpler and paler / bluer. The grasses nearer the beach perhaps could have less detail. Hmmmm.
Finally, a painting from a photo I took several years ago when my friend Glenn and I hit the Central Coast of California, north of Santa Barbara. We visited Refugio Beach and El Capitan Beach. I cannot recall which one this was, but the mood was one of wind and cold, and a storm coming or going. The Pacific was dark, as was the sky; the wind was blustery. Altogether, it was an adventure! We were cold and shivery, but so pleased with just being out in the wind and weather.
Of all of the paintings, the last two are my favorites for different reasons. I painted for about 5 hours, too. Relaxing? You bet! I love the beach, and it was a delight to paint it today.
Furry things – what could that be? A weird bit of fabric, fuzzy socks, your husband’s bewhiskered face. For me, caterpillars! When I was a kid in the middle of nowhere, furry caterpillars were our playmates. They were so beautiful and soft, and you couldn’t tell which end was the front until it moved. We used to race them.
Besides caterpillars, cats are wonderfully soft and fuzzy. I really like cats, but with a household more inclined to dogs at present, I admire them from afar. Cats are such characters – nutty, languid, predatory. A cat’s personality is unique and their expressions priceless.
When I was thinking of the prompt for today’s prompt for #WorldWatercolorMonth2019, I realized I could use a bit of thought about how to paint fur. For the caterpillar, it was clear in my mind – I just referred to some photos to see how they might look. On YouTube, of course I looked up “fur watercolor” – so many came up. The one I thought was best was the one below, by Maria Raczynska. One reason it is a good video is that the final painting is well executed, and she also shows you the reference photo at the beginning. Watching this video – which is rather longish – was worthwhile. I actually learned a lot from it while still doing my own thing. Resources like videos make learning anything so much better.
For “Furry Things” I have two items this time. Both worked out really well and I felt really confident while I painted. Some days it just comes together – and today was one of them.
Pretty lurid, wouldn’t you say? I would, for sure!
I scanned this painting, and in Lightroom and Photoshop, pushed and pulled the colors until they were off the chart – but got the effect I wanted. Tropical fish in the deep sea have so many magical colors. I like it much, much better than the original. And, it is interesting what one can do in the computer age – certainly I could not have accomplished this with my current sets of paints.
Gotta swim in the digital world now and again!