15. Wild Night on the Town

No, not really.  But a fun night meeting up with a friend at a local coffee shop / bar / whatever, and some time spent chatting and sketching.  I even drank tea and ate madeleines, so the artistic muse was happy.

It’s fun to watch another artist work, and it’s fun to see what catches the eye.  We sat opposite each other and what was in my eye line was different from hers.  It makes for altogether different projects.  Another thing about just hanging out with another artist is that you learn about things you never considered or used before.  Nothing like continuing to learn, eh?

So, below are my sketches from our hanging out last night.

If you play Sherlock, you might figure out where we were.

Any guesses?

Happy Friday!

15. Trees, Shadow, Snow

This morning, in a room only lit by the light of my monitors, and a half-drunk cup of coffee at hand, I decided to go ahead and watch Peter Sheeler’s video above, and try to do a painting.  I dragged out a bowl for water, a few brushes, and my travel palette.  I sort of know where my colors are, so what the heck – paint and draw away.

I pretty much followed what Peter did, but obviously his work is better than mine.  Despite that, I did learn a few more things.  One thing I have always liked – and will continue to like – is ink with color.  Using a limited palette is also fun as it really helps you keep yourself under control.  I think – remember, it was dark, and I was only half of cup of coffee into my morning! – I used yellow ochre, quin gold, a bit of viridian, a bit of alizarin, indathrene and ultramarine blues, and burnt sienna.  Some of these were just little dabs because I couldn’t see very well, but the main colors were the sienna and blues.

That said, below is a scan of my painting before putting in the final lines.

Objectively, it’s okay.  There are some nice areas, and there certainly is some white space (yay!  white space!), which is why I am focusing on snow painting practices.  Some good light – dark areas.  A nice bleed or two.  Other areas are dreadful, such as that greenish area on the mid-right side.

Below, the inked in version.

Frankly, I like the final one better as there is more definition.  Now – finish that coffee and jet off to work.

Have a fun day!

14. White = Snow

If you have been reading along, you know:  I make mud, I need lines, and I cannot get white space at all.  Well, in a moment of mad inspiration, I realized snow is white.  Let’s paint snow!  In my part of the world (California), we are in the midst of a hideous wildfire, which fortunately bypassed our neighborhood, but which could be visited by a fire any time.  Crazy winds and no rain make for dry and dangerous conditions, and certainly the last place where  you will expect to find snow.

Thus, snow.  I went to my favorite place (YouTube) and searched for “watercolor snow” and there we were!  Lot of them.  In particular, I found Peter Sheeler, whose videos are simple to follow, and quite lovely.  He uses a minimal palette, and just paints.  Subtitles let you know the colors and the technique.  Pleasant music moves you along.  Here is my version of his painting.

Peter Sheeler has another video that I used as well.  It was a bit more complex, but not only was it great for shadows on snow, he has very strong light – dark colors, another problem I struggle with.

And here is my version of it.  I was really intimidated by the dark trees and the rocks.  Besides using only Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, and Burnt Sienna (even though Sap Green is in his video’s palette), Peter uses a 1/2 inch flat brush.  I have some flat brushes, and they scare the hell out of me.  I think people who love flat brushes are nuts.  No more:  I bit the bullet and pulled out my flats and did the entire painting in a flat brush, varying sizes as necessary.  And I used micron pens, too, as did Peter.

I am feeling a lot more confident now about colors, white space, limited palettes, and flat paint brushes.  I think I will continue to follow along with Peter Sheeler’s videos – he is a really good painter, I like his style, and am confident I will get a lot out of his videos.  And Peter, if you should come across this, let me tell you, “Thanks!”

13. Barrel Cactus, Aloe, and A Plant Named Audrey

Living in Southern California, we don’t get winter like other parts of the world.  Plants are green and living, not in dormant states for the most part.  In a botanical garden, one of the real pleasures is seeing the sheer variety of plants!  Last Friday, besides trees, I also did a barrel cactus, some red aloe (I think they are aloe), and a huge succulent that I always call “Audrey” from that strange and lovely life form in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Barrel Cactus . . . these look like a weird squash.

Red Aloe . . . no lines!

Fortunately, these Audreys do not require feeding!  Nor do they sing.

13. Under the Pines

Yesterday morning I met up with a friend, to chat, drink coffee, and sketch in the local botanical gardens.  The day was warm and sunny, and before you knew it, 2.5 hours had passed.  She did some wonderful pictures of cacti and tree branches, using only colors from a very tiny paint box!  Me, I need pen and ink to feel confident enough – I am still trying to make watercolors look like watercolors, instead of ink with colors.  I do like the ink-and-color thing, but I know I want to master solid colors.  So, after inking on site, I went home and filled in some colors, and more ink, and more colors, until I hope I got what looks like dappled light on rocks and cacti beneath some pines.

Being curious as to whether or not there is decent light / dark, I thought I would convert it to black and white to see.  Results are below.  I may go in and paint the bushes behind the rocks a bit darker in the center an to the right.

11.3. Fire Escapes – Final Painting

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!