When I first started to paint in watercolor – like when I was a teenager! – the advice was to use a brush bigger than what you think you need. Yeah, right. Over the years, I have resisted this, but lately I have been doing the majority of my painting with a 1.5 inch flat brush. From there, different brushes with different ideas in mind.
Here, 16×20 CP 140# Arches. I sponged the entire paper with water and then set in the sky. From there, the water and grasses along the shore, working to get blurring of colors into the wet paint. Then, the horizon with the same 1.5 inch brush. I let it dry.
From that point, it was a matter of thought. Initially, the sky dried to a pale color, so I laid in more dark paint for the sky, using a spray bottle to move the paint around, and holding the painting by hand, tilted the paper this way and that to run the paint in various directions.
Looking at it upside down always gives a new perspective, sometimes good, sometimes not. I added some dry brush for the weeds, and used a wet mixture of blues for the snow shadows. I also painted a darker version of the same snow blue into the distant water, moving it into the weeds / reeds. Then, more dry brush once the water had dried to overlap the paint I applied.
This is a stronger painting than some of my more more recent ones, and I will credit the large, flat brush forcing me to work simply. It’s actually much more fun, and easier, in many ways, because I am not getting finicky to the point of crazy.
Last summer we ran away from home, up the coast, to La Purisima Mission in the area of Lompoc, California. It’s a small town with a wonderful secularized California Mission, La Purisima, restored by the state during the Depression. It has gardens, outbuildings, a wonderful historical center, and is a lovely place to walk around on a sunny day. I took my camera with me, and today’s painting is based upon the photograph below.
This little patch of weeds is located on the backside of the mission, and I found it so charming. The weeds are typical California plants – hardy, drought resistant, resinous. Grasses and flowers. Furry leaves. All these help keep the plants from drying out in the relentless sun and low humidity.
I am not really sure if I caught what I wanted to do with this photograph, but I am pleased enough to put my name on the scan I used a lot of the techniques I learned from Rick Surowicz’s Fall Lake video.
Putting on the frisket was scary. I was so unsure about it, but knowing the only way to learn was to do, I did! Blobs, lines, sprinkles and splatters of frisket. Paint. Paint some more. Finally I arrived at a point where I just didn’t think I could go any further, and it is at this point I stopped. And then removed the frisket. More paint added here and there, lines, whatever. The final result is below.
One thing I have always loved is the countryside. Open spaces. Wild flowers. Weeds. Where I live, you can find them, but they are the dry places of the West. I have a longing for the plains and grasses, green trees and rain. Peter Sheeler’s video catches a glimpse of this.
Here is my version below. Part of me wants to paint the flowers, but thought it best to stop here. I like the feeling that you have just climbed a hill, and there this scene is at the top, and you look way beyond . . .