I am the least musical person in the world. I cannot carry a tune. Singing voice – well, let’s just say a bit – lots of bits – better is to be desired.
I can read music. I took piano lessons. When I practiced the piano, the dog would sit at the back door and whine to be let out. When my sister practiced, he would curl up in a ball under the piano bench – if he had been a cat, doubtless he would purr along.
However, despite my own inadequacies in the music department, I really like music. When I was a child, a family friend, Boris – who fled Tsarist Russia after the October Revolution (being a prince) – was a wonderful musician. He played the balalaika and sang melancholy Russian songs. A balalaika, a song bird. Here is to music in all its forms!
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.
Monochromatic – value studies – black, grey, white – something I never do. I promised myself I would weeks ago, before beginning any painting. As with most resolutions, it fell by the wayside. However, I think monochrome value studies in gouache could be really rewarding and worth doing – you can make corrections as you go along, put white on black if need be. Not so easy in watercolor, and pencil studies can get all fuzzy and blurred.
#WorldWatercolorMonth2019 is at its halfway point already! Summer is fleeing . . .
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.
I am drawn to water – maybe because when I was young, there was always a lake or river nearby. As an adult, I live in a rather dry land where creeks are rare, but the vast Pacific is not far, with wetlands and marshes. Fresh water lakes, though, are what I really love – the ones where the sky passes by beneath your feet on the glassy calm of the water.
This is from a photograph of a lake somewhere in the world – from Pixabay – and the clouds in the foreground were crystal clear and smooth. I sort of messed that glassiness up, but came fairly close to what I was trying to express. Obviously, this is a rather lonely view, but what better place than to sit, enjoy the breeze , and perhaps listen to the babbling of water fowl and the hum of insects on a warm summer day?
This one had me pondering . . . a good book, flowers, painting. In the end, I thought of what seems to give me the most pleasure. The natural world, flowers, plants – the world outside that is simply there. Sometimes we manipulate it, such as by planting flowers, and other times it is just being itself, chaotic nature.
Here, sunflowers. A family member was in Las Vegas when the earthquakes of July 4 and 5 hit the Los Angeles area. Her pool sloshed over, inundating her garden with salty, chlorinated water. She lost a lot of plants. I had sent her a picture of some sunflowers she had given me, soon to bloom, and that is when I found out she had lost her plants. My idea was to (maybe) paint some sunflowers for her, but unfortunately these did not turn out too well. Still, there was the idea and the pleasure of painting sunflowers . . .
Here, Joshua Trees. I really get a bang out of these crazy-looking plants, which are very limited in their topographical area for survival, and as the world warms (it really isn’t, per the government), these plants are becoming endangered. When the US government shut down, Joshua Tree National Monument (or Park?) was heavily vandalized. Many of these trees take centuries to get big – and then some fool decides they are fair game to destroy.
The natural world is one filled with simple pleasures for our delight. Some delight in destroying things of beauty, wrecking the work of time. To me, this is a really sad, pathetic statement about human beings, but then there are those who also work to save our natural world before it disappears. I am very grateful for these heroes who work to save the simple pleasures of the natural world.
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.