This afternoon I got the chance to work on the piece I wrote about earlier this week.
I started out referring to the photo and thumbnail and doing a sketch my Canson mix media 7×10 sketchbook (I’ve almost finished filling it! This is a rare thing for me) in Dr Ph Martin Bombay ink doing washes and figuring out what I did and didn’t want to include.
After it was completed I moved on to working on the painting. I used mutt last sheet of Legion Stonehenge 10×14″ in hot press. I’ll have to buy another block because it’s so nice to work with.
The washes went down well. The paper didn’t warp. Everything worked out nicely.
While things were drying I started on some bookmarks but those will be another post.
Last week I decided to take a walk on one of the local trails over lunch. I needed some inspiration as I haven’t had much time to do art or when I had time it felt blocked.
Since it is winter and all the trees are bare it’s a good time to look at the structure of the trees. Similar to how you should know how the skeleton and muscles under the skin to draw realistic people it’s good to know what’s going on under all that foliage.
I like to take photos on my phone for landscape ideas when I’m wandering about. Some of them could work well or at least give me ideas on how things should look. Perspective examples so to speak. Others are just for my imagination.
I took many that help with perspective, like when a path dips down to go under a bridge, or up and around a curve.
It was a good walk and perusing the photos afterwards leads to inspiration. I tend to draw out the ideas on post-its so that I can rearrange them. Occasionally I’ll do them in my sketchbook but the bad ones put me off from these creative process, with Post-its I can just crumple them up and toss them into the circular file cabinet. Only one sparks my interest currently.
I suspect this weekend I’ll create a ink wash test piece in my sketchbook to get my values and focal points worked out and then create a watercolor out of it.
Yesterday was a fun and successful day. On my way home from work I knew I wanted to work in ink, that it would be a night scene, and had to be loose. No other preconceived ideas, just have fun.
After dinner, working out, and some chores I settled into the studio with my sketchbook and inks.
Dr Ph Martin Bombay inks are really wonderful and versatile. I use them for nib work and as a acrylic paint. I spray them with water for effects, I thin them for light washes, mix them, just amazingly useful.
For this piece I used the dropper on the bottle to transfer the ink to the paper, sprayed it with water to spread and thin it and then brushed it to cover the whole page. After that the fun began. I used paper towel to lift the still wet ink to make clouds, fog, and the circle for the moon. The moon seemed to dim so I added some white paint to it.
Next came the trees. Both rigger brush and nib were used. As I worked I decided that I wanted a couple birds in the branches so these trees had to have branches by the moon and then some in front of it to push it back.
At this point I thought since I had some birds, maybe I should add some bats flitting about. Then the animals and people worked their way in. At this point I wet a wadded up paper towel and added yellow and red hues to it to make it glow. I thought about splattering some titanium white and creating halos around them on it to add fireflies but thought it might make it too busy.
So after finishing it I showed it to my daughter and she asked if there was a creepy thin man hiding behind the tree. Then after posting it a friend asked if there was a little lost boy there. Each person that views our art brings their life experience to it and creates their own story in it if we let them. A painting is a open door into the worlds we create. A snapshot in time and they bring themselves to it. I really prefer to let the viewers write their own story in my art. I think it reaches more people that way.
The end of the year was busy and I’d as usual hit a block in my creativity. I guess it isn’t so much a block as a fear of messing up the piece, making ugly art.
A friend posts photos from her morning walks and one of them struck me as beautiful and a good choice for a exercise so I decided to use it as a basis for a painting. I put down the washes, the paper, though taped down, buckled horribly throwing my paint where I didn’t want it. Why oh, why don’t I ever stretch the paper before hand? In frustration I added some salt to it where I thought I wanted it and walked away.
Fast forward a couple weeks I decided to look at it. Ugh, that area’s awful, that shows promise but I felt too tentative to put paint to paper. So I did what I tend to do when this happens. Out comes the sketchbook, pour a liberal amount of ink in these middle and start scrapping and scratching with the nib until it looks like something.
Ah, that’s better. So on I moved to finish this painting (finish him! Hehehe, Mortal Combat… sorry, lost focus).
Some rewetting of the background, some fiddling with the background trees, and out comes the rigger brush for stems and it’s done. Finally some completion. As an exercise goes I’m happy with it. I suppose I could crop it down…
So on to yesterday’s painting. After taking care of the weekend chores I settled in to paint.
Side note: I sat down to paint with a Beulah Red GF ale from Holidaily Brewing in Golden, CO. If you have gluten issues and love beer see if you can get their beers because they are the most amazing GF beers I’ve ever tried.
Where was I? Oh yes, painting… This time I stretched my paper properly. I put down my washes and discovered that there were scratches on the paper Oh the humanity!
Grrr… well let’s see if we can work around them. Honestly I’ve never experienced scratches from an Arches watercolor pad before. Maybe someone’s kid picked it up, scratched it up and put it back on the shelf. Who knows.
Time to see how I can save the sheet. Preliminary sketching done with watercolor pencil. Just to figure our what can go where. I like to have the initial washes in place first in case they don’t match what I have planned.
Next I focused on the background between where the trees would be, making sure to lay in the reflections on the water. I have a tendency to forget any form of reflection because it’s water right? It just lays there being blue’ish.
The trees were next. Just base layers and using a rigger to fill in the branches but not too many since there will be foliage.
Next came some basic foliage. I like to pick 4-6 appropriate colors put them on the palette and get them really wet. Then I work from light to dark using a rigger because for me it adds just the right amount of looseness. I tend not cleaning it between colors as it adds some additional tones and shadows. More glazes on the trunks and branches. I also hit the paper with a hair dryer to speed up the process.
Since the majority of the work is done it was on to the rocks, foliage, additional details for the roots. Back to the trunks and branches.
Majority done…Haha! Does anyone else feel like most of their time is spent adding tiny details that make the painting comes to life? I can get everything almost just right and then sit there fiddling with it for hours.
I had really wanted to add some deer drinking at the water’s edge but the layout of the water didn’t support that. Maybe next time.
The piece is 11×14″ Arches hot press watercolor paper. The paints were a mix of Daniel Smith and Windsor &Newton Artist watercolors. I was sorely tempted to use gouache on it but in the end decided to keep it strictly transparent.