First painting of the year

Well…some of the end of the years work as well.

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.

My that looks angry doesn’t it?

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…

Salt flowers on the shore

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.

Initial sketch

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.

So far so good.

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.

Trees, water, and sky. What more is there?

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.

Finished painting

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.

Keep on painting,