World Watercolor Month challenge days 1-4

Hello all.   July is World Watercolor Month and the challenge created by  Doodlewash is to do something in watercolor or gouache every day of the month. 

Normally I wouldn’t do a challenge like this but as you can see I haven’t been painting or posting as often as I’d like.   In deciding to do this I’ve chosen to use a 5.5×8.5″ Strathmore pad in 140# cold press.   My goal in keeping the paper size small is that I will be more likely to succeed in completing a new piece each day and try new techniques out.

So far four days in I’m doing okay. So without further ado here are days 1-4.

Day 1, a misty mountain sketch
Day 2, a calm beach
Day 3, a frigid icy beach done entirely in Prussian Blue
Day 4, a desert landscape

I’m quite pleased with how these turned out. Is anyone else doing the challenge?

Until I post the next pieces.

Do art.

Clark

Third in the series

Here’s the third piece from my three color series. I used Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Yellow Ochre only on them. They’ve been quite fun to do and I’ve even reduced them down to fit as covers to differentiate between my different Travelers Notebook inserts.

Rather than write a whole bunch I’m just going to post the process photos and let them do the talking.

Background wash
Some trees to push the background back.
Defining the midground
Moving to the foreground
Finished

It’s been really fun working with these three colors. They’ve allowed some wonderful vibrancy to the work. I’m not sure if I’ll continue further with the series or if I’ll move on to some other colors.

Thanks for following along.

Remember, do art.

Clark

Now What?

Here is my latest painting.   I don’t like it.  After a couple that I love…this one… this one…I don’t know.   My wife said it’s not you.   Were you fighting with the trees?  I think she’s right.   I spent a week fiddling with it.   It just doesn’t want to get any better.  It kicked my butt.

Blah

The background ended up too light and lacked enough of the sky colors to pull it in.

Why is it so white?!?

The midground just feels muddy and got worse when I attempted to add shadows.

The foreground… well it just feels green and flat.  Not what I wanted.

Oh well,  live and learn.   I think my real problem was that I refused to clean my palette and kept working in the muck.  It needs a good cleaning badly.

So where to go from here?  Honestly I’m not sure.   But I’m sure the paper and paint will tell me.

Do art.

Clark

Light without dark…

Here is my latest piece.   I started it and then put it down for a week because I was stuck.

It started out so strong and there was so much different between the colors in the distance and the white of the paper… but what to put there.  I always like doing the background.   The objects are simple and it leaves a lot to the viewer’s imagination.  

Such a expanse of pristine white…I hate to spoil it.

This is where it say for a week.   Me afraid to mess it up.   The vibrant tones playing against the whiteness…most nights just before, or maybe after falling asleep my brain would startle me to wakefulness with a “what about this?!?” moment but in the light of day I would fret over the idea and dismiss it.   This morning I decided that I needed some bare trees in the midground so I added them during my lunch hour (working from home).

Oh,  I like this,  they feel very nice.

This evening I decided to tackle the foreground.  I feared that I would use up all the white and lose those wonderful whites but I think I managed it.

Finished

What do you think?  I think I’ll do some more in this series.

Do art.

Clark

Glowing Road

This is a piece I did earlier this week. Working on using enough pigment to create a glow in the piece. Just a country road in the winter as the sun is on the horizon getting all those wonderful purples, reds and oranges in there. I’m quite happy with it. 10.14″ on Legion Stonehenge Aqua cold press with Winsor & Newton paints.

Enjoy and keep painting.

Clark

On Tutorials and Learning

Yesterday YouTube listed a painting tutorial posted by David Smith called Mastering the Mist. I’ve watched a few other of his videos and they are really enjoyable but when I watched them I wasn’t consistent in my art and just looked at his techniques as “someday” skills.

So last night after dinner I cracked open a pint of Holidaily Favorite Blonde GF beer (if you have gluten issues I highly recommend their beers) and set off to use his techniques to make my own version of the painting he did. I think it’s important when doing a tutorial to not sit there stiffly trying to exactly copy what the instructor has created while watching the video. In general they move through the painting quickly and you can easily get lost. In my opinion it’s better to watch/read through it a couple times so that you can prepare for it and then do it on your own. It will inevitably leave you feeling lacking in skill rather than pleased with your own growth. It also allows you to adapt when things go wrong…

I was cruising through the painting and surprised at how well I was doing.

This is so not my style… wait, do I have a style?

David uses a spray bottle to splatter clean water on his paintings a lot. I was trying to do the same. I own two spray bottles. One super cheap Walmart special that splatters and sputters. The other from Ikea produces a fine mist so I was using the Walmart one and after years of use I discovered that the top is only held on by a single revolution of threads and its easy to tighten past it causing the reservoir full of water to fall off. You might see where I’m going with this. While splattering the bottom came loose, fell, and soaked the painting. Oh, the horror!

After cleaning it up some of the paint had lifted off and trees didn’t look like trees any more. The good thing about tutorials is that it’s all about learning, like how do I paint over the ruined trees? Good practice.

I eventually completed the painting and showed my family. My wife said “This is so not you. It’s COOL!” I’m going to take it as a complement.

I learned a lot about lifting paint and using lots of pigment. I never seem to use enough.

I hope you like this and check out David Smith’s work.

Keep painting,

Clark

Finished tutorial

Peaceful lake in progress and musings

Good evening (or morning, afternoon) everyone. I’ve started working on a piece that’s a little outside my comfort zone about a week ago. Trying to grow in my art. I normally avoid painting man-made objects but I decided to go ahead and work on improving those skills.

The object of this painting is a small lake surrounded by trees with a dock and a rowboat in it. Definitely not my normal subject matter but I’m working on my skills and process so here we go. First a sketch…

I actually looked at reference photos and everything. Side note.: this was the last sheet of paper in this sketchbook. The previous sketchbook lasted several years. This one less than a year.

Then came the background washes and layers. So many layers…

Initial wash

Then I added the background trees. I always get nervous about these. Too light, too dark, too much detail?

Initial background trees. I made sure to lightly draw a line where the far bank would be to keep it from leaning.

Then I added the water and reflections. It always feels difficult to get them right. I often see other artists that create these perfect reflections… not me apparently. I always feel they need to be done in a single wash to avoid muddling the water(pun intended).

Reflections on the water and some washes in the foreground

Next I added some more sky, darkened the lower part of the background foliage and the dock and row boat.

Working on the boat, dock, and the water, a little something extra for the sky

Next I added the background washes the foreground trees and their foliage. The trunks you always want to think about how you want the ball to look. Where the sun is coming from. Where your highlights will be. When it comes to the foliage I always say silent prayer when I do these because I’m never quite sure how to do it. It’s something that I need to do a million times if I want to get it right. When I look at other artists works on social media the majority of the beginner to intermediate artists tend to do bare trees. The artists who have mastered foliage seem to have mastered everything they put into their paintings. It’s like the last skill to gain.

Adding more color to the tree trunks.

Here I added texture to the trees and started working on the foliage. I decided that the direction I was headed with the leaves wouldn’t work and stopped to regroup. When working with ink I like to do actual visible leaves along the edges of the leaf mass but that lacks energy with paint it seems.

Texture to the tree trunks, added to the leaves. I aught not have done that

Next I added foreground grasses, stones and pebbles. More texture on the dock and boat. Still avoiding the leaves. I enjoy doing leaves with ink but paint… no.

Foreground, grasses and ground texture. Avoiding the foliage

Okay, I decided to dive into the foliage. It’s really hard to find reference photos for thick foliage between trees. I lifted paint and redid it several times until I was happy with it.

Let’s beat up the foliage and see if that help.

And it’s done. This took me about a week to do stealing s few minutes here and there. Over all I’m happy with it. 10×14 ” Legion Stonehenge hot press 140# and Windsor & Newton paints.

Finis

After spending a week working on it I decided I needed to do something fast, fun, and full of energy so I did the below the evening after I finished the dock. It was refreshing to work quickly without a real plan. The night before as I was lying in bed my mind showed me this image to paint so I needed to get it out.

I hope you liked them. Keep creating

Clark

Late January through most of March

I think everyone would agree it’s been kind of a rough time the last few weeks. Prior to that I once again wasn’t feeling it. Work was too busy and when I would get home I just didn’t have the energy to do art. The closest I came to it was posting photos I took on my way to work.

View from my work

This did help motivate me though and keep me thinking.

A couple weeks ago I realized it had been a month since I’d done anything really artistic so I pulled out my sketchbook flipped through it until I found a page I’d tried to start and gave up on because I wasn’t “in the mood”. Ie, I can’t do it. It’s too hard <oh, whoo is me, boo hoo>. So I decided I would do it… and I did. It was rough, it was ugly, but it started me on the way out of my funk.

Isn’t that just the most awful thing you’ve seen?

That forlorn sketch got me to pick up my brush, wet my paints and do something. Also not a masterpiece but I did it.

Not a masterpiece. Don’t confuse it for the real deal

So having been kickstarted I pulled that trusty sketchbook out and I started doing thumbnails.

Thumbnails
More thumbnails

Those lead to actual drawings. Drawings are good. The most amazing thing out of it was that I actually started holding my lead holder the way I was taught to in college. Where was I? Oh yes, drawing. The drawing lead to my actually drawing out the whole painting and doing it right.

What is done properly?

Over the next few nights I would sneak in a few minutes before bed time. Things started coming together.

Washes, and boulders and stones oh my!

Then I hit the ugly stage. This is awful? Who would want to see this?? Trash it! No no, stick with the plan

To the bin with you! I’m not dead yet!

I had really wanted to add deer to this piece. I’ve never added them before. Not something close up and portrait like but mid to background range. So I did it. I’m pretty pleased with the final piece. I present to you “Spring Meadow”. Wow, I haven’t actually named a painting since college.

Spring Meadow 8.5×11.75″

As always comments welcome.

Keep doing art.

Clark

A nice Saturday’s work

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.

Ink sketch: washes, rigger brush and fan brush

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.

Until next time. Do art.

Clark

A walk on a trail and inspiration

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.

Naked trees!!!

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.

Do you see the lion or is it a baboon?

I took many that help with perspective, like when a path dips down to go under a bridge, or up and around a curve.

Down and around or up and around?

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.

Photo and basic structure thumbnail

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.

Until next time, do art.

Clark