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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
What do you think? I think I’ll do some more in this series.
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.
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.
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…
Then came the background washes and layers. So many layers…
Then I added the background trees. I always get nervous about these. Too light, too dark, too much detail?
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).
Next I added some more sky, darkened the lower part of the background foliage and the dock and row boat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
That forlorn sketch got me to pick up my brush, wet my paints and do something. Also not a masterpiece but I did it.
So having been kickstarted I pulled that trusty sketchbook out and I started doing 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.
Over the next few nights I would sneak in a few minutes before bed time. Things started coming together.
Then I hit the ugly stage. This is awful? Who would want to see this?? Trash it! No no, stick with the plan
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.
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.
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.