Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Spring in January

Many artists are very opposed to painting from photos.  Joyce Hick's talks a lot in her book about painting a feeling and not copying a photo.  I understand her point and what others are saying but, honestly, if I made a hard and fast rule about not painting from photos I would not get much painting done.  There are not a lot of opportunities for painting outside during winter in Iowa.  After yesterday's rain and ice, I can't even safely make it across the yard to my studio.  But being housebound did not stop me from painting because I had my watercolor journal, portable palette, a photo of the neighboring farm and the value sketch I had made.  And my imagination.

I did not copy the photo, but used it as a valuable reference for my sketch.  It helped me consider the play of light and shadow.  Once I had the value sketch worked out, though, I found I seldom referred to the photo.  Especially since the picture was taken in early winter and I wanted my painting to reflect the greens and growth of late spring.

Here are the original photo, value sketch and the finished painting:

Colors used: Cinerous blue for the sky;  a touch of Quin Gold on the bottom of clouds and toward horizon, here and there in the foreground trees and grass;  Permanent Violet for the background trees, roofs, shadows on house and deep shadows in ditch;  Payne's Grey for house and window shadows, tire and shadows across road;  varied mixes of Ultramarine Blue, Leaf Green, Olive Green and Hooker's Green for the foliage and grass;  Sepia for the tree, field and shadows on power poles and posts, also mixed with Payne's Grey for the gravel road.

Joy and Blessings,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Always Learning

With the internet and books, there are so many great opportunities for learning.  Each artist has such a unique style and it's great when they share their methods and process.  The trick is to learn from them without losing your own identity and individuality in your art.  Sometimes I pick up one of the many watercolor books that I own, read about the artist's process and do a few of the exercises.  But if I start to lose who I am and begin to imitate their style too closely, I put the book down.  There is a fine line between learning and applying the rules and becoming an exact replica.

One of the books that I picked up recently is Joyce Hick's Painting Beautiful Watercolor Landscapes.  I love the colors she uses and the feelings of light and peace that her paintings evoke.  She talks a lot in her book about painting a feeling.  She is very generous with her step-by-step instruction and includes lots of delicious photos.  I had great fun working through some of the exercises and found them to be a little more challenging than they looked at first sight.  But I learned a lot through the process. 

Joy and Blessings,

Sunday, January 1, 2017

God's Canvas

We have been witness to the most amazing sunrises and sunsets from our perch on this windy hill.  Occasionally, I am even able to capture one in all its glory.  Not sure exactly when I took this photo and initially when I picked it from the pile, I thought it was a sunset.  But looking at the location of the power poles, I realize it is a photo I took of a sunrise.

I kept seeing this photo and imagining what colors I would use to capture the essence of that sky.  Finally, I could resist no longer.  I know there is no way that I can paint it the way God has with all of its rich color and varied shapes.  But I can have fun trying!  So here is my humble attempt.  I did some small experiments with color and dropping in to wet areas.  This would take some effort to do on a larger scale, as the areas have to remain wet as you work and the air is quite dry this time of year.  But I still may give it a go.

How:  Using a palette with three large sections, I made three strong puddles of paint - French Ultramarine, Permanent Rose and Lemon Yellow.  The colors in the sunset are very intense so I tried to keep the color in my puddles strong and not too watered down.  Also, if you are working wet-in-wet, you want to have about the same ratio of paint and water in all of your puddles.  That way, when you drop colors into each other they don't bleed out too much and water down the original color.

I worked from top to bottom on a slightly tilted surface putting down pure color and always keeping the lower edge wet.  You have to clean your brush thoroughly between colors or you will get mud.  You also have to drop in your colors in a way that you do not have all three colors meet and mingle in one area.  This also would produce mud.  Do not let the edges of the wet blue and wet yellow meet directly or you will get a green sky.  Lay down the reds and place your yellows inside these areas to avoid mixing with the blue. 

After the initial sky was completely dry, I went back in with some blue in areas I wanted to strengthen.  This gives more contrast and makes the pinks and yellows pop.  You have to do this with a very light touch, because with strong color the pigment tends to lay on top of the paper and can be easily picked up if your brush is too wet.

For the poles and foreground, I really should have just mixed together the three primaries to get a dark that would be more harmonious with my painting.  However, my puddles were too wet to apply a strong dark and I was impatient to finish, so I used sepia instead.  If I paint it again, I will mix my dark from the sky colors as the shadows would reflect these.

Joy and blessings,

Bright New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone!!  2016 was a year filled with art - learning, experimenting and growing.  I took numerous online classes and met loads of new artist friends from all over the world.  It really is great fun to share with and learn from such a wide range of talent! 

Most of my work this year has been in watercolor and has been done in art journals.  I have so many 'in-progress' journals that they litter my work area.  Everything from spiral-bound journals that I purchased to hand-sewn journals that I made.  And I am loving it!  Working small gives me the opportunity to experiment without fear.  I can make notes in the margins and 'rehearse' my painting strategy before continuing.

Why so many journals at once?  Well, there is that logical side that has to be appeased - that need to organize my thoughts and processes.  Each journal has it's own purpose and 'theme'.  And (let's be honest here) I can't seem to resist trying out new papers and formats.  There - I said it!  😜😊

With some of the paintings and projects I have shared in Facebook groups, I have been asked how I did certain things.  I am happy to share anything that might help someone else along their journey.  It is also good to write down my process so that I can remember myself!  As soon as I move on to the next painting my mind focuses on the present and what came before grows a bit fuzzy.

But it takes time to recount the steps I took and later, when I want to review them myself, they are a bit hard to track down.  So I have decided to get back to using my blog regularly for posting my work and my process.  That way I can find the info easily and can just refer my friends and family to a particular post. My sister-in-law, Margaret, visited this fall and we had a wonderful day painting together.  She is continuing on her watercolor journey and this will give her a resource, as well.

So, if you are interested and want to follow along, just use the handy-dandy sign up tool on the right-hand side of your screen to sign up to receive emails letting you know when there is a new post.  I don't have any advertising on my site and am not going to spam you.  This is just a place for me to share with those who are interested in my work.  And if you like what you see or find the information helpful, it would be so lovely if you would leave a comment and let me know.  I kind of got out of the habit of posting because I seldom heard from anyone.  But it is a useful tool for me, too, so I will try to maintain it with a little more regularity.

Joy and blessing and HAPPY NEW YEAR!