Friday, November 30, 2007

back at it ...

A little (1/16th of a sheet, 5.5x7) sketch done from my Pa. snowstorm photos. I was trying to concentrate on more neutral shades in the distant foliage; and unintentionally got a nice halo-like bleed around the larger trees on the right--probably couldn't re-create it if I tried!
This study has too much "blank" space to me--not enough tension I guess between what's there and the negative space ... Perhaps if the road was not so steep. And I think I made the line of grass in the middle ground too straight! It is straight in the photo, but that's no excuse. May try this again, but, as a subject, it doesn't seems so promising to me ...
And anyway I have a bagful of pinecones that I want to start trying to draw and paint!
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Saturday, November 17, 2007

dunes in snow

Putting these aside as done for now. I was trying for a more neutral palette (!)--but neutrals built from mixing or overlaying colors, rather than from the tube. When it comes to neutrals, though, looks like I need to stick to to the tubes: when I put down a violet or yellow or blue, I don't want to lose it!
May try, as Sue suggested, a limited palette, a good exercise though one I don't subject myself to often enough--I usually jump in without a plan: sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I have found, in classes and workshops, that having some restraint imposed on your usual habits can produce wonderful results.
I'll give some thought to which colors to use and try to done another over the weekend.

This scene of a road in Delaware County will be the next subject in this flurry of little studies.
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Friday, November 16, 2007

next ...

A final, for now, try at the trees, with snow this time.
Next: a dune in snow. The top one was loosely drawn first; the bottom one, where the distant trees are already muddy looking!--I went back in too many times already, trying to get that warm, dark gray--wasn't.
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Had this frame I stashed away sometime and decided to do a third tree study: here's the very nearly finished product.
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Sunday, November 11, 2007

is it done?

Not too happy with the fine branches: I used a bamboo pen dipped into pools of watercolor, I think it could work but 1) I need more practice getting the wetness right and 2) I need to draw more graceful lines! May just stop here on this study ... Thought of adding some trunks and branches in the background trees (oh, that's what that blob or orange and pink is!), I'm stymied on this for now.
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

beginning study 2

Here's the first pass on my little diptych: on the left, a mix of wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry painting. I washed out an evergreen I had painted in the left-corner foreground, and also some unconvincing and distracting foliage from the right corner. It lifted really well--one of the characteristics of Fabriano paper--especially considering it was green!
On the right, not much yet, the first pass of blue in the study I'm going to build by glazing.

Second step: On the left I've repainted some of the trunk that was washed out when I removed the evergree. On the right I've added a wash or raw sienna, and I put in some shadows, changing their direction from what they are in the photo ...
I'm going to stop with these for today, while they're what Jan Hart would call adolescents, and think them over.
I especially need to figure out how I'm going to treat/achieve the network of very fine branches. May draw them in with a bamboo pen nib; or perhaps add as the very last step with a water soluble lead pencil, blurring some lines and leaving other sharp.
May need to attempt some studies of just such tracery before proceeding.
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Friday, November 09, 2007

So here are the three small studies. Each has things I like and things I don't like ... Tried to approach each slightly differently: the second is warmer, the third cooler.
I'm having some technical difficulties, so can't do it today, but I will post individual, closer-up shots of each.
Getting ready to start on the next studies--I hope to do them this weekend. Was thinking today that I'd do only two this time, around 7.5x11, and I'll do one alla prima--that is, like I did these: in one shot--and for the other I'll do glazing--putting down one color, letting it dry, then painting another layer over it, building up and adjusting layers of color.
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Thursday, November 08, 2007


This will be the subject for my second set of studies. I saw this from the car window ... and loved how the two trees in the center seemed twinned. This one should be easy to name.
A lot of warm, lacy branches here ... maybe a dry-brush technique? That's an option I never think of ...
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change of subject ...

Time to turn to winter subjects. Starting with bare trees--and their shadows: a favorite subject, one I want to begin practicing.
I have a number of photos from last Valentine's day snowstorm. Peter drove me around early in the morning so I could get some good reference shots. But this photo is actually just from his front yard!
A la Jan Hart: here are the photo, the value sketch, and not a painting, but a small study (it's about 3x5.5). This is the first of what I intend to be at least 3 watercolor studies ... I've chosen 4 photos that I want to go through this process with before embarking on a larger painting. I want to try different color schemes and techniques, like how to make the tree branches look lacy or how to make the light holes in the shadows.
(Unlike Jan, though, I haven't titled this. Suggestions? Jan comes up with a title for each painting before or while she's doing the value sketch, on the principle that having a name helps you stay focused on what you're trying to convey. I admit I'm not, or can't be, that cerebral about it; maybe I don't want to give my left brain anything to grab hold of. My left brain's a terrier. A Skye terrier. )
This value sketch didn't really serve the usual purpose. I mean, happily for me, who always has trouble with values, it's pretty clear in this photo where the darks are! But it was still way worth the 5-10 minutes it took to scribble this ... a little warmup. (There's no comparison, I'm not crazy, but something about this pencil sketch reminds of all the David Hockney drawings I love--and that I have been looking at: I'm totally delighted to see any echo of Hockney, no matter how much of a stretch it is to see it!)
I found a stash of my favorite paper, which I think is unavailable now, Fabriano Artistico--it's got a scratchy surface but the paint sits on top nicely, and it's easy to lift. I took one sheet (22x30) and halved it lengthwise (11x30), then folded it into 4 panels (11x7.5, roughly), so I've got 8 panels to fill with studies. A few I'll further divide, like the one here.
I'm not unhappy with this study! But I see things to change next time: the branches on the tree at left should maybe go off the top of the page, and the horizontal evergreen (cypress?) branches need to be more of a design element. Here I think I was thinking mostly of color mixes and of how the paints would mingle.
I'll try to do two more studies tomorrow.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

glory days

Scrolling through the photos stored on my desktop, I came across these: all photos of paintings done in Carolyn's class. These are all on half sheets (15x22), except the bottles, which is a full sheet (22x30).
These really make me miss that group of painters, who inspired me to commit to more complex and larger paintings, something I never do at home or on my own.
But looking at these also renews my belief in the possibility of growth, that I can improve my painting. Maybe going to New Mexico provoked this reevaluation, or recommitment.
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