Thursday Morning

This has been quite a week or so.  I am so glad I get the next ten days off from work, starting at 5 p.m. tonight.  I am just about done in!

You could say it began two weeks ago.  A pipe broke under the shower pan in the master bathroom.  Three days later, half the carpet in the bedroom is gone, the shower stall is destroyed, and the leak is fixed.  Now all that remains is arguing with the insurance company, choosing tile for the bathroom, ordering tile for the bathroom, ordering flooring for bathroom and back third of the house, painting the bathrooms and bedroom, and installing new vanities, possibly one or two new toilets, new mirrors, and new lighting in the bathrooms.  Maybe it will be done by the end of April.  The other half is going bonkers with all the estimates and people coming and going.  Besides that, I had a 3-day painting workshop (yay!), a nasty cold and flu, and now Josh has the cold.

So, what is going to happen during the break?  A few appointments.  Lots of art if I am lucky.  Lots of photography, too.  Choices being made for tile and paint – the flooring is already chosen – and writing big checks for all this stuff.  And researching what “contiguous” means in context of California insurance law – but that is another story!

And, of course, organizing all the bits and pieces of my life that have fallen apart over the last few weeks.  I never realized how disorganization is like a perpetual motion machine – it is entropy at its worst!


Sky, Interrupted

This morning I sat down to practice skies.  If I were to do the ones in my neighborhood, they would be blue.  That’s all.  Just blue.  Clouds are not a common sight where I live!

Anyway, so I scooted around YouTube and found some videos that had some good ideas.  One showed how to do lifting with tissue, advising not to scrub too hard on lightweight paper.  Important to know – I scrubbed a bit of the paper off.  Others used some rather wild color combinations, or certainly ones I haven’t thought about using.  Add to that, I wasn’t trying to accomplish anything more than playing, so it was altogether a fun way to start the morning.

This first one is a combination of Sodalite Genuine, by Daniel Smith, Ultramarine Blue, and Quinacridone Gold.  The Sodalite is a color I picked up on a whim, put in my palette, but had never used until this morning.  It granulates wonderfully, and is a good charcoal grey.  I think I will be using it again.

Then I started another one, wetting the paper once, letting it soak in a second time, and then wetting it again.  I am using Canson XL watercolor paper, which has a nice texture, is about 90#, and is a student grade paper.  I like it because it is working out really well for my needs.

After wetting the paper, I decided to start with a gradated wash, using the reverse side of another painting (to save paper, eh?).  The brush I used was a flat with rather stiff bristles, and the result was lines throughout the wash.  Oh, well.  Then I simply lifted the color off.  Then I began adding Carbazole Violet and Quinacridone Gold.

And then the phone rang!  My brother and his wife in Wisconsin calling, to wish us well for the holidays . . . . the painting was forgotten for the next several minutes, and this is the result.

Regardless as to whether or not this last looks like clouds, the colors have a lot of potential for a dramatic sky some day.  I really like the colors!  I like both, actually.

White space.  No mud.  I must be doing something right!


Nothing like the power of  the crop tool in your photo processing software.  This is a pretty bad sketch, but it was part of a lot of sketches done at the local mall.  On the original page it is all lost in space, but with a square crop, it turned out okay – just okay – but much more presentable.

This morning, I met up with a friend and we went up to one of my favorite local places, the botanical garden a few miles from my house.  Before you knew it, 2.5 hours had passed, filled with sketching, painting, chit-chat, and coffee.  Not a bad way to spend a sunny morning!

Back to Work – Let the Stress Begin!

I had all of last week off – 10 days total – and in that time period we celebrated two Thanksgiving, did a whole lot of baking and cooking, saw friends and family.  In between, I managed to sketch and / or watercolor everyday.  In that time period, I had a lot of fun and found myself feeling really glad to be painting again.  Of course, some stuff was pure rubbish, but others produced a sense of satisfaction.  Even better, I could begin to see progress.  The connection between mind and hand and color and paper is beginning to return.

But now – can I keep this up?  Certainly not at the pace I was doing it.  But I have made a decision:  I will use my photos as the basis for sketches and paintings, and try to turn out two a week minimum, perhaps three.  When will I do it?  In the mornings, while I drink my coffee, and instead of looking at the depressing global situation, I’ll look at lines and colors instead.  Seems like a good deal, if you ask me!


Round Things: Highlights & Shadows

Painting light and dark – contrast – values – is a hard one for me in watercolor.  I want to do it wet-in-wet, but maybe layering will work better.  I just don’t know.  So, when in doubt, look to YouTube!

Here is one video I found that I think does a very good job on both highlights and shadow, discussing reflected light and so on.

Another video which is also good, with a look at only the shadows on a spherical object, discusses the use of analogous colors to create the shadow on the surface opposite the light source.  This video can be seen below.

Because I was having problems with making grapes believable (see here), I decided to research highlights, shadows, and round things.  These two videos proved very helpful.  Rather than describing them in detail, they are definitely worthwhile watching.  The top one addresses shape and shadows on the object, as well as the cast shadow.  The lower one uses analogous colors to deepen the shadow on the sphere itself, which keeps the color of the sphere rich, rather than neutralized by a complementary color or an added grey, such as Payne’s or Davy’s.

That said, I spent a bit of time on these old spheres today and yesterday.  Here are some of the results of my practice.

The image above is based on the exercises in the first video.  The ones with the red and blue spheres are the most believable, I think.  The spheres and shadows are essentially wet-in-wet, with the final thin lines of darkest shadow done with a finely pointed brush on a dried image.

Here is another round of studies, trying slightly different techniques, such as wetting the paper first, then applying color.  The techniques followed were the same as in the first video, with greater success.

Here, the spheres were made as in the first video, but then I went in to darken the shadows using analogous colors.  The blue spheres were done in ultramarine blue, and the deeper shadows were a glaze of indanthrene blue.  Below the 4 spheres is a bunch of spheres, sort of like grapes.  The spheres were done with quinacridone rose and ultramarine blue, with analogous layers in the shadows to include carbazole violet and then Payne’s grey (see note on lower right of image).  The shadows were done wet, and linked to the grapes to bleed color in.  I deliberately left areas of white, even if they didn’t make sense, just to create areas of white between grape and grape, and grape and shadow.

Finally, the above image.  I have a bunch of oranges I want to paint, so I thought it was now time to incorporate all my lessons into one little orange.  The one on the left is the example, with, I think, the best orange colors.  These were hansa yellow, pyrrol orange, and organic vermillion – all three are colors new to my palette.  The ink is carbon ink from Sailor on the left, and just a fountain pen with regular black ink on the right, just if you are curious.

My orange is my favorite of all the exercises as it pleases me the most.  The grapes are OK, but they are glazed, which I am not too excited about.  It could be that I am just not adept at glazing.  Anyway, there we have it:  Thanksgiving morning exercises.