Tag Archives: Watercolor

Sunday Morning

This morning I had one goal in mind:  paint.  With a gloomy sky here on the California coast, the damp and cold penetrate you to the bone.  Once it leaves, it’s a great big sunny day ahead!  So, while waiting for the fog to dissipate, I took a few pictures of a bouquet I put together of chamomile flowers and small, red carnations in a rectangular glass base.  I didn’t do a value study because I wanted to look at the colors – light, dark, and so on – to see what I could produce.

I penciled in the basic drawing, took some notes of the colors and mixed this and that, testing them on a scrap of paper.  Looking at the vase, I saw the different shades of color through the glass with water and without water, as well as the water line and edges of the vase.  Chamomile leaves are multi-lobed and floppy; carnation leaves are rather spiky.  Chamomile flowers are happy, daisy-like flowers, and quite small.  Carnations are upright.  Both are really lovely!

Process was like my last two flower paintings – start with the large areas of color and move into details.  Overall, it worked here, until I started getting into the hodge-podge of leaves.  I think I should have simplified their masses of color, but I didn’t.  I like the negative painting I accomplished for the chamomile flowers, as well as the edges along the bouquet where the white flowers have to merge into something.  The carnations were far more difficult than I thought, and once more, I made something more complicated and tight than I would like to see as “my” style.

Nonetheless, I feel that this painting is a moderate success.  I was patient and let the washes dry, working from lighter to more dark, thinking about white space and negative painting.  And I still have a bouquet of flowers to enjoy!


Time Rolling By

I don’t know if you experience this, but it seems to be a common theme.  Once you know that you have vacation ahead, you realize just how tired you are!  Tired of work, tired of the people you work with, and just plain tired!  With retirement coming up, I am even more frustrated by my job and its hours, some of the silly things that occur.  I am also tired of some of the people and looking forward to not being around them.  That’s life, and change is good, as are the constants in daily life.  Look for your blessings every day – I really believe this, and try to do it, without losing perspective, either.

Last weekend 11 trees were trimmed and pruned; 5 were completely removed.  For the first time in years, the back half of the house has daylight, not artificial, as a main light source.  I bought a plant to see how it will do, between the dogs and the poor soil.  (Poor plant!)  It’s a penstemon, which is drought-tolerant.  It’s a lovely, cheerful flower.  I put it under the dogs’ noses to let them smell it, and then told them “bad”.  Let’s see how it survives!

In addition to dealing with tree removal and pruning, I have been in a real funk about my painting.  After a disastrous series of watercolors, I just put everything aside for about a week.  Still, I did other things, like go for walks and continue to recover from the house renovation by moving things here and there and unpacking more boxes.  All this upheaval!  It’s a slow process, but it’s getting done.  Of course, there are still a million other things I could delude myself into doing as “necessary” – which really are, but not vital to my existence!

So, after a week of blithering and dithering and feeling like a lost soul, I sat down, once more, in the studio.  I took out a large palette of colors (the key to which is still missing), and decided to do some flowers in vases.  I like flowers, so it seemed a perfect subject.  I worked in the main color areas first – after doing a line drawing, but no value study (a habit I need to establish) – top to bottom.  After that, I looked some more.  And some more.  Then I began to add details, all the while working very hard to think ahead and in the present at the same time.  I produced two paintings I liked.

And finally, I had a Friday afternoon.  Watercolor class or just do what I wanted?  I chose the latter.  Doing what I wanted was more interesting and more challenging and more needed than anything else.  Into the car, down to an art store, down to the nursery, and finally the bookstore.  I bought 4 paint brushes, 1 penstemon, 2 watercolor magazines and 3 books.  I drank a cup of coffee.  Finally, some time of my own, some time to think, and some time to recover from this sense of ennui that has been my companion for many days.  Yay!


I love mornings!  They are the time of day when everything is new and fresh, and each day is a gift.  Add to that I fall asleep at 9, and you can tell I am a morning person for sure.  Usually I spend my mornings reading the news – but that is becoming less interesting as I change my usual morning habits to spending anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour sketching or doing some form of watercolor, structured, unstructured, from an object, a picture, or my imagination.  Hopeful that I don’t dump my paint brush into my morning coffee (believe me, it has happened more than once!), here are some pieces from the past few weeks.

Doing these paintings and drawings every day is resulting in some good experiences and increased confidence in what I can do.  There are times everything sucks – no perspective, no contrast, whatever – and then there are times when it comes together.  And times when that proverbial “ah ha!” moment hits, and what has been intellectually clear is now clear in the mind-muscle-eye coordination when rendering paint.  Occasionally I use line, other times I don’t and just paint, thinking ahead to figure out what goes where.  Stepping back to critique things is also a worthwhile endeavor – fresh eyes after a few days.

In a couple of weeks – no school!  I’ll be free until I pick up 3 weeks of ESL at the end of July.  Until then, painting, continued cleaning up and unpacking after the flood, and a trip or two here or there.  Summer awaits!

Covered in Paint

A workshop all day Saturday, playing with Yupo (a plastic paper) and masking fluid.  What did I accomplish?  A familiarity with two unknown – unfamiliar – items.  I produced not a thing worth talking about, and truth to tell, if a friend at the workshop hadn’t shown up, I would have been down in the dumps – I FORGOT TO BRING MY PALETTE OF PAINTS!

Oh, well.  But, it did get me rolling, and this has been a weekend spent immersed in watercolors and studying techniques by watching videos on YouTube, specifically, those by Rick Surowicz.  I followed two of his, one called “Creek’s Edge” and the other called “The Inn at Brandywine.”  His stuff is great.  The question is, will I carry his lessons into my own paintings, not copies?

So, here is what I did this weekend – the first is the “Creek’s Edge” and the second is my rendition of the “Inn at Brandywine.”

On the Way Out the Door

I am heading out this morning at 8 a.m. to a watercolor workshop down toward L.A.  With so many things in boxes, waiting to be placed somewhere in the studio, I’m lucky to have anything to take with me.  It’s amazing how simple the flood was (we had a pipe break, FYI), how long it took to repair all the damage and do the upgrades (why not since the whole house was torn up), and how much longer it seems it will take to put our lives back together.  Like finding a specific brush or some paper or whatever.  I did some unpacking yesterday, and today, no . . . watercolor instead.  We were joking that it will probably take longer to unpack than any other part of this home repair adventure!

It’s been a nutty week.  Crazy end-of-the-school-year stuff.  Testing.  Stressed out kids.  I can hardly wait to be done with it all, and even more so, done with working and having a life during retirement.  To make life productive on a personal level, I’ve tried to draw or paint every morning before heading out to work.  Simple sketches, no lines, using watercolors as the way to do things.  Nothing really exciting is being produced, but what is good is the daily practice.  It does make things work better and it adds to a store of knowledge that comes only with practice.  Here are some of the things I did this week.

As well as putting my art supplies and books back together, my photography stuff is slowly getting straightened out.  I picked up some film I had processed.  I took both my Nikon Df and my Oly OM4-T with me to the botanical gardens down the road.  Film always has a quality to it which digital lacks.  I was excited to see how the auto exposure feature worked on the Oly as I only recently acquired the camera and had a test batch of Kodak Ultramax 400 in it.  I used a 35-70mm zoom, and was really pleased with a number of the photos.  Everything was in bloom – or ready to bloom – so I tried to catch as many colors as possible, from deep reds to pink to yellow and white.   I am really glad to have space now to keep my Pakon 135 set up, and the laptop I use exclusively with it, in its own space, plugged in and ready to roll.

Now, look at my check list and get on with the day!  While I am gone, J is gonna be brewing.  What happy little campers we will be at the end of the day!