two landscapes

ImageThese two landscapes created themselves with no real end point idea in mind; I just started drawing and let them develop themselves on the page.

With “Lupines” I concentrated mostly on the clouds, and worked with a lot of gold tones and a little green. I started using some violets for shading and pretty soon I began to see lupines, so I went with that. The path just created itself as I drew. I like the visual texture of this piece, and the way the direction of the path follows the diagonal of the clouds. That was totally unplanned.


“Tree Grove has the minimalist feel I tend toward, and I love the negative white space. It reminds me of a rest stop on Interstate 5 in southern California, just north of the Grapevine, which looks nothing like this landscape, but there is something in the way the trees are clustered, and the way the mountains fold together, which reminds me of that place, which is noisy, windy, and not in any way as peaceful as this landscape.

I tend to work very light when starting out, and then do a lot of layering to create richer color. This process works well for me, as I am always looking at the overall composition, even from the outset. It’s not always successful, but usually it works well for me.

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slope1212This is my newest watercolor, created with a few layers of dioxazine purple. First I established the horizon line and dripped on some wet, wet purple that I let drip down however it decided to drip, holding the paper up at an angle to make sure it at least all went in the same direction. When it was still wet, I charged in more purple from the top. When it was still just slightly wet, I added in the darker drips and the sky. That was it. I am thinking it needs a teeny, tiny building up on the right, but haven’t totally decided to put one in. Really, I like it the way it is. It says land to me, and slope and rock wall, and even water. I love the lines and texture, and that it is slightly realistic, very abstract, and totally monochromatic.

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As a result of some watercolor sessions with two friends, I am becoming interested in water and how to paint it with some degree of realism. After a couple of attempts with watercolor, I know I have a way to go. This painting is inspired by the photograph taken by one of these friends at Bodega Bay. There was a boat in the photograph which I conveniently left out. The three of us painted the same scene with me leading the way (as if I knew what I was doing). The rocks actually were added because the texture of the paint suggested them; they weren’t in the photograph itself. Instead, there were some grasses on little peninsulas. Overall, I like this, but the water needs something. I do like that I left all that white on the water; it looks like sunlight.

I’ve also started a colored pencil drawing inspired by a photograph I know I took myself somewhere along the California coast, somewhere between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay.

With colored pencils I tend to work very lightly, laying layer upon layer upon layer, always working on the whole composition at once, so I can see where I’m going with it. This one is only partly done, but is starting to come together. I think the perspective is good. The water will be darker, the beach in front of the rocks a little darker, and some of the rocks need more shadowing, but I think it’s going to be a keeper.

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negative trees

My ongoing adventure with negative painting with watercolors has resulted in this interesting treescape (my new word). It was done in two sessions a week apart. The first step was to drop some color onto wet watercolor paper, in this case a combination of Winsor blue, lemon yellow, and dioxazine violet, my current favorite combination of colors. I didn’t have anything particular in mind, just dropped the color on in a random configuration. Typical for me, the color was fairly light and concentrated across the center of the paper, with most of the edges left white.

A week later, I drew in some tree trunks and branches and the contour of what might be the bottom of the leafy area of the trees. I worked hard to ignore the color on the paper. I didn’t draw the rocks or the horizon, just the tree shapes. Then I painted, first the whole area “behind” the tree trunks, up to the leaves, using a blue wash. Then I added the darker area that spans across the background, painting in the rock and grassy shapes at the same time. And that was it.

I very much like the ethereal quality of this piece, the ambiguity of the leafy parts… where does one tree end and another begin?… and the simple but slightly jagged quality of the rock shapes.

Just for kicks, I decided to do another one of these. I sorted through my assorted collection of unfinished work and found a darkish, reddish-bluish “pour” that I had done several weeks earlier and didn’t know what to do with. Usually I draw on these, but this one just didn’t seem to lend itself to pen and ink because the color was a bit dark and I thought the pen and ink would disappear, so I decided to try a little more negative painting, this time without any drawing first.

I mixed up some red using three different reds, and some blue using three different blues, and started in with the space between the trees, then added the rest of the darker details. I don’t like this one as much as the lighter one, and I think it could use a little cropping, but I do like the color combination and all that red.

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This landscape was done in watercolor class a few weeks ago. Our instructor had talked about how colors in the distance are softer, lighter, and more muted, then demonstrated doing a landscape with a series of washes: sky, distant mountains, foothills, and foreground. Then she turned us loose. This is my version.

I started with the blue wash, using my current favorite “mix” for sky: a combination of cerulean blue and winsor blue. The mountains are dioxazine violet, the green hills are a mix of terra verte, permanent sap, and olive green, and the foreground is largely yellow ochre, a color I had forgotten about for some time and am again starting to use more often. These layered washes went on one right after the other, without waiting for any drying but also not blatantly mixing them.

Once they were mostly dry, I did those little overlay washes, then put in the details. I love the way this reminds me of hilly farmland, how there is the hint of gentle gullies, and the way the shadows are clear but muted. And I love the way the brownish yellow splotches in the foreground suggest grass without being all detailed and fussy. Right now, this is my favorite watercolor to just look at.

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cool reflections

I’m pretty sure this is my new favorite watercolor; I love the composition, love the colors, love the white space, and totally love the rocks and the gently fading purple and blue.

I painted this one afternoon during workshop time at the Paradise Art Center. The gallery there is having a June watercolor show with a “Reflections” theme, so I’ve been playing around with drips and blends and various color schemes. Lately I am very partial to this combination of Winsor Blue and Dioxazine Purple.

I started with wet on wet, holding the paper horizontally in the air, with the “horizon line” parallel to the table. Along that line I dropped on the purple and blue with my trusty #30 brush, letting the blue drip down one side and the purple drip down the other side. When the blending was done and the paint almost dry, I filled in the tree details and the negative painting for the rock shapes. And that was it! Success!

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negative painting

I usually have more than one painting in process at any one time; currently, I’m playing around with some combinations of techniques…. wet on wet, dry on dry, poured paint, blowing through a straw, and negative painting. I have to say that I have definitely not perfected the negative painting technique… not by a long shot. Somehow I am either too timid with the color, or I don’t have enough drawing to be able to get the paint in the right place to define the shapes correctly, or else I overwork the spaces and then they get muddy or just plain icky looking. This painting of peonies was begun by slopping some yellow, red, and blue paint over a simple drawing, then blowing some of the paint off the edges. I also sprinkled some salt on the leaf areas, for texture. That was the easy part. The hard part, just started, is using negative painting to define the flower petals and the leaves. So far… so good…..

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