Friday, April 27, 2018

Cranes Revisted

"Cranes and Sky"
Gouache in Canson watercolor sketchbook, 140 lb., cold press

Just to prove to myself I don't have to add lines like I did with the images in the last two posts of the Stockman House and the sandhill cranes. A looser approach. 

Another House in the Hood

What do you do when you only like part of a painting? I was happy with that sky and the faint outlines of the trees...

"Frank Lloyd Wright's Stockman House"
Watercolor and ink on 8x8" Coldpress Fluid Watercolor paper 
But the trouble started with the black ink. I was oh-so-close without it -- just needed a small paint brush and patience for the finer details -- but as soon as I started adding ink, I knew it was going to weigh the painting down too much.

When will I learn? 

On the other hand, I was okay with the ink in the preliminary value sketch below....which is probably made it more tempting to add the ink in the second painting above. 

Value Study for "Stockman House"
in Stillman and Birn Sketchbook, Mixed Media, Heavyweight/White/Smooth surface
To ink or not to ink...that seems to be a big question for me these days. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sandhill Cranes

"Sandhill Cranes 2"
watercolor and ink on 6"x4.5" Arches Hot Pressed watercolor paper, 140#
Was it just a few weeks ago that I wrote about my sense that I could see compositions everywhere I went? I was on such a high after those two Scottsdale workshops in gouache and watercolor-sketching. 

Well dang, the honeymoon is over. The painting above was not a labor of love. It was just labor. Nothing happened that surprised me. It's too controlled. I wanted to do this without the ink lines but just couldn't pull it off. 

I painted the one below a few days ago. Same deal: too controlled and those lines just kept getting heavier and heavier.

The good part is the trip last week to Kearney, Nebraska, to see sandhill cranes before they migrate north. At least the paintings can remind me of the magic of hearing and seeing thousands of them. 

I guess it doesn't have to be all about art, does it? 

Plus: I'm sure I learned something with these two paintings. I'm just not sure what yet. 
"Sandhill Cranes 1"
 watercolor and ink in Beta Series Stillman Birn Sketchbook, Mixed Media, 5.5"x8/5"
Extra Heavyweight, Cold Press Surface

Thursday, April 12, 2018


"Orange is the New Joy2"
Micron 01 pen with watercolor on Stonehenge Aqua Hotpress
Sometimes I create images in my sketchbook that I really like, but if the book's pages do not flatten well, it's tough to copy the image on my copier -- which means I can't easily make a card or print of the image. Because it is not flat, a shadow is thrown over it.

Such was the case with the image below, which I created a few months back in my Stillman and Birn Episilon hard-backed sketchbook. 

The other thing I didn't like about the image below is the heavy-handed shadowing with ink lines on the green stem that goes to the left. 

Of course I know there are ways to photoshop those problems away, but that's a skill I have not yet tried to learn. 

So. The top image that you see here is my effort to re-painted the image below. But here's the dilemma with the second image: Nothing surprised me. The washes were more controlled this time and didn't yield the wonder I experienced at what happened below. I certainly didn't have that "Ahhhh!" sense when I was finished like I did the first time around. I also made the flower wider on the left than it should be -- it kinda sorta went "out there" on a little trip of its own, didn't it?

So. While trying to fix one mistake, I made another. 

Re-painting an image from one you've already made is definitely different that making several "drafts" of a composition in which you alter perspective or approach, as I've written about before

Trying to correct the mistakes but otherwise doing the same thing -- well, it just doesn't yield that element of surprise. Yet I'm sure there are artists out there who fine-tune their images with several tries. Any wisdom to offer?  

"Orange is the New Joy1" with Micron 01 pen and watercolor
in Stillman & Birn Sketchbook, 5.5" x 8.5" in., Epsilon Series

Thursday, April 5, 2018

I Can Do This

“Last Call for Winter” watercolor on 7x10” Stonehenge Aqua Hotpress
I found many things to appreciate about the way Amery Bohling taught her watercolor sketching class in March at the Scottsdale Artists’ School. I liked her affable nature, the way the arranged for us to paint at several locations, and her sharing of several valuable techniques for making the most out of the watercolor medium. Maybe most important for me were her demos, when she modeled her use of techniques along with how she chooses subjects for composition.

I’ve struggled with how to use watercolor and certainly with how to choose subject matter, but after watching her paint, I saw potential compositions everywhere. Her “I can do this” spirit rubbed off on me, and I’m happy to say that feeling has lingered.

The image above is my third draft of our house after a snow, for which I used a photo I had taken. The first draft I did in gouache (not shown); the second draft, watercolor, is below. I used my new “dagger” brush (yes, shaped like a dagger with a very fine tip) for shadows. I was sort of happy with the results but felt like I could do better if, like the golf course painting I did in March, I used a larger piece of paper.

I could and maybe should do a fourth draft of this, to work on defining our iconic oak tree more carefully. However, this week we had another four inches of snow, and I don’t want to tempt the gods into thinking we want more. It’s April, after all.

Earlier draft of “Last Call for Winter” watercolor on 5.5”x8.5” Canson Watercolor Cold Press paper 

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