Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Love Those Palms

We need the rain, but I so like it when there's a little blue above. And I never tire of looking at those palms against the sky. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

When In Doubt, Crop

Sometimes you wrestle with a painting and it just doesn't work (see below). But occasionally you can crop it and find the magic. I think I found the magic in the crop above. 

While I worked on this painting, I thought about my good and long-time friend Mary J., whose geraniums are featured. That's such a bonus of painting the things you love--the good feelings about the subject and the people associated with it, even when the entire painting doesn't work out. Thank you, Mary. Did you feel the love? 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Patio Friends2

Patio Friends2
10" x 14" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton w/c paper

I decided to take another crack at my Patio Friends, hoping to slow down even more and let the water do more of its own magic. I tried a larger image (10" x 14" instead of 9 x 6.5"), thinking it would be easier to have the larger areas for laying in some juicy washes, letting them dry, and then covering them with one or more layers of other color washes. I wanted to convey the intense California sun, so I also used some liquid frisket for to preserve plenty of white spaces for conveying the sun-kissed areas in contrast to the deep shadows. 

Once again, though, I rushed the process. I didn't wait for the layers to dry, so many of the shapes are not as varied as I wanted them to be in color. And I ended up taking the frisket off too soon and then unintentionally painted over most of the white spaces. (I may come in with some gouache highlights to gain those white highlights.) 

At this point I think I like the first Patio Friends better, but I'll let them both sit awhile before I make any final judgements...or adjustments.  

Saturday, January 11, 2020

"Hello, Wild Thing 2"
watercolor, 5 x 7" Arches 100% cotton

For this version of the iris I was more intentional about layering paint on the paper, rather than mixing colors on the palette. I was after more variety and brilliance in the flowers than in the “Hello, Wild Thing” painting that I posted a few days ago. I think I made a tiny bit of progress. However, I also know I rushed the process, sometimes not waiting for one layer to dry before adding another layer, which led to some muddying—overstating the story—rather than understating it and trusting the wager to add its magic. Just another day on the learning curve.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Patio Friends

"Patio Friends"
Watercolor on 9" x 6.25" Arches cold press paper, 100% cotton 

With this painting I tried to slow down, observe more carefully before each stroke, and just paint shapes. In other words, forget that these are flowers in pots; rather, just paint shapes that vary in color and range from light to dark. In that sense, it feels like I made a breakthrough in my ability to see. 

I started with the leaves, then the pots, and then the flowers, before adding deeper shadows here and there—sort of like the paint-by-number kits I liked to use as a kid. Because I wanted to preserve the shapes I create, I waited for each layer of paint to dry, which is very opposite my usual tendency for spontaneous wet-on-wet painting.

The result is admittedly stilted—too controlled. Watercolor can be so magical when juicy washes are allow more free rein. I’m not sure I like the final result any more than this color study I made initially:

There has to be a happy medium. I hope I can find it. But I do appreciate the deeper level of seeing that I experienced with this painting. 

More About the Sally Project

I met Sally forty years ago when I was twenty and she was the one in her sixties. I was a waitress at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant on...