Thursday, November 25, 2021

Better Left Alone

Marji's Tree, watercolor 7"x10" 

When will I ever really learn that sometimes watercolor is better left alone? I had a good thing going here, or at least good enough. Everything was rendered in that impressionistic, loose style that I am always seeking. 

But then I proceeded to kill the maple with kindness by adding extra layers of reds and oranges that ultimately took over in their heaviness. On the other hand, the bare tree trunks on the right (cottonwood?) and the snaggle of green bushes below, I was still pretty happy with. 

So I cropped the photo to take the emphasis off the maple and shift it to the cottonwood trunks (see below). That doesn't really save the painting, but I'll still put it into the mail for my friend Marji, who had shared the photo I was painting from.

And maybe next time I'll remember to leave it alone for a bit before I decide whether to keep going. 

Marji's Trees, 5.5" x 8" watercolor 


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

It's Good to Stretch Ourselves

Little Cabin in the Woods
8 x 10" watercolor on Arches 100% cotton cold press 

A friend asked me to paint from a photo he's taken of his family's lake home. I agreed, but then I put the "assignment" off for several months because I was afraid of it. Mostly afraid of those trees. I worried about how to paint them without going into too much detail, or "telling too much of the story," as watercolorists like to say. 

The friend politely nudged me a few weeks ago and reminded me he wanted to give the painting to his son for a Christmas gift. So I put my big-girl painter pants on and went for broke, trying to channel Andy Evansen, whose trees are just so darned delightful. 

First I created a draft painting (see below), or a color study, with the main goals to a) figure out what colors to use and b) figure out how to portray the trees in a loose, semi-abstract fashion. With this study I didn't even try to nail the correct perspective on the house. I wasn't worried about my ability to do that.  

Darned if I didn't really, really like the trees on that first draft -- so much so that if I had drawn the house in correct perspective, I'd have been able to call the painting done. 

See what I mean? I just love love love those trees! But of course the house--not so much. It was just a place-holder for color.

So I made myself go on to the second painting (very top), hoping to employ the learning I'd experienced with the first painting. And I have to say--I'm kinda pleased. 

 You know, there's hardly anything better than a little bit of an art-high. 

Thank you, friend, for asking me to stretch myself. 


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...