Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Bodega Bay
10" x 14" watercolor
100% cotton Arches cold press paper

Still stuck in realistic mode and still can't say why, but riding the waves. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Stuck in Realistic Representation. Why?

Big Sur Revisited
8" x 10" watercolor
100% cotton Arches cold press paper

So I tried to apply the learning I wrote about last time in Shari Blaukoph's class to this painting of the Big Sur coastline. I used a reference photo I'd taken a while ago. This isn't my first painting from the photo; I've posted a couple of others here. I had also posted the quick painting I did in my sketchbook that you see at the bottom of this post.

With this most recent painting above, I did learn some things:

--If you're out of raw sienna, quin gold can work, but it's a little brassy so you have to tone it down with the other primaries.

--Don't be too enthusiastic with the final calligraphic touches of dark lines. I went overboard with a lot of parallel marks on the rocks, and since there's phthalo blue in those marks, I can't lift them out. I can certainly darken more areas to cover those marks, and I probably will, but I hope I don't darken too many areas. Since the sky and water in the background are dark, I don't want to many darks in the foreground, too.

I have to say, I still like the painting below best that I did a while ago from the same reference photo; I painted it very quickly and intuitively in a sketchbook, without really thinking too much about what I was doing. 

And ultimately I do not think I want to try to paint as realistically as the top painting. Shari Blaukoph's paintings are not super realistic, and that's why I like her style. But for some reason of late, I'm leaning more and more toward realistic representation. I think it's just a phase. I want it to just be a phase. But I think I'm stuck in this mode because I'm trying to learn something. What, I'm not exactly sure.


Monday, November 14, 2022

Rocks and Sea with the Help of Shari Blaukopf


Rocks and Sea from Shari Blaukopf's demo
6" x 8" watercolor

I learn from taking online courses from other artists, but I don’t like to re-create paintings from their reference photos and their demonstrations. Even if I like the final product, I can’t call it my own, because it’s their photo, their composition, their methodology.

But I make myself do it anyway because I always learn important things in the doing. Here’s a painting I worked on today in imitation of a demo by Canadian Shari Blaukopf, my favorite watercolorist/teacher in her new coursecalled “Rugged Rocks and Sea.” Her final painting is sooo much better; even so, here’s what I learned (or maybe already knew but got it into deeper into my muscle memory) by doing my imperfect imitation:

·   --Basing a painting on triads (three primary colors) with maybe an extra color or two can be a great way to unify a painting.

·    --Varying washes from cool to warm and back again is a good way to keep the viewer (and painter) interested.

·    --Getting too dark too early limits the way you can add polish/details at the end with quick calligraphic strokes of dark colors. (Going too dark too early is a perennial problem of mine, but I’m learning.)

·    --Raw sienna is a transparent workhorse of a color to have in your palette. It helps add warmth without always having to add yellow, which can lend a garish tone to a painting.

And that’s just off the top of my head. Other learnings are taking place, I just know it—learnings that I can’t quite yet articulate.

Shari Blaukopf is a fine teacher. Her online courses are inexpensive, and you can revisit them as much as you like once you’ve paid the fee. For some of the courses, if you post your painting, she offers feedback. She’s a generous person, and one of those who can talk while she paints, explaining what she’s doing and why. I highly recommend her online courses.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

From the Sketchbook: Private Beauty, Public Spaces


San Francisco Street near Presidio
8" x 8" on Fluid cold press paper, Field Watercolor Journal

The neighborhoods near the Presidio are posh and unaffordable for most of us. But the well-tended homes offer beauty for free for anyone who walks by. I was struck by these abundantly blooming rose bushes outside the home on the left and the way the yellow flowers were echoed by the yellow home on the right. 

I am trying to get back to more regular, quick sketches these days. With stand-alone paintings, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make them "good," but with the sketchbooks, the goal is just to capture a quick essence. 

The sketch may serve as a color or value study for a "real" painting...or it may just make me smile some day in the future. When I open this page I'll remember the fabulous day I had with my mate as we ate at Scoma's and then walked from Fisherman's Wharf to the Tunnel Tops Park in the Presidio.  

Monday, November 7, 2022

Last Call for the Cones--For Now


Last Call for the Cones
Watercolor and Ink
on Fluid Cold Press paper

It's just hard to let go of fall. These were cones I'd spotted in Iowa in October, just before a frost. But even out here in northern CA, the last-call-for-fall cues are here: the red sweet gum tree leaves are starting to lose their luster. And it'll be dark tonight by 5:15. 

Hang on--we're going to need all the color we can get. That's why I've been lingering over these pinks and purples the past week. But it's time to move on. And we're starting to get some rain out here. And that's a good thing. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Last of the Last

Fall's Last Cones
9" x 9" watercolor
Fluid cold press watercolor paper

I wanted to try the coneflowers again after the last post. Thought I could do better on the petals, at least, and I think I did. This one's more formal and it's a stand-alone painting vs. a sketch in my notebook. Maybe the sketch is more spontaneous. One thing for sure: I totally enjoyed being immersed in both of them. Yay for art! 

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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...