This one is finally done.
It’s closing in on Halloween so I’m creeping around in cemeteries again. This morning was cold and windy and I wasn’t dressed properly so I spent most of my time shivering. Not my best painting but glad I went out. I’ll take a break from looking at this but will probably scrape it off this afternoon.
I hadn’t been out plein air painting in a while so I forced myself to go even though I really wanted to crawl back into bed. I like painting in the city but often times it’s difficult to find a place to stand where I’m not in peoples’ way.
I didn’t realize it’s been over two weeks since I posted anything. I wish I could say that time had been filled with lots and lots of art making and I’ve been to busy to post it, but it hasn’t. I wish I could say I’ve been touring Europe. Nope. Just in a rut I guess.
I’ve drawn a little and varnished a bunch of paintings but nothing worth reporting. I’ve been working on this little painting for a while too. I can’t seem to find a point where I’m really happy with it. I’m working from a photo rather than from life so I’m hoping that’s what’s been giving me difficulty.
And after lunch I did a little watercolor sketch just to force myself outside and painting.
The past few days I’ve had a lot of domestic chores so I’ve had little time to paint. I find a half an hour here and half an hour there, and I do a little sketch in my sketchbook. Here are two pages from the past couple of days:
This morning I ventured out of my backyard since I just painted the pumpkins yesterday.
I went back to transparent watercolors this afternoon and back to good ol’ Arches paper. This is 9×12″
I thought I’d try working with opaques again in watercolor. I watched Burton Silverman’s DVD after not seeing it for years and wanted to give it another shot. So, instead of watercolor paper this is on plate bristol like he uses. I followed his method, and this time I did manage to get the paint to lift like he does (pretty effortlessly this time). It seems like it’s useful for correcting errors but it can get sort of annoying. There are times that I don’t want the paint to move. I want it to behave like watercolor stained on watercolor paper with a reasonable amount of staying where I put it to begin with. His method is more like painting with gouache (opaque watercolors).
It’s more difficult to get dark darks as the white gouache sort of permeates everything. This seems to be why this method doesn’t have the glaringly obvious look that can usually happen when using opaque white with transparent watercolors. It isn’t as wet as watercolors usually are for me so there’s less flow. With the addition of the white there’s also color shift (the mixtures dry lighter or darker depending on the color in various degrees which makes anticipating the final color difficult).
The photo below is after the first day. The paint on the pumpkin is so thick that it’s sticky. I’m not sure how to store it or what to do with it. Surely it will stick to the back of another painting if I put it in one of my piles.
Tomorrow I want to glaze the reflected orange on the bucket darker. This would be easy with transparent paint but I’m anticipating needing to mix the exact color I want with opaque paint. The pumpkin needs dark darks. I’m not happy with the background or the table, and I want the pumpkin’s shadow to be… just… better (I’m not sure how to use words to describe it). Also, the ridges on the pumpkin seem a little too regular and even.
The pumpkin is over painted. There’s too much noodling and apprehension. It’s gotten so thick I’m afraid to try and adjust it any further. Maybe if I just make it ‘dirtier’. There is a certain quality to some of the thinner areas of the painting that I like though. The addition of the opaque white dulls the surface, creates a chalkiness. The dull battleship gray of the bucket was easier to achieve with the addition of white. I’d like to do a comparison with transparent watercolor and see if I can get the same quality or the same color and effect.
OK, day #2 below. I fixed the things I wanted to fix. If you compare the pictures you can see where I was able to completely lift out a longer stem on the pumpkin.
One of the things I like about watercolors is having to live with things that I thought were mistakes — how to deal with them, accept them, make them work, make them appear intentional, take a weakness and make it a strength. I can’t control them or force them to be perfect and flawless. I’m not that kind of person and not that kind of painter. I can correct errors endlessly with oils and acrylics, and typically when I do that I kill the painting. It loses any spontaneity and bravado. When I fix all my errors to satisfy my ego and a need to control it the work seems timid and insecure to me. Usually watercolors force me to believe in myself and have faith in my abilities and courage to leap into the unknown.
This method is fun to play with, but I don’t see it becoming my regular practice — especially if I can replicate some of the aspects I like about the color and surface. But some of it may seep in anyway as it is more fluid and needs less planning.
Another morning in the pumpkin patch. It looks like the season is winding down for these. The pumpkins are now almost completely orange. There are still a few flowers but most of the vines are dying or dead. They’re forcing me to be a little more creative in my compositions. I wanted to do something a little different than just another orange pumpkin so I tucked it back in there.
My kids were up before I headed out this morning (it’s Saturday so of course they were!) so I worked small. 9×12″
I couldn’t leave it alone and had to fix the eyes, but now I kinda like it better when they were more vague.