Out of the Backyard

This morning I ventured out of my backyard since I just painted the pumpkins yesterday.

acrylic, 11×14″ 

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Back To Transparents

I went back to transparent watercolors this afternoon and back to good ol’ Arches paper. This is 9×12″


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Opaques and Lifting

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.

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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.

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Another Pumpkin

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″

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NOW It’s done!

I couldn’t leave it alone and had to fix the eyes, but now I kinda like it better when they were more vague.


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A Little Off The Top

I think this is done. Took some hair off the top. Reduced my glasses. Downplayed the eyes. Fixed the drawing of my mouth. I’m pretty tired of looking at myself.

acrylic, 10×10″ 


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Pumpkins Again

They’re almost all orange now. It was chilly and I had some trouble with the paper drying too slowly. I was also starting to shiver and was happy to wrap this up to head inside for a cup of coffee! 12×18″, hot press paper.

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And me again! Worked on that eye a little bit. Now I need to fix the mouth.


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Spent 2 hours looking at myself today. The eyes still need some work.

acrylic, 10×10″ 


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Better Day

A better outing this morning. 12×18″ on hot press paper



I also added the fence to yesterday’s painting:


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More Than I Could Chew

Bit off more than I could chew this morning. I wanted to paint the chicken wire fence in my garden and how the pumpkin vines had hung on it and are dying on it. Instead I got caught up painting the entire scene and not seeing the fence at all. I was thinking I needed a backdrop to hold the fence instead of focusing on my intended subject, but now I have this awful green background to contend with.

Before I could get to the fence I lost my light (severely) and my kids found me in the yard and bombarded me with questions and comments (none about painting). So I wrapped it up the best I could. And now that I’m finished with the plein air portion I have to figure out how to put the wire fence in. I think that background is going to prove to be a problem but at least I won’t feel so bad if I mess it up experimenting with how to do the fence.

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