We spent last week at the shore and I got to paint most of the mornings. Acrylics.
I painted a bunch of watercolors while the kids played in the sand too. This is the only one I have a photo of so far. Still trying to control them too much and being literal. A very difficult and unforgiving medium.
11×14″ This one needs some studio attention.
11×14″ This one needs work too.
I worked on this one again. I think it’s 10×20″. Still not sure about it. It’s one of those spots where I wished I lived down at the shore and I could revisit the spot every day and paint it for a month to be very literal and get it all the way I want it. I see some scenes as more simplified and poetic and others as more detailed stories. I guess not all poems are haikus
I painted in the woods today. There’s no way for me to get tight painting in the woods. It would be futile to try and paint individual leaves. I wanted to loosen up and just get big shapes and possibly a mood today. I was aiming for accurate colors to what I was seeing with less concern for drawing out specifics.
I tried to paint this spot one other time and it was a disaster because I chased the light. I started chasing the light again today but when I realized it I started smudging things out and scraping areas with a knife. The dappled light pattern of sun through the trees changes so much and so quickly that it becomes more obvious when you’re chasing the light. In a few minutes the spots of light have moved and changed so much it’s hard to commit to one moment.
I nearly stepped on this guy when I was setting up my easel. I thought he was a rock. I think I woke him up this morning but he didn’t seem to mind me at all and just made his way up stream into the bigger pool.
I haven’t been out painting plein airs in a while so I went today. I also hadn’t painted the trains in a long time and I thought a refresher course in blacks (without using black of course) was in order. I’ve been spending time playing with watercolors, drawing, and working on another basement painting to avoid the heat. I’ll post those soon. It was a lot of fun to get outside again.
The second one wasn’t quite what I was after but I had an audience so I reverted to trying to record what I was seeing. It’s probably just who I am. I’m happy with it anyway.
Our youngest child started pre-school this week and today (FRIDAY!) was the first opportunity I had to take advantage and get outside to paint. He only goes for a few hours in the mornings but it’s a start. I feel like it’s one step closer to me doing art full time again which I’m very excited about.
I hadn’t painted with acrylics in a few weeks because I’ve been enjoying watercolors so much and I hadn’t been out painting plein air in a long time either. Tomorrow my son and wife are running a 5K together in the morning so I know I’m not gonna get an opportunity tomorrow. Today was the day!
It was weird setting up to paint when I’d typically be packing up to go home. The light and colors were much different in mid-morning than at dawn. I liked it and I slowed way down on this one to take my time understanding what was going on visually. I slowed down a little too much though and didn’t finish it on location, but I touched it up after lunch while he napped. I tried to be deliberately as literal as I could, nothing interpretive or expressive. No exploration.
acrylic on linen mounted on board, 10 1/4 x 13 1/4″
I had to hand hold my umbrella which was a pain. If I keep doing this I’ll need to explore other options. When clamped to my easel it was too low.
You can see how bright green the fields were at the bottom of the painting when I finished on site. When I got home that was something I changed. I stepped on it to make it less lime.
It’s much harder for me to let go and try to paint “nothing” than to copy what’s right in front of me. I’m just not that kind of artist. When I try to paint the unseen I feel like a fish struggling to swim upstream and then doubt creeps in again and I slide back down the waterfall I was trying to climb. Every time I revert to painting what I see I feel like I’ve been beaten, like I’m giving up. But then I find areas in the painting where I can see the results of my exploration showing and I’m happy that I’ve tried venturing out of my comfort zone even if it was only for a brief vacation from the real me.
Still playing with watercolors. Today I’m back to trying to get accurate values working backwards due to the nature of watercolors, and I’m practicing neutral mixtures with my high chroma palette. It’s hard wrapping my head around the concept in watercolor that a lighter color means more water and once you go too dark there’s little chance of bringing it back. Again, very minimal preliminary drawing.
It was raining this morning so I didn’t go out to paint a landscape. I get much more time to paint when I stay home anyway. When I paint plein air I get about an hour to actually paint. When I stay home I can get up to 3 hours. With that much time I can draw for a while before painting to loosen up and wake up.
I really need to work out a lot of things in the studio but lack the time. This morning I stayed in to work with watercolors. I didn’t want to be distracted by a scene or struggle with changing light or any of the other usual distractions outside.
First a quick drawing to get started.
I really like the unfinished figure on the right. That’s more the direction I want to go (spontaneous, nailing it with simplicity, ambiguous, nothing overly specific, etc.), but this morning I’m working on control and trying to get a better understanding of watercolors’ properties and what my own limitations are so I tightened up on my kid on the left. I wanted to see how little drawing I could do before painting and how much I could do with paint without a tight guide worked out ahead of time. I just used a few light lines to try and indicate head placement. The rest I was ‘winging it’ in paint as I went. This isn’t nearly as forgiving a medium as acrylics and oils. The errors and “happy accidents” and unpaintable events are what I’m after though.
A small drawing first, then a larger one, and finally color. I’m still struggling to really let the watercolor run around and I think that struggle is showing. I liked the first drawing but each successive step felt like I was getting further from where I wanted to be. I’m making progress though and feeling more comfortable with watercolors. I’m also enjoying being in a different mindset. I’m not out to create finished paintings with watercolors as opposed to acrylics or oils. I feel like I’m sketching.
Last week at the beach I had a palette filled with W&N Cotman tube colors and I was very disappointed with them. They didn’t rewet as easily as I would’ve liked. Today I took a palette filled with M.Graham paints and there is just no comparison. My kids will now enjoy my Cotman palette.
Spent the weekend at the shore again. Took watercolors. Before each painting I drew with water soluble graphite. Here they are:
Above is apparently a common rookie mistake. Watercolors dry lighter so you need to paint them darker than what you are seeing. In my defense though it was very early in the morning so the lighter values wouldn’t have bothered me except I knew it was a mistake. I couldn’t leave that alone so below is the second version where I deliberately painted it darker. The sky had lost most of its pink and the light was different.
The tide comes into this tidal marsh very quickly. You can see in the drawing how narrow the channel was, and in the watercolor you can see a faint pencil line indicating where the waterline was when I started.
A bad photo of this one. Still struggling a little with the “backwards” thinking of watercolors. I need to learn to plan the painting a little better to preserve the lights.