Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trying to Control the Uncontrollable ... and Getting More than Frustrated with It!!!

My nemesis right now - trying to create some softer, nebulous interpretation of this %$**#@ magnolia.

First attempt

Start of third or fourth attempt - losing count
Thin w/w washes of cobalt blue and some quinacridone-type pink

Second w/w wash of quin. gold and cobalt blue, then lift whites.

More gold and blue ... more lifting ...

Looks like I have been lifting so much that most of the sizing is gone from the paper.

I did this as a quickie demo for class yesterday. The softness looks so damn good, but to keep it ... that's the hard part!!!

As you can tell, I am extremely frustrated with watercolor. It's as difficult as riding well - trying to "control" the truly uncontrollable. I have made my peace with horses and riding [well ... almost all the time], and that only took thirty years. I have been painting for fifteen years - looks like I have a way to go yet. Today, I feel that if it wasn't for the teaching, I would give it up. I can paint within the lines reasonably well, but moving beyond that ..... that is the quest.

Thank you for visiting, and listening to the rant.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A EUREKA Moment!!!

The "rejected" Drake

The "new and improved" Drake

I had put this portrait aside for months till I could figure out a way to make all that fluffy hair look natural. Lately, I have been playing with the lifting technique, so I thought I'd try it with this painting. I thoroughly wet the bottom third of the paper, and the left side of the dog's head and neck. Then I splashed on a very dark, almost black mixture. While it was still quite wet, I started lifting some of the pigment, using brushes and paper towel. I LOVE the soft look it gives to his fur. Now I am inspired to re-do this portrait!!! ONWARD ...

                        Thank you for dropping by!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

On an Upward Crawl on the Learning Curve ...

A watercolor by Chen-Wen Cheng

Another of his works

Reference photo - I just happened to be at the library a few weeks ago when the magnolia out front was in full bloom.

Start with thin washes of quin. gold and indanthrone blue, trying to integrate the subject with the background.

More of the same ...

More thin washes, with a touch of quin. burnt orange for the base of the flower and in the mixture for the branches. I added a second branch to make a break in the expanse over which I have to do a w/w application. It has turned out to be better compositionally.

I think I'm getting it, but I have a long way to go till I feel comfortable using this technique.

In my computer photo library, I have a section titled "Inspiration". There are about a hundred images of watercolors I love, paintings from which I want to learn. Chen-Wen Cheng is a Taiwanese painter, a master of integrating background with subject. I became frustrated with the latest horse painting, and it finally hit the shower [literally] a few days ago. There are so many times, when I am working on a painting, that I wish I could successfully soften and almost fuse some of the subject with the background. So I started the magnolia yesterday as an exercise to practice this method ... and there will be many more!!!

Thank you for dropping by! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Back to the Classroom

This was the new class last Saturday - a very enthusiastic group!
I asked if anyone minded if I took pictures for my blog. All said it was fine, with the stipulation that they could see the blog post. 

Pondering the next step ...

Getting into some wet-in-wet ...

A lot of washes and masking to start my next painting. First the duck was masked, then I did a flat wash over all the background, followed by several gradated washes of permanent rose, quin. burnt orange and indanthrone. Then I masked out the pattern, and painted two washes - a dark violet and a black mixture. This photo is after all the washes with the masking just removed.

This is actually more like the color in real life. Starting the feet and bill now, with w/w washes of aureolin and quin. sienna. This will be called Arabesque, after the ballet posture as well as the design pattern.

Thank you very much for dropping by!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Two Cute Bums Are Done and Voodoo Is Looking Suitably Voodoo-ish ...

I finally finished this painting. Now it's time to get a cradled frame, mount it and varnish. It will be on display in May, at the art center where I teach.

Slowly moving on with the horse portrait, alternating between wet-in-wet and dry brush applications of black.

Something was niggling at me about his eye. I took a close look this morning, and realized I'd left masking fluid on it. It is now gone, and I have glazed over the entire eye with quin. burnt orange, and it looks much warmer. Still pondering what exactly to do with the background ...

Thank you very much for dropping by!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Maggie Re-visited ...

Months ago, last September, I started this portrait of Maggie, the Stealth Dog. It's good, but I didn't like leaving the neck in limbo.

This is what I did this morning, after watching a video by Norbert Gramer on youtube last night. He has a wonderful way of integrating the animal into an abstract background.
I scrubbed the hard edges on the right with a sponge, lifting as much as I could. Then, when dry, I painted a wet wash of aureolin and quin. burnt orange. Dried that, and did some work with a black mixture. It's not perfect because of the hard edges which are impossible to remove without damaging the paper, but I like the look. 

Maggie, looking very intense [as she usually is].

I'd like to use that technique on the background for Voodoo.  I will finish of and darken his face and his topline, and somehow figure out a way to integrate him into the rest of the painting.

Thank you so much for dropping by!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Hand-made Card for a Wonderful Friend ...

Yes, for once I used tape ...

Just a quick and bright image for a card ...

... with a gift card for a local gardening center tucked inside.
It's Pat's birthday. She is one of the kindest, most thoughtful and generous people I know. She loves to garden, and her handiwork is often the subject of my painting. So I made a card, and tucked a gift card for a garden center inside. She already has plans on what flowers to purchase.

Well ... I don't have a photo of Bruno with bunny ears, but this is the much-loved Sweetie from several years ago, modeling her Christmas antlers.

Thank you for dropping by! Hope you are having a great Easter weekend! 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Trying Something Different ...

I painted this last wet-in-wet wash on His Lordship's head this morning, and put it aside to dry. It kept catching my eye ... in a very good way. I think it looks very striking. Let's hope I maintain this feel and look!

This was the first wash - very loose and wet, using quin. burnt orange and a dark violet mixture. 

When dry, I painted a more controlled glaze over the shadows of his face and topline, just indicating the mane.

I also went to a different reference photo.

While working on Voodoo, I also started a study of my niece. Again, I tried to paint in a more impressionistic manner.

Reference photo
It's a beautiful photo, but the quality is not great - wishing I could enlarge it to focus on her face.

I love the old pond in back, and right now am quite taken with the look of the willows. Painting subject soon???

And of course, I always travel with my invaluable photographer's assistant! She is looking quite like a wild dog in this photo.

I think all that brooding this past winter is bearing some fruit. This past week I have been trying to think ... see ... paint with more feeling and intuition, rather than rendering a close copy of a photo. I love the look of the latest version of Voodoo, and hope I can keep that look through to completion. The study of my niece is more difficult for me, but we'll see what happens. Painting this way needs more energy and concentration on my part, so I am going to start something lighter in subject matter - fun, goofy and loose.
I would like to thank all of you for following this blog, and encouraging me with your notes! And a big "thank you" to Linda Roth - your letters of late have encouraged me to move outside the box.

Thank you so much for dropping by!

I wish you all a wonderful Easter weekend