Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunflowers on Clayboard, In Progress 3

Thankfully, the lighting was much better for this photograph compared to the last image. Today I worked in the faces; painting wet-into-wet, beginning with yellows, Quin Sienna, adding Brown Madder, Winsor Green, and Alizarin. I am getting much more efficient in applying paint. Typically, I would have to apply 3-6 layers of paint for darker values. Painting on clayboard helps. The surface tends to hold the darks better than paper. But also applying the right pigments at the right time with the right consistency makes a big difference. Next, I will work through the leaves. (I just noticed a small bug captured in the photograph. Anyone else see him? He is real, not painted. I guess he likes the flowers also.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

More Sunflowers on Clayboard, In Progress

It was difficult to be inside the studio painting today. Today was one of the first warm and sunny days of spring. But I guess if I had to be inside painting, it was good to paint the sun into the flowers. I am so happy with how this one is going so far. The yellows (Hansa, New Gamboge, Quin Gold) and Quin Sienna are really working well together. I think after so many sunflowers, I have found the right combination of warm and cool yellows. So, how long is this taking me to complete? It is taking me about 6 hours per flower (just for my first step, Argh). Why so long? I am working each pedal or pedal section at a time. The clay in each pedal area is wet before the paint is applied. I lift the board and rotate it to allow the paint to mix (I just don't get the same subtle effects if I use a brush to mix paint). Once a pedal is painted, I have to wait for the water and paint to settle before I can paint and mingle the pigments for the next section. Also, as I go, I will correct any inconsistencies in the line drawing. Or add what lines and details are needed to make the drawing work. This step in the painting will take the longest, but I think it is worth the work. Love this one so far.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Feeling Yellow

A new start on sunflowers.
I have been waiting over 6 months to paint these flowers. My wonderful studio-mate, Mirinda Reynolds, brought these into our studio at Liberty Town last October (I think). The sun through the window caught them just right. I have been thinking of how to paint them ever since. Now is the time to recreate them in watercolor. I have painted over 25 sunflower paintings, each series unique in color choices and techniques in painting. This one will no doubt take on it's own personality as well. And though I have a plan in mind, I am eager to see how it will develop. I find comfort in being so familiar with this subject.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hydrangea in Progress, Final Steps

So close to finished...I am often asked... How do you know when you are finished with a painting? How do you know when to stop?
Well, I have a list of questions I ask myself toward the end of a painting. When I feel that I have successfully answered those questions, I am done. Are my shapes believable? Are my shapes and values visually linked (are my darks visually linked)? Are my darks and color balanced? Do I need more contrast or "volume" in any areas? Does my painting and direction or movement in the painting "read" like I intended? How does the viewer's eye move around the painting? And finally, are there any small details I could add or remove that will enhance the flow or design in the painting?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hydrangea in Progress, Creating Contrast 2

Here I have worked through most of the mid-value blues and began to pull out or paint in some details in the pedal shapes. Value is relative to the other values in the painting. So I will need to add dark values to the background before I can determine how dark to make the shadows. I am working to have a balance of soft shapes, lost-and-found edges, and sharp contrast areas.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hydrangea in Progress, Creating Contrast

Usually, in this step of the painting, I will work all the mid-value contrast throughout the painting. Here I jumped right in and began to push the contrast in the shadow shapes. I will continue this throughout the flower and then move to the leaves and background.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hydrangea in Progress, Painting in Blues 2

After many requests, I have finally added the "Follower" gadget to my blog. I know I am a little late in doing this, maybe I just needed to save something for my 100th post (coming up soon).

I have now worked through all the soft blue-violet lighter tones in the pedals. I am beginning to see form develop. Compared to my "study" done previously, I have allowed more green to show and kept the blues a little "cooler." My next step will be to add another glaze of blue-violet color, continuing to create form in the pedals. I will also begin to push the values and contrast.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hydrangea in Progress, Painting in Blues 1

I have a few weeks break before my workshops begin. So I am focusing on a series of watercolor paintings on clayboard that I will exhibit at Bistro Bethem (a restaurant in downtown Fredericksburg) from August to October. I am hoping to have at least 5 new larger pieces 22X30 and a few smaller paintings. I began painting in the mid-value blues and violets. Each pedal is worked individually wet-into-wet. The color is then dropped in and board tilted to mingle the color. There are alot of pedals.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Southern Catalpa Trees at Chatham, Watercolor

Almost finished with this painting of Chatham Manor's Southern Catalpa trees. These trees are located on the north side of Chatham in Stafford County. The mansion was used as a hospital during the Civil War. Walt Whitman described the scene at the hospital for "worst case soldiers". The trees at this time were 25 years old and are located just outside the north window of the mansion. Sparing the details of Whitman's description, I will just say that my interpretation of the trees was greatly influenced by the images of that description. I couldn't help but see the ghostly, skeleton images in the trees and couldn't escape the feeling of a cyclic organic growth. The wholes in the trees: most likely precisely cut to have access to the metal poles inside that support the weight of the foliage of these hollow trunk trees.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Painting "Green" in Watercolor, Upcoming Workshop

Study in Green
Above is the small study done for my upcoming workshop, Grappling Green: Painting Leaves in Watercolor. Greens can be beautiful; can look natural; and can even be transparent. However, greens are probably the most challenging of all the colors to work with (at least for me anyway). So, I am facing the challenge. Painting "green" will be the subject of my next workshop. In the workshop, we will develop a repertoire of "green" for our painting palette and apply them to a watercolor painting of leaves (or similar subject). We will practice mixing greens, "naturalizing" the color, varying the intensity and "warmness and coolness" of our greens as we apply them to our painting. For more information about the workshop, please visit my website.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hydrangea in Progress, The Underpainting

This is the small section of the 22X30 watercolor painting on clayboard.
I have began the underpainting for what will be blue hydrangeas. I chose a cool Hansa yellow (Daniel Smith) to add highlight to the white areas and under glow in the blue areas. I also began hinting at the cool violet undertones in the pedals. For the violet, I am using a pigment new to my palette, cobalt violet. When the cobalt violet dries on the clayboard surface, a nice granulating texture forms. The underpainting was applied wet-into-wet for each pedal. Once dry, I will continue this process with the next layers of blues.