This is a photograph of one of our blossoming beauties named, “Minerva Amaryllis”, that I will be painting in watercolor. It’s petals range in color from salmon to pink with white tiger stripes extending out from the center. My husband grows this one, and many others in our kitchen window. When they quickly spring-up with their bright blossoms it can literally take-your-breath-away. Amaryllis always cheer-up the house in the winter.
First, I sketch the shapes using a 2H pencil, drawing very lightly so lines are erasable later on.
Next, I wet the first petal area being very careful to reserve (keep dry) the area in the middle. This dry area is where the white stripes will be. Proceeding on, I combine colors “wet-on-wet” in this pre-wetted area. Start with a mixture of orange and gambouge yellow, then apply drops of quinacridone magenta and alizaron crimson for the darkest edges. It is fascinating how the watercolors do almost all the work themselves. They combine in expressive gradations till they make edges that are sharp right where the wetness stops. This picture shows very bright the colors look when wet, but, remember that they will fade as they dry.
The approach for the second, third (behind), and fourth petals are pretty much the same except for the lighting changes as they stack.
Now, is when I look at the beginning of where the light and shadow occur on the flower surfaces. The stem below the blossom is heavily darkened.
Following this, I apply a light wash in the background petals that is more muted in value to exaggerate distance.
With a light wash showing the light sky background and greenery texture from below to eye-level, I am ready to begin painting the details.
I have been working on different approaches to rendering this Great White Heron from a photograph by Elise Beattie who teaches, “Fearless Painting” classes. The first post about this is a pen & ink study.
While studying the picture, I kept feeling as though the best part of the picture was missing. What would that be? Well, the reflection of the bird on the water. Being an artist allows me to go ahead with adding the missing piece in as I render this subject. I believe it is called the artist license.
Render Sun Reflection
Watercolor requires that you start with where you want to reserve white, then begin laying down lightest colors first. In this that will be where the sun is laying on the water.
I start to lay in the reeds behind and am careful to avoid where my Great White Heron is. Must preserve a pristine white area to work on later for the center-of-attention character.
As I add in the reeds on the right side additional lily pond type leaves are added to help the composition move in a circular motion.
Using royal and cerulean blues I begin to put the ripples of the water in.
A reflection is simply the original image turned upside down on the water. After turning it we need to take into account that the surface reflecting the image is not flat. As in this water scene with it’s many ripples that cut-up and distort the image. The more I apply the reed reflections and water colors I begin to lose the heron reflection so I apply a soft gray there that helps me to see it better.
This next step is scary as I apply a wash over all the water using ultramarine blue.
At this point I am darkening reflections and making details and adjustments. I should be able to finish this image this week. When I complete it I will be sure to post it so you can see it. Happy painting.
This is a 7″ x 10″ watercolor on 140lb paper. It is my first watercolor from a class started yesterday. I am happy with the lighting because it does appear like it was, on the model.
So, the news is that I attended a session on life drawing on Monday night. Wow, what a refreshing exercise that is for me. Drawing from a live human being really brings the drawing skills out to play. The model can’t hold still forever, so you have to get those pencils to move fast enough to get the image down before the timer goes off. It feels a little stressed but so creative at the same time. I left feeling almost as if I had just had group art therapy and was ready to tackle the world. Well, at least the art world anyhow. I had forgotten how much fun this is and how great it is to work on our skills with other artists. Birds of a feather…
Hopefully, this kind of study will improve my figurative renderings in the future.
Our Fearless Painting class guru, Elise Beattie, has challenged us over the weekend. And, If we choose to accept this assignment, we will have to find impressive different approaches to painting this beautiful Great White Heron…. this challenge will self-destruct in 5 seconds. This is some beautiful photography Elise Beattie!
Initially I do a quick black and white study in my sketchbook with a gel pen (nothing special).
I scrounge around in the studio to find a leftover piece of watercolor paper from a previous assignment to work on. This simply means there is a surprise ink drawing on the back of the sheet for anyone purchasing the image. Kind of a two for one prize. I decided on a much closer view for this Heron rendering in watercolor. The dimensions are taken off of my B&W sketch.
When I want accuracy, I have to grease those crazy artist mind gears. Breaking out a tool from the old drafting days will insure correct results twice as big on the watercolor paper. The tool I use is called a “Precision Deluxe Proportional Divider” (made in Germany).
Would you like a tutorial about how to use this tool in another post on this blog? Leave me a comment if you do.
On the instruction sheet there are some real useful instructions in German on the flip side, just in case you were wondering.
I do anticipate making a third layout today using a different approach with acrylics on a canvas board, but I haven’t got there yet. But first, I need to finish my piano practice. 🙂
I dropped off three watercolor paintings of one of my favorite subjects at the Spokane Art School. I did three winter ski views that I admired during my ski patrol days. Snow scenes up in the mountains hold a real dear place in my heart. I carried a camera with me when it wasn’t common for everyone to have a camera on their phone.
If you have not participated in an art show before, you may not know what it looks like before the gallery goes to all the hard work of hanging all the work. You walk in with your pieces of art, sign papers and stack them where they tell you to put them.
This is going to be a unique show displaying Spokane Watercolor Society members work is marvelous. All of the paintings are small, being the same size at 8″ x 8″. We tried an alternative method of framing for this show where the watercolors are mounted on board, then waxed to seal them. I love this method of preserving a watercolor painting without having to cover it in glass, matting and frame which often times seems to make the painting harder to see under the glare. The colors are so vibrant and warm in this waxed method and I can’t wait to see the display of this wide variety of talent up on the walls of the gallery. There are You Tube videos showing how to do this alternative method of framing for watercolors, see Angela Fahr here.
Spokane Art School Gallery
811 W Garland Avenue., 99205
This gallery is on the south side of Garland near the milk jug in downtown Spoklane. The art show runs from 7/10 – 7/31st, being open only on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 – 2:00pm.
Unfortunately, we are not able to have an art show opening due to covid 19 restrictions. But you can go see the show two days a week if you wear a mask. Hope you can get a chance to go see some really stellar work by our local artists in the Spokane Watercolor society.
The Challenge is “Just an Impression” No clear reality here. Paint an impression and see if viewers get the ‘point’.
I did enjoy this challenge, as it did let me reach out and try something new. When I was in high school I painted, using neon colors, lots of abstract posters to populate my bedroom. But at this stage in my artist life, I actually felt a little guilty, as though I may have wasted some supplies doing this. I am happy with the fun had anyhow. You can probably tell that abstract is not my favorite style of painting at this point in time though.
First, I thought of a painting I’d like to make an impression of. Then, I started with real loose pen work, then added strokes of color and dabs of different paint until it felt done.
Can you guess which painting I was looking at while doing this exercise?
It is a well known piece by a Dutch post impressionist painter.
I am finishing this dahlia closeup watercolor this week. Here are 6 progressive shots of the painting’s progress.
12″w x 13″h watercolor on 300lb Arches paper.I establish the layout with a pencil sketch .
Starting with a background wash of alizaron crimson I begin to apply highlight color washes on the leaves, then progress to the light washes on the flowers.
Various shades of green and gray are applied to the leaves in the background.
The next step is, to bring up the intensity of the colors in the blossoms by applying bright layers.
To complete this piece, there is very little work remaining to be done . The process becomes a back and forth balancing act from here. I apply the darks and shadows. Followed by accentuating the lights until I get the look I want.
I will be sure to share the finished painting in the near future.
This is a painting of a memory of seeing a friend take off at sunrise out of Kaneohe Bay Marina. He was sailing off on an adventure and I was waving goodbye at the shore.
This friend was a Vietnam Vet who lived on his sailboat traveling around the world. My children and I were lucky to be able to spend a year or so enjoying picnics, hikes and boat trips together with no strings attached.
Sometimes, the best people do not hang around long enough.
Just completed a small watercolor painting entitled, “Bluebird day in Valhalla”-from one of those breathtaking glorious sunny days skiing at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington USA. Valhalla is a great run with enough steep to keep you wide awake, and a good mix of trees alongside for fun. I love the way the shadows show the shape and slope of the run. I spend as much time as possible up on the ski hill and you can see more of my art there if you notice what is around you.
This is the beginning of a series of paintings I intend to do from some great photographs during those ski patrol days when hardly anyone was on the hill. You know, those first track days.
How this painting progressed in the studio.
Looking at these first two images in the series, you will see a perfect example of the difference between the vibrance of watercolors that are wet and ones that are dry. Sometimes, it is scary to put bright pigment down but as you can see, this is something we need to be free with. No skimping on color required.
Birch treeline in early spring at a meadow of Slavin Conservation District. This painting began as a plein air day with friends from Spokane Watercolor Society (SWS). I shared in an earlier post about the outing. I am putting this post up to show you how a plein air day inspires in my studio.
Plein Air Outings
Plein air is something dearly loved by this artist. I’m not sure if it is the feeling of freedom that I feel while painting outside or is it the amazing colors, smells and excitement that inspire me to grasp for more in any piece that begins outside.
Here is the watercolor sketch I brought home with me from the outing. An idea of the colors and layout. My phone was full of pictures I took for me to work from for all the details.
I quickly added basic underpainting tones in the sky and meadow between the treeline when I got back in the studio. I do this to remember the feel of what I saw, till I could take the time to finish it later.
Painting en plein air is sometimes cold or hot and a little tiring but it is always a worthwhile event for me. Not only do I get to walk and draw/paint outdoors, I get to see fellow artists too. There are no better group of people than the crazily creative artists of our world. We are the people who see beauty that others don’t notice. Unnoticed beauties that capture our heart,inspiring us to bring life back around in beautiful colors and lines, till another can basque in it’s discovery.
If what I have painted gives your spirit an uplifting feeling of appreciation, then I have succeeded. My heart is smiling.