This is a photograph of “Minerva Amaryllis”, one of our blossoming beauties that I will be painting in watercolor. Its petals range in color from salmon to pink with white tiger stripes extending out from the center. Peter 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. Then, 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. Starting with a mixture of orange and gamboge yellow, then apply drops of quinacridone magenta and alizarin crimson for the darkest edges.
It is fascinating how the watercolors do almost all the work by themselves. They combine in expressive gradations until they make edges that are sharp right where the wetness stops. This picture shows how very brightly the colors look when wet, but, remember that they will fade as they dry.
You can see how much the colors fade when dry when you compare the first image with this one.
The approach for the second, third (behind), and fourth petals are pretty much the same except for how the lighting and shadows change as they stack on top of each other.
Where a petal would cast a shadow on the petal underneath or behind it I add a touch more of the alizarin to darken it.
Next, 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, apply a light wash in the background petals that is more muted in value to exaggerate distance.
With a light wash showing the sky background and greenery texture from below to eye level, we can begin painting the details.
I am rendering this Great White Heron from a photograph by Elise Beattie who teaches, “Fearless Painting” classes. Now working on different approaches to The first post about this in a pen & ink study.
While studying the picture, I kept feeling as though the best part of the picture is missing. Do you ask, “Would that be?” Well, the reflection of the bird on the water would be quite beautiful. Being an artist allows me to go ahead with adding the missing piece in as I render this subject. I believe it is called an artist license.
Render Sun Reflection
Watercolor requires that you start with where you want to reserve white, then begin laying down the 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 its many ripples that cut up and distort the image. The more I apply the reed reflections and watercolors 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.
I began studying figures again this week. This is my first 7″ x 10″ watercolor on 140lb paper from this life-drawing class that started yesterday. I was worried but found that I am happy with the lighting in the rendering because it does appear like it was, on the model.
So, what is the news ? 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 tackle 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… really love to hang out together. There is absolutely no jealousy or negative criticism, just helpful suggestions. I love it. An artist needs time with birds of the same feather. When I surround myself with creatives just like me, I can verify that other artists have the same crazy logic as me. We look at where we want to draw from and analyze the lighting and positioning of the model. Then setup to try and get what we see down on our canvas or paper as fast as we can. We all like to dress comfortably. We have an abundance of pencils and lots of paintbrushes in our tool bags or boxes. It is a part of our art addiction.
Hopefully, this kind of study will improve my figurative renderings in the future.
Finding different approaches to painting this beautiful Great White Heron is what our Fearless Painting class guru, Elise Beattie, has challenged us over the weekend. This is some beautiful photography Elise Beattie!
If we choose to accept this assignment…. this challenge will self-destruct in 5 seconds.
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 project 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 for the art collector, you know. 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. I break out a tool from the old drafting days that will ensure 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. It is unlikely that anyone is dying to learn how to do this though.
On the instruction sheet, there are some really useful instructions in German on the flip side, just in case you were wondering. How is your German? Mine is terrible.
I do anticipate making a third layout today using a different approach with acrylics on a canvas board, but I haven’t gotten there yet. First, I need to finish my piano practice.
Having roses on a snow day is wickedly awesome! If you know about the 12″ rule, then I know you fully understand what I mean about the snowy the day part. Having a husband who buys you roses and takes you to dinner on that day too, is ever so much more heavenly. You know, I got one heck of a keeper in Peter Woelk!
These soft petals are so gorgeous as they coax me to come sit by them. They are just sitting there saying, “Draw me, and paint me Val. By the way, I smell good too – if you’d like to come on over here and sniff.”
My mind says, “Okay, after I get the tomatoes canned today.” But, the blossoms sit right there arguing with me some more, “Forget about those dang tomatoes”.
I take pictures of them and sniff their wonderful perfume every time I walk past them. Eventually, the flower wins out and I get a piece of paper and begin drawing them in pencil. Hours later, I notice that a lot of time has gone by. Wow, it goes way faster than I thought. Oh, so what. I don’t really have enough time to get the tomatoes done today anyhow and the light is so perfect on that red one right there. I’ll just get out a little watercolor block and try some watercolors because it is so perfect right here and now.
The layout flows easily onto the paper and I happily mix up so colors to wash in where the darker shadows appear. Before I know it, I realize that it is time to start dinner. Oops. I quickly put the paintings on the drying rack in the studio, and clean the brushes. I can pull a ready-to-eat dinner out of the freezer and microwave it, to get things going fast in the kitchen. Whew.
I dropped off three watercolor paintings for the show at the Spokane Art School. They are of my favorite subject, winter ski views admired during my ski patrol days. Snow scenes up in the mountains still 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 person.
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 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. All of the paintings are small, and the same size at 8″ x 8″.
We used 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 the glass. When we are matting, and framing it under glass it often 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 many You Tube videos showing how to do this alternative method of framing for watercolor paintings, 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 Spokane. The art show runs from 7/10 – 7/31st, being open only on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 – 2:00 pm.
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 done 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 alizarin 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.
Bon Voyage Mon Ami. 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 in our lives. Jon was one of those people to me.
Skiing in Valhalla. 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 upon 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.