Fun Line and Wash

So I’m woefully behind and need to do some posts to catch up, but this isn’t one of them. I tend to want to spend time painting rather than blogging, but both are important if I’m to chronicle my journey. So today I decided to live in the moment and post about what I just did.

Earlier today I watched a video by Steve Mitchell, Mind of Watercolor. I watch most of his videos as he is very good at teaching compared to a lot of the YouTube artists. The topic was line and wash, which is something I’ve done very little of.

I had this scene I’d been wanting to do from the valley. There’s this towering dead tree that is a dramatic form, with a backdrop of a dilapidated barn and some foothills. I decided it would make a great line and wash, so that’s what I did today. It was a lot of fun. Here is a photo…taken with my iPhone, so it’s not the best. Click on the image to enlarge.

The Next Phase…

So I quit my day job last week. I feel I’ve reached that phase of life where I can work at what matters to me, rather than just focusing on making a living. We plan to consolidate our two residences into one, our house in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once we’ve gotten through the hassle of moving I am hoping to spend a lot more time painting.

I decided that a recent painting I did was appropriate for this event. It was painted from a photo I took last fall when we visited Tilghman Island. It’s 12×6 on Arches cold pressed paper. Sittin’ on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away…wasting time…

Stay tuned… hopefully things will get interesting.

 

Holiday Cards

This year, thanks to a youtube video by Steve Mitchell one of my favorite online watercolor instructors, I decided to paint holiday cards for a short list of people who touched my life this year. All told I painted about 15. Each card was roughly 5×7. I had cardstock that was made from watercolor paper but the quality wasn’t good so I painted on Arches and cut to fit. Each painting was fixed to a card with small double-sided tape squares which raised the painting a tiny bit. The effect was pretty nice. It’s too bad that you can’t get good quality watercolor paper cardstock.

In Steve’s video he did what he calls spontaneous painting. This is a technique where he lays down some spontaneous washes and then adds details to turn the image into a landscape. (If you watch the video you’ll see how fascinating it is to see.) I started out trying this, but I’m just not good enough to pull it off. I fell back on my tried and true landscape painting process, which is still evolving.

One thing I was forced to do was to paint things that were different from the way they appeared in my reference materials. I wanted winter scenes, mostly snow scenes. I have some reference photos that are snow scenes but not enough, so I repainted some other scenes I’d recently done, modifying them to be snowscapes. It was fun and got me out of my engineer’s brain a bit, which is a challenge and is always good for me.

Below are photos of a few of the cards. Unfortunately I didn’t get photos of all of the finished products. Perhaps I’ll start earlier for next year.

Monet’s Garden

I did a post a while back on my trip to Paris and more specifically to Giverny. I continue to find inspiration in the beautiful photographs I was fortunate enough to capture.

I’ve been doing a lot more watercolor lately, and as you know I find it very challenging, but I love it. I also believe that it has the potential to make my oil painting better (as I also said in an earlier post). I continue to believe that is true.

Recently I completed an oil painting of Monet’s Garden. I spent quite a bit of time doing it, not because I was working on it, but because I would get distracted by watercolor and then would go back to it. I did it in the studio at our mountain home, so that also slows me down since we are not there as often as I’d like.

I tried to keep this painting loose, focusing on shapes and colors, not starting from the background and painting forward as was my tendency when I started painting. Watercolor simply doesn’t allow that approach and I’m also trying to apply that limitation to oils. I think it makes my work more impressionistic.

I have to admit, it’s humbling to paint a scene that was immortalized by the great Claude Monet. That said, I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to stand in the place where he produced many masterpieces and to use that as an inspiration for my own interpretation.

Weekend in St. Michaels, Maryland

In September we had the pleasure of enjoying a very relaxing weekend on the Maryland Eastern Shore in the little town of St. Michaels. We actually stayed at the Wade’s Point Inn, which was a few miles outside of St. Michaels, and was extremely serene and relaxing.  I brought my watercolor gear with me and did some plein air painting on this beautiful property.  It was very inspiring and most enjoyable.  I did several sketches in my sketchbook, but I did camp out on the lawn two mornings with all of my gear to do full paintings.  

The first piece I did was the morning sun shining on a point where there was a house and a small dock. This piece is 12 x 6, a size I like a lot for small panoramas.  
Wades Point 1

The second piece I did was the front lawn of Wade’s Point Inn.  They had a dock that several of the guests fished from, and a comfortable looking hammock in the trees.  This piece is 9 x 12.  
Wades Point 2

Painting Paris

As I said in an earlier post, I recently had the good fortune of traveling to Paris to meet up with my sister and to visit some good friends who are living there.  I have been enjoying doing watercolors of some of the photos I took.  

One of the things we did while I was there was visit Giveny, where Monet lived out the later part of his life.  We visited his home and his spectacular gardens and famous water lily pond.  This was on my bucket list and it was every bit as magical and inspiring as I had hoped.  I expect to be painting from the photos I took for a very long time.  

Below is a shot of the garden followed by my watercolor interpretation.  I tried to capture the bold color of the sky and it’s reflection in the water. It took two attempts to get this. I’m still learning the watercolor process and the approach to painting.  I after a blue wash I painted the lilies followed by the water reflections and then the trees in the background.  That seemed to work well.  
Monet Water Lily Pond Photo

Here is a photo of me in the garden standing on one of the famous bridges looking and feeling awestruck.

Me in Monet's Garden

I’ve been trying to do some watercolor sketching of the many flower photos I took.  Here are two from my sketchbook.

Finally, I took some lovely photos of Paris in the evening while on a dinner cruise. I only had my iPhone with me, but it does have a pretty good camera and is quite good in low light.  I have attempted a watercolor cityscape from one of these photos.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I captured the evening light well at all. It’s hard to get the richness of the colors as night falls in watercolor. This one begs to be done in oil, so I am going to do that soon.  I will post when I’m done.  

Paris in the Evening Photo

Inspiration – Seeing Nature

Today my husband Bill and I ventured downtown DC to The Phillips Collection to see Seeing Nature, a visiting exhibit of landscape paintings from the collection of Paul G. Allen.  My techie friends will know Mr. Allen as a Microsoft founder.

When I first saw that this collection was coming to DC I declared it as a must-see event for me as an aspiring landscape artist.  It did not disappoint.  The show spanned five centuries of landscape painting.  I love the impressionists, but there were others both before and after the impressionists that I also loved.  Here are a few of my favorites.

This is Pierre-Jacques Volaire’s Eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  This dates to the 18th century when Vesuvius was very active.  Going out at night to see it was a popular activity.  We both really like the way he captured the light in the clouds and on the surface of the water.
Volaire

I really liked Rio San Trovaso by Henri Edmond Cross. Oddly, his name didn’t even appear on the list of artists in the advertising and handouts. This is a beautiful work. I’ve always liked pointillism. The reflections in the water are fabulous.
HenriCross

This is Tomas Moran’s Grand Canyon of Arizona at Sunset (1909).  I really like the colors and the clouds and shadows.  The realism in the foreground is beautiful.
ThomasMoran

This is a modern piece (2008) by April Gornik called lake Light. It almost looks like a photograph.  The rain clouds are fabulous.  I also love the contrasting colors of the sky, the blue mountain ridge and the green grass.
AprilGornik

Then there were the Monets. I saved the best for last.  This first one is called En Paysage dans I’île Saint-Martin.  I confess that I did not take this photo – I went through at the end taking pictures and somehow missed this one.  I still wanted to include it because it is an early Monet (1881) and the style is quite different from his later works. The brushwork was very detailed and the colors were bright and contrasting, characteristics that were unusual in a lot of his later work.
Monet SaintMartin

This is the Monet’s Waterloo Bridge which he painted many times. I didn’t get a date on this one but I think it’s from the early 1900s. This was Bill’s favorite. I also really like it.  I especially like the way he captured the yellow light under the bridge.
MonetWaterloo

This next Monet is La Palis Da Mula in Venice. I also didn’t get a date on this one but I believe it was also from the early 1900s.  I really liked the colors, especially the use of purple in the reflections on the water.
MonetVenice

Finally, This is Le bassin aux nymphéas (1919).  It’s very different from a lot of his water lily paintings in that there are more bright and contrasting colors.  I also thought the reflections were exquisite.
MonetLilies
I am now totally inspired. To my DC friends who are art lovers, I highly recommend finding time to see this show.  It runs through early May.