Stormy Sky Over The Bay

We've had some pretty stormy weather recently. Thought I would try to catch the mood over San Francisco bay during this period. I used hookers green mixed with Payne's grey for the sky and sea, and Raw Sienna for the beach. Size: 14" x 11".


Cypress Sunset

Trees and sunsets - my favorite things to paint. I love atmospheric skies and what better setting to complete the picture than some dramatic trees. I used granulation medium in the foreground for the texture. For the sky I used a course painters brush to create the striations. Just four colors - transparent red iron oxide, cadmium red, Payne's grey and burnt umber.


On The Cliff

This was an experiment with textures. I wanted to paint a subject where I could practice using different textures - hence the cliff.  I used burnt sienna, burnt umber and sepia ink for the cliff and dribbled granulation medium in different areas to get texture. I also did some spattering. For the sky and distant trees I used indigo and indian yellow.I was quite satisfied with the cliff but feel the sky could have been a little more muted.


Rain Squall

An attempt to capture the rain clouds I observed a few days ago. I worked wet-in-wet for the soft effect of the clouds and when that was dry, I painted in the mountains with hard edges as a contrast to the sky. I used just three colors - Payne's grey, burnt umber and yellow ochre.  Size: 11.5x 7.5".


Marsh Light

I have done a number of watercolors of the local marshes. They really appeal to me - not sure why.  I used a dropper filled with watercolor to draw the reeds. I find it easier to be more loose with this method. The sky is done in layers with raw sienna for the under painting then red iron oxide with some neutral tint added. The hills in the background were a mixture of cobalt blue mixed with some Payne's grey. Size is 10.5"X13.5".


Mt. Tam Mist

I like painting Mt. Tamalpais - or Mt Tam as we call it - in the different seasons. It looks so different in each season. It is often shrouded in mist which gives it a mysterious quality. In summer the scrub dries out and becomes a golden wheat color  - as can be seen in my Mt. Tam Peak watercolor.


Autumn Glow

I had a few weeks of not liking anything that I painted - painter's block I guess.  So I was thinking how to change course and come up with something totally different. I was thinking of the time I lived on the east coast and how lovely the fall colors were. I still wanted my watercolor to be more representational than realistic though. I started out by masking the tree trunks and glazing the paper with a pale yellow, followed by lots of splattering with different shades of yellow.  When that was dry I removed the masking fluid and scrunched up some saran wrap, dipped it into various shades and dabbed them onto the page.  I'm pleased with the result and think it worked out well.


Evening On The Lake

I was thinking about adding a tree - for a vertical thrust - on the left of this watercolor but when I tried it on a print I had made for the purpose, I changed my mind. I felt it detracted from the sky which is the main focus of the watercolor.  A friend suggested to me that this would look really good as a very large painting and I think it might. The size of this watercolor is 12" x10". I think I need to retry it on a half sheet (22"x 15").  It lends itself to a wider format.


Foggy Morning

We get a log of fog coming in over the bay and the mountains at this time of year. It's so beautiful, especially when it settles over the sea. Thought it was time to try and capture the scene in watercolors. I took this to class today and I'm pleased to say our instructor Jerry had good things to say about it.  I am pleased with the result - especially since my forte does not lie in painting boats, albeit in silhouette. 


California Summer

I always start off painting my skies, trying to make them as moody and atmospheric as possible and then decide from there what I want to add to the watercolor.  When I took this to class without a title it was interesting to hear what others saw in the piece. Someone said it looked like an approaching storm, which really surprised me since I had painted mostly blue sky.  I thought it was not atmospheric enough for my liking.  Our instructor thought it looked a little like the Australian outback.  Hmmm.  It reminds me a little of the dry summers here in norther California, so for now I'm going to call it California Summer but may change it if I come up with something better.


Overcast Morning

My plan was to paint a watercolor with mostly neutral colors and add a touch of yellow which I hoped would create a glow amongst the neutrals. The yellow ochre area started off as a piece of land, but with all the wet-in-wet I was doing, I thought it looked better as a water feature so I added a dark bank in the foreground and some reflections in the distance.  By reducing the yellow area it also enhanced what little color remained.  I think I will try this again and vary the scenes. I like the soft effect I achieved in this piece.


Marsh Sunset

This was another watercolor that was almost abandoned. I had worked the sky too much, adding too many glazes and it was rather boring.  I let it sit on my easel for weeks until I realized I had nothing to take to class Thursday. Since I had nothing to lose, I again took the magic eraser and gently scraped away a bit of the dark area in the sky for some lights to shine through and I added the M. Graham quanacridone rust in the lower half of the sky. I also decided it needed more reeds in the foreground to create more interest, so added those too. I'm rather pleased that I have been able to salvage two watercolors that otherwise would have gone on the trash pile.


Dune Evening

I haven't posted in a while - seems like in summer there are so many distractions. I was experimenting with different hues in this watercolor. I actually used opaque cadmium red in the sky, amongst other colors. It ended up being a little dark and I almost abandoned it. So with nothing to lose, I took the magic eraser, tore off a piece so I had an uneven surface, soaked it in water, rung it out and dragged it across the sky to create pieces of light filtering through. I was quite pleased with the result.


Morning Light

This was a lesson in how to salvage a painting and turn it into something else. It started off as a seascape. I had taken a photo looking out across the bay with a sliver of light coming through the clouds and reflecting  a sliver of what looked like silver light on the sea. After painting the watercolor I realized I had not made the sea dark enough to get the sliver of reflected light to glow.  I made the mistake of going back into the piece to try and fix this and in doing so, overworked it. I have learned over the years that you should never go back into a sky to try and fix things and I think the same applies to the sea. At first I thought of abandoning the piece and starting again, but I liked the sky so much I decided to turn it into a landscape to salvage it.  I took it to class where it was well received so I'm pleased I did not throw it away.


Lone Cypress

I painted this watercolor a few months ago but didn't particularly like it so I put it away. My efforts to produce a painting for class this week failed, so I dug this watercolor out of my draw and took it along. Well, to my surprise our instructor, Jerry Stitt, raved about it.  And the rest of the class loved it too. That got me wondering what it was that I didn't like about it. I guess it's just a case of not being painted in my usual, more atmospheric style. It also got me wondering whether I should be considering what others like about my paintings - with a view to selling.  It's a loaded subject. It feels good when I paint something I like and the hope is that a few other people will like it too - maybe even enough to buy the piece. My watercolors that have sold were a mix of what I like painting and some where I was trying other styles with my watercolors. I guess there is always someone out there that will like something you do. I try to marry the skills of painting with marketing my work, but it takes so much of one's time that it's not always easy to balance the two.


A Quiet Place

I took this painting to class last week and the criticism was that the darks needed to be joined, otherwise it was too spotty. Another criticism was that the two pieces of land on either side in the distance were too similar.  I like the watercolor the way it was - because I feel I created this peaceful isolated scene. A  point Jerry always makes in class is that the elements and principles of design are guidelines and not rules. I always try to be mindful of that when creating my watercolors but in this instance I broke the rules and am happy with the results.


Wild Fennel

Going outside my comfort zone again to have another stab at painting flowers. I love the wild fennel that grows so plentifully around our area. The background around the yellow flowers is not in contrast enough to make them pop. I should have used a violet hue - the compliment of yellow - to make the flowers pop more. I always have problems with the backgrounds when trying to paint flowers in watercolors - not in choosing the color, but actually painting it. These particular flowers are made up of little dots and it is difficult to paint around them afterwards without it looking like a deliberate outline around the flowers. To get color vibration going the background color needs to be of the same value as the yellow of the flowers, which would have made it difficult to put the background in first without making the yellow flowers look dull. 


Dawn Light

I decided this week to paint the same picture (more or less) from both a vertical and horizontal viewpoint. It sometimes helps to decide which is the better format. I also painted the vertical on hot pressed paper and the horizontal on cold pressed paper. I took them both to class and the consensus was that the horizontal was a better painting, the reason being that in the vertical I virtually divided the painting in half, something one should avoid. Of course there is an easy fix, to just crop the vertical watercolor but what I liked about it was the texture in the hills, which works much better for me on hot pressed paper. I am going to repeat the horizontal on hot pressed paper because I do like that format better.


Mt. Tam By Day and Night

I managed to get two paintings done this week. I decided to do the same subject with two different moods. Mt. Tam is situated in Marin County not far from where I live.  The purpose of this first exercise was to experiment with texture, What better subject to choose - hence the closeup view.  With so much texture going on in the mountain area, I decided to keep the sky very bland so as not to fight with, or detract from the textured area. Painted on hot  pressed paper, the watercolors I used were, burnt umber mixed with a little Paynes grey, raw sienna and a very small amount of the sky color which was indigo, to carry the color into the rest of the painting for harmony.  I dribbled granulation medium on the wet paint on the lower part of the mountain and let it run down the page. It is often hit or miss using this technique. The key is using colors that granulate well and not using too much granulation medium.  In the watercolor below I tried to capture the mountain by moonlight using various blues, with a hint of warm color picked up from my palette.


Textured Woodland

This is my first painting of  2012 and I was really pleased with the results first time off. I am trying hard to paint loosely. I like the semi abstract style with just suggestions of what the subject is. I bought an incredible book by Ann Blockley called "Watercolour Textures". She uses interesting techniques to create textures, including watercolor pencils, oil pastels, inktense blocks, india ink etc. Her style is loose and dramatic. I was so impressed with the book that I ordered one of her DVD's so I could see her at work. I am really inspired. I have learned so much from both the book and the DVD.  It has helped me to look at how I approach painting a subject in a totally different way. I am taking this one to class tomorrow for review. I painted this watercolor on Arches hot pressed paper using indian yellow, neutral tint, burnt sienna, sepia ink and green gold  - a new color I tried - which was used in the trees.