Morning Glow

Trying different color combinations with glazing. The sky is a mixture of indigo and Indian yellow. I was pleased with the effect of the glow in the lower sky that one can sometimes see when the sun rises in the morning. The hills and trees are mixtures of burnt sienna and ultramarine and some acrylic sepia ink and some dribbling of granulation medium.


Tangled Undergrowth II

It's been a while since I posted. Haven't had a lot of time to paint lately, much to my frustration. I thought I would try another abstract landscape with tangled branches and abstract plants. It helps me to loosen up. Not sure about this one, but I do like some of the colors. Maybe not enough plant life.



It was very difficult getting the colors right for this posting. The watercolor is actually a little darker than it appears here, especially in the foreground. I wanted to paint an atmospheric night scene using a range of blues. It took about ten coats of glazing to get to this stage. I almost abandoned it halfway through because it looked uninteresting. For the last stage I decided to take a rough painters brush and using Daniel Smith's indanthrone blue mixed with neutral tint I swept the brush back and forth and left it to dry. I think it really made the sky come to life.  I then had to come up with something interesting to paint in the bottom third of the painting. It had to be something simple that did not detract from the sky, which I wanted to be the focus of the watercolor. I was pleased with the end result of this piece. Size is 14" x 10". I used indigo, French ultramarine, indanthrone blue and neutral tint for the sky, and burnt sienna with French ultramarine, raw sienna and a little sepia ink for the land area.


Autumn Symphony

It's that time of year again. One of the things I miss most since moving from the east to the west coast is how the leaves change color in the fall.  What I don't miss is having to rake them up - but it is a beautiful sight while it lasts.The photos of the different stages accidentally got deleted so I will describe them for you.

Stage 1:  I wet 140lb Saunders Waterford CP paper and painted a layer of aureolin randomly over the sheet.  Before it dried I splattered transparent yellow and quinacridone burnt orange mixed with aureolin into the wet paint for the first layer of texture and let this dry. 

Stage 2:  I proceeded to splash more Indian yellow, transparent yellow and a mixture of Quinacridone burnt orange and aureolin onto the sheet. I spritzed this lightly with a spray bottle which changes the round dots to random shapes that more resemble leaves. I let this dry completely. 

Stage 3: For the next to final stage I crumpled up some saran wrap into a ball and dipped it into all of the same colors - plus some Daniel Smith olive green to add some darks - and dabbed this all over the piece. When this was dry I brushed off the masking fluid and painted the tree trunks and branches with a mixture of quinacridone burnt orange mixed with French ultramarine which makes a very nice grey.  I added a few more dabs of paint to make the colors a little richer. The final step was making a darker mixture to paint the markings on the bark. 


Color Selections

 I often do small sketches to try out different techniques and color combinations before starting a larger painting. The one above is 5" x 7". I was playing around with the new acrylic inks that I bought and was experimenting mixng them in with regular watercolors. The cliff is made up mostly of the acrylic inks. The watercolor below is just a little larger but was also done to test color selections. I find it very useful to do these small sketches.  It also is a good exercise in loosening up because I do them rather quickly. I usually use these as greeting cards for family and friends. I cut and fold watercolor paper a little larger than the sketch and then glue the painting to the front of the card. My friends and family love getting these original greeting cards. However, I really like these two and decided to put them up for sale on my web site.


Twighlight Hour

Another watercolor using multiple glazes to achieve the effect I was aiming for. I'm going back to glazing for now because I enjoy building up a watercolor with multiple glazes and slowly seeing the depth of the piece come to life. I sold a number of watercolors this month using this technique. They all also are paintings of sunsets, dawn and sunrise. For this watercolor I used raw sienna, indanthrone blue,  transparent red iron oxide and burnt umber. Size is 12.5" x 9.5"



I did multiple glazing for this watercolor to achieve the depth you can only get through this method of painting. The piece was inspired by scenes of the African Savannah, with it's vast unspoiled areas of grassland dotted with acacia trees that are indigenous to the area. For those who follow my blog on a regular basis, you know by now that I love to paint tonal landscape scenes depicting dusk, sunrise, sunset or dawn. I love the light at that time of day. I was rather pleased with the end result of this watercolor.


Solitude II

I sold my painting Solitude this week and the buyer asked if I could do a companion piece with the same colors. He wanted me to come up with a design that would complement and somehow be an extension of the piece he bought. Never having done a commission before, and with nothing specific in mind, I was a little hesitant at first. Then I realized it would be a good exercise and if he did not like it, I could always offer it on my web site. It's not easy to recreate a mood and get the colors just right. The values are a little different in this piece, but that could be a good thing.  The pathway is designed to lead the eye towards the tree and for the buyer, also leads beyond to the lake and the hill with the cottage which is in the first piece he bought. I used indigo, burnt sienna and raw sienna in the sky and the same colors mixed with a little burnt umber for the land area. I'm also happy to say that the buyer's reaction was, "it was just what I was looking for as a companion piece," and now the two watercolors will hang side by side.


Wild Fennel

I just had to go back to using muted colors after my last exercise. It's more in my comfort zone. I'm sorry I didn't photograph this in the various stages to show how I painted this piece. I started out masking out the fennel flowers, drawing them very loosely with various dots of masking fluid and joined the dots together to give the appearance of fennel flower heads. I also masked out some branches and splattered some masking fluid randomly onto 140lb Fabriano cold pressed paper. Once dry I started adding the background colors of indigo and Daniel Smith's Pompeii red. After that dried I added more branches and spatterings with masking fluid. When dry I sprayed the watercolor in parts with water and added a darker shade of indigo mixed with a little alizaron into the wet areas and waited for it to dry. I then removed all the masking fluid and loosely wet the flowers and painted them first with Aureolin yellow and then, while still wet, I dropped in some transparent yellow to give them a bit of depth. These flowers are somewhat of a greeny yellow, leaning towards mustard color. I had to try out several yellows on a piece of scrap paper to get the right hue. Layering always helps to give a painting more depth.


Golden Dreamscape

For this watercolor I wanted to achieve a tonalist look. I did a light pencil sketch then sprayed my hot-pressed paper all over with a squirt bottle. For the sky I did a Quinacridone Gold wash and then glazed over it while still wet with Daler Rowney's sepia ink watered down so that all it did was tone down the gold color. I added the same gold color to the bottom area, then painted over that with watered down acrylic green gold. I added the trees with sepia ink, which tends to run on a wet surface, making some nice soft edges.  I carried down the sepia to suggest tree roots and added granulation medium for texture. Size: 11.5" x 7.5"


Tangled Undergrowth

I'm still on a roll with watercolor texturing. I think I even prefer this one to the previous post, because the colors are more muted. I used Daniel Smith's perrylene green, transparent red iron oxide and Dailer Rowney's sepia acrylic ink. I used granulation medium on the sepia ink in the foreground which breaks up the ink and creates these wonderful textures.



I love experimenting with textures. A few of my favorite artists who use lots of texture are Ann Blockley, Jean Haines, and Australian watercolorist John Lovett. It's not as easy as it looks from their paintings. Ann Blockley creates such interesting paintings using lines and squiggles and watercolor mixed in with acrylic inks, gouache, granulation medium and plastic wrap. After much practice, I was quite pleased with this one. However, I made the mistake of using all warm colors and not having a contrast of warm against cool, so I glazed over the sky area with indanthrone blue mixed with alizarin, hoping it wouldn't ruin the piece. I think it worked. A good friend came up with the title for me. It does look like the aftermath of a big storm. I used acrylic inks and watercolors for this one. I'm enjoying exploring with mixed media for special effects.


Blackberry Season

When we take the dogs for a walk with the family on the local Oakwood Trail my grand daughter likes to pick the wild blackberries. She takes along a container to collect them in but by the end of the walk most of them end up being eaten rather than collected.  The prickly branches of the blackberry bushes grow every which way and I tried to convey that somewhat in this watercolor. Size is 11.5" X 7.5". I used Winsor and Newton's indian yellow and alizarin crimson and Daniel Smith's moon glow and quinacridone burnt orange.


Dandelion Heads

I have been practicing these dandelion heads for some time and only now have I managed something half decent.  Thought I would post this one even though there were a few things I could have done to make it more lively. I should have spattered masking fluid before starting to preserve some whites. And maybe cobalt blue would have been better than the indigo I used.  I will definitely work on perfecting the technique. I bought this great bottle of masking fluid by Daniel Smith that has different size applicator heads, including very fine ones for masking out the the fine white lines of the dandelion. Other colors I used were Daniel Smith's quinacridone gold by itself and mixed with alizarin crimson in areas. Lots of spattering and some salt also.

Last week I went to a demonstration of Daniel Smith watercolors and I must say I am quite smitten. They have some beautiful colors and I ended up spending way too much stocking up on a lot of their granulating colors because I love using textures in my watercolors. The representative from Daniel Smith told us that their watercolors have more pigment in them than other watercolors. They can also be resurrected after they have dried out. I tested this and the colors stay as vibrant. Quite impressed.


Textures In Watercolor

I like using textures in my watercolors and am a great admirer of Ann Blockley's watercolors and her innovative use of textures. She incorporates acrylics, inks and sometimes paints with sticks rather than brushes to achieve her goal - all with very effective results. These teasels grow on the mountains around Marin and make an interesting subject for using textures. For the teasels I used sepia ink and scratched into them to create the spikiness. Remembering that one should paint dark against light I used a watered down burnt sienna and cobalt blue for the background.  The painting below was done with acrylics and I was really just doodling as an exercise to loosen up, but liked the result so decided to post it. I thought it ended up resembling an abstract leaf design.


Ocean Sunset

I cropped off the bottom three inches on this piece because it did not add anything to the painting. I wanted the focus to be on the reflected light on the ocean in the distance. One always has to remember the focal point.  I like it better now and it has sold.


Early Evening Light

Trying to catch the early evening light for a tonalist effect on the landscape in this watercolor. I started with an underglaze of raw sienna followed by burnt sienna and indigo for the sky. The foreground is burnt sienna and French ultramarine. Had to do quite a few glazes for the sky to get that dusky look. Size: 13" x 10"


Lone Pine

The hills around Marin County turn a lovely wheaten color in summer. I have been trying to find ways to reflect them in an impressionist or atmospheric way in my watercolors.  Need a lot of practice still. I used burnt sienna, raw sienna Payne's grey and some sepia indian ink for the tree and darks. Also used granulation medium for the hill textures.


Dappled Moonlight

Another atmospheric watercolor. Trying to capture the moonlight I see over the bay from my living room window. If I were to do it again I would not put so much detail in the tree on the right. This would be better with just a few abstract strokes. Size is 13.5" x 9.5 inches. An underpainting of raw sienna was followed by using French ultramarine mixed with burnt sienna for the rest of the painting. I used a coarse painters brush for the sea to get the effect of dappled moonlight.