Saturday, November 14, 2009

Crashing Waves

Because our room was just above these rocks, we would listen all night to the sound of waves crashing as the tide came in. So I made sure I got the opportunity to paint these during the day. My favorite part is the little section of sand at the foreground and I think I started to get the curling wave correct. Of course, the darn thing wouldn't stand still so this was more an interpretation than anything else. Looking at it more, I realize my ocean isn't lying flat in the background. So I probably should have managed that transition a bit better. Oh well, I can still hear the waves.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Playa Escondida Pool

We stayed at a wonderful place called Playa Escondida, "Hidden Beach". I was very nervous as our taxi traversed rocky, windy, dirt roads through the jungle to get there. We were pleasantly surprised by a little paradise tucked away. This is the view from the infinity pool. You cross that wooden bridge to get to the tables where all the gourmet meals are served. The chef is excellent and I believe the place was written up in Food and Wine Magazine. Through the palm trees you can see the hint of the beach and sky. As I painted this, the sun was setting and I kept putting darker darks because I couldn't see my paper any more.

Sayulita Surf Shop

I just returned from a wonderful week in Mexico. Sayulita is a little town north of Puerto Vallarta full of color shops and people. I did this watercolor sketch in my sketchbook, while two local children watched. There is a lot wrong with it, but I still think it starts to capture the identity of the place. There was a really nice mural on the wall of the surf shop of a guy riding a wave. Unfortunately, the other figures in my picture kept moving so don't look too closely.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SCVWS Annual Show Sponsor Award!

Well, I guess I have a good reason to finally get back to updating my blog. Sunday was the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society's Annual Show and Reception and I was fortunate enough to win a Sponsor's Award! Christopher Schenk, a nationally recognized watercolor artist, was the juror for the show. He made these comments on my painting, "A traditional still life handled with great delicacy. The soft edges and quiet feeling give the painting its appeal."

It was a lovely day and it felt very good to be recognized amongst such wonderful artists. I really appreciated having my husband and parents there to support me as they have always done. And it was a nice surprise to have my friends Teresa Day and Cindy Wolverton come to the show and reception as well.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Goldsmith Seeds

What a fun place this was! Goldsmith Seeds is down in Gilroy. Only two of us from the Watercolor Society showed up at this paint site, but it was definitely worth the drive. I just loved the rows of flowers. I did this in just about two hours and have still not done any adjusting at home (although it needs it).

The dirt rows were obviously more brown than the grey I used, but I think the grey makes the bright flowers pop more. Also, my hills in the back sort of faded, but it gives it some good atmosphere. This was a cheaper Canson block and the background washes didn't behave the way I was used to. However, I think their fuzziness plays nicely off the texture in the foreground. Anyway, this one makes me happy when I look at it.

Rengstorff House at Noon

This was a plein air painting I did on June 25th. I managed to find a nice shady spot and was really taken with the wonderful shadows on the ground that framed the bright lawn in the middle ground. I liked the idea of making the house just a background element that the gardens were playing off of. It was tricky making all of my greens interesting enough, but I think it worked.

Downtown Los Gatos

I'm just catching up on my blog for the summer...
Here is a pen and watercolor sketch of Downtown Los Gatos that I did with the Watercolor Society on June 18th. It was a beautiful day with a guitar player practicing in the park and lots of people wandering around enjoying the sunshine. I hope I captured that happy serene feeling. The truth is I had trouble simplifying all that detail and still maintaining the charm.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Redwood City Boat Harbor

I started this plein air painting back on May 28th and finished most of it the following week. Boats are always a challenge, but I really got a kick out of the deck with the straw umbrella on top. I'm happy with the overall color harmonies (blue and orange), but there are definitely some design mistakes (the mast looks too centered on the umbrella) and the background doesn't recede enough. I think I did a good job making it look nicer than it really was, though. The boats were actually sitting in mud.

Teaching Mrs. Mitchell's 8th Grade Art Class

The end of the year got away from me, and here I am posting for the first time in over a month. I spent about 5 weeks teaching my son's 8th grade art class how to watercolor. What a fantastic class! 13 kids who really wanted to create art! The biggest challenge was the short classes (only 50minutes usually).

We started with some simple techniques: brush work and washes, then moved on to how to create form (spheres, cylinders, pears). They next worked on a simple landscape learning how to create depth through color temperature, intensity, and soft/hard edges. Finally, I wanted them to create their own work of art. We started by discussing composition and had them look at famous paintings to identify basic compositions: (Lshape, Tshape, vertical, horizontal, etc.) We also discussed the basic design elements of line, size, shape, color, value, and texture and how artists used them to move draw the eye through the painting.

In order for them to make their own creation, I brought in random objects and had them arrange them in some overlapping way and take photographs. Then, they did 5-8 small value sketches from the photograph, cropping and simplifying, and focusing on the interesting abstract shapes that the lights and darks made. Next, I had them choose 2-3 colors from my bag and do a value range for each color as well as a mixing chart of the colors. They drew a full scale drawing of their painting (1/4sheet size) in pencil and carbon transferred it to the watercolor paper. Finally they were ready to begin. As you can imagine, some kids worked at different paces than others and we were kind of rushed at the end, but I was really blown away at what the kids came up with. From both a design and technique standpoint, they did a great job! It was a lot of work, but I think they got a better appreciation for the process required to make a good painting.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Anna Cook's Garden

Thursday was a beautiful day to be out painting, and Anna Cook's garden is a gem! There is so much to paint, I didn't know where to start. I ended up doing two small watercolor sketches because it seemed too complicated to try something larger. I wish I would be a bit bolder with my original pen work. Instead, I went back over the pen after the watercolor, to add some more personality.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Grape Leaves #7

Here is my seventh version. I actually started this before the sixth, but just finished it a few days ago. I was trying to use texture to make the leaves move forward. I tried mixing a little masking fluid in with the initial staining wash and it gave it an interesting affect. I also used a little bit of salt, but I think I ended up covering most of that up.

This time, I repeated the grapes to try to make the circle shape a little less of a contrast and changed some of the shapes of the background leaves. I'm pretty happy with it. But I think I'll try something else for awhile.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ulistac Natural Preserve

Here is the plein air painting I did yesterday. This area is in Santa Clara near the Convention Center and the Guadalupe River. Yellow bush was California Flannelbush and the blue was Blue-blossom Ceanothus. (they had everything labelled which was nice.)

Almost all of this painting was done on site between 10:30 and 1:30 (with a lovely break for lunch). Thanks to Jenny for getting me to balance the colors out a bit more. Only downside of a wonderful day is sunburned shoulders.

Grape Leaves #6

This is my Grape Leaves #6 that I just explained in the previous post. I would certainly welcome feedback. I added a little line work under some of the leaves to give them some more definition, but I didn't want to overdo it. Maybe I should add more?

Creating Grape Leaves #6

This was an attempt at applying my leaf painting to an arbitrary value design. Thanks Mike for suggesting this. It definitely made my leaves beyond the obvious.

I started by scribbling 9 possible value patterns in my notebook and then choosing my favorite. In order to translate the thumbnail to fullsize, I tore pieces of construction paper (black and medium) and arranged them on a light background that would be the same size as my final painting. I tried to keep close to my original value design. Then I traced the design onto tracing paper. I then did an underpainting of yellow/orange and blue and transferred the light pattern only. I did a layer of orange over everything, preserving my lights. I then transferred the dark value pattern and did a layer of thalo blue, just where the darks were. Then I finally drew in where my leaves were supposed to go and painted them in on top. Finally I adjusted lights and darks for the final version.

I photographed it as I went, so I could watch what was happening. In retrospect, I probably should have paid more attention to when I was using semi-opaque layers (like Cad Red), but you can still see most of the layers coming through.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pulgas Water Temple

Here is the plein air painting I did of the Pulgas Water Temple in Woodside. What a beautiful place! The sky was blue, not too hot, reflections were perfect. I didn't even know it was there. Just off Canada road one driveway past Filoli. I spent about 1.5 hours on this on site and another hour or so working on my values at home. I also used the Kleen Edge tape to get some of the whites back in my columns.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grape Leaves #4 - dark layer

Added some Thalo greens and then some darks of Alizarin Crimson/Thalo Green mix. Definitely moved it to a tone painting with only minimal tints. I need to move my grapes back and do something about that area behind the grapes.

I definitely find this process very tedious and unpredictable. It is so hard to plan on where to put your early colors. Oh well, time to give this one a break for awhile. I'll keep working it because it definitely isn't "right" yet.

Grape Leaves #4 - blue layer

Added ultramarine blue. Yikes! look what it did to my orange. I should have seen that coming.

Grape Leaves #4 - red layer

Added quinacrodone rose and a little alizarin crimson.

Grape Leaves #4 orange layer

Added Azo orange. Only I don't quite know where to put it...

Grape Leaves #4 -yellow layer

Here is my attempt at layering watercolors. First layer is New Gamboge.
(I think I forgot to turn off the flash on this photo.)

Final Grape Leaves #3

So this is what I ended up with. I like the more subtle treatment of the grapes. I tried to connect a few of the grapes together as single shapes and I added more veins to the leaves.

Working in black and white was very comfortable. No need to make all those color decisions. Now to try for a color version....

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Grape Leaves #3 (in process)

Okay, this is the one I've been working on today. I decided to do it all in black and white so I could be sure to nail the value pattern. I also decide to make it about the leaves, not the grapes. This is feeling much better. I'm still struggling with how to handle the grapes, because I want them to be secondary, but right now they are somewhat in limbo.
Also, I started adding the veins to the leaves and I really like how that is working, but I don't want to overdo it. Right now it is too subtle. I think I will do that big front leaf more boldly (bigger value contrast) for the veins and do the top leaves more quietly.

Grape Leaves #2

This was the second version. I was trying to lose some edges and make other edges move forward. I was also going for a P-shaped composition for my lights. This was done on colored paper. I don't know what it is called but it had a nice blending ability to it, although you can't scrub it or the paper starts to fall apart. I tried to make the biggest value contrast the grapes against the background, so they would be the focal point. I still wasn't happy with the value pattern.

Grape Leaves #1

This is the original painting I did back in January. It was from a photo and plein air watercolor sketch I did at the Savannah-Channelle Vineyards. I had a fun time making the colors mix on the paper and trying to get some rich colorful darks. However, I was never happy with the value plan and the light background on the left came forward too much.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rosicrucian Museum

Here is the plein air painting I did of the sphinx in the garden behind the Rosicrucian Museum. I moved the sundial planter to the left of the sphinx, because I didn't want the sphinx to be looking out of the page. My goal was to make the sphinx the focal point and all the landscaping to be just suggestions. I also really liked the dome building behind and I wanted to lose the edge into the sky. In all, I think I accomplished my objectives, but the painting is still pretty blah. I should have been more daring with the colors.