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.