watercolour, 9 x 12
The Alberta Society Of Artists held their annual BBQ a few weeks ago at the heritage site, Perronoud Ranch just north of Cochrane. This was my first event as a new member of the ASA. It was a wonderful day. Sunny and warm. By the end of the day it was sunny with gale force winds.
My wife and I went early to do a little painting on the property. I was very pleased with my little study. We ate on this veranda. Some of our meal was simply blown into the surrounding fields by the wind.
I was very pleased to be juried into the ASA this year. I think the thing I like most about membership in art groups like this is the connection and networking with other like minded artists. To associate with, share ideas with, and learn from your peers is wonderful and very motivating. I’m always amazed at the range of interests and directions that others are pursuing. And most of all is the wonderful sense of camaraderie I feel, fellow travellers and all.
This is the image I painted in my latest video lesson. I was trying to create a depth to the painting as it recedes into the distance. I also was trying to create a sense of place, to tell a bit of a story about this neighbourhood.
I spent a very enjoyable day doing an acrylic workshop for the Sheep Creek Arts Council in Turner Valley. I did a version of my truck painting “Big Red”.
This is how it looked when I got it home, I was happy with it but realized that the truck was a little small and it was definitely was too low. It needed to be moved up about an inch.
Here I’ve used gesso to white the truck out and raise it up. The old bumper has been covered over with a dark stroke.
Here is the new version of the truck with the dark for the shadows covering the truck.
This is finished version of the painting at the same place I left it after the workshop.
I love the ability we have with acrylic to change things dramatically, at any time. Overall I’m happy with the painting. I would just like to change the bright (almost white) highlights in the grass. The don’t really fit in. Of course this is really just the initial stage of the painting. Even for the parts I worked on there is still the final detailing stage that really brings the painting to life.
This is the painting I did as a demo for my class last night. After class as I was finishing it I made a huge mistake. The point of the lesson was to create a more interesting and stronger centre of interest under the overhang. I felt the darkish wash I used in class wasn’t dark enough so I put a second very dark wash on it and it became too dark, a muddy mess. That is the one thing that is hard to correct. I added lighter opaque colours with chinese white but it had no life. So then it was a double mess. Finally in desperation I scrubbed out the entire area. This you can see in the top example. I’ve left the original dark (with some lighter highlights) to the left of the pillar.
After this dried I then re-applied the darker washes. This repair job will never have the freshness of that first wash but at least it saved the painting from being recycled.
Many people believe that watercolours can’t be corrected or changed and this is another example that disproves that. Not a great ending but as they say, ‘it could have been worse’.
For those in class I also added a slightly darker wash to the lawn and the sky. One nice touch was a light wash of cobalt teal in the top left corner. Our goal is always to achieve what we want in that first magical wash. Often we fall short but even when we do we can learn so much.
This is the demo I did last night. It uses a very experimental (read) mad process to paint the tree on the left. Lots of splatter. The most interesting aspect of doing this painting was the final little detailing that bring it to life. It’s the last 5% of the painting process that makes such a large difference. These last touches are generally intuitive and therefore difficult to teach. You can show quite clearly how to draw a shape and what kind of wash to put in it but after all that is done a painting usually needs those special finishing touches and we can’t predict what they will be. We have to listen to the painting (which means look at it with fresh eyes) and see what it needs. It can be little dabs here and there, details, adjusting washes etc but this is what brings it to life.
In this painting I did quite a few minor adjustments but the two I would like to talk about are detailing the bridge. I had already added the drybrush to the top of the bridge and a few dark accents. Still I felt that the bridge while it was a nice wash was too uniform and a bit boring. What I did is add some subtle light washes all over the surface. From a distance you can barely see them but you definitely can sense there presence. They make the bridge just look more like a real living structure. The second one is the tree. Again after the demo it was OK but by splattering with a stronger purer cad yellow it became more dramatic. I also added some chinese white to the cad yellow for an even stronger effect.
That last 5% made a large difference.
This is the demo I did in class last night. The interesting part of doing this painting was that when I had finished the demo I realized that the walls of the main building were too light and too bland. So I rewet the bottom half of the building and lay in a darker wash which helped but it still wasn’t enough. So I rewet the entire main building and got a lot more aggressive at applying some colour. So as much as our goal is to get the wash right the first time we often fall short of that goal but watercolour allows for many modifications and this is now a much stronger painting and still retains a freshness and a good sense of light.
The one change that I had to make that couldn’t be repaired was to correct the angle of the tram wires. You can see where I scrubbed the old ones out.
And further to our talk about happy accidents and accepting them as gifts. . . as I was sloshing paint on the walls a long drop splattered onto the road but it works as a cane for the figure between the car and the 2 main figures.
Back Lit Building
9 x 12
This is an image from a private drawing class that I’m teaching. It’s a lovely nuthatch. I did it on hot press watercolour paper which allowed me to quickly fill in a background in watercolour. The nuthatch itself was done in pencil.
This is an image that I use in my watercolour class. It’s actually a detail from a larger painting I did. It’s a neat image because of the extreme contrast between the very dark background and the almost white petal.