Monday, August 27, 2012

Glorious Gold

The cottonwoods aren't quite this yellow here yet, but somehow the promise of gold is on its way even though it's still hitting the 90s in the daytime. I found a photo that was shared in a challenge last year in the WetCanvas Landscape forum and reinterpreted it. It really is this brilliant, and I love the swing-and-sway of the composition.

My usual small size, 2.5" x 3.5", on Bristol Vellum. 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Humid Morning

We've had a nice round of lovely monsoonal showers in the last couple of weeks, driving the humidity up higher than normal. I love the way the moisture in the air makes the shadows softer and bluer, it seems, and leaves the sky  a glowing whitish color. I chose to use the camera distortion of the sidewalk that created interesting angles.

My usual small size, 2.5" x 3.5", on Arches 300 cold pressed. 


Friday, August 17, 2012


I often take my camera when I go for a morning walk, and this time I left the nighttime settings on the camera from the previous evening. That gave it a blue cast--not real but I liked the look a lot. Sometimes the simplest compositions are the most pleasing. I enjoy the focus on one subject, and the way light sculpts the frilly grass so it looks as if it's dancing.

My usual small size, 2.5" x 3.5", on Arches 300 cold pressed. 


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Demonstration: Peachy Still Life with Corrections

I started this painting just for fun because I had these wonderful little peaches at hand. I wanted to paint the the lush, rich colors. I had my camera next to my elbow so I decided to record the process, without any idea originally of showing them here. That's why the photos are so casual! As I progressed I realized I wanted to do a big edit, removing a large portion of the painting, and that's when I thought maybe I'd post the whole thing here. People often ask me how you can do corrections in gouache, and this was the chance to show how really easy it is.

1. The paper is Arches 300 cold press, a nicely textured watercolor paper. It's my usual 2.5" x 3.5" size. I did a very quick pencil sketch and mixed up a light neutral. I always splash paint along the edges so I can cover them easily and get a nice edge line, a wonderful characteristic of opaque media.

2. I added pure white paint in to establish the light and shadow shapes. (I immediately wondered if the upper shape worked but ignored my gut instinct!)

This is my butcher's tray palette. The paint was all dried, so I sprayed it with clean water and used a brush to draw out the now-liquid paint. The whites--Titanium for mixing and Permanent for impasto--are freshly squeezed.

3. I started with the dark colors and very roughly established the shapes. I know they will grow in size as I go, so I'll easily cover the pencil marks in time. No worry. (Still worrying about that top one, but ignoring the feeling.)

4. I add a watercolor-y wash for the shadows. Meh. Not great, but I figure in time I can tweak that color. I add the lighter yellow on peach number two to give it form, and establish the dark core on each peach.

5. I add the dusty peach fuzz look to the top and sides, and like the shapes of the peaches and the light on the top surfaces now. I want peach number two to be the star of the show. But I've gotten myself in some real trouble! I hate the dark shadow and the upper peach's shape, so I quickly try to wash out the offending shadow. Before long I realize my gut has been telling me the top peach is wrong, so I decide to get rid of it completely. The idea to show this step-by-step process here is born.

6. I add a lot of water to the whole area until it's soupy.

7. A clean paper towel blots up the offending color. I re-wet and blot it three times.

8. The result, still damp, is a ghost of the colors, but they will flavor colors I put on top.

9. I use thick, barely watered down, fresh Permanent white on a clean brush, with clean water, to begin to cover the area.

10. The result is a slightly lavender white that I like, but I decide I want to play with the shadow shapes and the edges.

11. I add more white at the top and play with the shadow, tweaking the color by adding a little more dark red to it. I like it!

Here's a closeup of the light on the peach. You can see that I've built light over dark, adding watery lavender strokes that are slightly dry-brushed to make the peach fuzz on the left, and much more impasto strokes of medium and light colors, overlapping them to create the shape and light.

Below is the finished painting, Peach, Peach, with the color corrected, shown a little larger than actual size.

Hope you enjoyed seeing my corrections. Remember, no one's perfect! That's why I love a forgiving medium like gouache.

If you have any questions I'm happy to try and answer them. Oh, and let me know if you'd like to see more of this kind of post here.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Neighborhood Walk

It's too hot to walk unless you do it early in the morning or in the later evening, like this one shows. It's actually my street, looking west at sunset. The little mound in the distance is one of the volcanoes that dress up the escarpment. I love it when the sky comes alive with light and color! 

This one is on Arches 300 cold press watercolor paper, which causes the texture you see.