Through The Woods

This watercolor was inspired by a black and white photograph - a good exercise in being creative with color. The photo was also a good guide for the lights and darks. I took a lot of artistic license changing shapes and leaving out a water scene in the background and replacing it with distant trees. I used quinacridone gold, cadmium yellow, cobalt blue and Prussian blue and sepia ink for the textures in the foreground.


Last Glow Of Sunset

I was aiming for a tonalist look in this watercolor, using a number of glazes to achieve the result I wanted. It's easy to do too many glazes and ruin the painting by overworking it, or too few and not quite achieving one's goal. I'm a great admirer of the tonalist painters who mostly painted in oils. To quote from Wikipedia, "Tonalism is sometimes used to describe American landscapes derived from the French Barbizon style, which emphasized mood and shadow. Tonalism was eventually eclipsed by impressionism and European modernism." I love trying to create atmosphere in my watercolors. The colors I used were quinacridone gold, brown madder, neutral tint, transparent pyrrol orange, Payne's grey and burnt umber. Also some sepia ink for the texture in the foreground.


Golden Sunset

I'm really enjoying practicing my abstract landscapes inspired by my new Ann Blockley book. For this watercolor I did a number of glazes using brown madder, burnt sienna, Indian yellow and cobalt blue - just mixing them on the paper with no definite plan at first. While the paint was still wet I dropped in a sprinkling of Schmincke Tro-Col-Bronze in light gold - it's a powdered gouache. You can see the shimmer of the gold dust in the sky area. I then painted in the trees with sepia ink which mixed with the gold dust giving the trees quite a nice halo effect.


Jean Haines Painting Challenge

 I was astounded on opening my email this morning to find that I was one of five winners of the Jean Haines Painting Challenge in the British magazine, Painters Online. The theme was the use of the color yellow. There were 203 entries altogether, which makes me feel even more honored to be one of the winners.

Special thanks to Laura who suggested I enter my painting in this event.

Here is the link to the other winners and all the entries in the challenge. 


Tangled Woodland

autumn landscape

This is my first attempt at using some of the ideas from Ann Blockley's latest book "Experimental Landscapes in Watercolor." I think it may be a little patchy but I did like the color combinations. I used quinacridone burnt orange, Prussian green and quinacridone gold. For the sky I used the same colors very diluted and added plastic wrap to the wet paint for subtle texture. The branches on the left were done with sepia ink. For the textures in the lower half I used cheese cloth and a really nice netting that I found at a local fabric store that had more uneven spaces. I did as Ann described and tore and pulled it out of shape a little to get a more natural design. See photo below of the netting pattern. You can see the texture from this pattern in the gold and green areas of the painting. In the upper green area I used cheese cloth.


Windswept Hill

I have spent the last week or two reading my new Ann Blockley book, Experimental Landscapes in Watercolor. Ann is a master with innovative ways to create texture in watercolors. It's a wonderful book, full of creative ideas. I have also been practicing some of the techniques - which are more difficult than they seem. Hopefully I will be able to come up with a painting using some of these techniques soon. In the mean time, here is my latest atmospheric watercolor. I decided not to use too much texture since the focal point is the area of light where I used burnt sienna to draw the eye to this area of the painting.


Horizontal versus Vertical

This painting of an abstract landscape is a classic example of a painting that should have been painted in a horizontal instead of vertical format. I realized this the minute I finished it and thought I would just crop it, but I wasn't that happy with the trees all bunched together - thought that was a bit boring - so I painted a second watercolors using the horizontal format. If I had only followed what I learned during my years with Jerry Stitt AWS, I would have first done a sketch in both formats to see which looked better. It would have been pretty obvious, I think. Below is my second attempt with one of the the trees a little separated, which I think makes for a more interesting composition. I used my new Daniel Smith kyanite genuine for the shrubs and trees and transparent pyrrol orange and quinacridone gold for the rest of the painting. I also used a blue for the sky instead of the warm colors in the first piece. I think this works better. Size is 11" x 14".


Buttercup Field

I wanted to paint a watercolor in a more abstract way than painting the detail of the buttercups - or what we call here in America the California poppy. I prefer a more abstract approach to this type of painting. I used Indian Yellow, Quinacridone gold, Aureolin and a little transparent pyrrol orange for the fields, and my new Daniel Smith kyanite genuine for the foreground rocks and Blue apatite genuine for the distant mountains. Size is 11" x 14".


Experiments in Watercolor

I painted two small 5" x 7" watercolors like I sometimes do before attempting a larger piece to see which colors work best in the composition. The state flower of California is the poppy and they flower prolifically in spring in fields of deep yellow as far as the eye can see. I wanted to have a more abstract approach to representing them too. I also was trying out two new colors I bought from Daniel Smith - Blue Apatite Genuine in the piece above for the distant bushes, and Kyanite Genuine in the painting below. You can't see it in the painting below but the blue/gray has a metallic sparkle to it which is very appealing.


Mt Tam Mist

I don't usually like doing commissions but when someone admires a painting you do that is no longer available, and they request something similar, it becomes a challenge to create a painting with the same mood but that is different from the one they admired. This week I received an email from someone who liked my painting Mist Over Mt Tam. They asked me if I would do a painting of the mountain with a similar "peaceful mood". They wanted it as a gift for a friend who loved to hike on Mt Tam but who was leaving California to live across country. Mt Tam is a very imposing mountain in Marin County and in winter the peak is often shrouded in mist. It makes for a great painting subject. I am pleased with the results of this piece. It's a little abstract while still being recognizable. It's essentially different shades of gray. I used various shades of liquid graphite (comes in a tube) for most of the painting - I was pleased with the subtle textures it created. The trees and sky were painted with Payne's Grey watercolor. Painted on Arches hot-pressed watercolor paper. I always tell people I won't be offended if they don't like a piece because I can always put it up for sale. I almost want to keep this one myself though. I like the soft visual effect.