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".


Poppy Field

The golden poppy (Eschscholzia Californica) is the State flower of California and flowers prolifically in Spring. In some areas it's amazing to see fields of carpeted yellow as far as the eye can see. I wanted to paint a watercolor in a more abstract way than painting the detail of the flowers. 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.


Experimenting with acrylics

I have spent the last few weeks experimenting with abstract forms using acrylic paints. Never having painted with acrylics before, I can tell you there were a lot of frustrating moments. I decided halfway through my experiments that I needed to learn about using the medium.I googled using acrylics and found some useful links. I became inspired by one artist in particular by the name of Carol Nelson - her site is really worth a visit - and on her blog she very generously shares some of her techniques.  I would love to do one of her workshops. Anyway, after trashing most of my attempts, I saved these four which I will mount on a black board to give them a little more depth. The only one I really am fond of is this first one where I poured fluid acrylics to get this look of a stormy sea. They are all 8" x 10" painted on canvas. I still have to varnish them but I'm waiting until after a demonstration Saturday at my local art store by the people from Golden Acrylics. Maybe my abstracts will improve once I find out more from the experts.

 Stormy Sea

 Electrical Storm

Butterfly Image - the body is painted aluminum foil

Flashes of Red


Winter Glow

More experimenting with acrylic inks. I feel I need a lot of improvement still and need to branch out a bit. I do like the colors in this experiment though. For any of you who have never seen Ann Blockley's acrylic ink paintings, they are definitely worth a visit, as is all of her work.  Click on her name to go to her blog post. There is a lovely acrylic ink painting just below the post for her latest book - which I will definitely order. She is a great inspiration for the kind of watercolors I like painting.


Mystic Glade

I was lucky enough to get two nice gift certificates for Christmas to my favorite local art store. It is fun to browse around and buy materials for experimenting without having to be conscious of the cost. In 2013 I started to experiment with acrylic inks and had some successes which I have posted previously on my blog. I bought a few more colors this year and was excited to do more experimenting. The first two attempts were not that successful, but I was pleased with this third try. I found that it worked better if I applied a layer of gesso to the watercolor paper and let it dry before applying the inks.  Playing around like this really helps one loosen up.


Morning Glow

Trying different color combinations with glazing. The sky is a mixture of indigo and Indian yellow. I was pleased with the effect of the glow in the lower sky that one can sometimes see when the sun rises in the morning. The hills and trees are mixtures of burnt sienna and ultramarine and some acrylic sepia ink and some dribbling of granulation medium.


Tangled Undergrowth II

It's been a while since I posted. Haven't had a lot of time to paint lately, much to my frustration. I thought I would try another abstract landscape with tangled branches and abstract plants. It helps me to loosen up. Not sure about this one, but I do like some of the colors. Maybe not enough plant life.



It was very difficult getting the colors right for this posting. The watercolor is actually a little darker than it appears here, especially in the foreground. I wanted to paint an atmospheric night scene using a range of blues. It took about ten coats of glazing to get to this stage. I almost abandoned it halfway through because it looked uninteresting. For the last stage I decided to take a rough painters brush and using Daniel Smith's indanthrone blue mixed with neutral tint I swept the brush back and forth and left it to dry. I think it really made the sky come to life.  I then had to come up with something interesting to paint in the bottom third of the painting. It had to be something simple that did not detract from the sky, which I wanted to be the focus of the watercolor. I was pleased with the end result of this piece. Size is 14" x 10". I used indigo, French ultramarine, indanthrone blue and neutral tint for the sky, and burnt sienna with French ultramarine, raw sienna and a little sepia ink for the land area.