Saturday, September 26, 2009

Exploring Options

Now this is what I'm talking about! This is definitely an option worth considering. I hit this one with the watercolor filter and got some real impact going on. It makes the original painting look downright drab. Anyone up for watercolor and wet charcoal?
IMO, this is a job for colored pencils. Not sure which filter I used for this effect but if anyone is interested I can sure go back and find out.

Last night I opened Elements and experimented with my latest painting. I got some interesting and extremely varied results. To tell the truth, the first time I considered painting the birch reference I thought of Nick Simmon's koi technique. His 'sewing machine stitch'(one of many unique techniques he demos on his DVD) and the use of spattering with a toothbrush to add shading and volume came to mind immediately. I will need to think on a much larger scale but I may try it out on a closeup section to see if I can pull it off. I'll need to order some full sheets of HP as well. It sure won't be Arches HP, though. I really should contact that company and let them know the problems I've least with this latest block.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Berries & Birch~Version #1 Completed


I spent far more time than I intended on this but one thing lead to another and I got caught up in painting berries, adding twiggy little branches and general overall tweaking. Oddly, the berries turned out to be the biggest challenge. I mixed a combo of pyrrol red and perm. yellow for the orange. Pyrrol red, if you haven't tried it yet, is a potent color and it completely overtook the perm. yellow on the gesso. I waited until the first application of paint was dry, then gently lifted out the berries with a damp brush. The perm. yellow held onto the gesso and the pyrrol red stained just enough to create the shade of orange I was shooting for. I used some of the color mixture from the trunks to add shading and depth to the berry clusters. I created the twigs with the pointed tip of a bamboo skewer soaked in water, then dipped in undiluted tube paint.

Btw, the mystery tree with the berry clusters is a form of Mountain ash.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Berries & Birch~WIP Update

The color in this photo is obviously not accurate but I wanted to show that I've begun the detail work on the trunk and started adding the smaller branches. I had to reapply the masking to the berries with my masking pen. I'm saving them for last. So far my palette has consisted primarily of FUB(red shade), burnt sienna, cobalt blue deep and Payne's grey. I's at the ugly stage.

The background is complete and the masking has been removed. I chose a mixture of Payne's grey and cobalt blue and applied the color by pouring. Cobalt blue is a nice color but it's weak in value so I sprayed on a little Indigo/FUB around the trunk with an atomizer bottle for more contrast. The resulting effect reminded me of stonewashed denim.

The gesso is finally dry and I've applied my masking fluid.

A closeup of the gessoed surface. I chose to try cross-hatching with a 2" brush for the texture element.

I knew when I began painting this it wouldn't be the final. It really should be in a much larger format to look effective but I decided to experiment with different techniques, surfaces and palettes before committing to the final piece so I'm working on my Arches HP block which is only 12" x 16". The comp had to change a little to fit the paper so I sacrificed part of the lower trunk. It's times like these I wish I had a projector. Maybe that'll be next on my wish list.

This particular block of Arches HP doesn't want to release masking fluid well so I coated my paper beforehand with gesso. I also wanted to see how the gesso could add to the piece.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Berries & Birch~WIP

This is the sketch after alteration in Elements 6.0. I selected the shade of red I desired and used the Eyedropper set at size 13 to literally drop in the berries. Next I switched to Brush and added the black and greys. I set the Brush size at 9 & 2 respectively. When I felt I had added enough 'information' I softened some of the dropper and brush work with the Blur feature. Tada!
The initial sketch

Last December I took a photo of the birch tree that grows across the drive from my home titled Berries & Birch. Nearby another tree grows that produces clusters of vivid orange-red berries that stay on the tree all winter, well after the foliage has fallen. I really should know the name of this berry producing tree/shrub(?) being a gardener but trees and shrubs were never my forte. I'll be researching this one and I will find out what it is. What drew my interest was the way the branches of each tree crisscrossed each other and the contrast of the bright red berries against the greys, whites and the bits of black on the birch. The blue-grey winter sky added the perfect background.

Last night I drew a quick sketch from the photo, indicating the placement of the berry clusters using several amorphous shapes scribbled here and there. This morning I refined the sketch somewhat and studied it to see how well the composition worked. I realized without the color of those berries it would be hard to tell what the final result might be. I didn't want to add color to my sketch so I did the next best thing. I put it in Elements.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fern Canyon~First Landscape

Landscapes...a subject I've managed to avoid for my entire painting 'career' until this past week. I've had this niggling little urge to try my hand at one since I attempted to paint my trillium landscape, which btw is still waiting in the wings. I finally decided to have a go at Fern Canyon because I was so taken with it's beauty. I took elements I liked from both photos (previously posted) and tried to incorporate them into one painting. My goal was to convey the feeling of entering into another world within a world. One that is lush and green and cool. Isn't that what landscape painters do? Try to take the viewer there, wherever 'there' may be and hopefully allow them to experience what the artist experienced?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Searching for Inspiration

Fern Canyon in Northern California.

It's like walking into another world.

The Fern Canyon photos have rekindled my desire to try a landscape. I remember how I felt walking into that canyon even after all these years. So lush and green, I felt cradled and safe there for some reason.

I'm absolutely dwarfed by this giant! It just keeps going up & up.

Me & a tree

The Redwoods

Morro Bay

Trolley scene in SF

Today I got out some old snapshots of my trip along the California coastline from San Diego to Klamath in hopes of getting my creative juices flowing again. These photos sure brought back great memories. San Fran. was the most amazing city I've ever visited and I now know where all the old hippies went after the 70' Mill Valley. Jeff Beck's instrumental, 'Girl From Mill Valley' is still one of my favorite pieces of music. The Redwoods simply blew me away. So ancient yet still stately and proud. Walking among them I felt as though I had entered Nature's cathedral. The banana slugs that dwell below these incredible trees made me realize that Nature has a sense of humor, too.