I’m making a foray into watercolor painting! Up until recently, I always said to myself “I already do oils, acrylics, and pastels. I don’t need to do watercolors”. However, one day I picked up a set of Tombow watercolor brush pens just to sketch with in the field. I started playing around with them at home in the studio. I really enjoyed the fluid, organic way the paints mixed together on the paper. I also love that I don’t have much set up or clean up, just put the pens in their storage container. The luminous transparent quality is very nice too.
I’ve been learning the technical how-to’s of watercolor from a great youtube channel called “The Mind of Watercolor”.
I worked from a photo of bleeding heart flowers that I took while walking around the Missouri Botanical Garden with my husband. I thought the pink flowers were striking against the bright yellow green foliage.
I started by doing a line drawing. Then, I masked in all but the background with masking fluid, so I could put a graduated wash in for the background. I used watered down acrylic paints in lemon yellow, quinacridone magenta, and viridian green. The latter 2 pigments mixed made a type of violet. After the background wash dried, I removed the masking fluid. I had some minor problems with some of the paper coming up with the masking fluid, because the lady at Dick Blick sold me student grade cheap watercolor paper. (I have since purchased an Arches watercolor block, and will save the cheap paper for sketches and exercises).
Then, I painted in the blooms. I used pink at the top, and then a light layer of violet and light gray because the pink was too saturated in chroma. On the bottom, I added more pink, and violet. For the stems, I did a layer of yellow green, then a layer of hot pink. Then, I did the leaves in pale yellow, and pale green. I was not happy with the outcome. It had no pizzaz. I added more yellow to the leaves. I decided to go impressionistic, and did some pointillism with some Posca pens to add in some highlights, and to unify the colors. I put some green dots in the flowers, and some pink and violet dots in the leaves. I used an ivory Posca pen for highlights on the flowers and leaves. This definitely improved it, and made it more original. I want to try more pointillism in the future.
I painted this en plain air with my husband Jon in fall of 2016 in Holly Hills. Holly Hills is an especially beautiful and charming neighborhood in south St Louis City. The sugar maples have an amazing color scheme. They range from a deep golden orange, up through a beautiful magenta color, with darker oranges and reds in between. These are one of my favorite trees in the fall, because I am a colorist. When I first moved to St Louis at age 15, I was truly blown away by the colors of these, and would just stare at them in awe and amazement. I even remember one Sunday, our family drove to a small country town for a sausage supper in October, and I saw so many of these trees on the way there. I was transported in bliss!
One Friday in early spring, I went about 2 – 3 blocks from my home to Old St Marcus Park for a day of plein air painting. It was one of those idyllic spring days where the sun was shining, it was balmy, and nature was exploding with a rich, clear, blue sky, vibrant greens, and luscious pinks. I set up in the grass that was carpeted with violets.
I started by toning my panel with a brilliant cool lemon yellow, which to me is the color of early to mid spring on a sunny day.
After this, I painted the evergreen trees on the left. I did it quickly and somewhat loosely, because time is of the essence when it comes to painting outdoors. I then did the path and the grasses. Then I did the pink crabapple trees. I used cadmium red deep with lots of white. I also added some warm colors for the lighter sunlit parts. I think I mixed in some orange or scarlet. Lastly, I painted in the violets in the grass. I allowed parts of the bright yellow underpainting to show through, to connote warmth and light. This works really well with the parts of the grass that are in the sun. I deliberately simplified the background, which in actual fact had houses and cars, etc, because that wasn’t the point of the painting, and it would have been noise and distraction.
If you closely look at any tree in bloom or in leaf, there are lots of interior darks and grays that support the vivid colors of the outer sunlit leaves and flowers. I made this gray a greenish gray, in order to complement the pinks of the sunlit crabapple blooms. This was done in midday, due to the restrictions of my schedule that day.
This is a small pastel I did en plain air, with a painter buddy who lives nearby. I did this in the early spring. This is an elegant stone church in south St Louis called Epiphany Lutheran Church. It is at the intersection of Leona and Holly Hills. It is across the street from Carondelet Park, which is where Jane and I painted this. Both she and I love to paint architecture. The color of the pastel board is gray, so it was easy to add my windows and shadows by just erasing away the pastel.
I enjoy the experience of having people come to talk to me during my outdoor painting sessions. I got to meet a neighbor who lives on Holly Hills near this church. She made a wonderful shawl for my painter friend Jane, and she told me all about the Shake festival in Forest Park, which features a free play every evening in June by Shakespeare. This year is Romeo and Juliet.
The trees did not have leaves on them when we painted this. However, my son Andrew suggested I add leaves to the trees. I did that, and I’m glad I did.