I just finished this watercolor painting two days ago. I was in the panhandle of Florida in late May, and we visited a fish market called Joe Patti’s. It is in Pensacola, right at the shrimp docks where the fishing boats come in. This pelican was sitting there, and he
probably enjoys what is left over from the catch each day. He was quite tame, and allowed me to get pretty close to take a shot of him sitting on this piling.
I started by painting the bay, the distant land, and the sky wet on wet. I used mainly blue and violet. After that dried, I painted the spit of land on the left, and the dock. I used a toned down violet and blue green for this. At one point, I used a spray bottle over zealously, and my dock piling paint started to spread more than I wanted it to. I lifted that out. Lastly, I painted the bird, in yellows and brownish oranges. The bird is actually more gray, but I wanted some warmth in the painting as a counterpoint to all the cool blues and violets, so I made him orange brown and yellow. I also put some of these oranges, yellows, and browns in the dock, water, and land to unify the painting and bring it all together. I put a touch of yellow in the lower part of the sky to bring more light into the picture.
Jane, my painting buddy, and I have decided to do a series of plein air paintings in Tower Grove Park. So far, we have painted 2 of the pavilions together. This one is the Humbolt South Pavilion. Tower Grove Park is a historic park in south St. Louis built by Henry Shaw, the one who founded and build the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is one of the top botanical gardens in the world.
I have a small field sketch kit by Winsor Newton. It consists of 12 half pans of watercolor paint in warm and cool versions of the primary colors (yellow, red, and blue), several neutrals, black, and white. The quality of the paint is very good. These paints are
creamy, smooth, and rich in pigment. They are easy and convenient to use. I also had my palette that is part of my plein air Soltek easel to work on. I used a Shade Buddy umbrella so the sun didn’t dapple on my palette and my paper.
I started, as always, by sketching in my subject. I had some trouble with integrating the roof lines with the base of the pavilion properly. Once I got that figured out, it got easier and more enjoyable. I originally made the mistake of not making the roof bigger and wider than the base of the structure. I then drew in the “sides” in perspective, which was rather challenging, since this building is an octagon. I like the fact that all the components of this building are also octagonal – the cupola, the roof, the individual pillars, and even the bases of the pillars (which I omitted in the painting). So much attention was given to details in the older buildings. I also loved the various curlicues and gingerbread details on the building. The main reason I chose this subject to paint is that I love the golden yellow color of the roof. I like how that contrasts with the teal of the columns, and the reds of the trim.
After the sketch, I painted the sky, and then the trees above the pavilion. Then, I painted the pavilion, and then the trees and grass behind the pavilion. The next time I do this, I would change 2 things. Number one, I would mask in the pavilion so I don’t have to paint around all the columns and fluff on the pavilion. Second, I would do the background trees and sky wet on wet to make for a softer look, which would create a better sense of space. I would also paint in the sky all at once, so there isn’t a line and difference in value in the sky on the upper right hand side.
Overall, this turned out all right, especially considering this is my first plein air watercolor painting.
I just started painting in watercolors! A couple of months ago, I picked up some watercolor brush pens for sketching with. I ended up doing some small pieces with these. I was entranced with the way the watercolor blended, and made interesting
effects when I tried to blend and soften it with water. I love the transparency and luminosity of them as well.
A month ago, we went to the panhandle of Florida, and stayed in a place on the beach. The news made it sound like the storm Alberto would devastate the Gulf Coast. However, it just caused some rough surf, wind, and a bit of rain for a few days.
For this painting, I used professional Winsor Newton cadmium yellow, cadmium scarlet, permanent rose, French ultramarine, Winsor blue (green shade), and permanent sap green. I used Arches 100% rag (cotton) watercolor paper, which is one of the best.
I started by doing a basic line drawing. Then, I masked in the areas of the ocean that I wanted to stay white. I first painted water over the sky and sea area. Then I painted the sky. I lifted color with a paper towel to form the soft clouds. I painted the sea. In the background, I used ultramarine blue with a tad of orange to avoid the color being too high chroma. Then, I gradually blended in some Windsor blue, which is similar to a phthalate blue, which is blue green. As I came into the shallows, I blended in the sap green, and added lots of water to lighten the value. Because the sea and sky were painted wet on wet, the darker blue of the sea feathered into the sky and created a nice soft horizon.
I let the sky and sea dry, then I removed the masking. The next day, I put some masking fluid in the boardwalk walls. I painted the umbrellas and people, then I painted the boardwalk, wet on dry to form crisper edges. My focal point is obviously the umbrellas, especially the red one. It really pops out because it contrasts so much with the blues and greens. Lastly, I painted the sea oats wet on wet with green and brown. I just love how the paint softened all by itself. When I have painted in oil, I had to soften the edges by using a fan brush, but the water causes the paint to disperse and soften by itself. The beach color is just the off white color of the paper.
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.