Shrimp Gleaner

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

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“Shrimp Gleaner” watercolor, 12″ x 16″

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.

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Painting a Series in Tower Grove Park

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

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“Humboldt South Pavilion”, 9″ x 12″, watercolor

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.

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Alberto’s Evasion 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

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Alberto’s Evasion, watercolor, 12 x 16

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.

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Bleeding Heart Bower

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.

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“Bleeding Heart Bower”,  watercolor, 9″ x 12″

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.

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