This is a painting of a memory of seeing a friend take off at sunrise out of Kaneohe Bay Marina. He was sailing off on an adventure and I was waving goodbye at the shore.
This friend was a Vietnam Vet who lived on his sailboat traveling around the world. My children and I were lucky to be able to spend a year or so enjoying picnics, hikes and boat trips together with no strings attached.
Sometimes, the best people do not hang around long enough.
Just completed a small watercolor painting entitled, “Bluebird day in Valhalla”-from one of those breathtaking glorious sunny days skiing at 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah Washington USA. Valhalla is a great run with enough steep to keep you wide awake, and a good mix of trees alongside for fun. I love the way the shadows show the shape and slope of the run. I spend as much time as possible up on the ski hill and you can see more of my art there if you notice what is around you.
This is the beginning of a series of paintings I intend to do from some great photographs during those ski patrol days when hardly anyone was on the hill. You know, those first track days.
How this painting progressed in the studio.
Looking at these first two images in the series, you will see a perfect example of the difference between the vibrance of watercolors that are wet and ones that are dry. Sometimes, it is scary to put bright pigment down but as you can see, this is something we need to be free with. No skimping on color required.
Birch treeline in early spring at a meadow of Slavin Conservation District. This painting began as a plein air day with friends from Spokane Watercolor Society (SWS). I shared in an earlier post about the outing. I am putting this post up to show you how a plein air day inspires in my studio.
Plein Air Outings
Plein air is something dearly loved by this artist. I’m not sure if it is the feeling of freedom that I feel while painting outside or is it the amazing colors, smells and excitement that inspire me to grasp for more in any piece that begins outside.
Here is the watercolor sketch I brought home with me from the outing. An idea of the colors and layout. My phone was full of pictures I took for me to work from for all the details.
I quickly added basic underpainting tones in the sky and meadow between the treeline when I got back in the studio. I do this to remember the feel of what I saw, till I could take the time to finish it later.
Painting en plein air is sometimes cold or hot and a little tiring but it is always a worthwhile event for me. Not only do I get to walk and draw/paint outdoors, I get to see fellow artists too. There are no better group of people than the crazily creative artists of our world. We are the people who see beauty that others don’t notice. Unnoticed beauties that capture our heart,inspiring us to bring life back around in beautiful colors and lines, till another can basque in it’s discovery.
If what I have painted gives your spirit an uplifting feeling of appreciation, then I have succeeded. My heart is smiling.
Yesterday I was able to go and paint plein air with some friends from our Spokane Watercolor Club. We went to the James T. Slavin Conservation Area just, off of highway 195, and it was really chilly 24º F, but did warm up to 40º around noon. It was surprising how close to Spokane it is. And, the conservation area covers a lot of ground (600+ acres) with a lot of different natural wonders to see. I was able to paint two sketch images while I stood on a little knoll directly in front of the parking lot.
First a Watercolor Sketch
I painted while looking south standing upon the first knoll near the parking lot for the first plein air image. It had meadow grasses with scattered burgundy bunches of bush, then going off into into where the forest pine and birch tree line appears. I made a rudimentary watercolor sketch of this scene, but stopped there, as my watercolors and water were freezing. But, when the other artist’s arrived, I learned about a trick that stops that from happening. I love painting with other artists, because, you always learn something helpful from each other. If you want to know the secret, you’ll have to come paint with us to learn. 🙂
Second is an Acrylic Sketch
The second image is painted using acrylic paint on a canvas board. Standing at the same location but turned to face west where a pair of pines flanked the left side, with grasslands reaching off into a distant treeline and hill silhouette behind. These colors are a little tricky to get right, but are quite beautiful when it comes out right. Neither of these plein air sketches are any way near finished, but the scenes are embedded in my mind and I am sure I’ll be able to finish them in my studio.
I am not up to strenuous hiking, but thankfully this area is easily accessible with parking close by so it was a totally rejuvenating day. Being able to paint with other painters has revitalized the artist in me. It was surprising how many people walk their dogs there. There is also evidence of a lot of horse hoof prints on the trails. In about a month, that whole field is going to be covered with wildflowers, one of the local ladies told me .
EYE CANDY SURPRISE!
Next month sounds like a great time to schedule another plein air painting trip there. Yep, I’m looking forward to it.
Just finished a fun watercolor of a dragonfly in cosmos blossoms. We have dragonflies in our garden every year and they are just so fascinating to watch. Their wings seem to glisten as they fly over all the blossoms with their transparent wings. An “eye candy” insect with great colors in their silent flight. They are also quite the benefit to have around, check out the info here. Dragonflies
I do dragonflies frequently because each one I find is always different in colors and shapes and they are usually admiring blooms as I do while I work in the garden.
Painting an orange Rufous Hummingbird hovering over a honeysuckle vine. I thought I’d get out the acrylics for a few “favorite things” paintings. Consequently, the subject manner falls back to one of my all time favorites.
We feed these hummers all summer long and enjoy sitting on the deck admiring them. Above, is the finished painting. Following, are the progress shots of the acrylic painting process for me.
Beginning with background darks using mixtures of hookers green, phalo green, burnt sienna, cobalt blue and alizaron crimson in a hap hazard cross stroke pattern. Carefully blocking out the location of my “flying hummer star” on the lower third right corner.
Next, I experiment with leaf shapes and brighter values for the surfaces closest to the main attraction. Similarly, I proceed to brighten specific leaves that serve as a background for the flashy orange honeysuckle blossom being positioned next. I want to see depth to the vine behind.
Hummingbird & Blossom
Now, is when I select where I want to place the up close blossom along with some scattered hints of more in the background. Also, the hummingbird shapes and values are defined. The layout works for my eyes, so I proceed.
What follows is numerous lighting tweaks, along with the details on my winged magician, “Mr. Orange Rufous Hummingbirds“. This bright orange guy is now hovering on the canvas. The finished shot of this acrylic painting is the first one in the post. If you are interested in learning more about hummingbirds, check out the Audubon page here.
I just had to paint some colorful butterflies, they are stuck in the brain. I noticed an unfinished oil painting that I started more than a year ago and just couldn’t quit thinking about it. So, I got out the oils, thinner, and linseed oil. Found some of the tubes beyond expired. But, was able to get a pallet out and go to work. This first image is over a year ago because my “Moose” coffee cup is in it, and, it broke more than a year ago. It is amazing how something can sit for such an extended period time.
This picture is how the butterflies looked as it sat, waiting for me. If I don’t keep an eye on the drying rack and stacks of paintings, these poor paintings may never get done. Over a year of dust is not okay.
This year I will be doing shows to sell paintings already done. My goal is to finish all the partially painted pieces and use up all the supplies in my studio before I kick the bucket. Cleaning out the studio, recently brought a complete inventory to my attention. I could paint 24 hours a day and still not run out in a year.
Here is how the butterfly painting looks after a day of work. Finishing the background more fully with the blossoms and leaves better shaded. Taking each butterfly’s position and background coloring I was able to paint them in. So, the layout is pretty much set. I am happy with the progress. But, it will have to let it dry a while before I can finish it.
Here is my portrait of Amalia Fisch (a fellow artist) done for the January challenge to do a painting in monochrome. What a challenge it is to do work using only one color. The single color chosen for this image was Dioxazine Purple by Blick Artist’s Watercolors. Below is the painting in process after a few light washes had established the figure.
Yesterday was our monthly meeting at Spokane Art supply at 10am. It was great to be able to see my artist friends again. Seeing their work is the highlight of the meeting for me. Being able to share and talk about methods is so valuable. I always learn from these meetings.
Here is a portrait of a fellow artist, Bill Okamura. This month’s Spokane Watercolor Society meeting. The January challenge was to do a painting using only one color.
What was the result? A realization that “monochrome” changes how I approach a painting. Basically, the values become key, and other colors are not there to distract me as I paint. Using value to get depth and shape.
Our monthly meeting for the Spokane Watercolor Society was at Spokane Art supply at 10am yesterday. Seeing my artist friends and their work is the inspiring to me. Bill did a monochrome painting of an old car that was spectacular! Hope he shares with us.
Being able to share methods and techniques is so valuable to me.
Here is the first of the monochrome portraits all finished. I am very happy with the look of this and hope it ranks well in the monthly challenge program at the next meeting. It is a veritiable challenge to get depth and shape in using only one color. I believe it was done using Ultramarine blue or cobalt, now I am not sure. Some day soon I have to go ahead and mark my watercolor wells on the pallet. The only sure fire way for me to keep the names straight. Honestly, I just dab into whatever color feels right to use rather than knowing which color should be used scientifically. It is the artist (lack of) logic in full force.
Can’t wait to go to the Spokane Watercolor Society meeting scheduled for January 18th (Saturday) at 10am at the Spokane Art Supply Classroom here in Spokane, Washington. Truly, a case of, “birds of a feather” hanging out together. It is so much fun to visit with other artists and compare methods. I haven’t been able to attend any meetings for quite a while. Health issues prevented me from doing much of anything for the past half year. It is great to be feeling better and I am hoping to be able to get out more now.
I’d be glad to have you come as my guest to explore your interest in watercolor painting. You’d probably like to come check out this meeting with me. It really is a great help to be able to hook up with others interested in art, as you are. Email me here if you are so inclined and we will work out the particulars about where to meet, driving or carpool etc.
Today is a happy painting and writing day for this person.