Walk in First Snow Through the Woods

first snow woods photograph

Almost every day, I get to see scenes like this as I walk outside the studio. My camera is a real happy camper. Luckily, I captured this picture during the first snow of the season. There was a small accumulation of snow and the day was warm. Sometimes, it feels like I live in paradise with the nature right around me.

There are tracks from our neighbors who had just ridden their ATV’s through it. There are a lot of Bambi tracks and Gobble Gobble turkey tracks too! Max and I are not the only ones enjoying this area.

We all love the outside up here in Elk, WA.  Our neighborhood is the one that started the, “You might be a redneck if……” craze. Checkout Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian here.

My goal right now is to conquer a fear of painting snow and get good at painting winter scenes. I figure the more I paint, the easier it will get. Hmmmm. We’ll see.

walk first snow WC washHere is the first study I painted of this view, as a horizontal presentation. After finishing the study, I am able to see areas to improve. Standing back a way gives me a good view to ponder how I want to proceed with the larger painting.  I’m not so sure I will go with horizontal, I think I like the vertical better.

Walk First Snow
Watercolor study complete for horizontal layout.

I will try a vertical layout next.

Snowy fenceposts watercolor

It is still snowing up here in Elk WA, and I finished this piece last night.

Snowy Field Fencposts E132019
Snowy Field Fencposts E132019 7×10 watercolor on 140lb paper

Snowy Field Fenceposts E132019, a chilly 7″w x 10″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper.

Painting this chilly scene is a new technique for this artist. The finishing touch was the foggy tree on the horizon. Isn’t it cool how the winter mists hides things in the distance? Let me know how this feels to you.

If you knew me you would really understand why snow scenery is so foreign to me in my watercolors. Winter scenery is my new mission and more images are on the studio surfaces as I type this out.

It is the first snowy scene I’ve painted and was satisfied with when finished. This is the result of attending a weekend workshop with master, Stan Miller at Spokane Art Supply. 

Plein air inspiration

Monroe St Bridge
Monroe St Bridge in process.

Inspired by a memory of a brilliant sunset recently.

 

I am working on completing a plein air watercolor painting of the Spokane river today. This started with a group outing at the Spokane library last month. The day waswa cold gray winterwday so I  exercising the artist perogatvepto improvise. AddingAthat gorgeousgsunset to the winter scene. It is a work in process will share more later.

Plein Air Watercolor Painting

Outdoor Painting, Indoors

I went to a Spokane Watercolor Society, Plein Air Group get together at the Spokane Main Library downtown this weekend. The view from the Library windows is looking north overlooking the river. 

SpokaneLibraryPleinAirView

Certainly, plein air painting the outdoor beauty of the Inland Northwest in the warm comfort of the main library downtown is heavenly.

Plien Air Post St Bridge Spokane Library

Post Street Bridge Crossing

Today, I finished up one of the pieces started at the Spokane Library this weekend, of the Post Street Bridge crossing. The place that the Bloomsday Race used to end, with metal figures running on the sidewalk by City Hall.

What a great view the third floor library windows have!

This cityscape is chock full of many interesting images. Unfortunately, this large variety makes it is hard to select a specific view. Probably made more intense when you are also looking at gorgeous river and waterfall views at the same time. Decisions, decisions.

Finally, significant fun was had while getting to know my plein air brush from the Derwent kit I just got. I has it’s own tank of water in the pen which is really convenient. There are reasonable (under $20) kits available on DickBlick.com.

plein air paint kit Derwent plain air paint kit

Seems, like happiness is getting the water to look like it is really falling. Hence, a waterfall. Yahoo! While learning to use the plein air paint kit well enough to try it “on location”, without taking my other brushes.

Even more plein air painting events, along the river, are scheduled for January at the Inlander offices and February at Anthony’s Restaurant in 2019. Please feel free to contact any one of us to attend a Spokane Watercolor Society monthly meeting and/or come have fun painting with other artists at the next plein air event.

Plumeria Watercolor

red plumeriaPlumeria Layout

Finishing a pencil layout for a plumeria watercolor of seven blossoms I am now able to begin painting the first red bloom. Painting this subject is therapeutic for my soul. I almost feel the soft smooth petals with their bends and curls as I imagine the intensely bright colors and intense perfume. Can’t say that I miss the sticky fingers from the sap. But, their heady perfume was always the most welcoming part of getting off the plane whenever I went back home. Isn’t it funny what things you miss the most about childhood memories?

The smell and feel of a bag of plumerias. Hmmmm.

red plumeria up closeThe Colors In Red?

Here is the red plumeria paint up-close as it dries. I love the way watercolor does half the work for me by moving of it’s own accord wherever there is water to blend with the other colors. It lets me add drops of bright magenta or yellow that completely changes it. I add light washes of darker shadow details after the wet parts dry. I re-wet the dark shadow areas putting a dark line “cast-shadow” where the petal curves up toward itself. To feather the inside edge of this cast shadow I carefully add a little more water for the paint to fade into.

Making the Center Hole

Later, re-wetting the center, I put a thick small drop of blue and paynes gray. A little dark dab expands perfectly making the hole in the center and, showing where you thread the lei needle through coming out the back stem ready to thread the next flower on.

red, white & yellow plumeriaThe next blossom starts out as a white with yellow center plumeria that is partially covered by other flower petals on both sides.

four plumeria colors

four plumerias up closeThe first four plumerias are painted on the top in a variety of colors. You can see that the top right blossom has changed to become a light pink & yellow and the blossom directly below it is now the white & yellow instead. A closer shot shows how I can go darker pretty easily, but not lighter. 

peach, white & yellow, red, pink plumeriayellow & white plumeriaAnother white & yellow center on the left side is followed by another dark red on the right. Here is a closeup to see how the watercolors are working, specifically where the hole in the middle bleeds so wonderfully. Now, the next trick is to decide what colors go where for the last three flowers. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Backgrounds

I am happy with the random placement of color for now but how about the background?

water background plumeriasI thought of another custom that used to be practiced by us, it was to put a lei in the surf when someone you love goes away or passes away. The flowers float on the water for quite a while. You can sit on the sand and think for quite a while.  I decided to paint water for these plumerias to float on. You can see how I use lots of water to drop different colors into. Fun!

plumerias final detailsThe last decision is to make the last central bloom a light pink up front and center. Our pink tree had a very sweet perfume. It took an hour or so to put light and dark shadows to help show shape with light and shadow.

plumerias finishedPlumeria Watercolor Finished

It is all pau! I am sending it to a friend I have known since 4th grade in Kahaluu, who used to make lei’s and ride the school bus among other things with me.

Betsy, Mele Kalikimaka!

 

 

 

 

Yellow Rose Watercolor Steps

yellow rose 07
Doing a rose watercolor involves many steps. Most of the time I can describe my steps simply as washes-on-top-of, washes-on-top-of, washes and so forth. I tend to pile up layers and layers of wash until I like what I see.

Do you know the meaning of the yellow rose?

yellow rose watercolor 08

I began with this yellow rose layout in a sketch. I put a real light wash in the body of the flower bloom first. Being carefully light with the paint I add the long stem and it’s leaves, along with the little bud peeking out on the left side. I am encouraged.

Changed Backgrounds

Lately, I have noticed that I have a habit of painting backgrounds with tons of detail going to the very edge of the paper. To change things up, I will work on getting a dramatic background without walking in those footsteps this time. The biggest realization I have is that this is not going to be good without some serious background to help it pop out. The challenge will be to make an appropriate background that pops but doesn’t take over the main image.

Rose Watercolors

A light yellow rose watercolor can very easily fade into a white background and become a ghost. The background is my beginning to remedying that. With violet wash as a background I add a mixture of Crimson with it on wet areas to the edges of my main character. A good change, don’t you think? 

Dropping vermillion or cadmium reds into these areas give a little more zing as it bleeds into the background violet and crimson.yellow rose 09yellow rose 12

Examining the watercolor rose procedure pictures I’ve taken makes another step that I take real apparent. The picture that I took of the blossom is the reference for the rose watercolor.

Never hesitate to get your old fashioned gear out. Improve by using “photography technique” along with that “real camera” (not a smart phone). Nothing, takes the place of good reference material. If you are trying to improve and learn about where the light hits and shadows extends to, use a well lit photograph. There are millions of amateur photographers out there flooding FaceBook and the image banks with junk, but very few “real skilled photographers” capturing memorable shots with enlightened essence anymore.

Dryly Enlightening

At this point we are looking at the dry version of this watercolor painting. Take note of the differences between the last two images and you will see a noticeable amount of fading occurs as the paints dry. While looking at a wet painting, there are many times that I am tempted to dab a bit of the pigment out of it because it seems so very bright when wet. If I can resist that urge, I am usually a lot happier with the result because the paints do fade so very much by the time they are dry.

yellow rose watercolor 13

Sketch a Rose

sketch yellow rose

Sketching First

The sketch is the first step in any painting project for me. My photograph is cropped in real close to show only the petals on the yellow rose of friendship bloom. The way the light changes the yellow into gold is magnetic. However, it really doesn’t speak to me so I end up adding a long stem and another bud on the left to give your eyes a place to journey. I’m beginning to see some action in the layout with the addition of the foliage and bud, and am ready to proceed now.

 

Yellow Rose 2With this beautiful yellow rose sketch I carefully recreated the petals from the photograph, and then lay it out on the table right next to where I begin to paint. I also have the actual flower in front of me as I begin to paint so I can get the colors right but the first part is usually dark areas taken from the dark values in the B&W print. My goal is to get the soft light to yellow fading (wet on wet) on each petal surface first and then add in shadow.

Reference Setup

 

Yellow Rose 1I am not going to use resist or mastic to reserve the whites, and instead be careful to reserve these light areas of paper. These first three images show the desk setup with the reference materials, paint pallet with brushes. Working on the first three petals establishes which colors seem to work best. After wetting the petal area, I fill my brush with Aureolin Yellow and drag along the darker edge to the center leaving a puddle of color at the center, this one lets other colors wash over it. Using a darker orange yellow named, New Gamboge, to drop in color where more brilliance in the yellow is desired.Yellow Rose 3

Plumerias

Plumerias come to life

After getting the plumerias color and shapes defined it becomes obvious that the white background is not going to work. The flowers are fading off into their background. I don’t want a completely solid background to the edges so I experiment as I go, applying very light washes of Sap Green first then Veridian or Thalo Green in spots.

plumeriaJH01
plumeria blossoms 01

Adding various sized drops of Hookers Green to keep it interesting, aiming for shadow behind the flower.

plumeriaJH02
plumeria blossoms 02

As more area is filled with the greens in the background the petals of the plumeria begin to stand out and shine.

plumeriaJH05
plumeria blossoms 05

Now I begin adding some Royal Blue shadows along with Ultramarine Blue, and purples. Some depth is showing where one blossom overlaps another. These transparent washes really bring out real looking shadows.

plumeriaJH06
plumeria blossoms 06

Note the difference when a shadow is added, where the red blossom overlaps the pink/orange blossom behind and where the white petal overlaps also.

plumeriaJH06
plumeria blossoms 06

Darkening places in the surroundings at the petal edges accentuate the backgrounds depth.

plumeriaJH08
plumeria blossoms 08

Done, it is confusing which way it should be hung, so I am happy that I don’t have to decide. Flattening the paper out overnight by wetting on the back side and laying face down with a heavy board overnight and allowing it to dry. Then packing to send off in the mail. Hoping that it arrives on time for Jeanie Hollands Birthday! Love You Jeannie!

plumeriaJH09
plumeria blossoms 09

More posts like this are under the “Watercolor” category.

Plumeria Watercolor in Process

Plumeria White Ylw 02
Plumeria White & Yellow 02

This watercolor in process recreates how the flowers look when they are rinsed and spread across a kitchen table, while stringing leis.

Notice the yellow centered white plumerias have a brilliant center fading out to white edges and tip. To accomplish this I wet the entire petal area so I can do a wet-on-wet process with the paint. Fill a brush with Aurolean yellow. Begin applying by pulling from the tip on the outside edge of the petal to the interior in the center and lifting the brush. This leaves a wonderful puddle of light yellow bleeding out evenly and gradually to the outer edges of the petal. Do the other side of the petal.

The next shade is New Gambouge, which is a kind of orangish yellow. Same brush loaded with color, then pulling from about 3/4 or 1/2 of the petal length to the inside and lifting again at the center to produce that darker orange tint in the center. Do both sides of petal. In the image below, you can see how the New Gambouge further defines the radiance of that center area and push it into the distance.

Darkening the Center

Plumeria White Yellow 03

Apply using light touch with a smaller brush of Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold or an orange brown to your liking, to emphasize edges and the center even more. I notice a darker shadow right under the edges of where the petal folds up on the sides remaining white. This underneath surface of the petal is where I apply the darker color sparingly.

Shadows

Finally, with same small brush I drop a little pool drop of Dioxazine Purple right in the middle where you would insert your needle to string a lei. Purples are a perfect “shadow maker” for yellows. The wet surface lets the purple bleed naturally out into the petal making an incredibly believable shadow and depth.  I also use this same purple in very light washes to create drop shadows where the flowers overlap each other, edge outlines and stems peek out from behind.

Reds and Pinks

PlumeriaRedPink
Plumeria red & pink

The same steps are taken with the red plumeria sing the wet-on-wet process. Using a light wash of Alizarin Crimson, adding Purple Lake, touching with Vermillion then more Alizarin Crimson in the middle. Last is that drop of Dioxazine Purple in the center. For the pink the same steps but what I noticed is that there is almost a stripe effect with the different colors on each petal. I start with an Alizarin Chrimson, adding Vermillion, adding Pyrrol Orange, then Cadmium Yellow Pale in stripes that I let bleed into each other. Again, the last is that drop of Dioxazine Purple in the center.

More posts like these are under the category of “Watercolor”

PLUMERIA memories

Painting PLUMERIA memories can be accomplished if you have enough memories stored away to work from in your mind. Lately, I’ve been doing watercolor paintings of flowers that I used to make lei’s of where I grew up in Kaneohe (Kahalu’u), Hawaii. It is funny cause I start from looking at various photographs from the client and before I know it, I am just painting the colors and textures that I remember. I can almost see and smell a flower in my hands and these memories seem to guide my brush.

plumeriaWhiteYlw
plumeria white and yellow

Right after I finished my client’s piece, I started on my own plumeria memories for a favorite family member’s birthday coming up. She and I made many lei’s together. Starting with multiple sketches of flowers until I arrive at an arrangement that suits me.

plumeria sketch JH
plumeria sketch
plumeriaWhiteYlw
pink plumeria blossoms

The plumeria tree has big pointed dark green leaves, and produces a thick stem that branches out to multiple pods, creating a bunch of blossoms. The plumeria is a 5 petal flower with pointed ends spreading out in an equal circular fashion. It has a sturdy tube constructed from it’s petals-creating an easy to string tube stem that begins as a cone shape coming down from the blossom consolidating into a smaller diameter to where it anchors onto the tree. While picking, you have to take care to keep the milky sap off of yourself. It really is poisonous but honestly, I have never known anyone stupid (lo lo) enough to eat that yucky tasting stuff. I remember doing the “wash your hands” thing right after picking or lei making cause it was so sticky and tasted quite vile (pilau) if you ate something and licked your fingers.

Youth FULL OF Lei Making

In elementary school the designs were fun and simple, but in high school serious designs were done to enter the May Day Lei Making contest at the state capitol. Lei making is truly an art and many Hawaiians excell at creating gorgeous and fragrant creations that are a joy to see and wear. My favorite lei is still the puakinikini for it’s wonderful sweet fragrance, it is almost a magical entrancing aroma.

Back Home

We had large plumeria trees lining the dirt road in the front of our house and people used to come and knock on our door to ask permission to pick. Those trees provided the whole neighborhood with an abundance of blooming treasures to create with and me with a lifetime of painting plumerias from memory.

There was a great big one that had thick white petals with bright yellow centers and a truly heavenly perfume and the thick petals allowed it to last the longest in a lei. Right next to it was a established old tree with blossoms that had a more slender and thinner type of petal with brilliant pinks and the yellow center, it had not so sweet or heavy of a fragrance and didn’t last quite as long.

The only color missing was the dark red, at our house so I got a branch from a friend to plant in the back yard. With careful planting, watering and care, it took off and grew into a beautiful tree right in the guava orchard in the back yard. It took a couple of years before it was big enough to supply “a grocery sack-full” of flowers to work with, but even with little amounts of the dark reds some really interesting patterns and designs in our lei making came from them.

More posts like this are under the category of “Watercolors“.