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A rainy day on the Embarcadero

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I saw this scene on the Embarcadero, leaving San Francisco after lunch at the Ferry Building. It was raining - everything was gray. It made the values easier to see. The value study is strong, but the first attempt does not heed the value study. The second painting I am pleased with - it follows the value study much better, and is loose as it should be.







Los Gatos

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My last 2018 outing with the SCVWS Thursday plein air group. I tried to be loose, light, and airy with this piece. A woman came and chatted me up - for really long - and I wanted to get back to painting. I had my brush up in the air, drying as we spoke, and the light rapidly changing...... must find a way to gently excuse myself next time.


Jan 4: Calling All Colors to Prayer

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Monochromatic study of Istanbul. This year, I will also focus on titles for my watercolors - not as an afterthought, but with much thought.


Jan 2 & 3: Pleasure vs. Pressure

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Very similar words phonetically...yet what a world of difference.
I am still forcing myself to paint daily - I dream of it all day, but feel tremendous pressure actually picking up my paintbrush for that old fear of failure. But I am aware that this journey/feeling is to be enjoyed as well. When I'm past this point, it will be a different journey altogether.

This is what I read on the Vipassana website:
...it is difficult to eliminate fear by first looking for results even before one invests the effort enough to see the change...just being aware that you are of this habit pattern of the mind of doubt or self-doubt can be a real strength in re-invigorating your determination to not be overpowered by it.
January 2:

January 3:

Jan 1: A new year with new resolutions

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Happy New Year!
I went looking online for a 2019 daily watercolor challenge to try and force myself to paint more, and paint more regularly. To perhaps try and live up to the name of this blog :-|
I didn't find an online challenge, but have taken it upon myself to create a self-imposed daily challenge for the month of January.
Without setting too many rules - I started yesterday, and enjoyed my January 1 painting of urban Chinatown so much that I decided that perhaps each week of January ought to have a theme.
Week 1: Urban.
Of course, it is more important to paint what inspires me ad lib rather than adhere to an ad hoc theme. I am hoping that subsequent months of (dare I say) daily painting will become easier if I paint daily in January - don't they say it takes 21 days to make a habit? Not to mention, the improvement in skill by painting daily will be a continuous loop of encouragement - at least in January for now.
Ultimate goal: daily painting each of the 365 days. Whoa!


The Big One

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After all those studies, I attempted The Painting.
This is the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph in downtown San Jose. A stunning building from 1877. Before starting, I told myself it is yet another study, just on larger paper. Just a study. But a study. Only a study. I like what Frank Webb says about having a fresh stack of watercolor sheets being akin to more tomorrows. The studies can continue....this isn't the end.
I tried to use more water than normal so my color looks more transparent and not so pigmented. I am fairly pleased with this but I think it needs some punch - some spots of dark. I'll let it sit for a couple of days while I attack another study [-ies] and come back to it. I do need to step back more often during painting and evaluate it as a design on the paper - where it's off balance, where it needs more of a certain color, how it sits on the sheet, etc.
P.S. Despite the blooms, this isn't really a floral study.


The sparkle at the Ferry Building

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A small loose painting to show just the essence. I added the "sparkle" as Bill Dunn says - it really makes a difference. Less is more.




And then some more...

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Still continuing to explore color palettes and leaving more white. Not there yet, though I do love the juxtaposition of the orange and purple in the palm tree in the first painting below. I need to leave more whites like Mr. Reid.






Planning the painting...over and over

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I'm finally starting to get values and value patterns....now I truly understand the importance and all the theories about passage, linkage, focal point, using the reference material as a starting point and no more....is all beginning to make sense. The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are coming together, with fewer missing parts. The aspect ratio of the final painting matching that of the value study - so important. I knew that but disregarded it every time, and stumbled along, making the same mistake over and over and not understanding why the painting wasn't working. I am getting it now.....a strong value pattern is really a jigsaw puzzle in black and white. The initial work is in the silhouette, not in the details. Jigsaw puzzles have popped up at different points in my life - and had several metaphorical meanings. Now, in hindsight, I can connect the dots and understand the importance of the various pieces. Isn't life a jigsaw puzzle? So many parts - seemingly unrelated, b…

Direct painting

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I read about Direct Painting - painting directly without a drawing in one pass, with no layering - in two different places just days apart, so decided to give it a go. What looseness ensued! There were no pencil lines to imprison me or the paint, and it was good to see the colors run. As long as the big shapes are there, the eye fills in the rest. It was a liberating experience.



Driving through Los Altos

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I took a picture of this scene when driving on Covington Avenue in Los Altos in the mid afternoon. Beautiful shadows, and of course, the bright whites. I love it when I see something that catches my eye, pass it by, then drive on, continuously thinking about it, and am finally compelled to make a U-turn to take a picture because I can't forget it, and have to have it, and have to try to paint it. This was one such instance.


St. Nicholas, Los Altos

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I love the Spanish style (Spanish Colonial Revival?) tower of this church in Los Altos, with the stunning blue, curved roof, and the marvelous shadows. I always turn my head to see both faces as I zoom past it on Foothill Expressway.
The first painting was a quick, no-pressure painting; and the second one was a planned 'this will be a lot better' painting.
No guesses as to which one is the better of the two. Why am I not surprised? That dreaded pressure, and the inevitable result.