Posts

Big take-aways

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I had some take-aways as I was sketching for the big version (10x12.5) of the thumbnail. I realized that when I watch an online demo of an artist working on a full sheet or a half sheet, on the screen, the paper looks small since it fits on the screen. You really don't know how big it is. The same way, as I view a thumbnail in my sketchbook from 6"-9" away and scrutinize it, a big painting cannot be viewed that way. I understood the importance of distance - like watching TV. You sit back some feet away, more if the screen is bigger. You need to approach the viewing of the large work the same way - it needs to be scaled. Essentially, when you view it from the right distance, it becomes no different than the thumbnail. It still has to work - the value pattern is foremost, the content or subject may not be discernible, and you evaluate it for the darks and lights that draw you in. I was very pleased with the sketch, so pleased that I was afraid to paint and ruin the sketch!

Patience

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I would say impatience is my biggest vice. From not being able to wait for little things in life, to not waiting quite long enough for layers to dry in watercolor, to wanting to improve by a big leap in watercolor tomorrow, I really am becoming aware of the times I do things hurriedly because of this impatience. I thought I was too impatient with doing multiple tries of the same scene. But I found that if it is the right scene with potential, a winning composition, and I feel I can get it in yet another try, I will keep painting it until I am pleased. Of course, as discovered earlier, multiple iterations help with the essence and help eliminate unnecessary details. In my morning meditation, I thought of the scene of the morning market on Kashmir's Dal Lake in Srinagar. I was very inspired to paint that. I started with a value study, then two color versions (one too dark), and then this that I was very pleased with. It is small. If I were to attempt it larger, I don't know what

Andy's workshop and gotcha!

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I read so many watercolor books and really enjoy all the theory. I understand everything in theory, but until I took Andy Evansen's online workshop in August, I thought a value study was a black and white sketch that you do before your painting. I didn't understand how the black and white sketch needed to be manipulated to arrive at the foundation that would BE the painting, and then followed with more loyalty than the reference image. With his workshop, I suddenly understood how the notan and the value study relate. The notan is a stark black and white graphic, if you will. Andy started by painting all but whites in a medium gray, and instantly, it looked like a notan. I got it! Then he added darks to the grey parts and lo and behold, there was a 3-value value study. I've seen Laurel Hart paint this way (in color), but I never connected her layers to the values as in Andy's value study. He also had us paint the color version alongside the value study, so we could rel

Style and studies

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I am still trying to find my style - I hear it develops automatically over time, and you cannot search for it or "find" it. I do pause when I like a painting to see what it is about the painting I like. I love architectural subjects but I don't like every painting that features a building. I love transparent layers like Iain Stewart's work (and his color palette) but I also like Charles Reid's alla prima "one shot" style of painting. I do like a strong value foundation, but also appreciate high key paintings that have a lot of white space (Mel Stabin). Maybe it is the confidence I can see/feel in the painting, before the appeal of the subject? I am continuing to look for "ordinary" images and trying to do value studies and focus on my path of white, then apply color. I did the following in the layers' style, as well as the alla prima style (hardly washing the brush, just letting colors flow into another, keeping the values the same). I am

Some new discoveries

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Inspired by Patti Mollica's color schemes for the same scene, I decided to do the same. I had some major learnings along the way, and feel like I got a new lease on painting and experimenting. I felt like I was on a plateau for a while, doing the same things, not brave enough to just experiment and play, yet never quite pleased with anything I painted. And not inspired to paint, and feeling discouraged when I did. A vicious cycle. This exercise was the best thing to happen to me and I learned a lot. My major take-aways: - find a practice exercise that another artist has done and just do that. It's just an exercise, not a full painting, and it will encourage you to keep your brushes wet, paint, and maybe you will learn something new, as I did. - find an ordinary reference image. I am always searching for the perfect inspiration and guess what? I am setting myself up for failure. If the inspiration is perfect, the painting can seldom be. It is too much pressure. Find an ordinary

Direct Watercolor Challenge - and two sales!

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I haven't blogged for a long while - I have been painting, but intermittently. I really enjoyed June's Direct Watercolor Challenge where we were all asked to not use a pencil to sketch first, but just paint directly. One painting a day - no pencil! We were all posting on Facebook to share and see each other's work. It was spectacular - the learning, the confidence. Some of the work I saw was mindblowing - so ambitious. And no pencil! What I learned was - and there is always a lesson in everything - that it's a mindset. A pencil is a crutch. You don't need it when you stop using it. You reach for it out of habit. You can catch yourself and NOT use it. I stopped carrying it with me through the month of June because I didn't want to have it and be tempted. Towards the end of the month, I was very pleased with these two versions of the same painting - the interior of the Orpheum. I took the reference image for this from my seat while waiting to see the musical Hamil

Walking daily

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One good thing that has come out of this shelter-in-place is that I am walking daily. Previously, my exercise consisted of Body Pump at the gym three times a week. Sometimes I would walk right after, about 2 miles in the park (where I took photos of the man with the dog in the previous post). Once upon a time, a long time ago, I tried walking daily regardless of gym regimen. That didn't last. Now I am walking daily, and lately, have been running and walking in alternate minutes to up the cardio. I find I am not sleeping very well - I am probably not tired enough since I don't have the usual runaround and drive-around that I do back-to-back when I am out and about. Now, I am mostly sitting in the day, aside from the hour of walk-and-run. And I am playing a great deal of online Scrabble - a new vice. I keep taking pictures on my walk of the various flowers I see. Spring is here, and how! Everything is blooming, the sunlight kisses it and creates very paintworthy scenes, so I am