For my exercise, I wanted to experiment with a quinacridone gold wash. Since it is a staining pigment, I decided to pair it with burnt sienna, a granulating pigment. With the idea of a sunset, I added some splashes of alizarin crimson. Streaks of payne’s gray served to ground the image.
I love the mingling of the pigments so far. This image reminds me of a place at Tallgrass Prairie, where rushing water had torn away part of a ridge, exposing roots and strata of soil. I quickly painted in some details to complete the scene.
Later, I searched my photographs for a picture of the wash.
If I were to paint this scene again, I would include the deep shadows where the landform bends away from the viewer.
Painted wet-in-wet and wet-in-dry with a Sumi brush on 140 lb. cold press paper.
I laid down this wash yesterday so it had plenty of time to dry. This is a weak blend of French ultramarine blue and sap green. It took mere minutes to paint.
This morning I had a firm idea of what I wanted to do. First I washed some water over the lower portion and blotted up the excess. This brightened the foreground. Using a one inch flat I brushed the sky with a stronger ultramarine wash and picked out the clouds with a tissue. The rest of the paint went on with the same brush using vertical strokes for the trees and horizontal slashes for the snow shadows.
At the end, I used the Sumi brush to work a little burnt sienna into the trees. It was this last step that caused the wonderful blooms. I love the texture that resulted.
Total time to make this impression: 15 minutes.
Pigments: Ultramarine blue, sap green, payne’s grey and burnt sienna.
Last week my order from Jerry’s Arterama arrived just in time. I had run out of watercolor paper. Here is my choice:
I was convinced to try this particular paper by a video demonstration from manufacturer. While the cotton content is only 25%, it was described as the next best thing to 100% cotton at less than half the price. If I use 1/2 a page per exercise, my daily cost for paper will be .25 cents.
So how did my first try go?
This is a gradient wash using Thalo blue. I didn’t get it as gradual as I would have liked, but I found it acceptable for my purpose. For the next one, I used a Sumi brush to manipulate the wash more while spreading it over the wet paper.
I really like this effect. The flares, or blooms, of pigment near the top of the paper suggest flowers to me. So I chose to paint poppies.
I probably spent about 45 minutes on this – 2 times longer than my allotted 15 minutes. What I like about this painting: By using a lot of water and working with the shapes left on the background wash, I achieved an impressionistic look. I was also able to make some nice shadows and highlights. What I don’t like: My brushstrokes are hesitant and a bit fussy. And the darks could be darker.
To evaluate this paper, I will need to paint on it a lot more. My initial impression is satisfaction. It didn’t buckle and it stayed wet an acceptable period of time.
I am carrying on with color wash experiments. Today I am exploring yellow ocher. I started out by wetting the paper before dropping on the paint. Yellow ocher pulled from the top to near the bottom. Then I brought violet up from the bottom to mix and mingle with the yellow. Here you see the washes still wet.
I stared at the dried paper for a long time before deciding what to do. To me, the colors reminded me of a place where my family has spent many a vacation: New Mexico. The American Southwest is characterized by dark, crumbling mountains and earthy adobe dwellings. I wanted to portray this idea in a quick sketch.
Using a watercolor crayon, I drew in the buildings as I remembered them from past visits to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Next came a little texture painted on the purple foreground. And lastly, I added a bit of blue for sky, pulling the paint down to touch the horizon.
Still working with the quinacridone red wash, I decided to paint a dried-up oak leaf over the washed paper. Here is my pencil sketch, drawn from a leaf I brought home with me a few weeks ago.
My experiment today is with a wet-on-wet technique. First I used plain water stroked over sections of the leaf individually. Then I dropped in burnt sienna. After watching the brown spread out, I added drops of different colors.
Adding details, I painted in the stem, veins and a shadow. Next came a little white gouache stroked over the pale veins. And finally some brown pen outlined the edges.
While it was a struggle to pull my eyes away from yesterday’s news feed, I got a surprising amount of work done. We even managed to take down and store the Christmas tree.
My new approach to watercolor painting adopted on Jan 1st has me excited about the potential. This time I chose to apply a quinacridone red wash. After it dried, I added a miniature landscape of snow-covered mountains at dawn.
This took me very little time to complete and I enjoyed every brush stroke.
Moving on to sewing, I got another block design worked up on the Animal Friends project. Here is a little pet condo in bright colors and fun geometric shapes.
That brings my completed block count on the project to twelve. I’m half-way there!
And finally, I found a use for some old yarn from a knitted item that I frogged almost ten years ago. It is a KnitPicks yarn called Gloss – a very soft blend of wool and silk in a dark green color. I bought three balls of a complimentary color to make this charming capelet.
Yesterday I got to work on changes to my studio, so that I can keep painting and sewing projects going at the same time. First of all, I put together a table top pressing board. It is a rectangle measuring about 19 by 21 inches. This addition allowed me to put the big ironing board away in the closet. I set up the card table under the window.
There is just enough room to allow me to paint on one canvas at a time, with all of the painting supplies directly at hand. To the right you see the big table that serves as my main work surface. The Bernina is on the shelf, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
To test out this arrangement, I got busy with the watercolors. I brushed washes on to two pieces of paper. My inspiration for the first painting was a photo I took when visiting Ohio in November. It is a slightly fuzzy image of Mogadore reservoir, the shoreline surrounded by bare branches.
Quite a lovely, abstract landscape. Here is my interpretation of the scene using a violet and turquoise wash blended slightly.
The second piece of paper was washed with the turquoise alone – two coats to get it even. For inspiration, I flipped through some reference photos I had saved and came up with this indigo bunting.
It inspired me to attempt a negative painting. In this technique, you paint around the area of the subject, drawing it out by subtracting the surrounding space. This first try at negative painting didn’t go very smoothly. I ended up having to use some white gouache on the bird to pick out the details.
Once the paint had dried, the little bird flew away. He found a perch among some of his feathered friends. I quickly snapped this photo.
He seems so at home there.
The casual observer will notice that my background turned out very streaky. I used a combination of burnt sienna and Payne’s gray with not too much water. It took a few coats over the turquoise wash to get the uniform color I was seeking. I used quinacridone gold on his perch.
Day Two of 2021: I’ve spent some time pondering how I might use my creative collateral in the new year. While I have no grand plan, I did make one resolution regarding the pursuit of water color painting.
I will keep my painting efforts small, regular and modest. For example, in January I plan to practice painting washes every day, on small canvases of artist quality paper – no bigger than 4 by 5. Today I did an abstraction of the grapevines growing along the Pathfinder trail. Here is a photograph I took last month.
And here is my simplified study:
There are two potential good outcomes of this decision.
1. My watercolor skills will continue to improve.
2. The rest of my time can be spent on making improvisational and art quilts, which have gained my attention this past year.
Of course, I will spend the twilight hours of each day knitting.
To make the plan work, I will need to re-arrange my studio slightly, so that I don’t have to put away the paints every time I want to sew. It can be managed, with a few adjustments and additions. I will set up a small table for painting, near the window. And I will construct a table-top pressing board, so that I can put away the ironing board.
My usual practice on New Year’s Day is to clean out my clothes closet, eliminating all those items I no longer wear and taking stock of any needs for replacements. But this year? Staying at home 90% of the time? Who needs new clothes! I fell into a consistent pattern of wearing jeans or stretch pants and cotton knit shirts.
So today, I will ignore my closet and instead look back at the work emerging from my studio. In glancing at my 2020 posts, I realize how much my work has changed since I started this blog in 2019. What comes to the front are the forays into making art quilts and painting with watercolors. But I’ll start with my first love –
While this year was not a high point in creative design, my output was strong. I completed 3 hats, 4 pair of socks, a toddler sweater, a dress, a top down cardigan, a serape and a water bottle holder. My most complex object was the Weaver’s Square vest made for my daughter.
Technically, I did design this garment. But the fair isle pattern on the vest’s back was adapted from one I saw on Knit/Lab’s website. I don’t take credit for that part. The vest turned out pretty great and she loved it. Here are a few photos of some other knits I made this year:
I finished the year with two UFO’s – a pair of men’s socks and a pair of gloves.
Last year I was focused on learning to sketch. But this year, I was determined to start painting. To that end, I joined the local art association and signed up for some on-line classes. Anyone who has tried to paint with watercolor will freely admit that the medium has its own set of challenges. I spent the year more disheartened than encouraged. In July I followed the daily challenge on World Watercolor Month, organized by Charlie O-Shields of Doodlewash. That’s when I started to see some improvement. I began by painting copies of other people’s photographs. Eventually I was able to paint from my own photographs, from life, and from my imagination. Here are a few favorites.
Confession: I learned how to quilt only for the purpose of realizing my fiber ideas. So there are a lot of technical areas of quilting that I choose not to pursue. While my favorite thing to do with fabric is to paint on it, I am willing to piece fabric into a quilt top when my inspiration seems to require it. I use commercially printed fabric as well as hand painted fabric for these pieces. During the past year I learned how to mount small art quilts onto stretched canvas. This allows me to present them as works of art suitable for hanging.
At the beginning of 2021, I find myself with a number of unfinished objects. I also have more ideas than I have energy to pursue.
So perhaps my goal for the new year needs to be a narrowing of ambition. The hardest part is deciding what to leave behind. I love it all.
Meet Jenell. She is an inspired art teacher who is now teaching her students virtually. Perhaps some of your young artists will give these projects a try. – Laura Kate.
Check out some of our current projects happening in the art room and how they’re made! Though there’s not been as many in person classes this month, there’s still a lot going on! Check out some of the happenings below! Virtual Paint Alongs! Although we haven’t been able to do any in person paint nights…