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.
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.
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.
Today I painted the last of the twenty-one exercises in Kateri Ewing’s book “Watercolor is for Everyone.” The proposition was to paint for at least 15 minutes everyday without a reference photo. The goal was to experience painting as a process and to have no expectations about the final results.
Here are some of my paintings. I worked on 4 x 6 pieces of watercolor paper using a natural fiber Sumi brush, a small round synthetic brush and a pencil. The pigments were an assortment of artist grade water colors and some metallic paints.
What I learned:
Working on a small piece of paper helped me let go of expectations on my results. I could fill the space with some very basic shapes and colors easily within 15 minutes.
Allowing the pigments to flow together taught me to be more free in my brush strokes.
Pausing to watch what happens as the paint settled and dried slowed down my brain and kept my body still. I learned what to expect from the different types of pigments – earthy, staining, and metallic – by watching how they reacted together.
Simplicity is more satisfying than complexity.
I’m a little bit sad that the lessons are finished. From now on, it will be up to me to think of new daily exercises.
To learn more about this practice, visit Kateri Ewing’s site.
These are fifteen minute improvisational watercolor sketches that I completed this week. I am following the daily practice book “Watercolor is for Everyone,” by Kateri Ewing.
Draw a curved line with a pencil. Using three different colors of your choice, paint each side of the feather with quick, light strokes. When the painting is dry, use a pencil to lightly draw lines along the paint strokes and also on the feather shaft.
THREE COLOR LANDSCAPES. Using three colors of your choice, make a quick landscape from your imagination.
Colors for both landscapes: Winsor Yellow, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue. In addition to my Sumi brush, I used a no. 2 round and a rigger brush.
This exercise explores the complementary hues Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna.
The paintings are done with paper in the landscape form. The brush is double loaded: first dipped in the blue, then the sienna. After stroking it in long stripes, a little water is added at the bottom of the stripe. Alternate striping with blue and sienna hues are continued until reaching the bottom of the paper. Metallic paint is added and then a light sprinkling with clean water to encourage mixing and mingling.
For my last sample, I was inspired by a photograph of the Irish coast. First I penciled a few lines on the paper to guide my color into the shapes of sky, water, sand and rocks. Then came the paint, followed by the sprinkle of water.
I am enjoying painting in this fast and loose style.
No matter how uninspired we might feel, ideas are right under our fingertips. We simply have to find them. This is the moment when Guiding Principle Three kicks in: Look to a source of beauty.
Memories: I have this memory of looking at the full moon and noticing what I’m calling a Moon bow – This is a ring of light a hand’s distance from the moon itself. The glow was magical. I was puzzled that my husband couldn’t see the ring, nor did it show up in a photograph of the moon. I tried to paint what I remembered.
Art work: I am a fiber artist who works with many quilt designs. There is a quilt block known as a log cabin. It is an old design, going back, really, a few hundred years. Traditionally, there is a red square placed in the center. It is said to represent the hearth. “Logs” in the form of fabric rectangles are stacked on all sides of the center. Here is my painted version of the log cabin block.
Poetry and nature: I follow a photographer named Catherine Arcolio who posts under the name Leaf and Twig. The very moment I was working on this exercise, her post arrived in my in-box: a river surrounded by low hills and a three line poem. I had to paint it.