Winter Squash on purple background

8″ square watercolor on lanaquerelle 140 lb paper

Playing around with this image I sketched early in October. I wasn’t painting much for awhile there, but am back into it. I’ve had a suggestion that the squashes should overlap more, and I agree with that. maybe for the next one… even with scanning this image, the purple background didn’t come through to the left of the front squash. Comments/criticism welcome! Let me know what you think….

Value sketch of winter squashes

Value sketch of winter squashes

Before I went out of town, I was working on a value sketch of three winter squashes. I’ve transferred it to a 8″ square of Lanaquerella watercolor paper which is a new surface for me. I hope I remember to take in progress pictures for you. I was really glad to see I’d made some notes on colors and techniques to use, because the day I sketched this seems like years ago!

Thanks everyone for your kind words, encouragement and offers of support during this past month. It was a difficult time for our family, and I am so glad I made the trip up for my sister’s funeral and to visit with my family. It’s tough being geographically so far away from them.

Sketch of garden figure

Ceramic turtle in garden

Since being home I have been knitting, and getting back into the groove of life with two active teens/preteens, and doing a bit of sketching. It was fabulous to sit in our cooler weather one morning in the courtyard and sketch this garden figure.

Painting of leaves

Here is October Leaves #1.   12″ x 16″ watercolor on 140 # Arches paper.  I’m not sure it’s quite finished yet, I’ll set it up and look at it for a couple of days, but it’s done enough to show you here.

A friend who is a big supporter of my work suggested I might want to show a series of in process photos to show how the painting develops. So here goes.

transferred to WC paperI started with this sketch of various fall leaves overlapping in a pile.  Because I live now in an area that doesn’t have the species that give these leaves, I free hand sketched some and used clipart for others.  I then transferred the sketch to watercolor paper with a transfer paper kind of like old time carbon paper, but with graphite. I’m considering getting a light box to make this process cleaner and easier. Maybe it will be a Christmas present?

first layer of wet in wet washes

This is the first layer of washes, pigment that’s not too thick or thin on to paper wet with water. You can see how the colors blend together including on the oak leaf at the top. I thought that was pretty cool, I’ve seen leaves in real life that look like that, so I left it and built around it.

second layer defining the leaves

After a second layer that helps define the edges of some leaves on top of others, adds more texture, color, splotches on some leaves, adds some back color to make the leaves pop.  This is a really fun time of the process and one that I have a lot more to learn about.  It feels like turning my head inside out to paint around something to make it stand out.

third layer of paintThis continues the process further and then the last layer (so far) has been to add more pigment to the background.

I’m excited about what I’m learning doing these paintings.  I know I need to make much bigger puddles of pigment and use larger brushes on the background to make smoother washes.  I do like the layers I can see underneath, but smoother would definitely be better.

Have to learn to take a deep breath before jumping in, and make every brush stroke meaningful.  And, as our family has learned this week, we need to make every hour meaningful because we don’t know how long we will be here.  I’ve been painting this week with a heavy heart.

As always, thanks so much for reading and commenting.  I love to hear from you.

detail of fall leaves

Just a peek at a piece in progress

I’ve been working on two paintings of a pile of fall leaves, from different drawings and using similar colors.  Here’s a peek and I’m hoping to have a more finished piece by tomorrow with in progress shots from drawing to various layers of watercolor.  Stay tuned….

Rachel standing next to the painting at the show

Take a Bite! won the Lelaroy Williams Memorial Award for excellence in watercolor October 2014, Arts International Show.

I was so honored and frankly very surprised, to receive an award last night at Arts International.  There were many excellent pieces there, including a lot in watercolor which made me happy to see!  Watercolor is typically under-represented and undervalued, and it’s my obsession, so I want to see it flourish.  My husband knew about this for four days, and never told me, so it was a huge fun surprise to see that ribbon next to my painting. He is very good at keeping a secret.

Ms. Williams died several years ago and I didn’t have the chance to meet her, but I am fortunate to have one of her original paintings on the walls in my home, thank you Mom and Dad.   Thank you so much to judge Kerry Doyle, Director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at UTEP, Don and Carol Beene who sponsored this award, and to the El Paso Arts Association for their tireless efforts in supporting the arts in our city.

Winning an award is a big high and I hope to translate that into increased studio time in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned…and if you’re local, be sure to check out the show.  You won’t regret it.  The hours are 11-4 Tues-Fri, 11-3 on Saturday at the Art Junction, 500 W. Paisano at Durango, El Paso, Texas.

Frog watercolor

8″ x 11″ watercolor on Arches 300 lb.

This was painted for a friend who is quite the frog aficionado.  It took me about six tries to get it where I wanted it.  I painted it from a really nice resource where photographers and painters meet called http://paintmyphoto.com  Carla Whelan took the photograph which became my inspiration. Thank you Carla!

Shell study in watercolor

watercolor 8″ x 11″ 140 lb Arches

I was in the process of setting up a still life of shells to sketch and then carefully transfer marks to the watercolor paper to do a full painting.  But I didn’t want to take the extra steps, so this was playing around sketching with the brush and pigment straight to the paper.  Again this was a limited palette of indigo, burnt sienna, and a cool “purpley gray” made with a new pigment I’m trying:  Daniel Smith pyrrol orange which is quite bright and scarlet colored,  but I created gray by combining it with a blue, I *think* (don’t quote me on this) Ultramarine.

Island landscape in watercolor

watercolor 11″ x 15″ Arches

September’s challenge on the Watercolor Workshop yahoo group, from a photograph.

I’m glad I got it done before the end of the month.  This was harder than it appeared, distant foliage is tough for me, and the pine is a bit too perfect in the foreground.  But, done is done!

On to the next project…I’ve been sketching shells again so I think that will be the next painting…stay tuned!

In my imagination watercolor

a watercolor study in atmospheric perspective and values, in two colors: Indigo and Quin Burnt Orange 8″ x 11″ Arches 140 lb

In my imagination I’d love to visit this place. It can’t be found anywhere on earth, and it was fun creating it.

It came together accidentally. I love that about watercolor, you know those happy accidents, if one is awake enough to realize it isn’t a mistake and brush over it.

I was learning about how how we perceive distance, 3D in a flat/2D medium as watercolor.  Vistas further away in the landscape are more blue and more light in value than the ones near us. Nearer items are more detailed, further objects have softer edges.

So I laid down a  pale blue wash, let it dry and then put in the furthest mountains when my brush skipped across the paper, leaving pale areas.  I let it go, realizing that it could look like far away water, and then I “felt” my way through the closer layers of mountains, berms, shrubs, more water, etc. came to life. Hope you like it!  I do…

Harvest Mouse

8″ x 11″ watercolor on Arches 140 lb

This little piece is from a challenge on the Watercolor Workshop yahoo group to paint from a mouse picture. I had fun figuring out how to get the fur texture on the little creature and played with color on the seed pod.

Award Winning Watercolor

Award winner at Arts International, 2014.

Lelaroy Williams Award for Watercolor Excellence, Arts International 2014

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