This workshop is right up my alley. The paper is really wet and scrubbed front and back and put on plexiglass and it will stay wet for hours. And we are focusing on darknd light patterns throughout.
In the ref photo you will see scurge which flowers in January here among prickly pear.
The teacher looks like and talks like my sweet sister in law Martha but with a mid texas accent rather than a North Carolina one. Love it!
Buzzing in the Mountain Laurel #1
Buzzing in the Mountain Laurel #2 on Yupo
These are two pieces that I just framed yesterday for the Colors of the Wild show opening this Friday at the Crossland Gallery, 500 W. Paisano. The theme is animals, wild or domesticated, and while I was painting plein air my early blooming Texas Mountain Laurel bush, I was amazed at the wild buzzing activity of the big black bees that swarmed the strong smelling flower. They were very busy getting the most they could out of the hanging pendulous blossom bunches. They were the “star attraction” for the bees as they are for me, but I am also drawn to the new and older seed pods that remain on the shrub. They are beautiful to me in a different understated way.
The second day I worked on Yupo paper, rather than traditional watercolor paper, and that’s always a “wild” ride! The smooth synthetic almost plasticky surface of Yupo shakes up all the normal expectations of how you use the pigments because they continue moving and blending for long periods of time, and they also can easily be wiped away to “fix” a problem, but the wiping creates its own unique set of issues to solve. I’m just starting to use this surface for watercolor, but I’m having fun playing! I will be demonstrating the process of watercolor on Yupo on Sunday, May 7th at the International Museum of Art’s Elevate Your Art fundraiser, auctioning 8″ x 10″ artworks donated by local artists.
I spent some time today sketching and painting small images of the Texas Mountain Laurel. This is the most successful of the three.
The hardest part for me is doing the foliage and dealing with the muted activity of what is going on behind the foreground foliage and how to express that all without going in after the firm edges of the leaves and adding background. On this one I did lighter leaves and laid darker and varied ones on top.
I’m going to try another wet in wet approach first, as I did yesterday with mingled colors of lights and mediums, not committing myself to placing the darks from the beginning, leaving soft edged areas of whiteness to fill in with blossoms and planning where to put the pods. In that way some lighter leaves can be lifted out or negatively painted along with positive leaves.
What I’ve had success in is using the brush stroke to make a leaf in one stroke. Happy with that. The leaves follow along rhythmically along a curved or straight thin stem and those lines could lead the eye through the painting, but one risks having too repetitive shapes, so playing with lost and found edges would help that.
The blossoms are best done with mixing the permanent rose and ultramarine blue, leaning more toward the blue and going in later with drops of water and/or lifting our sworls of light to make the petal patterns that also go in pairs rhythmically on a with darker semi closed petals at the bottom of each pair.
As an aside, the wind was gusting at time today so that I had to hold down my easel while painting! Next time I shall have to remember to hook my bag with water bottle to the bottom of the easel to weight it down.
At least this year, my Texas Mountain Laurel bush is blooming two weeks earlier than usual. I’m so glad I wandered over to check on whether it was in bud, and there are many clusters that are already open. If you don’t know this bush, the clusters smell like grape koolaid, and it was the first shrub I planted when we moved in a long time ago. I went out after 4 to paint it in the afternoon sun and shadows, and I feel like after several years, I finally have a handle on how to express the blooms. Expect to see more paintings over the next week. One of my favorite parts of the bush are the seed pods that linger and over several years they turn rusty and blue but in the first years they are light tan. can you see them in the painting?
Here’s another piece that I’ve finished and I’m really happy with it! The thorns are made by scratching on the paper surface to add more texture to the negative pained thorns and segment edges of the cactus itself.
earlier stage of cholla trio
If you remember here’s what it looked like in an earlier post.
So what did I learn from doing this? First that negative painting to preserve lights is not that difficult. Negative painting is when you create an image by painting what is around it I did that on the branch, and also to create a stamen and pistils in the center of the main bloom. I remembered to describe the elements in varying amounts of specificity. In other words, not all of the blooms are equally detailed or in focus which gives the viewer something to imagine and fill in the blanks. I also went ahead and put in the background at the same time as the focal flowers and foliage which helped have some edges soft, some edges sharp (that’s known as lost and found edges). Plus I learned that all this was FUN to do!
Have I mentioned how much I like taking classes with Laurel Weathersbee? This is the third of four classes with her and I have learned so much. More on that later, because I am energized from class and want to put that energy into my Shiloh commission.
So bye for now. More later…
Here’s a painting on yupo paper from a Valentine’s bouquet my husband bought me.
One thing I should point out you should watch with yupo is that oil from fingerprints on the paper act like a resist meaning the paint doesn’t stay there. Sometimes it fits into your design; sometimes it doesn’t.
You can see the spots along the bottom which is the vase but I don’t mind it that much. One place where it does work well is next to the pink purple daisy. The thin straight line acts like a vein in the leaf; it’s also an oil spot. These spots can be removed by wiping rubbing alcohol over the paper even now. Remember anything can be lifted off of this paper at anytime.
Saturday’s sale at the Sunland Art Gallery was a time of companionship and lots of laughs and lots of sales. We are open one more day, Tues the 31st of January but then it is the end of an era. So if you would like a nice piece of art or print at a very good price, please stop in 10-5 on Tuesday.
This is a small little yupo piece that was started in our class and finished yesterday. Not getting around to blogging until today.
Last night I tried the cholla blossom again for try three and ended up trying a loose interpretation after it. I know I like the loose one best. Try four. it expresses for me the delicacy and light and heat that surrounds the cactus when in bloom
How about you? Which do you like better?
This was my second take on painting this cactus bloom. It is really a walking stick or Cholla bloom, not prickly pear as I referred to it in day 19 which was my first attempt. I like the transparency of this attempt, but a lot of you liked the first version:
Which do you prefer?
Thx for stopping by!