October Leaves accepted to Arts International!

Watercolor painting of autumn leaves

October leaves.  Watercolor 11″ x 14″  $175 matted and framed for sale at Arts International, October 3.   Click on image to view larger.

I am very happy to announce that my painting October Leaves has been selected for the Arts International show, opening October 3, 2015 at the Art Junction!  It was one of 68 paintings chosen from 145 submitted. This is the annual juried show of the El Paso Art Association.

As I blogged about in an earlier post called Try and Try again, this was a piece that I went back to  months after it was “finished” because I didn’t like the background and scrubbed it out and redid it, adding more layers of leaves to the pile. You can go back and read to see the process if you’d like.  Guess it shows that persistence works…and that watercolor CAN be forgiving!

Stop and rest

Watercolor painting

Stop and Rest. Forest scene with rock. Click image to view larger. Available.


Here’s the second piece from Wednesday’s class on creating textures and fixing problem areas.  The instructions were a rock with grasses in front and lots of green behind, letting rich colors run in the background.

I posted a picture below of what it looked like when I came home.  The rock was floating, flat bottomed like some weird space hovering.  I didn’t like the grasses.  I can’t wrap my head around yet how to negatively paint the tops of grasses to get them to be thin blades, and I liked some colors in the mixing but the blues were too prominent and separated in the forest.

painting at early stages

How it looked after the class. it needed some help!

So I did some scrubbing out of edges with a coarse hair cheaper acrylic brush that I cut down to make a stiff ridge, painted down over the tops of the grasses and then pulled up with a palette knife to get the grasses I wanted.  added more color in the background, tried to create masses of bushes/trees with spattering of water, etc.  

While I wish that I had gotten this look earlier on so that it looked fresher and less worked, I’m glad I rescued it.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!   Thanks for visiting. 

Drop me down right here please…

Painting of grasses, little house and mountains in distance

High mountain meadow. Click on image to view larger.

In yesterday’s watercolor class we learned about techniques to make texture, and blending colors together on the paper.

You can pull out grasses, tree trunks, etc. by dragging a flat object (credit card edge, chiseled end of brush handle, etc.) to make grasses or tree trunks, and the amount of moisture in the area of the painting will determine if the scrapings pull back to a lighter paper (done when the area has lost its shine) or fill back in with the surrounding moist paint and get darker (if done when it’s wet).

This was a scene where we had instruction to put in the background sky, trees, house and then do grasses in front. I worked on it a bit at home as well.

3D becomes 2D and the transparent made plain

Drawing of glass, bottle and pottery bird

Drawing exercise, two transparent objects and one opaque

I’ve been taking a drawing and a watercolor class, and attending a painting group that has teachers come in. It’s been a very educational couple of weeks!

Here’s the latest homework exercise: draw two transparent objects. To balance it, I added a third pottery bird.  An odd number of objects is usually better than even.

To make something transparent you accentuate the darks but keep the edges smooth and details vague.  So in drawing, you smooth with the tool called a stump (rolled up paper in a pencil type shape that smooths out the graphite on the paper).

The glass is clear with a dark (blue) base and stem.  The bottle is cobalt blue. The bird happens to be blue with a rusty side.  The faint lines are the folds of cloth under the objects.

pottery and wine glass sketch

In class exercise. Drawing using boxes to define relative size and distance

Here is a class drawing done before the homework: two pottery pieces and a wine bottle.  Really interesting to learn how to make sure the items are in proportion to themselves and each other.

You can probably see the faint box around the pottery with a lid, and the transparent bottle.  We drew the box based on measurements and then filled it with the actual objects’ shapes.

She taught us how to first measure one item (using a pencil and one eye closed and elbow straight), call it a unit, and then figure how it relates to the others.

For example;  the front pottery is one unit and the bottle is 2.5 units high.  I don’t remember the exact ratios.  and then you have to figure out how far in front the one object is from the other.  I had difficulty keeping all the ratios in my head, so in the homework, I actually wrote them down.

So going back to the first drawing:   the bird is one unit high by one unit across, the wine glass is 1/3 of a unit higher on the paper, the bottle is 1/2 unit higher on the paper and tilted.  The glass is 2.5-2.75 units high, the bottle is a hair over 2. It’s gratifying to see the boxes turn into the actual shapes.

The box makes it easier to make items symetrical because you fit them inside the box, marking a center line and balancing each side, best you can.  with practice of course, it will get better…

2015-02-20 08.25.13

Class exercise: Simple shapes: cones, cylinders, spheres and cubes in watercolor

We started out drawing class with simple shapes,and  I thought…I should probably try to paint these…  sure enough, in the watercolor class day two was painting shapes, in this instance with two colors,my favorites, an orange and a blue.

So my plan is to paint the bird/glass/bottle painting and transfer what I learned from drawing into watercolor…  watch this space.

Pelican still life –Day #13 of challenge

Painting of pelican figurine and shell

Pelicans, fronds, and more. Paintings from first group lesson.  Click on image to enlarge.

Yesterday I went to my first meeting of a small transparent watercolor group that invites local teachers to come in. In my very limited workshop experience I’ve found that I learn a lot but don’t produce anything worth showing, but this time was different. I was inspired by the pelican figurine and again it’s in my favorite colors of oranges and blues.

The fronds painting lying down was much more intimidating for me, so much going on with a wine bottle in front, fronds, ivy leaves, some fruit there too, and I found the pace very fast…but perhaps because of the extra stress of being in a workshop, but that was also VERY enlightening because it brought home yet again, don’t make it “precious”  don’t think it has to be perfect, just get in there with the juicy paints, try to see the darks and lights and get those down.  My fronds started looking much better once I got some darks in amongst them.  It isn’t done and won’t be done, but it was a great experience.

We started out doing contour drawing which is difficult but I found freeing because the sketch does not have to look like what you’re drawing.  It is when you follow the shape and shadows of the object with your eye while slowly moving your pencil without looking at your paper.  The goal is to sync the two movements (eye and pencil) so that you are measuring the distances on the object you need to make it look realistic.  So you learn an awful lot about the subject you are drawing, but without fretting over making the sketch “look good”.  Does that make sense?  The teacher commented on how the sketchy kind of marks you make with contour, or partial contour (when you look at your paper frequently) can give a life to your sketch/painting that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

All in all, a wonderful afternoon, I came home on such a high.  I am really grateful to have found this group and look forward to next week when we have a drawing instructor coming in.

Sketching around

From Drawing 2010

A sketch I did of a teeny three legged pottery piece I did, early morning with strong lamplight for shadows.  Such a zen moment; I’d forgotten how relaxing and centering sketching is.  I tried to sketch a pinecone the next three mornings, and I’m further along on this quixotic (for me) quest than I was before, but it’s not ready to scan yet, believe me! <g>

I am, though, putting the principles of sketching that I learned from this video, (Drawing with Trudy Friend)  into practice.

Simply put, or perhaps this may not be simple to explain, you start with a gap between two sections of the piece, or an angle between two lines, and then work from there, constantly checking yourself to make sure surfaces line up and if not, correct it before you go.  This is quite tough to do when I can get lost in the various ‘petals” of each cone – I’m sure that’s not the correct term for them but I think you know what I mean!

And let me give a plug to this site.  I’ve signed up for a six month contract to view any and all art instruction videos as much as I’d like, and it’s well worth it.  http://www.artistsnetwork.tv I started it when I’d broken my wrist in the fall, figuring that if I couldn’t be DOING art, I could be learning about it, rather than watching other forms of entertainment.  I will probably renew for another six months when my term is up, although as the renewal date is approaching, I’m carefully taking notes as I watch, in case I change my mind.

If you click on the album link, bottom right corner of the sketch, you can see two other sketches in there so far.  They’re from a grade school book on whales that was in the car while we were on a trip.