The Final for Fall Fig

Fall Fig as it will be framed. 8 x 10 watercolor. Available.

Fall Fig as it will be framed. 8 x 10 watercolor. Available.

After taking the time to consider comments and discuss with my painting group, I’ve decided to crop Fall Fig to this or something very similar. You can see it in its fuller version with step by step photos.  Thanks for your comments about the diagonal of the dark being distracting.  I don’t think anything important is removed by cropping it and I like the focus it puts on the yellow leaves and the light against the dark.  I think the composition is stronger.

When I got on this morning to reply to comments, I saw that some of the pictures of previous posts had been removed somehow, so they’re back now, in case you read the posts and wondered what you were missing!

And now back to the hustle and bustle of the season that I attempt to resist every year…

4 –>40 Trees and trunks

File Dec 07, 5 09 31 PM

Tree studies

Here are some studies on fall foliage and trunks of yuccas. I like the freshness of this.

In some of the pigment for the bin paintings, I saw that some yellows “explode” into other pigments, and one of them seems to be new gamboge.  As I take my dog walks and see the yellow leaves still on the trees in front of pines, I think that the jagged edges of the yellow branches could be created by having the yellows run into the greens.  So here’s a try to get it to happen, and it kind of did, but here are other experiments.

I think what would help would be to put the greens down and have them be not wet but damp and drying  before putting the yellows in next to it.  We’ll see…

yellow green experiment1

yellow green experiment1

yellow green experiment 2

yellow green experiment 2



yucca trunks

Collage of yucca trunks

Yuccas are not trees, but they have a trunk that seems tree like, especially when the dead leaves are trimmed as they often are in landscaping.  Here’s a collage of various studies to get the texture of them.



Day 20 Forest’s Edge

Forest's Edge.  11" x 15" watercolor. $25

Day 20.  Forest’s Edge. 11″ x 15″ watercolor. $25

Yesterday I finished the painting of the tree, not to my satisfaction, but anyway, it’s done!  Without a plan I was just messing around, putting in, lifting colors, scrubbing out.  anyway…dusted and done and ready for the bin!  Or at least that’s how I feel today….  smile.

Ten more days to go on this 30 paintings in 30 days challenge.  In a way I can’t wait!  It has at times been grueling, some times really fun.  I certainly don’t regret doing it…and I plan on doing ten more paintings…

Day 19 Autumn (in progress)

day19_autumn_saran (5)

Autumn tree in progress. done with watercolor. 9″ x 12″

I’m at the stage in this one where I’m not sure what to do with the cool textures behind the tree to the right. What do you see in them?  what would you do next?

day 19 colors down saran

wet paint with plastic wrap layers on top creating lighter areas of texture and movement.

I’ve been experimenting again with saran wrap, putting down rich colors on a spritzed with water paper covering with cling wrap crinkled in various shapes and then allowing to dry.  This time I forgot to put a heavy book on top and it still worked.  So I thought I’d show you where it is now, where it started, and ideas I had on how to work it that I tried out using the acetate sheet.

day19_autumn_saran (1)

after the paint has dried and plastic wrap removed. what fun to look at the designs inside! what do you see?

So here’s what it looked like wet covered with three different sheets of plastic wrap laid in various angles and here is how it dried.  you can see that the rich colors it had originally dried lighter, which is common with watercolor.  I laid down the colors thinking fall landscape with pines on the right and a foreground of fall colors.  that’s as far as I got so that influenced what I saw looking at the dried piece.  What do you see in the dried piece?  it has interesting potential doesn’t it?  and perhaps I painted too much over it….  it’s a continual learning process.

My next step was to lay acetate on top (I’ve talked about this in another post) and try out ideas.  The key to this is to use thicker pigment puddle,  and I find a flat brush helps lay down a good design to try.   I know there is glare on this from the acetate but I wanted to show you the three different ideas.  The first was a tree with some leaves, the next was a bare tree and working up the pines on the left.  The third was the one I settled on:  putting in the trunk and then building up leaves with branches poking through and see what happened.

day19_autumn_saran (3)

acetate with painted design ideas on top

day19_autumn_saran (4)

acetate with painted design ideas on top

day19_autumn_saran (2)

acetate with painted design ideas on top

Which leaves me where I am now. Playing in the leaves….ha ha!

So what do you see in the designs?  What would you suggest for the area behind the tree?  and any ideas for a title?  I’m at a loss for that…

Thanks for stopping by!

October Leaves, the Process

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.