Sunday, December 30, 2012

Getting Back in the Saddle

I've decided to use this scene as a way to get back into the saddle and feel comfortable as well as inventive until I can get outside and paint again.  Choosing a scene you can play with, experiment with, try out different color schemes, zero in, zoom out....takes much of the frustration of figuring out what to paint, and puts it back on composition, color, value and playfulness. 

Meanwhile, Happy New Year, Everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Biding My Time

I'm trying to be patient, but even though it was sunny today, it was still too cool and windy for painting on location. So tomorrow I may have to drag the easel up the stairs to my second story room and paint inside.  Good thing I have some sketches to work from. 

Here's one I'll probably use tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sketch Hunter

Robert Henri coined the term sketch hunter to describe a state of mind when a painter goes out to find potential subject matter.  Today I went hunting in Eastpoint where the oyster fleet drops anchor.  First warm day, I'm going back to paint this spot.  I love showing three different overlapping planes by using three values.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to All

Just....A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Greetings

Painting Christmas cards for your family and friends is both a way to send them best wishes for the holidays, and also a gift that they can cherish long after the holidays have passed.

I use a sixteenth of a sheet which I tape with masking tape to my board.  After the painting is finished, the tape is removed, leaving a nice border.

Here are some cards from last year.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Shapes Say It Best

When I first started to study watercolor seriously, I often heard instructors say, Make interesting shapes.  I thought that just meant the outline.  Now I'm starting to realize that the shape says it all, and details can often ruin the effect.  A silhouetted shape allows the painter to say what the object is without supplying every single window and brick, especially if it's a landscape and the objects are in the distance. 

In this painting of my hometown, the Lutheran church and the City Hall are described with their shapes, not with interior details or accurate colors.  Even the train station in the foreground is nearly free of details. The values and overlapping shapes are enough to convey the place and the mood.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Soft Underpainting

Building a painting is like building a house.  You need to establish a good foundation first.  Sometimes, I like to lay down a soft underpainting to establish a unity of color.  Usually two colors will do it.  Then I place the subject matter on top of that, using the same colors and possibly another one or two colors in the same family.

The subject of this painting is St. Francis de Sales cathedral in South St. Louis.  This church has the highest spire in all of St. Louis.  To suggest a spiritual feeling, I refrained from suggesting any vegetation that would hint at a physical place.  And  I decided to keep the bottom of the building soft, undefined and light so the emphasis would be on the facade of the church.

Here also is the preliminary wash to illustrate what I meant about the soft underpainting.