Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas


   Merry Christmas to all!  I hope to have some new paintings soon now that I'm in Florida and can paint outside again soon!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Figures and Backgrounds

Backgrounds and foregrounds are always a problem for the watercolorist.  How much detail to include or exclude.  Should the background be dark or light?  Making those decisions before beginning to paint is an important starting point.

                             "The Cast"

In this painting of a trout fisherman on his favorite stream,  I wanted the fisherman to really stand out, so I decided to make the figure light against a dark background for the most dramatic effect.  I also wanted the viewer to concentrate on the figure, so I provided no details or texture in the dark background.  It isn't a solid mass, but certainly any suggestion of rocks or trees has been eliminated.
The foreground rocks and stream are necessary to give context and setting.  Most of the action centers around the fly fisherman's cast. 

This painting was a gift from the faculty of the high school where I taught for 19 years to the principal upon the occasion of his retirement.  A couple of years before, he had given me a refresher course and loaned me his rod for a spring break trip to Arkansas.  So it was appropriate on a personal and professional level.  Consider giving a painting related to someone's hobby.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Overlapping and Receding Values

                       "Ocean Point Marina"

For this painting I decided to take the color factor out and concentrate on values.  After painting the sky and ground, I worked from far distance to near foreground.  Each step forward, the values got a little darker. The shadowed sides of the white boats were the exception.

Overlapping shapes also helped bring things forward.  The closest sailboat with its rudder overlaps the lobster boat in the back, and the foreground figures and scaffolding are darker than the shapes behind them.

Notice, too, how the shapes are connected without  stopping for hard edges.  The underside of the boat doesn't start with a hard edge, and the cast shadow melts into the hull to form one shape.

Every once in a while, it helps to eliminate the color problem and just paint the value of things. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013


                       "Clouds Over Newagen"

When the subject is clouds, they must dominate the space on the paper.  The larger the area that a subject is given, the more attention will be given to it.  In this painting of "Clouds Over Newagen", the sky takes up about two thirds of the painting. 

Special care must be taken when designing them.  Choose one cloud to dominate.  Then place one or two lesser clouds to balance them.  Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear....

Consider the placement of sky holes.

If you study clouds, you will eventually notice that because they are made up of water molecules, they are very reflective of what is under them.  A sailor will tell you that when searching for land out at sea, he will look for the clouds with the warmest colors on their underside.  A cool underside will tell him that the cloud is reflecting the sea.

This is important in choosing colors because the values of most clouds are not much darker than the light of the blue sky.  A warm gray, even if light in value, will read as cloud if it is pinned against a cool sky.

Did you know there is a Cloud Appreciation Society?  Google it for more information and some fantastic photos!