Saturday, December 22, 2012

Vanishing Crew

While sketching along San Francisco Bay I was fascinated by a crew working on a pile driver.  The engine was cranking away, making a racket.  I did several sketches and, then decided to get out the paints.  My paints were back in my parked car.  When I returned, the entire rig with crane was headed out to sea with a motor boat pushing from behind.  I wound bet that it hadn't moved for over a year and, just when I wanted to paint, it was gone. 

I ran across my sketches the other day and tried another time to paint it. The tall crane and reflection lends itself nicely to a vertical format.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Quiet Until Summer

The landscape view can generate a lonely mood.  When I visit my summer cottage in winter, it is quiet, dark and lacks the frenetic energy that comes with summer and people.  Things are put away and there may even be cobwebs attesting to their inertia.  This was an imagined scene that I painted with the feeling of abandonment and dying.  There is a little fire in the tree foliage but even that is dying.  It is easier to create a lonely mood with landscape composition than a closeup.  A predominance of cool colors helps along with the emptiness of everything. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Early Morning Start

What is it about boats, especially tugboats?  Maybe it stems from children's books about overcoming great odds, like 'The Little Engine That Could' or 'Tuffy, the Tugboat'.  When I lived by the wharfs in San Francisco, I witnessed alot of Tugboats at work.  The new modern version tugboat does not have a big smoke stack nor rubber tires attached.  They are muscle boats with improved windows on top and many search lights.  When I see one of these vintage editions, as in this painting, I just stop and take it in. 

I saw this photo and wanted to paint a tugboat.  I found some hot press paper which I rarely use and wet it.  With no pencil marks I put in a sky, and while wet, put in the hull and housing of the boat.  Next, the shoreline in the background was done and the paper was still wet.  I waited for some more dryness and lifted out the white for the top and then did some detail.  It all stayed together.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Quiet on the San Juan Islands

Simple subjects always make the best compositions.  Some hills, houses and a boat lead to a peaceful scene.  You can see the value changes from back to front which create depth and a third dimension.  I started this painting by wetting my paper and putting in the sky.  Usually, I turn my paper upside down and progress from yellow to red to blue.  I then tilt my paper (which is on a board) to allow some running of the color across the paper.  This is what I like about watercolor media.  The colors run, and their transparency creates new colors. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Middle East Dream

I awoke from this dream of being somewhere in the middle east.  Maybe it was provoked by the nightly newscast.  I got up and painted some of what I imagined or dreamed.  I did it wet into wet so it was done very quickly and there are lost and soft edges.  I did wait for it to dry and put in shade and cast shadow but otherwise, let the paint run.  I have tried painting dream scenes before, but never remember detail.
At a younger age, I wondered whether my dreams were in color.  I only remembered the black and white ones and wondered if I was being cheated.  After all, dreams can be wonderful fantasies, and it would be so much less if only in black and white instead of technicolor.  Could I be having Grade B dreams?  I began taking notes when I first awoke and could still recall my dreams.  Specifically, I noted whether there was color.  The first time I was sure of color was in a dream with a red fire truck.  Wow.  Never made anymore notes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sailboat Racing in the Northwest

I loved playing with fog and mountain ranges.  The water reflections are easy to pull out if you do them when the paper is wet.  Getting soft edges is a matter of timing in a watercolor.  I put the sky in with a graded wash and then, while still wet, tilt my board up and run water down.  I keep adding water to wash out the sky color and put in some bumps to soften the fast line created by the water.  I then return to painting the mountain in the foreground and stretching the trees up into the cleared fog area.  The fog then falls behind and gives the composition some depth.  I let the painting dictate when it is ready for the next phase. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Group

This was a fun venture with my watercolor class.  It was a brush with the abstract.  On plain white paper using no pencil, we charged ahead with heads and then gesture bodies.  Everyone tried it and were surprised.  It was all done in 20-30 minutes.  They were definitely out of their comfort zone, but let loose and came up with some pretty interesting groups.  Each painting seemed to have a story.  So often, we paint a landscape that just calls for a human figure but pass it up because of fear of painting figures.  Hopefully, we are over that phobia, anyone can put in a gesture figure.