Experimenting with different materials

I don’t really work much with conte crayon other than adding a bit of white to a watercolor. I wanted to give it a try as part of my efforts to do more quick studies. I don’t like the dust, but it made for a pretty cool little sketch from a photo I took in Harper’s Ferry. It was useful as a way to simplify the scene and work loosely considering it’s hard to get much detail from these without really working hard.



Sunset on grey paper

On the way to Thanksgiving dinner we saw some fantastic views of the sunset.  I felt like trying one out on grey paper this morning using titanium white to get the light parts. Could have had a little light in the sky but the toned paper and my somewhat muted palette kept things subtler (or duller). Next time I might use a little more white paint as an under painting. It’s nice how dropping other colors into the white allows for a nice softening and sense of distance.

7 lessons from an experiment on lighting

With this painting I set out to do an experiment in lighting, and it had been a while since I had painted, so I was eager to get into it.

As I worked through this I realized it was falling short of its potential due to some poor planning and sloppy execution. Fortunately, despite that, the mood came through and I did get a few good lessons:

1. I need to sort out a better way to handle foliage up close–the stuff on the right doesn’t look good to me and seems to throw off the perspective

2. I liked the grasses on the left in person, but they are very blocky here. I need to sort out a better way to handle that. Some concentrated studies are in order.

3. Some parts of the lighting work, but I was not deliberate enough with it, so it doesn’t feel consistent or well structured.

4. The path is too regular. I should have broken it up more. I guess this is still fixable, but I am not really inclined to do more on this.

5. There’s not a good focal point–perhaps it’s the light in the fence, but that’s not strong enough. Then again, I chose this for light and mood, not composition. Perhaps the mood comes through regardless.

6. I really need to do drawings before I paint to get a better understanding of the scene, even when I am working from a photo. Some things about structure and perspective just don’t feel right to me here, perhaps because I took the photo too literally. Had I drawn first I could have edited better.

7. A lot of my paintings recently have been focused on things, not scenes. They didn’t have depth. I want to work more with perspective and space. I think I need to get into this with a pen or a pencil more first. 

Having written these 7 points, I am thinking of trying to sort some of this out by doing some pencil studies of the same scene to work out these kinks. More to come there.

Thanks for reading.

New mixes

In this painting I am trying out some new mixes, using hookers green and pyrole red to make the browns and darks. I have pyrole red in my palette but don’t use it often. Now that I’ve added hookers green I am finding it more useful. Other colors are nickel azo yellow and burnt sienna with a little magenta and ultramarine. 

This is somewhat atypical of my recent paintings, as this is more fluid and transparent than I have been used to, but it’s nice to do things a little differently. This feels a little more like a normal watercolor. Then again, it’s early and there’s still time to give it texture at the end.

Trying for some Renoir lighting

We like to go on family hikes on the weekends. I take a lot of pictures, but not many seem to materialize into paintable subjects–or, put another way, subjects I can’t figure out for painting or am not willing to put in the effort for. I was looking at some Renoir landscapes during a bout of insomnia this morning and was inspired by the warm lighting in many of his landscapes. I remembered a photo from a couple months ago that had such lighting and thought I’d give it a try.I could try to copy a Renoir–and maybe I will–but it seemed like a good idea to try to get the effect on a scene of my own.

I will let this one develop slowly. I have been doing a lot of quick works recently followed by long periods of not painting. It feels good to get into studying something pretty concrete for a while.