Big sun on the river

This image is from late last summer when we were having dinner on the water in Annapolis. Just got around to painting it yesterday and today. Lemon yellow mixed with yellow ochre to get the sunlight. The rest is indigo and sepia. The highlights on the posts are white and yellow ochre dry brushed on. I will probably do this again with a different palette to get more subtly of light and color.

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Sky study


Interesting sky from the other night. Not exactly a realist depiction, but I was attracted to the warm clouds against a muted blue sky and wanted to see how to get the feeling down on paper after the fact. Prussian blue, nickel azo yellow, brown madder, and burnt sienna. 3×5 Pentalic watercolor sketchbook. 

Experimenting with a big sky

I have some 22×30 arches watercolor boards that I have been anxious to try out, but I haven’t been quite sure what to do on them at a large scale.

I am experimenting on 11×14 sheets with some big sky paintings to see of maybe that would do. I like Loriann Signori’s vertical pastels and oils, so I thought I’d try something in that format.

I didn’t quite get what I wanted here–the water came out green because I brought the orange down, and the sunlight isn’t popping out like I hoped–but I think I see what to do for next time. And there’s still more I can do here once it dries–some bright reflections on the water, etc. This might also be a chance to really mess around with it like Winslow Homer did.

Here it is in an early stage before I built up the top of the sky.

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And here it is with the light in the sky better emphasized.

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I think I will refine this over the weekend. For now, thanks for reading.

Sunset on Blue Paper

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I’ve been looking again at Turner and at Hercules Brabazon Brabazon. I like their work on toned paper. I’ve also been looking back at pastel artist Loriann Signori’s blog. She does a lot of 6×6 studies of light and skies. I really like the way she works with all the colors and values, so I wanted to see what I could with watercolor on toned paper. I cut a sheet of Canson Mi-Teintes light blue paper and drew out this composition. I liked the depth established by the crossing power lines and the brilliance of the sun on the horizon.

Working on pastel paper is tough because it stays wet for longer than I am used to and buckles. I thought toned paper would lead to more efficient sketching–and perhaps it does when used for more suitable paintings where much of the paper is left untouched or touched less. The other key is to not work with very wet brushes. Washes on this are not the same as on watercolor paper. All in all a fun challenge with good results.

I started by painting the light with titanium white gouache. While that was drying I started putting in the magenta clouds at the top. Then I laid in the bottom ground. I worked in the yellow light next, leaving space for more white gouache for the brightest sun. I worked in more clouds throughout. Finically I painted the utility poles and wires.

I think I will do this more, especially on location once the weather gets better. I toned a 12×16 sheet of 300lb arches paper a grey blue. When that dries I will cut if down to four 6×8 sheets for sketching. That surface will be more familiar to work on, though there is something pleasant about the pastel paper.

Thanks for reading.

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