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.

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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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Sunset study just for fun

IMG_3506On my drive home yesterday I saw another interesting sunset while at a light. Needing a break from the close studies I’ve been working on, I thought I’d give this a try as a small sketch. The dogs had me up long before my alarm, so I laid in the first washes before work. Another day I will come back over with some broken clouds up the left side, and then fill in all the trees obscuring the sky. It’s good to loosen up and enjoy playing with paint.

Finishing the vertical sunset

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I took the risk and put the trees in. I started with a lower stroke of nickel azo yellow to capture the light, then quickly laid some perylene maroon over that, followed by Prussian blue. I was working on the assumption that things would get bluer at the top, and I think I overworked it a bit. Maybe next time I will use a smaller brush, or at least be a little more careful. But I think it came out pretty well with the powerful sunset coming through the trees. The effect worked. A little more precision on the execution next time.

As I was doing this I thought it might be cool to do a similar scene but with cranes instead of trees to make it an industrial urban version. Until then, here’s the finished painting more close up. Thanks to everyone who liked the work in progress and the vertical format. I think I will do at least a few more like this.

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Happy Thanksgiving and a Vertical Sunset Painting in Progress

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On the way home from work this week I saw an incredible sunset through tall trees. I couldn’t stop to take a picture or paint it live at the time, but it was such a great candidate for a vertical composition that I tried to work it from memory and invention.

In looking at Turner’s skies, you can really see the movement and energy in them. He often does swirled, rounded skies, emphasizing the curvature of the earth. I couldn’t fit all of that in such a narrow composition, so I tried to work with angles to show the clouds and the light coming from somewhere and going to somewhere else.

In case I mess up the trees I am posting the work in progress since the sky came out pretty well. I can’t leave it as is anyway because of the damaged paper. I don’t know, maybe that isn’t noticeable. Also, I think I need to study some really tall skinny trees before I put them in here. Daniel Smith lemon yellow around the white for the brightest light seemed to work pretty nicely. I just got a tube of it a couple weeks ago and have been using some here and there. Seeing it here really makes me love that color.

It’s been nice getting some painting time in on Thanksgiving. My daughters really wanted to paint this morning, so they got me motivated today.

Happy Thankagiving!

Finishing off design district sunset

I didn’t have much left to go on this one, just putting in the branches and darkening things a bit. I will leave this as is for now. Perhaps I can do a bit more in the upper right to darken that and focus things further but I want to post it now as is.

My verdict so far on the Fluid paper is that it’s too smooth and after a while I feel as if I am wiping paint off as much as I am putting more on as I glaze. I should have handled this more directly anyway. The sky was quick and most compelling. I just wasn’t sure exactly how to get the fence and tree dark enough with enough variation without glazing. After awhile of it I got impatient and just tried to get it darker and darker since it was most interesting as a framing device.

That’s all for now. I have some new experiments to undertake shortly. Here it is.

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