Daily painting 06-03-2017 (#10)

I couldn't do the daily painting yesterday, so maybe i will make up for it by doing two today :-)

Here's one from this morning. There was a bunch of junk food from last night's boardgaming session lying around the living room, so I thought why not try it.


It was challenging, but so fun! I am still trying to get a hang of how to apply the paint, how to organize my colors on my palette and which brushes to use for what purpose etc. It is going to be a long process, but I have a good start I think.

Daily painting 06-01-2017 (#9)

Today I did some rendering practice in oil.


I was using the canson xl pad so far, and having a lot of trouble with it.  I see to be picking up more paint than I was laying down. My frederik canvas pad arrived today so I thought I will try that and see if it makes any difference, and it did! I was able to control the blending a bit better.


It is still very early days of course but better than my efforts so far. 

Daily painting 05-29-2017 (#5)

Okay granted this is not a painting, but it is a big deal for me. I have wondered what oil painting was like since forever, and finally had the courage to try it today. I just have cheap student quality stuff on me right now. I loved the experience enough that I placed a BIG order on blick for oil paints.

I feel a little bit like I am cheating on watercolor :-)


Daily painting 05-28-2017 (#4)

Today's painting is a further exploration of the casein medium. I do see progress from yesterday. One thing I found is that it always looks horrible in the beginning and even midway through, but slowly things start pulling together. So don't give up before adding shadows and highlights. 

Today's study is a copy of one of Carol Marine's daily paintings.


What attracted me to her paintings are the unusual compositions that make everyday subjects interesting. I am told that I am a timid composer, which is true, and that is why I am trying to learn from people who do things very differently.

I, then, wanted to experiment with what casein would do on a mid tone surface, so I picked a piece of scrap chipboard to practice on. I like that I don't have to worry about eliminating the white of the paper, and that any white is intentional white. 


Daily painting 05-27-2017

I had a set of Casein paints sitting in my shelf for a few months now. I bought them when James Gurney released his Casein in the Wild video. I never got a chance to play with them simce then, things were a little too hectic to get started with a new medium.

We kept this long weekend free of all activities, so I got a chance to break open the new set, get a palette prepped, setup a simple still life and just have a go at it.


It was a chqllenge working in this medium that activates with water but behaves nothing like watercolor. It is neither opaque nor transparent and i had a hard time figuring out what to do with it. Granted it is just a first painting and things take longer than an hour to learn :-)

New media!

I haven't been as regular with my art practice for a couple of weeks because of busy work-weeks but I have managed to keep up with the learning thanks to my online subscription to art websites. The one I have been following lately is Nathan Fowles' Landscape Sketching in Watercolor and Gouache course on schoolism.com. It is a fantastic resource if you want to get to the next level in what makes a good painting. The class covers principles and not so much techniques, and I really appreciate that. I have been doing some composition exercises in black and white for the class and that turned me onto observing and learning from paintings I admire and painting opaquely.

The paintings I did this afternoon are all copies of paintings I admired online. I tried watercolor and Gouache in the pepper painting and I am very happy with the results. I cannot control the medium very well yet but I am happy with how things turned out so far.  

peppers in watercolor and gouache, a copy

peppers in watercolor and gouache, a copy

The next thing I am going to try is painting opaquely in casein. Don't know what that is? Hang on till my next post :-)

Some still life studies today

I am continuing to do well with my "3 paintings a day" project. To be honest, it is not always full paintings per se, sometimes they are as simple as color studies and other times they are studies of paintings I admire. Even so, doing three pages of paintings a day is really helping me make progress and be consistent. 

For today's study I setup a little still life at home, and did a few paintings of the still life. It was a good night of painting.

I really enjoyed this like colorful study. There is not a huge amount of value contrast in this painting, but I didn't mind that. The color hue contrast does the job well of separating the shapes and bringing focus. 

I wanted to do a more careful study of the teal tea pot next, so I setup a still life with just the teapot and I added the orange bud for some interest. Again, I wasn't able to achieve much value contrast, and I didn't wait for the wet areas to dry before going back in there ... but still I like the effects that achieved and how the whole composition looks. 

The next painting I did a bit of an experiment. I discovered Debora Stewart this morning via her Abstract Flowers in Pastel video in artistnetwork.tv. I liked how she played with acrylics and soft pastels to make beautiful abstract florals, and wanted to see how pastels worked with watercolor. This painting looks a little dead in the water, but still I am glad that I tried out this rather crazy experiment. 

Goodnight and see you next time. Meanwhile, happy painting!

World Watercolor Month #11

A simple study of onions for today's watercolor practice. I used three colors - Azo yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine blue - for this study. 

Two things I learned is that 1) back side of Bockingford paper is not as absorbant or as responsive as the front side. 2) The arid, dry air in California makes drying times much shorter than I have experienced in Alabama for the past week. This makes working wet-in-wet challenging.

If you ask me honestly, I will say that I don't care for this painting. However, a while ago I resolved to not be disappointed in my art, because that is not productive. It is a lot more productive to pick out and appreciate the good parts, and learn from the bad. 

One thing I like about this painting is that it has good tonal composition. When I look at the painting from a distance it reads clearly, and that is a good thing. One thing that I would improve next time is to not use such saturated color all over. The painting looks busy and there is no relief to the eye.

Watercolor stuff

I feel like I broke fresh ground with my watercolor skills in just the past week. I am able to do things that I never was able to do before, and fearlessly too. Watercolor always was such a source of frustration and disappointment for me, but I persevered because, even though watercolor hates me, I love watercolor. And FINALLY I feel that something clicked, and my paintings are elevated to a new level.

Even if an external observer may not notice anything as such in the quality of my paintings, I feel the difference. I am a lot more bold with my decisions, lot less worried about the consequences and also much more open to taking the painting in a new direction in case the original plan isn't working out. I think all of this, along with a ton of practice, will eventually result in better paintings. 

Here is a piece of advice I can give to fellow beginner watercolor enthusiast - You just have to go through a lot of heartache with watercolor before you start to make things that you enjoy. It is just the nature of the medium. But just trust that it will all start to come together one day.

I found that it was easier to learn when I reduced the parameters to an absolute minimum, and then slowly increase the variables as I mastered each one. Start with a few paints, maybe even just one (payne's grey perhaps?), practice brush strokes, do monochromatic studies, do color mixes etc. etc. We all want to do complete paintings when we sit down to paint, but in my opinion, it is a lot more instructive to do a lot of little studies. 

Speaking of studies, here is a little study of my watercolor stuff. 

watercolor palette and brush still life in watercolor

May 4 : Onions in pastels

I looked for some still life reference photos on Paint My Photo, and I quite liked this one of the onions. This time around I took a couple of step by step pictures. The whole thing took me around 1.5 hr. I am still not sure how to make some good shadows without using black :-/

I blocked in some basic shapes with NuPastels.


Then I switched to Rembrandt pastels for further blocking in. I like to work on the whole picture at once, so here is the next stage of the drawing about an hour in.



I spent the next half hour clarifying the edges, deepening the shadows and adding a bit of color to the background.


Onions in pastels

Onions in pastels

I am not unhappy with this but I really would like to not use black! I need to figure this out.

May 2 : Pastel drawing

Yesterday's success encouraged me to try a whole month of pastel drawings. My day job has nothing to do with art but I am trying to make time for some serious art practice everyday. 

Here is today's attempt.  I am not happy with it, but I shouldn't expect this to be so easy. I take comfort in the fact that it looks like something and the important thing is that I put in the time.


Limes and Lemons in Pastels

I took a little more time with it this morning and tackled a slightly more complex still life. I really enjoy the Zen-like mode I get into while working with pastels. I am over the moon with the results I got in this second pastel painting!

Thanks to my friend for all her helpful pointers and to my mom-in-law for the beautiful set of Rembrandt soft pastels.

Limes and lemon in pastels

Limes and lemon in pastels