Monday, February 25, 2008

Creating an Oil Painting - Zion's The Watchmen

Day 3: At the end of a long painting session, I had color on the entire painting. However, some bits are too pink and others an unnatural shade of green. I also realized the water was still tending to float above the ground, and there are no pine forests on the mountain side at Zion, which is a desert environment. A final color adjustment was required.

Creating an Oil Painting - Zion's The Watchmen

Day 3: Working on the natural color on the left side of the painting. You can see the colors are out of balance, with the grass near the waters edge looking too yellow, and the pine trees glowing blue-green instead of olive. I reviewed the instructions and discovered I had to paint recognizable plants that grow in Zion as part of the competition requirements. This required a greater level of accuracy and detail.

Creating an Oil Painting - Zion's The Watchmen

Day 2: The hill and foliage on the right side is detailed with an over painting in more naturalistic colors.

Creating an Oil Painting - Zion's The Watchmen

This is the underpainting, all tones of lavendar, blue and pink. The water is more completely painted. Notice it almost floats above the surface ofthe painting compared to the land...

Creating an Oil Painting - Zion's The Watchmen

I decided to paint an oil for a juried show celebrating 100 years of Zion as a National Park. Unfortunately, I had less than a week to complete the painting. I began on Sunday, laying the underpainting. Here is the sky, which is almost at its final state. The dabs below mark the reflections in what will soon be a creek. I had company, and every half hour or so they would wander through and see how the painting had changed. It is a pretty dynamic process in the early stages.


This painting may be the first in a series of tropical flowers. This was a class subject. We had a guest in class that day, and she was startled when everyone started saying "oh, my painting is ruined" about halfway through the class. She timidly told her sister, "It doesn't sound like anyone is having fun..." Her sister smiled, and told her, "No, this is just the halfway stage when no one likes their painting. It frees us up to be experimental and some great paintings result!". I added highlights and dark tones after the class, and am much happier with the result.

Koi & Lilypads

This is a second monoprint, done in the same session as Lotus 2. This is in the collection of Lin & Joe Cochran.

Schuler House

I received a field watercolor painting kit for Christmas, and put it to immediate use. This is a picture for fellow artist Ellen Shipley and her husband Bill, who runs a computer software company called Schuyler House. The castle in the rear of the picture is the Schuyler House symbol. The sheep in the foreground are a reminder that Ellen began her art career as a fibre artist/weaver. Can you spot the poodle in sheeps clothing, a slight slip of the paint brush? This 5x7" watercolor is in the private collection of Ellen & Bill Shipley.

Lotus 2

At the suggestion of fellow artist Belinda Del Pesco (check out her website), I experimented with creating monoprints by drawing on plexiglass with water-soluble crayon, then putting a wet paper over and running it through a lithographic press. The resulting line drawing is then painted with transparent watercolor. Here is an example of the result.

Harvest Time

I liked the contrast of the soft, dusty-looking wine grapes with the brilliant fall foliage. This painting has a narrow depth of field, with the leaves in the foreground being more realistic, and the foliage around the edges fading to the abract. The hardest part of this painting was creating a sense of roundness on each grape...


The first of the 3 paintings done in one day. This is larger, 11x14. I was happy that I managed to preserve whites around the windows and railing and the buildings actually have some sense of roundness. I was not happy with the bland, solid light blue sky that was in the picture. One thing you learn as an artist is that it is sometimes necessary to enhance what you see, to make a better composition. My husband recommended that I add some clouds to improve the balance of the painting. I painted the sky and clouds as you see them, over the existing vanes of the windmill. As soon as I laid in the sky, the water reflections became apparent and the balance of the entire painting was apparent.

Little Newt

I had one really great day where I painted 3 complete paintings, a new high for me. I painted the Windmills. While that was drying, I painted the Lady in Red. While THAT was drying, I painted this picture of one of my cats, Little Newt. I'm pleased that it actually looks like a cat, and not a meatloaf. I'm happy with the use of negative space in this painting. For once I don't feel I overworked the subject.

Lavender Lady

Proportion is off a bit on the figure, but I was very pleased with the abstract multi-colored background on this one. The entire background was painted in about 2 minutes, AFTER the figure was painted.

Aspens - Autumn Light

Back to the subject of aspens again...this time in oil. This is a "plein air" style picture, practicing painting a whole picture in a single session. I was quite pleased with the result.

Zebra 1

This zebra painting originally came out very flat. Later I added the deeper black tones to enhance the countours. It was still dull, until I popped the image by adding pinks and blues for the reflected light. I'm pleased with it now! Sent this one off to the Transparent Watercolor Society show in spring 2008.

Fall in New England

Fall in New England is a watercolor. I liked the brilliance of the foliage, contrasted by the deep shadows of th trees. This is a break-through, as the building clearly has more than one side...(perspective being a continuing challenge...).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mother and Child

In this picture, a mother holds her child who is dressed in an old, torn shirt. The mother's expression shows her joy in her child.

Lady in Red

Here is a picture of a performer for a festival, waiting her turn to perform. Heavy color saturation in this watercolor.

Bishop's Peak 1

This is countryside around San Luis Obispo. There are a series of volcanic peaks near the coast, which provide endless inspiration for painting. This is a view of Bishop's peak from the farm country just to the south.

Lavender, Los Olivos

During my summer trip to Cambria, I painted a watercolor per day. This is a painting of a lavender field, a favorite subject which I return to often.

During a summer trip to Cambria, California, a friend asked me if it was impossible to paint a "dark" watercolor, as all my pictures seemed very light and bright. I did this painting as an experiment. It also taught me that I should think more about contrast in my watercolor paintings to give them more "pop"!

Aspens 2

Here is the second pass on the same image, done in a looser, more painterly style. This image gets a better reaction than the more realistic painting.

Aspens 1

I did this transparent watercolor in an impressionistic style. Then I repeated it immediately in a much looser, painterly style.