The colors look warmer in real life than they do in the photo.
It was more work than I thought it would be. I put about 3 more layers of color on top of my underpainting and completely filled up the tooth of that sanded pastel paper. All together I think I went over the paper 6 times, first to sketch it in charcoal, then the underpainting in complimentary colors, then blend that first layer of pastel down into the paper with my Kneeded eraser. Those layers didn’t make my hand tired but then when I went over it with the last layers I had to press down hard on the pastel because the paper won’t hold any more color.
You can see a lot of the underpainting colors show through.
I don’t know what’s going on with those stick bushes. I’ll call it a design element. It’s not like that in real life but this is abstract, so, whatever. hahaha
I might go back to the beach next and try to paint waves with oils more realistically.
cedar tree and bare tree with water and background sedge behind them and sedge in front,
reflections of background trees and sky in the flooded path,
more sedge with green leaves on a stick bush in the foreground.
Foreground tree on top of cedar with reflections in the creek and background sedge and background trees.
Background tree and sky with top of cedar tree on the bottom right.
I scribbled. It was fun.
I might try this color experiment again in the future with paint instead of pastel and different subject matter.
These colors might be ok on a valentine but they really look bad in this landscape. It’s an underpainting in the complimentary colors of the ones in nature. When I go over this again the areas in purple will be yellow, the areas in orange will be blue and the areas in pink will be green. Warm grays should be cool grays etc.
I don’t know if it will work. It might but it might not. I still haven’t decided if the one I did before worked out. I think people liked the previous one but I’m not sure I like it. I put it away to decide later. This might not take long to finish because I’m 2/3 of the way finished with it.
If it’s a total flop I’ll still post it finished. Not like I’m a real pro and have a reputation to protect, or like I can’t waste time on an unmarketable painting. I don’t even care if someone critiques it and blasts it straight to hell. At this point I want to blast it too. And if it gets a horrible review I won’t defend it, so, have at it if you want to, but you might want to wait to see it finished before you decide. It could get even worse! hahah
But seriously, folks, you don’t learn anything from a soft critique. I never joined a critique group because I already know those artists are friends and they don’t want to hurt each others feelings. The critique would be all fluff. When I was a young chick in art school a critique might start out like, “This painting sux on so many levels, let me list them for you.” I’m not joking. Were they trying to toughen us up for the future of our paintings being constantly rejected and trying to make us improve our paintings too?
You can try hard to make a good painting and get a horrible critique. You have to change your attitude so that it doesn’t hurt your feelings. It is possible to change the way you hear criticism. Change to just not caring, like me. People talk about apathy like it’s a bad thing but it is a good defense. Take this pastel for example. My teachers at the academy would say the colors are nauseating. When it’s finished they would tell me it vibrates like it’s on drugs or something. Do I want to project insanity out into the world. no one wants to see that. etc.
If an art expert says they have an academic background and they give you a soft critique they are misleading you about their background. Or if they have the academic background and they fear a critique they are lying about something.
I’ll give you the first step in critique. Squint your eyes and look through your eyelashes to make the picture blurry. Do you see any arrangement of lights and darks? That’s the composition. If it all blurs together into one mass of the same value the composition is weak.
I’d just like to add one more thought about the academy. Art universities are not the academy. At a university a student might be encouraged to follow the path in art that interests them the most. They might get a semester of anatomy but not have to study it twice a week for 3 years with a lot of homework. At the academy you don’t get to chose your projects. You have to do the academic exercises. I wouldn’t have done it because it’s not fun, but I was having so much fun otherwise that I always went to class and did what was required, even if I did those exercises half heartedly.
If an art expert claims to have an academic background they will prove it to you without a doubt. If they post a drawing of a skull you will know that they didn’t lift some photo of a skull and photoshop it. If all you see from them is digital art maybe they aren’t showing their drawing and painting skill because they didn’t really go to an academy. There are tons of fake people in the art world and online. If an artist gets super defensive about their work they didn’t go to an academy because the academy will knock that attitude out of you. Those are some of the red flags to spot a poser in the art world.
Another red flag is art jargon. If they write in jargon they didn’t learn that at the academy. The teachers at an academy speak in plain English. Art isn’t rocket science. Jargon is a sign of a fake expert. The poser is trying to impress on you how smart they are.
It was great to get out and draw this today after so many days of bad weather. It’s still cloudy and cool but that’s a big improvement over sunny but too cold and windy or rain and wind. It seems like I’ve been walking past this spot for months thinking of sketching it. The real pretty dead tree got knocked down so it’s not in the picture but it’s right across the path there and I sat on it to take a break. I didn’t draw it because it’s down and the drawing doesn’t need the dead tree laying down. Standing up would be nice, oh well, next time I find a pretty dead tree I’ll work faster.
The path is flooded , the creek is in the middle. They can both reflect the sky a little and there’s lighter ochre colored sedge and some darker reeds which will overlap the water. Some stick bushes with a few leaves, bare trees. The cedar trees are pretty because some orange is showing in the foliage along with green.
I want to do my underpainting in the complimentary colors like my last marsh pastel project. This looks complicated to me.
Now I have to take inventory of my pastel colors because last time I didn’t have the colors I needed. You can buy a big set of pastels and not have what you need. You can buy another set and have a couple hundred pastels but still not have what you need. You keep using the same colors over and over again because those are your favorites and those wear down so you have to replace individual colors from time to time. I still need to do color roughs on a scrap paper to try a few different layers and see if I can mix the color I need. There’s so many variables that no two artists pick the same colors for a scene. You’re making a lot of fast decisions.
I think I can color this at home instead of lugging the pastels out on the path. I tried to make mental notes of the colors when I was sketching but this will be another slightly abstract pastel with the complimentary colors in the first layer. It won’t matter if the colors don’t match nature.
This was so much fun to do on a snow day I want to try again with another subject. I didn’t know if it would work out or not. Last night I wasn’t sure if I liked it but this morning it looks ok to me. Yes, I did force color into a scene that would be more gray but to my eye it’s not a glaring forced color like when you see VIOLET (straight out of the tube) in the grass in a landscape. My forced color is “refined”. hahahahah
In this close up you can see the blue underpainting with orange and yellow lines on top to represent sedge, with light blue scribbles on top of a light orange underpainting in the water and twisted branches making negative shapes.
Here are some background trees which are drawn with green on top of a dark red underpainting and some yellow sedge drawn on top of a violet underpainting, and some other green vegetation on top of an orange underpainting color.
Another section of complimentary colors on top of the underpainting.
Reflections with sedge and water.
I imagine this shows the winter light because the orange underpainting shows through the water. In the winter the sunlight has an orange glow. while there might not be much “local color” (that’s what they call the actual color of a subject if it’s not changed by the light source) you often see sedge glowing bright orange as you’re driving down the road. If you bring a piece of it home and look at the color it’s really only a dull sandy color.
That’s one reason I like winter more than summer for the beauty of it. In the summer everything’s green but in the winter when the sunlight is on a long angle before it hits us, the blue light is filtered out by the atmosphere and the orange spectrum colors get through causing the gold glow.
The experiment is to start with contrasting colors in my underpainting. The sedge on the bottom is an orange color so blue is the opposite on the color wheel. The sky should be light blue so I started with light orange. The sedge on the other side of the water is more gold colored so I started with violet. I’ll draw lines on top of this with the complimentary colors and build up layers. Some of the underpainting colors might show through.
I started the next step which is to push the first layer of pastel into the paper so it will hold more color. I’m using terpenoid on paint brushes and going over each color of pastel again and making it wet. The terpenoid dissolves the pastel a little and makes it kind of like a wash. Then you wait for it to dry and you can build up more color on top. The sanded paper is nice because it has more tooth than regular pastel paper and holds more pigment. You can scrub the first layer in with a blending stump or use fixative but the terpenoid is a nice effect and doesn’t dull the colors or make my hand tired like fixative and blending stumps.
We’re in for bad weather so I didn’t want to wait around to do this in Plein air and decided to do it at home. Then I made another big decision to forget about matching the colors of nature, just see what I can fake.
I was thinking about how the academy would h8 this. Fitzkee would say I’m trying to force color. To this day, when I see a landscape with violet and I know there’s no violet in real life, I think, forced color, weak. hahahah. It’s ok. Fitzkee’s dead. Rest In Peace, Fitzkee. He was a great teacher. Maybe he wouldn’t care about this experiment. I proved I can follow the rules of the academy. He told me I had to do that first, follow the rules. Not just read about the rules, you have to get the discipline of doing it. Then you can do any style you want to do or make up your own.
This might not even work. I don’t know. If its a flop I’ll show it to you anyway. Like, what have I got to lose. If it’s a failure, let it be an epic failure.
This is a plan for a pastel on large sanded paper.
The spot is an overlook next to a sidewalk with a couple benches. Its next to a busy road so I wasn’t sure if its a place I want to set up my easel and paint. Cars are going by fast and when I drive past there I think the drivers won’t notice me because I’m back in the corner and some trees are next to the spot. When I was there for a while I thought it felt safe.
A soldier jogged past me wearing sweats and a guy walking stopped to look so I said hi. He said, “Don’t let me stop you.” I said, “That’s ok.” We said, how you doin? He asked me how long I’d be there and I said, long time but not today. Then he asked me if I’d be there in 30 min. I said no, why? And he said he wants to see my progress so I told him check back next week.
Its going to get cold again tomorrow then we have more winter weather coming in at the end of the week. If I can pick out some colors I might be able to work on this at home a while. I’d like to try to do an impressionistic look with short smears of different colors that blend together visually to give the colors and values I want. It could take some time depending on the weather. I’ll build up layers with the pastels.
The background is complicated with sky, trees far away, trees closer, water with reflections of background trees and reflected sky. Then there’s the sedge which should go in before the bent tree in the foreground. The tree has some leaves hanging on.
The little numbers on the bottom left are from my color charts so I can try to pick some colors at home and not take all my pastels out with me. I took the charts along today and tried to pick the colors close to nature.
They said this is the coldest day in 3 years with the temp right around freezing all day and a brisk Northerly wind. It doesn’t get very cold here. I bundled up and went out to sketch and shop a little, not because I’m so dedicated to art but because the sun’s out and I’m tired of hanging around at home.
You’ll never guess what I saw, a sexy soldier jogged past me wearing shorts and a T shirt. Yes, ladies, if you appreciate seeing a strong male bod all year long the beach is the place to be! hahah I love those guys!
I sketched quick and I’m not excited about the sketch but the first one of any subject is for me to decide if I like the location for drawing or painting. Is it safe, am I in anyone’s way, do I need a larger paper etc. I need to make a lot of decisions before I start on a project. These are a few of them. Yes, I do need a larger paper. The tree is more graceful than I drew it. I always seem to cramp my trees on a too small paper at first. I find it easier to draw larger.
The gloves on the bottom of the pic are my plein air gloves that I’ve been wearing for so many years I forget how old they are. I cut off the finger tips then the seams frayed so I sewed the loose ends together by hand. The paint is dry. I might have to buy some new ones but these are so nice!
My fingers got cold today, so I switched to the blue pair but then I kept smearing the charcoal so I gave up on neatness for this sketch. Another decision I have to make every time I start a new project is how much do I really care about it. Things like sketches or even mono prints, I don’t care about as much as I care if I decide to do a finished painting. Some artists worry too much about showing a sloppy sketch and you never see a bad one, and some artists don’t care at all and just sling some paint and see what they get. I find mental balance by caring sometimes and being apathetic other times. Either extreme, worrying too much what others will think or never even really trying to do the difficult thing, is not good. Striving for perfection even if it’s impossible, I say why not shoot for the ideal sometimes. It might improve my skill. Perfectionism has its time and so does the messiness of an art project.
Most people don’t like the king tides but I do because the path is extra pretty when it’s flooded. It’s cool and sunny but the wind is the main thing today. I thought it might be too windy to take the large canvas out but I wanted to sketch. I can hold this 11 x 14 sketchbook in one hand to draw and I don’t need my easel. The wind is pushing the water in causing the king tide with coastal flooding. And there was some rain upstream yesterday.
I stood in the middle of the path at the edge of the water to sketch. Only one guy went past me. There’s a small path on the left. I call those little paths rabbit trails but they are drier. The wind is supposed to continue all weekend but the path probably won’t stay flooded long.
Oct. 30 I walked barefoot through the flooded parts of the path. I knew it would be the last time I do that this year unless I actually buy some waders. I might.
Now I can’t decide which painting to do next. I really like this view. Should I go back to the pretty cypress tree and hog the overlook or should I hog this path? hahahah Nah, I’d move if anyone needed to go through.
When I started this project I wanted to paint something fast and easy. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It turned out to be difficult and time consuming but I really wanted to finish it before I start on the next thing. Isn’t that the way it goes with art projects! The more you do the more you see needs to be done before you can call it finished. It was tempting to just quit but I wanted to see if I could fix it so that I liked it, make it bold, not wishy washy like it was at first.
It looks browner in the photos than it does in real life. If I take the pix outside in natural light the yellow looks too green in the photo but if I take the photo inside the background looks too brown and it’s really greener. I don’t know how a pro photographer would light it to get the closest colors to what I actually painted.
I think the contrast between the Inktense pencils in the background and the brush strokes of the leaves and flowers is a good contrast in textures.
And I got some sharp edges on the leaves and fuzzy edges on the flowers. so that might give the art viewer’s eye something to compare and keep their attention longer than a painting without those contrasts.
I was undecided if I should post this. On the one hand, the painting might work but on the other hand, I don’t know exactly how to proceed and it might be a huge waste of time. But if any bloggers with more water media experience want to give me a tip, it might help
I did my sketch in plein air then started blobbing in some yellow flowers without drawing them on the paper in plein air. I thought I didn’t need to draw the flowers a second time. I painted on dry watercolor paper. I drew in the stems and leaves that day with pencil but came home and put a thin layer of green down on dry paper for the leaves.
I took a few watercolor classes long ago but never mastered it. I remember a few things, like, start out light and go darker.
I wanted to paint dune grass around the goldenrod but that took some time since I went over the whole background one section at a time between the leaves. I first made the paper wet in a few areas at a time, then drew lines with the Inktense pencils to make grass. Then I rewet the grass areas to blend the Inktense lines down a little. That’s 3 times over each little area. I broke that job up over a day and took frequent breaks to do other things.
Last time I was there, a bunch of guys were fishing and people were walking past me. I was sitting on the sand next to the path. I’d like to continue working on this in plein air but it might be busy there today because the weather is so nice. I picked some goldenrod to help me visualize the next step so I can finish this at home.
On the painting above, I left some blank lighter areas in the flowers. Those spaces are going to be the shaded parts of the flowers if it works. I need to go darker there. I tried to pick some colors with my color charts when I was there, but I don’t know… And I think the leaves need to go darker. Then, last but not least, I want to go over the yellow flowers in the sun again and try to define them a little. You can see from the photo, my flowers in the painting don’t look like the ones in the glass.