Planning Composition & Thumbnails

thumbnails (pencil)

thumbnails (pencil)

We have a Members Show coming up at the beginning of June (for Project Gallery) & I’ve been trying to think what I could paint for it… I realised there isn’t long left to decide on a subject and get it done. The topic is My Illawarra: An Urban Landscape, which poses two challenges for me – I don’t know the Illawarra at all and I have an aversion to painting buildings & things with straight edges.

I’ve only been visiting the area since I’ve been volunteering at the Gallery and usually I’m just rushing between there and the station along a street that doesn’t have much aesthetic appeal at all. So that gives me a couple of options – paint the gallery, or paint the station 🙂 .

On my last trip I took a few photos of both and today I’ve been trying to rough out some compositions… something I admit I don’t usually do (you can probably tell) because I hate doing it. I don’t know why but I really don’t like doing thumbnails or trying to think of variations, my shoulders hunch up, my knuckles go white & I don’t enjoy it at all. Even with these pictured here there’s only one version of each. Actually, I did manage three of the last idea which is a swallow in the rafters of the gallery – but I don’t think any of them worked so that one’s probably discarded.

I would love to know why this is such a phobia for me, does anyone else suffer this aversion to planning? Is it just laziness? I don’t think so… a large part of me feels it as horror, a haunting of school days and of being put on the spot in front of the class to conjure up new ideas and answers that simply never came…

Atmospheric Water Techniques

Misty Waters (watercolour)

Misty Waters (watercolour)

Still on the topic of water, I spent some time today catching up on a few online video tutorials. It’s good to make the brain cells work occasionally and I feel I’m slipping back into old habits a bit – I could do with reminding of some better ones.

Credit for today’s piece is due to a very well known American watercolourist, Birgit O’Connor, probably best known for her stunning flowers… the exercise pictured here, painted this afternoon, is directly from her video on waves, water and clouds. The first stage is a wet-into-wet background with the trees added after it has thoroughly dried.

My best lesson for the day was the way the trees were formed by holding your brush almost flat to the paper, touching the tip down and painting a line while simultaneously varying how much of the rest of the brush also touched the page. This is quite tricky and would be even more so if you didn’t rotate your paper so you can paint vertically down the horizon. I think it would have been improved if I’d used rougher paper so the tops of the trees became more ragged, but it’s still very effective.

Sunshine, Clouds and Sea…

Maroubra Cliffs (Watercolour)

Maroubra Cliffs (Watercolour)

I decided to ignore my half finished puppy picture today and jump into something completely different, with the aim of trying to recover some of the spontaneity and fun of painting.

I’ve always been fascinated (almost obsessed) with skies and clouds and have spent many hours trying to capture them in photographs and paint. I thought it would be therapeutic to paint a sky today, something fairly simple overall, with some sea and cliffs underneath – an exercise manipulating paint, and also in leaving it alone (ha, never!). This is the first wash of sky and sea, which is promising even though it came out a bit lighter than expected.

 

Summer Landscape, Pt. 2

Summer Landscape (Chinese Spontaneous Style)

Summer Landscape (Chinese Spontaneous Style)

As you can see, we had a very productive session this afternoon at Chinese Painting Class. After adding some shading to the rocks we painted last week, and going over all the leaves again to make them bolder, we had the nerve racking task of painting the rocks that are poking through the waterfall… probably the most important and most difficult few strokes of the painting. Too light and they’d be lost, too heavy and they’d seem to be closer than the tree.

I think I got it about right and also showed some nice dry brush marks, however the same can’t be said for the rocks on the right – I didn’t get the shading light enough and now they seem to be the closest thing in the scene. Hopefully they’ll recede a bit when everything else is added and the left hand side is touched up a bit too.