Venice Doorway-Less is More, attempts at looser painting
Here is my third attempt ever at painting in this much looser style. This is also based on something from Jean Haines “Atmospheric Watercolours” book, this one a demo. It is also based on a reference photo I used several years ago for a much more traditional painting. I’m not totally unhappy with this work, but, even though I thought I was using the same colors and in about the same mix, her shades are much softer than mine came out. But it will take consistent practice to manage this style of work! I actually think I’m going to use this reference again and make another attempt at this.
Since, as I write this, it is past midnight, the month of September is over…and I only managed 16 paintings. Given how busy the month was, I’m not really too disappointed in only doing about half, but next time I want to be sure to do one per day! I do have one more in my studio that is about half done and I will be able to post it up till midnight October 1 (and since I’ve been working on it for the last two days of September), so hopefully I will actually have 17 included. Regardless, it will most likely be my next post here, another very loose attempt, without much to guide me in this style. We’ll see how it turns out…
This attempt is based on an example in Jean Haines “Atmospheric Watercolours” book. Hers obviously was a lot more successful than mine, but I had to try! I know how to and love painting in detail, but I need to expand my styles to encompass the much looser, suggestive paintings too. I am determined to practice and learn! Practice and experimentation are what it is going to take and I plan to spend a lot of time on that. In the meantime, here is only my 2nd attempt at that type of method/style. More to come…
Bald Eagle Portrait Original photo by Heather Ward
Several days ago, I mentioned my eagle painting in progress. Well, I finally decided it was finished. This was definitely a challenge to do-and I love tackling things that are challenging, fun and different from my normal florals or landscapes. When I did the owl painting during the January 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge, it was the first time I had ever tried a close-up bird and so much enjoyed not only the work, but also the outcome. This is something I need to do more often-and practice, practice, practice!
It is obvious that I’m running terribly behind on getting 30 paintings done this month, but I’m still plugging away. There have been so many things that I, as president of the local watercolor group, have had to deal with and stay on top of. I’m also still re-creating essential documents for the group that were lost with the “death” of our old computer. I have made great progress on that, but it seems like almost every day something else comes up-something that simply hadn’t been needed or hadn’t occurred to me yet. It might sound like just an excuse, but it has taken serious amounts of my time.
This is an improved version (hopefully) of a painting I did earlier in the summer. I made some changes and I’m much more pleased with it now. Since it’s been redone, I’m sharing it here and counting it as one of my 30 paintings. I used many different techniques in the creation of this work, which made it a great learning experience as well as just fun to paint! I just love flowers and bright colors!
This day 5 work is a sketch I did of the Nefertiti bust (from an online search) for Every Day in September, a sketch group challenge on Facebook. That challenge has daily prompts to use – the subject was “Egyptian.” I will post this for the 30 paintings challenge too since I’m running several days behind!
I drew this with pencil in my 6×9 sketchbook, used black ink in places and colored it with Inktense pencils. I have had them for some time, but have used them very little. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to play with and learn something about using them. It was an interesting challenge, considering I have done almost no colored portraits (which in essence this is even though it’s from a statue). I didn’t quite capture the face, but I enjoyed the exercise anyway! No matter what the subject matter or what the media, I just love creating art and learning from the process!
I did this sketch in July when our watercolor group spent the day at a member’s family ranch in Idaho. What a beautiful, fun day that was! This Shetland Pony was overly curious about what the humans were doing on the other side of that fence. I captured this photo and couldn’t resist using this one – love the angle!
I’m obviously running behind on the 30 in 30 challenge… I do plan to catch up, but thought it would be fun to share a few of my summer sketches in the meantime. I participated in Every Day in May, Every Day in June and Every Day in July on Facebook, at least keeping up on my sketching and having a lot of fun doing so!
I have finally finished my day 3 painting, after not having time to touch it for the past two days – but at least it’s done. The photo reference on Wetcanvas was interesting and fun, so I drew it. This was a part of the August Watermedia challenge but I do not know who to credit for the photo. It was fun to do and I think my lesson here is that I need more practice with flat washes when I’m painting around objects!
Another really bad 2-3 minute sketch, this time really, really early morning and long before breakfast. Daylight Savings Time just took effect and, as is my habit, I’m still up. Since Sunday mornings are less conducive to art time than other mornings, I decided to do a quick one before I go to sleep and share it. I probably shouldn’t share any of these, because it truly makes it look like I am completely unable to draw at all. It is true that I don’t work well and quickly at the same time, but the fact is that I make a habit of hand drawing my work prior to painting. I don’t paint quickly either and, when put on the spot to do so, I pretty much freeze up and accomplish nothing! So, in addition to just making art (with a very small a) of some kind, perhaps these exercises will eventually help me to learn to work faster and still produce quality work.
I recently received a wonderful book by Danny Gregory called art Before Breakfast. The a in the title is not capitalized. This premise is described as such: “art with a big ‘A’ is for museums, galleries, critics and collectors while art with a small ‘a’ is for the rest of us.” I like that train of thought, since so much of the art that many of us make, even though we strive for perfection, simply is not perfect and/or museum quality. That’s absolutely not to say that it isn’t beautiful! In some ways, the book seems geared to busy people who have never even thought of trying any form of art, with the author pointing out some of the mental and physical advantages of it. But to me the book also speaks to all artists of any medium in that the purpose is that you make time for art every day!
Being a person who tends to flit from one project to another and another, sometimes finishing nothing, I have been making myself finish one book – if I’m reading it cover to cover rather than just using it for a quick reference – before I can start another. So, I finally was able to start reading art Before Breakfast Thursday night (I read before going to sleep). Which meant that Friday morning, I grabbed a pen and did two very quick, sloppy sketches before breakfast! These sketches were each under 5 minutes, including digging through my very limited markers to add some color. I’m a little embarrassed to show them, but I will anyway because starting my day that way made me feel great and added to the desire to make sure I spent some time in my studio. I find that most any type of doodle, scribble or sketch can loosen up my hand and focus my attention on art. So, here are those two sincerely bad sketches from Friday morning; the left one is the “title page” in a small accordion fold sketchbook and the second (photo rotated to make it upright) is, believe it or not, the bowl of grapes that I ate for breakfast. Now I just have to stick with it every day!
One of my recent no-drawing painting attempts… This is from a photo taken in Glacier National Park a couple of years ago and was not taken with a telephoto lens, just a cell phone. Obviously the deer there are quite used to people being nearby.
What I like about this is the looseness. Even though it’s not very good, going without an initial drawing at all definitely loosened up my usually overly tight, photo-realism type painting. Being able to paint looser is something I strive for. That is not to say that I will paint this way all the time, but more practice in this manner may be a very good thing!
I always seem to be inspired by the ocean and, for that matter, most bodies of water. Perhaps growing up so near a lake has something to do with that. This was a fun painting to do, with some experiments along the way. It is based on the numerous photos I took a decade ago while on the Florida Gulf Coast. I loved watching the Sandpipers on the beach!
I am currently stressing over planning and executing a painting or paintings to enter in our Spokane Watercolor Society 2015 Open Juried Show, coming up this fall. Because of that and several other issues, I am still not managing a painting a day. I am doing something toward my art every day though – digging through years worth of photos for reference ideas, compositions, pre-drawing, sketches, etc. My smaller works might not be impressive enough for some, but after my “painting marathon” in January, for me it seems to be a better way to improve and to simply feel like I am accomplishing something. But you can’t submit anything of that size as a juried show entry… I just have to make time in my schedule for the larger works too.
I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks, since I finished the 30 in 30 challenge. I can use the excuse that I’ve been up to my neck in work for SWS-which is true! However, I learned last month that I absolutely must set aside time for my own art rather than just administrative things as president of an art group. And that’s not to say that I haven’t been actively working on art, even though it’s not been at my January pace. I will admit to a bit of a lull in inspiration though. Perhaps it’s a touch of burn-out or simply the time of the year, but ideas have been a little slim lately. That is when I sit down with an art book or at the computer to work from a video. It is all practice and I am now a real believer in the whole idea of many small paintings as a way to further/improve my art.
That all being the case, I have done a number of sketches and four new paintings. First up was a new challenge for myself – painting directly with no sketching at all, just drawing with the brush and then completing the paintings. I did two small works, both of deer, in my sketchbook in that way. Then I tried it out in my Moleskine watercolor book with a simple geranium painting. I won’t say that it was all totally successful, but it was fun and educational to give it a try! As an artist – and as a human being – I know I must continue to learn and challenge myself!