I’m using a photo, converted to black and white to help me find a solution to a design problem in one of my current watercolor paintings.

“Oak Leaves and Earth Sphere”, 22″ x 30″ watercolor

The painting began with a pencil sketch of  oak leaves dancing in the wind just prior to last night’s storm.  When the rain came, I moved inside, mixed some colors and combined brushwork with tossing of paint to get things moving on the paper.  Eventually the sphere appeared.  Before I can determine the colors and values of the leaves ( most of which you can’t see in the photo ) I need to determine my basic value shapes, the shapes that will be seen from thirty feet away.  I like the strong diagonal line in the top half of the paper and I don’t want to lose any of my lights by simple throwing more paint and hoping it works.  I’ve printed six copies of the black and white photo on a sheet of paper.  I’ll use a pencil to try different value patterns and choose one to work from tomorrow.  It feels great to be working larger again.

“Oak Leaves and Earth Sphere” in progress

I’m also happy to be playing with orbs again.

I heard those words this morning in response to the question “Are you married or have a girl friend these days?”  The tall, middle-aged man responded, “I have two cars and a parachute.”  The tall, thin woman, a bit taken aback replied, “Oh…. guess you haven’t found the right one yet.”  “Guess not.” That was the end of the conversation.  When it doesn’t work, just keep moving on.

And so it is with paintings, too.

A bit of touch-up with a palette knife

I wasn’t pleased with the painting I did in the arboretum on Friday.  In the spirit of moving on I decided to  play with a palette knife in an attempt to breathe some life into the square, wooden panel.  Having read excerpts from Richard Schmid’s Alla Prima the last two nights before bed, I concentrated more on edges, values and overall pattern.  Thank you, Richard Schmid.  It’s not great, but it definitely is starting to breathe.

Hunterdon Arboretum Cherry Blossom Tree

Coffee in bed, fountain pen in hand filled with Nikita Red ink.  I felt in the mood to tackle the branches of the pine tree as well as the fence.

Red ink sketch through the window

The fence was horribly tedious.  I have such little patience.  Regardless of my attempt to re-focus, my mind was on other things.  Later in the day I added washes of watercolor that turned out to be far too similar in value when they dried.  This morning I added another layer of watercolor making sure the value shapes were stronger.

Watercolor washes for value shape patterns

The red ink bled a bit too much into the washes.  Oh well, there is always tomorrow.

Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Nikita Red ink, followed by two layers of watercolor washes.