09 November 2011

Vacation photos and studies

Here is a photo of the East Beach Café, in Santa Barbara on the beach, and below are three small, rather quick paintings done there.

This trip was a new experience for me on a couple of fronts, and I was somewhat frustrated with both my productivity and the quality of my work. First, I have never painted "en plein air" before--my usual spot is my patio table, and my usual subject is either a made-up one from research photos, or something sitting still on the table in front of me, so painting things that don't stay still or constant was different.

Second, I am used to painting large (11x15, 18x24), but when you're working outdoors on the fly AND lugging all your materials and tools with you all day, it pays to downsize; so I bought myself my first small watercolor sketchbook and tried to scale everything to fit it, with mixed success. A couple of days in, I went to the local art store and bought a smaller paintbrush with a good tip, which helped a lot!

The wires on the top of the umbrellas are meant to keep seagulls from perching on them and messing them up.

As you can see, we had a chilly, stormy day for our beach scenes.

08 November 2011

Tips and Tricks

I picked up a few new and useful pieces of information on my watercolor vacation (see post below), and a couple of them were AWESOME so I'm going to share them here.

1. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser--buy the one without the added chemicals. Cut a small piece (easier to work with), dip it in water and then squeeze/wring it out well. Use it to ERASE paint from your page. You know that dark streak in the shadow that I wailed about in my lamp painting? With Mr. Clean, I can take it out! You have to stroke the paper GENTLY with the sponge, so that you don't abrade the paper so much you can't go back in and paint; but if you use a soft touch and a gradual approach, you can remove things completely or just lighten up muddy areas by bringing in some highlights. For the latter, you can overlay/use a STENCIL so that you can remove just the small bit of paint you want to. Quite a trick!

2. Some of you may already know this one, but it was a revelation to me. All these years I have been applying masking fluid with a brush (messy and inexact), but at this workshop I discovered you can buy it in a little bottle with a tiny spout that you can simply squeeze it onto your page with a controlled flow. Duh.

3. Speedball Lino Cutter Assortment, and Softcut (also made by Speedball): Ever have the yen to do a linoleum carving? or make your own rubber stamps? Frustrated by doing it the old-fashioned way (with wood, linoleum, or erasers)? Carving in Softcut (which is about the thickness of foamcore but carves like a soft, malleable eraser) with lino cutters is SO much easier. Takes awhile to get the hang of it and figure out the positive/negative design, but it's really fun. Here's one I cut on the fly, in about five minutes. I messed up and accidentally cut out one of the petals on the left, but I still like the lino-cut feel to it. Fun to incorporate into a painting! I'm putting these on my Christmas list.

Thanks, Cindy and Theresa!

Watercolor Vacation

I just got back from a six-day, multi-location watercoloring holiday with Make Every Day A Painting, taught by Cindy Briggs and Theresa Goesling (http://www.makeeverydayapainting.com/). Nearly a dozen of us spent three days in Santa Barbara (one at the beach and two in town), and then moved 30 miles inland to Solvang for three more days, with side trips to various local wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley, and an afternoon in Los Olivos. It was a great break (and much needed, after the year I've had!). We painted, we ate, we drank, we made new friends.... I'll post some pictures and some paintings over the next few days, as I get them scanned. Some I was happy with, some completely frustrated me, but all were instructional.

This was my first painting on the first day. I liked this one pretty well (esp. the colors), aside from the leaning-tower-of-Pisa quality of the clock tower! I had hoped to go back and do another angle, but there were so many other things to paint that I never made it. This is a view of the Santa Barbara Courthouse building, from the back lawn. Yes, there were clock faces on all four sides, they each showed a different time, and none of them was working. (Just in case you were going to point that out...)