28 May 2016

Painting trees

I was sitting on my patio enjoying my breakfast this morning, and became inspired to paint my lemon tree. Now, I don't have the best track record with foliage--I never can figure out how to depict it. It comes out looking flat, or piebald, or completely funky, but never looks anything like the original. I haven't advanced much beyond a child's concept of trees...

either this:                                                 or this:


As I looked carefully at the tree, trying to figure out a process, I saw that some leaves were touched with light and therefore clearly discernible, while others were in shadow, and therefore bunched together. So I drew the ones that really stood out, floating in air, and then went around them with a vaguely accurate outline of the rest. Then I mixed light, middle, and dark colors of greens. I used the middle and dark almost like a negative painting around the light leaves, leaving them until last to paint.

I wish I had done an even lighter, brighter green for the lightest, and a little darker green for the midtone, just to get more sparkle, but I was pretty happy with this technique.

LEMON TREE -- Micron pen and watercolor.

More practice will undoubtedly improve this process!

27 May 2016

Urban sketching exercise

I'm taking an online Craftsy class from James Richards called "Sketching the Energy of Places." I haven't had/made time yet to go out and sketch on site, but yesterday morning I had an hour before work, so I decided to redo a picture I had painstakingly painted before as a pen-and-watercolor sketch.

I had fun doing it, but it wasn't too successful in terms of what I was going for. I wanted the three houses in the center and the interesting building up on the hill to be the focal point of the scene, and for the rest of the houses and rooftops to fade into background, but instead they just look unfinished. I posted it for some helpful advice from Jim--we'll see what he says.

This weekend, I'm going to try a real on-site urban sketch with people and "entourage," as Jim calls extras like lampposts, trees, bollards, and so on.

Here is the painting I made before, from this photograph:

22 May 2016

What I'm reading

I felt inspired to draw and paint today, after watching a Craftsy class on urban sketching taught by Jim Richards, but not sufficiently inspired to think of a place to sketch, get dressed, pack up my gear, drive there, etc. So instead I took a break from a few chores to read, and then took a break from reading to draw the book I just finished and the book I just started. They are both from ongoing series I have read since the beginning, and I am pleased with both of them, which always helps when it comes time to draw!

I did both of these freehand and quickly in ink, so they have some glitches, but the point was more documentary than artistic, so I'm not worried about it. Micron pen in black (#1) and blue (#2), and watercolor.

Maybe some urban sketching next weekend, since it's three days and I'm going to Ventura for one of them!