Country Road

Capturing a beautiful country road outside of town is relaxing and fun. If you are able to paint outside, your painting will look more spontaneous, and it will be more fun to do.  For the sketch, first draw the large, dark shapes and using charcoal or black crayon, get them dark, dark, dark and make sure the shapes come together or overlap.  Notice that one tree reaches to the top of the page. Also notice that there are “holes” in the trees.  This is very important for a realistic tree. Draw in the mountains, bushes and roads, and shade them accordingly.  This image, when complete, will help you see where to make adjustments and what values to use.  Keep all the shapes very simple. If you like the dark shapes, then the picture is a success.

Before starting to paint, slip a piece of wood or a book under the top edge of the paper and board so the whole thing is at a slant of about 1 and 1/2 to 2 in.  The slant will allow the paint to run down somewhat and will achieve a more transparent watercolor look.

Four colors were used for the tree foliage: yellow, light grn, dark grn , and dark blue, painting the light colors in first and letting all of them blend. The darker colors are placed mostly in the center of the trees, leaving the breathing holes.

I painted wet on dry for the picture, except for the mountains which are wet on wet. However the entire scene could be painted wet on wet.

Greens that are mixed from your yellows and blues are much more exciting and fresh and real than most greens from the tube. Try different combinations and see what you come up with. Perhaps make a small chart of colors to record the greens so you can use them again.

Be loose and quick with this.  Don’t over-think it.


Sunny, Easy Daffodils

Sketch in a few loose shapes for the daffodil heads.  With a large flat brush (1 and 1/2″) quickly brush water on the paper where flowers and vase will be.  Make dark blue and green vertical lines to indicate stems.  The paint will spread and blend to some extent. Do this quickly and step back.  Put in some very loose, almost vague shapes for the heads and petals of the daffodils. Notice that they cover the entire top of the paper.

Let a lot of blending occur within the bunch of flowers.  We want a suggestion of daffodils – not every flower detailed out.  The table is also blended with a light touch, wetting the paper first.

If you are unsure about getting the window frames right, draw them in first.  The floor is a damp blend of warm colors.

Around the top of the flowers, leave the white petals , painting around them with a dark blue.

Adjust a few details in the bouquet, but leave it very loose and free.


To Sketch and Paint a Journal

       The sketchbook goes everywhere the cell phone goes, ready to capture life around town or in a new landscape.

Take time to find sketch pads or books that feel good in your hand, that are comfortable to hold, that fit your back.

Ink makes a permanent record that does not smear. A simple, fine sharpie is available at Aroacha.  Unless the paper is very fine, it will not bleed through.

       Try a tanned tone paper. A light watercolor wash with white gouache is very attractive and makes a quick simple study.

       The main benefit: a portfolio of subjects – many of whom you would not think to paint and a wealth of small studies that record your life and travels.  Add stickers, pressed flowers, photos, notes of location and emotions, colored pencil inserts,  magazine snippets, leaves and grasses, action figures in the salon and the market, etc.  Sketching replaces staring at the phone and is far more entertaining.

       Tip:  “pages” refers to one side of pieces of paper.  “sheets” refers to two sides. So normally what we we think of as pages are called sheets.  I have two tanned sketch or drawing books from Strathmore.  The first is 5×7 in. and is spiral bound, 80lb. paper.  The second is 8.5 x 11 and is hard bound, 80lb paper.

       “There is a great appetite to work, and then my sketchbook serves me as a cookbook when I am hungry.  I open it, and the least of my sketches can offer me material for work.”      George Braque (1882-1963)