A few years back we had some poppies appear in our back yard. It was an area we hadn't been using so we let them grow and bloom. The next summer we had a glorious poppy field. I took several photographs and have played with the colors, but never quite got the results I wanted. The colors were off, or the shapes were not quite right. Over the last couple of weeks I have tried again to get it right. The paintings above are 2 of my better results. I am still working on it but I feel I am getting closer. In the painting on the left, I used contact paper over the drawing on watercolor paper. In this process, I cut away the contact paper over the petals as I worked painting on petal at a time. As each petal dried I cut away the contact paper from another petal. It enabled me to paint more freely letting the paint flow an mix with out the worry of staying within the lines. It was free and controlled at the same time. After the flowers completly dried, contact paper was reapplied over the flowers and cut away so only the painted portion was covered. I uses masking fluid on the stems, seed pods and grasses. Using a larger flat brush, I painted awash over the background. I was fun to splash on color and not worry about the details. When the background dried I removed the contact paper and the masking fluid, and completed the painting.
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to visit La Caille to paint and spend time with fellow Utah artists. It was a great day and La Caille is a fantastic location to paint. I have never tried Plein Aire painting, so I wasn't sure what it would be like or what to take with me. I grabbed a small palette loaded with colors I like to use, my brushes, some watercolor sheets, a board to tape them to, a plastic cup for my water and a lawn chair. Once I arrived I started looking for a spot that inspired me but wouldn't give me too much information...I didn't want to be overwhelmed. I found a great gate framed by some trees. Nearby was a cottage with an arch and on the other side a little pond with ducks. I took a couple of photos, then got to work. While I was working a pair of peacocks strolled up, ducks landed in the pond so I took a break to take some photos. Before I knew it the time the Watercolor Society had arranged was ended and it was time to leave. I didn't quite finish my painting, but it was a fun experience. I want to go out again soon. Below are a few of my photos from the day.
Thomas Moran is an artist I admire. His paintings of the Rocky Mountains and Yellowstone National Park are amazing. In the 1870's he helped to survey and explore the area that became Yellowstone National Park. Thomas Moran was an illustrator for The painting on the left is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. It is inspiring to see what he was able to accomplish while exploring remote parts of the Western United States. His representation of the area is amazing. He traveled throughout the West sketching and painting as he explored. I have traveled much of the country that Thomas Moran did and when I see these scenes before me I am in awe of his ability to capture them like he did. When I viewed the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, I didn't know where to start a painting. There was so much to see and it was so beautiful. I was overwhelmed. Another Artist that inspires is Edward Maryon. He was a Watercolor Artist and Instructor at the University of Utah. He is well know for his images of the Salt Lake City area which I call home, and the California Coast. His Landscapes and City Scenes appear simple yet are extremely complex.
If you would like to see more of Thomas Morans work you can go to http://www.thomas-moran.org/the-complete-works.html If you would like to read more about him check out Thomas Moran: Artist of the Mountains. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0-8061-3040-8. LCC N6537.M6443 W55 1998.For more information about Ed Maryon you can read Ed Maryon Reflections of the Artist
Trying new techniques Inspires me. I love to look at art instruction books, there are as many ways to paint as there are artists. I was looking at Watercolor Without Boundaries by Karlyn Holman. In it she talks about dropping paint in different colors and mixing the paint on the paper. I tried this in Autumn (watercolor on paper 10.5"x14"). First I sketched the design onto the paper and protected the tree trunks with masking fluid. The colors I used were quinacridone gold, cadnium yellow light, and cadmium orange and cadmium red light. I used very fluid paint and just tapped the brush so the paint dropped out of the brush onto the paper. While the droplets were still wet I used a brush to move the paint around to join the puddles and allow the paint to mix. I also lightly sprayed water onto the paper to mingle the paint more. After the background was dry I removed the mask from the tree trunks and added some of the background colors in front of some trunks adding negative painting to suggest leaves. I also used some oxide of chromium to add greens. The red flowers are alizarin crimson and quinacridone magenta with clear water brushstrokes to suggest the shape. I created a grey mixture to define the tree trunks and a darker mixture for the bark. I used the same greys to create branches for the flower bush. I had so much fun with the first painting a created another version using the same colors and techniques. Autumn II is 22"x15" watercolor on paper.