Sunday, August 21, 2011

Big Prairie Sky

I live in Alberta which is prairie grassland that has been planted with commercial crops.  When we drive from the city where I live north to the city where my parents live, I am always struck by the enormous sky that stretches all around, and the vast fields where you can see for miles.  As the old joke goes, you can watch your little brother run away from home for three days.
The early settlers to this land were often nearly undone by the long distances between water sources and the lack of any kind of sheltered spaces.  It truly was the land where the buffalo ran free and could stampede for days with nothing to stop them.  This is a field of brilliantly blooming canola flowers under a dramatic sky, with few stands of planted trees called windbreaks, whose job was literally to break up the wind and prevent the seeded crops from blowing away.  This is my world and welcome to a glimpse of it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New obsession

We've had a lot of rain this summer, and I've spent a lot of time on the deck after the rain.  I've become obsessed with water droplets and how they look on the petals and leaves of all the plants around me. For such a simple thing, a water droplet is amazingly complex to paint realistically.  I've painted them every which way I can and it's been lots of fun.
These are how water droplets look on the Red Morn petunias.  Next to the roses, these are the prettiest.
Today my deck is covered with hail - small, and not very damaging but still...
Watercolor in the Pentalic Nature sketchbook.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Getting my mojo back

Awhile ago, I did a project for my university's 100th anniversary, but it had to be done in acrylic paint.  It was a new medium for me, and I had to learn from scratch.  If you've painted with both, then you know that shadows and hightlights are done completely differently.  And that messed me up big time!  Nothing I did in watercolor from that point on seemed convincing and real to me.  I just couldn't make watercolor work for me. I decided to go back to the drawing board (so to speak) and got some instruction and demo watercolor books.  This is a demo from one of them.  I learned a lot, especially about highlights and shadows.  Although I didn't have much emotional connection to this painting as I have never been to Italy, it was lots of fun.  The bricks, the reflections in the window, the shadows - the whole idea of suggesting, rather than shouting was really interesting to do.  It really helped me get a handle on how much detail to put in (like the weathering at the bottom of the door and the moss on the wall near the water) and how much to leave out (not every brick needs to be painted).  It boosted my confidence enough to do some more.
The title of the book is "Painting watercolour landscapes the easy way" by Terry Harrison.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Good Life

What could be better than sitting on your deck in the hot sunshine and painting the flowers blooming all around you? I've spent a lot of time doing just that, and enjoying every minute of it.  My favorite part of this painting was letting the colors flow and mingle in the leaves.

These are Matha Washington geraniums - two different plants in the same container.  They are very showy and exuberant.

Watercolor in the Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.

Hope you are having a lovely summer.