Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Devil is in the Details!

Mountain Stream
Great Smoky Mountains
January 2012
Watercolor Painting
16" x 20"
The old expression, The Devil is in the Details, is often true when watercolor painting.  I am an Impressionist style painter and prefer less rather than more details.   I like a blurry, dreamlike painting rather than a photograph.  Details are a matter of personal preference and painting style. 

However, in any painting, one more brush stroke can be one brush stroke too many.   My painting above has minimal details.    Below are closeup photos of the details found in the backgroud, the tree stumps and the rocks in the above painting.

I used only a few brush strokes to indicathe bark on the tree stumps and used several different colors of paint to add detail to the bark.

The background trees were only detailed by adding a few strokes to indicate tree trunks.

Only a few details were added in the rocks as well - a dark spot or a line to indicate a crack in the rock.

So, as you paint, examine your style and add the details to create the type of painting you enjoy.  But, remember, no matter how much detail you enjoy.....the "Devil is in the Details" and you must know when to stop painting and simply enjoy your finished work!

Happy Painting!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mountain Streat - Part 3 - Water!

Water is all about reflections and shadows and very little color!  When painting moving water, the more white spaces left unpainted, the faster the water appears to be moving.    (I know from my “whitewater rafting” experiences, that is certainly true!) 
The moving water in this stream was painted with touches of the following colors alone and in combinations:
  • Windsor Blue
  • Payne’s Gray
  • Sepia
  • VanDyke Brown
  • Sap Green

Remember the water reflects the color of its surroundings – rocks, sky, trees, etc.  So, whatever colors used in painting these items are repeated in the water.

To give the appearance of bubbling water, common table salt was added to the water in the front lower section as the water swirls past the large rock and cascades to the right and our of sight.    Sprinkle the salt while the paint is still wet.  The salt will push the paint pigment aside and leave some interesting designs. 
A light touch is needed when painting water.  Don’t overdo it!

Happy Painting!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mountain Stream - Part 2 - Rocks!

I love to paint rocks!  Rocks are a nice mix of several different colors ranging from deep brown to gray and even green and orange!  Rocks reflect and absorb light and color from the surrounding water and landscape. 
Rocks can be scratched in by dropping color/colors into the rock area and using a piece of credit card to scrape the color into the desired shape.  Scraping with a credit card leaves areas of white paper showing through and mixes the different colors in a very pleasing way on the paper. 
Rocks can also be painted in.  To paint in the rock, completely wet the rock shape with clean water and a clean round brush.  While still wet, drop in several different colors which will blend as the water pushes the pigment around and dries.  It will dry in an uneven color pattern and made excellent rocks!
I like to use both methods to create rocks in the same painting.  This adds interest and makes the total group of rocks much more interesting and realistic. 

Watercolor Tip:
Wait for the rock to dry before painting the one next to it.  Like painting the petals of a flower, they must be done separately or the colors will mix and you will not have distinctive, individual rocks.  I like to alternate every other one when painting rocks and work across the page.  When I get across the page, I start again on the same side of the page where I started painting the ones I skipped.  I am left handed and work from right to left so I don't drag my arm across the wet paint.  Right handed artists will want to work from left to right across the page. 

Next blog……how to paint water!
Happy Painting!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Mountain Stream - Step 1

Chimney Top Trail
Great Smoky Mountains
On a recent hike, I took photos of landscapes that I would like to paint.  The photo above of one of the mountain streams is one of several photos I am using to paint the landscape sketched below.

Sketch of stream

Over the course of the next several blogs, I will be showing step-by-step instructions on paining this landscape.  The first step is to lightly sketch in what you would like to paint.  It does not have to be drawn exactly as the photo, but select elements can be inserted and/or removed to make the painting one of your choosing.  In this case, I used photo angles from several shots of this location to capture the log across the stream;  and I focused on the rocks and the water while eliminating some of the brush/trees on each side.

Sky and Trees
painted in first

In a painting of this type, the easiest way for me to paint is to start at the top and work down.  I painted the sky first with a light wash of Ultramarine Blue.  While the sky was still wet, I dropped in various shades of green for my background trees.  Although this photo was taken during the winter, evergreen trees and bushes are still green.  The shades of green vary and I used a mix of the following:

Sap Green
Hooker's Green Light
Hooker's Green Deep
Ultramarine Blue

The deeper evergreen shades were made from the various greens mixed with the blues. 

The trees were sponged in on top of the dropped in greens to create some light definition.  After the trees were dry, trunks were added in places with VanDyke Brown and some tree trunks in the darker areas were defined by lifting the paint using clean water and a brush.

Next, we will work on the rocks and the logs across the stream.  Until then..

Happy Painting!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Snow Buddies
by Karen A. Cooke
Watercolor painting
9" x 12"

Happy New Year! 

This snowman is the only snow we have in my part of the U.S. today - but there is the possibility of snow showers tonight.  We probably won't receive enough snow to build this friendly snowman, but enough to make it seem like winter!

Since New Year's is a time of setting goals for the upcoming year, I wanted to share with you some watercolor thoughts.....

"Watercolors are not for the faint of heart, but for those willing to explore and experiment, knowing that failure may be just around the corner, knowing that each piece of paper may not end up as a masterpiece."  As a fellow watercolor artist and friend has often said - "it is only paper!"

Watercolor artists must be able to relinquish control of the painting and be a partner in the process not the leader - allowing the pigment and water to perform their magic.

Remember that watercolor painting offers countless opportunities, but few second chances. 

Continue to be amazed by new discoveries every time you sit down to paint.  Push yourself to the limit of your abilities  - AND then beyond them!

Enjoy the magic ---

Happy New Year AND Happy Painting!