:: Desert ::

There is a town in north Ontario,
With dream comfort memory to spare,
And in my mind
I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.

— Neil Young, “Helpless” Canadian singer, songwriter extraordinaire.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8LYOyqJE7k

The same landscape as the previous ones, but the elements of design are different, as in this case colours. Hot, fiery desert winds and sparks of light. In our sub-zero temperatures here in Quebec, it feels good to delve into a bit of warmth… once in a while.

Unreal II

I’m really starting to have fun with these “unreal” landscapes…. they are pushing me in another direction which I like. They are pushing me to throw in elements from my imagination into a landscape instead of painting what I see in front of me. As an urban sketcher I often see myself as a recorder, a gatherer of information, painting a memento of what lies in front of me, of the landscape or cityscape around me.

Unreal

Je fais un rêve
Chaque nuit le même
Et dans ce rêve
Tout est plus réel et plus terrestre
Où je me vois tout en contrôle
Aimer la vie, m’aimer aussi
.
— Daniel Bélanger, Dis tout sans rien dire.

In these Covid times, days pass and almost seem the same, for a fleeting moment. And then you sit down, and realize that the feelings are real and charged with the day’s differences. The colour of the sky, or the way the sun reflects on objects, the sun’s angle, the days getting longer, if you slept soundly or had vivid dreams, all of these elements affect us in different ways.

Sometimes an emotion carries you to another level in your painting… and this is what happened today. When I started painting this landscape, I was not sure what I wanted to do and I just let go. I told myself that the painting would be my guide. At the end of the painting, when I looked at it, it seemed not real… in another world. Well, perhaps that today, this is my state of mind, and my emotion. Direct painting in watercolour on Arches paper.

Paper: Arches
Watercolour: direct painting, no lines.

Light & Shadows

In art, the journey outshines the destination.
In art, mistakes are golden.
Painters’ Keys

I am presently following a class with Uma Kelkar and boy is it hard… and so gratifying at the same time. We are looking at how light bounces off objects and how it reflects, on shadows, cast shadows, etc. Here are two preliminary sketches that I did. I used Payne’s Grey on Strathmore paper.

Greyscale Study

For a strong composition, you want the values to be in quite different amounts, not similar.
Try this rule to start: two-thirds, one-third, and a little bit.

Marion Boddy-Evans

This is a quick way to see if a painting will pull it off, without having to spend time on a painting that lacks contrast or composition or something else…

In a sketchbook, I created a thumbnail about 2″ x 2″. I quickly sketched the shapes (not the textures) and then created a low, mid and high-value tone painting, with only one colour. In this instance, I used Payne’s Grey as it is capable of very dark values and very light values. It is also quite staining. I painted over the entire area with the lightest of values, reserving the whites, and then painted over with the mid and darker values. I can now see where some darks should be darker and where lights are necessary. The second door on the left-hand side should have a darker value but everything else seems about right. So next step is to draw it on full-size watercolour paper and then paint it.

By the way, I am totally loving my retirement! When I wake up in the mornings, I still cannot believe it! After having worked all of my life on one job and another for over 50 years, mostly full-time, some part-time, some jobs that I totally hated and some that I loved, to now have the luxury of time, I am grateful!!! And the best job that I ever had was teaching for 27 years in the public sector and the best employer was Cégep John Abbott College for 21 years!

Greyscale Values

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook #25
Colour: W&N Payne’s Grey
Ink: Noodler’s Lexington Grey
Fountain Pen: Pilot Penmanship, Clear, EF Nib, Japan (8$) bought at http://www.JetPens.com

Somewhere in Mexico…

The object of art is not to reproduce reality,
but to create a reality of the same intensity.

— Alberto Giacometti.

Here in Rigaud, Québec, Canada it snowed for the very first time yesterday and I woke up to a fairyland of white, fluffy, beautiful snow. The opposite of this painting from sunny Mexico! This is a typical Mexican scene, with the old cars, antennas, brightly coloured buildings and beautiful tiled roofs. It pays off to do the greyscale value thumbnails and the hue values also beforehand, even though today I did not respect my triad and went all out with many colours. The facade of the building is in Raw Sienna, but if I had to do it over, I would use Yellow Ochre which is an opaque colour with a bit of Q. Gold… it would make it livelier… but hey! I think that it is lively enough. Hope that you enjoy it. The sky is in a diluted Prussian Blue and it could have been a bit darker… but so much for that. It is finished, yeah!

Paper: Fabriano Artistico CP 140 lbs, 8″ x 8″
Colours: Mostly Hansa Light, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue, Prussian Blue
Fountain Pen: Platinum Carbon
Ink: De Atrramentis Document Black Ink.

Tiny steps to take for a rewarding painting… hopefully!

Creativity takes courage.
— Henri Matisse

There are many steps in painting. Long gone, for me anyway, are the days where the teacher would tell us, let yourself go, drop the paint on the page and see what happens. This method is clearly not for me. However, I do have two methods that I will share with you today.

Paintings that I do, just for the pure pleasure of painting them, are my most common method. I pick a photograph that I like that I have already photographed at some point in time, and I usually paint these in a sketchbook, directly, without any preliminary sketches or thumbnails. And because I do not create these important preliminary thumbnails, they often fall short!! To note, the photographs need to have a significant meaning for me, as in reflecting previous travels or closer to home when I am feeling at sync in my own environment… if the photograph does not have a specific meaning for me, it usually always falls flat.

In the second method, which is usually because I am painting for someone else in mind, like today, I again choose an image from my vast collection of photographs and then I draw carefully first in pencil. Once the drawing has been done, I then have two other steps that I usually do for a serious painting and for my own satisfaction. I create a greyscale “monotone” thumbnail to test out values, to see how they add up. For this version, I used an intense colour that is quite staining but does a good job with values as it is a very intense colour in its pure form. This step also helps me in determining what is important in the painting, and what is less important. If you look at my previous drawing, you will notice that I have a lot of details, and this step might help me afterwards if I decide to paint it a second time, with less detail…

What should always be done is first and foremost, value thumbnails and then hue thumbnails and only then the drawing, which I am regretting not having done at the moment. Sigh…

I then also try out different colours or hues seen below. For these two thumbnails, 2″ x 2″ approximately, on the left-hand side I used Cobalt blue and Raw Sienna as the main two colours. On the right-hand side, I used Prussian Blue and Yellow Ochre. Is there one that you prefer?

As you can see I drew first and then did my greyscale values and hues after having drawn… if I had done my greyscale thumbnails and values first, my drawing would definitely be less laboured and with less detail. Artists are usually tenacious and very hard-working and only stop once they are satisfied, well for me anyway, but looking at my artist friends, they are all like this.

Hope that you enjoyed this longer detailed post. Have a nice snow day -)

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook #25
Watercolours: DS Raw Sienna, W&N Yellow Ochre, DS Q. Rose, W&N Burnt Sienna, W&N Cobalt Blue, DS Prussian Blue, DS Carbazole Violet

Prepping & Thinking

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it,
and wiser than the one that comes after it.

George Orwell, taken from the wonderful Painter’s Keys website

Line drawing was just done for a friend, which I will soon be painting. The lead lines are for the shadows. Once the drawing is done, the excitement of adding colours begins. I am playing with Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre, also French Ultramarine or Cobalt… hum… questions, questions…

The cross

“Art = a mad search for individualism.”
(Paul Gauguin)

This must be one of the first paintings that I have done that has no trees, anywhere. I always try to manage putting in a tree or two as for me, these are very important beings. Apart from protecting us from the wind, cleaning up the air, giving us shade in the summer and sap in the spring, they are giants that we should revere.

So this station has a lot of cables, wires, gas, oil, wood, motors and pumps of all kinds… for some people, this is heaven. For others, not so much. But this makes for an interesting landscape. The hydro pillar looks like a cross, and maybe that it is a symbol for our energy devouring societies. What made me want to paint this was the magnificent sky and the cables whirling everywhere.

I looked up the word “cross” in the dictionary and it has so many different meanings. A crucifix, a burden to bear, a crossbreed, to travel across, a span, an intersection, to oppose, to hybridize. Man! So many different meanings with one word. The beauty of the English language.

Went out for a really nice lunch with a girlfriend today and we talked non-stop for 2-1/2 hours. Good, warm feelings.

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook #25
Watercolours: Raw Sienna, Q. Gold, Alizarin Crimson & Ultramarine Blue
Ink: De Atramentis Black Document Ink
Fountain Pen: Platinum Carbon