Cobb Estate – Hazy Morning

Cobb Estate – Hazy Morning 15″ x 22″ watercolor on Arches paper – half sheet

Today our paintout group returned to the Cobb Estate at the top of Lake Street in Pasadena where a light morning haze hung over the San Gabriels cast a veil of warm light over the scene.

My primary goal in this painting was to work on atmospheric perspective and to design the shapes and values of the painting, regardless of what the scene itself was showing me.

I heard a wonderful quote recently and I wish I had written down the author’s name immediately. When I come across it again, I’ll post it.
The gist of it was this: It’s the artist’s job not just to copy reality but to paint their emotional response to a scene.

I need to keep that in mind every time I feel the temptation to paint a rock or a branch just because it’s sitting there in front of me. The landscape is a source of inspiration but doesn’t need to be copied slavishy. Values can be changed, colors can be tweaked, things in the background can be faded back to suggest greater distances than actually exist. Drawing three dozen twigs on a tree may be accurate but it’s fussy and distracting – I remind myself to STOP before putting in a brushstroke, a symbol, another layer of glaze that’s not necessary.

Here’s a photo of the reality of the scene to give you an idea of how much license I took with it


  1. wendy
    May 23, 2007

    how soft this one is. You are really producing lots of pics – I sigh and put things off for another day.
    w. p.s. I am enjoying your quotes. Emotional response to a landscape – that’s good.

  2. Creekhiker
    May 23, 2007

    Karen, Ah, Less is more… It’s a hard thing to achieve! I love the shadows and mist in this one. You’v ecaptured our lovely “May Gray” very well. I also LOVE the jacarandas…didn’t know about the rules at the Huntington… how stuffy of them! Try the Arboretum… really beautiful and peacocks galore! Holly

  3. Karen
    May 23, 2007

    Holly, yes, I like the Arboretum too – see my Fantasy Island house in the past two weeks or so …

  4. Vhrsti
    May 24, 2007

    Hello Karen! I really admire your work with wattercolors. You are excellent painter!
    With best regards!

  5. hfm
    May 24, 2007

    The colors are so beautifull!

  6. Tami
    May 24, 2007

    You’ve brought across the sense of haze in the air very well. Thank you for the reminder about over doing…If I could only remember it when I’m painting…

  7. Fanta
    May 24, 2007

    Breathtaking, Karen. You created such amazing atmosphere here. I always leave your page with magic trapped inside me.

  8. Tom Brown
    May 25, 2007

    Wow! This one really captures the atmospheric perspective beautifully. Probably better than the “reality” of the scene. You nailed this one! Love it.

    Tom Brown

  9. Fanta
    May 25, 2007

    Regarding that quote you wrote about in this entry, I was just flicking through a book (for that extra inspiration) called “The Encyclopedia of drawing techniques” written by Ian Simpson, and I came across a sentence that looked familiar. He was referring to a Charcoal drawing depicting farmers on one page of this illustrated book and it went like this : “The real power of this image lies in the gestural, expressive marks which convey the artist’s emotional response to the subject”. I’m not sure if this was the quote you saw before, but I thought it was very nicely put anyway.

  10. Ron Guthrie
    May 26, 2007

    Hi Karen,
    I think you did a great job on this one. Your impression of the scene is what counts and your impression looks great…in a way,
    better than what the actual scene had to offer. I was up at the Cobb Estate and took a bunch of pics but have yet to see a scene
    I want to do of the area. I need to go back there.
    Adjusting and changing elements of the scene really shows the artists vision and talents as well. You’re doing really good work Karen.
    I like the painting you did of the Fun Zone at Balboa Island. Very cool work!

  11. Robyn
    May 29, 2007

    This is stunning, Karen. Big and beautiful. Lovely, lovely watercolour.

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