“Poppy Garden” – approx 9 x 12 watercolor
Tuesday afternoon I had the opportunity to join my friend Wendee for some sketching and painting in a nearby garden that is filled with billows of California poppies. Do you detect a seasonal theme here? I didn’t have time for a big painting but I wanted to do a reference sketch that I could take home to use for a larger watercolor or oil painting. It contains just enough information to describe the scene without being too detailed. I can paint the smaller touches from memory. Or leave them out, as the case may be.
Fun Zone – 20″ x 22″ – watercolor on paper
Well, I didn’t think it could happen two years in a row, and with such different styles and subject matter, but, happily, it did. I just got my notification in the mail that this painting has been accepted to the 2008 National Watercolor Society All Member show, opening April 19 at the VIVA Gallery in Sherman Oaks, Calif. It is an amalgamation of different scenes at the LA County Fair in Pomona, including the Tilt a Whirl, Ferris Wheel and several other rides. This is another one of those projects that I was busily painting over the past few months and that I said I’d share when the time was right. So if I missed some days with daily paintings, now you know why.
It was a whole lot of fun to paint (I hope that comes through!) and takes me back to the days when I was an advertising group head and copywriter for the agency that had the fair account. I still enjoy going there to watch the people, animals, shows and more. I didn’t get there last year because it coincided with our Descanso show, but maybe this year!
For any of you who are newer readers of this blog, here was my painting in the 2007 NWS all member show.
A Spring Walk – 9 x 12 – watercolor sketch
This one is a little bit from real life, and a little bit from imagination. I embellished the wildflower strewn meadows just a tad beyond reality, but if you don’t tell, I won’t.
Ah, springtime. Our peach tree is in bloom, magnolias are covered with blossoms and the mustard is starting to blanket whole hillsides in a warm yellow glow. I’m looking forward to getting out and painting again soon, now that the rush to deliver paintings to shows is almost over. I have more deadlines ahead of me for other shows yet on the horizon, but there is a bit of a breather, at least.
And speaking of shows, the “Warm Welcome” watercolor of the Chevy Chase clubhouse garden and front door was purchased today, two days before the opening reception. I am very pleased and hope that the new owner enjoys it as much as I did painting it, although it will hang for the duration of the show. I hope this is a good omen for the rest of the show.
Someone asked me the other day if I felt stress painting to deadlines for shows and competitions. I thought for a moment and realized, yes, I feel stress, but it doesn’t feel like a negative pressure – just busy-ness. It causes me to focus and be deliberate about what I’m doing, but it’s not a bad feeling. Quite the contrary!
Did you know that there are actually two kinds of stress? One, the one we think of commonly, is actually distress. It makes us feel bad. The other kind of stress, associated with good things, is called “eustress.” Here’s a link, look it up! So when I’m painting to a deadline, I feel eustress and it actually energizes me. I think this is the kind of stress people refer to when they say “I do my best work under pressure.” Distress, on the other hand, tends to paralyze you and make you lose focus and confidence. That kind of stress makes you avoid the project instead of looking forward to the next one. So, as a long way of answering, I do feel stress, but it’s the kind that makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning and get to work, not to pull the covers over my head!
And since it’s past midnight right now, I think I’ll go pull the covers over my head and hopefully dream about walking down that spring path.
“Warm Welcome” Approx 13″ x 10″ watercolor
This is another in the series of paintings I’m working on for the Artists of the Canyon show at the Chevy Chase Country Club, opening March 14. I don’t paint architecture too often, but I enjoy it when I do.
This time, my objective was to remember to put color in the shadowed areas and to walk the line between looseness and accuracy. This painting might be considered a “vignette” because not every inch of paper is painted. The area I left white is in fact a gray parking lot on a hot day. It is not attractive to look at; I like this better.
With some of these shows behind me, hopefully I’ll be able to get back in the daily painting groove pretty soon. These large pieces take a lot more time to paint than the little ones.
“Spring Thaw at a Mountain Lake” 11 x 14 watercolor
Although it may seem that I’ve been missing in action, I’ve been busily working on many deadlines for different shows, and now some of that is behind me. Other deadlines loom, but they’re at a manageable distance. I took a little time tonight to work on this simple watercolor of a mountain scene, using a limited color palette of ultramarine blue, thalo blue, burnt sienna and sap green. I picked up an interesting tip from artist Al Setton, who I watched demonstrate a few nights ago. When he paints in watercolor or acrylic he keeps three rinse water containers. One for rinsing warm colors, one for cool and one clear water. When you’re painting in a hurry and don’t want to take the time to rinse twice (once in dirty water, once in clear) – if you consistently use the right rinse water before continuing with the same color, you won’t have much of a problem. It’s when you rinse in greenish water and then try to paint red that you can get in big trouble.
5 x 7 watercolor on paper
As spring approaches, the rain makes the colors all run together, wildly coursing down the hillside.
Thalo and gamboge, sap green and ochres … all rushing headlong in a vernal frenzy.
Tulip Magnolia – 7.25 x 7.25 inches – watercolor
The magnolias have arrived in all their glory. A procession of bloom should follow for a month or so, so I’m going to make the most of it while I can. In some parts of town the trees are in full bloom, while in other microclimates the trees still have bare sticks with only the slightest hint of bud swelling. And although it’s confusing to me how that happens, it only means that the bloom will last longer. Perhaps it has to do with differences of species, I don’t know.
While I work on some large paintings, here’s a small watercolor sketch of a lion dog, also known as a foo dog. It is one of two guardians of the new Chinese garden, opening very soon at the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino. According to this article the one I drew is the female because she has a cub underneath her paw. The pair of foo dogs stand by the pathway that leads to the new feature of these beautiful gardens.
“Blue Heron” – 5 x 7 watercolor on paper
There’s an eBay activity going on right now Feb 1 – Feb 7 called SFA (Small Format Art.) The monthly theme is “bird” so I painted this and will put it up for auction tomorrow unless I get it done tonight, which I might. It will be listed under seller karencwinters, or click the eBay button in the left sidebar. You’ll find the link there.
This was drawn freehand and painted directly, freehand, with no masking. I think it just might be one of my favorite nature illustrations. Do you know someone who loves herons and would love a luminous and regal friend for their wall?
The bird is from a photo taken by my husband while we were painting at Newport Beach, California. He (she?) was sitting on a dock looking around for fish. To isolate this beautiful creature I made the background deep blue, which seemed for fitting for a blue heron.
Oh, and I just got back from a local art association meeting where I got some VERY good news about the results of the current Focus on Oils show. I’ll post that news tomorrow.
“At a Lavender Farm”
5 x 7 mixed media (watercolor and acrylic)
We have some friends who live in northern California who own a lavender farm. The climate is perfect for growing this beautiful fragrant plant. The plants actually grow in more regular rows than this, but I sort of like the wild blowsy look.