Balancing the grrreens

The three points of practice in this sketch of my garden were catching the light, playing with various shades of green while not letting them overpower the flowers, and introducing a variety of tonal values in the blossoms without getting too detailed.  

A new #10 worked great for a lemon yellow first layer but I was down to my tiniest brushes by the time it was done.

I stayed loose for most of the hour and a half, and resisted the urge to detail things.  I think I will go back and add some detail to the edging. It’s too rounded for an 8×8 post. 

The colours and lightness remind me of illustrations in some children’s books I read as a little girl.   Maybe I should add a small bird or two?

Hall’s Harbour 

Hall’s Harbour is a quick drive over North Mountain and a steep descent to the Bay of Fundy.  It’s one of several working fishing villages along the northwest shore of the province and a magnet for tourists, artists, photographers and lobster lovers.

The day was cool and the light was flat. My focus was twofold, capture the colour of the cliffs and pick up the texture of the beach.  Ultramarine, burnt umber and burnt sienna were applied loosely along the cliffs and allowed to mix. The rough shore was created by spattering, drybrushing and lifting-off with added indigo for shadows. The group seemed to like the results, but overall it’s a somber picture from a very grey day as you can see by the clouds

I didn’t want to leave without at least painting something more cherry. This little 30 minute sketch of a fishing boat did the trick.  We had just enough time for a fast critique before the rain started.

The Digby Pines Waterfront View

Digby Pines 8×10 wc

I started this on Thursday of last week.  It was my second day in Digby but I only got an hour of painting completed in my sketchbook before we had to leave.

I used up my painting time earlier to rock my sweet little cousin to sleep. He’s only 9 months old and woke up early. His mom got a nice little break and I got to cuddle a baby. It was a fair trade.

Digby Pines is an older, well established hotel just on the outskirts of the town of Digby.  For some reason I didn’t give it a prominent spot in the composition. It’s off to the upper left.  I see now, I was more interested in the water. The reflections, slow movement, and colour variations kept lowering my focus.

Initially I dry brushed the water to give it highlights. It sparkled but that really wasn’t what I was seeing. The water was glassy almost like it had an oily sheen.  And, it seemed to breathe as the tide came in.

Yesterday I washed off the original layer of pigment on the water section, and today worked in reflections with yellows and blues. Then I quickly mixed some reds and blues to apply over a wash of ultramarine followed by another layer of indigo in the foreground.  A few dry brush strokes carried the middle layer to the background.  Carefully reserving a few patches of white paper gave it the glow I was looking for.

A little more (or less) work on the trees would make them look less contrived but I’m happy with how the water turned out. And the hotel is at least to scale from where I was sitting.

Digby Wharf

I’m in Digby for couple of days while  hubby attends a conference at the Digby Pines. I’ve looked at the Wharf a few times on other trips and thought it would be cool to paint.  

Plenty of boats were tied up but I limited myself to attempting only a few. Instead I concentrated on how to capture a good representation of the timbers with watercolour techniques — lifting off and negative painting.

This 8×10 took about two hours to work up in my sketch book. Some things I like are the blue and green tones in the water, the two boats at the wharf and the detail in and around the wharf.  The little grey boat on the right was in my line of sight for only a couple of minutes. I thought it would balance the picture when I drew it in but by the time I painted it I was trying to recall it from memory.

The other lessons I learned were to not sit with the sun behind you because your shadow falls across the paper, and, it’s a bad idea to sit where there are mooching ants. In the absence of crumbs the artist is a good menu option. 

Scot’s Bay in the fog.

Got back out for some on-site painting today. The Bay was mostly hidden by thick fog. I included a hint of the far shore in the background and some sunlight that caught the centre rocks. Both appeared later as the fog lifted.

The Wharf (not included here) was badly damaged in a hurricane so has lots of keep off signs on it. When it was in better shape, fishing boats would navigate in and out between these rocks.

When I started, the water was quite low but by the time I left two hours later, the rocks in the center were mostly covered.  There’s nothing like 40 foot tides to give you a healthy respect for the ocean.

Across the Estuary

The sun’s back out but my energy is low so my practice today is limited to a 3×5 moleskin page.

It was a good practice mixing greens using my travel palette. I purchased the compact set in London and although they are Winsor & Newton, they seem a little different from the tubes I buy in Canada.

I’ve been taking my regular palette with me the last few times I’ve painted and had better success. I’m likely just more familiar with it. There may be no correlation. But, I really want to go minimalist on this plein air thing; there may be a few potential trips coming up.

I think I’m going to start keeping track of the colours I use most and only take those.  I wonder, do other painters have a variety of pallets for plein air: a forest palette, an urban palette, a seaside palette, or a flower palette?

Point Prim, Nova Scotia

img_1167Another three firsts today… first time at this location,  first outing with a watercolour sketch book for it’s rainy baptism (painting in the rain… also a first).

Point Prim in Digby, does not come up on Google maps.  Instead, you’re directed to the location of another Point Prim in PEI. After double checking we managed to find our way with minimal confusion.

The light was grey and flat. The clouds held all the drama and delivered on their promise of rain. I originally painted only one large lone spruce but the rain took care of that, so I lifted off the remnants and added three new trees when I got home. It turned out to be a big improvement. Post field-work also included lifting off much of the darker values on the rocks, adding some life to the scene.  Reserving more white around the trees and rocks could have made it sparkle.

Other things I would improve: The boat doesn’t seem to work. It seems pasted on and needs a highlight, the sky could be darker and more dramatic which would make the light in the water stand out, and the water could be calmer – it’s fairly distant.  Compositionally (making up words now), I might add a large piece of driftwood or a weathered tree in the foreground for depth.  Hindsight is twenty-twenty.

I’m not disappointed though. It came together fast and I didn’t stray too far from my goals. The bits I most like, in addition to the new trees, are the rocks closest to the trees and the foreground water.

Because of the rain we all worked quickly with some of us toughing it out and others packing up and leaving. For the intrepid six of us that remained for the critique it was a good paint-out.