Uncategorized, urban sketching, Watercolor Painting

Capturing Spring Greens in Hideaway Places

It’s amazing to me that, even around the busiest metropolitan centers, wonderful hideaways still exist that transport you far away from the strip malls, busy intersections and shopping centers that dominate our modern landscape.  These days you can get a news update almost anywhere, but in these little hideaways you’ll find that the natural beauty captures your attention, and you won’t be checking your phone!

colvin garden

Illustration: “Secret Garden,” Watercolor and gouache in a Stillman & Birn “Beta” sketchbook (2018)

Sometimes these jewels are right in our own neighborhood, or at least not far as the crow flies.  One such place in Northern Virginia is a small state park, Colvin Run Mill, which has a still-functioning circa-1900 General Store and still working mill grinding wheat and corn today.  I have driven past this very spot for more than 20 years without stopping–until now.

colvin mill

Illustration: “Colvin Run Mill,” Watercolor, gouache, and pen-and-ink on Arches rough paper (2018)

Many of us hurry by without much choice, for years, without noticing therefore our surroundings.

lake edge final

Illusration: “Lake edge”, Watercolor in Stillman &Birn “Beta” sketchbook (2018)

These days, however, the new greens of spring make one want to take one’s paint kit outside more often—how to capture that beautiful light?  What greens work best?  I’ve been finding that Winsor & Newton Transparent Yellow helps to give some bright greens.

Colvin Run

Illustration: “Colvin Run,” watercolor and gouache on Arches rough paper (2018)

Indanthrone Blue and Quinacridone Gold (either the old or the new) gives some great, more olive, shades of green.  And you can always use a sap green, which comes in many different colors, actually.  Happy painting!

plaza final

Illustration: “Secret Beachview”, Watercolor and pen-and-ink in a Stillman & Birn “Beta” sketchbook (2018)

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Uncategorized, Watercolor Painting

Spring in the Park

Spring is struggling to make itself known this year. There’s a chill in the air. Cold breezes vied with bright sunshine in Central Park this weekend.  Color and light caught your eye after taking in some artworks inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   From the top of the museum, the Manhattan skyline edged the tops of the furthest trees.  One can imagine spring settling in here soon.

Spring1

Illustration: “Spring in the Park”, watercolor, pastel, gouache and burnt sienna drawing ink on 10″ X 7″ Arches rough paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2018)

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Uncategorized, Watercolor Painting

Cherry Blossom Season

‘Tis the time for bountiful cherry blossom trees decorating the Tidal Basin in the heart of Washington, D.C.

Cherry Blossoms

Illustration: “Admiring the Cherry Blossoms,” watercolor, gouache, and pen-and-ink on Arches paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2018)

When the trees–which were a gift from Japan in 1912–are at their peak, people visit from all over the world, pushing baby strollers and carrying long camera tripods. Whole families with grandparents and toddlers make their way to this glorious spot.  Amidst the calm chaos of thousands of people walking underneath the beautiful blossoms are picnickers, and couples positioning themselves for that perfect photo with the Jefferson Memorial in the background. Every language in the world can be heard at this time.  Women in traditional  Japanese costumes pose for photos between the trees. Buddhist monks in flowing orange robes bike past some of the crowds.  Even on a cloudy day it’s a beautiful scene.

 

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Uncategorized, urban sketching, Watercolor Painting

Line and Wash Watercolors

It’s been a busy few weeks–with a tremendously inspiring March for Our Lives making last weekend particularly memorable!   Art and sketching have had to take a back seat while so much else (much of it historically important) is going on….

With Spring finally here, however, there’s no question that the “plein air” kit of watercolors is going to get more use.  Thus, a refresher in “Line and Wash” watercolor sketching with pen-and-ink in the form of a two-day workshop this week was perfectly timed.  Below some of the paintings I completed in the workshop, the purpose of which was to combine use of pen (such as a fine-point Sharpie, black or brown, or India ink sketched with a bamboo stick) with watercolor washes.

Jackson Square 1

Illustration: “Art in the Park,” watercolor and pen-and-ink on Arches CP paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2018)

Lots more to learn, as always, but it’s fun to be engaged in painting again.

Jackson Square 2

Illustration: “Jackson Square,” watercolor and pen-and-ink on Arches CP paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2018)

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living in the truth, Risk, Uncategorized, Watercolor Painting

Water and color-filled wintry skies

Although spring should be on its way, we have plenty of wintry skies these days to practice with in watercolor.  Skies seem to be meant for watercolor–as, come to think of it, that’s what they seem made of.  Still it’s a challenge to get all those fluid wispy shapes that nature has perfected.  From my spot here at tree-top level (but inside a cozy room!) I see this lake reflecting back the shades of the sky and the surrounding landscape.  Never a dull moment…  Having gone back over a lot of art books recently, I have brought back white gouache with near-abandon yet seeking still to keep some white paper untouched.  Gouache has always been controversial with the purists but paradoxically always welcomed by artists so accomplished as John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer.  So us mere mortals should have no hesitation to experiment away…

Winter skies 1

Illustration: “Winter skies” in watercolor, gouache and white gel roll ink pen on 9.4″ x 12.6″ Hahnemühle watercolor paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2018)

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Uncategorized, Watercolor Painting

Darks and Lights in Watercolor

Last weekend with below-freezing temperatures outside, intrepid watercolor painters and other artists in this  area met in a nearby community center as the initial gathering to a new watercolor group.

Audubon Zoo

Ilustration: “Audubon Oasis”, (9.4″ x 12.6″) in watercolor and gouache on Hahnemuehle cold pressed paper

Though 103 (!) individuals had signed up to attend since the announcement came out in mid-December, due to the room size attendance at this initial meeting was kept to about 16 (and, probably due to the icy weather, only about 10 actually attended–men and women of various ages and backgrounds).  Ironically (as happens) the original convener was someone who had literally just moved to the area. Perhaps for many part of the attraction was simply an excuse to get out of the house after enduring days of extraordinary Arctic cold.  But, as always happens, perfect strangers also end up as new contacts, taking note (sometimes literally) of each other’s painting techniques and favorite materials.

My painting subject during this get-together was a colorful view through some trees at New Orleans’ Audubon Zoo last November around Thanksgiving.  The day was incredibly clear with pleasant temperatures and it made walking through the zoo (though many sections are undergoing renovation) an unforgettable visual treat.  I’m not a fan of painting from photos as so much of the really interesting light effects are lost (at least in my photos)–but using a photo for this project was the next best thing to being there. I have a lot of photos from the brilliant afternoon spent visiting this gorgeous zoo-park and, as the wintry weather here continues, I’ll be sure to be using some of them as a reference for more painting experiments.

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living in truth, Risk, Surprise, Uncategorized, Uncertainty, Watercolor Painting

Goodbye 2017

blue hippo

Illustration: “Blue Hippo” in watercolor and gouache by Black Elephant Blog author (2017)

It’s been a hard year for many people. May the new year 2018 remind us of the potential we all represent to address our world’s serious problems and thereby contribute to helping future generations.  To do this, we’ll need to appreciate what each of us brings to the table–we need to appreciate our differences.  So I’ll end the year on this blog with some hippo watercolor studies I’ve been playing around with for a side project on appreciating our differences. Happy Hippo New Year!

Hippo 2

Illustration: “Mother Hippo”, watercolor and pen and ink by Black Elephant Blog author

 

Hippos on rock

Illustration: “Hippos sunning” in watercolor, gouache, and pen and ink by Black Elephant Blog author (2017)

Hippo with baby

Illustration: “Mother and child” in watercolor and pen-and-ink by Black Elephant Blog author (2017)

 

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