Surprise, Watercolor Painting

Stone Gables B&B soon to open in Virginia countryside

B&B

Illustration; “Stone Gables,” approx.  6.5 ” x 10.25 ” watercolor and Uniball white gel pen on Saunders Waterford 300 lb watercolor paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2018)

Last weekend we were hosted for an afternoon get-together at a soon-to-open bed & breakfast establishment tucked away in the rolling hills of Virginia wine country.  Once a barn, this establishment is now more like an estate with lush green fields, hills, a pond and a pool.  A  tall water fountain, the view beyond of outdoor terraces, a screened-porch bar area with tall tables and high chairs for enjoying the view, a gorgeous dining room and enormous well-appointed kitchen are only what greets you when you enter.  Beyond this are six beautiful bedrooms each with a modern well-designed bath, including a bridal suite.   You simply cannot imagine that this was a barn though some of the features of the barn have been kept in the current design.

Best of all, I’ve known one of the owners since she was a very little girl–many years ago in a distant land in Asia–where we both were living as part of foreign service families assigned abroad.  This B&B is a dream of hers and it’s now coming to life.  We were so pleased to get an early bird look at what will soon be available to others.  It’s called Stone Gables B& B and is near Leesburg, VA and a half hour’s drive from the Silver Line Metro station in Reston, VA, from which point it’s only 30-40 minute train ride into the heart of Washington, D.C.  Future guests here are in for a wonderful surprise!

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Uncategorized, Watercolor Painting

Spring greens in a rainy season

There’s been so much rain lately, followed by intermittent mugginess and flood watches, that some plein air-type painting has had to be done inside.  With plenty of models done in the open air to go by, I recently recreated some familiar scenes and, in the process, tried out watercolors on the Langton Prestige watercolor paper made in the UK by Daler Rowney.

Paddleboaters

Illustration: “Paddleboarders” in watercolor on Daler Rowney cold press 7″ x 10″ watercolor paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2018)

My impression of this paper is that the watercolors do stay moist longer and naturally exhibit a more transparent sheen than is typical on Arches paper.  I had underestimated this paper originally when I bought it nearly 10 months ago.  For different effects, trying various papers is fun.

spring greens

Illustration: “Spring Greens”, watercolor and pen-and-ink on Daler Rowney cold press 7″ x 10″ watercolor paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2018)

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oil painting, Uncategorized

Memorial Day Weekend

Lazy Sunday

Illustration: “Lazy Sunday”, oil on canvas approximately 12″ x 20″ (2018)

As a beautiful week weather-wise glides into the holiday weekend, I am finishing up several canvases and, in some cases, deciding whether to paint over them to start something else.  In the painting above, I set out to capture the look of some people remote-control sailing their little boats, as they do every Sunday morning at this spot in northern Virginia.

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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

Lakeside reflections #3

Lakeside2

Ilustration: “Twilight on the Water,” Watercolor and pen-and-ink on Arches rough paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2017)

Yesterday evening I returned to sitting on a bank of a nearby lake on the day we all got the horrific news of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history which had occurred overnight in Las Vegas.  And the view in front of me did not disappoint; perfect for a respite from the social media space of constant updates on the tragedy, I faced a tranquil scene as the sun slid ever more behind the trees at the far end of the lake.  The lake surface reflected the bright yellow of the leaves in the evening sun, making a sharp contrast with the dark shadows of the trees.  A very confident kayaker dressed in a flowing white shirt seemingly more suitable for dining al fresco on the Piazza Navona stroked briskly by right in front of me, with the brilliant red of his kayak dominating the scene.  Before too long, he was out of sight, and it was all I could do to try to recreate the impression he left.  After about an hour, it was time to go; the light was fading, some bugs were biting in the tall grasses, but the effort was well worth the time spent.

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Surprise, Uncategorized, urban sketching

Polar Vortex watercolor

Winter’s definitely here in this region, in more ways than one. Temperatures are now in the teens Fahrenheit, with strong gusts of freezing wind and the occasional brittle limb snapping off the trees…so  it’s definitely not suitable for ‘plein air’ painting. But these wintry scenes, before any snow or ice falls, hold a spell of their own, and are intriguing to try to capture in paint, once you get back inside.

So it was time, after a brisk walk in the cold,  to experiment with some of the techniques I recently learned in a two-day workshop on creating “texture in watercolor.” Who knew we could paint with all manner of tools, and not just brushes? Out came the bits of sponges, the rock salt, the drafting tape (to help mask up spaces on your surface so that you don’t paint over them), the masking fluid (also for covering up spaces), dried leaves, and other treasures for creating different effects, whether for trees or mountain ranges, clouds or water, or something more exotic.

Illustration:  'Cold Snap", 10" x11" watercolor, pen-and-ink, and acrylic fine gold on Crescent multi-media board by Black Elephant Author

Illustration: ‘Cold Snap”, 10″ x11″ watercolor, gouache, pen-and-ink, a tiny bit of pastel pencil, and acrylic fine gold on Crescent multi-media board by Black Elephant Author

To add to all the experimentation in this painting, I used a scrap of Crescent illustration board as my surface for the first time. It’s actually an off-white cream and I wanted to see what how it would handle watercolor and other media. The board itself curved a bit in the process but can be flattened out.  It was otherwise easy to work with.  I may give this scene another go on it, in fact.  I will return to the issue of texture in watercolor in the not-too-distant future as it’s plainly something best done inside.

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