Old York Cellars, En Plein Air Watercolor Painting

Old York Cellars, En Plein Air Watercolor Painting

My new website is now up and running ….. and along with it, a new blog that will focus on tools and techniques for both drawing and painting as well as weekly color exercises.

I will continue to post on this blog, with less frequency.  The feedback I receive from all of you who follow this blog inspires me to continue my journey deeper into the world of color and to create even better Color Workshops.  Thank you!

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Painting:  Old York Cellars – En Plein Air Watercolor Painting.  I had forgotten about this little gem that I found when going through folders for image files to upload to the new galleries.

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Art can be about creating believable illusions.

Star Ornament

The geometric overlay shapes don’t really make sense.  If the circles and the yellow square were translucent acetate sheets, where the yellow square overlaps the red circle, the circle would appear orange through the yellow square.  Where the yellow square overlaps the blue circle, the circle would look green.  The only way you might see part of the blue circle looking blue would be if the yellow square had that shape cut out of it so that the blue color of the circle could be seen.  The blue circle would have to be opaque to block the red circle from being seen.  Sometimes reality doesn’t matter.  I like the blue shape and it was fun playing with the primary and secondary colors.

Sketchbook Drawing: drawn first with pencil followed by watercolor.

My eyes are transforming into hue, tone and value meters!  It’s great.  It does, however, make driving a car more challenging.

Morning Watercolor Sketch, 8 am on a gray, rainy day

It’s no wonder plein air painting is such a challenge.  The colors vary, in every way possible, from day to day, from moment to moment.  Yesterday morning was also gray, but a cool gray rather than the warm gray that illuminates my backyard today.

When I get bold enough, I will try this same exercise on a large piece of watercolor paper, just to see what the impact might be.

Morning watercolor sketch of the light and weather conditions at that moment of the day.

Six variations are possible given three shapes painted using three colors …  3 times 2 times 1. (An early math lesson I use often to remind myself of the choices possible when putting brush to paper or canvas.

Six Variations …. plus two more by altering color

The six variations using green, yellow and purple are shown above.  If I add red to the variables there are now twenty-four variations ….. 4 times 3 times 2 times 1!

For this exercise I chose yellow, green and purple to illustrate not only color changes but also value changes and the spacial illusions created by each variation.  Yellow is a light value, green is a middle value and the purple is the dark value.  My morning color exercises remind me daily the importance of thinking value first …. then color.

Sketchbook color study in watercolor.

Morning is a great time to play art games before my brain is awake enough to be judgemental.

Variations to shift visual messages

I arbitrarily divided four rectangles into five separate shapes as shown above (left).  Playing The Color Scheme Game for each of the rectangles I painted the shapes.  For the second set of four rectangles, I copied the shapes and made slight changes in the values and sometimes shifting the hue slightly.  I altered the yellow shape in the upper left rectangle to create the feeling of it floating in space rather appearing to be in the same spacial plane as the blue shape.  I felt that the shapes in the lower right rectangle were too similar in size diminishing a feeling of space and depth.  In the second variation I made sure the shape sizes were varied.

Variations of Value

When you squint at the image on the left, you see that the value of the the three larger shapes are too similar and the shapes merge to become one.  You can imagine this being a landscape.  This may be the illusion you want.  Then again, it may not be what you want.  The choice is always yours.

Sketchbook drawings: drawn first with fountain pen, followed by watercolor

Trumpet Parts No. 67 – Cross Complementary Color Scheme (Purple and Yellow, Red/Orange and Blue/Green)

Trumpet Parts No. 67, Ink and Watercolor

A little too heavy-handed with the red/orange.  The cross complementary color scheme is not my favorite, but it presents the opportunity for colors to really dance together in a push and pull manner.  I’ve said before that I should stop doing these studies on thin paper.  Maybe, just maybe, I listen to myself this time and save this lousy sketchbook for only ink and pencil sketches.

Sketchbook painting: drawn first, loosely, with fountain pen filled with Sailor Jentle Epinard (dark green) ink, followed by watercolor.

Gazing at a sunlit Euonymus bush while my gas tank was filling, fireworks exploded inside my head.

Mid Value Reds for Sunlit Glow

The scanned image posted here falls short of representing the original sketch.

I had wondered if I had learned enough from creating Color Wheel Three and Color Wheel Four to recommend anyone else going through the effort of making them.  For me, after my eureka moment at the gas station, every moment working on those color wheels were moments well spent.

I am a slow learner when it comes to color.  The left side of my brain insists that anything that is screamingly bright on a sunlit day should be translated into a color falling in the Light Value Range on the Grayscale. (I highly recommend purchasing or making a grayscale similar to the Artist’s Gray Scale and Value Finder.) After painting Color Wheel Three and Color Wheel Four, it was perfectly clear to me that a highly saturated Red will never fall within the Light Value Range.  As soon as either water is added or white pigment is added, the intensity (the saturation) of the hue is diminished.) Therefore, when I see a burning, brilliant, red (the Eunoymus Bush) in an autumn landscape, it will always fall within the Mid Value Range to maintain its intensity.  After decades of painting, I am embarrassed to admit that I found this shocking.  I wore a silly grin on my face for the rest of the day.

I will post small oil sketches of examples in the next few days.  Sorry the above image doesn’t serve as a proper example to illustrate my point.  In the original sketches, the most successful illusion of sunlight bouncing off red leaves is the lower right sketch.  It is far more effective than either of the Lighter Value trees in the top two sketches.  The yellow tree appears to be sunlit, but it doesn’t glow.  The bottom right tree definitely has a glow about it.

The left side of my brain is still unhappy about a mid value color creating a more convincing illusion of light than a light value color.  Too bad, left brain, right brain is getting smarter while maintaining its ability to be creative!

Sketches: Watercolor sketches in a small handmade sketchbook made from 200 lb watercolor paper.