The Farms and Barns art exhibition is currently on display at the next Picture Show art gallery in Dixon, Illinois, through Oct 16, 2021.
Hours: Tues-Sat 10 to 4.
Old farms and barns are some of my favorite subjects. I was happy to be honored with a First Place award for "Paul's Farm".
Even more gratifying is seeing one of my student's pieces also recognized. Congratulations to Jan Cederlund, one of my Kaneville watercolor students, here celebrating with her award-winning painting, "Coming Home".
After canceling the show last year, due to Covid, the Annual Danada Nature Show is back.
The exhibition is held on the beautiful grounds of the Danada House,
3S507 Naperville Rd. Wheaton, Il.
It opens this Friday, October 8, from 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, October 9, Noon-4:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 10, 11:00-4:00 p.m.
A reception in honor of the artists and photographers will be held Friday, October 8 from 6:30-8:30.
I have two paintings in the show, and several of my current students have paintings in the exhibit as well.
Exhibit and parking is free to the public.
"Textures of Nature"
My favorite subject to paint is rocks and water. The reference photo is from upper Wisconsin and is the choice for this blog.
First is always the composition.
*Horizontal or vertical. Either can work in this painting with some added color or textures.
*Do I want to emphasis the rocks or the water?
*Because this will be a watercolor painting, paper choice needs to be made.
*Cold press, hot press or rough?
*Watercolor papers vary also in the amount of sizing. Do I want paper with more or less sizing?
*Which colors do I use? Full color or limited color?
*How should I apply the paint? Layering or more direct painting?
The success or failure of a painting occurs before you pick up the brush!
In the end, I chose the vertical photo because it featured the water more than the rocks –and because my students prefered the vertical composition.
Size of the finished painting is 19 x 14 inches.
The paper that I chose for this painting is Khadi rough. The paper has more surface sizing than most papers. The advantage is that the colors will be more intense because the pigment does not soak into the paper which causes the paint to lose intensity. The disadvantage is that layering is limited because the pigment does not soak into the paper.
Starting light to dark as usual, I concentrated on the water which will be lighter than the rocks. Painting the lighter values allows me to paint more freely. The edges, where the rocks meet the water will be established with the darker values of the rocks.
I painted this on a very slightly moistened paper using a solution of glycerin and water. I did not want to work totally wet because I wanted to leave some of the whites as highlights in selective places.
I painted the “lightest” parts of the dark rock in the first wash because I needed a visual reference to judge the light values.
I have all of the colors in my palette available, but will mostly use Pthalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Manganese Blue, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and Cadmium Yellow Medium.
Planning is extremely important. You always have to make adjustments when transferring the composition to the actual dimensions of the paper. The large rock had a too regular shape in Step 1, so I cropped the top of the composition.
Most of the focus in this step was in establishing the color and values in the rocks on the left. More intense colors are in the upper portion where I wanted the center of interest to be.
The actual shapes within the rocks are determined by how the colors mix when wet, not the shapes from the photograph.
Now that most of the large areas are painted, I concentrated on establishing the center of interest. How much I do there determines how much I do in the rest of the painting.
The center of interest is in the water close to the center of the composition.
I softened some edges by scrubbing out some of the color. With this kind of paper, scrubbing is easily done –but has to be handled very carefully. This paper has a lot of surface sizing but very little internal sizing. Too much scrubbing will tear the paper.
Adding very light washes in the water created the movement and the flow of the water in this crucial step.
Once the center of interest was established, shapes, forms and texture were added for more interest and movement.
I added darker values in all areas, but “lighter” than the darkest values near the center of interest.
Subtle washes were added in the lower section of the water for movement, and darker values to give it a “base”–where the water hits the horizontal plane of the water. The flow of the water from the top to the bottom needs a place to “stop”.
The final step in any painting is the most difficult. How much to add or subtract will complete the painting –or destroy the painting.
I did some spattering in the upper rock for more texture. I also added some pure Cobalt Blue and some Cadmium Red Light in the rocks for more emphasis.
I put a light layer of Raw Sienna on the rocks on the left near the center for more intensity.
Very light washes were added to eliminate all of the white except for the lights in the center of interest, and the lights I wanted for movement. I also added some light washes of opaque white to soften some edges instead of scrubbing.
I defined the lower portion of the rocks and water for more definition, keeping the edges soft. This portion is the most difficult to do because the tendency is to over define the shapes and forms. Defining without detail is what will make the painting work.
Remember that it is just paper and paint. It takes time to make create a painting. Paint boldly without hesitation, and you will achieve good results...most of the time.
Keeping the rock transparent was not working, so I decided to just paint it opaque with acrylic white and watercolor paint. Putting the rock in shadow emphasizes the area around the rock as the center of interest. I was also able to change the shape so that it did not look like a “submarine” –which bothered me from the beginning.
At the risk of isolating a color, I put some dark green foliage near the rock to give it some “life”.
Making just one object or area opaque could destroy the unity of the painting, so putting it in shadow helps by putting it in a different lighting.
On to the next subject!
Painting is hard!
Happy with the results but it could be better! That is always the dilemma we are faced with in a painting. I have ruined many paintings by trying to do too much. There are limits to what you can do in a watercolor painting.
Yes, the rocks are too evenly spaced. I tried to add smaller rocks, you can always go darker in watercolor to change the spaces. The smaller rocks were too similar in color and I changed a few of those. I did some scratching for the spray near the center in interest. Wasn’t happy so I tried the tearing technique. That didn’t work because the Khadi paper has very little internal sizing. So, the tearing created “craters” in the paper. I tried burnishing and then applied full strength sizing, and that didn’t work.
Last resort is the use of acrylic white paint. That is working! Because I feel that the painting is one of my better paintings, I want to make one more correction–which could ruin the entire painting. The large dark rock is a bit too dark, so I am going to lift some of the paint to lighten it.
Painting is fun!
The second wash is near the center of interest and the middle ground. Pattern for me is the most important part of the composition. So knowing where to leave the white of the paper is critical. As I develop the movement in the water, I need to concentrate on the size and shapes.
Step 1 -paint light to dark in watercolor.
The paper used for this painting is Khadi hand made paper from India. It has a very rough and very irregular texture. It has a lot of very weak surface sizing and very little internal sizing. Therefore it works best when painting directly and not with layering.
I want to get the darkest values on the first application. It is also easy to lift at this stage. So if I do get too dark on the first wash it is easy to lighten later, which I plan to do in the very dark rock.
I started with a very light wash above the rock to make sure that the edges would not be too hard. I will soften it more when I adjust the dark.
This is a full color painting, which means that I will be using all of the colors on my palette. I will limit the use of the yellows because they are too opaque and I want to keep this more transparent.
I have a folder on my computer of subjects that I NEED to paint. After viewing all of them, I am drawn once again to rocks and water. I did some comps on the computer and will now need to do some with paint.
Below is the original photo and then the computer comps.
I will post the steps each day until the painting is completed.
I decided to lift the color in the dark rock to get it lighter, however the colors I used were mostly staining colors and did not lighten very much.
So, I added a wash of white acrylic paint to the area to get it lighter. Now that it is dry, I can go back into that rock to give it some form. The acrylic white will act like gum arabic to seal the surface—in theory.
The warmer rocks that I added to balance the temperature worked well except for the value. I scrubbed the area first to get rid of some of the blue that was there. Scrubbing removed any internal sizing and the pigment is absorbed into the paper. I had to put 4 washes to get it right. I even put some gum arabic to seal the area! So, if you ever try using the Khadi paper, keep in mind that it will be very interesting to work with.
Plan A was to keep the water in the background in the cool blue range of colors to balance the warm colors of the rocks. After finishing that area, I felt that the cool colors were a bit too isolated from the rocks.
Plan B–add some warm colors. I did that as some reflections in the water from rocks that are outside of the composition. That gives the viewer a mental picture of more rocks continuing beyond the water.
One more step to complete the painting and that will be to add any details or contrast or to get rid of any more of the whites.