Flowers on a Table
There is something beautiful about flowers on a table, and I wanted to capture this in this quick gouache sketch.
Along the Path at Torrey Pines
I was back at Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve this morning. It has been a long time since we have had rain in San Diego and the arid landscape is a lovely combination of yellows and browns.
I had some rice paper on hand and wondered how it would work with gouache. I prepared it with watercolor grounds, but even so, it buckled in a few spots.
Artist in the Park
I noticed an artist bent over her work and quickly sketched her. I liked her intensity as she focused on her work.
This is a 9 X 9-inch (22 X 22-centimeter) gouache sketch on black paper with some pastel pencil marks.
Two Doves on the Rocks
I stopped for a few minutes at a park near my house and sketched two doves on the rocks in my small sketchbook.
From the North Side of Torrey Pines
This was a challenging painting. It started off as a quarter sheet of paper covered with golden watercolor grounds. I have been wondering about the gold background for seascapes and today seemed like a good day to explore this, since I would be painting with friends. I began by blocking in some of the major big shapes of the view of Torrey Pines looking south from the north parking lot. Soon I had a gray scene that was not very interesting. At about an hour into this painting, I got out a pen and drew lines, trying to save the sketch by defining the edges of the mountain, foliage, and sea.
I left Torrey Pines thinking I would abandon this sketch but after putting it aside and then looking again, I wondered if the problem might be a lack of contrast. Because I used gouache transparently over the gold watercolor ground, the sketch was mostly middle values. I lightened the central area, brought in some blue to the trees in the upper left, added the boulders at the lower left, painted over some of the pen lines, and decided I liked the sketch after all.
At this point, I prefer the gold grounds for figures, but don’t want to give up too quickly on the golden seascapes.
This is gouache, gel pen, and watercolor pencil sketch on a quarter sheet of watercolor paper that was prepared with gold watercolor grounds.
Looking Afar II
Yesterday I did a series of 20-minute sketches of a wonderful model. She had a pensive air that was communicated through her long limbs and facial expressions. Although I had to work fast, choosing colors and brushes was intuitive because her body language was so clear.
This gouache sketch was on a large 20 x 15-inch panel that was prepared with watercolor grounds. Today I went back and cleaned up parts of this sketch by lifting off some of the color that seemed too intense to me today.
I painted with other painters Thursday morning. Our model seemed pensive and trying to capture this in a sketch became my goal for the morning. I got a good start in this twenty-minute sketch and left the studio with several sketches that I could develop further.
This is a 12 x 12-inch gouache sketch with white and black pastel lines.
Tree by the Bay
Today I sketched down by Mission Point near San Diego’s Mission Beach. There was an abundance of possible subjects and I opted for a cheerful tree by the bay.
This is a gouache sketch on a 12 X 12-inch sheet of black paper.
The Colorado River is magnificent as it flows through Utah. It is stunning and I worked to capture its beauty in this sketch.
Most people know that the Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon and is an indispensable source of water for plants, wildlife, and humans throughout the Southwest. Fewer know how vital the health of the Colorado River Ecosystem is to our region, and fewer still how very fragile it has become in the last century.
Even with existing protections, most of the Colorado water is used up and very salty by the time it makes its way from Colorado, through Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California, and then finally crosses its last political boundary into Mexico. Recently the federal government removed over two million acres of the land that protects the Colorado River from the Bears Ears National and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni people have protested, along with environmentalist, conservationists, and recreational businesses, but other voices are needed too. I hope you will read up on this issue and lend your support for maintaining protections for this incredible river.
This sketch is on a sheet of 17 X 12-inch black paper and done entirely with gouache. I used photos as the reference from a recent trip to Utah
Early Morning on a Ranch
Last week we spent a night on a friend’s ranch in Utah. In the morning, I heard footsteps and looked out the window to see our host going out to start his day. It was really early. The sun was on the cliffs but the ranch yard was still dark. Although I went back to sleep, the idea that our host was up and working stayed with me. His dependability matters and it made me think of the many people who work long hours, doing the right thing.
I did not get a photo but did my best to recreate the way I think the sun fell on the rancher, dog, ranch yard, and cliffs.
This gouache and watercolor pencil sketch is 17 X 12 inches and on black paper.
Morning Shines on the Mesa
The sandstone rocks of Southwest Utah are stunning. I did not have time to paint there so I compensated by taking as many photos as I could. Today I began to look at them, especially the ones with strong lighting. There was one where the rising sun lit up the east-facing cliffs while the west-facing cliffs were still in shadow. I tried to capture some of this feeling in this sketch.
Lounging with a Strawberry
I missed a week of painting while traveling and it was wonderful to meet up with friends today at the San Diego Watercolor Society and sketch for a long morning. We did 5, 10, and 20-minute poses, this one was a twenty-minute pose. I like the energy that comes from working fast and letting intuition tale the lead.
Our model was expressive and gorgeous, with long slender limbs and lots of character. I enjoyed interpreting her facial expressions during each pose; it was a nice change from all the landscapes I have been doing.
This is 12 x 12-inch gouache sketch on black paper with watercolor pencil and pastel pencil.
Line of Junipers
Today I walked out to a part of my brother’s land that is usually a small pond ringed by a meadow and juniper trees. This year it is so dry that there is only a suggestion of green in the center where water would be normally. Dry or wet, this is one of my favorite places and I usually make a few sketches of it each year. Junipers have such an interesting shape and painting a whole line of them is a treat.
This painting is on a white quarter sheet of watercolor paper with a thin coat of gold watercolor ground. I expected to be able to lift color back to the gold ground to show the arid meadow. But something went wrong and the gouache adhered too strongly to lift, so instead I kept adding more and more marks with gouache and watercolor pencil.
Sunset along the Canyon Edge
We are camping on my brother’s land in the Colorado San Juan Mountains. I look forward to our annual family reunion here for many reasons, including the chance to paint this dramatic landscape. This week the skies in western Colorado are hazy with smoke from all the forest fires throughout the southwest, and hazy skies can make for spectacular sunsets. I really like how the evening sun illuminates parts of the landscape and dramatized the effect with this abstract plein air painting.
This painting is on a white quarter sheet of watercolor paper with a base coat of black watercolor ground. It gives a rough texture and allows the black to show through the gouache.
Along the Galloping Goose Trail
Among the many gorgeous trails in the Telluride area is the Galloping Goose. It was built along the old railroad tracks and descends down through aspen, fur, and flowers, from Telluride to Illium. It was a perfect choice for my last biking/painting trip in this area. Although I tried to include too much onto my small 12 X 12 sketchbook, I still like this sketch because it captures the winding path, its vertical drop, and the distant mountains.
This is a 12 X 12-inch gouache sketch.
Here is a photo of my Telluride set-up for plein air painting. It is about 10 pounds of equipment, including water, and works for both hiking and biking. The large rock that served as a table was a much appreciated bonus.
Plein Air Painting by Bike along the Galloping Goose Trail.