This small abstract of the landscape near Los Peñasquitos was done on white watercolor paper that I had prepared ahead of time with a stripe across the bottom of yellow ochre casein. When I was at Los Peñasquitos, I used gouache and then a black Inktense pencil to complete the painting.
It is interesting to compare how differently the gouache adheres to the casein than to the untreated paper.
This morning I sketched with the San Diego Watercolor Society. It is not obvious, but each of the sketches above is based on the same creative model. She had a magenta scarf, and wrapped it around her head, wore it as a skirt, and slung it over her shoulder. My goal for the day was to show the form of the model with long brushstrokes.
I went to the cactus garden at Balboa Park expecting to paint cactus. Instead, I was taken by a school group learning about public gardens.
I watched them awhile and liked the way the students leaned forward as they listened to their teacher. From time to time I could hear the students asking questions or laughing gently. The group seemed unusually tight-knit, and I wanted to capture this feeling in my painting. I made some small changes to the garden to strengthen the message of unity by extending the boughs of the trees over their heads and making the hillside seem steeper than it really was. I placed the group right in the middle, so their cohesiveness was echoed by the support of the hill and the protection of the trees.
I set up this still life to explore using gouache with Inktense pencils. I wanted to work with both smooth and textured surfaces and a limited palette so I would not be distracted by lots of color choices. I put a small Christmas cactus on the table with a bright light coming down from above and then used gouache to put in the big shapes of the pot, saucer, plant, and light. After the gouache was well dried, I used a pencil to draw the outlines of the objects. Then with Inktense pencils, I put color on the cactus, the dirt, saucer, and foreground. After dissolving the pencil marks with a water brush, I went back with more gouache to add more light values to portions of the pot and saucer.
I appreciate the variety of marks that were possible but think the colors in the cactus might have been richer with just gouache. My favorite parts are the texture marks on the saucer.
I bought some Inktense pencils this morning and had to try them out. Inktense pencils combine qualities of traditional watercolor pencils and permanent markers. The pencil marks dissolve with water but once dry, the color is bright and durable. I wondered how the Inktense pencils might work with gouache. Of course it will take a lot of time to figure out how to work with these materials, but so far, this is what I think.
Inktense works well alone on black paper. Some portions of this sketch, such as the hair of the two women in the foreground, are drawn with Intense pencils and then the marks were lightly dissolved with a water brush. I like the strength of these marks and how easy it is to use.
I am less impressed with adding the Inktense pencils over areas that I first painted with gouache. After the gouache dried, I colored over it with the pencils and then remoistened the marks with a wet brush. I was heavy handed with the Inktense pencils in the tree and less so in the sky. To be fair, I was clumsy with the technique, but so far think I can get a better look with only gouache.
The little rain southern California gets in December can make for a spectacular spring in January and February and this year shows great promise. This morning when I was back at Torrey Pines, I was struck by how the coastal chaparral is already greening up. I wanted to capture the contrast between the still dormant plants and the new greens of some of the foliage.