Words and Watercolors

I’ve always loved the intersection of pictures and quotes (the stick figures series is a prime example). So when I stumbled across a new drawing-plus-quotes project while reading a watercolor book, I couldn’t wait to try it!

Not only do I get to peruse my quote collection, but I got to try out a new watercolor technique. Win, win!

The heart and rose are on post-card sized watercolor paper. After finishing the painting I added in the quote with a drawing pen.

 

Ashley on her bicycle was the first painting that I did in this line. It’s not yet complete, as I haven’t yet added in a fitting quote – though I do have a couple of them picked out. This is a larger work, nearly 8×10″.

Not sure what happened with that “antenna” sprouting up out of Ashley’s head – re-painting the image will give me more practice with the procedure and the materials and hopefully end up more as I intended it. 😀

Art in Big Bend

After leaving Brant’s I headed further west in Texas to visit Big Bend National Park. Even though it was hot (and I’m out of practice with the heat, so it felt pretty miserable) I explored the park for 4 days. Of course, I carried my trusty little moleskine pocket sketchbook everywhere. In addition, on bigger hiking days, I tucked a few sheets of watercolor paper into my daypack and a mini art kit.

On the first day in the park I hiked into the Santa Elena canyon. Tucked in the shade of the cliffs, sitting next to the Rio Grande river, it was nice and cool. I loved taking a few minutes to capture the scene. The cliffs on the right, across the river, are Mexico.

The next day included a hike up to Emory Peak, the highest point in the park. After reaching it and enjoying lunch, I pulled out my watercolors and tried to capture part of the scene before me.

It was hot and humid, so it didn’t take long for my watercolors to dry out. As they did, I pulled out my little sketchbook for this quick render. It’s a zoomed in view of a slightly different angle of the Chisos mountains.

After getting back from the mountains, I zipped around on my motorcycle for a bit more sketching and painting.

The bright buildings in Boquillas, Mexico, really stood out against the natural desert backdrop of the mountains.

I sketched out this fun tunnel that leads down into the Rio Grande Village campground, where we stayed during our visit. Later I’ll go back and add some watercolor to it. On one of the trips out of the valley the timing was perfect and the sunset was highlighted within the tunnel. Of course, that was heading the other way on the road. This direction gives layers of mountains to play with and a big sky above them.

Painting in Dry Tortugas

While I spent most of my time in Dry Tortugas sketching, I did complete some watercolors as well.

For the first I sat on the beach and sketched out the nearby lighthouse, with the fort nearby for scale.

With the sketch completed, I tried to capture the amazing colors in the water and the textures of the clouds in the sky. There were pelicans cruising by, scouting for fish. On the rainy morning, I went up to the second floor and found a comfortable spot looking out a window over the keys. A corner of a fort’s bastion provided an interesting contrast to the organic expanse of the water and keys themselves. I didn’t actually add any paint until later in the day, but the color of the water was more dramatic with more light so I’m glad that I waited.

 

 

Hear, See, Speak no Evil

While enjoying a cabin in the California mountains, I decided to monkey around with some paints. The Hear/See/Speak concept is a concept that continues to capture my attention (like the triptych featuring Ashley). This was a fun painting to work on and was a good way to ease back into acrylics, since I hadn’t used them in some time prior to this.

The colors don’t look right in the image – it’s an emerald green background and a yellowish-brown fur and face.

Hear, See, Speak no Evil  is painted on 8×10″ cold-rolled watercolor paper with acrylics. It was completed in 2015.

Abstract Boxes

There is some abstract art that really captures my attention, that intrigues me and draws me in. Most of it, however, I just don’t understand. Maybe that’s the analytic side of my brain coming out, or a lack in my artistic education, or… -shrugs- Whatever the reason, I generally prefer representational art, and that is definitely what I make most often.

In an attempt to further my understanding, sometimes I try my hand(s) at making abstract work. Abstract Boxes is such a piece, playing with the golden ratio and a variety of colors.

It is painted on 8×10″ cold-rolled watercolor paper with acrylics.

Flying Birds

This is yet another of the recurring images that I draw, a series of (generally 3) stylized birds flying up from the left. Their tails, like ghosts, Chinese dragons, or visual after-images, show the paths they’ve traveled to arrive.

For a long time I’ve thought that this might make an interesting letterhead, or a water-marked set of stationery, though I haven’t pursued that concept yet.

Flying birds in color, with an experimental background and a version of my usual corner-framing. It’s painted on 8×10″ cold-rolled watercolor paper with acrylics.

Simple Landscapes

While working on the cityscapes and sunset trees I also wanted to experiment with some simple landscapes. Though I might sketch some scenery while out and about, I definitely don’t paint them very often. It was fun to quickly create these two pieces, especially since they represent real places in Washington that I have fond memories of.

This is the watchtower on Mount Freemont in Mount Rainier National Park. Ashley and I hiked out there with Jackie and Mikel. This view was photographed in the rare few clear moments when we could see. It’s not a detailed “accurate” depiction of the scene, which I had to consciously be ok with. I can tend to focus on the details and struggle to achieve a loose, flowing style.Using the same basic palette I also tried to capture the feeling of our time spent at Lake Crescent. On one of our visits we stopped for an early morning coffee break to enjoy the view and lucked into perfectly still water. The mirrored mountains only magnified the beauty of the location.

Each of these is painted on 8×10″ cold-rolled watercolor paper with acrylic paints.

Sunset Trees

I suppose they could be Sunrise Trees, if you prefer that time of day!

Another of the subjects that I draw regularly are trees, specifically in front of sunset. Here are a few paintings in that vein from a bit of colorful playtime.

The first two combine a few recurring subjects – the borders (specifically the corners), the trees in front of the sun, and that specific way of drawing a sun with the lined “rays” radiating out from them. Of course, I normally do all of these things in a drawing – so this is the colored version of that concept. Additionally, the rounded branches was a new style that I was playing with.

In the above I was playing with texture, using angular hatched lines to fill in the background. And while both of these are acrylic paintings, below I was experimenting with the medium, pursuing a looser, more watercolor-like feel. Along with that looseness I also varied the borders – not sure which I like more, but the varying widths certainly give drastically different feelings to the paintings!Finally, this unique tree was painted at the same time as the orange-skied cityscape and was yet another experiment. I find the delicate, bare branches of trees beautiful and fascinating as they are silhouetted by the sky – and that’s generally how I portray them. Adding leaves is relatively rare, and these stylized, swirls of foliage was an experiment in color and style.

Each of these is painted on 8×10″ cold-rolled watercolor paper with acrylic paints.

Cityscapes

There are a few subjects or themes that I find myself returning to over and over. When I’m bored and supposed to be listening I doodle box stacks or swirls. Nothing coming to mind? I’ll make sunset-silhouetted trees. Have a bit of color or a blank paper coffee cup? Cityscapes it is!

I’ve thought about spending a bit of focus drawing real cityscapes that I’ve encountered. Until then, however, here are a few playful paintings, done where I was primarily just having fun with my paint supplies. I do love the contrasting colors and different size/shapes of the buildings and windows!

These two blue-skies were painted simultaneously, side-by-side. So they could function as a diptych (a two-part painting) or equally well as individual works.

Each of these is painted on 8×10″ cold-rolled watercolor paper with acrylic paints.