Saturday, January 8, 2022

Painting with a Delicate Touch

I was introduced to use of a mouth atomizer years ago, but in the last few months I have used it more and more to create an interesting textured background to paint on. I also have found it a great way to paint a sky for birds to fly into.

It has been a while since I've done a step by step post, so read on if you are interested in just how I created this latest egret painting. ** The lighting/color is inaccurate until the last photo of the finished piece.


Because I wanted to protect the birds and moon as I applied paint with the atomizer, I covered the shapes with an adhesive film.  I sprayed 4 different times, letting the paint dry between each spray. The first mix was a gray using cobalt blue, ultra-marine blue and burnt sienna. The upper area of the piece was my focus, as I wanted to create a feel of the evening moving in. The next color was made with pure cobalt blue.  I concentrated spraying the blue on the lower portion of the paper. After it dried I felt it was just too light and too blue, so the third round of spraying was using a bluer gray mostly on the lower area. The last spray was a unification of all the colors with another round of blue gray in a circular pattern.

I am learning more and more about controlling the spray of color using the atomizer. I can leave an area light and create darker areas, just by moving my head and hand holding the tool as I blow on the atomizer.

  


(I've talked about this in other posts, but here's a reminder of what the mouth atomizer is.)













After peeling off the protective film, the first thing I painted was the moon. 














Then came the most distant birds painted with a gray. I wet the area with water first before adding the pigment. I also used a very small brush to control the edges. 

I've included this photo showing a towel protecting the lower portion because even one drop of water can  make an unwanted break to the beauty of the misting. I've learned this the hard way!











I love the delicacy of the white egrets and worked at keeping my marks delicate also. This was aided by wetting areas before dropping in the colors creating soft edges and diluted colors.

After painting the birds, I was unhappy with the cool yellow of the moon which I'd painted with Aureolin yellow. I warmed it up with a wash of yellow ochre.



My plan was to create a marsh grass under the birds. In this photo you can see that I threw down some paper scraps to check out the color and potential size.  By messing around with the paper pieces I could also try out  the frequency of blooms I might apply with paint.






Eventually the rain slowed down and there was enough light outdoors to take a good photo of the finished painting. 

Leaving the Marsh
22" x 15"
Transparent Watercolor





Monday, January 3, 2022

Wrapping Up 2021

 As I sit here (still in a rental home) near a burning wood stove, the snow falling yet another day,  I am reflecting on my year's art making.  It has been a prolific year for me. I have created many fire inspired pieces from charred wood to charred wood with birds to charred wood with plants. Owls kept flying through and seemed to be among the most favored of my work. 

"Owls represent wisdom, knowledge, change, transformation, intuitive development, and trusting the mystery. They are tied to the spiritual symbolism of “death” which brings about new beginnings with a higher understanding and evolved perspective. Owls can show up when you are being asked to listen to your intuition."

Loss


Believe what you like, but I do feel that owls' mysterious traveling through the night, their ability to hide and camouflage, and their haunting hoots have created a connection we humans feel towards the species. And so, one of my more meaningful Christmas gifts I made was an owl painting for my granddaughter, Angelica. With her permission, I share this piece which is about loss/death of a best friend. It brought tears, the good kind.



Trying to keep up on my watercolor and gouache skills, I painted a couple of new pieces in the last month of the year. They both fit in with my thoughts of how small we are in an immense environment. I've enjoyed looking through photos I've taken that reflect that thought. "What Was" says so much about our experience of the loss of our home which was snuggled into a grove of old protective trees. 


What Was

22 x 15 inches
Transparent Watercolor

The very last painting of the year is "Sharing Secrets." I chose to paint this because there is nothing more poignant than the connection between a young person and an animal they trust and love. 

This was painted on a gold gessoed piece of watercolor paper. (Gesso is a layer of paint you prime your watercolor paper with. In this case it is a metallic gold gesso.) I cut out the human and horse form with an adhesive film to protect that part of the painting while I created the background.





I am always attracted to the use of strata (horizontal layers) in a landscape. The painting above shows the first skin of gouache I used. (Gouache is an opaque watercolor paint.)

Gouache needs more layers when put on the gessoed paper. So the landscape gets developed with more layers and detail.



The final part to this piece is peeling off the film and settling the figures into the painting to complete the story. I love the way the horse and human connect and seem to be communicating with each other. I remember our kids sitting/lying on their horses just feeling safe and heard in a way neither parents or friends could understand. A horse can hear the tales of woes and continue to graze--the horse's way of saying it doesn't really matter so much. And maybe as I paint this picture I am saying to myself, " It doesn't really matter so much." New times coming!


Sharing Secrets

15 x 22 inches
Gouache on Gessoed Paper