Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winter Squash

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. And that a lot of these beautiful squashes above were enjoyed for part of the Big TDay meal. Winter squashes, along with root vegetables, cabbages, potatoes, and apples, are what New Englanders put in their cold root cellars to keep over the long winters. And it seems that lately there has been a resurgence of "putting food up" and relearning how to can and preserve foods, which I think is wonderful, I do a lot of batch freezing myself. Blue Hubbard squash, the big gray-blue on in the middle of the painting, is my favorite. It has a nicer, lighter flavor than a butternut. It's hard to grow them every year, some years they don't flower, some years there isn't enough rain and they don't attain the impressive sizes that they could eventually get to. Sometimes you can find small ones in the grocery store and sometimes you can find a huge chunk wrapped in plastic wrap, looking like a giant chopped it with an axe. Lucky for me, my mother grows squash in her garden and preserves it in canning jars, and I get to enjoy it over winter.

This is a 5 x 7 watercolor with colored pencil. I loved the different variety of squashes, sizes and colors available at the farm stand, so I took a bunch of reference pics. I'm happy how the green squashes developed out of just the watercolor paint, with just a little colored pencil for the shadows. Watercolor can be so difficult, but there are times when it feels like your hand just knows what to do by itself, no need of help from the mind. Then the rest of it is real work, trying to recapture that spontaneity enough to finish a good painting. Now that the picture is up, I can see that it looks like it's leaning to the right. Funny how our minds think there's nothing wrong with a painting until we put it away for a while, then come back to it and see something right away. I have a mirror in the studio that I use to check the composition. If you hold the image up to the mirror, you can usually see immediately that something is not right with the composition, or maybe if it's a portrait you'll see that one eye is a lot different than the other one, or that the cheekbone needs to move back in space a bit. Now I'm going to add "look at image on computer" to the checklist.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Welcome Fall! Red and Green Maple Leaves.

I love the colors of fall. It's so exhilarating to go for a walk in the cool crisp air with warm sunshine, shoes scuffing loudly, ever on the lookout for an amazing leaf. I picked a bunch of different leaves up during a walk a couple of weeks ago in Lynn Woods Reservation, this drawing above came from a branch that fell, four sister leaves still clung to the branch. The red and green contrasting colors were so eye catching, and that there were four related ones, so much the better. I wanted to include the rips and tears that each leaf had, a visual of it's life journey, so much more interesting than trying to always show perfection.

The drawing was done on 140 lb watercolor paper, 9 x 12. I'm seriously going to have to start cutting the paper down to fit my flatbed scanner, I apologize for the darkened area on the bottom where I had to squish the cover down to get the whole image in. I haven't gotten the hang of taking good digital photos of my work yet, so I prefer to use the scanner.

I started drawing with Derwent watercolor pencils, used a wet brush to give the leaves a nice watercolor wash. I like using the watercolor pencils, they allow me to build up areas of more pigment, or leave areas with just a hint of wash color. After the watercolors dried, I went on to use colored pencils to add more detail and build up layers of color. This is where I can play around with all kinds of different colors, adding small spots and lines of colors that add visual excitement without losing the image, there is a lot of Imperial purple, Orange Chrome, Chartreuse Green, and Scarlet Lake in here.