Friday, October 09, 2009

Rio Chama - WIPs 4, 5 and 6

Welcome back to the Rio Chama! I painted at the Art Club yesterday afternoon and, as always, found it to be very therapeutic to be there painting with my art buddies. During this week of intense preparations for the Oktoberfest art show coming Saturday, I needed to paint Thursday afternoon!

Here, I started laying in some tree shapes to break up some of the bowling alley effects created in the last WIP. The trees were there, and were a darker, cooler color than the other scrubby trees that were more like tall bushes. I wish I could tell you their botanical names, but my fund of knowledge does not extend to botany!. I was trying to go with what I know in working back to front, cool to warm as I came forward. In this panorama format you don't have much room to show distance so I tried to use all the tricks in the aerial perspective bag that I could.

I started laying in some of the feathery middle ground sagebrush shapes, and with gouache this is easily done by putting the basic middle values in and then highlighting with a lighter mixture of the same color. This seems so backwards to me since, as I mentioned earlier, I am used to saving the lights and doing them first and then the darks. My brain is saying HUH? I then started adding more darks to ground the bushes. When in doubt, I usually start adding the darks, they magically seem to transform the paintings from coloring book style to more of a finished painting look.

Okay, here is where things started to go horribly wrong. I have never painted water with gouache and it sure is not the same as with transparent watercolor! I will scrub this mess out for my next session and start again, probably with transparent watercolor. I also want to add some rocks, the water was cascading over some of the larger rocks in the river and I guess I forgot that when drawing and painting. I wanted the river to be the center of attention in this painting, but not because it is so badly-done that it draws the eyes there!

I hesitated to show you this iteration, but if I am going to maintain my artistic integrity while showing WIPs, I need to show you the uh-oh iterations as well. So, here it is for now, once I survive the Oktoberfest art show on Saturday I will need to get back to this with my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and start making that look more like water. I did not use wet-in-wet techniques with the gouache, which in my mind is the main problem with my water, and may practice with a little gum arabic and gouache on another sheet of paper to see what I can do to make that flow together better and look more like water. This is an example of why I like taking WIP photos as I go along....the mistakes announce themselves better than if I just looked at the painting and wondered what was wrong with it. It is sort of like having someone else critique it from a photo, you notice things you did not notice when staring at the painting.


RHCarpenter said...

The gouache will flow and look more like water if you prewet the area and drop in the gouache, Susan. Not to worry - you know you can fix this. It may actually be that muddy but I'd like to see you take some artistic license and paint the river more watery blue. But that's just my preference. You may want to stay more realistic to the scene.
Good luck with the show!

Watercolors by Susan Roper said...

Thanks Rhonda. I have already taken quite a bit of artistic license with the colors of the rocks and background, so why not make the water more blue and with some of those colors dropped in? It was flowing so rapidly that I don't want to make the whole thing reflections since I want a bit of water tumbling over the rocks (so I can submit it for the monthly WcW project!) but that doesn't mean there wasn't a quiet pool here or there, huh? The more I look at this water the more I dislike it so will look forward to scrubbing that out ASAP.

Thanks for looking...

The Weaver of Grass said...

I think your idea of photographing the various stages is a brilliant one, Susan. I am not a painter but I do this with my textile work and when it starts to go wrong you can almost pinpoint the exact moment. I love the colours you use - they are so earthy.

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...


Your landscapes are always wonderful and masterfully completed. This one will be too. Your honesty in posting all your WIPs even when you are not happy with them, is admirable.

Good luck with Oktoberfest. Please photograph your booth so we can see. I do so enjoy your art. This painting will come around when you are not so scattered between projects.

Watercolors by Susan Roper said...

Thanks Coni and Weaver...When I am not so wiped out after yesterday's show I will start scrubbing out that disgusting mess of a river. I appreciate your encouragement that I can fix this, so I will!

When I get the photos of the Oktoberfest show I will post them. No paintings of mine sold, but I did sell jewelry.