Yellowstone Aspens in Autumn: exploring the background tones
A trip to Yellowstone in mid September brought me up close and personal with the turning of the Aspen leaves to all shades of yellows and oranges. Their bright colors can’t help but make you feel sunny as they flicker in the breezes. Getting close, the masses of color aren’t the only theme as the spaces in between the sprigs take on more importance.
I used this composition to teach a glazing process for creating colorful neutral backgrounds to my fall students at Bellevue College. I layered a thin flat glaze of Aureolin yellow, followed by thin glazes of Rose Madder, then Cobalt blue after each layer dried to create a luminous gray. This was too pale and flat alone for my interest, but made a foundation for adding more color wet on wet to blend and flow to enhance the neutral foundation. After 6-10 layers of color here’s what the background looked like before I even started painting the main attraction….the leaves.
In the beginning I masked out the leaves so I could brush the background colors freely over the whole surface. This image shows the mask removed, the veins sketched in and ready for color with additional masking fluid added to the lightest areas preserving the white of the paper. Still, when the leaves were painted, the background needed to have more blues and greens to tie in the green leaf in the lower right to make it feel like it belonged to the painting, so more layers were carefully added to unify the painting. What do you think? I think it works and I’ll add it to my watercolor gallery on https://sandyhaightfineart.com and enjoy the rest of the yellow Seattle autumn.
Northwest Watercolor Society’s Waterworks Show
Here’s the watercolor painting of crocuses popping up through an overgrowth of ivy that I’ll be exhibiting in the NWWS member show opening next week. These flowers are a bit out of season now, but offer a cheery anticipation that spring will eventually come as we plunge into the dark northwest winter. They are first to tease us out of the cold with their bright smiling colors. Crocuses was one of the 55 paintings from 181 submissions that juror Stan Miller selected for this show, so its an honor to be part of this watercolor event.
Exhibition: October 23 – November 28, 2012
Reception: Thursday, October 25, 6:00—8:00 p.m.
Kaewyn Gallery 10101 Main St. / Bothell, WA 98011 / 425-483-7385
Gallery hours: Tues – Thurs 10 – 6, Friday 10 – 5, Sat 10 – 4.
A Seduction of Lilies
It was a total joy to paint this close up of lilies that I saw in Vancouver’s Granville Island Market. The sensuous shapes, vibrant colors, and minimal texture were fun to build up with my glazing techniques making them richer with every layer. Dark color, such as the background and the deep wells of the flowers, are always difficult in watercolor because the paint dries many shades lighter than when applied. It can take 5-10 glazes to build up to the dark value that I envision. I wanted the background to be dark and neutral yet still glow with luminous color to compliment the oranges and reds in the flowers. Certain colors lift and move around when re-wetted making it even more challenging to keep from streaking a large smooth area like the background or blending into a gradient area like the left two lilies.
Flowers are a constant seduction for me. They can be beautiful, ephemeral and oh so fragrant in nature. It’s another pleasure to capture the colors and the mystical designs within them to enjoy as art, larger than life.
This painting was just added to my Watercolor Gallery on my fine art site at sandyhaightfineart.com. There are a few other flower paintings there and more to come!