Monday, February 18, 2013

Daily Sketches - Week 7

Had some time to branch out a little last week and experiment more with my watercolors.

Feb 11
Feb 12 - this is a building on my street that I've always liked for its interesting look

I've wanted to paint the cul-de-sac at the end of my road for a long time, because it's always a welcome sight to me - it means I'm finally home (usually after a long day of work). I photographed it when the sun was starting to set and the light was really interesting, and worked from that. I also decided to take pictures of my process. Please note that my level of knowledge about watercolor and painting in general is basically at 0. And please feel free to give pointers. I would love that actually.

This is my watercolor set. There are 24 colors, and I was originally using most of them, but then read that it's better to use less colors, and to always mix your greens from blues and yellows instead of using green paint. The test swatches on the paper with the dots below them are the ones I've been restricting myself to. And yes, I paint right in front of my computer, it's pretty bad. I wish I had the space for a separate traditional art desk.

I've been reading a lot about color and light and I knew that I wanted there to be a separation between the "warm" parts of the picture (everything the light was touching) and the "cool" parts (stuff in shadow). I decided to try to accomplish this by using a yellow underpainting in the warm sections and a blue underpainting in the cool sections, since watercolor is transparent and hence good for layering.

The painting with more or less all of the shapes blocked in, I had also started to do some shadows on the trees in back.

The final product.

I am happy with the way this came out - or maybe I should say, I'm happy with what I learned by trying it - but it definitely could be better. The colors need work - I don't think I achieved the high contrast between warm and cool that I was going for - but I think my real problem here is with value. In the original photograph, the stuff in shadow is noticeably WAY darker than the stuff in light, and that's not true in the painting. Everything's very midtone. I think it was Ty Carter (who has done a lot of great posts lately on color & light) who said, "Your paintings can work without color but not without value... if your values are off, everything is off." It's hard to get dark darks in watercolor though! I'm always afraid of going too dark at first because there's no way to fix it like there would be with a non-transparent medium like oils. But then I end up with a painting like this with no contrast. So it goes. Learning...

Feb 14 - trying a black and white watercolor to improve my values.

Feb 15 - I like turtles.

Extra for Feb 15.

Feb 16 - visited the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the LACMA and decided to attempt a still from The Shining with markers.

Feb 17 - monkies, which were much harder than expected.

I also made a few improvements to my desk this past week (most notably, my new clamp-on swiveling daylight-color-temperature lamp/magnifying glass which I'm in love with) and decided to take a couple pictures of my setup. The desk itself is actually an Ikea countertop, which I bought legs for & attached. I usually just push my keyboard and Wacom tablet back and draw or paint in that space. (My desktop background is by the amazing Khang Le.)

Eventually I'd love to move the printer somewhere else and put an angled tabletop drawing board in that area.

A reminder pinned to my bulletin board.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, an exciting bit of news - Dave and I and some friends FINALLY got tickets for the San Diego Comic-Con this year (the big one). I have been wanting to go for years now, we've even tried for tickets the past couple of years, but never gotten through. I know, I know, it's all big and commercial now, and it'll be super overwhelming, and there will be too many people, and we'll spend most of our time waiting in line, and our hotel was ridiculously priced and will probably suck... but I'm excited anyway. I would feel bad calling myself a nerd if I didn't go at least once. And hopefully I'll get to meet and buy prints from many of the artists I follow there.

Happy President's Day to everyone - I hope everyone has the day off (unlike myself... but I can't complain! It's good to have work).


  1. Hi Gina! Your sketches are amazing! Monkeys and kittens - they are so hard to draw, and yet your sketches look effortless.

    How long did it take you to complete these sketches?

    1. Thanks Dmitri - I would say each of those pages took about an hour. I never have that much time, so I'm always trying to go quickly. I am actually most happy with the turtles - all of those took about an hour and a half, and I was just feeling it. By the time I drew the last one I felt like I was in a groove.

  2. Wow, only an hour per page: those sketches are even more amazing now! Great job! Grooves, they make the rest of the day feel bad about itself :)

  3. That's a an excellent week. My favourite are the cats by far. They are very neat and you use the white very well!