Simple Sunday gouache painting

5×5 gouache based on this speed painting by Watercolor with David.

What I learned: Using a chalk pencil on top of gouache to sketch is a terrible idea, as there’s no good way to get it off. It should be fine on acryla gouache, but that’s not what I was using. Also: the birds really are too big.

Winter landscape watercolor

I don’t need a big post every time, do I? That’s no fun.

From a tutorial by Watercolor with David:

I rather like this one. The original isn’t quite so light.

Soooo I got a bit burnt out

After Artober, I continued into November with a Skillshare project challenge. I got about halfway through and was so burnt out on painting that I just stopped for a while. I hardly painted anything for at least a month, and then I got busy with the holidays and a visit to South Dakota, and so on. But now I’m back on it, and I got a fancy new scanner, so I’ll be able to post more here. First, here’s the last thing I painted before my long break:

I think there’s a good chance that this’ll be the best thing I’ll ever paint. It’s based on a picture I took of a woodpecker that hung out for a while on the light pole in our back yard. I’ll replace this picture with a proper scan at some point…)

Once I decided I wanted to paint again, I started to experiment with gouache, which is kind of like opaque watercolor. Here was my first gouache painting, based on an Art Sherpa tutorial I’d previously painted in acrylic:

I really like this one, and I immediately became a fan of gouache. Here’s another one I finished the other day:

This one’s from another Art Sherpa tutorial (I really enjoy them!), though my coloring is a good bit different as I was working with a super-limited 12-color palette of tiny Holbein tubes. I’ve already begun the expansion process: I ordered tubes of Winsor & Newton phthalo blue and magenta from Jerry’s Artarama yesterday. I like how gouache works in some ways like acrylic (mainly that it’s just opaque, so I can paint over it multiple times) so I can follow tutorials meant for acrylics. Gouache is also far more forgiving than transparent watercolor.

Speaking of watercolor, I’ve been doing some of that, too. Both of these are based on tutorials by Painting with David.

Neither of these are my best work by any means, but at least I’m getting back into it! I think my next original project will be a watercolor of this photo I took near Hot Springs in the Fall:

We’ll see when that happens. At this point, I’m mostly looking forward to those two new tubes of gouache so I can work on some more colorful, less realistic paintings.

It’s November 1. Now what?

My intention was to take a few days off after arting for 31 days straight. That was until I saw this lovely watercolor workshop over on Skillshare (which is well worth the money if you ask me). It’s called Watercolor Sketching Your Life, and it’s 21 prompts (only one of which I get per day) for the first 21 days of November. The first one was self portrait. I’d only ever tried a self portrait (or a portrait at all) once. I signed up for what I thought was a basic art class at UNO back in the day, only to discover that I was the only student never to have taken an art class (I took a semester of sculpture in high school, but that doesn’t count for these purposes). The first assignment was a self portrait, and I was so disheartened to see how well everyone else did it (had likely been instructed to do it in high school) that I dropped the class. I should have stuck with it, but at that point I guess I didn’t understand that I probably would have gotten an A for improvement if I worked hard enough. Anyway, I took an undergrad drawing class for non-majors while I was in grad school at LSUS and had a much better experience (I also had a better experience there than I have in library school at LSU, but that’s another story). That class, though, only covered inanimate objects and only one class about perspective. I learned enough to draw what I see, though not to shade it properly and especially not to paint it. Fast forward to about a month ago when I decided that I needed a hobby and settled on painting – in acrylics because I’m pretty sure that’s the most forgiving medium. I did some tutorials on YouTube (check out The Art Sherpa!) but then somehow decided that my medium of choice is watercolor. I think my favorite thing about it is that it’s so portable. Acrylics and oils are an Ordeal if you try to paint outside a studio, but watercolors are compact. That, and I just like them more than acrylics.

Anyway, here we are. I wasn’t planning on posting anything from this workshop, but I made this painting my Facebook profile picture, so I guess I will. That, and I’ve formed a habit after a month of posting every day. I’m really happy with it. I know it’s not realistic, but I don’t know how to paint people realistically, though I know I can learn. I think I like drawing and painting so much because they’re skills, not just talent. You can learn how to do these things if you try.

So here’s the whole painting:

The most significant thing I learned is how to paint a reasonable approximation of my own skin tone. Surprisingly, it’s a combination of cadmium red, permanent rose, yellow ochre, and cerulean blue. Sounds weird, I know, but you see what it produces. That’s pretty close to my version of super pale. Here’s where you should look if you want to learn to paint skin tones.

I chose to paint myself in sugar skull makeup for a couple reasons: it happens to be Dia de los Muertos, but I also knew that I can’t paint a realistic face. Before Palmer and I were married, we went to a Dia de los Muertos party(? something?) at minicine?, and Palmer painted my face. I used that and a photo of me choosing glasses frames for reference. Also this random YouTube tutorial on painting sugar skulls. All told, I think I did a good job, despite that little bit on my right cheek that happened because I wasn’t paying attention to where the wet paint was. Live and learn, yes?

This is also my first venture in an actual sketchbook. I got one for what became Artober but decided that I wasn’t ready to commit to a book I couldn’t just tear pages out of, so I didn’t use it. This time, I’m using it. If I don’t like an attempt, that’s okay. It’ll stay. I guess it helps that I’ll have to finish one whole painting a day. I’m hoping that this self-portrait will be as difficult as they come because my goal is to spend less time on them. The real goal, I guess, is to sketch in ink, which I didn’t do here. This portrait wads painted after obsessive pencil sketching. I guess it only took an hour or so.


Artober 31: Aaaaand DONE!

Woah! I finished my painting and a whole month of arting! For me, that’s quite an accomplishment. I also really like this one. It took me longer than any of the others, but I’ve been working on it in 20-minute spurts. Painting is hard when you’re surrounded by puppies! Here’s the whole thing:

Oh! And here’s a link to the tutorial by The Frugal Crafter, who is fantastic.

My original plan was to take some time off, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. I’ll be starting a Skillshare workshop on inking + watercolor tomorrow. That’ll just involve a sketchbook, and I don’t think I’ll be posting every day, if at all. Maybe if there’s one I especially like. Unlike this month, I’ll have to finish an entire sketch a day, so they’ll have to be quicker and I’ll have to be more willing to settle.

In other news, I have some very helpful pets. Shakespeare kept my palette warm for me this morning, and Penny supervised.

Artober 30: So close!

I’m so extra going to finish this painting tomorrow. And ALL of Artober. I’m looking forward to both. Forcing myself to work on something every day makes sit less fun, though I’ve learned lots of new skills over the month.

Here’s the whole thing. It’s still coming together nicely:

There’s not much to report in Puppy News, but here’s a photo of our local branch manager and assistant branch manager hard at work this morning:

Artober 29: A wee bit more adventure and some middle ground

It’s starting to come together! So far, I’m really liking this one. There is, of course, still time to ruin it. Here’s a link to the tutorial in case you want to follow along.

I came home today after a grand (restful) adventure in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I still haven’t thoroughly gone through the photos on my good camera, but I’ll do that soon and post them. I’m sure they’ll be lovely, as it’s sooooo beautiful up there. Fall colors are a wee bit past peak, which is interesting because they don’t seem to be anywhere near peak around here. Or maybe we don’t have a peak.

Anyway, I had a difficult time tearing myself away from the mountains, so I made one more stop on my way home at Lake Degray, which is about 20 miles from Hot Springs and on my way home to Shreveport. I hiked the 1-mile Island Trail, which had a few outlets to the lake itself, which is stunning, especially on a clear day like today.

And the required panorama:

Those good camera photos are going to be amazing. I’ll do my best to deal with them tomorrow. For now, here’s the full view of painting progress:

(It’s so nice to be home and using a real computer so WordPress actually works. Sigh.)

Artober 28: Adventures and progress

Oh so many adventures. I started my day with a tasty breakfast at IHOP, then headed into Hot Springs National Park for some much needed Nature Time. I stopped by the Visitors Center for a trail map, then headed up what I’d read was an easy trail called Dead Chief Trail. Except it turned out that it wasn’t really Dead Chief Trail but a shortcut STRAIGHT UP the mountain to the top. I got almost half a mile up (there was never a break!), and then had to sit down because I felt terrible. I sat there for a few minutes, feeling like I was gonna puke, and then I puked. There: I’ve puked in a national park. That should be on one of those Facebook get-to-know-me questionnaires. Anyway, after that I felt a little better and eventually headed straight back down to the safety of my car. I spent a couple hours recovering around Bathhouse row and then headed in my car back up the mountain to the Mountain Tower, where I took a bunch of what I’m sure are lovely photos but which are currently stowed on my good camera’s SD card. (The only time I wish having a laptop is when I travel, which isn’t often enough to justify getting one. I have my fancy desktop sitting at home, and an iPad will work as long as I don’t do something crazy like try to post to WordPress. Sigh.)

Anyway, I took said pictures up the mountain tower and then had a lovely hike around the Hot Springs Mountain Trail. It turned into a pretty good day.

After all that, I headed back to my hotel room for some surrious relaxation. And eventually a hamburger. And progress on this totally unrelated painting I’m working on:

Now, to sit here and stare at the internet (or to paint something else?) until it’s time for bed. I’ll be headed back to Shreveport tomorrow, but I think I’ll have a drive around Lake DeGray on my way home. I hear it’s lovely over there.


Artober 27: RETREAT!

(Side note: ZOMFG the WordPress iPad app is BROKEN! UGH!)

Aaaand by retreat I mean a little weekend trip to Hot Springs BY MYSELF, specifically sans puppy. Palmer, the Most Fantastic Person in the Whole World, is at home babysitting so I can relax and go hiking for two days. Y(es, I know he’s the Best Husband Ever.

Anyway, I drove up here after work and spent a few minutes sketching and painting this sky for a watercolor that is wholly unrelated to my present circumstances. It’s from another tutorial by The frugal Crafter. We’ll see if I finish it tomorrow or put it off and paint something more like the BEAUTIFUL FALL COLORS presently surrounding me. Here’s the whole shebang so far:

There is, of course, Plenty of Time to ruin it.

In Other News, I’m safely installed in a hotel room in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

It’s lovely, except for the two-plus yippy dogs across the hall and the baby directly above me. Really, though, It’s quiet enough. Tomorrow, I’ll be hiking in the (COLD) national park.

A cold front went through today, causing temperatures to dip to freezing tonight, and it made for a spectacular sunset (which, of course, features the neighboring hotel):

Hopefully I’ll be able to catch the whole thing tomorrow night. My plan tonight was to go to a lakeside restaurant that’s supposed to feature an amazing sunset, but I was just too lazy. And there happens to be a pretty decent local restaurant right in front of my hotel called Bleu Monkey. I’ll have a hard time not just walking over there tomorrow night.

All told, my little retreat is off to a most excellent start. I’ll be hiking for most of the day tomorrow, and I’m contemplating a drive around Lake DeGray before I head home on Sunday. I hear it’s pretty nice to look at, and it was a pretty spectacular scene to drive by on my way here.

Okay, off to some serious Relaxation Time.

Artober 26: Makin’ it count

Because that’s all I’m doing today. I decided on Monday that I NEED a break, so just as Palmer comes home from Dallas, I’m going up to Hot Springs to spend the weekend sans dogs. Yes, I love my dogs, and yes, I know what I signed up for, but DAMN I’m tired. Palmer is tired of traveling and doesn’t want to hike around the national park with me, so he’d rather stay home, which I understand. I’m looking forward to leisurely foods and a long leisurely hike in the COLD on Saturday. I’m taking my good camera and my watercolors. It’ll be lovely.

Anyway, that photo is the palette I’m taking with me. Paints on the list are cadmium red, alizirin crimson, quinacridone red, permanent rose, Indian yellow, cadmium yellow, gamboge, lemon yellow, sap green, viridian, phthalo green, phthalo blue (my favorite!), cerulean (I want a better one for obvious reasons), French ultramarine, prussian blue, winsor violet, yellow ochre, burnt sienna (I want a better one of that, too), burnt umber, raw umber, sepia, and Payne’s gray. 24 colors allows me not to have to make too many choices. This palette should definitely be sufficient for a weekend.

In Puppy News, Lucy had her first treat from Lucy’s Barkery today. She was pretty excited. Puppies have to have treats on Halloween!

In other news, I discovered a second cult meeting on my basil plant today. It appears the juvenile cult members (orange, on the left) have now grown up and are conducting their own meetings.

And, finally, here’s a pretty flower that’s currently blooming on our front hedges. I might or might not paint it eventually.

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