Colorado River Valley

Azure Valley
Watercolor on paper, 11″ x 8.5″

I’ve decided to try selling prints on Fine Art America. I don’t know if I’m doing it right, but this is the first one.

This scene in the Colorado Rocky Mountains is another one that I photographed from the train. It’s much larger than I normally paint, but still small. Maybe from now on I’ll start trying to make larger paintings again.

The paper used is one of the last pieces of an old sheet of 300 lb soft press paper from Frabiano. Because it’s old and the sizing seemed to have weakened a bit the paint wanted to soak in and dry very quickly, making blending and lifting difficult. Still, it’s a very robust paper, and I actually kind of liked how it absorbed the paint.

Normally I don’t draw so much on the watercolor paper before painting, and I used to never draw at all out of concern that pencil lines might show. There are a few lines showing here, especially around snow, but it’s really not much. I was even shading some with the pencil, but when the paint goes over it most of the lines vanish, so it’s nothing to worry about.

The palette was just a small porcelain dish with four paints in it; a dark reddish brown (imidazolone brown PBr25), synthetic indigo (PB66), a yellow iron oxide recovered from mine water (PBr6), and zinc white (Chinese white PW4). This combination produced all of the various browns and greys of the original scene. The small flat brush that was used for most of the painting was very nice. It’s about the size of a pencil, but thinner.

Mountain Crossing

Descending Deer
Watercolor on paper, 7″ x 5″

When planning this painting I knew that I wanted to paint a deer again. The first idea to be sketched was a closeup of a buck facing the viewer with the far distant mountains and the eastern sky with the reddish belt of Venus behind it at twilight.

Mountain Crossing sketch

In the second sketch I replaced that one with three deer. The composition wasn’t working well because the deer were all facing the same direction and getting progressively smaller in that same direction, so the viewer’s attention would just follow that path straight into the bottom left corner. I took a photo of it and in Photoshop tried switching the places of the two left deer, which helped interrupt that progression. Then, just in pencil on the sketch, I tried drawing the mountains closer and with more size variation. By putting the larger mountain on the left it helped to balance the composition more, as the silhouette of its ridge slopes down to the right.

Mountain Crossing ref

The deer used in the second sketch and final painting are from a photo I took through the front window of my old house several years ago, with a few adjustments.

Snowy River Landscape

Colorado River in Winter
Watercolor on paper, 5″ x 7″

Here’s another painting of a scene photographed from the train I take to visit family across the mountains. I’ve been photographing this same view for a few years now, but this is the first time painting it.

Mostly it’s painted with manganese blue (genuine, from an old tube) mixed with a little charcoal black. The browns are a mix of brown ochre, Indian red, and ultramarine pink, because those were the other three paints I had decided to use as the palette for this week.

The paper is from a sheet I’ve been storing for a few years and is really nice, but I don’t recognize the watermark logo and there’s no name on it.

watermark-1

It lifted fairly well, is a bit smooth but still allows granulation, and the paint went on easily.

Azure Valley 2

Colorado Mountain Valley
Ink on printmaking paper, 3″ x 4″

This is the same valley in the Rocky Mountains seen in this post a couple of weeks ago. The brown is walnut ink from a fountain pen, which is not waterproof and in some places I used a wet brush to blend it. The black is from a Micron brush pen.

Mostly I just started drawing this to try out the combination of tools. I haven’t used this brush pen for a long time and wanted practice making something with the tools that I’m planning on taking on a trip. It was kind of tedious doing all of the shading though. Getting some grey ink might have been better than crosshatching with the very tip of the brush pen.

Winter Robin

Robin in a Tree
Watercolor on printmaking paper, 5.5″ x 4″

A couple of weeks ago I saw this American robin in the aspen tree in front of my house. For some reason birds always act like they think you’ll reach up and grab them, even though my arms clearly aren’t that long (and I wouldn’t, anyways). All of the paints for this I made myself from dry pigments.

Walnut ink on printmaking paper, 3" x 4"
Walnut ink on printmaking paper, 3″ x 4″

Here’s a drawing from yesterday that was made with a fountain pen. It’s actually a copy of one of the photos I posted here about four years ago.

Winter River

Colorado River
Watercolor on 140lb paper, 3.75″ x 5.75″

This scene is copied from a photo I took of the Colorado River in the Rocky Mountains. I think it was a little east of the Upper Gore Canyon, after the canyon opens up into a relatively broad expanse.

The five paints used on this were made from scratch with dry pigments. The palette can be seen on Instagram here. The yellow and ultramarine were only used a little. Mostly it’s zirconium cerulean, red ochre, and mars black. Because the cerulean was weak in mixes, mixing a large amount of it to the mars black produced a useful cool black that was easy to handle and wasn’t overpowering. The granulation from both of those and the red ochre did make it a little difficult to really get the smoothness of the water or the ice in the foreground. This was painted on the back of a piece of 140 lb cold press Arches paper, which I’m starting to prefer over using the front of the paper.

Winter Lookout

Two Deer in Snow
Watercolor on 140 lb paper, 4.25″ x 6″

The setting for this painting is in the same Azure Valley as in the last post, and because I’ve passed through there many times I have many photos from different times of year. One of them had a buck walking through an open area of snow with some scrubby brush and low trees around. It seemed like a good start for a scene, but he was too small and the brush too far away, so I made a few edits to the photo.

Winter Lookout 1 ref 1

After cutting the buck away from the snowy background and positioning him closer to the darker and more interesting shapes of the trees and brush it still seemed too minimal. I did like the contrast of the brown against the cooler background colors, but the lighting on that cloudy day wasn’t very interesting.

Winter Lookout 1 ref 2

These two deer were in that same area, maybe even the same field, but on a different day. I liked their different poses, but they didn’t fit into the vertical format I was planning. By cutting out and repositioning the deer on the right to be next to the deer on the left it helped them fit and also changed the dynamic between them. Now their closeness might better emphasize a sense of togetherness and mutual trust.

Winter Lookout 1 wip

I then drew everything with the lead holder, seen on the far right, with a 7H lead in it. Everything was painted in sections, with each section being mostly finished before moving on. There were a couple of other small brushes used after this photo. The palette for everything was the five color palette I posted on Instagram a few days ago here.