The Boise depot

Depot pencil drawing

First layers of paint

After the success of the previous pond paintings, I thought the Boise Depot itself should finally have a feature.  I was not happy with the first achitecturals I did a couple of years ago, but I thought now it was time to try again, but with a slightly different emphasis.

As a compromise to my feelings of inadequacy in painting buildings with acrylics, I wanted to make the building recognizable, but not the main focus. One reference photo seemed to fit the bill.  While the main tower grabs the eye first, its reflection in the pond lets your eye move around to the water and surrounding vegetation.  I was not so intimidated with the building in the background and  I was feeling good about how the previous pond pictures had gone, so this seemed to be a good next step.  I was happy with how things gad progressed to this intermediate step.

Pond reed painting

Pencil up with the ground layer

Two sessions in

I thought I might be done with the pond paintings, but my husband commented in passing that he liked the reed reference photo. I said, what the heck, and decided to try another.

I was feeling pretty good about the three I had done so far, but this vegetation was quite different than the lily pads, even if the color palette was close to the same.  As I worked along, I tried to remember to keep it loose and define the shapes with dabs of color rather than sharp lines.  The preliminary work was okay, but I knew I needed more depth.

A new lily pad painting

Pencil drawing

Two days in on the first paint layer

I enjoyed the last lily pad painting so much that I decided to do another one.  At 8×8, this one is smaller, but the lily pads are bigger.  This poses some painting detail issues for me. How much do I show.  I am not very good with details with acylics yet.  The paint always feels too thick to make fine lines , no matter the brush size, and the thickness of paint varies too much as I lay it down.

This is two days in on the first layer of paint.  Already I can see I am going to have problems.  I don’t want it to look unblended and overdone, but it seems to be heading that way anyway.  In the first one, the pads were so small that I could indicate them with just a few brush strokes. Here, they are so big that I have to add some detail.  But the more I add, the less I like it.  The water underneath needs depth, but the spaces between are so small that that is giving me trouble too. This one is going to have a lot of fussing to it.

Inking is finished

Almost all inked up

Almost all inked up

The inking is finished, including for the house.  She got back with me concerning which of the two back porches was correct.  As I suspected, it was the screened in version versus just a railing, but I did want to put in the right one.  Notice the two little cows in the field?  They definitely are on the sketchy side, but it was hard to do more than just indicate them because of the distance away.

I worked hard on the positive/negative balance and I think it came out okay.  All of that grass had to ground the middle strip with the trees and buildings.  If I made the middle section too dark, the grasses would not be able to hold it down and the treed hills would float too much.  If I made the grasses too dark, it would all meld into one and be harder to distinguish the two areas.

This one will be colored with the hard pastels, for a change.  With such a long expanse of 18″ by almost 7″ and all of the greenery, I felt that the richness of the pastels would work better than watercolors.  The gloss fixative I use really pops the colors of the pastels and adds a depth that I find harder to do with watercolors, at least at this point in my artistic endeavors.

Next post it will be all colored up.

10,000 blades of grass…

10,000 blades of grass

10,000 blades of grass

….or at least that’s how it seems. Three and a half hours in, and all I’ve done is pasture.  That is about how long I can work before my eyes stop focusing on all of the little ink lines.  I do like it so far, though.  I plan to add some yellow and white wild flowers in the foreground to break up all of the green.  Fortunately, the barn is classic red and the house is white.  This is definitely going to be a test of my positive/negative space skills.

More grass and then the trees are next on the agenda.  Last will be the house as the pictures show 2 different facades – one with a screened porch and door and the other with a simple railing only so I need to talk to the client and find out which is correct.

(I have actually tried to estimate the number of grass strokes made and came up with almost 6,000!)

Cattle farm landscape

Farm landscape

Farm landscape

This one is a little different than my normal home portrait. If fact, it’s pretty far away, seeing as the house and the barn are way back there and it is really more of a landscape.  The drawing measures ~18″x7″ which is also a change from my usual working sizes.

The inking will take a lot of time here – lots of grass and trees.  In talking it over with my client, I decided the pastels would be more suitable than the watercolors. The richness of the sprayed hard pastel will enhance the landscape, although I will probably use a little watercolor on the small fence areas and the barn, just because it will be easier to lay a color base and then just shade a bit with the pastels and maybe a little colored pencil.

Artwork mixed with Holiday preparations

These days I am squeezing the art and computer work in with holiday preparations and it seems like the art often loses. I find that in order to get my brain in the right place I have to block out several consecutive hours of time for the art. I have never done anything worth much when I had less than half an hour to work. I need at least that much before the “brain shift” occurs. Then there is no time while I work. It seems odd but on occasion I can actually feel the shift occur and perceptural changes. A right brain/left brain thing I guess.

I tried working with the art cards I bought a while ago. I wanted to creat some simple watercolor vignettes but it was a complete disaster. I couldn’t get inspired on any subject matter and when I tried to lay some background washes as a basis for SOMETHING, all I got was wrinkled paper. So discouraging. Needless to say, I never got in the zone. I’ll guess I’ll try some dry brush and pen and ink on them instead.

I did manage to get a few new things in my etsy shop last week, so I felt good about that. I found a picture of a stone barn that I like so I am working with it. I’ll probably finish the inking today and lightly start the color.

Today I thought I’d include a pastel/pen and ink that I did this year and feel was successful. Again it is a Florida scene. I changed the color of the gate to something I liked better.

What's Behind the Garden Gate?

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