Saturday, April 8, 2017

Painting Lavender at Summerhill

It was a cold, dreary day with occasional rain showers and blustery wind here in western Pennsylvania on Thursday, but that didn't stop my Summerhill Sketchers from gathering for a class on painting lavender fields.


I've been working on the lessons for my workshop in Provence in June, and I thought I'd try this one out on my local painting students. They're always up for a challenge, and I thought they'd enjoy mixing those gorgeous lavender colors and putting together this pretty landscape.

I taught two different ways to paint the lavender fields. First we tried a wet-in-wet approach, where I brushed on pale lavender, then dropped in deep purple and allowed it to mingle and diffuse, creating midtones. The deepest shadows were added after the first layer had dried.


For the second technique, we started with a pale lavender wash and let it dry, then glazed successively darker values over it, one layer at a time.


Of course, the key to a good watercolor painting is value contrast, so I stressed the importance of adding some nice dark shadows at the end to make things pop. A little spattering and texturing, and the sketches were done!


Here are some of the paintings the students did. (Not all of these are completely finished, but I thought you'd enjoy seeing them anyway.)


I love how each person's style is uniquely their own.





Even though it was a gloomy day outside, we were celebrating spring inside. I set the tables before everyone arrived...



and ran out in the rain to pick forsythia and daffodils to brighten things up.


I even took the time to fold cloth napkins into bunny shapes.


I just knew it would make my friends smile when they saw them. It's so much fun to do special little things to surprise them.

We had three different kinds of quiche for lunch: traditional quiche Lorraine, plus a vegetarian quiche and spinach/bacon quiche. It was hard to pick a favorite; they were all so good!



The side dishes were herb-marinated vegetables and a coleslaw recipe I like that has a touch of Dijon mustard in it. (See the recipe, below.)


For dessert we had a swoon-worthy trifle made with yellow cake, lemon pudding, whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Oh my!


After lunch, Carol shared her beautiful camellia page...


as well as the amazing hand-kit shawl she made over the winter.


Pat has been painting on canvas with watercolors - I've been wanting to try that, so I had lots of questions for her.


Larry confessed that he worked on some of these Zentangle designs while he was at work. We promised not to report him!


I love the rose painting that Teresa brought to share. We're planning a trip to her garden in June to see her collection of old-fashioned roses, some of which have been in her family for generations. Just imagine the smell! I can't wait.


If you're ever in the area, I hope you'll plan to stop by for a Sketching at Summerhill session. We have such a good time, and despite all the gabbing that goes on, we actually get some painting done, too. :) The next session will be May 4. Spring road trip, anyone?

Here's the recipe for the coleslaw I made for the sketchers. The dressing is light, and it keeps well in the fridge for up to a week.

Dawn's Coleslaw

Dressing:
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. salt
1-3 T. sugar
¼ cup mayonnaise
½-3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard

Make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, salt, sugar, mayonnaise, and mustard in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves.

3 cups shredded cabbage
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
2-4 Tablespoons grated onion
¼ cup grated carrot

Combine the cabbage, celery, onion, and carrot in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately or store covered and refrigerated for up to one week.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Casa Romantica Step-by-Step

One of the assignments I gave the students during my "Sketching on Location" workshop in San Clemente last month was to look for a view that was framed by something, like an arch, columns, or trees. Dutiful teacher that I am, I decided to set an example by sketching the view through the arches on the ocean side of Casa Romantica. I also incorporated several other motifs that I saw that day.

10" x 7", ink & watercolor, Handbook Field Watercolor Sketchbook

The drawing was tricky, but I think I was able to get a fairly accurate rendering of the arches. I was a little concerned about the composition, though. The series of arches were leading the eye off the page to the left, so I decided to put a border of painted tiles on that side. Now the arches lead to the tiles, the tiles lead down to the bracket design, which leads to the title, and finally back to the arches, making a complete circle!

Step 1 - Ink drawing

I completed the drawing of the main scene and the tile border onsite, but didn't have a chance to paint it that day, so I thought you might enjoy peeking over my shoulder as I painted it at home. Here's the step-by-step process....

I played around with some options for the lettering, and finally decided to use the University Roman Normal font. I typed the title on the computer in Microsoft Word and printed it out in varying sizes, then I cut a few of them out and tried them on the sketchbook page. After taping the lettering in place where I wanted it, I slipped a piece of graphite paper underneath the printer paper and traced over the letters with a ball-point pen, transferring the title to my page. (To clarify, the ball-point pen lines were only on the printer paper, not on my sketchbook page.) Then I inked the lines with a Pigma Micron 01 pen.

The ornate wrought iron bracket design was inspired by the decorative brackets I saw in a window at the Casa.

The first paint to go on the page was the sky. I wet the entire sky area with clean water, then brushed on Cerulean Blue and let it feather out to create soft edges on the wispy clouds.

Step 2 - Paint the sky and water

I used a drybrush technique to paint the water. By lightly skimming the side of a flat brush across the paper, I was able to leave sparkling highlights and whitecaps on the water. (I masked off the edges of the columns first with blue painter's tape to keep a nice straight edge.)


Next, a graded wash was applied to the planters, then clear water was brushed on the shaded areas of the arches and a wash of pale lavender was applied.

Step 3 - Paint pots and shadows on arches, columns, and floor.

The lavender was a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Permanent Rose, but I added touches of pure Cobalt and pure Rose in places for variety. Winsor Orange was brushed on to indicate reflected light next to the terra cotta planters and allowed to mingle with the red and blue.


The tiny, detailed tile design was begun....


Next, I painted the first blended washes on the plants and the distant landscape.

Step 4 - Paint base wash on plants & scenery

I like to vary the colors when I paint foliage, so I combined yellows, greens, blues, and reds wet-in-wet as I painted the leaves.


Then it was time to begin refining and finalizing things.

Step 5 - Add darker values, paint patio.

Middle and dark values were added to the plants and background scene, and I darkened the shadows on the planters.


The railing was painted, along with the lamp post, the patio, flower beds, and the San Clemente pier.


Adding a few diagonal lines to the glass on the light made it look more reflective.


To finish up the page, I used a tiny size 0 brush to paint the tile floor.


The same little brush  made short work of the tile border design.


The title was outlined with Raw Sienna to match the tiles...


and the same gold color was added to the corner bracket helped to tie everything together.


A little spattering is almost always a good thing! In this case, I used it to add some texture to the stucco columns and arches.


Even though this page focuses primarily on the view from the porch at Casa Romantica, I found ways to incorporate more of the motifs that I enjoyed that day while sketching on location. The ornate hand-painted tiles and bracket design enhanced the page and helped to tell more of the story of our day at the Casa, a day filled with art and friends, sunshine and flowers, and the sparkling ocean stretching across the horizon.

Step 6 - Finished sketch

If you'd like to try your hand at sketching on location, I'd love to have you join me for a workshop in Tuscany or the Greek Isles this fall. You'll meet wonderful people, eat incredible food, see some amazing sites and have the time of your life! Spaces are filling fast, so act now to reserve your space. Email me if you have any questions.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sketching on Location at Casa Romantica

The second day of my "Sketching on Location" workshop took us to Casa Romantica in San Clemente. This beautiful place was built in 1927 as the home of the founder of San Clemente, Ole Hanson. It's now a public garden and cultural center, and we were lucky enough to spend the day there painting together.

The inner courtyard was peaceful and serene...


The view from the terrace was amazing!


There were quiet spots to sit and relax...



 and plenty of inspiring patterns to use as decorative motifs in our sketchbooks...




The gardens were a feast for the eyes...




At first, we all wandered around in a daze  overwhelmed by how many subjects there were for sketching. We could have spent a week there and still not run out of things to paint. But we finally gathered together to have a little show-and-tell of our sketches from the day before and talk about some ideas I had for how to approach our sketching on day 2.


Then we settled in and got to work!

Jayne used the viewfinder you never have to hunt for in your sketch kit :)


Tracy and Lindsey, who traveled all the way from PA for the class, perched on the edge of the terrace to enjoy the view of San Clemente pier, while Pat focused her attention on the Casa itself.


Here are a few of their sketches...





There were many more that I didn't manage to get a shot of that day, but I have to say we were pretty proud of ourselves for accomplishing so much in such a short time.

My "Sketching on Location" class

I painted the inner courtyard at Casa Romantica in the afternoon while the class looked on, eager to see exactly how I do what I do. Being watched while I sketch or do a demo is nerve-wracking for me - I'm so used to painting alone - but I think it's helpful to the students to see how I approach the white page and what the process is for adding color. Here's the sketch I painted that afternoon:


Everyone was asking me why I decided to use the arched line above the sketch. My answer is.... I have no idea! It just popped into my mind and I thought it would look kind of cool to have that shape arcing up over the peaked roof of the Casa, with the palms framing the urn and the sunlit part of the building.

I started off by painting the sky. I wet the page first, then dropped in cerulean mixed with a little cobalt blue and let it flow on the paper, dabbing with a tissue where needed to control the flow. I wanted to leave plenty of white clouds.


While that was drying I started on the urn and the plants in the flower beds, laying down the first light washes. Subsequent washes were added later to darken and increase value contrast.


The building appeared bright white while I was sitting there painting, but it looked very flat and uninteresting in my sketch when I left it as plain white paper, so I added some subtle texture to indicate the unevenness of the stucco surface. I mixed up puddles of light tan and gray on my palette, then brushed on individual strokes here and there and smudged them with my thumb or finger. Spattering would have worked, too, but the key is to smudge it quickly before it dries, to give it a mottled appearance.

After the sky had dried, I began painting the trees on the left using a round brush. Strokes of varying colors were used including a dull green, raw sienna, tan, and maroon.


Earthen Green (American Journey watercolors) was the base color for the large palm tree on the right. As I was painting the palm fronds, I dropped in touches of cobalt blue, and added strokes of lavender and yellow ochre. I also began building up layers of color on the plantings at the base of the trees using progressively darker values.


The shadowed corridors were painted during my demo with a wash of shadow color (American Journey Shadow + something to vary the color, like burnt umber, Payne's gray or cobalt blue). Details were added later when I finished up the sketch in my studio.


(Maybe I shouldn't mention this, but I noticed after I scanned the sketch that the corridors on the left and right side aren't the same size. A little boo-boo that I missed when I was doing my initial drawing. But does it matter? Nope, not a bit.)

The toughest part about the page was figuring out what to do with the blank space I had above the arch at the top of the page. After much rumination, I decided to mark off an area for some journaling about the location then paint a wash of color above that. The color would coordinate with the beautiful aqua green of the oversized pot in the center of my sketch. To get a sharp edge above the text, I masked along that edge with masking fluid. After painting the wash, letting it dry, then painting the brown stripes, I removed the masking and added the text.


The lettering was the last thing to go on the page. I penciled it in then inked it with an 01 Sakura Pigma Micron pen with sepia ink.


So there you have it! It's almost as if you were there looking over my shoulder, isn't it? Wish you could have been. :)

My husband and I are dashing off today for an impromptu trip to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, but when I get home I'll write up a post about the last of my sketches from San Clemente. It will have step-by-step photos of the process I used to paint this pretty scene...


If you would like to sketch on location with me in some of the most gorgeous spots on the planet, think about coming along on a trip to Tuscany or the Greek Isles with me this fall! You'll meet wonderful people, eat incredible food, see amazing sites and have the time of your life. Spaces are filling fast, so act now to reserve your space. Email me if you have any questions.


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