Monday, June 30, 2014

Painting Sedona (but this time in the studio)

"Sunset at Bell Rock" watercolor, 12" x 14"
Copyright Sara Light-Waller, 2014

Today’s painting is called, “Sunset at Bell Rock.” This is my first time using rough watercolor paper. I loved it. I was able to use the tooth of the paper to create additional texture. What fun! This is another painting in my series using specific limitations of color. In this case, two colors only — cadmium red medium and phthalo turquoise used low key but with passages of full intensity. Unfortunately, the colors in the photo aren’t exactly true to the painting. The original colors are much more intense and exciting.

I like this one. 

Color notes
Taking a new, and more painterly approach, I dumped my reference photo early in favor of a sketch made from the photo and my memories of the place. This worked very well and helped me create a more dynamic painting.

I have two more paintings in mind using the same subject. So, we'll see how they go.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Diversity of Color: part 2

As I continue my exploration of color in watermedia, I’m realizing that through the controlled use of color a wide variety of moods and effects can be achieved. My last series of paintings replicated the same image in three different ways as seen below:
"Venus of Willendorf," three studies.
For this new series I chose a photograph of Mt. Rainier to paint. The high snowy lake scene provided me with the opportunity to work with both lake water and snow.

As before, I began by painting a color chart showing a full range of color mixtures between two colors, this time Cadmium Yellow Light and Ultramarine Violet. These colors mix well, creating a range of lively mixed neutrals. Showing the entire series below, you can see that my first two studies turned out unfortunately similar. (My bad!)  

Color Exercises: Yellow/Violet

"Mt. Rainier study 1"
Study 1 (above) uses a full range of values from white to black but only semi-neutral colors, no full-intensity yellow or violet.
"Mt. Rainier study 2"
Study 2 (above) has no high-key white and only mid-key values dropping down from light-greys to black. Although I began by toning the paper with a (too-light, as it turned out) wash of violet, you can’t really see it, and the effect ends up looking the same as the first study where I preserved the white on the page.
"Mt. Rainier study 3"
It’s in the third study that I stretched and had some fun. The exercise was to use full-intensity yellow and violet, but no white and a range of mid-range neutrals dropping down to black. I decided to create a yellow-tinged scene as if the air was filled with a strong, golden light. I was thinking sunset, but my hubby thought it looked radioactive. Despite this, I like the study. It stretched my conceptions of what was “safe” to paint in a landscape and created a completely different effect from the other two.

And now…onwards!

Thursday, June 19, 2014


"Beauty," pen & ink, 11" x 14"
Copyright Sara Light-Waller, 2014
In between paintings, I decided to get in some pen & ink practice today. This is portrait is based on an old photograph from the 1910's. The image is a little bit extra contrasty compared to the original drawing, but it’s pretty close to the original.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Diversity of Color: part 1

Color Exercises

Continuing my study of color, I have done a series of studies, using two contrasting colors (Cadmium Orange and Ultramarine Blue) that are opposites on the color wheel. According to painter Stephen Quiller, these two colors are exact opposites and will mix an endless variety of neutrals. Let's see if this is true....

Cadmium Orange and Ultramarine Blue color chart

Here’s a color chart I did showing a variety of mixtures. Horizontally, we see a full intensity orange (pure color right out of the tube) moving to a greyed-out neutral of 50% of each color and then back to a full intensity blue on the other side of the chart. Vertically, we see mixtures from white (top) to close to black (bottom). In between, are various gradations of mixtures. Make no mistake, this was a hard exercise and I will be doing it again to improve my eye for mixing color, a necessary skill for educated painting.

Next, we see three studies of the same subject, in this case the Venus of Willendorf, an ancient fertility figure found in Austria.

“Venus of Willendorf,” watercolor 9" x 12"

The study above uses a full range of values from white to black but only semi-neutral colors, no full-intensity orange or blue.

“Night Goddess,” watercolor 9" x 12"

The second study (above) has no high-key white and only mid-key values dropping down from light-greys to black. The intensity is quite weak, with blue as the dominant color, and some very weak neutral oranges. The effect is quite moody.
"Paleolithic Mother," watercolor, 9" x 12"
The last study also has no white, but both full-intensity orange and full-intensity blue, along with a lot of glazed neutrals. The blue is the dominant color and the orange is subordinate.

All three pieces have very distinct moods, which is pretty amazing if you consider that they’re all painted using the same two colors. I find Number One to be most “factual.” It’s straightforward and fairly accurate. Number Two is moody and looks mysterious. Number Three looks almost like a real person, standing out on some sunlit plain. I think I like Number Three the best.

Which do you like best? And why? 

(NB. All images are Copyright, Sara Light-Waller, 2014)