Monday, November 24, 2008

Painting is Like Christmas or Gulls Continued

Many years ago when I took my first ceramics class at City College of San Francisco the instructor said that opening the kiln to see how your work had fired was like Christmas, you never knew what surprises might be there. It could be a shiny new bike. Or it could be a large lump of coal. Painting is a bit like that, especially if you work late into the night, when all good light is gone and colors are no longer true, and your mind is probably not as alert as you think it might be.

What surprises will the morning bring? Last night was like that. I worked too late in bad light. This morning greeted me with a disappointing painting but not much more disappointing than when I'd quit last night. I've done more work on it this morning and it's most likely done.

As usual I've lost more white paper than I'd like and the painting could be helped by some remaining white areas or light areas. In fact as I look at this painting next to a newer one a few days after this post I see that it's really lacking much in the light end of the tonal spectrum. The other painting is much brighter and shows the luminosity that is watercolor's strength. In trying to unify the background grasses I also killed off some of the lighter areas and some of the bright luminosity along with it. But I do think the painting is more unified that it was last night. And the gulls do show off their bright whiteness. So at least it is not a disaster.

I still have much to learn about controlling a water color brush, especially when it comes to the feathers of birds. But I've told myself that I need to continue work on larger watercolors and get away from the 7x10 inch watercolors that I normally use for a watercolor sketch like this. This is my first attempt on a quarter sheet of paper, about 15x11 inches. This really is a more comfortable size for me and I think I'll continue to use it for any studio sketches. As with drawing birds from life you just need to do it, not think about doing it. So that is the motto for this winter for drawing from life and working in watercolor: Just Do It.

If I'm lucky I won't have a large collection of coal when I'm done.


Sid Frissell said...

It's strange how many "lumps of coal" I can produce, even after quite a few years of painting! I envy the acrylic/oil painters who can make corrections easily--but what's the challenge in that?

Guess we just keep slogging along.

Happy birding and painting, Ken.

Ken Januski said...

Hi Sid,

I think painting may be like birding. Many ventures can seem unrewarding. I guess you could call this the Karma school of birding/painting. My thought is that you learn something even when you see few birds or end up with a lump of coal painting. Eventually those experiences add up to a great birding day or a good painting. Of course that is an optimistic interpretation. Still it is what keeps us going.

Tomorrow I'll look at today's painting, done with some waterbrushes that I got for my birthday recently. It looks like a lump of coal tonight and I assume it will look the same tomorrow. But hope springs eternal.........

Good birding and painting.