Saturday, June 21, 2014

Plein air river sketches continued

Georgia Watercolor Society Plein Air outing at Island FordChattahoochee River National Recreation Area.  Eleven of us setup along the trail, down river from the lodge.  The day was warm, but not too bad if your sitting in the shade along the river.  We had an hour and a half to sketch and paint.  For this outing I brought my Watercolor travel kit.

I stopped at a wide spot on the trail with a good view of the river.  As I looked out at the fishermen wading the shallows several canoes floated past.  One man had a small dog in a life vest with him.  I watched as he picked the dog out of the water by the vest's straps and let the water drip off before putting it back in the boat.  Several more rafts and canoes full of teenagers drifted past, and a large flock of Canada Geese swam out into the river from a side stream.  

I sketched one of the fly fishermen out wading the river.  Then setup my chair and settled down to paint.  The brown-red clay of the far bank ran between the fresh yellow-green of the trees and dark green-blue of the river.  A cedar house set back in the shadows of the distant trees surrounded by a lawn of bright yellow-green.  Reflections of the green and yellow trees ripple across the still areas of the river around the fishermen.   

After our hour and a half we gathered back together at the Lodge to share our experiences.  Some beautiful paintings were made by the group, and everyone had a great time.  Hope we do it again soon!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Plein air river sketches

Plein air painting has a lot of good points, your outside immersed in nature and surrounded by inspiring views.  There can also be several obstacles.  You have to bring everything your need with you.  The weather and temperature may not be the best for painting.  Even on days that are not too hot the water evaporates fast, leaving dry puddles of paint and even dryer paper.  Unless it it raining...

After a pleasant morning of fly fishing on Shelton Laurel Creek, North of Asheville NC I traded my fishing gear for my Watercolor travel kit.  I setup next to the creek intending to sketch and paint Steve who was still fishing, however, he moved around the bend while I was setting up.  So I have a sketch of the creek san fisherman.

The creek and bank were covered with large rounded rocks.  The bank across the creek had some dying and dead hemlocks.  The result of an introduced asian insect gone wild.  The Hemlock woolly adelgid sucks the sap from the trees weakening and finally killing the trees.  Just a few years ago they were green and healthy, providing shade to the creek and its trout.  Now they are sad reminders of what is gone.  Soon the standing dead wood will fall and rot away.  Other tree species will grow to fill the gaps in the tree canopy, but they will not have the gentle shape and fresh smell of an Eastern Hemlock.    

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Looking up

One thing that is striking about a balloon flight is the silence, broken by an occasional blast from the burner.  The sound reminded me to look up, up at the colorful balloon over my head.  The colors of the envelope spiral up to a central blue parachute.  The parachute seals the envelope, keeping the hot air inside.

The burner (seen at the bottom of the photo) ignites a mixture of liquid propane and air to create a flame that heats the air which rises and fills the envelope.  Because the hot air trapped in the envelope is lighter then the cool air around the balloon, the balloon rises.  The pilot can let hot air escape by pulling ropes that run down from the parachute valve to the basket.  When this is done the balloon descends.

Having blasts of hot fire just above your head is an interesting experience, one I wanted to capture in a painting.  My sketch at right is a composite of two photos, the one above and a second one taken from a slightly different angle when the burner was ignited.  The fire is white hot.  The cooler edges burn yellow to orange.  For the sketch I didn't worry about creating as many lines as the balloon envelope actually had.  I used just enough lines to get the general idea of how the spiral of colors would look with the flame super-imposed on it.

For the full size draft I used the full number of gores.  I used a Prismacolor Orange pencil to create the radial lines.  Winsor Yellow, Winsor Blue (red shade), Phthalocyanine Blue and Quinacridone Rose were used to create the spiraling colors of the balloon's envelope.  The central part of the flame which is white hot, is represented by the white of the paper.  The cooler edges of the flame use Winsor Yellow and Quinacridone Rose.  Finally, shadows were added to the gores of the envelope and the burner to add shape and depth.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Different views

My husband gave me a wonderful gift for Christmas, a ballon ride!  We finally were able to go on our ride this past April.  You can read more about the adventure on my husband's blog.  Spring is a wonderful time for a balloon flight.  The cold of winter was gone, the forest trees are freshly green, and the farm lands are being planted.

Before the flight I thought I would be taking photos of the country side, and I did take some, but what captured my interest was the shadow our balloon cast over the land we were flying over.  Over the fields the shadow was a distinct balloon shape.  But tendrils of the shadow crept across the trees like tangled and distorted black fingers, creating an ever changing shape.

 I decided to paint the image of the ballon's shadow over a field and bordering tree line.  It was early morning, the sun lit the full length of the trees, casting long dark shadows.  I used a preliminary sketch (at left) to helped me select the yellow and blue pigments for the color palette.  I tested washes and brush techniques.  In the photo the colors of the fields and trees can be seen through the balloon's shadow.  In the sketch I tried adding some of the balloon's colors to the shadow.
For the full size painting I used a Cobalt Blue wash for the sky, an Ochre Yellow wash for the field on the right, and a mixture of Ochre Yellow and Cobalt Blue for the field on the left.  Once the washes had dried I painted the background trees and foreground bushes wet on wet, letting the colors mix.  I added shadows to the distant trees and definition to the pine tree the balloon's shadow fell on.  The ballon's shadow was painted  darkest where it covered the tree line, and lighter over the fields so the yellow and green of the show through.  I alternated between washes and using a fan brush to add additional green and yellows to the fields to add texture and depth to the painting.