Thursday, September 10, 2009

Watercolor Painting :: Looking Up

Watercolor Painting 'The Pole' by Steve Penberthy

"Looking Up"
14" x 20" (36 x 51 cm)
Watercolor on Langton Prestige 140-lb rough paper
© 2009 Steve Penberthy

For some reason, I've been wanting to paint this utility pole and finally got around to it. This pole is about a quarter-mile (0.4 km) from my house. I like this as a subject since these forgotten sentinels of the information superhighway seem to stand in stark contrast to the seemingly ubiquitous cell towers I see everywhere. Still, I'm sure there's massive amounts of digital information (DSL, etc.) blasting through these analog copper circuits...

To render the clouds, I used knowledge gained from a Tom Lynch workshop I took last year, specifically varying the edges around the cloud to add viewer interest. I used a flat brush to "scrape" in wispy lines of blue into the white, used a paper towel to scrub out color along various edges (creates a smoothing effect), and used short bursts of water from my Holbein spray bottle to create mottled edges. The inner grays of the cloud is a random placement of wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry using a gray made from cerulean blue, yellow ochre, and quinacridone red. I varied the amounts of blue or red to get bluish-grey or reddish-grey. I used cobalt blue for the sky, since it represents a warm summer sky quite nicely.

The painting uses a range of values, from the light clouds to the dark silhouetted telephone wires and supports. The wood of the pole is a mix of cobalt blue and burnt sienna done wet -in-wet, done over a dried wash of yellow ochre (the dull yellow of the ochre simulates the naturally-dull reflected highlights of the lit side of the pole). I used Holbein Indigo for the dark wires and supports. Wires were painted with a rigger brush.

Plein Air Watercolor Sketches :: Red Barn September

Watercolor and ink Plein Air Sketch, 'Red Barn September' by Steve Penberthy
"Red Barn September"
7.5" x 11" (19 x 28 cm)
Watercolor on Strathmore Gemini 140-lb CP paper
© 2009 Steve Penberthy

I did some plein air sketching while in Colorado over the weekend and created a couple of watercolor sketches/paintings of this red barn in the mountains. I've done a sketch of this same red barn before, but only from a photograph--never plein air until now. I started out by doing a couple of thumbnails in pencil, but then decided to switch to ink for the sketch, using a Pigma Micron 05 pen. I used a small Niji Waterbrush for both these paintings; I found the waterbrush a little challenging to use; it was difficult to create large washes and I feel it led to a tighter look. Nevertheless, the waterbrush is very portable, which is the primary reason I brought it instead of my full quiver of regular brushes.

Watercolor and pencil Plein Air Sketch, 'Red Barn September' by Steve PenberthyI decided to try again with another barn sketch, but this time trying to be a little more loose, just concentrating on shapes. I sketched this one in pencil, as opposed to the other one where I used ink. I'm not sure if I really reached my goal, but it was interesting painting the same subject again on a different day.

Here's a view of me sketching the barn. The day was warm and somewhat overcast in the mountains, but a nice breeze kept everything comfortable. While sketching, I heard a wild turkey gobbling every few minutes or so.

There's other stuff on Flickr.