Sunday, July 10, 2011

Watercolor Sketch - Deer Lake Stream

Deer Lake Stream
©2011 Steve Penberthy
Watercolor on Strathmore 140-lb CP paper
9" x 12" (22.9 cm x 30.5 cm)

I sketched this plein air in a cool shady location in Forest Park, St. Louis. I've driven by this particular area of the park many times, but I never realized this little spot existed before today. There are a thousand paintings to be painted here--there is jaw-dropping scenery everywhere one looks.

I enjoy painting plein air, but I haven't done much of it for a while, which added to the already inherant challenges with this scene. The scene was a "wall of green"--green everywhere I looked. So I abstracted the colors to break things up chromatically. Also, the scene was very complex, so I had to simplify things extensively. I'd like to practice more with this type of painting and hopefully I'll have more opportunities to do so this summer.

I saw lots of herons, egrets, and ducks while painting at this watery area of the park. In fact, one of the ducks walked up to me and stood about three feet away from me, patiently waiting for a handout. However, he slowly moved on once he figured out I was too busy painting to give him any bread crumbs...


Alisha B. Whitman said...

Your greens are beautiful. Great job keeping them separated/giving variation and giving depth so the viewer sees more than just a flat wall of green.

Frank said...

You've got some lovely greens going on in there Steve, and the blue in the water with purple on the rocks sets it off beautifully.

Michael Anderson said...

Very nice sketch Steve! I like the pencil value studies and your notes too. It was interesting to observe your progress as you worked on this one. One the challenges you didn't mention was the 98 degree heat!

Steve Penberthy said...

Alisha: Thanks so much! I mix all of my greens, which helps when painting these type of scenes, since I'm not restricted to a fixed set of "tube greens." My travel watercolor box includes a warm and a cool of primary, except for the blues--I include 4 blues expressly so I have lots of flexibilty to mix greens. My blues include ultramarine, pthalo, cobalt, and cerulean. I'm also a big fan of the greens I can get with Payne's Grey--very earthy.

Here's a link to a photo of my travel kit:

Steve Penberthy said...

Frank: Thank you! I've always been a fan of the way purple and green works together. Again, I felt like I needed to abstract many of the colors to help keep things more interesting (hint: the rocks weren't really purple). :)

Thanks for the comment and for stopping by!

Steve Penberthy said...

Michael: Thanks so much! True, I didn't mention the triple-digit heat index... However, that spot I had was quite pleasant--in the shade of that huge oak tree, the sound of running water, a nice breeze... I didn't notice the heat that much. I lost track of where you landed--I'll check your sites for your posts. Great seeing you, and thanks again for the invite.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I love how you "push" natural colour so that your landscapes look illuminated from within. Can you talk a bit more about how you go about abstracting the colour when faced with that daunting wall of green? My palette is very similar to yours, btw---I like to have lots of choice in mixing greens, oranges, and purples.


Anonymous said...

No sé si entiendes el idioma español y yo no entiendo el inglés, pero me gustan mucho tus dibujos.



Robin said...

Thats beautiful Steve..the colors are devine..!nice to find you on Google +...!

Cynthia Schelzig said...

I just found your blog through The artist´s journal interesting read I might add. I just became a follower...wonderful work you do!!

Steve Penberthy said...

Cate: Thanks for the insight into your palette! I always like to hear what choices other people are using. As for abstracting the color: In the original scene, there was a large expanse of grass in full sun; to avoid another "big patch of green" I just painted a big swatch of bright yellow (since there was a lot of sunny yellow in the grass anyway); sort of a way to "push" the color a certain direction to avoid redundancy in color. You'll see this in the middle-left area of the painting. Another example: the rocks. In the shade, the rocks took on a weak violet hue; I amplified this by just rendering the rocks in a stronger violet. I really used my "artistic license" on this entire painting. Thanks for the comment and the question!!! -- Steve

Steve Penberthy said...


"No sé si entiendes el idioma español y yo no entiendo el inglés, pero me gustan mucho tus dibujos.



I do not know if you understand the Spanish language and I do not understand the English, but I like much your drawings. greetings.

Bice: Greetings to you also! I'm so glad you are enjoying my paintings and drawings. Come back again often and stay creative!
-- Steve

Bice: ¡Saludos a usted también! I' m tan alegre usted está gozando de mis pinturas y dibujos. ¡Vuélvase otra vez a menudo y permanezca creativo!

Steve Penberthy said...

Robin: The color--that's what watercolor is all about! Thanks for stopping by! :) -- Steve

Steve Penberthy said...

Cynthia: So glad you enjoyed the interview, and thank you. I'm glad you're following, and I hope you find some tidbits of information and inspiration here for your own artistic journey. Cheers! -- Steve