Its a good day to reflect, In Gratitude. I look back at all the many friends, neighbors, relatives that have – at a crucial point in time, made a difference. Most, are unaware of how much impact they had upon the course of my life.
Jan Vincent, a treasured friend, painted this miniature for me. Using 24 k gold leaf and French Ultramarine, the orange clivia flowers sing with joy. To me.
Pitch black. A furnace of midnight heat blasts. Further sleep evades, I rise. Too early for a real walk, too dark to paint. But, I can ‘walk’ in my library. With cooling colors and refreshing water. Lets go!
Water and Color
First Stop on the Walk
First Stop… the cobalt teal waters of Esperance, Western Australia with sand of a stunning white and buff that is sheer delight to walk on. (Definitely a bucket list place to go.)
The cobalt teal blue is a lovely and cooling color; I don’t even have to actually be in the water, just looking at the color is enough to cause a sensation of cool. Lovely!
The waters of Esperance are mild and enjoyable to dip in and have a refreshing swim.
Second Stop – Walk of Color and Water
Next stop on my walk is the Pacific North West. Hood Canal. This is just east of Seattle by about 50 miles roughly.
The sand, pebbles, and seagrass in their neutral greys and beiges and umbers are seen with absolute perfect clarity in these pristine but bracing waters. The depth of the water here was about 4-5 feet. Pretty clear.
Not what I would now call ‘swimmable’ but… in my early youth I was an avid arctic ice breaker. Enjoying the icy feel was invigorating. Perhaps ‘numbing.’
At one point I was keen (desperate) enough to water ski, non stop, around an 18 mile island without nosediving into the polar temperatures. Good for me!
It was quite early summer and before the Puget Sound waters really warmed up. That whole extra 2 degrees.
Frigid waters, ah come on, that just added incentive. I was a bit older at that stage.
Third Stop on the Walk
Next stop, I’m at my very good friend’s house.
Up north. Australia. Murrurrundi, New South Wales. This is near Tamworth and the Great Dividing Range. Hanging Rock, Nundle are old gold digging sites nearby. So too is Ruby Hill a place where you can fossick for garnets, right off the road. Great fun. Til you meet hot red belly black snakes at breeding season. (Wear jeans and boots.)
And when the mist and fog sets in, the forest trees in the high country looks like a scene right out of “A Man From Snowy River.” Stunning!
Back at my friend’s house, a rain shower had passed over and left a multitude of thirst quenching droplets for the garden.
The rich burgundy color of the top petal is echoed in the background with the deep green complementing wonderfully. A lovely, cool and refreshing vision.
Want a winning new watercolor combination to try? You’re going to love this one with its Spectacular Effects! Creative, fun, imaginative. Perfect for landscape paintings. Relaxing, calm, zen. What more could you ask for?! This duo can just about create a painting by themselves if you let them.
Daniel Smith Watercolor Combination
Lunar Black and Quinacridone Sienna are a dynamic duo. I’ve used this watercolor painting combination for over 20 years and I still am completely fascinated every time I use it.
For a long time, I had a bit of trouble saying “Quinacridone.” The secret is fairly simple: “quin -a- cri-done.” Easy!
Lunar Black and Quinacridone Sienna
Daniel Smith watercolour paints Lunar Black PBk11 and Quinacridone Sienna PO49 create a magical effect that I just can’t obtain with other paint combinations. I absolutely love the colors of both these watercolors, alone and when mixed together to create new color blendings.
Have a go. Discover watercolor in a fresh, exciting way and see for yourself what these two colors can get up to together! Plus, its a great way to practice and have fun at the same time.
4 categories of paint pigments: transparent, opaque, staining, granulating
Quinacridone Sienna is a Staining pigment.
It stains, it is vibrant, it glazes brilliantly, it shoots and spreads out wildly, it mixes well with others.
The rich Orange color will soften out if needed, when its either diluted with plenty of water or greyed off with its opposite. Or with Lunar Black.
But, it is spectacular to leave snippets of its delicious vibrancy showing through in various places to catch and hold, the viewers’ eyes in your paintings.
Lunar Black acts like a Granulating pigment as its magnetic micro particles swirl and reticulate and create strangely wonderful textural patterns.
IF, its handled with plenty of fluid to allow those particles to sink and texturize. Otherwise… it won’t. Now you know!
Lunar Black will mix fairly well with many other colors. Not so much the Opaques, they are what I call ….”The dirty Mud Makers” – well, they can be.
It mixes like a champ with all the Stainers. I love all the blends with Stainers, they are fabulous. Try these… LB + phalo blue, + Alizarin Crimson, + phalo green, + prussian blue, + Azo yello, + Quinacridone Magenta, etc.
Lunar Black is not a full on black.
This black is a softer, more delicate charcoal greyed black. If you think you’re buying a dense, flat black that is Opaque…. Nope! That’s not Lunar Black.
It hits its stride in a very fluid wash; where all the particles are freed to create lovely textural effects.
Textural Useful Effects
Lunar Black mixed with Quinacridone Sienna creates some of the most stunning patterns I’ve seen in watercolors.
Painting in watercolors, I know the paints will dry lighter and lose some of their “Pop” – so there are things I do to compensate.
Paint a bit darker in some areas; use a Stainer like Quinacridone Sienna which normally can retain its intensity better than Transparents; use textural Granulating paints to help create more visual interest, “Pop.”
The granulation and textural effects from LB (Lunar Black) opens up a new realm of possibilities to explore while playing with your watercolor mixes.
Great for tree trunks, (think banksia, cedar, madrona, etc.) mountains, hills, escarpments and rocks, perfect for streets and roads, animals.
This watercolor combination would be fabulous for creating the patterns of a Calico cat.
Process for this Watercolor Combination
Try to make sure to use a very generous amount of water, in order to allow the pigment to flow.
This enables the ‘pigment’ to activate. Insufficient water will disable the pigment’s ability to achieve the effect.
You could, pre-dampen a specified area on the paper and then drop the colors into that wet area. This would effectively, ‘contain’ the watercolor from going outside the selected area.
I hope you enjoyed this post on Lunar Black and Quinacridone Sienna, two rather addicting watercolor paints to use in landscapes and creative paintings!
Light glances off a group of gum trees and creates such a peace filled harmony, I want to sit and stay all morning observing the changing light and colours. What heaven, to just sit and view nature’s art gallery for a an hour or two! This is my favorite local bushland, this group of trees always draw my eyes. Every time.
But, I have things to do. Timelines to meet and the clock ticks on.
I move on, to the next area…. granted, I’m meandering and definitely not walking at a fast clip by any stretch of the imagination. Even mine.
Inspired by the light.
What beauty lies in these colours as the light moves and the breeze shifts the the patterns so gently!
Thats it. So soon, another short walk in the early morning is finished.
Nothing strenuous, nothing too long.
Just long enough to be outdoors, breathe the fresh air and see the colours and the pure light.
I’m back home and have just enough time to call upon my memory as I grab the watercolours out.
To recall my feelings of the walk, of the water reflections. And to rapidly, convey them upon paper. Then, I have to leave to go to work.
I love fresh, clean, quick – spontaneous work.
It brings out the inner truth of an artist. The light is brought forth, the colours are pure and unsullied by the mind’s waffling back and forth.
Monday’s walk in the light – Recap
Walking is a wonderful creative way to stir the imagination, hone the powers of observation and test my ability to recall the most important information. Short walks, are better than no walks and often are all that I can manage.
Light determines how the colours appear; soft, harsh, strident, singing in tune or discordantly. How deep or how pale they appear. Light, is everything!
I did have a camera. I did take a couple photos. But, I didn’t even have time to download them to view them first. I used my memory. Its great training for me to do this.
Watercolours are a great medium for when fast, spontaneous work is required, ie when time is of the essence.
Walking outdoors in the wide open spaces was uplifting, with the enjoyment of nature’s harmony of colour and light – just what I needed to start my Monday!
Resolve. Renew. Reinvent! Don’t panic too soon. Don’t throw your paintings away! They can be resolved 99.99% of the time, one way or another. Often, we just don’t know The Way or “How To” … Yet!
Paintings To Resolve, Renew or Reinvent
Sit down, list the correction options you do know about and see if any are likely candidates to help resolve your painting. If you come up blank. Thats ok. Stash the painting for Later. Six months on, you will probably know a lot more options and the resolution method now seems Easy.
In the meantime, here is what I’ve done with my painting that needed some alterations.
All of the 3 art images shown, are from one painting; just different design views of it. My favourite format is Reinvent….What is yours?!
Art Supplies Materials Used
The original painting began as a loose abstract watercolour on hot press paper with a palette knife. Palette knife, #Pk1008 is a brilliant tool I use quite frequently with watercolours too. Wonderful Watercolours The Detours gives some examples of the knife and watercolours.
My original piece evolved into mixed media with acrylic paints and acrylic inks.
The dominant colours I’ve used: Cobalt Teal Blue pg50; Quinacridone Sienna; Black; Gold; Titanium Buff; Quinacridone Gold.
When I shifted into acrylics, I keep the same colour theme going.
Recent material added: Cold Wax Medium
The Problems with the Original Painting
The original art image was dull. I disliked the design. But, I loved the colours!
Making resolutions and corrections, once the problem and solutions have been identified – is not the same as Fiddling. Have a look at Fiddling With Watercolours for some great ideas on how to prevent yourself from ‘fiddling.’
Cropping the image into various design formats has given me the chance to view and assess the designs that are more appealing to me. Fabulous for easy resolutions. Cold Wax Medium, a bit of an ‘experiment’ but you know how I like those!
Cropping – Reinvents the painting
I enjoy the multiple looks as the image is reinvented through cropping in oval, circle, square, thin panoramic formats. I’ve selected the 3 cropped versions that I prefer.
Cold Wax Medium – Seals with a Buffable Lustre
Granted my original art was mixed media, but I’ve now used Cold Wax Medium on straight watercolours with success too.
Cold Wax Medium is actually geared for oils… but, it does a great job over acrylics, mixed media and watercolours when called for. If you use it with oils – do not Heat it up! Use Encaustics for that process, it is safer.
CWM over watercolours: painting must be finished and dry first. apply a thin smear of CWM with a cotton rag, over the painting.
Think in terms of the ‘glazing’ technique vs slathering on peanut butter!
If done thinly… it should be touch dry in 30-60 minutes. Get your polishing cotton rag out and start Buffing. When its buffed, you’ll see a lovely lustre that isn’t a glossy shine but nice and soft sheen.
The Dorlands Cold Wax Medium acted as a sealant. It gave a gorgeous soft sheen, a lustre that you can buff to give it more sheen. It will protect large watercolours, enabling the artist to forego the expense of framing under glass.
Paintings – Renewed, Resolved, Reinvented.
I love art!
Where else can I have so much easy, simple fun changing up the appearance and appeal of things? All with a couple simple choices…..
Victory in watercolour is often a tantalising brushstroke away… Looking back into history at the Masters’ successes inspires me, encourages me, to be triumphant as well! With sensitive, economical and finely tuned brushstrokes, B.E. Minns created glorious watercolour paintings that are as stunning today as they were 100 years ago.
Brushstrokes of a Master Watercolorist
Brushstrokes are nearly like fingerprints I’ve discovered. No two people ever use the brush or palette knife quite the same. We all have slight variations in our art language, dialect, tone, inflection and mood. Same as we do in our voices. And just like with our voices, it is how we express that hidden artist within.
B.E. Minns developed his voice, his brushstrokes, over decades of constant use. Let me tell you his story. Or rather, shall I say, I’ll share snippets of the B. E. Minns story of watercolour triumph.
History of BE Minns
Benjamin Edwin Minns was born in Dungog, Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia in 1863 to 17 year old Irish born Bridget Murray. Bridget later married George Minns, a farmer in the Hunter Valley in 1869.
In due time, Benjamin was sent off to Sydney to study law. And as it happens, of course he met ‘an artist.’ The now well known, Charles Conder.
The pathway of law went by the wayside and Art became his passion, studying with other well known artists of the day including Julian Ashton.
He married, then traveled over to England in 1895 pursuing his art career successfully. 1915 they returned by ship, but the perils of travel by ship had disaster nipping at his heels.
Fire broke out on board and destroyed all of B. E. Minns paintings. This is a devastating blow for an artist, one that could conceivably break one’s spirit.
But, no. Minns rallied and painted more. He settled in Gordon, a lovely bush enclave in the northern suburbs of Sydney. I’ve frequently gone painting outdoors in the parks and bushland there and it truly is a tranquil bit of heaven.
Minns had a love of painting and sketching outdoors, that is beautifully evident in his paintings. He often went to Taronga Zoo to sketch the harbour and surrounds from there. Perhaps, growing up in the beautiful Hunter Valley countryside, was what nurtured this lasting love of the land.
Minns, a brilliant and sensitive master of watercolour, was indeed criticised for his soft edges in his paintings.
Referred to as ‘being lax on his edges’.….. odd, because for me when I first saw his paintings at AGNSW – it was those gorgeous Soft Edges that drew me in like a magnet!
Even so critiqued, Minns went on to be a founder of the prestigious Australian Watercolour Institute and became its first President.
Minns started off life headed in one direction. Destiny had a different plan and kept changing and altering until he was firmly entrenched in his calling. Apparently it was not as a farmer nor a lawyer!
What might hold me back from mindful, sensitive, economical, listening Brushstrokes?
(or, what keeps me from creating triumphant brushstrokes)
what is trendy at the moment
decades of ingrained conditioning of what art is supposed to look like
the compulsion to replicate
fear of expressing my authentic hidden artist
Solutions: What I can do about it!
ask myself: WHAT Is The Purpose of my creating? WHY am I really painting?
2. trends are nothing more than a flash in the pan, do what will stand the test of time
3. ask myself: Are those rules, Are those Authorities ALWAYS 100% right, all the time, for everyone?!!
4. ask myself: WHY do I want/need to replicate? Should I not use my Camera for that purpose?
5. ask myself: WHAT is there to really Fear? What is the worst that can happen? And, honour and respect, and love that hidden artist ….. it is a better artist than the critical, fearful one.
If you happen to be in Sydney, do visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales and ask to see any of B.E. Minns paintings they have available. In person, close up they are magnificent.
I love his Female Aboriginal 1895. I find it timeless, brilliant and poignant. Minns has perfectly portrayed the woman with exquisite sensitivity and depth. And as she looks so intently into what the future holds – the raw emotion Minns conveys, fills my heart.
Less is more. Don’t load up the truck with all the art supplies. It makes it a real chore…. you’re less likely to want to go again. Speaking from experience, lots of sore shoulders and sore back from packing heavy easel, boxes of paints, brushes, etc. just too much. Not fun.
SUPPLIES: 3 Tubes of Paint. cobalt blue, permanent rose, winsor lemon. spray mister. water bottle. tissues. Niji plastic Japanese water brushpen. postcard size pad of watercolour paper. If it fits in your pocket even better. plastic lid off a takeaway container as a palette. Camera. Voila!
2. Go Early
Setting off early in the day to optimise the glorious morning light and before the heat of the day is perfect. Mid day sun is quite harsh, and the glare is not pleasant to deal with. Its in your eyes, its not a nice light to paint, etc. Going late in the afternoon to catch the sun as its going down is another fabulous option.
3. Start Small
Paint small watercolour sketches. Postcard sizes can be quite effective, fast and easy to deal with when working in the wilds of nature and all the uncertainties that entails. For some, small might mean 8×10 or larger, but keep in mind… there is the wind, the flies and the fact you may be moving spots often. Smaller is easier to work around.
4. Realistic Objectives
I know, we all want a masterpiece! But really, don’t try to ‘finish’ the work outdoors. Most of us will get the paintings near completion, 90% done, and finish them back in the studio. The real aim in outdoor painting is to get out and express that initial fresh free joy that comes from painting in nature.
5. Hunt for a Suitable Painting Location
Scout out the area ahead of time. Get the lay of the land, so you know which spots have shade, benches or logs to sit on, restroom facilities nearby perhaps, whatever it is that would make your painting adventure more pleasurable. Have a back up location lined up. It could rain, there could be a crowd of people, Plan B and Plan C is always a great idea!
If you get unwanted looky lou’s i.e. onlookers making unwanted comments, have some good one liners thought up in advance, to politely steer them away. I’m quite successful with my standard line of, “these are for SALE! I have a lot more in my car, I can bring them all out and show you!”
Believe me, these onlookers will scatter faster than you’d ever imagine. It seems to work faster, when I focus on just how many more I do have. And the starting prices. Just a helpful tip for you to think on.
Try for areas that are not near swamps. This is just my suggestion….. I’ve found them to have some unpleasant visitors. On a more often than not basis. Like too many mozzies, gnats, flies, and of course snakes. Don’t get me wrong. These creatures have a place in the environment….. I just prefer not to be within that one meter zone. Really.
6. Painting Tips
As you are merrily painting and dabbling away in the wonderful wilds, it will become too easy to forget the art basics.
Have a mini Cheat Sheet List on a business card taped to your watercolour pad. On the sheet, be sure to include Reminder notes on the art basics of: tonal values, aerial perspective warm/cools, edge placements, centre of interest i.e. a focal point. This will help you remember, as you paint.
primary goal of painting plein air
Painting outdoors is about conveying the colours and the mood. The spirit of the place and the feelings it evoked within.
We go out to paint in the beautiful fresh air to enjoy nature! It reconnects us to the natural environment in a way that painting from photographs can never achieve.
By painting outdoors frequently, we are also depositing into our “Art Bank Account” for when we need to use our photos as reference …springboards… to paint from. We can then withdraw from our account, from our memories, from our sketches we’ve created, and have enough information to once again create another painting!
Painting outdoors in the wilds, for me and many others, creates a happy place. It is zen. Enjoy.