Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Plein Air painting in Carnation

"View from the Pasture" Gouache, 6" x 6" in a
Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook.

Yesterday, I spent a lovely few hours sharing a pasture with my horse Percy, with me painting and him grazing. I’ve always loved painting like this, it’s both the companionable and peaceful.

I’m currently experimenting with different ways of capturing massed green shapes in a landscape. With this little painting I feel like I’m finally making some good headway.

Monday, July 21, 2014

“There is a kind of success that is indistinguishable from panic.”

"Orcas Island study" watercolor 10.5" x 13"
Sara Light-Waller, 2014

Edgar Degas said this, probably sometime during La Belle Époque (French for "Beautiful Era" spanning 1871 - 1914.) I feel this myself as I pull apart my strong representational art background and attempt to abstract forms in the landscape. Today, I took a deep steadying breath before starting this little painting of a rocky point off Orcas Island in the San Juans. I attempted to capture the feeling of a cool, heavy Washington day on the water. Including trees. Lots of dense, heavy trees. Feeling is what I’m after at this moment. Not so much highly-accurate foliage. Masses of greenery are terribly confusing to the eye. One needs to edit the scene down, simplify it, in order to paint it. Truly, this is a challenge that demands you go beyond technique (and fear) into something deeper and more personal. Capturing the feeling of a scene through color and abstracted shape is my task at the moment.

So how did I do with this one? My personal assessment is…not bad. Although I like much of it, the trees are too heavy. Next time I’ll change my thinking and consider other words when painting a small forest, words like soft, inviting, or mysterious and see what comes of that. In truth, I was thinking “dense forest” when I painted the trees on this little island. So I guess this was a case of getting what you paint for…. ha-ha! ;-)     

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Diversity of Color: Analogous Trinities


As my understanding of color grows, I begin by understand that there are nearly infinite ways to use color in painting, if you understand how the vibration of color works with its analogous or complementary color on the color wheel. That is the point of the following exercises — to use three analogous colors, mixed with their complements, but keeping to either the warm or cool side of the color wheel. Fascinating effects, don’t you think? In each painting study, one section is painted in colorful neutrals, while the other side leans towards pure color. When you place pure color next to neutralized color, the pure color looks more intense. While the neutralized color changes slightly, highlighting the complement within the neutral.

Color chart of three analogous cool
colors with neutral mixtures.
"Blue Arizona"is painted with a neutralized sky and pure color mountains. The effect, for me, highlights the neutral sky. The only colors I used in the painting are the colors swatches seen in the color chart above.

"Blue Arizona," watercolor, 11" x 14"
Copyright, Sara Light Waller, 2014

Next, we flip over to the warm side of the color chart.


Color chart of three analogous warm
colors with neutral mixtures.

"Grand Canyon Sunset" is painted with the colors swatches seen in the above chart.

"Grand Canyon Sunset,"watercolor, 9 3/4" x 15" Copyright, Sara Light Waller, 2014
As you can see, the two paintings are vastly different! And all from using only six colors, staying to cool or warm side of the color chart, and using the main three colors' complements to create colorful neutrals. What a fun ride! :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

“Grand Canyon Sunset”


Still on my Arizona painting kick. When they say, paint what you know, I always come back to Arizona. How telling is that? ;-)

"Grand Canyon Sunset" 9.75" x 15" watercolor
Copyright, Sara Light-Waller, 2014
For this painting I was working loosely from a photo I took on a Colorado River rafting trip in the Grand Canyon many years ago. Sunset in Arizona is less yellow and more mauvey-orange but I was trying this out to see if it would work. The colors of the rocks are accurate though.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Plein Air Painting in Seattle

"Lower Fields, Woodland Park" Gouache, Stillman & Birn Beta journal

Another gouache painting today. This one done in the lower fields at Woodland Park in Seattle. I’m very happy with this one, it captured the feeling I wanted perfectly.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Demeter's Fall"

"Demeter's Fall," pen & ink, 11" x 14"
Copyright Sara Light-Waller, 2014
Greek Mythology explains Fall this way. Persephone, Goddess of Spring and the Queen of the Underworld, is the daughter of Demeter, Goddess of the Earth/Agriculture/Harvest. For half of each year, Persephone lives with her husband, Hades, as Queen of the Underworld. She spends the other six months of the year with her mother in the sunlit world. She must do this because when Hades abducted her, she ate six pomegranate seeds in the Land of the Dead. This is why plants go fallow in Fall and Winter, this is time when Demeter is parted from her daughter. In spring, when Persephone returns to the Earth, Demeter rejoices and the land return to bloom.

Although Demeter is usually depicted as a mature woman, as a goddess she doesn't need to. My representation of Demeter (above), dressed by her other child, Dionysus, God of the Grape/Wine, is preparing for the departure of Persephone. She is not pleased. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Plein Air Sketching Today in Gouache


“Near Blackman’s Lake,” gouache 7” x 7”

I decided to give gouache a try today, as I’ve only used it a few times. I found a nice shady spot a few blocks from home and did a sketch, just to try things out. I like gouache, but I think I like casein better. Next time I’ll have to take my casein paints out for a spin. Or, just return to watercolor, as that has been going well.


Sketching supplies (and no, that's not a bottle of beer!)