Daring Watercolor #8

I was so excited and couldn’t wait to share my photos of my wonderful plein air painting and hike. I was disappointed to discover that using an unfamiliar setting on my camera caused my photos to turn out very odd! Lesson #1 don’t use a setting you have no idea what it is used for!

Out of this world crazy look

I decided to take my watercolors and do some painting on the North Yuba Trail where a creek empties into the North Yuba river. I hiked in about a mile to this lovely spot.

Painting #1

I enjoyed painting this so much and I felt in tune with my brushes, watercolor and the location. I think that rock on the left next to the water needs to be toned down just a bit, any suggestions? I will include a photo of my scene though bear in mind that it was on that crazy setting. Just for fun take a look:

My eerie looking scene

I decided not to include my watercolor #2 it was alright but I had difficulty discerning all the foliage and it looked like a mess to me.

5 1/2 x 6 inches….painting #3

What I learned from today:

  • Painting without self-criticism is working very well, no one standing over me with a whip today, kind of nice.
  • Painting on dry paper is easier to control my values and charging in colors is fun and easier as well.
  • Painting on dry paper, you can reserve whites as you go.

Now the kicker….what I discovered today is that watercolor painting en plein air is more tactile than using soft pastel. What a pleasant surprise! I am going to use an odd example here, so bear with me. I would compare using watercolor en plein air to the difference a horseback rider who learned on a western saddle…. who then changes to an English saddle. At first it is disconcerting to ride a horse with an English saddle because you feel more vulnerable and very much connected to the horse. With an English saddle you feel the movement of the horse better and you end up preferring an English saddle than a western. At least for me this was my experience.

As I sat there manipulating the paint, water and brush and I felt so in tune with what I was viewing and then transferring that to the paper, far more intimate than my painting with my pastels. I love the fact that I can hike in more than a mile to paint, with my pastels I am lucky if I can walk in less than an eighth of a mile.

Continuing on the trail






21 thoughts on “Daring Watercolor #8

    1. I am loving it, I have always felt in kinship with watercolor even before when I had my freaking out moments with it and now it is starting to click and make sense. Having a few good days having fun with it might have something to do with. lol 🙂

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  1. I love your analogy about Western saddle vs English saddles…it’s excellent and describes perfectly the difference between a medium such as pastel which is more static to the gloriously spontaneous and sensuous medium of watercolour, which is anything but:) Also, always a good idea to work on dry paper….as you say it allows you to keep the sparkle of the white. Lovely paintings, and I am sure the first of many. Janet:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you! It was such a wonderful discovery yesterday….not that I was aware of it before but I think I was feeling the vulnerability of the medium….just like sitting in an English saddle reacting to the lack of having a “saddle” under me! It isn’t until later you prefer sitting in the midst of the action rather than sitting on a couch (western saddle) lol Thank you for your comments!


  2. I love the free-ness (Not sure there is such a word) I feel with the water in your paintings. The rocks may be huge and powerful, but the water has a power all its own. A good thought from nature for life. We each have strengths, and though we may be different, there’s freedom and power in being what we are. Did you realize how much philosophy you were sharing with your watercolors? 🙂


  3. Put yourself on the crazy setting and you never know what you’ll get. It works for the camera, why not for the photographer? I think the photos look nice (but I understand that you’re saying they altered the actual appearance of the scene).

    Perhaps for some pictures you should paint the watercolor entirely on dry paper, putting down local colors into specific locations. I guess I didn’t realize that some of the other challenge you faced was wet into wet painting. The thing about wet into wet is that you can’t control it. So things that go over top of the wet on wet section require that the paper has dried again. Outdoors that means having to put the picture in a sunny spot and waiting for evaporation to do its thing.

    Sounds like you’re having a great time. Connecting to the scene, what could be better than that and the resulting watercolors are full of energy — especially painting 1 — painting 3 seems to be more about subtlety. Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you! If you had seen some of the photos you would see what I meant, blotches of blur with crisp and then black shadows….I need to google what that setting is for. Very fun being out there responding to what I was looking at and experiencing….nothing like it! I used to be so intimidated with painting watercolors en plein air and now I am thinking that I have been missing out far too long! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. sjqzoom

    I think your photos are so enticing and I love the abandon in your watercolours – they speak to me of a great love for your subject, for being out there and for watercolour – I love the photo of the path with the wedge of shadow saying “this way please”
    Now I also want to go take a hike – thank you – especially for taking your watercolour on this hike

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your setting looks so peaceful. Glad you felt more at ease while painting. I understand about the self criticism thing. Blogging has helped me in this area. I like your style of painting, Margaret! Keep up your beautiful work! I learn so much from you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jill….thank you so much! I am such a country girl with limited involvement with other artists, this blogging has helped me to get to know a whole community of artists, even if it is in cyberspace! So good to hear that you learn from me…..I am blushing now! It makes it worth having a blog besides the social part of it. And yes, that area is so peaceful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Daring Watercolor #23 Final – Yuba Gold

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