Daring Watercolor #17

Pastel plein air of the same scene from about 5 years ago


Continuing on with my slow and yes, labored painting of the middle Yuba river. I am enjoying this slow process, I timed myself today to work for only an hour and taking many breaks. I discovered that with working so intensely on this painting and then the plein air painting yesterday and with my long hours of reading, I have been experiencing eye strain.

So, I have been concentrating on resting my eyes and keeping them closed when I don’t need to look. I have had this before and rest is all it takes to get my eyes in tip top shape.

My first update


2nd update (paper is not as warm as pictured)


Ignore that warmth to the paper, in order to match up my photo to my painting, I had to play with the temperature of the photo. My blues were shouting too much blue. I am thinking that I need to correct some of that moss on the right, too sharp of a green and maybe a bit too dark. I am starting to bring up the color of the rocks and realized that I better get my moss on there to have a base to work my values off from.

A lot of work yet to do. I’ll be going back and forth moving all over the place to slowly bring everything to a complete and unified look and feeling. I will then start on the water. My plan is to do some trial practice paintings for the water. There are many underlying rocks and I have to figure out how to go about it. I am not going into this with no practice or without some research.

P1000471 (2)
My reference photo

As you can see above this subject has been painted before, en plein air about 5 years ago on Wallis paper with soft pastels. Sorry to say, Wallis is near to impossible to find anymore, so sad because it was my favorite paper.

I will continue on this painting tomorrow. I might decide to wait to post updates on this painting every 2 -3 days of working on it since it is such a slow process. I don’t want to bore my audience!

What I learned today:

  • Stay aware of how tired I am, protect my eyes, having had a mother who lost her eyesight, this is close to my heart, caring for my eyes.
  • Pace myself, remember this is fun and expressive; not oppressive and drudgery.
  • Take breaks often at least every 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Those breaks enables me to see something that I didn’t see before.
  • Don’t build up a color or an element without having something next to it for a good value reference.




30 thoughts on “Daring Watercolor #17

  1. Taking breaks every 15-20 minutes is an excellent idea. When we step back from a painting,. we see it differently. For plein air painters the changes in the light can be a problem, I suppose, so it’s good to have a reference photo. It looks like the watercolor is coming along. The pastel painting is lovely. I think the watercolor will rival it, though. Very nice in what I can see so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What Jodi said! Take care of those peepers, lady. Your pastel painting of this scene is STUNNING. Seriously, Margaret. Wow, you are seriously gifted. I agree with Judith, though, I think your wc may top it! I always love your learning points – you and Debi should write a book together! No pressure and no worries. It will come to you, in its own time. Have a great night & weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am flattered by your comments. My peepers are doing very well. Hey, my daughter gifted me four tubes of Daniel Smith watercolors and one of them was Lunar Blue, I was almost in tears because I ran out. I am very happy! I was running out of my main colors simultaneously and I just received them today! I and my peepers are now ready…..:) alright slight tight and also have a good weekend.

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  3. your pastel is gorgeous! your river is so inspirational, and Margaret, you make everyone, Love it too! looking forward to how the wc progresses, seeing how you have whupped wc now !
    *see eye specialist for checkup 🙂 nag, nag, nag……. LOL

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  4. i agree that it is a good idea to work in short bursts on a watercolour painting which gives you a chance to step back and evaluate. The colours lighten as they dry too which might be a problem you want to address before you go on. I prefer the watercolour that you have started, but then I would. Having said that I watched a demo a few months ago of a watercolour being finished in pastel, which was interesting, and I thought I might try that myself one day. Avoid straining your eyes, you can’t get replacements, and avoid painting in artificial light unless you have very strong spots

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    1. Yes….easy does it in all respects! I have tried the watercolor and pastel combo, very fun but I didn’t finish it in pastels, I just highlighted and added zing to the watercolor. I might give that a try one of these days.


  5. I sympathize Margaret, I suffer with my eyes like that from time to time. I hope they recover soon.
    Your painting though is fabulous! I would have no idea where to tackle something like that in watercolour. I’m so impressed with your water – you’ve really captured something so difficult!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, it will be interesting in how I will proceed….a little cautious but with a lot of practice and with confidence. When I first started it, I had no idea and it was very intimidating and now I know I can do it and it is actually exciting. Tells you how far I have come!

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  6. I often set a timer on my phone and put it across the room, so I have to leave my easel to turn it off. I find that taking breaks every 20 minutes or so really helps me keep from “killing” a watercolor. Good work!

    Liked by 1 person

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