Madrone Madness-June WC #1

Kind of dark but you get the general idea of my scene


It’s June and I am off to the races with my adventures with watercolor. I decided to paint the view right out my back door. While relaxing early on the patio this weekend, the lighting was so beautiful coming through the trees from where I sat. I decided I had to paint those trees. The madrone is the largest tree and will be my focus and it is at least 75 feet tall.

I can fit my plein air supplies quite well in my backpack but this morning taking everything out to my site took extra trips. I should take my “plein air mentality” out my back door without trying to take my entire studio outside. Lesson learned.

I first warmed up with a couple of color sketches.

I decided to try a larger size paper for plein air and on an easel. I immediately freaked out and decided to put my painting board in my lap. I was doing a few things different and found myself nervous and trying to take back what I was doing. Talk about insecure!

Once I relaxed and enjoyed watching the mixing colors and eventually I realized that I was going against the current by judging and freaking out when I hardly had paint down on my paper.

My final painting on Arches #140 rough 10 x 14.5 inches

That drip was when I had my painting on the easel and I changed my mind because of that drip, I need to get comfortable having my painting tilted and dealing with washes that are cascading down. I probably had too much water on my brush. I will eventually learn this but I wasn’t ready for it today.


My learning points:

  • Steady that wild mustang of fear and anxiety, “she” won’t be bucking me off after all, I am holding those reins, me!
  • Just because I went out of my comfort zone doesn’t mean that I won’t be able put out a decent painting, going out of my comfort zone is not a recipe for failure.
  • Get use to being able to handle both fresh and dried paint, especially fresh gobs of paint on my palette.
  •  Set aside the fear of making mistakes, it dams up creativity.

I have a question for you watercolorists, I have been used to working from the dried paint on my palettes and I find that I can control my washes far easier than with fresh globs. I had to replenish my paint this morning and of course, I had fresh paint. I found that I was being aggressive and getting too much paint on my brush and well, you get the idea. I would like to hear what you all have to say about this.

29 thoughts on “Madrone Madness-June WC #1

  1. I love the colors you’ve used for the tree trunk. In fact, I like all the colors you’ve used throughout. I had to laugh a little about your “backyard” experience…trying to take your entire studio with you. I can see how that might happen. 🙂 I think you have June off to a bright beginning.

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  2. A beautiful start to June, Margaret! This is so lovely! 😍And I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to easily play along in the new Doodlwash adventure this month… hehe… I just now figured it out, will post later after I actually paint something! 😊 I tend to always prefer dried paint over fresh globs… I can never control the wash with those. My tiny palette isn’t air tight so that’s a good thing I prefer it I guess. hehe

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    1. oh good to hear your feedback on that….I end up trying to counter what I put down and then it is off to watercolor hell trying to catch up with the little devils! I can’t wait to see your painting and what you have under wraps. lol I am on the edge of my seat!

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  3. I LOVE your plein air painting – way to go!!! I have found you have to be much more careful with the fresh paint and water. It is just as lovely – just needs used differently 🙂

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  4. Some days it isn’t easy for me to relax and paint in watercolor. On these days, I find a warm-up is in order. I do something like a contour drawing or a one-liner drawing – something that helps me relax or maybe it takes the pressure off. I like your colors here and I think drips are OK because it helps me learn. 🎨😃

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  5. beautifully flowing tree, great color in the foliage and tons of light! a lively and fresh plein air watercolor painting with attitude Margaret 🙂
    key point – it it not stiff nor tight!!! no fear shows.
    my own preference is to have fresh paint out, and then monitor (dilute) as needed. i like it that way. there’s no right or wrong.

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    1. ah! good to hear your feedback. This is hard getting out there to loosen up. I love it and yet looking at the paintings afterward I want concrete realistic paintings or tight, I guess I am saying. I have more fun with the loose ones though. Thank you Debi and for the feedback on fresh or dried.

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      1. yes. smiling a bit here…. its a case of 2 minds! but I have to say, personally – I vote for the ‘loosey – goosey’ ones that have that fresh spark of raw emotion!! THAT – far outweighs, tiny minor details, or oopsies. anyway, thats just, my spin on things 🙂

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      1. Thank you for your comment on my incremental change post, Margaret. If my pastels have made you want to use your pastels, know that your watercolor challenge has had the same effect on me. I’ve been wanting to do watercolor for a month. My watercolors are stashed at present in a bin that’s underneath a bunch of other stuff so I haven’t been able to follow that urging! Otherwise I might have joined you …

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    1. thank you Laura, I was wondering about the fact that I didn’t incorporate the background in it but I think that it shows off the light coming through the trees. Plus I was pinched for time and didn’t have time to fiddle with a background.

      Liked by 1 person

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