South Yuba River

My scene
Painting #1 on Fabriano 140# 7 x 9 inches

Be aware that the blues are not as blue as this photo shows, and the yellow/gold is too acid here. Not sure why but I just could not get an accurate photo of this painting. Everything looks too blue/yellow and very blotchy. With that in mind, I loved painting this and it was difficult because I was facing a bright sun coming through that canyon.

scene #2
painting #2 on Fabriano 300# 11 x 14 inches

I love Fabriano when depicting anything with textures and especially rocks! perfect! I think that I was able to marry up my photo to my painting except the gold/yellow is not as sharp but more blended with the other colors.

scene #3
painting #3 on Arches 140# 7 x 9 inches

Again, the blues are too blue in this photo….I had a difficult time depicting the underlying rocks. I think with plein air when you get in and get out, sometimes you grab an illusion of a scene without getting the whole tamale of a depiction. Not enough time especially when the light is moving so fast. I think that with my photos, I’ll be able to go back and do a studio painting and work up to the finish that most people appreciate. For me, I am caught in between. I like the freshness of a plein air and yet I like a certain amount of “I’ve got it” in the level of finish.

Looking downstream to the first bridge, built in 1921, these boulders are huge by the way and the river is meandering between them. Can you see me with my hat? Hello!

Learning Points:

  • Watercolor is a medium worthy of tackling over and over, hours upon hours and especially if you can get out and paint from life, do it!
  • Don’t give up! every relationship is worth the work and determination. Watercolor is a relationship of sorts. I have always loved watercolor and I plan to make this marriage work!
  • Paint what inspires you, very important. I love the river and the river loves me (I think) and I love watercolor when I paint what I love, a lot of loving going on!
  • Morning sun is the best when it is peeking over a ridge or just hitting the subject, same goes with evening light, when it glows and hits that zenith of pure beauty.
  • Don’t be afraid to use opaque white, I did! the watercolor police were not in proximity and it is not a crime.

27 thoughts on “South Yuba River

    1. I tried to match them up…..thank you! I love painting rocks and hoping to get it honed in just right. I need to learn where to soften the sharp lines, hard to do when they are actually there especially where the light hits an edge of a rock.

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      1. details schmetails!! who needs them, when the colors are bursting and the wind is blowing free?! its about the Feeling!!
        I love how you get it, M You Want to Share That Gorgeous Feeling – of ‘being out there’……..

        Liked by 1 person

  1. dawnmarie

    I don’t know why blues are so hard to photograph some times, but they sure are. I think you did a good job. I tried plain air on the last camping trip and it ain’t easy that is for sure. Between bugs and weather and sun in your eyes and heat and just not being able to spread out…and all that stuff that indoors does not have…I think you did a nice job and I like your rocks. The photo matching was really good too. More power to ya Margaret. Painting outside ain’t for the birds.

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    1. lol….thank you! Many people don’t realize how difficult plein air can be and in watercolor…..punch that up a few notches. It was a little precarious getting to the spot I was at, I had to climb over boulders and most of them were slick. I was thinking of getting closer to that jumble of rocks but I had visions of getting stuck between two big boulders and having to cut body parts to extract myself. I know morbid, but it was one long, deep crevice and I was so tempted in “hopping” it….I failed to mention that part of the story. I might not be encouraging plein air painting if I included everything, you know? But oh, I do love excitement and living on the edge, I will be plein air painting until I can’t shuffle no ‘mo. 🙂

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      1. dawnmarie

        I can’t imagine dealing with water colors in that atmosphere….I would have a big mess of muddy puddles blowing around on the paper…and a body full of mosquito bites. I’m glad you didn’t go for the suicide mission. Yay for constraint Margaret. There is a plain air painter here in nm that I really like…she does oils. Her name is Dee Sanchez. When you are bored, you should check her out. She has beautiful colors. You can look at her stuff for inspiration when you are blistering from sun and windburn and itching from bug bites and wet from falling in the river and hungry cuz the raccoon stole your lunch….after you get home of course.

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      2. dawnmarie

        Lolol…I almost said bear but I didn’t want to say that and then have a bear really steal your lunch…i would feel so bad! I would laugh at raccoon.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You rock! Wow Margaret, that first rock painting blew me away, it is, I think the best rocks, my fav of your big stones so far, you are so ace at them, it could be the arrangement of the stones, and the colours used, but my brain just loves that one the best, you always paint them so well, so I have no idea why that one has pulled me in??


    1. Hehe…..well, I was pulled in and I think that what the artist is pulled or swayed to paint, the viewer picks up the bug. 🙂 I got lost a bit in the jumble of rocks on that right side and I just faked it by working darks and lights but at least the main focus worked. It was hard painting it for the first 30 minutes because I was blinded by the sun! My photo was taken about an hour after the sun was hitting….I am so very glad that you like it! thank you for your comments Rebecca!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Margaret, I’m with Rebecca – your first rock painting is fab! What I like about it is how you’ve captured the weight / mass and solidity of rocks, whilst retaining the lightness of watercolour, really using it’s transparency and translucency, – and of course the granulation is a lovely way of communicating the surface texture. I think it takes great confidence and skill to paint the way you are doing at the moment Margaret and it’s wonderful to see!

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  4. Wonderful!!! I agree with the other comments about painting #1 – but I love the other ones, too. I really love how the light sparkles on the rock in #2 and how you did work out the sharp edges, which looks awesome in combination with the softer parts. Great work – all three!


  5. Great work again Margaret. I like #1 and #2 best. In #1 the way the yellow follows a path through the painting is very good, and also the repeating patterns of the rocks really give a strong abstract foundation. In #2 I really like the sharp edge and its color on the rock at bottom left. This is masterful stuff.

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    1. thank you! #3 was my old tired self trying to get one more in before the river and light closed shop…lol I am going to work on softening up my edges, not losing my “rock map” which I did at some point. I hate that when it happens, I like strong and bold and confident and it is hard when my rock shapes get muddled and I have to find my way around. Thank you for your observations and comments, always feel free to give a shout out when you do see something amiss.

      Liked by 1 person

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