Humbug Creek Love and the One That Got Away

Fabriano #300 11 x 14 inches

I love this area and I think if I could easily paint every week for a year and still have something to explore and paint at this location. I started out painting perched on a rock in a middle of a spot that is called “Maytag” because of the force of the river and the arrangement of the rocks. I had to keep alert. If you are wondering why the title ‘The One That Got Away’, well, I lost a painting of Maytag. I think it was a good one but after changing my spot to paint three times, I inadvertently lost it, this morning it dawned on me that I had lost a painting! Yes, I know, how can that happen?

Humbug Creek, my scene for the painting above
Maytag, the scene of the missing painting
on Saunders #200 11 x 14

I wasn’t very happy with this painting, the only area that I like is the rocks on the bottom right. I had difficulty with the rocks all along both banks and the river itself. I need to practice rapids because it was so difficult depicting them. That blue in the background is too chalky looking and not correct. Here is a better depiction of this same scene last week that I like better North Yuba river and Humbug Creek Confluence. I suppose that each session is different, all experience under my belt.

Leaf tranquility

I took over 460 photos on this plein air trip, can you imagine? Love this spot, so beautiful. If any of you are in my neck of the woods and can physically manage it, look me up and we can go paint together. I will always venture out year round as long as it doesn’t rain or snow on me.

P1110586 (2).JPG
Rocks at Humbug Creek

Learning Points:

  • Safely tuck paintings away when dry.
  • Practice rapids or falls, study the masters of this unique feature.
  • Don’t become so enthralled with the painting process that I forget composition or value elements.




40 thoughts on “Humbug Creek Love and the One That Got Away

  1. dawnmarie

    That really is a nice rock in the painting you don’t like. 460 photos!!! That is a lot of photos. So when I blow them up, there is a blue that deposits in little circular patterns pretty consistently. What is it? Seems like it would be good for rocks because of the pattern it makes…am I seeing things? Laura talks about a certain blue that granulates? Is that what she means? It is pretty cool whatever it is.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am not surprised that you managed to take so many photos, it is truly an amazing place you have…I really wish I could say that some day I would be in your neck of the woods, as I would love to visit you, if I win the lottery perhaps I can change the wish to reality….I wonder what nature has done with that missing paintings?

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    1. That would be cool….hoping for the lottery win for you 😉 well, come to find out, I found that painting and why it went “missing” is because I had another painting on the other side and it was flipped over! lol I made that discovery several hours after I posted. oh well, I left the post and title as is, makes it fun to think that I actually got so caught up in the painting that I left something!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So sorry to hear you lost one painting, Margaret. This could have happened to me, just because I don´t care much about a painting when it is done. But you could have taken a photo of it at least. Maybe it has been carried away by the river – that would at least be some kind of a journey: inspired by the river and dissolved by it. The place looks awesome and very inspiring and I love both of your watercolors, maybe the one on Fabriano even a little bit more because it looks so fresh and innocent. I am painting a river scene, too. Based on my sketch from a few days ago I decided that it will be my birthday gift for my sister, who is asking me for watercolor for more than a year. I started it yesterday and it is almost finished, just needs a few more details. But my boss asked me if I could work this Sunday – so I am sitting in the office while I am writing this and wait to get home in the afternoon to finish the painting. I will probably post it tonight and I am curious what you will think about it. Have a nice Sunday!

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    1. Somehow I missed your comment here… I “found” that painting, it was on the flip side of a failed painting and somehow once I got home, it was flipped over to the wrong side. Then I realized that it wasn’t as good as I thought, oh well! Another day, another painting 🙂

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      1. Thanks for the Information. Yeah, i found a whole bunch of Humbug Creeks all over the States. 🙂 I found it funny that we use the same word (Humbug) in German – although it is a little bit old-fashioned and not used too much anymore.

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    1. I couldn’t find the original post where you mentioned soft press Fab paper. I was able to locate it! how is it different than the regular kind? does it still have that bumpy texture that we love so much? I have been using I am assuming the cp 300#….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. top of my head, not sure which post either… But. Great that you found the Soft Press. it is soft. its ‘in between’ a hot press smooth and a cold press. its not resisting to paint. accepts and Absorbs!! do test it out… now, I’m hoping you do like it. but we are all, different. so? roll the dice! its great for wc. for ink. pastels. drawing. printmaking! silky soft…. ahhhh 🙂 lol I’m silly

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      2. hi Margaret, thank you! another thing about fab soft press, won’t take much rubbing or fiddling. put it on, leave it alone kind of paper. loves to be dampened first slightly, and allow the colors to have a nice feathering of edges. imo 🙂

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  4. I love them both, but Maytag is my favorite. This painting is proof that artwork that is really good is better than any photo. Wow! Just love it. You’ve made it even more beautiful. Love the photo too and when I first read your post, I was thinking it got swept away in the rapids! I’m glad it didn’t. I think your love for the river comes straight through in your work, and we are all the better for it. Just love the Light always coming through and that rock in the foreground really is amazing although I am drawn to the area just beyond that in the painting too. As always, your colors show your exuberance with the scene. Beautiful, Margaret!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ah thank you! actually that scene you are referring to is just a few hundred yards upriver from Maytag, lol I found my maytag painting, it was flipped over and there was another painting on the other side, so I thought I lost it. Unfortunately I didn’t like it as much after looking at it, sigh. But, good news, I will be coming back and painting Maytag again. I’ll include the photo of my little perch, kind of precarious (but safe) and exciting though, especially watching the sun rise on it and then the perfect lighting lasts less than 30 minutes, so it is a rush to capture it. Thank you for your comments, yes, I love the river!

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  5. I love both of these, but the top one in particular. Stunning. The rapids with the beautiful rocks in the foreground is really nice. Since the blue in the background bothers you, you could try to lift it out and put in other mingled colors suggesting distance foliage. I once lifted a horrible cobalt blue background to a leaves painting, put in brown background, and sold it! it sure is possible, depending on the paper. You can see the blog posts on this here:

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    1. ha! I haven’t looked at this for a while and bam….I think my head hit that atrocious chalky blue…..good one! thank you…I saw it with fresh eyes. I will work on it and create more of a distance. I will look at that link, thank you! you are awesome!


    2. It worked just by lifting that blue and the eye goes further back like it should. I always seem to get caught up into using blue as a depth enhancer but I sometimes over do it and then end up doing the opposite and create a wall of sorts or the blue goes chalky on me. thank you again!


      1. hehe I might, there are so many elemental parts of it that didn’t work out. Odd how I saw that blue and it bothered me but I ignored it. When you mentioned it, wow, it hit me like a brick…not a ton, I hate that expression. Anyway, we’ll see, I might practice on this painting as an exercise and see if I can salvage it. Thank you again!


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