Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Watercolor Wednesday: Week 2

Tonight was the final class in a 6 week class I was teaching at the Arts Center.  I so thoroughly enjoy the classes!  Tonight we painted flowers.  The painting I am sharing today I worked on over the last week.  My goal this evening was to encourage my students to use color theory in their paintings, specifically using color in the shadows and not just darker shades.  Here are just a few stages of the painting above to help illustrate this idea.  The painting starts out very purple, even though I am fully aware the flower will be yellow in the finished painting. I build many layers over the original layer.  It think it adds interest and depth to the final piece, but perhaps I am bias.  I had a few teachers in my formative years who were very, very pro-color theory.   I was pleased with the final results, and rather excited to paint more insects! 

I would again like to encourage an exchange on the Flickr Group I created, it is open to anyone who wishes to join.  insect  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Watercolor Wednesdays

A class assignment utilizing wet on wet watercolor techniques.
For the last 11 weeks I have been teaching watercolor classes at the local Arts Center.  As the second round of classes comes to an end, I am excited and inspired by the progress in my students work.  I want to keep the motivation and inspiration going both for my students and for myself.  Each Wednesday I am dedicating a blog post to a watercolor I am working on.  I will share what I am learning from my current project, both strengths and weaknesses.  I created a Flickr Group for others to reciprocate and share what they are working on.  The Flickr Group is a place to exchange encouragement and helpful feedback for those dabbling in watercolor painting.  It is my hope that my students and others who are interested will submit paintings, in any stage of development, to the group.  If you are posting a picture, use the comment section to write about what aspects of the painting are challenging, what is working out better than planned, or anything that has been learned from the process.  If you are viewing others work please leave kind and thoughtful feedback.  

I am including in this post the things I have been working on over the last two months and a little about what I've learned from each.  Seems there is either time to paint or time to write blog posts....I'm attempting to balance the two....

Swans at Lago di Fimon
I used masking fluid on the swans and the light reflections in the water.  The masking fluid worked great....except on the small places I did not have full coverage....but for the most part I was able to work it in.   

The crocus painting I just enjoyed.  I played around with very wet paint in the background. I like painting flowers, it's more of a fun exercise than a learning experience. 

Autumn Crocus in the Afternoon Sun
Having learned my lesson on the swans, the next time I used masking fluid I used gobs, unfortunately, despite what the package said, masking fluid over painted areas does remove some of the paint.  In the Italian Farmhouse painting I wanted to darken the sky just a bit after the trees were painted.  I covered the trees in masking fluid and repainted the sky.  I was happy with the results, until I pulled off the masking fluid and some the pigment with it...not to mention small bits of paper.  It was all so frustrating, I had to set this one aside for a week or so.  To add to the frustration I had used all of the purple color I was using in the dark shadows and couldn't recall exactly what I used to mix the color. 

Italian Farmhouse
 In the end, I just made a new purple and I went back and darken the trees.  This farmhouse is on the way to my daughter's pre-school.  On winter mornings the tree shadows created on the front of the house are so striking.  I am not sure the painting does it justice, but I just don't know where to go from here. (The color in the top picture is closer to reality than the second picture.)

Italian Farmhouse with trees darkened...the photo is a bit on the yellow side.
Having learned a great lesson on keeping track of what colors I mix from the farmhouse, on the Poppy painting I made notes on the watercolor tape as to exactly what proportions I used when mixing colors.  This came in handy when I ran out of green before the painting was complete. 

Poppies, complete with color mixing notes. 
Poppies without color notes.
So tonight I started on a painting of a yellow calla lily.  The sketch is almost complete.  I'll share the progress next week, until then..... Join the Flickr Group and Happy Painting!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Red Poppy Love

I had a list of things to do....but I got distracted by poppies!  

These are from the road side. I noticed yesterday they are starting to bloom in the wheat fields, so I'm sure there will be more poppy pictures....

....just thought I would share a little bit of the red poppy love today. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Foraging for Pungitopo

Ruscus aculeatus, Pungitopo in Italian, or Butcher's Broom in English
I love foraging in the forest.  Finding wild edibles is loads of fun.  So when my neighbor asked if I wanted to go in search of pungitopo, I said of course!  Ruscus aculeatus, pungitopo in Italian, or butcher's broom in English, is very common in these parts.  An evergreen shrub, pungitopo has small sharply pointed leaf-like protrusions from it's stem. Traditionally, dried pungitopo was placed in food stores to deter rodents.  It's name in Italian means "the mouse poker."  Those pointed leaf-like protrusions become very sharp when dried. During the Spring, the pungitopo grows new tender shoots which are gathered and eaten here by the locals.  

pungitopo shoot
The new shoots hide among the evergreen stalks of the mature pungitopo.  It's fun, but a bit prickly, to find the little treasures.  Every once in a while you find other treasures tucked in to the pungitopo, too, like this little birds nest!

Four tiny eggs in a nest tucked into the pungitopo.

Giovanna and her shadows. 

Orsetto, the wild pungitopo hunter.

So when you are out walking around the woods, a few flower pictures are bound to be taken...

Once back at home I washed and prepared the fresh pungitopo shoots for cooking.  Some of the younger shoots where a beautiful bright purple in color. 

Pungitopo before cooking.
I was instructed, by my neighbor, to boil the pungitopo until it was tender, and after it was cooked to add olive oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar. I tried a piece before cooking, it had a pleasant with kind of a nutty flavor at first, that gave way to a wicked bitter taste.  After cooked and covered with the oil, salt, pepper and vinegar the bitterness was greatly reduced and the flavor strong, but not unpleasant.  I served the pungitopo as a side vegetable for dinner.  I found mention of using pungitopo in risotto.  Personally, I think I would have found the pungitopo more enjoyable used as an ingredient in another dish, however my husband enjoyed it as a vegetable side dish.  

Cooked Pungitopo