Tag Archives: Palos Verdes

horses, dressage

early morning dressage, by frankeber 2012     total concentration, by frankeber 2012

A new subject matter for me, but I am really getting into it. A horse is such a magnificent creature and dressage is a hard discipline that takes enormous focus on the part of both rider and horse.

As an artist, I am fascinated by the movement and elegance as well as the artistic side of this sport.

As a painter, I am focusing on the feel of the scene, i.e. the early morning workout, the manege, the vapor, the light situation  etc. The horse and the rider are just part of a bigger scene, part of something special…to capture all that would be quite an accomplishment!

I am less interested in doing horse and rider portraits. In fact, the goal for me is to paint it in ways that the viewer sees all parts without ever really painting them!

A word on painting process: I very much believe in subtractive watercolour techniques, so I try to stay away from white paint as much as possible. It must be stressed that this is a personal decision, I am not about to lecture anyone or play ethics police. If you want to use white paint, go for it.
I just think there is no substitute for the brilliant white of the paper and it cannot be brought back with chinese white or gouache. Enough said.

The second painting was done ‘alla prima’, all single washes, adjusted while still wet or damp. The only ‘underpainting’ I did was the arena’s light areas. I did not bother putting blue for the sky, it does not need it.

The riders on the track is a different story, but even in this piece, there are no more than two or occasionally three washes layered. I like to see the white of the paper coming through at all times.

I have a friend who is a dressage rider, so I will have the pleasure of watching her and work onsite in the near future! Stay tuned.

Adventures in plein air painting

St. Francis pleinair, by frankeber 2012         St. Francis pleineir_detail, by frankeber 2012

I have recently started teaching a plein air watercolor class. Only six people in our group, among them three accomplished plein air painters in other media. You know, the lesser one’s …hahaha…just kidding!

We met in Palos Verdes, a peninsula that juts out into the pacific and divides the South bay from Long Beach. I had a feeling that we’d see a nice, slanted shadow going across the front of St. Francis church and thought it might be a good lesson for a watercolor class: shadows, light within shadows, reflected light..that sort of thing.

Most artists, especially ones coming from other mediums, always try to do too much. It is one of the hardest things to learn in watercolor painting! You cannot work the same way, not even close!
The second hardest thing to let go off, is that you don’t blend colors, they do it themselves on the paper and if you interfere too much, you’ll get streaky and tired looking washes.

Of course, painting directly from the subject can pose a whole different world of problems. It is a bit scary, being out there, all exposed. You get people who watch you, both nice and less favorable comments and your subject matter changes by the minute. But it is also a great teacher, mother nature is!

Speaking of plein air: I am heading to Europe for the entire month of April, doing nothing but painting outside! Next time I post, it will be from Prague or the south of France! Wish me luck and let’s hope the weather will cooperate!